Monday, October 15, 2018

INSIDE THE LABYRINTH, Ep 8: Horror Review and Story (William P. Robertson)

Here we are at episode 8! Since this dropped a little later than intended, there are some events I reference (going to Fort Ligonier Days) that already took place. :)
But in this episode, I do a review and reading of a story by historic and horror fiction author, William P. Robertson, who I met this past summer at Fort Niagara's French and Indian War event. I also get into a little of Edwardian era fashions and how easy it can be to get an outfit for an Edwardian or even late Victorian era event (basically a white blouse, long dark colored skirt, dark stockings, plain black shoes and you're good to go! Just make sure you have the right hair and makeup as well :D ).

The story I read is titled "The Late Mr. Wilson" and it is from Bill Roberston's Fear is Forever anthology. The book is available on Amazon:

Also check out his websites:

And here is my review on his dark poetry book at the blog:

I also reference the Silk and Sass 1776 blog:


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Blue Mist Road, Its Lore and Urban Legends

If you are a resident of North Hills (Wexford, Gibsonia, Allison Park, and other surrounding areas) in Southwestern Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh), you are likely quite familiar with North Park. I myself enjoy going there to hike and jog as it is quite beautiful and - even in its busiest hours - offers much serenity. But one road in particular that is intriguing to many (myself included) and fodder for much local legends in the area is what used to be an old dirt road called Irwin. Or, "Blue Mist Road" as it is also referred.

Now, I am the sort who loves to explore old buildings and churches, including and especially ones that have been abandoned. I have never been one to shy away from such things, regardless of the time of day (or night). But something about this particular road unnerves me and always has since I moved to the area.

At first glance, it seems fairly innocuous. Just a dirt road that eventually leads out to one that is more traveled (910). However, it has recently been converted into a jogging trail. While I enjoy being able to jog there, I do miss the old dirt road.

what is now Irwin Road

For the longest time when I used to walk it, I was determined to make it down to the end. But somewhere at about halfway down, I would get the feeling that I shouldn't go much further. At least not by myself. Perhaps it is just me being superstitious, but there is a certain point where I do feel I should turn back.
Though I suppose now that it's a jogging trail, it takes away some of the creepiness, so I have recently gone all the way down and also explored it some more (I do a little of this on one of the next podcast episodes).

end of the road...

 exploring a little off the path and further in the woods...
Now, the appeal of the road lies in what many say is the history and the urban legends behind Irwin or "Blue Mist" Road are quite disturbing. One in particular stating how the road was once a haven for the KKK. It is also said that the tree on which they used to execute lynchings still stands at the end of the road. This has been disputed, however, by some investigators, particularly the folks at Weird U.S (a site that I do encourage you to check out). According to them, this is doubtful. They report that the branches of the tree aren't strong enough to hang a human on. I can also attest that in my time exploring the end of Irwin Road, I also could not find a tree with branches strong enough for something like that. The folks and Weird U.S. also go on to state that because Pennsylvania was an abolitionist state (and even abolished their anti-miscegenation laws in the year 1780, long before the Civil War came to fruition), the Klan would not have had that great of a stronghold. In this, I can see where Weird U.S. is coming from. But I will also say that just because Pennsylvania in general might not have been huge Klan supporters, that does not mean that there weren't groups whose ideas coincided with such a group. Even if such ideals weren't acceptable by most, that doesn't mean that even a small group didn't form a chapter and worked at more underground level. And if you look into the history of the Klan, there is talk of how they did have disturbingly higher connections (but that's a whole 'nother post). Either way, the story of The Hanging Tree remains as one of the more prominent legends of Irwin Road.

Now, a lot less disturbing, but still quite eerie, is the reason behind the nickname, "Blue Mist Road." Why Blue Mist, you ask? Well, apparently this is due to tellings of a blue mist covering the road at nightfall. Some have even claimed to have seen blue orbs among the trees while exploring the road at night.
Toward the end of the road, there is a point where the road diverges into three paths.

 one of the paths that I explored a little

One of these paths is marked with a rusty mailbox and leads up to a foundation where The Witch House once stood.

yes, I made it to the mailbox!

