Portugal

Benfica and the Curse of Bela by Michael S Collins

For someone who has been dead thirty-three years, Bela Guttman is a very bitter man.

Jon Arnold

Benfica are one of the most successful football clubs in the world. They have won their domestic Portuguese league thirty-three times, and the Portuguese Cup twenty-four times. Alongside European success in the distant past, it stands as one of the most glittering trophy cabinets in Europe, and many are jealous of that success. Yet, if you ask folk who work for the club, a sinister shadow lurks over them, which prevents greater success on a continental stage. For Benfica, they claim, are cursed.

But to get to the curse, we need to go back to the start. No, not as far as 1904, when a bunch of students formed this club. In the 1950s, Benfica had risen from that humble beginning to become a sporting institution (they have teams in many sports, includibg basketball and hockey, not just football) in the background of Salazar’s Portugal. They had high hopes of winning the European Cup, but come short against unstoppable Real Madrid in 1957.

Enter, in 1959, Bela Guttman. A Hungarian Jew who had won the Hungarian league title either side of a Second World War in which he spent hidden away from Hitler so well people still aren’t sure where he got to, Guttman had already gained a reputation at that point for mercurial success and a history of relationships souring. A man who had gained and lost a fortune in the Wall Street Crash, after leaving his native Hungary earlier due to an anti-Semitic leader. He also was not unknown for his random moments of eccentricism; as early as 1924, he responded to his own view that the Olympics hotel was not suitable, by hanging dead rats from the rooms of the Olympics officials. When people would ask his age – he was near 60 when he took over at Benfica – he would reply “24”. And his method of scouting players might not pass modern scrutiny; he discovered Eusebio, Benfica’s finest player, after a discussion at the local barber shop with a retired Brazilian international! He had a belief in the supremacy of the manager which has signs in the modern day Jose Mourinho, and installed a clause in all future contracts that he couldn’t be sacked if his club were top of the league, after that happened in Milan.

I never minded if the opposition scored, because I always thought we could score another.”
Bela Guttman

Not wary of courting controversy, he had even moved to Benfica from their bitter rivals Porto!

Some while ago, he said, Lucchese, then for a brief while a Serie A team from the beautiful Tuscan city of Lucca, were on their way by train to play the mighty Juventus in Turin. On the journey their manager, poor fellow died. The directors were thrown into a panic. How could any Italian team take the field without a manager on the bench? In desperation, they phoned all over the peninsula until they had found a manager, who arrived just in time to sit on the bench. Lucchese then proceeded against all the odds to hold Juventus to a draw, and the players carried the new coach off the field on their shoulders.”
Guttman’s anecdote about managing, told by Brian Glanville

Guttman was to lead Benfica to great success, but their greatest success together came in Europe. In 1961, they became the first side to win the European Cup not named Real Madrid. (Though not the first team to beat Real, that honour fell to their long time political, philosophical, theological, sociological and footballing nemesis, Barcelona.) In 1962, in the final they came up against Real themselves, and beat them to make it two European Cups. With a fine manager, and some great players – Eusebio and Mario Coluna, Benfica and Portugal captain to name but two – the future looked rosy for Benfica.

And so Bela Guttman asked for a pay raise. To be fair, he had every right to given his success, and had he been managing in the modern game, he’d have been making millions before you could say “Special One”. [And unlike Mourinho, Guttman was a proponent of the Danubian School of football philosophy, so maintained a healthy 4-2-4 attacking formation throughout his career…]

The Benfica board turned him down, and Guttman left the club.

And at this point, he is alleged to have put a curse on the club.

Never in a hundred years will Benfica ever be a European champion.”

Now, an alleged curse is one thing. What does it take for people to begin believing in it?

