Culture & Literature
LIFE Mysteries of the Unknown

LIFE Mysteries of the Unknown

LIFE Mysteries of the Unknown

Psychic abilities. Eerie events. Ghosts and aliens. Since the beginning of time, people have wondered about the supernatural: What is real and what isn't? Can you communicate with the other side? How do you explain phenomena that defies science and logic? This special edition tackles these unsettling questions in powerful and unexpected ways. Explore matters of the mind that seem to go well beyond just what can be seen. Reconsider classic unexplained phenomena like English crop circles, the Bermuda Triangle, and the sailing stones of Death Valley. Revisit the classic strange, supernatural creatures that help reveal and reflect our fears. Revel in the ongoing questions about extraterrestrial life, the mysterious kidnapping of Betty and Barney Hill, and the recent sightings by Navy pilots of strange crafts off the East Coast. Brought vividly to you with photographs and artist renderings, let this special edition take you beyond the normal and the known.

United States
Meredith Corporation
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$21.47(Incl. tax)

in this issue

6 min.
matters of the mind

The wooden cottage in Hydesville, New York, had a single bedroom shared by blacksmith John Fox, his wife Margaret, and two of their daughters, Maggie, 14, and Kate, 11. Not the kind of place you would imagine as the birthplace of an international spiritual movement, yet in the spring of 1848, the Foxes summoned a neighbor to the family’s candlelit sleeping quarters to witness a curious phenomenon that, the young women claimed at the time, they were at a loss to explain. Every night, the Fox girls heard strange sounds in the house—knocking noises that seemed to embody an intelligence unlike any other they had encountered. As Maggie and Kate sat on their bed, their mother demonstrated the mystery to the neighbor: “Now count five,” she commanded. Five raps were heard.…

5 min.
harry houdini: victorian ghostbuster

It might seem that early-20th-century escape artist Harry Houdini shared a certain ethos with the period’s mediums. After all, Houdini convinced audiences that he could squirm out of handcuffs and swallow 100 needles at a sitting, while mediums claimed to have an equally preposterous ability to communicate with the dead. But for the famous illusionist, who had been fascinated with the afterlife since childhood, the comparison didn’t hold up. In his mind, he was an entertainer able to execute the impossible through skill, trickery, and illusion. The mediums, instead, were phonies who claimed to be able to pass messages to the dead. They were exploiting society’s most gullible. As the popularity of mediums grew—fueled by the public’s enthusiasm for spiritualism—so did Houdini’s frustration. Eventually he set about debunking famous mediums in séance-sting…

3 min.
ouija: advice from the other side

The newspaper ad placed by a Pittsburgh toy retailer in 1891 was almost guaranteed to pique curiosity: “Ouija, the Wonderful Talking Board,” it read, “a mysterious device that answers questions about the past, present, and future with marvelous accuracy.” Price: $1.50. An instrument that supposedly could put players in contact with the dead, the Ouija board was a marvel in mysticism. Its flat surface bore the letters of the alphabet, the numbers zero to nine, and the utilitarian words “yes,” “no,” and “goodbye,” as well as some symbols and graphics. To play, two or more people had to pose a question, then rely on a teardrop-shaped device, known as a planchette, to guide their hands through the spelling of the answer. That the Ouija showed up in the late 19th century is…

2 min.
carl jung: beyond science

At the turn of the 20th century, psychology was in its infancy. One of its earliest practitioners was Carl Jung, a psychiatrist who, like many of his Swiss peers, believed in a world beyond science. During his long career, Jung explored both the medical and the spiritual aspects of mental illness, as well as parapsychology, or spiritualism, as the field was then known. Two profound experiences Jung had as a student helped shape his thinking. One day while studying at his parents’ house, Jung heard a loud bang that sounded like a gunshot. He ran to the dining room, where he found his mother. She told him that the sound had come from close by. Looking around, the Jungs discovered that the solid-oak dining-room table had split wide open. Since the wood…

4 min.
curse of the bambino

In 1918, the Boston Red Sox won their fifth World Series title, a victory attributed to Babe Ruth, the legendary player known to fans as the Great Bambino. During that series, Ruth, a pitcher and an outfielder for the Sox, threw an impressive 17 scoreless innings. Yet two years later, Boston sold Ruth to the Yankees in the off-season for $100,000 in cash and a $300,000 loan, thus setting in motion the most notorious sports curse of all time. Ruth would go on to become one of the most prolific sluggers in baseball, knocking out 714 career home runs and earning the moniker “the Sultan of Swat.” He would draw legions of fans to Yankee Stadium and turn the team, which had until then never won a series, into an American…

2 min.
triple play

CHICAGO CUBS When the Chicago Cubs won a miraculous 103 games in 2016 and went on to take the World Series, a 107-year-old curse was lifted from Wrigley Field. A team once thought permanently doomed was back on top. How the Cubs earned that unfortunate designation is part of baseball lore, and it started with a smelly goat. For game four of the 1945 World Series, Cubs fan William Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, showed up with his pet goat in tow. Team owner Phillip K. Wrigley told Sianis that he was welcome but his four-legged companion was not. “Why not the goat?” Sianis asked. “Because the goat stinks.” An enraged Sianis left, uttering the infamous words, “The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more. The Cubs will never win a World Series so…