Sunday, January 5, 2014

Radiant Boys

Welcome to 2014!  For the first blog post of the new year, I wanted to revive the short-lived Paranormal Dictionary with a post about a certain type of ghost story you've probably come across before...Enjoy!

Throughout some parts of the world, most notably Asia, ghosts are classified/labeled according to the circumstances of their death.  One such example of a very death-specific ghost comes from the British Isles...the phenomena of the Radiant Boy ghost.

As the name would imply, the Radiant Boys generally manifest as beautiful, fair-haired boys under the age of 12.  Often described as wearing white nightgowns or nothing at all, these Radiant Boys are said to emit a golden glow about them and if seen, are said to be an omen of ill-luck...and even death.  Why the negative implications of these sightings?  Perhaps its because of how the Radiant Boys are said to have originated.

The concept of the Radiant Boys, while famous in British folklore, probably stems from a class of German ghosts known as the kindermorderinn.  Kindermoderinn are ghosts of children who were murdered by their mothers.  The  Radiant Boys, while little to no actual documentation of such a murder is ever cited in individual cases, are also said to be the products of this type of infanticide. 

Radiant Boy sightings have come from all over parts of England and Ireland, but the most prolific cases come from Cumberland.  Interestingly, Cumberland was settled by the Germanic people in the 9th and 10th centuries, creating a link between the kindermorderinn and the Radiant Boys!  There are a couple of famous stories that get quoted over and over, including an incident from Corbly Castle in 1803.

Corbly Castle, located in Cumberland, was occupied by the Howard family when the incident in question took place in September of 1803.  On September 8th, the rector of Greystoke and his wife were staying the night at the home with several other guests.  Their planned visit was cut short when the rector awoke that night to a terrifying apparition.  Between one and two in the morning the rector awoke to a glimmering light which quickly escalated into a bright flame.  The flame then morphed into the figure of a young boy in white, with a warm golden glow who stared benevolently at the rector before disappearing in the vicinity of the chimney.  No one ever reported seeing the boy again, and the room in which he manifested was later converted into a study affectionately, if not accurately, called The Ghost Room.

While the Corbly tale definitely has some of the criteria of a Radiant Boy sighting, there's one important piece of the puzzle the case is lacking; was this really a death omen or portent of doom?  We're not really sure.  There's no evidence that the rector befell any great tragedy following the sighting, and we know he was alive and well at least 20 years after the event took place!  There are plenty of other stories, some which do reference more malevolent outcomes, such as the sad tale of Captain Robert Stewart, who would later be known as Lord Castlereagh, 2nd Marquis of Londonderry, committing suicide after years of bad luck following his Radiant Boy sighting, but I'll let you research those yourself!

Happy Haunting!

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