In 1963, they got to the European Cup final again. Despite taking the lead, they fell behind 2-1 and lost to AC Milan. Another final in 1965, and this time the loss was to Milan’s city and stadium sharing rivals, Inter. In 1968, another final, and in extra time at Wembley, and believing certain referee decisions had gone against them, Benfica went down 4-1 to Matt Busby’s Manchester United, undone by the majestic talents of George Best and Bobby Charlton. Famously, despite having the dogged Nobby Stiles marking him, Eusebio broke free of the United defence to find himself one on one with the goalkeeper… and the most natural goal scorer in Europe missed the most gilt edged chance of his career. It was 1-1 then, would have won the game. So three European finals in quick succession, and the manner of the third turned some minds.

Then in 1983, a UEFA Cup final. Hey, Guttman didn’t specify the smaller European trophies, just a European Cup. Benfica had manager Sven Goran-Eriksson, already with a fine reputation (though he was later to win the Italian title and manage England) and a great team. They are facing Anderlecht, with all due respect, not one of Europes shining lights. (Forever eccentric, Anderlecht of Brussels in Belgium are one of the handful of teams who have both won a European group stage 100% and lost one 100% in their history!) A nice way to take the pressure off, but Anderlecht won 1-0 at home, and drew the game in Portugal, and suddenly it was 4 lost finals.

In 1988, another European Cup final, against novices PSV Eindhoven of Holland. This time surely. Goalless game after a sterile match in which Benfica, perhaps done in by the ideas of curses and player suspensions, played ultra defensively. Every penalty was scored, so sudden death in the shootout came into play, and it was Benfica who missed. Five lost finals.

In 1990, Benfica reached another European Cup final, against Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan side, one of the finest regarded in Europe. This time, Benfica were underdogs. (And owed a fortuitous handball to eliminating the much more fancied Marseille side in the Semifinals!) Benfica’s manager at this point was their previous tormenter, Sven-Goran.

But the words of Guttman hung in the air. Eusebio, long retired but still an ambassador for Benfica and Portuguese football, went to the grave of Bela Guttman (who had died in 1981) and prayed to Guttman for mercy, kneeling before his grave in Austria.

Well, for a while, it might have seemed it had worked. Benfica had all the pressing against Milan, their keeper held Marco Van Basten (Milans scorer extraordinaire) at bay, and had a number of chances but just couldn’t get the ball in the net. Then, Frank Rijkaard scored midway through the second half, and it was 1-0 Milan. That was the score at full time.

Guttman had not been appeased, clearly.

In 2013 and 2014 they have reached two more European finals, in the Europa League. In 2013, they took on Chelsea, dominated the proceedings, and lost 2-1 with the final goal coming in the last seconds of injury time. On the 14th May 2014, they took on Sevilla, overwhelming favourites to finally end the Curse of Bela, and yet couldn’t find a way past the Spanish defence and crumbled in the penalty shootout.

The current score, if you are keeping count at home, is Bela Guttman 8, Benfica 0.

Football curses aren’t unique to Benfica. Derby County removed a Romani settlement to build their new stadium in 1896. A curse on the FA Cup was allegedly placed on Derby, which enough folk began to believe in after they reached three finals (and six semifinals) in quick succession, losing each time. Before their FA Cup final in 1946, officials from Derby County met with the descendents of the removed people to beg forgiveness. During the final, at 1-1, the ball burst. A sign from elsewhere they’d been forgiven? Derby went onto win 4-1, the curse broken, and rarely spoken of again.

A similar curse in similar circumstances was alleged to have fallen on Birmingham City from 1906 to 2006. Manager Barry Fry once even peed in all four sections of the ground to try and ward off the curse. One might equally state though, that is more likely Birmingham City failed to win anything, because they were rubbish. Hibernian of Edinburgh, one of Scotlands biggest football clubs, have failed to win the Scottish Cup since 1902, and no one seriously claims they are cursed, except by the continued laughter of other football fans.

