10 Insane Ways The CIA Drugged People With LSD

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10 Insane Ways The CIA Drugged People With LSD



In the early 1950s, the CIA started a program called MK-ULTRA. Fearing that the Soviet Union was getting ahead in espionage, they investigated whether LSD could be used for mind control.

The existence of MK-ULTRA is fairly well-known, but most people don’t know just how crazy the details were. CIA agents did some absolutely insane things with LSD. It’s not entirely clear that the government actually learned anything, but they definitely got some incredible stories out of it.

10Agents Slipped Each Other LSD

In the early days of MK-ULTRA, LSD was mostly tested on willing agents. CIA agents would very carefully take small doses of LSD and take notes on the effects.

As time passed, though, it escalated. Any agent who took LSD also agreed to be dosed unexpectedly at any time. Agents would secretly spike each others’ drinks so often that finding out your morning coffee had acid in it was just considered an “occupational hazard.”

It got so bad that when the CIA held an office party in 1954, they had to send a memo out to their staff specifically instructing them not to put LSD in the punch. Even then, the agents didn’t trust each other. One agent allegedly still brought his own wine bottle—and refused to put it down for even a second.


9A Magician Taught The CIA Sleight Of Hand

Drugging people with LSD didn’t remain an in-house activity for long. In short time, the CIA decided to expand its program onto unsuspecting citizens, so they called in the experts—magicians.

John Mulholland, a professional illusionist, wrote a manual on sleight of hand, specifically so agents could add a little zest to your drink with a splash of LSD. He taught agents how to distract an audience with a dramatic action, such as lighting a match, to hide what their other hand was doing. He even suggested tricks that the CIA could use, such as gluing a pill to a matchbook and making it fall into a cup.

The manual features a little deception of its own: In the foreword, an attached message says that Mullholland’s methods “were never actually used,” but other documents reveal that Mulholland’s deceptions were a key part of the MK-ULTRA program.

8The CIA Hired Prostitutes To Drug Their Clients

One way the CIA tested out LSD was through Operation Midnight Climax—an operation that truly lived up to its name.

The CIA set up a brothel and paid prostitutes $100 to lure unsuspecting men inside. Once there, the men were given LSD-laced liquor and brought to a bed next to a one-way mirror, with agents on the other side, watching.

Officially, the CIA was testing the prostitutes to see if they could become secret agents. They wanted to know if they could get information from a target using sex and drugs.

Unofficially, however, this may have just been an excuse for CIA agents to watch people have sex. The head of the project, George White, later wrote that it was “fun, fun, fun” and mused, “Where else could a red-blooded American boy lie, kill, cheat, steal, rape and pillage with the sanction and blessing of the all-highest?”


7Mental Patients Were Drugged Into Comas

Canada got involved in MK-ULTRA, too. A McGill professor named Dr. Hebb successfully brainwashed students into accepting that God created the world in seven days. He put atheist students in a sensory deprivation tank and played them recordings supporting creationism. When they came out, the students were “very supportive” of the idea that the universe was created by an all-powerful god.

Another McGill scientist, Dr. Cameron, took Dr. Hebb’s ideas a step further. He believed he could use them to completely rewrite a person’s brain. He used a cocktail of drugs to put mental patients into a ten-day coma. When they came out of it, he started giving them electroshock therapy twice a day, nearly five times more often than normal treatment.

Dr. Cameron hoped he could “depattern” a person’s brain and then rewrite their entire worldview—and it just may have worked. A few years later, Dr. Cameron’s method showed up in the CIA’s interrogation training manual.

6A Man Was Kept High For 174 Days

Some experiments simply tested how long agents could keep somebody high. As it turned out, the answer was for a very, very long time.

In one experiment, a group of African Americans with preexisting drug habits were brought in and given LSD. One group of seven men received LSD every day for 77 days straight. Every time they built up a tolerance to the drug, the researchers would double or quadruple their dosage to see if they could break through.

That was their record for a group, but it was a far cry from the top score. A mental patient in Kentucky was pulled out and drugged up so often that he was allegedly continuously high for 174 days. After the experiment ended, the mental patient supposedly appeared to be in a permanent acid trip for the rest of his life.

5They Gave LSD To A Cat

The CIA drugged animals, too. Allegedly, they gave LSD to everything from dogs to spiders. One experiment, done on a cat, was even filmed and publicly circulated.

First, they put a sober cat in a cage with a mouse. Predictably, the cat immediately snagged and ate the mouse. When they loaded the cat up with drugs, though, the cat’s behavior changed. While high on LSD, the cat was absolutely terrified of the mice. It would leap to the corner of its cage and try to scurry to safety every time a tiny mouse came near it.

Most of MK-ULTRA was kept secret but not this experiment. The video you see above was even sent out to the Army as proof of just how much progress the government was making in the important field of getting various creatures high.


4They Overdosed An Elephant

LSD Elephant

Photo via Bizarrepedia

The CIA tried LSD on everything—including an elephant.

In 1962, the University of Oklahoma, working with the CIA, conducted an experiment on the effects of LSD on elephants. They wanted to see if they could make an elephant go savagely violent by shooting it with an LSD-filled dart, but they ended up killing it instead.

