Astonishing Legends

Scott Philbrook & Forrest Burgess

Podcast Overview

Scott and Forrest have been called the 'Click and Clack of esoterica' by their listeners. Their mission is to take a look at legendary strange and unusual events from throughout history and interview people who've had close encounters with the unexplained. They strive to bring you everything that's entertaining about those stories and remind you that it's ok to laugh at scary stories and respectfully, even the people that tell them. Put your headphones on, settle in for you commute and get ready to experience a show like nothing you've ever heard before. New shows every two weeks.

Podcast Episodes

The Devil and Anneliese Michel: Exorcism on Trial (Part 2)

When considering the answer to the question, "Who or what was responsible for the death of Anneliese Michel?" as with all mysteries it is best to consider every opinion, especially an informed one.  Tonight we interview Father John Duffey, author of the book, Lessons Learned: The Anneliese Michel Exorcism: The Implementation of a Safe and Thorough Examination, Determination, and Exorcism of Demonic Possession.  Father Duffey is a former priest for the New American Catholic Church and Chaplain for the American Legion and has been researching and investigating incidents of suspected demonic and other spiritual activity since 1999, and researching matters of human behavior and anthropology since 2002.  Father Duffey has formal training and experience in military law enforcement and anti-terrorism intelligence operations, general psychology, cultural anthropology, parapsychology, theology, and counseling.  He holds a degree in psychology from Auburn University (Honors) and will soon complete a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Wake Forest University. Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode:

The Devil and Anneliese Michel: Exorcism on Trial (Part 1)

The legal systems of Western societies have no place for, nor consideration of, the offenses of the spiritual world. Neither does the spirit world have regard for the laws of men. These factors make the case of the death of Anneliese Michel so fascinating, so compelling, so confounding and ultimately so tragic, that it remains one of the benchmark legal cases for determining negligent culpability in purported cases demonic possession. Anneliese was a German girl who was known in life for being very intelligent, shy, kind, generous and pious, but will always be known in death as an unfortunate soul who experienced a deteriorating malady so mysterious and devastating she ultimately succumbed to starvation. But who, or what, is to blame? Was it the severe affliction of an extreme case of epilepsy or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder having gone untreated, or was it the detestable work of the Devil himself? Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode:

The Jersey Devil: Prince of the Pine Barrens (Part 2)

Southern New Jersey is steeped in the legend of The Jersey Devil, with the eponymous rascal inspiring everything from the names of businesses to stickers and T-shirts for tourists.  But as one "South Jersey" native has informed us, The Pine Barrens themselves may be nothing like what outsiders envision, with most of it being "lush, green and beautiful" and a joy to explore.  Also, maybe almost no one from the area believes the myth themselves.  However, it seems in the case of the legend of Jersey Devil – there are two distinct yet connected phenomenal elements at play: the ye olde myth, and the otherworldly thing that more than a few people swear they've encountered.  So what do you say to them?  Are you sure all they saw or heard was an owl, a stray African bat, a mutant goat havin' a laugh, or that good ol' well-worn chestnut the Sandhill Crane?  Because now these accounts become much like any other testimony of the paranormal; those who have not experienced it probably won't believe it, but those that have can never forget it. Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode:

The Jersey Devil: Prince of the Pine Barrens (Part 1)

They say if you meet someone from New Jersey, Pennsylvania or New York, you don't ask them if they've heard of the "Jersey Devil," you ask them if they've had some kind of encounter with it. The legend of the curious cryptid is so prolific, they've no doubt heard of it, and if they've spent any time near the Pine Barrens of "The Garden State," more often than not you'll find they've experienced some evidence of the beast, or know someone who has. Folklorists say that there are more than 30 variations of the legend, but the main origin story of New Jersey's own "Official Demon" goes all the way back to 1735, and a Mrs. Leeds of Galloway, NJ, who upon a difficult delivery of her 13th child, exclaimed it might as well be a devil – which, if the tale is to be believed, you should never do. Since then, the story has been so popular that the idea of The Jersey Devil has made its way into movies, television, and video games, and is even the inspiration for the name of New Jersey's National Hockey League team. But why has this tale endured for at least 282 years? Is it because somehow the legend is just so fantastic that people can't forget it? Or is it because, as so many residents throughout the years have claimed, from New Jersey's eastern shores, through the mysterious Pine Barrens all the way to western Pennsylvania, something really is out there? Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode:

