If this episode seems familiar, it’s because you’ve heard it in a dream before (or you’re a precog. It’s gotta be one of those). So you’ll probably remember that we talk about haunted toys, guess the capital of Australia, and chat about the most socialist werewolf you’ve ever met.
This week, Julia recommends the historical fiction podcast Harlem Queen.
- Stitch Fix is an online personal styling service that finds and delivers clothes, shoes, and accessories to fit your body, budget, and lifestyle. Get started at stitchfix.com/spirits for 25% off when you keep your whole box!
- Bombas will change the way you think about socks. Get 20% off your first order at bombas.com/spirits today!
- Skillshare is an online learning community where you can learn—and teach—just about anything. Visit skillshare.com/spirits2 to get two months of Skillshare Premium for free! This week Julia recommends “Presentation Essentials: How to Share Ideas That Inspire Action”.
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Amanda: Welcome to Spirits Podcast, a boozy dive into mythology, legends and folklore. Every week pour a drink and learn about a new story from around the world. I'm Amanda.
Julia: And I'm Julia.
Amanda: This is Episode 126, Your Urban Legends Part 21, baby.
Julia: Remember last time we did an Urban Legends episode, I told you 21 is gnarly number. I meant 30, but still very excited about this episode. It's gonna be fun.
Amanda: Still very excited. My baby brother and sister just turned 21 and it was such a wild occasion.
Julia: I remember their birth.
Amanda: Yeah. Isn't that wild how age happens?
Julia: Yeah. Wild, wild time.
Amanda: Well Julia, you know who is both ageless and timeless?
Julia: Is it our new patrons?
Amanda: Our new patrons, Fissure and Willow, who truly have wonderful names.
Julia: Great name.
Julia: I love it.
Amanda: Our supporting producer level patrons Philip, Julie, Eeyore, Mercedes, Samantha, Christopher, Cathy, Vinny, Danica, Marissa, Sammy, Josie, Neil, Jessica, Phil Fresh and Deborah.
Julia: You all just are timeless. You are the Jeremy Bearimy of the world.
Amanda: Absolutely. That little dot over the Jeremy Bearimy are legend level patrons, Haley, Sarah P., James, Jess, Sarah T., Sandra, Audra, Jack, Marie and Leah.
Julia: Like Chidi, you break us. But with your generosity.
Amanda: Has someone been watching The Good Place?
Julia: Not even.
Amanda: It's just always in your mind?
Julia: It just sticks in my mind.
Amanda: Of course. Well I'm always down for a rewatch great show, especially with a nice brew in hand. I almost just said brewski, I think 'cause I was thinking about being 21 on Long Island.
Amanda: Moving on. Julia, tell us what you were drinking during this episode.
Julia: One of my favorite brewing companies is Westbrook Brewing. They got me into goses. I love a gose, I love a sour. They have a limited run that I saw it in the store. One, I went to the store to pick up more beer for myself and I picked up two sours. Then I was wandering over to the limited release section, and there was two guys in the store. They looked at me, they're like, "So you really hate sours, huh?" I'm just like, "Thank you, sir." Then they recommended this beer to me, which is called Zoose Joose.
Amanda: What? How did we not know?
Julia: I know, right? Westbrook, my favorite brewing company put out Zoose Joose, which is a combo of a sour and a fruit ale. It is very good, super tropical, also a little bit salty. Kind of reminds me of being on a Caribbean island during the summer, so I am down for it.
Amanda: Oh, man. That's amazing. We aren't getting into shandy weather, we're getting into sour weather, which is super exciting.
Julia: I love shandy weather. God.
Amanda: Jules, what have you been, like I don't know, watching, or reading, or listening to as you sip your Zoose Joose?
Julia: You know me, I'm always listening to new podcasts. I have a new audio fiction recommendation for you. It is called Harlem Queen. It is a historical fiction podcast about Stephanie St. Clair, who was a crime boss in Harlem during the Prohibition era, and was going up against the mafia and having turf wars. She was very, very cool. She died in her 80s, still super wealthy and living in Harlem, and best friends with Langston Hughes. It's great.
Amanda: That's amazing. I love that so much.
Julia: Yeah. The whole first season is out right now, so you could probably find it on any podcatcher. It's just Harlem Queen.
Amanda: I love that. In fact, maybe I'll be downloading it for our plane trip since Julia, you and I are leaving for Ohio to finally encounter the spaghost at the Spaghetti Warehouse, about two days from when this episode comes out.
Julia: Yeah, we're going. We're gonna sit in the trolley car, we're gonna have some penne Alfredo, and it's gonna be a great, great time.
Amanda: If I don't sit in the trolley car, I am going to invoke every spirit I've ever heard of, all 126 of them, and plus more in the round-ups, 'cause I need that trolley car. I need that creepy wood paneling around me when I eat my bread.
Julia: I mean, we're gonna call ahead and book the trolley car, right? That's our game plan?
Amanda: That sounds like a great thing for someone to take care of. Yes, we should add it to our to-do list.
Julia: Yes. Perfect. Upon arriving in Ohio, we can book that trolley car.
Amanda: Beautiful. For anyone in the Akron area, Cleveland or Akron, come on down. We are having a meetup on Saturday after we have our Spaghetti Warehouse lunch, assuming that we make it. You can find details for that and for our upcoming live performance in Nashville, on multitude.productions/live.
Julia: Yeah, come see us. We're a lot of fun in person, not just in your ears. Also in person.
Amanda: I'm very tall. Julia is of average height. People always remark on that.
Julia: I am very small.
Amanda: Just prepare yourselves. There may be, I don't know, more things being added, I don't know, to that page soon.
Julia: We'll see, we'll see.
Amanda: Watch this space, as we used to say. Well, without further ado, enjoy Spirits Podcast Episode 126, Your Urban Legends Part 21.
Julia, Eric, welcome to another Urban Legends episode.
Julia: Thank you for having us.
Eric: Thank you.
Amanda: I wanted to ask either of you, we know that Eric has some terrifying sleep walking behaviors in his recent past.
Eric: Some completely normal sleep walking behaviors.
Amanda: Uh huh.
Julia: Sure, sure.