The elephant weighed 3,200 kilograms (7,000 lb), so the researchers loaded it up with a massive 297-milligram dose of acid. The elephant didn’t go crazy; instead, it let out a trumpet, collapsed onto the ground, pooped itself, and started having a seizure.

They tried to save the elephant by pouring 2,800 milligrams of Sparine into its ear, but it didn’t work. The elephant lay on the ground convulsing for an hour and 40 minutes before it died.

3They Drugged A French Town

French Town LSD

In 1951, a town in France was overcome by sickness and hallucinations. One man thought he was being eaten alive by snakes and jumped into the water, trying to drown himself. Another man saw his heart crawling out through his feet and begged doctors to put it back. Others saw red flowers growing all over their bodies. Many were hospitalized, and at least five died.

The official explanation was that a local bakery’s bread was contaminated with ergot, a psychedelic mold. One journalist named H.P. Albarelli Jr., though, claims that sources within the CIA have told him that they laced the bread with LSD.

As soon as Albarelli made his claim, other articles came out accusing him of lying, and nobody knows for sure if the CIA really was behind this one. The biggest thing that makes this chillingly possible, however, is that the CIA doesn’t even deny the other items on this list. The only claim they still dispute is that they killed five citizens in an allied country.

2They Tried To Drug Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro

Photo credit: Library of Congress

The CIA was determined to hurt Fidel Castro. All kinds of mad schemes came out, from ways to kill him to ways to humiliate him—including one that involved getting him high.

The plan was to dose Castro with LSD while he was giving a live conference on TV. The agents hoped that if Castro felt the effects of LSD while giving a speech, he’d start to freak out and embarrass himself in front of the nation.

The scheme was scrapped when the United States decided to move away from plans to humiliate Castro and onto plans to murder him. They didn’t give up on the idea of drugging enemy leaders, though. It was floated again a little while later when talking about what to do with Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser.

1They Only Stopped Because They Found A Better Drug

In 1962, the government released a clause that required agents to request special permission from the FDA before using LSD in an experiment. The wild days of surprising people with LSD-spiked drinks were to coming to an end, and while MK-ULTRA wouldn’t be canceled for more than a decade, it started to calm down.

The CIA, however, was already using LSD less, anyway. It would be nice to say that this was because they grew a conscience, but they just found something harder. By this time, the CIA was experimenting with a drug called BZ.

After MK-ULTRA ended, the agent in charge declared it “useless,” but he’d made a bigger impact on the world than he knew. One of his subjects would go on to start the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, credited with sparking the hippie movement. Another would become the Unabomber.

MK-ULTRA didn’t exactly make the world a safer place—but it definitely made it a different one.

10 Dark Secrets Of Hillary Clinton

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10 Dark Secrets Of Hillary Clinton



Hillary Clinton is the least popular Democrat ever nominated for president. Say her name, and people will respond with words like “scandal,” “untrustworthy,” and “liar.” But are these accusations really fair?

Yes. Go digging through the Clinton closet, and you’ll uncover more skeletons than in your average medieval plague pit.

10Cozy Ties To Hideous Regimes


Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and Algeria are disparate countries with different histories. They do have one thing in common: a callous disregard for human rights, something Clinton seemingly ignored when accepting megabucks off their despotic leaders.

Over the years, the Clinton Foundation accepted tens of millions of dollars from countries with appalling attitudes toward women, gays, and religious minorities. Often, those countries had policies directly at odds with the Foundation’s stated goals of promoting gender-equality and LGBT rights.

Clinton’s charity was receiving this money at the same time that Clinton was daily making life-or-death decisions involving these countries as Secretary of State. While this isn’t technically illegal, it was arguably a conflict of interest, especially when you consider Clinton’s policy of . . .


9Cash For Access


Photo credit: Karen Bleier/AFP

Crown Prince Salman is heir apparent to the throne of Bahrain and supreme commander of the country’s army. He’s also a Clinton Foundation megadonor, having thrown the charity $32 million while Clinton was Secretary of State. This just happened to coincide with the State Department approving $630 million of commercial arms sales to Bahrain’s army—a 187 percent increase from the pre-Clinton State Department.

The sales came just as Bahrain was violently suppressing pro-democracy protests. They also came just after a Clinton Foundation employee had brokered a meeting between Salman and Hillary. While Clinton denies any wrongdoing, the stench of corruption is enough to make even a Prohibition-era gangster retch.

This isn’t the only time such deals have taken place. An IBTimes investigation earlier this year suggested strong links between Saudi donations to the Clinton Foundation and a multimillion State Department arms deal with the kingdom signed off by Hillary herself.

8Setting The FBI On Innocent People


At the start of 1993, Billy Dale was a respected White House veteran. He’d worked arranging presidential trips for the last 30 years and headed a seven-man department for 10. By May 19, he was jobless and under investigation by the FBI. His crime? Occupying a position Hillary Clinton wanted for her friends.