The Witch House was said to have been home to a few Satanic covens (animal mutilations and disappearances of local teens were widely circulated during the 1980s and 1990s according to a few sources).
Another of the three paths is said to lead to a place known as "Midget Farm," said to be inhabited by a little person trying to escape scrutiny. Anytime a curious local might venture onto the path, the "midget" would chase him or her away. There have also been stories of rabid dogs coming out of nowhere and sightings of a half-deer-half-man.

Among these creepy tales is also one of doomed romance. Near the three-way fork in the road is a small cemetery, which I have yet to find in my exploration here. The graveyard is said to be so old that the names and dates on the worn down headstones are mostly unreadable (I will add that the idea of such a graveyard was also part of the inspiration for my short story, The Cemetery by the Lake). The cemetery is said to have two particular graves belonging to two former star-crossed lovers. According to legend, anytime the moonlight hits these two stones, they supposedly lean in to one another as if to try and touch or kiss. Hence, they are referred to as the 'kissing stones.' I also mention these tombstones in my story, Upon a Moonlit Path, a serial that is exclusive to those on my email list. I do want to find this cemetery.

Of course, every urban legend has believers as well as skeptics. Whether or not you choose to believe is entirely up to you. As for myself, I will say that I do feel as though I am entering a world different from my own in the times I've set foot on Irwin. And regardless of how crowded North Park gets during its peak hours, Irwin or "Blue Mist" is almost always deserted, save for maybe only a couple other occasional joggers or bikers.

I will also add that if you do decide to venture onto Irwin Road, it is not illegal to do so (at least as of this posting) though there is a sign posted saying that only authorized vehicles are permitted. Meaning you will have to walk or bike (though do check into what the rules may be before going on any sort of adventure).
And speaking of not taking your vehicle onto Irwin, that may be a good thing. Another legend states that if you park your car beneath the hanging tree (and some stories say that you need to

honk three times), the car will fail to start up and strange things will begin to happen. And according to some, one unfortunate teen met his demise by doing so...

Weird U.S.
Witches of Pennsylvania: Occult History & Lore
Pennsylvania Haunts and History

Photos in this article taken by Tiffany Apan


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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Take 5 with Dark Visual Artist Andrea Dean Von Scoyac

TA: First, tell a little about yourself.

ADV: Wow...where do I start? An exciting life, filled with ups, downs, triumphs, pains, fame, fortune, celebrity, goals far exceeded and still waiting for some, ships to come in.

On a more personal note, I'm a Hereditary, natural witch (meaning I inherited the power...didn't have to “become” a witch) tracing my mother's family power as far back as I can find people in the tree.

Dad's side, was Sorcery. Had to hunt for that info. My Aunt (dad's younger sister) has the Power, but no one talks about how it came to be. I found out and proudly crow about it.

The rest of dad's family...they'd have just as soon I left that secret buried.

I'm a Thanatophile (lover of death...anything dead or involving death and spend a LOT of time on sites for real death photos and videos) and my Midnight years, have found happiness through my Phobophilia Surrealist Photography.

TA: Now you used to write horror novels and had some pretty nice success with it. What story or book of yours would you say is your best work?

ADV: My favorite book was and will always be… A Man of Two Worlds. It was in and out of motion picture negotiations, many times.

Just never got there.

My fans disagreed, choosing my first novel, The Two to make best seller and crowing about Michael.

Michael is one of the books that got me FBI profiled.

I always said I never knew who was sicker and more, or my fans. Ha ha...

TA: Over the years, you have really shifted your focus, both in your life and your career. What made you want to make that change?

ADV: Burn out. Plain and simple. My writing success was sudden, meteoric and put me on the fast track...appearances at cons, on TV and even in movies.

I was a founding member of the Self Publishing movement. I pushed for it, paid my dues for it, (including shunning by traditional authors - hate threads we're even started about me on people who didn't even know me. They just knew I bucked the establishment, so they hated me because their friends (who were robots of the establishment) said they should) and having to work extra hard to get my name out there.

