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Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Birth Of Urban Myths

Image from Layout Sparks

Last week Unity in the Paranormal Community (UPC) asked the question "What's your favourite urban myth/legend". People responded with things like "Bloody Mary", "Magic Hill", "The Ghost of the one black eye" etc.
But what about the origins of more tangible urban myths - how do they start?
Some of the one's I can think of that have been debunked that really had people reeling were "Siberian Miners drill into hell and record screaming" and the photo's of the skeletal remains of giant humans, claiming them to be the "Nephilim". Both did the rounds on email and both were absolutely debunked.
Pastor Robin Swope "The Paranormal Pastor" gives us a great example of how they begin in "The Terror of the Omega Men" (Just google Paranormal Pastor Omega Men). In this thrillingly written story a tale is woven about a sophisticated and supernatural cults activities and how the town around some WW2 tunnels lived in fear of what went on there. The ending of that story (and I'll let you read it, I am not going to ruin the surprise) teaches us that things are not always what they seem. Yet if the truth never came out, the legend would still exist and a false reality about the situation would be the staple of campfire, sleep overs and late night bushwalks.
I have experienced the reality of this either starting from scratch or the hushed tones of one that has lain under the surface for many years.
The first one was when I was having a coffee with a member of a local Rugby League Club.
"You know that house on the water near the bridge, the big white one you see as you come into the Shire" He said, his steely gazed drawing me in.
"That house has never sold at auction. It is in one of the best spots in this area and yet it has never sold. And do you know why"?
"I've done some work there concreting and it's a spooky place....."
Pause - this bloke is the biggest, burliest, ex Kings Cross bouncer I have ever seen. He doesn't get spooked easily.
Play - "...spooky place, when you work there you get the chills, like someone is watching you and all the tradesmen say the same thing...it's haunted"!!!!!!
"Why is it haunted"?
"I knew the guy who owned it when I was a kid. He was a doctor" (Now he's really straring me down) "And..... (almost whispering) it was an illegal abortion clinic, that dealt specifically with Catholic School girls who....y'know....had gotten themselves into trouble.. He would take them out in a boat in front of his house, perform the abortions and then throw the babies overboard into the bay....and the ghosts are those of the murdered babies who were stuck here on earth"
And there you have it - an urban myth right in your own area.
Another one that I am giving genesis too is this tale. This is a true story from the weekend just gone.
For many years I have noticed a large grove of tree's, a pine forest, that was an anomaly in the landscape of North Caringbah. I have always wondered what such an acerage of tree's is doing in the middle of an industrial area. I have to admit, I have never had a good look but would often drive past and wonder who owned the land, whether it was private or crown, how big it was. The tree's were very tall, a dark and wispy pine, planted too close together. Even on a summer day it looked dark, cold and mysterious. So after twenty years, I grabbed my two youngest kids and decided to find out what was going on. As we walked up Captain Cook Drive, trucks rumbling toward Kurnell, it seemed even more out of place that such a cluster of forest could exist untouched. My first effort was thwarted as I walked down an industrial estate only to be stopped by a huge wire fence topped with barbed wire.
This is strange indeed. If it is crown land, why wouldn't you be allowed in? I walked another 500 metres into the next industrial estate that framed it. Again, high wire fences topped with barbed wire, but now I could see directly into the forest. It was approximately five acres, heavily wooded, with tree's seventy feet high. It looked dark and forboding in it's middle, but through it I could see the most magnificent glass framed factory - what could this be? It seemed like a multi million dollar complex by it's sheer magnitude. 
I had to go in. But there was no entrance. I kept walking and right at the very end.........a tiny hole in the fence.....but big enough for me and the kids to squeak through. 
A man walking his dog startled me. We exchanged pleasantries and I asked him 'do you have any idea what that forest is and why it is fenced off'?
He answered 'Many years ago I worked in there as a forklift driver. It is one of the largest drug companies in the world'.
Ahhhh....I exclaimed, so this land belongs to (company name deleted). It hit me then of the magnitude of land that they owned - I never would have connected this area with the front of the company that was streets away from here.
'That's right' he said.
'And what of the forest' I asked what is the purpose of that - that land would be worth tens of millions of dollars - it doesn't make any sense in an industrial area.
'They say 30 years ago that strange experiments were conducted in that forest. I was fired not long after finding that out - maybe my forklift skills were not up to scratch, I was very young and it was my first real job'.
'Strange experiments'? I asked.
"Strange experiments were conducted in there many years ago, by the company - right there in the forest" he said as he watched my children lob pine cones over the barbed wire.
Crank or not, that was enough for me, I was through the hole and into the forest to see for myself..............
And that, dear readers, is how urban myths begin. What shall I find as I continue to explore my new forest and it's history of strange experiments? That is all my new friend would tell me.
But....we did find a feral kitten that was left for dead in a pond and brought it home and named it Tiger, so our experience was not fruitless.
What urban myths have you encountered in your local area? Perhaps you have accidentally started one? Maybe you are investigating one right now? Are they fact or fiction?
Christian culture is full of myths ranging from satanic cults to creation science hoaxes to "drilling into hell". A famous and popular Christian tract producer (God bless him), still stands by a lot of the proven hoaxes that he unwittingly and well intentionedly used in his tracts on satanism and the Catholic Church. That came from interviewing people who turned out to be cranks, but by then it was too late, their stories had been published as fact. We need to be diligent about what information we take in, and send out via email. I've spent too much time correcting propaganda that due diligence would have fixed in a couple of minutes. I think Jesus expects more from us than perpetuating myths even if we feel it supports our belief's.
God bless you this week - Pastor Baz.

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