The moment the Clintons entered the White House, Hillary started spreading rumors that Dale’s department was embezzling. She forced the FBI to investigate and sacked Dale’s entire team then handed the seven newly vacated posts to staffers who had worked on Bill’s presidential campaign. When the story broke, she claimed under oath that the FBI investigation hadn’t been her idea. A memo later surfaced showing it had.

As for Dale, he was cleared by the FBI but still wound up losing the job he loved and taking early retirement.

7Diverting Funds To Friends


In September 2010, the Clinton Foundation set up a $2 million commitment to Energy Pioneer Solutions (EPS), a group that insulates homes to increase energy efficiency. Sounds kind of harmless, until you realize EPS is owned by personal friends of the Clintons. According to the Wall Street Journal, this may have been done with the express intent of enriching the Clintons’ associates.

Hillary Clinton vigorously denies any wrongdoing, saying the Foundation chose EPS on merit. But it’s not hard to see this as inappropriate. EPS is a for-profit company, so stakeholders benefit financially from such deals. Stakeholders for EPS include Bill Clinton’s personal friend Julie Tauber McMahon, plus the Democratic National Committee treasurer and Democratic operative Mark Wiener. All potentially profited from the Clinton Foundation deal.

6Mind-Blowing Incompetence


A basic requirement for Secretary of State is the ability to handle classified information. During her tenure at the State Department, Hillary not only mishandled sensitive documents—she possibly let them fall into the hands of foreign hackers.

While Secretary of State, Hillary used a private server to store emails containing classified information. She used multiple, unsecured devices to access them and sent many to other people’s private email addresses, including one later found to have been compromised by hackers possibly linked to Russia. Her staffers even lost a laptop full of confidential archived emails in the post.

Hillary later said she was “unaware” of the procedures surrounding classified information. As excuses go, that’s like saying you shouldn’t be arrested for insider trading because you were “unaware” it was illegal.

5Hypocrisy On Boycotts


Photo credit: Skip Foreman / AP

Clinton recently tweeted her support for a boycott of North Carolina over its transgender bathroom laws. Not six months earlier, Hillary made a speech savaging anyone taking part in the boycotts against Israel for its treatment of Palestinians.

We don’t want to make a value judgment on either cause. Whether you support them is up to you. But it is hypocritical to attack a boycott as a method of protest for one of the two while allowing it for the other. The sudden delight in boycotts was perhaps Clinton cynically jumping on the progressive bandwagon to win back some wavering Sanders voters.


4Hypocrisy On Rape


Photo credit: CBS

On December 3, 2015, Hillary Clinton tweeted: “Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported.” There’s one rape survivor Hillary has refused to believe: Juanita Broaddrick. The man Broaddrick accuses of raping her is Bill Clinton.

The allegations have never been proven. The point here is not whether it happened or not. The point is that Broaddrick’s story is at least as consistent as that of many other assault victims. And if Clinton thinks all survivors should be believed, that entails believing Broaddrick.

Yet Hillary goes further than just not believing her. She denigrates her case, making it sound like the fantasies of a deluded woman. She does the exact things she deplores others doing to assault survivors.

3Defending A Child Rapist


In 1975, Hillary Rodham defended a 41-year-old factory worker accused of raping a 12-year-old girl. As a court-appointed lawyer, Hillary had a duty to take the case. She did have a choice in how she presented her client’s defense, and she chose to do that by putting a 12-year-old rape victim through hell.

Those are the exact words of the child whose life Hillary dragged through the mud. Still anonymous 41-years later, the victim claims Hillary went to insane lengths to discredit her. She said the child was a fantasist, that she craved sex with older men, that she came from a broken home and constantly claimed men were abusing her. These are all claims the victim says areverifiably untrue.

2Health Cover-Ups


Despite claiming to be fit and healthy, Clinton has suffered more health scandals in the past few months than you can shake a proverbial stick at.

The most obvious is Clinton’s recent bout of pneumonia, which caused her to collapse during a 9/11 memorial ceremony. There are others, too. In January, Hillary suffered a severe sinus infection that required the insertion of a myringotomy tube. In March, she underwent a brain scan. Perhaps most shockingly of all, she claimed the screw-ups with her emails were due to a 2012 concussion that scrambled her mind.

These are all potentially serious for someone pushing 70. What’s even more serious is that she lied about them.

1Slush Funds


There are strict limits on how much campaigns can raise per person. Some PACs are allowed to raise more, as they spend on more than one candidate (an Obama fund might also splash money on down-ballot Democrats, for example). Hill PAC was supposedly one such PAC. Yet the Intercept found only 11 percent of its funds went to candidates. The rest went to buying trivial stuff off Hillary’s presidential campaign for eye-watering sums—sums that, conveniently, helped pay off her ’08 campaign’s massive debts.

For example, Hill PAC paid $822,492 to “rent” a list of contact details off Hillary ’08, way above market price. That money went straight to Hillary’s flagging presidential campaign.

+The Dark Secrets Of Donald Trump

By now, if you’re thinking the only sane response to all this corruption is to vote for Trump, note that Trump’s been involved in some shady antics, too. Drop by again tomorrow to find out exactly what The Donald’s been covering up.