Though with Hibs, and more talk of Romani curses (were they walking around the countryside, randomly placing curses on football teams they found had interesting names in their Sports Almanac?) as they lost 10 Scottish Cup finals since that 1902 victory, the event seems psychological in nature. That said, they even got some nuns to wash their strips before the 2012 final, hoping for some Holy intervention, and lost 5-1. Clearly God was busy, has a great sense of humour, or was a Hearts fan.

I don’t really believe in curses. I do however believe that people who believe in being cursed are likely to fall into self-prophecy. And to be honest, I kind of get the impression Guttman knew that too. Benfica wont continue to lose because they are cursed. They will continue to lose because they think a long dead manager is cursing them. As seen by their finest player praying at the grave, and them mentioning it each European final, Benfica football club seem to believe in the curse. And that trickles down into each successive manager and player. Benfica have even unveiled a statue to their former manager outside their stadium, to no avail on the curse front.

“”Every year when Benfica plays in the Europe they try to get rid of the curse. Any time that Benfica play near Guttmann’s grave, somebody will take flowers. It hasn’t worked.”

Jose Carlos Soares (journalist) to CNN

Ah, but the devils in the detail. For Guttman was also to have claimed “no Portugese side would win two European Cups” in the same hundred years. Porto, clearly not caring for curses, won the European Cup in 1987 and 2004. Rather than the ghostly influence of a bitter Hungarian, one might suggest the ghastly influence of a well placed mind game.

Guttman died, aged 82, in 1981. Both Eusebio and Mario Coluna died the year this was written (2014).

In the last decade (barring 2009) Benfica have been one of the most recurringly successful sides in Europe not to win a European trophy. Barring the aforementioned 2009 debacle, they have reached the last 16 at worst in European competition since 2004. They have reached seven quarterfinals, three semifinals and two finals. They keep meeting a final roadblock, the fates seeming against them. Maybe it’s psychological.

Maybe it’s the ghost of Bela Guttman making sure his old score is settled, even now.

But if so they shouldn’t worry too much.

After all, only forty-eight years left to go…

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Scotland

The White Lady of the Southern Necropolis by MJ Steel Collins

The worn and be cloaked white lady statue standing above the grave of Magdalene Smith and her housekeeper Mary McNaughton was erected in their memory by Mrs Smith’s husband, John, a local carpet maker. The two women died in 1933 after being hit by a tram in Langside Road one rainy night as they headed home from church. Generally, this is the regular kind of tragic tale you will find associated with the graves in the Southern Necropolis in the Gorbals, where the two ladies are buried. But also typical of this cemetery – famous for a vampire hunt in the 1950s – this particular grave and statue comes with a story.
Many believe that the statue, known in Glasgow lore as The White Lady, is haunted. It’s an old story, one my grandfather was rather surprised was still doing the rounds. Given the date the women died, the story must have come to light not long after their deaths if it’s one my Grampsie can recall from his youth. The tale goes that the spirit of one of the ladies haunts the statue. People walking around the cemetery claim that the head of the statue follows them. The stare of the statue is also supposed to turn unwitting victims to stone; to prevent this from happening,  it is advised to run around the statue three times chanting, “White Lady, White Lady, White Lady”.
Whether or not anyone has actually been turned to stone, it’s hard to say. There were certainly no surprised looking Glaswegians frozen in statue form when I went to visit the Southern Necropolis last spring. The stare of the White Lady must also be a long one, given the size of the cemetery.  It took a good while to find the statue, made difficult by the fact it was stashed behind an overgrown bush. The neglect of the grave, presumably down to the fact the family are probably long gone, adds certain poignancy to the tale. It certainly looks like a grave that would have a ghost!
However, despite all my best efforts, the statue didn’t move its head and remained decidedly still. I’ve also yet to turn to stone. If anything, the story of the White Lady has to be one of Glasgow’s typical shaggy dug tales, probably created by the children who lived in the tenements that used to surround the cemetery. After all, it was the fertile imaginations of those same children (aided in by a US horror comic) that came up with the seven foot vampire lurking amongst the grave stones which sparked the 1953 hunt.