I did it, too. But not without a hefty price. Within eight years, the empire I'd fought to help build, spawned all the e-publishing sites that swamp the market today.

Now...anyone who has a nightmare can publish a book. You don't need talent. You don't need work. Just upload your story to one of the popular e-reader platforms and you can call yourself an author...without having to put out any real blood.

I knew there was no way I could compete with the monster I'd helped create, the convention and book tour circuits were wearing on me, so...I retired.

Many people have asked me if I'll ever write again. The answer is simple.


TA:  Tell us a little of what you are currently working on.

ADV: I'm living yet another dream. I've always wanted to be an artist of any sort, but I can't even draw stick figures.

Photography has always intrigued me and now, thanks to technology...I'm fulfilling an untapped passion I never thought I get to.

TA: And finally, where can people find you and your work? Plug away :)

ADV: The best place to find my work is on Deviant Art:

Instagram: thebohemiancelt

On Twitter I'm @TheDarkHeartArt

TA: Thanks for being here!

ADV: Thanks for having me!


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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Urban Legend and Lore: The Seven Gates of Hell (York, PA)

Few things fulfill a chilly autumn night more than a ghostly tale, or one that delves into the unknown.

One particular piece of lore that intrigues me is the legend of The Seven Gates of Hell, located in the York County, Pennsylvania (Hellam Township) area. According to legend, passing through all seven gates will lead the traveler straight into the depths of Hell. To quote Dante: "Abandon all hope ye who enter here."
My interest in this urban legend lies partially in the basis of the location being upon an old isolated asylum that was once on a wooded road called Toad Road. According to some sources, the asylum was erected in the 1800s, housing the most criminally insane (needless to say, the locals were likely quite relieved to not have this establishment close to their places of residence). Then one night, a mysterious fire broke out, killing many of the inmates. Due to its remoteness, firefighters could not reach the building in time. The few able to escape were hunted down by a search party and law enforcement. Those found were either beaten to submission or killed.

The asylum was never rebuilt, but the role of the gates in this version is often disputed, the most popular theory seeming to be that they (the gates) were built by the search party teams as a way to capture the escaped inmates.
Another version of the legend suggests that the property on which the pathway to Hell is said to be was once owned by a rather eccentric and temperamental doctor who had the seven gates built on the path leading up to his home. I haven't found any concrete source with information on exactly how these gates came to be a pathway into the bowels of Hell, but the stories continue, even to a point of claims about daring travelers reaching the fifth gate, only to be dissuaded from continuing on, when the sounds of the damned would permeate his or her ears and a sense of foreboding would take over. Even the bravest adventurer is said to have not made it passed gate number five.
In addition, both versions of the legend agree that only the first gate can be seen in the light of day. The other six can appear to an onlooker at night, perhaps by moonlight.

As a side note, I wonder if the Seven Gates of Hell of legend have any ties with the Seven Gates of Virtue (in Limbo) and the Nine Rings of Hell from Dante's Inferno. Perhaps that is where this part of the myth came from. Might be worth exploring. Perhaps we might even be able to unlock yet another door in this mystery.

With that said, a couple websites state that the land on which the gates are said to be is in fact private. So if you venture there, you do so at your own risk. There is also debate on the area, and Toad Road in general. Some say that no asylum or physician ever resided there. Some even go as far to say that Toad Road never existed, though others claim that it was changed to Trout Run Road due to its sordid past. Some who have traveled out there claim nothing out of the ordinary while others swear to hearing rather unworldly sounds.

I guess this is one urban legend that remains shrouded in the veils of mystery.

What say you of this? :)

Sources of interest:

Wikipedia (Seven Gates of Hell 

Haunted USA

Weird Pennsylvania


Thank you for reading! Go on a five day journey through time with me and receive a song or mystical story each day!
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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Inside the Labyrinth, Ep 7: Storytime "The Guests"

The first week of the scariest month is here! In this first Halloween edition episode, I tell a story that is said to have been passed around as town lore in the Albany, NY area. In my version, the story takes place in the early 1960s, telling of a young couple that sets out on a road trip and ends up with an encounter they will never forget.
I also tell of my favorite vintage makeup line. Check out their website:

And don't forget to keep checking this blog, as there is all kinds of haunted history and spookiness there too!