10 Fascinating Descriptions Of Hell

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10 Fascinating Descriptions Of Hell



Almost every culture or religion in the world describes the existence of some sort of underworld or hell. These descriptions are often unusual in the way sinners are dealt with and even how sinning is defined. While each is unique in its own way, there are elements that are strikingly common across many cultures and religions.



Niflheim is a rather bizarre form of hell found in Norse and Germanic cultures. Rather than being a fiery pit, it’s a freezing landscape, ruled by Hel and located next to the Shore of Corpses, where Nidhogg resides. Nidhogg is, of course, a giant snake that feeds on the dead.

Of the nine worlds in Norse mythology, Niflheim is said to be the deepest and darkest of them all, and the myths claim that the Earth was created when the icy Niflheim and fiery world of Muspelheim combined. The realm is home to the wicked and also serves as an anchor for the Yggdrasill—the World Tree that holds up the universe. Hel became the mistress of the dead after being banished from Asgard, as she was the daughter of Loki. The souls brought to Niflheim by Hel’s messenger Hermodr are kept in constant pain.




The pre-Christian Finnish believed that the souls of the dead arrived on the shores of the river Tuoni, and were brought into Tuonela by the maid of Death, Tytti. Unlike most of the other underworlds on this list, Tuonela was pretty much a gloomier continuation of life on Earth. Those that found themselves going to Tuonela had to bring items to survive with. It even allowed visitors who wished to come and see their deceased relatives, though the journey was dangerous and often deadly. Particularly dangerous was the river Tuoni itself, which was filled with poisonous snakes. No real punishments were carried out in Tuonela, unless you consider eternally living a life just as mundane as reality a punishment.

8The House of Lies (Zoroastrianism)


According to the Zoroastrian religion, the first thing the soul encounters after death is the Chinavat Bridge, which separates the worlds of the living and dead. The bridge is thinner than a hair, yet sharper than a blade, and is guarded by two four-eyed dogs. Souls are then judged based their deeds in life. If the bad deeds outweigh the good the bridge turns on its side, dumping the soul into the demon-filled pit below. Alternate descriptions talk of the demon Vizaresh emerging from the pit and dragging the wicked soul into the House of Lies—the Zoroastrian version of hell.

The House of Lies itself is described as a place of disgusting filth, where people are served spoiled food and continuously tortured for their deeds. The demons of the House of Lies number in the hundreds, with each representing a specific sin. For example, Apaosha is the demon of drought and thirst, while Zairika is the demon that makes poisons. Descriptions of the House of Lies vary depending on the translation of ancient Zoroastrian texts, but the elements described above are commonplace to all descriptions.


7Duat (Egypt)


The Ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts describe a version of the afterlife known as Duat, ruled over by Osiris, the god of the dead. The Book of Two Wayscontains a map depicting the journey one must take through Duat. The book describes a landscape similar to Earth, but also containing mystical elements like a lake of fire and iron walls. When approaching Duat, souls had to pass through gates guarded by half-animal, half-human creatures with evocativenames like “Blood-Drinker Who Comes From The Slaughterhouse” or “One Who Eats The Excrement Of His Hindquarters.” After passing through the gates, the deceased person’s heart was weighed against a feather. If the heart was heavier than the feather, it would be eaten by the demon Ammut. The souls of the wicked were then condemned to face justice in Duat. Many were forced to walk upside down or receive punishments from serpents and devouring demons.



The name “Gehenna” originally referred to a valley outside of Jerusalem where followers of the god Moloch sacrificed children in great fires. It later came to refer to the Hebrew interpretation of hell, where the wicked were sent to pay for their sins. Gehenna resembles the Christian version of hell more closely than most entries on this list. It’s described as a deep and desolate place where flames continuously burn and rain from the sky. The heat given off by the flames is 60 times hotter than any flames found on Earth. Noxious sulfuric gasses hang in the air and rivers of molten metal flow freely.



Found in Greek and Roman mythology, Tartaros is described as a deep black dungeon full of torture and suffering. While most believe Hades to be hell, it is actually just a place for all the dead, with Tartaros being even deeper than Hades and reserved only for sinners. People are sent to Tartaros after Rhadamanthus judges them and decides their punishment.

In Roman mythology, Tartaros is surrounded by three walls and the fiery river Phlegethon. It is guarded by a nine-headed monster known as the hydra, along with Tisiphone, who watches over everything while constantly whipping people from his post. At the bottom of Tartaros are the Titans, enemies of the gods who were defeated and imprisoned.

Similarly, Greek mythology described Tartaros as a place that began as a prison for those that would endanger the gods, but later began functioning as a hell for all sinners. Wicked souls are punished in ways appropriate to their sins. For example, Tantalus was banished to Tartaros after cutting up his son and serving him to the gods as food. He was punished to suffer hunger and thirst, while standing in a pool of water he could not drink, below fruits that he could not eat.