Dixon’s Blazes iron foundry used to be situated behind the cemetery until the mid 20th century. This caused the cemetery to be lit up with a red backdrop every night as the foundry worked 24/7. That would definitely be enough to inspire lurid tales from young fertile imaginations. These days it’s not as spectacular – the foundry has been replaced by a dull business park, whilst the tenements that used to surround the Southern Necropolis were razed in the 1960s. Other than strange stories surrounding an angel statue which hangs from a nearby apartment complex, The Gorbals are rather dull in comparison to the district’s heyday.

*To find out about the Southern Necropolis’ other creepy tale, the Gorbals Vampire, click here

Jamaica

The White Witch of Rose Hall, Montego Bay, Jamaica

The White Witch of Rose Hall is perhaps one of the most enduring ghost stories to ever come out of Jamaica. It also gives an interesting insight into how a ghost story evolves. Rose Hall was regarded as the grandest big house in Jamaica during the 1800s. Today, it is a popular tourist attraction, many visitors coming to admire it’s gorgeous decor and surroundings. But that’s not all the tourists come for. Rose Hall is also associated to an incredibly bloody and sadistic legend which has gripped people for decades. Such is it’s notoriety that Peter Underwood mentions it in passing in his autobiography, No Common Task: The Autobiography of a Ghost-hunter. And it fascinated Johnny Cash to the extent that he wrote a song about it, ‘The Ballad of Annie Palmer’. Cash spent six months of each year living in his Jamaican home, Cinnamon Hill, near to Rose Hall. He was a believer in the spirit world and was convinced his own house was haunted, never mind Rose Hall! Cinnamon Hill has been left exactly as it was when Cash died

But first, a little history is required to give some background to the lurid tale. The area of Rose Hall was established as a sugar plantation called True Friendship in 1746 by Henry Fanning. A short time later, he married Rosa Kelly, a local pastor’s daughter, but didn’t last much longer as he died 6 months after their nuptials. Rosa inherited the plantation, marrying a further two times before her final wedding to John Palmer in 1767, making that four hubbies in total. John and Rosa Palmer built Rose Hall between 1770 and 1780. Rose Hall was inherited by John Palmer’s great-nephew, John Rose Palmer, who in 1820, married Annie May Patterson. She died in either 1831 or 1832, allegedly murdered. Coincidentally, this was also the time of a slave revolt in Jamaica

There are various versions of the legend, most of which are in accordance with one another. The only one which is markedly different is that of Peter Underwood’s, which which we’ll look at first. Underwood moves the story back a few decades, apparently making the first John Palmer and his great nephew the same person. John and his wife Rosa had spent several happy years at Rosehall, They were a much loved and admired couple, who treated their servants and slaves decently. John was devastated when Rosa died. He was 72. Shortly after Rosa’s death, he was captivated by 28 year old Annie Paterson. Soon they were married. Annie already had a track record. John was her fourth husband. Her previous three had all died in seemingly strange circumstances, leaving Annie increasingly powerful and rich with each death. They had died, writes Underwood  ‘…of drink, madness and apoplexy respectively…’ and notes that it was believed Annie had killed them with the aid of a witchdoctor.

With her arrival, the happy atmosphere of Rose Hall soon evaporated. Tales travelled of all sorts of goings on. Annie was a cruel woman. She treated the slaves abysmally and they were terrified of her. She often took a good looking slave as her personal servant, who would have every comfort given them until Annie got bored with them. And they’d disappear. Her husband, who was ill, couldn’t control her. Annie was also rumoured to have ‘a bit of a thing’ for her attractive young stepson, It came out, via a jealous overseer seeking revenge after he lost favour, that the stepson had an eye on a beautiful mulatto slave girl. On hearing this, Annie had the girl viscously killed, something slave owners could do with no legal repercussions at the time. Annie watched. And enjoyed.  The end result was the stepson fled.  Annie eventually became persona non grata amongst Jamaica’s high society thanks to the stories of screams and howls coming from the plantation yard, where Annie would whip and torture slaves.