Haunted Monongahela:

Thank you for watching! Go on a five day journey through time with me and receive a song or mystical story each day!
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Kevin MacLeod
"Shadowland 4 - Breath"

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Haunted Monongahela: the Monongahela Witch and the Emerald Mansion

Hey hey!

Happy first day of Halloween to you all! I will be your dark hostess throughout October. :)

photo credit: Rowen Poole

For a full month, we will be having all kinds of spooky fun, both on the blog and the podcast. I hope you are as excited as I am and I can't wait to take you into the darkest regions of the earth where no man dare enter (or something like that).

Anyway, we are kicking things off with some lore that's fairly local to where I am. See the thing is that it's sometimes the smaller towns that have the richest history, and that includes haunted history. One such town is one hidden among the Steel City (Pittsburgh, PA), just along the Monongahela River.

It is the town of Monongahela.

Now those of you that have been following me on social media know that in addition to all else I do, I am involved in the reenacting community. One place I have done quite a bit at is the Depreciation Lands Museum in AllisonPark (this place has its own benevolent ghost called The Deacon which I will be covering later this month).
Now every Halloween, the museum puts on their Lantern Tours with an ever changing theme. A couple years ago, the theme was a dramatized reenacting of the witch trial of real life 17th century accused 'witch', Mary Bliss Parsons. And as a side note, what has two thumbs and got to portray Mary Bliss Parsons?

Yep, that's right.


Now as I was reading over the script for and doing research, I came across another interesting figure (who was also portrayed in this event). This other figure that caught my attention was Mary or "Moll" Derry, also known as the Fortune Teller of the Revolution and/or The Witch of Monongahela.

According to a brief description in a sample from Thomas White's book, Witches of Pennsylvania: Occult History and Lore (a book that I definitely recommend adding to your fall reading list), Derry was born in Germany during the year 1760. During the Revolutionary War, she moved to America with her husband, who was a Hessian soldier.
After the war ended, they moved to Fayette County in the 1790s. It is said that Derry lived in Georges Township until passing away from old age in 1843 (which would have made her 83 at the time of her death).

Throughout her lifetime, Derry was said to have told fortunes, removed hexes, and cured ailments. There is even a story of how she tried to help a young woman with a warning of an abusive fiance. Unfortunately, the young woman did not listen and was later found dead.

While Derry did much in using her abilities to help those around her, she was also said to have a vengeful side, and abandon all hope all ye that dared cross her. There are many stories of curses and affliction place upon individuals that angered Derry, from farmers having their livestock mysteriously perish, to men that tormented her having their lives cut short by hanging.
Either way, her reputation as "the most well-known witch of the western side of the [Pennsylvania] state" made her a legend long before her earthly life came to an end.
Many find it rather curious as to how Derry managed to slip beneath the radar of being brought to justice as a witch. Some suggest that perhaps people feared crossing her just that much. But as someone whose pet subject (or one of my pet subjects) happens to be the witch hunts and trials, I have done a lot of careful research on it over the years, and like many other events in history, witch hunts and trials weren't nearly as cut and dry as they are often portrayed and there are many, MANY inaccuracies put out there in entertainment and the media (yes, I'm throwing a little shade at you, American Horror Story: Coven). But American Horror Story isn't alone in my shade throwing, for most Hollywood productions and videos making the rounds on social media (throwing more shade at outlets like Buzzfeed and least I think that's what it's called) seem to enjoy spewing garbage, seemingly for the sake of shock value and making modern folk feel good about themselves because as messed up as we are, "at least we're not like THOSE people!" But I digress. That's for another blogpost. These October postings are for fun.

But anyway, like many other parts of history, the witch hunts and trials are yet another giant, mysterious labyrinth with many different and unexpected twists and turns. And speaking of twists and turns, who doesn't love a haunted house? Especially one said to have a haunted tale behind it.
Well, I have something for you. Demon House - also know as Emerald Mansion.