4Dante’s Hell


Many popular conceptions of the Christian hell can be traced back to the Renaissance poet Dante Alighieri. His Divine Comedy describes allegorical journeys through heaven, purgatory, and hell. Inferno begins with a sub-level where people are doomed to reside for doing nothing in life. They are punished in this realm by having to eternally chase after their self-interest while being followed by a swarm of insects and infected by maggots. A river known as Acheron surrounds the nine circles of hell itself. The first circle is a fairly pleasant place called Limbo, which is home to non-Christian souls who committed no sins.

The remaining levels correspond to each of the seven deadly sins. In the second circle, the lustful are punished by being blown around aimlessly by strong winds. The third circle houses gluttons and addicts, who are forced to remain in a disgusting slime. The fourth level contains two groups of sinners, those who hoarded money and those who wasted it, who must endlessly battle each other. Those who commit sins in anger remain in the fifth circle, where they fight each other in the river Styx, unable to ever feel happiness again. In the sixth level, heretics are locked in flaming tombs.

The seventh circle is divided into sections for violence against others, suicides, and violence against nature or God. The eighth circle is reserved for frauds and split into sub-levels where sinners have their heads twisted backwards and are whipped by demons, submerged in feces, burned on the soles of their feet, placed in a boiling lake, bitten by snakes, dismembered, and diseased. The last of the circles is home to those who committed treachery and are doomed to a specific icy punishment. In the center of hell, Satan himself is found chewing on Cassius, Brutus, and Judas.


Tibetan Buddhism Wheel Of Life 06 06-1 Hell Beings

Naraka or Niraya is the concept of hell for some branches of Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, and Buddhism. While the exact descriptions of Naraka differ between religions, it is a place of punishment based on a soul’s karma. Naraka is only a temporary destination and once the sinners have paid the price for their karma, they are reborn.

It is thought to be divided into several levels depending on the sinscommitted during life. The number of levels in Naraka varies from four to over 1,000 based on different descriptions. For example, Maharaurava is a place for those who gain at the expense of others. In Maharaurava, the sinner has his or her flesh eaten by a serpent demon known as Ruru. The realm Kumbhipaka is home to sinners that cook birds and animals. They are punished by being boiled in hot oil for the same amount of time as there were hairs on the animals they killed.

In the Hindu and Jain culture, Naraka is thought to be ruled by Yama Loka, the God of Justice. Once a person passes away, their actions throughout life areaudited by Loka’s assistant and they are either sent to Svarga (heaven) or Naraka. Unlike Hinduism or Jainism, Buddhists believe that all souls are sent to Naraka to be cleansed of their sins, and no ruler exists to audit people’s actions in life. Regardless of cultural variation, it is believed that souls can remain in Naraka for billions of years until their karma has been restored and their souls may be reborn.



Diyu is a version of hell in traditional Chinese culture, and vaguely resembles Naraka. It consists of several levels, with the exact number differing from four to 18. Each level is watched over by a judge and punishments are carried outon sinners based on their actions during life. Chinese culture believes Yama Loki of Naraka was asked to watch over Diyu, where he eventually condensed the 96,816 hells into 10 sections that sinners would pass through before reincarnation. During the Tang Dynasty, this description changed to 134 hells, with 18 levels of pain and torture.

The most common description of the levels includes the Chamber of Tongue Ripping, The Chamber of Scissors, The Chamber of Iron Cycads, the Chamber of Mirror, Chamber of Steamer, Forest of Copper Column, Mountain of Knives, the Hill of Ice, Cauldron of Boiling Oil, Chamber of Ox, Chamber of Rock, Chamber of Pounding, Pool of Blood, Town of Suicide, Chamber of Dismemberment, Mountain of Flames, Yard of Stone Mill, and Chamber of Saw. The worst level of this hell is known as Avici, which is reserved for the worst sinners. Avici is unlike the other levels of Diyu because souls that end up here remain for eternity with no more hope to be reborn.



Xibalba is the Mayan version of hell and is thought to actually exist as a physical place in a cave system near Belize. It was said to be a place of pain, where the lords of the afterlife inflicted various odd forms of torture on unlucky souls. The lords were said to work together to inflict the punishments on Xibalba visitors. Ahalpuh and Ahalgana caused pus to gush from people’s bodies. Chamiabac and Chamiaholom caused the bodies of the dead to decay into skeletons. Ahalmez and Ahaltocob worked much like Mayhem does in those Allstate commercials by causing people deadly disasters in their homes. Xic and Patan brought death to people on the road, either by causing them to vomit blood, or squeezing them until blood filled their throats.

Souls were forced to complete a difficult and humiliating path just to reach Xibalba. Their journey began by crossing several rivers filled with blood, scorpions, and pus. Then the path split into four roads designed to entertain the lords by humiliating and confusing the travelers. Visitors were further tested by being sent into one of six deadly houses. The Dark House is pretty self-explanatory, as is the Jaguar House, Razor House, Hot House, and Bat House. The last house, known as the Rattling or Cold House, is filled with hail and freezing temperatures.

Shelby is an undergraduate at Arizona State University studying psychology and medicinal biochemistry. She is constantly fascinated by the mysteries of the world around her. She hopes to go on to medical school once she graduates to be able to search for and solve these mysteries.