One day, the slaves had enough and murdered Annie in her bed. Her bones were cast away under a tree. And this is why it is believed she haunted Rose Hall, The Hall was abandoned when John Palmer died. Screams could be heard coming from the empty rooms…

Underwood notes that the final caretaker died after breaking his neck falling down the cellar stairs. Though locals said he was pushed by Annie’s ghost.

As for the other versions of the legend? Well, they all bear the stain of wanton cruelty and torture. Perhaps the best known version, and pretty much what is told by Rose Hall tour guides (the only difference being they put Annie’s origins in Haiti), start by asking was Annie already cruel by time she reached Rose Hall? The Parisian origin version of the tale argues that she only became cruel as she found life in Jamaica hard and missed the bright lights of Paris. Although it also mentions that Annie had a Haitian nanny who taught her Voodoo as a child. The same nanny then adopted and raised her following the mysterious death of Annie’s parents when she was 10. Along similar lines, the Haitian version says that while growing up in Haiti, Annie became a favourite of a Voodoo priestess, who taught her. But yet another has that in order to placate her, slaves who followed the religion taught Annie all they knew. Either way she became a renowned, powerful witch, known as the White Witch of Jamaica. The type of Voodoo she practised was of the particularly nasty sort – involving human sacrifice, especially young children. She used the bones in her rituals*.

Annie’s husband, John, died soon after she married him, thanks to her poisoning him. She gained a further two husbands, neither of them lasting long. Their deaths were down to Annie too – one was stabbed to death, and the other had boiling hot oil poured into his ear. With their deaths, Annie became richer and even more powerful. Really, the Underwood version turned backwards. Annie was still cruel to her slaves. She would whip and torture them, even condemning them to death. A perceived infraction could mean death. Every day, she would stand on the balcony of Rose Hall, the slaves gathered in the grounds before her, and she would give orders. This would include whippings, torture and death. In addition to this, she would regularly ride around the plantation on her black stallion, some  say in men’s clothes. The horse was known as ‘three legs’ because she tied white cloth around three of it’s legs. Again, she would be on the look out for ‘misbehaviour’ so she could enjoy the punishment.

And that’s not all Annie would do. Every version of the myth portrays her as having a voracious sexual appetite, including Underwood’s if we think of her fixation with her stepson. Instead of taking ‘personal servants’ from male slaves she found attractive, as Peter Underwood describes, every other rendition of the tale has her take male slaves as sexual objects. These men, she’d tire of quickly, and they’d soon meet a nasty end at Annie’s own hands in her bedroom. They would then be buried in unmarked graves. Her sexual cravings led to her downfall. One particular young slave Annie set her sights on was an attractive young man engaged to be married to the daughter of the plantation’s overseer. The overseer was in fact a powerful Voodoo Obeah or priest, something he hid from Annie in order to protect himself. He knew what Annie did to her slave lovers, and took some steps to protect his prospective son-in-law from the same fate.

However, things didn’t go to plan. Annie would normally stretch out her time with her lovers before she tired of them. This time, she had her pleasure and killed the young man on the same night. This might be because he rejected Annie by saying he was in love with another woman. As it was, his death devastated his fiancée. Her father, the overseer, decided that things had to end for Annie Palmer. A grave was prepared in front of the house, using Voodoo ritual and markings. Then the overseer went into the house and confronted Annie. She came outside and fought with him, physically and magically. She was killed, and placed in the grave. The overseer also died.

