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.
he 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 as 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 his 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’s 10-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son 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 more 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.
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. One prominent owner, British film star George Sanders, sought to build a pig farm on the property. The venture failed, his partner was sent to jail, and the animals starved to death. In 1965, another owner, 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.”
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. It was around this time in 1933 that the Loch Ness Monster began to rear it’s long, reptilian head.
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 fuck up.
Strangely enough, the first recorded appearance of the Loch Ness Monster coincides with the beginning of the end of Crowley’s legacy.
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 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 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 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. Malcom describes the living situation as a constant and “definite feeling of a strong presense 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.
Jimmy Page sold the Boleskine House in 1992, and it was, for a time, used as a Bed & 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 hauntings 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.
Source - Atlas Obscura Week In Weird
Marlene at Miami Ghost Chronicles is a freelance writer and paranormal researcher.
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