10 Entrances To Hell That You Can Visit

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10 Entrances To Hell That You Can Visit



In the ancient world, death was a much more tangible presence in people’s lives. Lives were shorter, and there were no hospitals to hide the dying. The closeness of death made it natural for people to imagine that the afterlife was equally close.



Photo credit: Gianluca Cantoro

Alepotrypa (“Foxhole”) in Greece is huge cave system that may be the inspiration for the gloomy myth of Hades. The cave even contains a lake that may have been how the dead crossed between worlds.

The cave was lost for millennia until rediscovered by a hunter out with his dog chasing foxes. The fox escaped, but the dog stumbled on an important archaeological site.

Beginning around 6,000 years ago, burials and rituals began in the cave. Pottery and other offerings have been discovered among the 170 individuals buried there. One couple was found embracing for their journey to the next world.


9Actun Tunichil Muknal


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Actun Tunichil Muknal is a cave in Belize once thought to be the entrance to the Mayan Underworld, Xibalba. Mayan rituals at the cave involved fire, pottery offerings, and human sacrifice. Victims were led into the cave, hit on the head hard enough to crack the skull, and abandoned where they fell. The pottery would then be smashed and the dead left to cross over.

Beyond the mythic power of the cave, there is a real transformation that occurs. To reach the cave, one must wade through neck-deep waters and tight gaps. The water impregnates the cave and deposits minerals throughout. This has left the sacrifice victims’ skeletons bound to the cave floor with sparkling crystals. One particular skeleton has become known as the Crystal Maiden.



Photo credit: Omerulusoy /Wikimedia

As well as the radioactive element, Plutonium is also the name of an entrance to the Greek Hades—Pluto’s Gate. In Hierapolis, modern-day Pamukkale in Turkey, there is a place that locals promisingly call a “demon’s hole.” It was here that remains of a shrine to Pluto have been found.

Ancient writers had described the Plutonium, or Plutonion, at Hierapolis, but it was only recently found beside the ruins of a temple to Apollo. During excavation, the Plutonium’s shadowy appeal became obvious. It sits over a natural opening that releases carbon dioxide. While digging at the site, birds that strayed too close suffocated and died.


7Masaya Volcano


Photo credit: Wikimedia

When Conquistadors reached Nicaragua, they found an erupting Masaya volcano. Immediately, they labeled it La Boca del Infierno—The Mouth of Hell. The local population had no belief that the volcano was an entrance to the underworld, but the Spanish were sufficiently sure that they planted a cross on the rim of the crater to exorcise the devil. St. Gregory had said that volcanoes were all mouths of hell.

Locals did sacrifice children and women in the lava as a way of trying to end droughts, believing that the mountain was a god to be appeased. It is possible that this local deity was taken for a diabolical trick of Satan by the Christian Spanish.

One friar wrote “that the fire of the volcano of Nicaragua (Masaya) without fuel must be the mouth of Hell, and its fire must be supernatural and hellish, and the place from which the condemned are thrown by the demons.” The huge amounts of sulfur dioxide the volcano releases would certainly have made it unpleasant enough to confuse with hell.

6Lake Pergusa


Photo credit: Salvatore Ingala

Sicily is home to Mount Etna, another fiery volcano with a reputation as an entrance to hell. But it is also the site where Hades dragged Persephone, daughter of the harvest goddess, down to his home in the Underworld. The poet Ovid wrote of how Persephone was playing by the nearby Lake Pergusa when Hades seized her. With her daughter missing, Ceres would not allow anything to grow. A compromise was made in which Persephone would spend six months above ground, spring and summer, and six beneath it with her new husband, autumn and winter.

Each year at spring, Persephone rises from hell and emerges through Lake Perusa. In nearby Etna, there was once a temple to Ceres where the goddess would await the return of her daughter.

5Door To Hell


Photo credit: Tormod Sandtorv

In Turkmenistan, there is a constantly burning crater. Its origins are disputed, but it is decidedly modern. One claim dates it to a Soviet exploration in 1971. While searching for natural gas, they discovered their bore hole was releasing noxious gases. They thought a sensible solution would be to burn them off. The crater caught fire—and has continued to burn ever since.

The Darvaza Crater, as the Door to Hell is more prosaically known, may not have much in the way of antiquity, but it is certainly a draw for tourists in an otherwise empty location. It also, apparently, attracts spiders to its heat and warmth, leading them to tumble into the fiery pit.


4Hells Of Beppu


Photo credit: Renehaas/Wikimedia

Unlike some of the other entrances to hell on this list, the Hells of Beppu can be easily reached by bus and are a designated Place of Scenic Beauty. Japan is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, and so volcanic phenomena abound. Hot springs, such as those found at Beppu, are common. Steaming pools of boiling water erupt at Beppu with fantastically colored muds. To early visitors, they resembled jigoku, Buddhist hells.

The Hells of Beppu range from the beautiful Sea Hell with brilliant blue waters to Chinoike-Jigoku (Blood pond hell) with its red waters and crimson steam. Despite the scenic nature of these hells, there is a darker side. In the past, the scalding waters have been used for torture and execution.

