One very persistent type of tale is that of Satanic cults. Operating in the shadows and up to all manner of nefarious arcane and occult rituals and even human sacrifice, there have been such stories going way back. One of these revolves around a town in the U.S. state of North Carolina, which is said to be a mecca of Satanists and shadowy cult activities, which also just so happens to have its own haunted castle. Here we get into a spooky tale of ghosts, Satanic cults, and human sacrifice that has become entrenched within the lore of the region.
In 1914, a chemist, hotelier, newspaper editor and businessman by the name of Fred Loring Seely completed construction of a grand, sprawling mansion on ten acres of land on top of Sunset Mountain, in Asheville, North Carolina, that he had received from his father-in-law, the self-made millionaire, entrepreneur, and patent medicine tycoon Edwin Wiley Grove. The vast, 20,000-square-foot structure, called Overlook Castle or Seely Castle, was designed by Seely himself, forged from granite from the surrounding mountains and sporting electric lighting, 32-foot-high ceilings, and massive beams made from whole trees. With its towers, Medieval style parapets, Jacobean ceilings and lattice windows, the immense English Gothic style building cut a rather imposing figure perched up above the countryside below, and was often called “the castle in the sky.” At the time, with its fancy electric lights and coal-powered heating system it was a bit of an architectural marvel, and drew such esteemed guests as Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, and Henry Ford, and five U.S. presidents.
Seely and his wife, Evelyn Grove Seely, would use the castle as a summer home all the way up to his death in 1942, after which the castle changed hands several times over the years. It was sold to the Asheville-Biltmore College in 1949, who owned it until 1961, after which it fell into disrepair for some time before becoming a private residence for a Mr. Jerry Sternberg, who had planned to make it into a museum but never did. After this it passed on to a religious group called Overlook Christian Ministries before being acquired by the business tycoon Loren W. Wells and his family. There were some stretches between these various owners in which the castle was unoccupied, and perhaps because of its Gothic, ominous appearance like something out of a dark fairy tale it was during these years that the Overlook Castle would gain a reputation as a rather sinister, spooky place.
One of the main rumors about the castle was that it was haunted. It was often said during the years in which it sat abandoned that orbs of light could sometimes be seen orbiting the structure, as well as window lights on when no one should have been there. Even eerier still were reports that screaming or moaning could sometimes be heard emanating from the castle, or that shadow apparitions roamed its grounds. One person who would vouch for the building’s haunted status was the previous owner Jerry Sternberg, who claimed that he had had some rather spooky experiences while living there. He claimed that there was a secret room with a window that one could look into, but which seemed to have no known entrance. He also claimed that the place was haunted, and would say of this:
If you sat in the Great Room on a dark night, you would occasionally see an eerie, sylphlike figure wisp through the room, never pausing and never threatening. The kids gleefully called it ‘Chippie’ and squealed with delight in its presence. Unfortunately, there were no bizarre happenings that anyone knew of that might have spawned this supernatural being, and while I hate to dispel romance and adventure, I always figured it was a reflection of some kind of light from Tunnel Road — OR WAS IT?
Another rumor that made the rounds was that the castle was being used by a cult of Satan worshippers, who supposedly would carry out arcane rituals and human sacrifices there. In fact, it was widely believed to be a sort of headquarters for rich and elite Satanists from all over the region, of which there were said to be many. In fact, according to some, the whole Asheville area is crawling with occultists and Satan worshippers, and is ground zero for a massive cult of death and the epicenter of Satanism in the United States. One of the main proponents of this idea is a Pamela Schuffert, who wrote a 7-part exposé on alleged Satanic activity in the Asheville area called Satanism in America Today after researching the rumors on cults and Satanism in the area for years. She says of the area:
I have personally done many years of hands-on research, often dangerous, in and around the city of Asheville, NC. Asheville is known as the satanist/pagan mecca of the east coast. Nestled in the mysterious Blue Ridge mountains as they descend from Virginia, such remote mountains and valleys have long been the desired sites for bizarre and often violent cult rituals, many culminating in human sacrifice. The satanists in the mountains of North Carolina are never shy about announcing their presence. In fact, they have often let it be known that they are quite proud of their exploits! But then, why not? The jewel of Asheville, NC, is the famed ‘Biltmore Estate,’ former home of the great Illuminati Satanist millionaire, George Vanderbilt! In his Illuminati mansion, one large room contains a coven’s table, with 13 seats on either side. On the door is a plaque with the words, ‘Assemblage of the Gods.'