Amanda: Yup. Okay, whatever. But did either of you say creepy things or make creepy art as children that you know of?
Julia: I don't think I did creepy art, like the classic horror movie trope where the child draws the creepy figure behind the family, that looks like a shadow man.
Amanda: Oh, yeah.
Julia: I don't think I ever did that.
Eric: I don't think I did anything similar as well. I think most of my art and words that I said were of a typical non-creepy child.
Amanda: Well I wanted to ask just 'cause now I have to ask these things, knowing that there might be creepy behaviors in all of our pasts that just, you know-
Eric: Once again, not creepy.
Amanda: -haven't come to life.
Eric: A completely normal thing that lots of children do.
Eric: Didn't even do a creepy thing. While what you're claiming is creepy, just walked into a different room and went to bed there.
Julia: Yes, but also did that and then stopped immediately after you moved out of that house.
Eric: Okay, well then that case, the not sleep walking is honestly creepier than the sleep walking.
Julia: I disagree, but all right.
Amanda: Well, I do have a story here from a listener about being a creepy child and seeing creepy things. This comes from Guy, who says that he is a 19 year old gay Guy with capital G, which is a name/gender pun that works best in written form.
Julia: I appreciate it.
Amanda: He writes, I work for my mother, a property manager, doing painting and renovations between tenancies. I recently found your podcast through Potterless, and I have been having a pretty benign, but still very weird precognitive dream situation for years. My main focus is the precognition, but I do still want to mention the shadow man I've been seeing recently because it's far creepier and very apt for Spirits.
Julia: The recently always gets me. It's like, "Oh yeah, not when I was a small child. Oh right, like last week. Shadow man, mm-hmm."
Amanda: This is also a great example of an email that says they have experienced multiple things, and then tells us about all of those things.
Julia: Oh, thank you.
Amanda: Very much appreciated, Guy.
Eric: That's the key.
Julia: We don't want to be left hanging.
Amanda: My first experience seeing the world in a dream before it happened was when I was a wee little seven year old kid in second grade. It was a few weeks before the real thing that I had a dream of one of the days that our teacher gave out goodies in exchange for tickets we earned through grades, raising our hand to speak in class, etc.
A couple notable details I was able to pick up on were that the teacher was at the moment grabbing all of the bins and stuff out of the rolling cabinet while us kids circled around, and one of my classmates was missing. I had that feeling of lucid dreaming, that brain fog, that when you lift the veil, you possibly can control the dream. I said out loud, "This isn't real." My teacher gave me a weird look and said something, though I had forgotten or maybe I never really knew. "This happened before," I said, "I knew it. I saw it." Everything seemed to blur or dissolve away, and like that I was awake and promptly forgot it, like you do.
Fast forward a few weeks. When the real day came, I saw the exact same thing, at least at the start. A classmate was out sick, teacher was pulling out the bins, everyone was clustered in a wide circle around so we could grab what we wanted. I even recognized peoples' placements around the circle. None of the dialogue matched except my very first thought, "This isn't real."
Now I didn't say this aloud, just in my head, but I only had a strong sense of déjà vu until I realized I had previously dreamt this. I know for a fact that this day actually happened. I did a pinch test and it didn't wake me up.
Later that day, I also had a spelling quiz, as second graders are want to have. I got the grade the day after, ended pretty well. But after that, I was uncertain what to do about the dream, though not really scared since it was a pretty simple thing that I thought was coincidental. But repeats of situations like this are too damn consistent and elaborate, let alone a few, including places I had not been to before to had been a coincidence.
Julia: Do you guys get a lot of déjà vu? 'Cause I personally have déjà vu all the time.
Amanda: Every few weeks.
Eric: Yeah. I have it once every month or so, probably.
Julia: Yeah, I have it once or twice a week probably, or something like that. I don't know. I like it. It's a really cool feeling and I feel like I have super powers whenever it happens.
Amanda: Yeah, me too.
Julia: It's great. It's a great feeling.
Amanda: That's one of those things, like when you're asked to describe colors, your brain freezes and you're like, "I do not know anything." When I'm asked to describe the feeling of déjà vu, I feel the exact same way, like there is absolutely nothing to say that can evoke the freaking weird feeling in your body and brain.
Well Guy continues. At this point, I've had several of these dreams. All them have been benign in content and context, so I'm not afraid of some demonic or other worldly shit going down. I've kept this almost entirely to myself over the years, though once, one of my friends and I had the same precog moment around the same time, though we never really followed up.
While everything is mostly still a mystery to me, here are a few rules I figured out over the years regarding the dreams. 1) They always do that fade away desync, where the moment stuff starts to move, it starts to get fuzzier with every second. I focus and extract details of what's nearby to be on my mind in the future. 2) Everything after the start of the dream is not exactly what will happen, but instead branches off from reality the moment it starts. Which I thought was really fascinating, y'all, because this whole idea of splinter universes, you know, that splinter off after moments, I love the idea that you be able to predict a future only as far as setting up a scenario, and then after that it will go how it goes.
Julia: Yeah, I like the concept of fixed points in time, and then it could go any sort of way.
Amanda: Yeah, then third, related to that, no dialogue ever matches quite right. Over time, a minimal experience as these dreams are rare and random, I've gotten a bit better at getting intricacy of the scenario and knowledge of where I am in each subsequent dream. They get more intricate over time.
Amanda: The one before the last was me alone in the unit my mom manages today, that a year and a half ago, when I had the dream, she hadn't ever spoken to the owner and had never been in. I had never been there, and yet I saw the living room as it would eventually become. Out of my future? mind, weird as that is to say, I got the name of the city it was in and nothing else, probably because of the obscurity of it all.
But now I get to the juicier bit. My last dream was some months ago, and I remember it clearly. I was in yet another unit in a different apartment building, specifically painting a small bedroom where the carpet was torn out to reveal cement subfloor. That meant that I knew I was on the ground floor. My sister was behind me somewhere, I was hearing about the time of the invention of the radio, and I had the weird sense that someone had recently died there. I had a small panic attack with that last detail, probably weirded out my mom with the subtle nagging questions about the tenants. The thing was though, that someone did die at the apartment building I dreamt of, not a year prior to my dream.
Julia's shaking her head with a grimace.