3Fengdu City Of Ghosts


Photo credit: Gisling/Wikimedia

On Ming Mountain in China, a complex of temples and shrines has grown. All have some association with the afterlife and those seeking to reach it. The mountain gained its link to hell when two seekers after wisdom, Yin and Wang, went there to follow Toaist teachings. They became wise immortals, but it is the joining of their name which led to the City of Ghosts being built—Yinwang means “king of hell.”

Visitors looking to avoid hell must pass three tests. Nothing-To-Be-Done-Bridge connects this world to the next. Only the virtuous may cross. The wicked will fall. The next test takes place at Ghost Torturing Pass, where the dead are judged. The third test involves standing on one leg for three minutes on a stone. The evil will topple into hell. Turns out a good sense of balance is vital to the well-being of the soul.

2Cave Of The Sibyl


In the ancient world, people took prophecies seriously. Under the influence of a god, it was thought that certain people could see the future. Dotted throughout the world there were sibyls, female prophets, that people would seek out to answer their questions. The most famous made her home in Italy at Cumae.

In The Aeneid, the Sibyl of Cumae is sought out by Aeneas in her cave. She tells him that to succeed in founding a great nation (Rome), he must descend to the Underworld. He is taken deep into the Earth and sees the spirits of the Illustrious Dead.

In The Aeneid, the sibyl speaks from a cave with 100 mouths that amplifies her prophecies. A cave called the Sibyl’s at Cumae was found in 1932 and does have many entrances, if not quite the poetically amplified 100.

1Necromanteion Of Ephyra


Hades contains five rivers. Interestingly the Necromanteion of Ephyra sits beside three of them: Acheron (“River of woe”), Pyriphlegethon (“Flaming with fire”), and Cocytus (“River of wailing”). It was the Acheron that the ferryman Charon conducted the souls of the dead across. At the Necromanteion of Ephyra, one could seek to communicate with those across the river.

Those seeking to use the Necromanteion would cleanse themselves before being led down into subterranean tunnels passing several iron gates. In the dark, lanterns were lit, and the faithful would see the forms of the dead in the flickering lights.

Excavations at the site have discovered wheels, ratchets, and a mechanism for moving a human image. Perhaps even with their location so close to the rivers of hell, it was still necessary for the priests of the Necromanteion to conjure with more than spirits.

10 Mysterious Human Populations

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10 Mysterious Human Populations



Mysterious populations challenge our notions of the world. Some remain shrouded in the shadows of time; others are enigmatic because of their isolation or unique origin stories. The more we learn, the more complex the story of man becomes.

10Population Y


Photo credit: Sussi Bech

The Americas were the final frontier for human expansion. Most believe they were populated 15,000 years ago in one wave via the Bering land bridge. However, recent findings suggest a different story. Geneticists recently discovered DNA that closely resembles that of modern-day Australian Aboriginals and indigenous Papua New Guineans in the most unlikely of places: Amazonia. Experts have named this new founding group “Population Y.”

These colonizers did not arrive via boat. They came in a separate wave across the Bering Strait. Their unique genetic signatures were similar but not identical to modern Austronesians—suggesting Population Y intermingled with an ancient Asian lineage before crossing.

In 2003, Brazilian scientists were shocked to discover Polynesian DNA in the bones of the extinct Botocudo tribe. However, the Botocudo anomalies are different from the recently discovered ones. The populating of the Americas was far more interesting and diverse than previously imagined.


9Ramapough Mountain People


30 miles outside New York City, in New Jersey’s Appalachians, exists a mysterious population known as the Ramapough Mountain People. Some describe them as inbred gypsies. Others insist they are albinos sired by a circus sideshow performer. As late as 2015, people still claimed the “Jackson Whites” were an inbred lot of renegade Indians, escaped slaves, Hessian mercenaries, and West Indian prostitutes. The reality is they are the Ramapough Lenape Indians.

Many Ramapough Lenape share surnames like De Groot, De Freiss, Van der Donk, and Mann. Composed of Afro-Dutch runaway slaves and the Lenape Indians, some took their names of their masters. Others adopted the names of prominent New Yorkers to hide their ancestry. They face discrimination from all sides because they do not meet Native American stereotypes. In 1993, Donald Trump claimed “they don’t look like Indians to me.” The Ramapough Lenape even had trouble being accepted by other natives.



Photo credit: Wikimedia

The Guanche are the aboriginal inhabitants of the Canary Islands. They were noted for having light eyes and blonde hair, despite the Island being located 100 kilometers (60 mi) off the coast of Morocco. Most suspected they were descended from Berbers, the native inhabitants of Morocco. Many scientists believed they represent the best example of Cro-Magnon man—preserved for millennia in their island isolation.

The most common maternal DNA line was U6b—a group unknown on the African mainland. However, it is most structurally similar to the common Berber group U6. The Spanish colonized the islands in the 15th century. The predominance of Iberian paternal DNA suggests the men of the Guanche were drastically depleted—most likely in warfare.


7Liqian Romans


Photo credit: saporedicina.com

Liqian is located in northwest China on the edge of the Gobi Desert. Wild speculation surrounds the origin of its inhabitants,who are known for their fair hair, light eyes, and long noses. Many claim the citizen of Liqian are theLost Legion of Rome.