Now bear in mind that I am not entirely sure of whether this is the real history behind it or if this is a fabrication simply part of the haunt. But either way it's a cool story, and one to maul over as you await your turn to enter into the old McCue Mansion.

I can say that I did experience Demon House a couple years ago, and I will say that it does deliver.

As for the story told behind it, the story goes a little something like this:

The mansion has over 138 years of haunted history and the land on which it sits was once used as a burial ground (possibly Native American but also might have been used by the Spanish). There is also a story about a mysterious woman by the name of Carla, who owned a title on the land in the mid-late 1800s. Supposedly, she was not bothered by the land's history as burial grounds. It is said that she even asked to keep some of the bones of the exhumed bodies.

Carla was said to be a healer and a witch by some, and many sought out her cures for a variety of ailments. In 1894, she mysteriously vanished, as did some of her patients. When the sheriff and his deputies conducted a search of the house, four members of the search party entered the mansion only to never be seen again.
The house remained empty until 2004, when it was purchased by the owners and operators of the haunted attraction, Demon House.

Now, the current owners of Demon House have stated in a couple interviews that there definitely is an energy about the area. So perhaps one of these days it would be interesting to sit down with them and see just how much of the story stems from truth.

Either way, the moral of the story is...always keep your eyes open, for sometimes the smallest towns have the most interesting history and legends.

I hope you enjoyed this first installment of Halloween Inside the Labyrinth as there are many more to come.

Til the next one, pleasant dreams...

Sample of Witches of Pennsylvania: 

Demon House Legend: 

Mary Bliss Parsons:


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Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village (Avella, PA)

Hey there!

So about two weekends ago, I had the pleasure of performing with my Wayward Companions bandmate, Tom Crytzer at the Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village for their 48th Annual Covered Bridge Festival.
Most of my period music gigs tend to fall into the mid-late 18th century eras, but for this one, they wanted us to be more along the lines of mid 19th century/Civil War. Since most of my period clothing is 18th century (I also have a few Edwardian and some early-mid 20th century pieces), I had to borrow a mid 19th century dress. Thankfully, I'm in the Pittsburgh Historical Costume Society and therefore know many many people with all sorts of period clothing. So after a few rehearsals, Tom and I were set.

So on the morning of September 15, I set out to meet Tom at an in between place.

The drive was very scenic and gorgeous, as was the Rockshelter and historic village upon our arrival. We played in an old church in the village, as a sort of 'musical exhibit' to visitors. So the performances were continuous as visitors entered the church.

Inside the church before visitors arrived

I was also able to get a quick shot of the cabin house out the window

It was quite busy that Saturday, with Tom and I playing almost constantly. But we were able to take a little break (my voice also needed a little rest!) and take in some of the scenery. The first stop was the log house.

 Inside the log house

 Maria, a Meadowcroft history interpreter who was stationed in the log house

Next up was the schoolhouse. I was looking forward to seeing this as I have been schoolmarm many times at the Depreciation Lands Museum.

 the Meadowcroft historic village schoolhouse

 the teacher's desk

 a creepy antique doll in the schoolhouse, that I of course had to get a photo of

 schoolmarm Maddie (one schoolmarm to another!)

As the first day of the festival drew to a close, my voice was almost ready to give out. Thankfully, the site gave us free ice cream, which was very much welcomed by my tired throat.

 Tom Crytzer in his 19th century clothing

me in mid 19th century mode

The following day (Sunday and the last day of the festival), Tom and I were back in the church, playing music for visitors venturing in to the church. Both days we had some great crowds come in that seemed to enjoy what we were doing.
Sunday was pretty steady, though not as busy as Saturday was, so there was a little more time to sight see.

the blacksmith's shop

 a beautiful covered bridge

I really enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity to perform at this event. Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village is a great place and I definitely recommend visiting. The history behind how it came to be is also pretty fascinating. It is also run by the Heinz History Center, and you can check them out at their website:


Thank you for reading! Go on a five day journey through time with me and receive a song or mystical story each day!
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