Julia: Don't like.
Amanda: I was unsure of if this was truly a precog dream or my brain manifesting a memory like this one.
Julia: See, precognition is all fun and games until you start having memories of deaths that haven't happened yet. That's not good. I don't like that.
Amanda: Well in this case, Guy wasn't sure because I did help with the turnover of that man's unit. That's not what the dream was about. This is where the shadow man comes in. Let's call ...
Eric: Great, it's involved. It's a related shadow man.
Eric: That's good.
Eric: I thought it was a separate unrelated shadow man.
Julia: Just like I have weird dreams and also a shadow man is following me.
Amanda: Oh, no, no. These crossovers. The crossover event of the century.
Julia: Fan-fucking-tastic. Go on.
Amanda: Let's call the first dead tenant A.
Julia: Oh no.
Amanda: Yeah, my dream was about a different one. A few times now, I've seen what I can only describe as A's shadow man. Whenever I'm cleaning the halls, I turn and look only seeing the dark shape of a tree on the wrong side of the window at the end of the hallway.
Julia: That's not good. That's so not good.
Amanda: Now I selected this email because I have never thought of trees and shadows as being particularly creepy, like shadows of trees, but here we are.
Julia: Well that's 'cause you've never seen Poltergeist or Evil Dead 2. But ...
Eric: You've never seen a creepy tree shadow? I would say creepy tree shadow is top five creepy shadows.
Amanda: I find witches is incredibly calming, so I just picture a crone's hand with long fingernails when I see a tree shadow. I'm like, "Yes, hello."
Julia: Hi, mom. What's up?
Amanda: I tried to get a good look, but whenever I move, he disappears. Besides the lurker aspect, A has never been creepy to me, but I think he gives off a bad aura to the tenants who have moved in after his death, as no one has stuck around more than a year since in that unit. Maybe people who leave when their lease is up are afraid to call the place haunted. My mom did buy but never burned some sage to try to warn him off. I doubt ...
Julia: It's one step that you probably need to take.
Amanda: Got to do that follow through. Got to stick the landing.
I doubt that would do more than bother him, though. He probably needs a proper send off, so I'll see about setting out two coins for the fairy men next time I'm in there.
Julia: Good choice.
Amanda: However, I also have a theory that maybe A became the building's grim. I super suggest you do an episode about spirits like the Church Yard Grim if you haven't already, who were the people or animals to die and then be the first one buried in a given cemetery, that would then act as protectors and guides for newly passed souls on their way to the afterlife. We did.
Julia: Yes, in our episode that Soha did about the year walk.
Amanda: Go to our website. It is a very good episode.
Since many of the tenants are older, maybe the guy who died young wants to help those who die older to travel over to the dead's realm. Regardless, it has been nearly a year and a half since my dead tenant dream. As with all my other precog dreams, wouldn't you know it, someone passed away at the apartment building recently. Let's call him B.
This time the guy is older, died peacefully at his time in his sleep, and hasn't stuck around. We made sure to open windows to allow B's spirit and his nearly absurd obsession with the smell of garlic out of the apartment, which by the way, he had everywhere, including inside the AC unit. I doubt B will be haunting there, as I'd have noticed him by now with all the painting I've done since his unit was cleaned out.
Speaking of, I had my dream's situation happen to me the first day I worked there. I was in B's old bedroom painting the far wall. My sister was in the living room behind the opposite wall, thus behind me. A guy had recently died there and, hang on to your butts friends, I was listening to Spirits Hometowns Urban Legends XIII at the time, when you mentioned that radios were invented prior to 1918.
Julia: Oh my God. Oh my God.
Amanda: This is what made write out a long as note about it.
Julia: That's so crazy.
Amanda: We did it guys. We appeared in a precognitive dream before I think the episode even came out.
Julia: I think we can end the podcast now. I think that's the dream, that we're ...
Amanda: I think we're done.
Julia: Where we did it.
Amanda: We're gonna become spaghetti ghosts and ascend to heaven.
Julia: Yeah. Eric's already one step of the way.
Eric: Don't think that's how it works.
Julia: Believe Eric, believe.
Amanda: Guy finishes, this is what made me write out a long ass note about it since this is no coincidence that I was also listening to Spirits of all podcasts, let alone an Urban Legends episode when the moment of my precognitive dream happened. I also hadn't even heard of Potterless or a spirit since I learned about spirits from Potterless at the time I had the dream. This time, I finally got a somewhat exciting outcome from a precognitive experience.
Julia: Wow. Okay. That's a lot to take in. I'm very ... I'm flustered right now.
Amanda: I feel so alive. I feel like I read a marathon, I showed up in somebody's dream, I'm so ready. If you have dreams about any of us that only involve you listening to the podcast, and nothing on the creepy side-
Julia: Nothing weird.
Amanda: Imagining us in social situations because ...
Eric: The one situation where you cannot stay creepy. You can only stay creepy.
Julia: Only be cool.
Eric: Only be cool about telling us dreams we're involved in.
Amanda: In any case, if they fit all of those scenarios and my mom wouldn't be creeped out hearing about it, I would love to hear about it.
Julia: That was very, very cool. I like that a lot.
Amanda: That is Guy. Thank you so much, Guy.
Eric: There was a lot of twists and turns on that one.
Julia: So much going on.
Eric: I have a story called The Curse of Snake Stump.
Julia: I thought you were just gonna be like, "The Curse." I'm like, "Sweet, I'm in. Okay."
Amanda: That's good enough.
Julia: The Snake Stump, added bonus.
Eric: This email comes to us from Paris, and they write: Hey, Amanda. Hey, Julia. I want to tell you ...
Amanda: Hey, Eric.
Julia: Hey, Eric.
Eric: It's fine.
Amanda: Well they're already in your voice, Eric, so that you can talk to us.
Eric: Yeah, they wrote it for me to read, obviously.
Eric: I also take no offense. You guys are the hosts of the show. I'm on once a month. It's fine. Legitimately.
I want to tell you an urban legend from my corner of the Australian capital.
Julia: I don't know what the Australian capital is.
Eric: It's maybe Perth.
Julia: Is it?
Julia: I'm gonna Google. Hold on. Apparently it's Canberra.