In 53 BC, the Romans faced a devastating defeat against the Parthians. Legend has it the soldiers fled east and later served as mercenaries fighting against the Han Chinese. A recent genetic study of Liqian has revealed that many of the inhabitants have up to 60 percent Caucasian ancestry. However, without the discoveries of artifacts, the Roman theory remains a myth.

This has not stopped the Chinese government from turning Liqian into a Roman-themed amusement park. So far, they have invested $160 million into the project to attract tourists. Visitors are greeted with Roman architecture and battle reenactments. There are even plans in the works to build a replica of the Coliseum.



Photo credit: XVodolazx

The Yamnaya are a mysterious people with a vast influence. Sometime around 5,000 years ago, these nomads swept out of their homeland on the Pontic-Caspian steppe to spread their technology and genes. The Yamnaya were believed to be some of the first people to tame horses. They moved with wheeled wagons and worked ore into bronze.

Norway owes half of their genetic makeup to this group. However, they also traveled east—reaching as far as the Altai Mountains. The Yamnaya might be responsible for things we now consider European, such as the ability to drink milk. Prior to the Bronze Age, 90 percent of Europeans were lactose intolerant. Yamnaya have the highest incidence of the mutation that allows milk digestion.



Photo credit: Albert Bierstadt

The Duhare was an enigmatic group the Spanish encountered when exploring the coast around modern-day Georgia. First referenced in De Orbe Nove in 1530, they were taller than the Spanish, with reddish hair, light eyes, and full beards. They even raised dairy deer for making cheese—a practice unknown to indigenous Americans. A radical theory suggests they were descended from pre-Columbian Irish pioneers.

Once people re-explored the connection to Ireland, startling threads emerged. Unlike neighboring Indian tongues, the Duhare language had been almost entirely indecipherable—that is, until they compared it to Irish. In Irish, Datha means “painted one.” Many reject the Irish-origin theory, however, claiming it is a disservice to Native Americans and the anthropology field.


4Ice Age Invaders


Photo credit: L. Lang

Most believed Europe was populated in three waves: hunter-gathers, farmers from the Middle East, and pastoralists from the steppe. Recent genetic tests reveal a fourth wave. Around 14,500 BC, an invading population of hunter-gatherers replaced the earlier one. This occurred during at the end of the last ice age, during a rapid warming period. Megafauna like wooly mammoths and sabretooth tigers became extinct. The people who replaced the earlier population came from warmer refuges to the south in Spain and the Balkans.

The breakthrough came as the result of analyzing ancient European remains dated between 35,000 and 7,000 years ago. In European genomes, the maternal DNA group M is entirely absent, despite its prevalence across Asia and the Americas. Scientists discovered group M was present in Europeans prior to last glacial maximum. Previously, the lack of M in Europe was attributed to multiple waves out of Africa.



Photo credit: ISAF

Afghanistan’s third-largest minority, the Hazara have been the object of persecution for centuries. They are Shiite—unlike their Suni neighbors. Many claim their East Asian features were inherited from the Mongol Horde. During the 19th century, half their population was either killed or forced into exile. The threat continues today at the hands of the Taliban, who consider theminfidel foreigners.

Analysis has revealed that the Hazara poses Turko-Mongol genetics. This lends credence to the theory that they descended from Genghis Khan. However, they also possess genes from the area’s original inhabitants—in addition to contributions from Tajik and other Silk Road travelers. They now comprise half of Kabul’s population.



Photo credit: Wikimedia

The Niligiri Mountains in southern India are home to the mysterious Toda people. Many have described the fair-complexioned, light-eyed Toda as resembling the faces of ancient Greek statues. They wear cloth wrapped around them like Scottish highlander. Their language is Dravidian. Their prayers remain undeciphered. They also traditionally practice polyandry, in which a woman gets married to all the males of a family.

The British were enamored with the mysterious Toda. Some suggest radical origin theories such as they are a lost tribe of Israel or the descendants of Greek Cypriots. Some in the West are looking to the Toda as a blueprint for sustainability and committed nonviolence.

1The Unknown Ancestor


Photo credit: Thilo Parg

Non-Africans owe 2 percent of their genome to Neanderthals. Certain populations of Oceania, like Australian Aboriginals and Papua New Guineans, received 4 percent of their genetic information from the enigmatic Denisovans. These hominids also bred with the ancestors of East Asians. Initial analysis of these ancient genomes was done with samples riddled with gaps and errors. Updated, high-quality sequences of these ancient species reveal that these groups bred together far more frequently than previously imagined. What’s more, the Denisovan genome reflected the genetic influence of an unknown species of human.

Presented at the Royal Society in London, the results immediately sparked a firestorm of speculation. Some anthropologists suspect Homo heidelbergensis. This hominid emerged from Africa 500,000 years ago and gave rise to the Neanderthals of Europe. Perhaps they lingered on in Asia. We are now looking at a “Lord of the Rings–type world” in which multiple human species coexisted and mated.