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The MacKenzie Poltergeist

(photo by aislinn_niconghaile)

In 1636 George MacKenzie was born in Dundee, son of Simon MacKenzie, He was educated at the University of St Andrews, also studying in Aberdeen and France. In 1667 he became Lord Advocate underneath Charles II. During his life he was most famous for enforcing the persecution of the Covenanters, which he did with vigour and without mercy, earning him the nickname 'Bluidy MacKenzie'. He died in 1691 and was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh.


There, that's the less interesting stuff over with, though it is all fairly engrossing when you actually start reading about it.


So, what's so spooky about this. Well, in 1999 a wino took refuge in MacKenzie's mausoleum and accidently broke some of the coffins. He ran screaming and incoherent from the graveyard - he may well have been incoherent before entering in fairness. Since then there have been many unexplained occurrences within the kirkyard, mostly violent and frightening for the people involved. At the back of the kirkyard is an area called the Covenanter's Prison where Covenanters waited before being sentenced by MacKenzie. This area is said to be so haunted it is kept locked by Edinburgh City Council.


An exorcist, Colin Grant,  was brought in to get rid of the poltergeist but was unsuccessful. In fact he had refused to enter the graveyard without a bible and a cross.  He suggested that the cemetery was home to almost 200 unhappy spirits, probably Covenanters. He was found dead a few weeks later from a massive heart attack, aged 66. Many of the people who experience something at or after the visit to the mausoleum suffer fainting, extremes of hot and cold, scratches, bruising or even being knocked unconscious. Nearby houses also claim to have experienced paranormal activity with plates smashing and objects flying about. Around all this began a tourist trade, but even the organiser of the tours suffered when his house caught fire and all his papers relating to 'Bluidy MacKenzie' were destroyed.


This is probably one of the best documented paranormal occurrences in the world. To date there have been at least 450 attacks and more than 140 people have collapsed on the tours. You can read some accounts here and from there look at the tour. I believe they even have tours on Halloween.


So, I guess some ghostly mp3's are in order......

Japan - Ghosts  (obviously)  www/buy

Kristin Hersh - Your Ghost    www/buy

Smog - Hangman Blues          www/buy



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The Old Smoo

 (photo by bobthelomond)

OK, so Bluets is in a bit of a hiatus at the moment due to all of us being pretty busy in real life. Hopefully that will ease off soon and normal service will be resumed.

This month's (October) theme is Halloween and all things witchy, scary and ghostly. Innovative and inspired, I know. So I thought I'd try and relate some spooky stories from Scottish folklore and post appropriate tracks to go with said stories.

So, Smoo Cave is a large sea cave on the north coast of Scotland, at the top-left hand corner of the mainland if you want to get non-geographical.

There are several legends attached to it, mainly involving Donald, Wizard of Reay  or Lord Reay.  While visiting Italy, Donald met the Devil and became his student (as you do). It was customary at the end of term for the Devil to claim the last student to leave the classroom as his own. This happened to be Donald. When Donald saw the Devil about to pounce, he shouted  "De'il, tak' the hindmost" and pointed at his shadow. The Devil siezed his shadow, leaving Donald to return to Scotland where it was remarked on many occasions that he cast no shadow.

Of course, if you were the Devil, and he clearly was, you wouldn't take too kindly to being tricked by one of your pupils. In fact you'd probably seek some kind of terrible revenge wouldn't you? Oh yes.

One night Donald and his dog were walking across the moors when a storm struck. They sought refuge in Smoo Cave and the dog ran ahead, deeper into the cave. It came back terror-stricken, yelping and hairless. Donald knew it was the Devil come to settle the score, but to his relief the sun rose and rendered the Devil and his three accompanying witches powerless. They blew holes in the roof of the cavern and all four flew away.

These holes are now how the Allt Smoo (a river) enters the cavern and creates the beautiful scenes we can see in this flickr link  - Smoo Cave - Flickr

Some relevant songs:

Bat for Lashes - The Wizard    www/Buy

Low - Blue-Eyed Devil             www/Buy

Jo McCafferty - Cave              www/Buy