Amanda: It's Canberra. Yeah.
Julia: I didn't know that.
Eric: Well, I was right. It might have been Perth.
Amanda: Well it's one of those things where it's slightly more centrally located than Melbourne, or Brisbane, or Sydney, or the other places that you would think. But yeah, it's not a thing that people know.
Eric: Yeah. Paris continues: At my primary school, there were extensive sections of bush all around the perimeter called the Growing Homes, and no children ... Well also, that's creepy just from the jump.
Julia: That is ... Yeah.
Eric: Also, it's capital G, capital H in Growing Homes.
Julia: I don't like it.
Eric: No children were allowed to cross the boundary into them under any circumstances. As an adult, I understand why.
Canberra is ... There you go. The answer was in the email. Canberra is full of extremely deadly snakes and spiders who love to nap in the undergrowth, ready to bite unsuspecting children in the ankle. All those things that you've heard about Australia, they're kind of true. Kids can be pretty destructive to the native flora when they want to be. But as a child, we all felt the mystical draw of the forbidden wilds.
Julia: I get it.
Eric: No wonder this is some fairy ass shit.
Eric: Anyway. So deep in the Growing Homes, there was one enormous stump, taller than me when I was eight, and almost two meters, six-ish feet across. The tree had been cut down long before the school was there, but it must have been an incredible site. This was Snake Stump.
There was this skinny track through the bush leading to it, warn deep from generations of kids leading their classmates to the stump. It was a rite of passage every student at some point would be tried there by an upperclassmen and dare to touch the stump. It was a dare because, as everyone knew, anyone who touched Snake Stump would be cursed to have Something Bad happen to them for the next few days.
Also, Something Bad, capitalize the first letters of that, which makes that seems like ... But it's like Something Bad is very ... I'm not typically worried about someone saying, "Something Bad," but the fact that it's capitalized makes it seem like it is a very specific something bad, like a proper noun, something bad.
Of course, this was a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you tripped and grazed your knee, or lost your favorite pencil case, or your goldfish mysteriously died, well you know why, the curse of Snake Stump. But whatever bad thing happened to you, it was a relief because then the curse was fulfilled and you didn't have to worry anymore unless you touched it again.
Julia: Don't do that.
Eric: The story behind it is pretty simple, but definitely reminds me of European fairy folklore. The legend goes that this big old tree was once the biggest in the bush, and therefore home to a local spirit who took the form of a snake. One day, a man came and chopped it down, angering the spirit.
Julia: Don't do that.
Eric: The snake now lives in the stump, a sad shell of former glory causing any humans who touche the precious carcass of its one magnificent home. It could have been a projection of our fears of being killed by a brown snake in the bush, but who knows. Maybe there really was a local snake spirit who protected the area and maybe it really is angry that white people paved its kingdom 100 years ago. It's a good example of why primary school was so painful as any.
Thanks for making my life so much creepier and cool, guys. Love from Australia. Paris.
Julia: Here's a question because I grew up in the suburbs of Long Island, where there are not a lot of deadly creatures around. Can you imagine my level of anxiety if I had to worry about well I can't play in the forest today 'cause I might get bitten by an incredibly venomous snake and die.
Amanda: Yeah, I'm pretty anti-outside, just because of mosquitoes.
Julia: I get it.
Amanda: That is painless at the time, and super not permanent bug-human interaction.
Eric: Yeah, that is not great.
I was once, not attacked, but scared by a snake on a very bad vacation that my family had. I would argue, a cursification.
Amanda: Tell me about it.
Julia: Where'd you go?
Eric: We went to Tybee Island in one of the Carolinas, a place where Justin McElroy loves and I fucking hate.
Julia: I was gonna say, that's the only reason I've heard of it before.
Amanda: Oh no.
Eric: Here's a list of at least three things that happened on this vacation. First, on the way there, our car almost caught fire and my little tiny bunny rabbit plush toy that was my comfort animal, I left it in the car when our dad pulled over and said, "Everybody, out of the car." We just had to stand on the side of the highway, and he wouldn't let me run back to the car to get the thing, understandably.
Amanda: I mean, probably for ... Yeah.
Eric: The car was legitimately smoking.
Julia: Oh no.
Eric: We had to get a lift by some random lady in a jeep to take us to the hotel while my dad got the car fixed. Then a tiny garter snake jumped out and scared me.
Julia: Aw, that is scary.
Eric: Then what happened was, this was when sand shoes were a thing back in the early '90s, and I wore them to the beach. The thing is if you wear those to the beach and you get sand in them, you get blisters on all 10 of your toes and can't walk for the remainder of the vacation, and are just in constant pain.
Eric: It was just a bad vacation for ... There was a few other things too. I think my mom saw a cockroach on the wall. We all look back on it and be like, "Wow, what a bad week." It was vacation and it sucked ass.
Julia: I am going to tell you some cool and creepy urban legends, but first let's get a refill.
Amanda: Let's do it.
Jules, it is officially spring time, which for me means just another season that is very appropriate to do a deep clean of your house. I've been enjoying it, I've been throwing out my expired toiletries, recycling them responsibly, I should say. I have been going through my pantry and using the stuff in my freezer, and just of course [inaudible 00:24:06] my clothes, and saying to myself, "Amanda, what do we want to bring forth into this new season?" I'm not gonna lie to you, Julia. Almost everything I kept is from Stitch Fix.
Julia: I love Stitch Fix.
Amanda: I love them too. They are the easiest way to get new clothing that fits your body, your budget, your lifestyle. That includes accessories, have this beautiful yellow crossbody purse that I wear all the time 'cause I love it, from Stitch Fix
Amanda: And shoes, and of course, clothing.
Julia: Yeah, I just got a box from Stitch Fix. I love it. They sent me 1) a tee length style dress, which I would never pick out for myself, 'cause I feel like they always make me look stumpy, but this one fit my body perfect, and it looked really nice on me. They also sent me a jumper, which I would never pick a jumper for myself because again, they always make me look stumpy, but this one's just high-waisted enough that it makes my legs look super, super long. I love it.
