Black Magic Manor
By M.P. Pellicer | Stranger Than Fiction Stories
Boleskine House sits on the southeast side of Loch Ness and has a history of death dating back to the 10th century, when according to legend it was built atop the ruins of a Scottish kirk that burnt to the ground with its congregants trapped inside, and this was only the beginning.
The current house was constructed in the 1760s by Colonel Archibald Fraser as a hunting lodge. The original hunting lodge was expanded continuously by the Fraser family until 1830. All the rooms were situated on one floor, with 4 bedrooms, a kitchen, lounge, drawing room, and a library. It even has a tunnel leading from the cellar to Boleskine Cemetery that sits at the foot of the hill below it. The purpose of the tunnel was perhaps for a grave watcher to alert the master of the house to any body snatching that took place. Beyond that is Loch Ness, of Loch Ness Monster fame.
The cemetery has long been the site of misdeeds and occult happenings. According to previous owners, the house has "bad vibes". Apparently the executed head of Lord Lovat can be heard rolling around on the floor. This fueled local legend even before Crowley moved into the house.
Aleister Crowley bought Boleskine House from the Fraser family in 1899. The house at that time was known as the Manor of Boleskine, and Abertarff after the name of the local parish. While living there he called himself the Laird of Boleskine.
He went there to seclude himself and perform magic from The Book of Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage, a grimoire translated by his mentor, founder of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers. It was during this time at Boleskine, that Crowley became famous for his spiritualism and black magic practices, both around Scotland and later, the world.
Sometime during this period, Mathers called Crowley to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in Paris. He left without dispelling the "12 Kings and Dukes of Hell" he had summoned, and many locals blame the house’s unlucky history on evil spirits left behind. Crowley himself, never one to admit a mistake, even conceded that the rituals he had performed at Boleskine House had gotten out of hand.
Crowley described some of the odd effects the ritual was having on the property as it was performed:
“One day I came back from shooting rabbits on the hill and found a Catholic priest in my study. He had come to tell me that my lodgekeeper, a total abstainer for twenty years, had been raving drunk for three days and had tried to kill his wife and children. I got an old Cambridge acquaintance to take Rosher’s place; but he too began to show symptoms of panic fear.”
Crowley’s housekeeper, Hugh Gillie lost his 10-year-old daughter, and 1-year-old son who died mysteriously and abruptly. Crowley even tells of a local man he had hired for general labor going mad and attempting to kill him, and a local butcher accidentally cutting off his own hand while reading one of Cowley’s notes. Despite these “clear signs”, Crowley continued to work on the ritual, going so far as to deny visits from friends for fear of their safety.
Shortly after Crowley left for Paris, the locals began to murmur about the dark black clouds hanging in the skies around the Boleskine house, many residents going far out of their way to avoid traveling near the building. Upon his return to Boleskine, Crowley immediately felt the changes in his estate; even his protege had fled the property while he was gone. He again, went to his diary:
“Besides these comparatively explicable effects on human minds, there were numberless physical phenomena for which it is hard to account. While I was preparing the talismans, squares of vellum inscribed in Indian ink, a task which I undertook in the sunniest room in the house, I had to use artificial light even on the brightest days. It was a darkness which might almost be felt. The lodge and terrace, moreover, soon became peopled with shadowy shapes, sufficiently substantial, as a rule, to be almost opaque. I say shapes; and yet the truth is that they were no shapes properly speaking. The phenomenon is hard to describe. It was as if the faculty of vision suffered some interference; as if the objects of vision were not properly objects at all. It was as if they belonged to an order of matter which affected the sight without informing it.”
Crowley spent little time at the house, instead leaving shortly for New York, and then Egypt, where he would again attempt to contact his Holy Guardian Angel, this time claiming success.
In 1934, Crowley was declared bankrupt after attempting to sue an artist who called him a black magician. Addressing the jury, the judge said that in all his years in law, he had “never heard such dreadful, horrible, blasphemous and abominable stuff as that which has been produced by the man (Crowley) who describes himself… as the greatest living poet.” In the decade that followed, Crowley became addicted to heroine, and died of a respiratory infection at the age of 72. His nurse and another witness reported his last words to be, "Sometimes I hate myself."
The Boleskine house then changed hands many times, however it still wasn’t free of dark energy. The various owners all reporting strings of terrible luck.
In 1960, Major Edward Grant, a retired Army Major committed suicide in Crowley’s old bedroom using a shotgun.
Anna MacLaren, his former house-keeper, describes the scene:
“When I came up, and went in the front door there was this little bone at the front door, and they had this little doggie, Pickiwig was his name. And I said, ‘where did you get that, Pickiwig,’ because they had this huge fridge and there was nothing in it. I took the bone and I just threw it. I went to look and there (the Army Major) was in front of the big mirror and his head off. So, I was so scared that I did run.. quite a distance.. and I said, ‘the Major’s shot himself!’ Anyway, the detectives, I told the detectives this, and (they said) the bone was of his skull.”
In 1962, Dennis H. Lorraine bought Boleskine House. He got British actor, George Sanders involved as an investor in a fraudulent company called Cadco that would produce sausages from hogs raised at Boleskine. The hog farm never materialized, and eventually Sanders had to declare bankruptcy in 1966. It became known as The Great Sausage Scandal.
In 1965, Lorraine was sentenced to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine for his part in an international counterfeiting scheme.