According to Schuffert, there are Satanists deeply entrenched within Asheville society, from normal residents, to the police, and all the way up to politicians and the wealthiest elite. She also says that Asheville Satanic cultists have been abducting people for their rituals and human sacrifices for years, and that this is in fact a problem in many areas across America. She even claims that she was the target of such an insidious abduction attempt by Satanists, and she has written of all of this:
Every year across America, up to one million innocent victims are abducted or bred for human sacrifice by Satanist cults. They die in agony, their screams unheard by mainstream America. Their remains will never be discovered: they were tortured, cannibalized, cremated and disposed of. I have narrowly escaped several abduction attempts in those mountains, and I was told by my father’s former high priest that had they succeeded in their attempt, I would have been seized and hauled down in chains in a Ryder rental truck and then chained to the altar in their great Satanist caverns of the Smokies, which stretch far into Tennessee, and most brutally sacrificed for having dared to stand against them. Ryder and other rental trucks are frequently used to secretly haul human sacrifice victims to sacrifice locations nationwide.”
She writes of the case of another young woman by the name of Cyndi, who was allegedly targeted by the Satanists, who harassed her, stalked her, and threatened her life repeatedly. Schuffert claims that the cult stalked Cyndi, cut off electricity and phone service at her home, and generally intentionally tried to make this young woman’s life a living hell and to break her spirit before abducting her, and that she herself was even recruited to protect her and offer spiritual guidance. She explains of the case:
In 1992, as I was investigating Satanism in the mountains of North Carolina, I was tipped off by a Satanic crime investigator about a young woman whose life was living hell: she was marked for abduction and sacrifice by local Satanists, and they were systematically destroying her life. Her social life was cut off: most of her previous friends had been slowly frightened away. Even pastors had been frightened to stand with her, apparently. The investigator suggested I could provide spiritual comfort and support for her if I moved into her trailer with her. The Satanists worked double time after I moved in. Sensing that my friend was now receiving the needed Christian support and teachings in order to evade them, they became more violent and insane in their efforts. We endured many episodes of life on the wild side. I found myself spending countless hours on my knees in prayer for our protection, having both a Bible for support and carrying a loaded handgun in a beltbag 24 hours a day for emergencies.
She even claims that the Satanists used what she calls a “curse pin,” which she describes as a small pin “coated with deadly poisons and assigned demons of destruction,” which the Satanists will hide in a place where the victim will accidentally be penetrated by it, such as a cushion or seat. In this case, the curse pin had been planted in the victim’s car seat, and when Cyndi sat down on it she was in immediate, excruciating pain that completely incapacitated her. The problem was that Schuffert did not feel comfortable taking her in for proper medical attention because it “was filled with both Satanists and witches as doctors, nurses and other employees,” and that to bring her to the hospital was tantamount to signing her death warrant. Luckily, Cyndi would recover. In the meantime, the harassment continued, with robed figures lurking in the woods around the home and scraping on the walls at night, and there was a series of ominous and threatening phone calls. According to Shuffert, in one particularly harrowing incident, the harassment graduated up to an actual physical attack, when the cultists allegedly used some sort of chemical weapon pumped into the ventilation system. She says:
One night, the harassment went into the extreme, however. Cyndi had by this time moved her mattress onto the living room floor so that she would not be window level when she slept at night. Her head was ground level, right next to an air duct. One night she came to me and said, ‘I’ve been smelling something strange for the last 15 minutes…’ I had smelled nothing. A few minutes later she said, ‘what are those funny black spots doing around your head?’ She then collapsed and fell on her knees, her head and shoulders fallen on the sofa. I ran and lifted her entire body up on the sofa. She was totally unconscious by now.
We later figured out, they had introduced some type of chemical weapon into her ventilation system, but not strong enough to affect everyone in the trailer…only her, since her face had been directly next to the vent. She and I had heard sounds coming from underneath her trailer that night, and we KNEW that they had spent some time under there…but we dared not go out to confront them at night. When she came out of this state many hours later, she admitted to having a most marvelous angelic visitation in which she believed God had visited her and promised her victory in this battle. She and her mother were forced to relocate far out of the area to avoid further attack. But these murderers never succeeded in getting her after all. Nor did they succeed in getting me, although they made numerous attempts on my life.
Shuffert would claim that these Satanists would harass her for the entirety of her investigation, even going as far as to send her a Satanist posing as a Christian who needed counseling. Shuffert goes on to write that Asheville is indeed the central nervous system of a vast network of Satanists across the country, who plan to eventually overthrow the government and kill anyone in their way of establishing a sort of New World Order ruled over by the Devil himself. It is all peppered with paranoid conspiratorial ranting and heavy doses of hardcore Christian rhetoric, so considering this it is hard to know how much any of it has a grain of truth and how much of it is just the product of a delusional mind. Is any of this true at all, or is this just a bonkers conspiracy theory built upon a local urban legend? Whatever the case may be, the area continues to produce rumors of Satanist cults and black magic rituals, and it is all a pretty spooky story at the very least.