Amanda: Oh, that's awesome. I think you're going to have a great choice more often than not, but just in case something in the box doesn't fit you, or you don't love it, or you have something just like it, you can send things back to Stitch Fix, and you only pay for what you keep. Shipping, exchanges and returns are always free. The deal is that they charge you a $20 styling fee to send each box, but if you keep even one thing, that 20 bucks gets applied toward the price of the item. As long as you keep one thing, shipping is always totally free.
Julia: It's great. I love Stitch Fix a lot. I am looking forward to seeing what they pick out for my summer wardrobe.
Amanda: Me too. Listeners, you can get started today at stitchfix.com/spirits to get an extra 25% off when you keep everything in your box.
Julia: Yeah, again, that is stitchfix.com/spirits.
Julia: Three times.
Amanda: Three times. Jules, while we're on the topic, I also got rid of all of the socks, and underwear, and pajama shirts, and bathing suits, and various things that I didn't really care for. You know what socks I kept, they were the Bombas socks.
Julia: Of course. The Bombas socks are great.
Amanda: They are very, very good. As you know, I have giant feet, and you cannot always find cute patterned, soft, well-fitting, arch supporting socks for size 12 or 13 feet. But Bombas has them. My favorite part, they have seamless toe, so you don't have that seam digging into your cuticle. It's very, very bad. The cushioned foot bed is comfy, but not too thick. They have long ones, knee length, office length, like dress pant. Also short ones so that in the season of beautiful sneakers and nice weather here in New York, I'm able to even wear all my stylish short socks.
Julia: I burn through socks at the gym so frequently, but I have not worn through a pair of Bombas socks yet, and I really, really appreciate the well-made craftsmanship of them.
Amanda: Absolutely. Y'all, today you can try Bombas at bombas.com/spirits for 20% off your first purchase. That's B-O-M-B-A-S.com/spirits for 20% off.
Amanda: Send us pics. We want to see the adorable socks that you buy.
Julia: Yeah, I love the honeycomb ones.
Amanda, I am here to talk about Skillshare. Skillshare is an online learning community for creators, and there are over 25,000 classes. They are there to fuel your curiosity, your creativity, and your career.
Now Amanda, I've mentioned on the show a couple times, I'm learning how to wrestle.
Amanda: Yeah, you are.
Julia: That's pretty cool. I really enjoy wrestling. The one thing I'm not actually very good at, which would surprise some people, I'm not super good at public speaking. I started taking a class called Presentation Essentials: How to Share Ideas That Inspire Action. One of the really big things about wrestling is you need to cut promos. Basically, you have to convince these people, "Hey, I'm in important. You should come see me at this show, at this time, on this date." I want to get really good at that. By taking this Presentation Essentials class, I am learning skills about how to convince people to come see me wrestle.
Amanda: That is such a lovely application of that class, and I can't wait to see you wrestle in person soon.
Julia: Yeah, it's gonna be really, really cool. But if you're not learning how to wrestle, there are a bunch of other Skillshare classes for you. You can get stuff in social media marketing, mobile photography, creative writing, illustration, anything like that. You can learn professional skills, stuff to make your side hustle a little bit better, start a new passion. It's all great.
If you go to skillshare.com/spirits2, you can get two free months of Skillshare Premium. You can get all of the classes, you can take anything you'd like. It is very, very cool. Again, that is skillshare.com/spirits2 for two free months of Skillshare Premium.
Amanda: Thank you, Skillshare. Now, let's get back to the show.
Julia: I have an email title very simple, Puerto Rican Urban Legends. I was very excited to open it.
Amanda: Oh, yes.
Julia: This comes from Julio. Julio says: I'm a recent fan of your show. Now because of me, my roommate is also a fan.
Julia: Thank you, Julio. Spreading the word.
Amanda: Yay, doing the good work.
Julia: Thank you.
Eric: Spread that show around. Tell your friends.
Julia: While he decided to listen to Spirits from the beginning, I decided to go for the most recent, all the way to the start. It's been a fun experience seeing how much the show has grown. I think so too.
Eric: That's the correct way to listen to podcasts as well. You have to always be listening to the most recent episodes.
Amanda: Yeah, I do a bell curve edition and go from the beginning. Then when there's a new episode, do the new episode.
Julia: That's smart.
Eric: That is the correct way to listen to podcasts.
Julia: He also said: It's rare to try and put a modern spin, explanation and lesson from ancient myths, but you guys do it perfectly. I started listening to your show mid-semester, so I've been holding back on talking to you about urban myths and legends until I had time to sit down and write.
Yesterday, I finished my semester, handed in my composition portfolio, and now I'm sitting, drinking coquito, which is a Puerto Rican Christmas drink made of a base of coconut cream, coconut milk and a healthy portion of run, which sounds delicious.
Amanda: Someone, make me coquito. It's better and vegan eggnog.
Julia: I usually don't like coconut, but that sounds really, really good. Eric just picked up the dog and the camera, and now I'm very excited.
Amanda: Sorry, Julia. I'm gonna switch my camera to be Eric.
Julia: I understand that. I get it.
Amanda: Eric, please, honey. Give me a good angle. Thank you. There he is.
Eric: We've got Henry on the mic.
Julia: Julio continues: I submit to you three stories for your consideration. The first one is kinda of scary, the second one is kind of creepy, and the last one is kind of cool. Let's get started, shall we team.
The first one is called La Leyenda del Yauco. It wasn't until recently that I tried to search for it online, and found that it was an actual thing from Puerto Rican culture. I'll be it, a small rural tale.
It talks about someone who was alone one night walking through the mountains in our town of Yauco, where each night, he had to cross a lake, Vega Lake, to get to his house. Now the lake is creepy enough without mentioning that, because it used to be the seat of a small village that flooded after the river took its natural course, but in that night, it was even more so because a very dense fog settled around him while he was waiting in his boat. It got to the point where he couldn't see more than a few feet around him.
Desperate, the man started looking through his pockets, and the other things he carried for something that could light the way, something he could burn with a couple of matches that he had just found. After a quick search, it crossed its mind that the only flammable thing he carried was the wooden cross from his house. I don't know why you're carrying your cross in your boat, but you do you. He thought for a moment that if he could actually think about doing something so sacrilegious and horrible, event to cut across the river safely and get to his family. Without another thought, he cast the cross aflame, and waited safely to shore, and got safely to his house.