Orfeo Angelucci: Secret of the Saucers

Most of us go on about our lives, enjoying the predictable routine of family, work, and if we're lucky, a little bit of leisure. Usually, nothing too out of the ordinary happens from day to day, and although it may seem dull, we forget it's also comforting. But if you're Orfeo Angelucci – aerospace worker, family man, thoughtful but average citizen, one day you get contacted by a race of advanced, extraterrestrial beings that reveal to you the secret of the universe, your purpose here, and the task ahead that would change his life forever. This was the incredible claim in Angelucci's book, The Secret of the Saucers, which tells the story of his contact with a pair of kind, ethereal entities, who want him to share their message of peace and love for the human race. But these warm greetings came with a warning: that we must change our harmful ways or else suffer the fate of the world that came before us. Spreading this message caused no small amount of ridicule and hardship for Orfeo and his family, but as the legends tell us, being a messenger to the world can be a blessing but also a curse and the challenge requires courage. Join us tonight as Rich Hatem returns to discuss Angelucci's wondrous story. Whether you choose to believe Orfeo or dismiss it all as a fanciful daydream, it's hard to deny that the message for Earth has real beauty in its truth. Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode:

Richard Hatem: Screenwriter of the Mothman Prophecies

Tonight we have a conversation with screenwriter and producer Richard Hatem, known for such Motion Picture and Television projects as The Mothman Prophecies, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, Grimm, Damien, Supernatural, Witches of East End, The Gates and many, many others.  We discuss with Rich his approach to adapting John Keel's book, The Mothman Prophecies for the Big Screen, the larger concepts surrounding the events, his life-long interest in the paranormal and supernatural, as well as a lot of other cool stuff.   Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode:

Pere Cheney: The Town that Disappeared

BACKGROUND: The logging town of Pere Cheney, Michigan once showed a lot of promise as a place where hardworking men and women of the late 19th century could raise a family — that is until two epidemics of diphtheria and devastating fires reduced it to a ghost town. And if you believe the accounts of some visitors to the nearby cemetery, Pere Cheney's tragic fate doomed it to be an actual town of ghosts; the playful ghosts of the children who fell victim to the disease. But who's to blame for the sad ending of this once thriving village? Surely something, or someone, must be the cause of the town's bad luck, and if you believe the local legends, that someone was a witch who cursed it right before she was hanged and buried in that very cemetery. Or maybe she was burned? Or maybe it wasn't a witch at all, but a banished unwed mother who cursed the lot of it just the same? Whatever legend you choose to believe, whether the cemetery of Pere Cheney is a playground of the damned or no more spooky than your average graveyard, those that have felt its chill can tell you that it only takes a little bit of haunting to put the fear in you. Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode:

The Sheriff and Outlaw Henry Plummer (Part 3)

The case of Henry Plummer represents the gray area between due process and necessary action, depending on whether you view a rise in criminal activity as a matter for the justice system no matter how lacking, or local imperium no matter how brutal.  In an interview with Frederick Allen, author of A Decent, Orderly Lynching: The Montana Vigilantes, we discuss his initial interest in the story, the motivations of the people involved, and the debate their actions spurred, then and now. Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode:

The Sheriff and Outlaw Henry Plummer (Part 2)

The dual nature of Henry Plummer's character would leave us questioning his legacy and the legitimacy of his ending.  Was he simply an honest lawman reluctantly entangled in the rougher aspects of frontier justice or a downright robber and murderer with a badge?  There are authors who believe he was solely one or the other but there also seems to be ample circumstantial evidence that he was likely some combination of both.  The problem of determining his guilt or innocence, set against the backdrop of a nascent legal structure for the American West, would stir a debate that we continue to struggle with today.  When it comes to the protection of our families and communities, what measures are we willing to accept to ensure our safety?  When does crime prevention and the ad hoc adjudication of those in authority become a miscarriage of justice?  Where is the line between the precepts of our more mature legal system and common sense and what measurement should guide our conscience to determine when a line has been crossed?  We all want what's fair in light of our personal convictions, but like every condemned man, all Sheriff Henry Plummer wanted was a little more time. Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode:

The Sheriff and Outlaw Henry Plummer (Part 1)

Henry Plummer was like so many young men who ventured into the frontier of mid-nineteenth century America; full of a spirit of adventure and eager to make their fortunes in the gold fields of the Old West.  Handsome, charismatic and ambitious, Plummer soon went from trying his hand at prospecting to a career in law enforcement and was even encouraged to enter California politics by his supporters.  Plummer's successes, however, were tainted by his foibles as it was noted that his evening activities sometimes put the wild in "Wild West."  A move to Bannack, Montana, and election as sheriff of the area promised to restore his career and reputation.  This fresh start at the bottom of Plummer's pan would prove to be just a flash, as the townsfolk would soon suspect his connection to the robberies and murders allegedly committed by a gang of Road Agents who came to be known as "The Innocents" and many speculated he might even have been the mastermind behind the purported crime wave.  But was Plummer actually guilty, or just guilty by association and a victim of circumstance and mob mentality?  Whatever the truth of the matter, Sheriff Henry Plummer eventually found himself at the end of his rope. Visit our website for a lot more information on this episode:

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