113 | Season of the Witch


Our world is full of the unexplainable and if history is an open book all of these amazing tales right there on display just waiting for us to explore <music> welcome to the cabinet of curiosities speak the name Transylvania and you might right Philip Chill it evokes a certain image one of a man clad in black with sharp fangs dripping with blood. It's people have often been portrayed as hapless peasants fearful of the creature living in the scary castle EPA top of the hill in fact Transylvania is almost nothing like the way Bram Stoker portrayed it in his novel even Dracula's Castle which many have claimed as based on Transylvania's real brand castle is in no way associated with the historical roots of the famous character. Almost everything we know about the region is thanks to one famous book and it's countless film adaptations and it's wrong. The historic area located in central Romania is actually lush in green not dark and rocky. It's populated by people from all different backgrounds who live and work in any one of the region's vibrant cities. There's a rich history within Transylvania which can be seen in things like its well preserved gothic architecture texture and for potential tourists looking to explore the hometown of one of the greatest characters in all of literature. There's a lot more to see than just castles. There are glorious churches the OPPA Seaney Mountains and countless. Little Hamlets and villages to give you a taste of the local culture. There's also an amusement park. It's not as well known as it should be considering. The engineering must have taken to build it. The park features numerous attractions like affairs we all and a playground. There's also a bowling alley a mini golf course and a lake for visitors to paddle around in you might be wondering why this place required such advanced engineering to build since none of its attractions are any different from those. You might find that an amusement park Harkin America. It's ferris wheel isn't really that tall. The playground is mostly comprised jungle gym equipment. What makes the park so special is its location and how you get to it? In order to visit the site known ask Selena Turda. You have to board an elevator that will take you down almost four hundred feet below the earth that's right the whole park was constructed underground inside an old abandoned salt mine the mine had been in use right up until nineteen thirty two before it was turned into a bomb shelter during the Second World War after that it was used to store copious amounts of cheese then in nineteen ninety. Two millions of dollars were spent converting the space into a full-fledged fledged tourist trap complete with a museum eighty seat amphitheater and a spa and that spa boasts some of the purest air in the world thanks to the salt which acts as a natural defense against allergens temperatures in there remained ETA steady fifty four degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity never breaks eighty percent it seems the weather is always perfect when there's no weather to worry about and Selena Turda. Is it just home to an amusement park. It's also a big destination. Donation for folks looking to practice hollow therapy in the former salt mine breathing the salty air helps treat their asthma and other respiratory conditions and has been in practice for hundreds of years. It's a pretty unique idea taking a place that used to be nothing big hole in the ground and turning it into a tourist destination so if you ever have the chance to visit the beautiful Transylvanian countryside be sure to budget some time for a little fun underneath all that scenic beauty and breathe easy knowing that year in the happiest place under the Earth Opportunity often knocks when we least expect it. We're just going about our daily lives and suddenly something hits us that changes everything in dramatic way. Percy Lebaron Spencer was a physicist working on radar tubes when a new opportunity found him he had been building magnetron or large vacuum tubes that generated microwaves when he noticed the candy bar in his pocket had melted it occurred to him that the microwaves had caused how's the bar to heat up rapidly a few years later he filed the patent for the first microwave oven. Another famous and influential accident happened in Nineteen Twenty eight when Dr Alexander Fleming left out staphylococcus cultures for a few weeks that didn't grow or spread resulting in his discovery of penicillin but some opportunities don't revolutionize entire industries or the world at large. Sometimes the moment is just right for someone to change their own lot in life. And that's enough but at what cost during the late sixteen hundreds Salem was battling a crisis of faith political turmoil and war on their borders all of which culminated in the now infamous Salem witch trials of sixteen eighteen ninety two however accusations of witchcraft were not uncommon elsewhere in the world Scotland was a hotbed of activity from the mid fifteen hundreds all the way through the early eighteenth century and that's where John Dixon found his calling. I'm John had been quite young. When the witch bricker arrived in town the people came to watch the mysterious man perform the tests that would prove whether someone was in fact a witch he had the accused strip naked before the crowd and then examined them from top up to bottom until he found a mole or freckle on their skin somewhere to insert the needle not a common sewing needle though but along hand-carved pin the witch bricker would insert that pin into the spot known as the devil's Mark and if it caused pain or bleeding then the accused was proven not to be a witch if it caused no pain and no blood was drawn the victim would be proven a witch and then executed o n the witch bricker was paid for every positive identification advocation making it a responsibility that was easy to abuse and convictions came easily to accused women often confess to make the humiliation and abuse stop while pickers devised retractable needles that would slide back back into the handle when pressed against the body giving the impression it was penetrating the skin sort of like a movie prop knife? Let's just say the job was a lucrative one and John Dixon saw a chance to make a good living doing the same thing. I traveled to Elgin and worked for six shillings a day. This was where he met the famous Isabel Gowdy an alleged which who had been charged with murdering her landlord's small children. It's not clear whether Dixon directly had anything to do with Isabelle's confessions which implicated twelve members of her coven but Dixon was successful enough to move on to bigger communities heading north detain just a year later in tain lived a man named John. Hey who had also been accused of being a which but he was different from other victims and not just because of his gender hey worked as a court messenger and knew enough about the law to use it to his advantage rather than be subjected to Dixon's tests. Hey petitioned for the witch breakers arrest alleging that he was operating outside the legal guidelines the courts agreed and Dixon fled south before they could take him into custody. John's career was over though he took a job on behalf of a landowner who wanted a particular clan removed from one of his properties. The mcleans had lived there without incident for over two centuries but the landowner Chisholm had big plans for this land given the People's propensity for calling out witchcraft with no other reason than mild unease Chisholm saw a way to get rid of his pesky tenants once and for all he hired John who had changed his name to Mr Patterson to avoid capture to conduct an interrogation the witch bricker did as he was told he stripped all of the mcleans cleans fourteen women and one man right down to nothing and began stabbing at them with his special needle. The clan was tortured. The soles of their feet were burned and they were dangled by their thumbs until they confessed which of course. I did anyone would but there was a problem with the landowners plan someone had gone to the McLean chief with word of Patterson's activities. The chief called the landowners bluff and as a result an investigation was conducted and the cleans were released. John was arrested and sent to Edinburgh to answer for his crimes and it was there that too big secrets were revealed. I John hadn't been using a needle to figure out who is a witch instead. He claimed that he look into their eyes to determine their guilt and second John. Dixon wasn't even his real name he had been born Christian cadle and he was a woman. You see there hadn't been many opportunities for for women outside the home at the time and Kate Al had seen which trickery as a way to earn her independence sadly she is believed to be responsible for the deaths of at least six innocent people over the course of her career. Although the real number is is likely higher. It's not a happy story I know but it's one that we should never forget because it teaches us a valuable lesson. People aren't always who they claim to be. The law is not always always just and money can ruin a lot of things but if we stick with it everything just might work out in the end. That's the hope at least isn't it. I hope you've enjoyed today's guided tour of the cabinet of curiosities subscribe for free on Apple podcasts or learn more about the show by visiting curiosities PODCAST DOT COM. The show was created by me Aaron McKie.

Coming up next