After a few years, he fell gravely ill and died. It is said that sometimes around the river or through the mountains, a big jet or ball of light can be seen hovering quickly and following people, only to disappear after people take notice of it. People say that it is the soul of the man that after arriving in heaven, St. Peter would not let him inside until he collects all of the remaining ashes of the cross he burned and is doomed to spend the rest of his days looking for it.
Julia: Yeah, it's a big one. As a side he says: Now after looking it up online, I found a few variations. In another town in Puerto Rico, I found one exactly like this, although instead of a regular man, it was a fisherman who went to sea to fish something for his starving family to eat, and had to burn the cross after hearing a cold disembodied voice in his ears say, "Light the cross and use its glow to take you home." His actual ghost is usually seen on the beach or at sea.
Julia: Yeah. I like that. I'm a fan of creepiness.
The second story is called The Girl of the Dance. Now this story was told to me by my dad when I was very little.
Eric: This one can't be creepy.
Eric: It sounds so pleasant.
Julia: So pleasant.
Eric: I guarantee nothing terrible happened.
Julia: Girls and dancing. Hell yeah.
Now this was a story that was told to me by my dad when I was very little. It always stuck with me and I needed to share it with your creepy, cool circle. The story starts with a young man who was at a town party, and enjoying his time very much when a beautiful girl approaches him and starts talking to him. They get along super well and dance the night away with his friends, having the time of their lives. When it got very late and the party started dying down, he offered to take her home, to which she agreed. While leaving the party, she was a bit chilly, and he gave her his tuxedo jacket, and kissed her.
Julia: Mm, romantic. Can't possibly go wrong from here.
Amanda: No, no.
Julia: He drove her to her house and saw her go inside before leaving. The next day, he woke up and realized she had kept his jacket, and it was a rental. Oh no.
Amanda: I was just thinking, "Oh no, you don't want to not be able to return your tux, but it is very chivalrous and nice."
Julia: Hurriedly he drove back to her house and knocked on the door. Five minutes later ...
Eric: The house is not gonna ... Oh, well I guess, I was gonna say the house isn't gonna be there, but obviously they've already made it to the house.
Julia: He knocked on the door.
Amanda: After the ghost diner though, anything could be true of buildings. Yeah.
Eric: Exactly, yeah.
Julia: Five minutes later, an old woman answered the door, and he explained to her his predicament and asked to see her daughter.
Eric: The old lady is her. I'm gonna call this one real quick.
Julia: After listening to him, the woman started crying and yelped, "My daughter has been dead for four years. How could you have seen her?" He was completely taken aback. He made sure it was the same house, and it was. The old woman, while holding back a small sob, showed him a picture of her daughter. He saw it and stared at the very same girl with whom he had danced with the night before.
Julia: She was buried at the new extension of the municipal cemetery. The woman said that before telling her the specific name and date of birth.
Confused and downright scared, the young man drove to the cemetery and hurried over to where the old woman said her daughter's tomb was. Although the task had been a hard one in the town's cemetery, where there were so many people buried, it was easy enough to find. Why? Because on the tomb of the girl with whom he had danced the night away, and with whom he had thought he had started something good was the exact same jacket he wore and had rented.
Eric: Yes, this is a good story. I was wrong both times on my guesses, but I saw this one actually coming.
Amanda: That is a good one.
Julia: It's very good.
Amanda: Wow. It's very good.
Julia: Now for the third story, I've resorted to something nice that my roommate Jose told me. He says: The night before my great-grandmother died, she had a dream. She had lived in a Christian rural town in Puerto Rico at the top of a mountain. Well into her 70s, she was living happily with her children, grandchildren and her husband. They hadn't had the easiest of relationships. In fact, it had been quite rocky, yet they made it work, going on 50 plus years together.
Then came the time when he got sick and passed away. Before he did, however, he came to accept Christianity as his faith, something he had rejected throughout his life. Life went on for everyone including my great-grandma. Yet in her eyes, she had grown this sadness and weariness.
One night, a few months after her husband's death, she dreamt that she was alone lying in bed. Stepping through the door, her late husband appeared, quite alive and in good health. He offered her his hand and in a gentle tone said, "Come. I've come to pick you up. Let's go." She took his hand and began walking with him.
The next morning, she got up as always, makes a nice breakfast for herself and her daughter, who is the only one present in the moment. At the dinner table, my great-grandma tells her about this weird dream. After the initial shock of it, they laughed it off. That night was her last.
When I first heard the story, I thought, "It was only that, a story." Yet in recent years, I've heard more and more stories from friends and family of other elderly couples who have had dreams of their past loved ones, picking them up the night before they die. I don't know if it's the same phenomenon that appears in other towns on the island, but in my town, most families who have had an old couple die within a short time span of each other have a story like this to share.
Julia: I think that's really sweet in a lot of ways. It's very, very cute.
Amanda: Yeah. Thank you for writing in.
Julia: Julio writes: Thank you so much for reading our stories. I hope that you enjoyed them as much as we enjoy listening to all of the stories and myths that you share with us from week to week.
Amanda: Julio and Jose, thank you for writing in.
Julia: Yeah, it was so good. I love those stories.
Eric: This story comes to us from Kayla. It is titled, Creepy Day Care Story/Haunted Toys in My Classroom.
Julia: Kids are always creepy. Just no matter what.
Amanda: Bring it.
Eric: I work in a daycare in the one-year-old room, so it's pretty much filled, different sounds, noises throughout the day, and there's always music playing for the kiddos.
Amanda: That seems like a nice daycare.
Eric: The other day my co-worker Kelsey and I were giving the kiddos a snack, and a toy monkey that sings when you put different outfits on him started to randomly sing.
Eric: The monkey was on the shelf and no one was near him. I would have brushed it off as if the toy had just been being weird, if it had not gone through his cycle of songs for five minutes, pausing in between just long enough to freak us out each time he did it.
Julia: No, no.
Eric: He was quiet the rest of the day and we thought nothing more of it until today. March 14th, this email came to us. Hopefully ...
Julia: Almost a month later.
Eric: Hopefully it's all right. Hopefully everything has worked itself out.