Not surprisingly, there is an alternate version of Annie’s death. Allegedly, she was beginning to find that sex with ordinary men wasn’t satisfying her and nothing would do but the ‘prowess’ of the devil himself. One night, slaves heard her screaming in her bedroom. They ran to the door, which was locked. One looked through the keyhole and saw Baron Samidi, the Voodoo devil, standing in Annie’s blood soaked bedroom. The slave was immediately blinded. Annie’s bedroom door was broken down and she was found lying, strangled to death.

Annie’s tomb is specifically designed to stop her from rising and walking Rose Hall again, although it apparently hasn’t worked as it is believed her spirit haunts the plantation. The grave has the cross marked on it on three sides so that if her ghost walks, it can go back into the grave if she chooses. The crucifixes otherwise bar her spirit.  It’s not only Annie’s ghost said to walk Rose Hall. The ghosts of her victims accompany her…

Tales of hauntings at Rose Hall abound. Doors slam of their own volition. Blood curdling screams can be heard. Disembodied footsteps in the hall. Annie’s apparition has been seen both in the house and roaming the grounds on her black stallion, ‘Three Legs’. Locals living in the area have passed the stories down from generation to generation. Some staff working in Rose Hall today are just a little apprehensive. Tourists have reported strange things happening in the photos they take. Regularly, people report a woman’s face reflecting back from the headboard on Annie’s bed. She and other strange things are captured in her mirror. And interesting things being caught in the hallway. These are regularly sent back to Rose Hall and displayed in a case in the gift shop.

There have also been many visits from mediums and psychics over the years, trying to contact the spirit of Annie Palmer. Renowned medium Eileen Garrett, famous for predicting the R101 disaster,  visited in 1952, reporting Annie as appearing to her with black hair and striking blue eyes. Garrett said Annie looked to be in her 40s when she died. The spirit apparently told Garrett she knew she was in danger and tried to escape. Annie then added that because of the way she died, no children would be born in Rose Hall, nor would anything grow or flourish. Well, apart from the thriving tourist business within the estate since it was bought and restored by a couple from Maryland! In 1971, a group of psychics visited the tomb in an effort to lay Annie’s ghost, but didn’t have any luck. It was they who marked the 3 crucifixes on the tomb. A few years later in 1978, 8,000 people arrived to watch a variety of world famous mediums try to contact Annie. No peace in the afterlife…

But, it doesn’t end there. In 2008, an article was published on the White Witch of Rose Hall in the Fortean Times. It’s author Benjamin Radford dug a little further into to legend. And what he came up with was quite striking, not to mention indicative of the crazy flights a major ghost story can take. First of all, Radford noted that much of the legend could be found in a 1929 novel by Herbert G. de Lisser. The novel, which de Lisser writes has basis in fact, blends in much of the legend’s tropes. Also, Radford links the stories of Annie’s cruelty and torture to Rev. Hope Waddell, an abolitionist (i.e. someone who campaigned against the practice of slavery) who conducted interviews with slaves at Rose Hall in 1830. Waddell had heard rumours of abuse. An 1860s Jamaican newspaper report referred to Waddell’s subsequent report, giving credence to the the tale.

Radford didn’t stop there. He also researched the histories of the people involved in the story, and says the actual story of Annie Palmer can be found in a 1965 report by Geoffrey Yates of the Jamaican Archives entitled Rose Hall: Death of a Legend. And yes. It rips the whole story to shreds. Yates found that Annie Palmer was born Annie May Paterson in England in 1802. In her childhood she came to the Caribbean, leading quite an ordinary (and Voodoo lesson free) childhood. In 1820, at 18 years old, she married John Rose Palmer and the two lived in Rose Hall. They were not rich and he died in 1827 in great debt, leaving hardly anything for Annie. He was 42. Annie left Rose Hall for another part of Jamaica and didn’t remarry. She died of natural causes and was buried in Montego Bay churchyard in 1846. The ‘tomb’ outside Rose Hall is actually empty.  Radford argues that the legends of Annie Palmer and her many husbands mix her up with the earlier Rosa Palmer, who had 4 husbands. Except Rosa didn’t practice Voodoo. Or murder her husbands.  Annie’s John Palmer isn’t buried in an unmarked grave on the estate as his burial is recorded in the parish register.