Dennis Lorraine had supposedly bought Boleskine House after his wife Molly cam across information about Mary Lorraine, who had been married to Major Grant who committed suicide prior to their ownership. For some reason this intrigued her.
The Lorraines both descended into alcoholism, and eventually they parted ways. Dennis spent his last years living in London and destitute. He supposedly slept with a gun under his pillow.
Ironically George Sander's last film, Psychomania (1973), was about psychopathic bikers who belonged to a gang known as the The Living Dead, who in order to achieve immortality make a deal with the devil. In the U.S. it was released as The Death Wheelers.
In 1937 George Sanders told David Niven that he would commit suicide when he got older. He was found dead in a hotel in Barcelona, Spain in 1972, having overdosed on 5 vials of Nembutal. He left a suicide note saying, “Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck.”.
According to Niven's memoirs, he said Sanders told him specifically that he would kill himself from a barbiturate overdose when he reach the age of 65.
This kind of strangeness went on for years, leading believers of the mystical and the occult to believe that the house had become a sort of portal, the unfinished ceremony leaving an open gateway to worlds unknown, spreading the activity from beyond the confines of the house itself, and into the surrounding area.
Strangely enough, the first recorded appearance of the Loch Ness Monster coincides with the beginning of the end of Crowley’s legacy.
Frederick William Holiday, one of the most well-publicized Loch Ness monster investigators, having published two books dedicated to the search for the creature, made an assessment in the 70’s that the monster acted itself much like a supernatural creature, leading him to re-think his stance on it’s origin. Instead, Holiday postulated that the creature’s apparent self-concealing phenomena was evidence that it could possibly be related to the aftermath of Crowley’s preternatural mistakes.
The paranormal happenings in the house did not cease after Crowley’s death. In fact, word of the Boleskine House’s notoriety began to spread like wildfire. One of Crowley’s most famous admirers, Led Zeppelin guitarist and occult enthusiast Jimmy Page, purchased the house in the early seventies, knowing the importance the property had played in the formative years of the magician’s career. In 1974 he commissioned artist and satanist charlles Pace to decorate the house with murals
In 1975, he gave an interview to Rolling Stone Magazine where he described some of the “bad vibes” he got from the building.
“..there were two or three owners before Crowley moved into it. It was also a church that was burned to the ground with the congregation in it. And that’s the site of the house. Strange things have happened in that house that had nothing to do with Crowley. The bad vibes were already there. A man was beheaded there and sometimes you can hear his head rolling down. I haven’t actually heard it, but a friend of mine, who is extremely straight and doesn’t know anything about anything like that at all, heard it. He thought it was the cats bungling about. I wasn’t there at the time, but he told the help, “Why don’t you let the cats out at night? They make a terrible racket, rolling about in the halls.” And they said, ‘The cats are locked in a room every night.” Then they told him the story of the house. So that sort of thing was there before Crowley got there. Of course, after Crowley there have been suicides, people carted off to mental hospitals..”
When the interviewer went on to clarify that Page himself never had contact with the spirits, Page cut in with, “I didn’t say that. I just said I didn’t hear the head roll.” He went on to tell the interviewer that he preferred not to discuss the issue further.
Though never actually residing in the building for long periods of time, Page instead had it lived in by a long time school friend by the name of Malcom Dent that acted as a caretaker.
Malcom described the living situation as a constant and “definite feeling of a strong presence trying to get into you.” Despite this, Malcom lived, and raised a family in the house, while simultaneously ignoring as much of the strange activity as possible and fending off the weirder groups of Crowley devotees who would creep onto the property at all hours of the night. He left the house 1992.
In a 2006 interview with the Inverness Courier, Mr Dent, who died in 2011, said he and his wife and children had loved living there, despite the “curious” goings on. He described himself as a skeptic but said there were things at Boleskin that could not be explained. He said: “Doors would be slamming all night, you’d go into a room and carpets and rugs would be piled up.”
Jimmy Page sold the Boleskine House in 1992, and it was, for a time, used as a bed and breakfast. Either the strange occurrences in the building have since settled, or the latest batch of property owners have been decidedly quiet about the activity.
Likewise, the sightings of the Loch Ness Monster have dwindled to very few since their heyday in the 1900’s, culminating in the BBC’s confident proclamation of disproving the myth in 2003. But what if, as Holiday thought, that the Monster in the loch was a different kind of monster completely? Could the legendary creature have been a consequence of Crowley’s failure to properly end the ritual he had started? And further, what exactly became of the Boleskine House and it’s mystical energies?
Later owners dismissed any notions of a haunting or witchcraft at the house, but tragedy continued to strike. In 2015, the residents of the house returned from a shopping trip to find the house completely in flames. There were no injuries, as the house was totally empty when it ignited.
In December, 2015, a fire swept through the house which luckily was empty. The ruins of the building were put on the market in April, 2019. Three months later a fire swept through it, believed to be the work of an arsonist.
The Daily Express, interviewed Trudy Piekaar-Bakker the owner in 2018. She complained of looters and trespassers, including a weird squatter named Mordechai Moshe, who had to be removed by police.
In 2020, supposedly the new owners were selling bags of charred ruins on eBay for £49 each. This was supposedly to raise money for a spiritual center to be established at Boleskine House.
In 2022, filmmaker Ashley Cowie announced he will be releasing a film titled The Beast of Loch Ness, which he claims is to set the record straight about Crowley and the other strange stories attached to the property.
Information gathered from AtlasObscura.com, Week In Weird
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Stranger Than Fiction Stories by M.P. Pellicer