Amanda: This haunting was unending, like pi. Boom.
Eric: A perfectly timed pie reference.
Eric: The monkey was still on the shelf and we have another toy monkey that swings and sings when you press his shoe. Just as snack time was about to start, the shoe monkey starts to go off untouched. As he started to sing his song, the shelf monkey started his cycle as well.
Julia: I don't like that. I don't like that at all.
Eric: I should mention, at this point, both monkeys have been turned off. Needless to say, they have been removed from the classroom.
Julia: Good. Smart choice.
Amanda: As an adult, you choose what your hauntings are. You can eliminate ones that you can eliminate.
Julia: This is my problem with the '90s movement of kind of complex electronic toys, but also at the same time, they're still pretty cheap. Of course, they're going to act out, and malfunction and stuff like that.
Eric: Well now are you talking in the vein of Furbys?
Julia: Yes, I the vein of Furbys. 'Cause this is a monkey doll that it reacts to the different clothes you put on it. It has to have a little bit of semblance of technology, but it doesn't have to be good technology. I'm convinced that ghosts are taking over technology or it's just malfunctioning. It's one of those two.
Amanda: I wonder if in the future, when sensors and robotics are better, if our kids or grandkids are gonna be like, "Wow, our parents' generation was so stupid. They just had bad tech and they thought it was haunting all the time. LOL."
Eric: What if it is just a dark Toy Story we're dealing with here?
Julia: I'm into it.
Eric: 'Cause they don't explain while all those toys are sentient.
Amanda: Yeah, but Toy Story, they spend a lot of time trying not to be found out. It seems like these toys are either in some warfare to sacrifice one another to the human gods, or they are trying to blow up their spot and take over somehow.
Eric: Maybe it's more of a Toy Soldiers, which was the PG-13 or our version of Toy Story. Can't remember. It was definitely quite crude, I remember, so it was definitely PG-13. But that was a wild trip. Maybe it's more of a that situation than a Toy Story situation.
Amanda: Maybe so.
Julia: I have another one. This is from a listener named Addie, and it is titled, The Woozle.
Julia: I need reaction to The Woozle.
Eric: The Woozle.
Is the Woozle a Dr. Seuss-ian character?
Amanda: Woozle wobble but he don't fall down?
Julia: Woozle wobble but he don't fall down. You got it. That's just what the email says.
Julia: The email goes: Hi Amanda, Julia and Eric. My name is Addie and I recently started listening to your podcast. I've been binge listening to the episodes ever since I first heard it as I am a closeted mythology nerd.
Don't be closeted about it. Be free with your love of mythology.
Julia: I have been debating sending in my family's urban legend as it is not known outside of my family, but I caved and decided to send it anyway.
This is the story of the Woozle, and it begins in Wheeling, West Virginia. My mom's side of the family has been visiting Oblebay Park in the rolling hills every summer since the late 1960s. As our family is Irish Catholic, you can imagine how big these gatherings are. Amanda can attest to large families. When my generation was young in the early 2000s, our parents took it upon themselves to instill fear and mystery to our yearly reunions.
Amanda: You got to.
Julia: During the childhood of our parents', there was a park ranger whose name was Ranger Ron. Ranger Ron was a recluse, and often expressed disdain for his job and his constant interactions with those visiting the park. He was in charge of the observatory telescope, and therefore lived as a nocturnal creature. Being the deranged, secluded and creepy man that he was, Ranger Ron decided to torment the children of the park.
Oh, I always pick the creepy ones. I'm sorry.
Amanda: Oh, geez.
Julia: After going out to the woods surrounding the park, Ranger Ron killed various animals to use their hides to create an elaborate costume that came to be known as the Woozle. Not much is known about the Woozle's actual appearance other than it was about nine feet tall, hairy and had beady red eyes.
Julia: As small kids, this image became one of terror. The frightening aspect was enhanced by the annual Woozle hunts.
Can you imagine, your parents and your family members putting on a Woozle hunt?
Amanda: Uh-uh. Mm-mm.
Julia: Oh God. These late night walks would begin at 11:00 p.m., and took place on the darkest night of the week.
Amanda: You know, this really is like the anti-Easter egg hunt. I was recently reminiscing about Easter egg hunts, in that it was super fun as a kid, and then you stopped being able to do them, and then that's all. But I'm amazed that every Easter egg hunt does not end in the discovery of a dead body because you're just rooting around in all of the areas that you would think kids ...
Imagine the opening of a CSI episode. There's a sweet kid with an Easter basket. They look down and there's an eyeball. That is how ... I don't know. I think it's a great way to ask for people to uncover all your secrets.
Julia: Yeah, I was gonna say, that sounds like a special holiday version of Law and Order.
Julia: Two of my uncles would gather us all as we trumped through the woods, around the park, looking for the infamous Woozle, all the while being told the terrors that the Woozle had inflicted on the previous generation. During these walks, two other uncles were hidden throughout the woods with the job of being the Woozle. They would be throwing rocks and pushing over dead trees, sometimes even climbing up the trees to throw the occasional pine cone at one of their nieces and nephews. The two sets of uncles had walkie talkies and used them to create ominous noises and growls just to frighten our young minds.
After about an hour, our hunt would conclude as we walked back to the cabin without proof of the creature, and horrifying ideas that would not allow us to sleep. Needless to say, the idea of the Woozle was a terrifying yet enticing aspect of my childhood. While this legend does not expand past my family, I thought it would be fun to share just how much my uncles put the effort into scaring the small members of their family. Thank you for creating such a fun podcast and indulging in my secret mythological passion.
Julia: It's very cute. It's creepy but also very cute. I think that's the perfect balance.
Eric: It is. I was not creeped out.
Julia: That's good. I'm glad you're not totally creeped out. It'd be worse if it was like, "Yeah, we used to do this all the time and then one of my cousins disappeared."
Eric: Exactly. That's what I was worried could happen, but it was quite pleasant.
Julia: We're good. All right, Amanda. I think you're up for the last one.
Amanda: Absolutely. I was so moved by these tales of Irish and Scottish legends, that I thought I would close on one as well.
Amanda: This comes from Callum, who writes to us about mermaid corpses, Scottish werewolf communism, and gay myth greasers.