The whole rise of the legend Radford puts down to ‘classic legend making’, mixing up historical facts with outlandish fiction. He is very damning of previous researchers into the legend, criticising them for not looking more deeply into the story: “As always, it’s much easier to simply repeat legends and myths without making any effort to separate fact from fancy,”

As for the ‘haunting’, Radford says there is no haunting. The ghost of ‘malicious’ Annie Palmer does not exist. It is all a flight of fancy, and suggestion on the part of the psychics such as Eileen Garrett who ‘contacted’ Annie. The ghostly experiences involving the furniture in ‘Annie’s room’ don’t convince him as it’s all replica. The originals were destroyed in a fire years ago. As for the photos, he argues that what appears in them are common phenomenon in photography which are often taken to be paranormal. This includes light flares, light bleed, camera straps suddenly getting in front of the lens, etc. He says that people are aware of the fact there is a lot of myth in the ghost story, thanks to de Lissers book, arguing that the mistake is believing there is some truth to it But Radford keeps his most damning criticism for the nasty legends that circulate about one ordinary woman: “Though the ghost of Annie Palmer – like the Annie Palmer she was based on – is a fiction, the story of the White Witch of Rose Hall has left victims (and not just the credibility of some writers and psychics). The legacy of an innocent woman has been forever blighted by careless research and false accusations.” He continues at the end of his article, “Imagine if, a century from now, due to some strange mix of myth and circumstance, people were to describe you (Radford’s emphasis) as a cruel, perverted, sadistic serial killer, and psychics confirm it, relaying your sensational confessions to the public.”

Certainly food for thought next time you hear a crazy ghost story. Plenty of this ilk abound. While, as is the ethos of Ghostly Aspects, it is good not to over judge a ghost story, perhaps there are cases, such as this, where we need to ask questions.

*I want to clarify a few things about Voodoo, which has a lot of negative stereotypes, that feature heavily in the story. I read up a lot on Voodoo as an anthropology student and I believe the negative stereotyping is really unfair. The popular image of the religion as demonic, black magic and evil is pretty much a myth. It does have a slightly dark side, but it’s nowhere near what it’s made out to be. It’s a syncretic religion – as in it takes in forms of other religions. In this case, it’s the amalgamation of Catholicism and Yoruba religion. There are many different varieties of it, from Haitian to Louisiana (ie New Orleans and Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen) and Cadomblé in Brazil. It does feature sacrifices, though ordinarily chickens or goats, which is something you find with many indigenous religions across the world. It’s still practised widely, and is known under a variety of names, such as Vodun, Vodou etc. A good book to check out on the topic is Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn, by Karen McCarthy Brown. More information on Voodoo in general can be found doing a search on line, which I thoroughly recommend doing.

Further Resources:

Ghost Adventures Rose Hall episode http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMCXFDF4aks&feature=related

Johnny Cash “The Ballad of Annie Palmer” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOSU5WMkOpo

Herbert G. de Lissers novel The White Witch of Rose Hall on Amazon

Retelling of the legend in a short Jamaican film http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCBUT3apnOU


Sources:

Underwood, Peter (1983) No Common Task:The Autobiography of a Ghost-hunter London: Harrap

The White Witch of Rose Hall, Benjamin Radford, Fortean Times 239, Aug 2008, pp 44 – 49

Ghost Adventures Rose Hall episode http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMCXFDF4aks&feature=related

Paranormal SPY » Bad Juju Mamma: The White Witch of Rose Hall

The White Witch of Rose Hall – Scaryplaces.com

http://www.reggaeshow.com/rosehall.htm – Pictures and visit of Rose Hall

http://www.rosehallresort.com/index.cfm Hilton Rose Hall Resort