Julia: Wow. That's a lot of things that I love.
Amanda: Word, as I said, the subject line's so important, and this is a great one.
Amanda: Hi, I'm a huge fan of y'all and excited to finally write in. However, I'm not here to talk about things that make people feel better because I'm Scottish, and we don't have any of those.
Amanda: I thought I could send y'all some wild Scottish myths that I think are fitting with both the attitudes of Scotland and the Spirits Podcast. My dad is from Scotland but my mom is an American, and I've lived my whole life here in the U.S. However, as a child, we would occasionally visit my Scottish relatives, and they would often send us Scottish history and folktale books to keep us from becoming too American.
My family mostly hails from the Hebrides Islands, an island chain so remote and sad, that even the Scottish people think that it's a depressing place to live.
Julia: Oh, wow. That's saying something.
Amanda: One of the more popular stories from the island tells of the blue men of Minch, mermaid-like people that dwell in the waters between the islands the mainland Scotland. Like most Scottish folklore creatures, their number one priority was fucking up your day, and most stories about them involved shipwrecks and sailors getting dragged to a watery grave.
Julia: Sure. Checks out.
Amanda: Another mermaid myth from the island is a much more recent, a supposedly true event, recorded in a Scottish newspaper since 70 years after it maybe happened. The story goes that sometime in the 1830s, a group of people were gathering seaweed on the beach when they saw a strange human-like figure swimming nearby. A few other people claimed to see the creature that day, with some going so far as to try and catch it without success.
Julia: Don't do that.
Amanda: Don't, don't do it. Don't fuck a sea God, don't catch a sea creature, and super don't try to steal fish that that creature should be eating.
However, later that day, a local teenager saw the thing swimming and took the opportunity to partake in Scotland's national pastime, homicide.
Amanda: Listen, Scotland. I feel bad this is not me saying this. This is Callum who is a duel patriot in both Scotland and the U.S.
Julia: One of your people.
Amanda: He threw a rock at the creature and hit it on the back. Two days later, its body washed up on the beach.
Amanda: It was described as being about the size and stature of a small child, creepy with scaleless salmon-like tale in place of legs.
Julia: Oh my God.
Amanda: Oh boy. Have I ever considered what a mermaid tail looks like without scales on? Nope. Am I ever gonna think about that again? Also, no.
Julia: I imagine it's shark-like, or like a dolphin. It's smooth. Smooth boy. I know sharks are not actually smooth, just before the internet corrects me, but it looks smooth.
Amanda: I don't know. I just picture a denuded chicken breast, and I didn't like that at all.
Amanda: The creature was apparently given a proper Christian burial. LOL. It's grave was said to be intact somewhere on the island of Benbecula today, though naturally, no one knows where.
Another story I wanted to share was the myth of the wulver. The Hebrides islands have been run under what is basically futile law for a concerningly long amount of time. The land where farmers live and work was owned by someone called a laird, who was often a rich English person. The farmers were only allowed to live there, so long as they continued to turn a profit while the lairds had control of the land, that was these farmers' livelihoods handed to them by family members.
The laird on the island where my family lives was a formidable English woman named Lady Cathcart, which can we take a moment to appreciate how gothic horror that name is.
Julia: It's very good. I imagine that she does own a haunted castle.
Amanda: You know, I love how futile systems were developed before capitalism and capitalism ultimately is just ... They're the perfect instantiation of how extreme the system can get. Anyway.
However, we went to visit our family in the summer of 2016, and they informed us that Lady Cathcart was gone, and the farmland now belonged to the islanders, and the islands were currently governed in a quasi-socialist townhall style. However, they were worryingly vague about how this change had gone down.
When asked what happened to Lady Cathcart, they would just say in the calmest of old Scottish lady voices, and therefore I'm picturing McGonagall that, "Oh, she's gone away." When we passed by the Cathcart mansion, again, that name is so on the nose, it was decrepit and looked abandoned. I'm not entirely sure they didn't kill her somehow. This would be very on-brand for Scotland.
Julia: I think that's a euphemism. It's got to be a euphemism, "Oh, she's gone away."
Amanda: I mean, I would assume that that meant there was a pregnant out of wedlock if this person wasn't a long history of living there, and likely no longer was able to get pregnant. But anyway, this will be on-brand for Scotland, as brutally murdering an unpopular leader and never mentioning it again is essentially our history in a nutshell.
Anyways, weird forms of socialism are not new for these people, and their version of the werewolf myth is essentially a hairy Karl Marx. The people of the Hebrides at one point believed that humans evolved from wolves. Eat shit Darwin, we did evolution first. That evolution works, but I support the sentiment anyway. Believed that the halfway point on this evolutionary scale was a half wolf, half human creature called the wulver, which unlike the actual missing link, was believed to still be living alongside humans. But instead of ...
Eric: This should be taught in schools.
Amanda: No, Eric. We have enough problems with creations of evolution.
Julia: I love the wulver.
Eric: I fully support a new education system which this is Bio 101, the wulver.
Amanda: It's a very good idea because you don't even know the best part about the wulver yet. Instead of being a scary monster from hell, these werewolves would leave fish on the windowsills of needy families, making them perhaps the first of a long tradition of hairy Scottish communists.
Julia: Ah, I love it. I've heard of the wulver before. I'm glad that we got an email about it. I want to touch on it a little bit further at some point.
Amanda: Finally, Callum says that we should read Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson, which is verse novel that retells the story of Herakles and Geryon in an alternate possibly post-apocalyptic world where Geryon is a Canadian boy with red skin and wings, and Herakles is his bad boy, leather jacket wearing boyfriend.
Eric: That's a lot. That is a lot.
Amanda: That is the mythological gay greaser in this email.
Julia: Very good.
Amanda: What a wild ride. Really appreciated this one. Thank you, Callum.
Julia: Appreciate it. Thank you. I think that's ... Is that it for us today?
Amanda: That's about all. Ending on a vision of supernatural socialism, I think, is the best way to leave our listeners for another week.
Eric: That's everything we got.
Julia: Yeah, what else could we possibly give them besides that?
Amanda: Overthrow the means of production and remember ...
Julia: Stay creepy.
Amanda: Stay cool.