The Haunted House in Stans, Switzerland (destroyed : Februrary 2010)
"The history of the occult is also a history of the obscure. A history of ideas shrouded in secrecy seeping through the darkness of centuries, before suddenly resurfacing in the 'mystic' 1960s, and settling as a minor but constant presence within mainstream consumer culture. The 'occult' hasn't left many monuments, mostly dusty manuscripts found or 'rediscovered' in forgotten boxes in libraries or bookstores, or an occasional alchemical symbol engraved in a church or on a building, which surprisingly survived the vigilant eye of the Inquisition. Nor are the historical figures of this 'occult' easy to trace. Real identities are typically veiled by disguises and pseudonyms making me doubt if these people ever actually existed. Some relatively recent and verifiable sources can be mentioned, however. One is the French Socialist and Kabbalist, Alphonse Louis Constant (1810-1857) better known as Eliphas Levi, who in his book "The History of Magic" (1861), brought together several different strands of esoteric thought - in effect, inventing occultism - and influenced artists like Arthur Rimbaud, J. K. Huysmans, André Breton and Erik Satie. Another is The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, an early twentieth century esoteric society in London, and its renegade member, Aleister Crowley (1875-1947). Crowley's portrait was included on the cover of The Beatles's "Sergeant Pepper" album, and his imagery finds its way into the songs of John Lennon and David Bowie among others revealing Crowley's position as a progenitor and avatar of the occult's thriving within the counter-culture.
On March 1, 1920, Aleister Crowley and a group of devotees, arrived at Cefalù, Sicily, and moved into a small house at the outskirts of town. The house, formerly called "Villa Santa Barbara", was renamed "The Abbey of Thelema", inspired by the French writer Rabelais, who in the concluding chapters of his book "Gargantua" (1534), describes an ideal community named "Theleme", which had the governing maxim "Do what you will". Though hedonistic, centered around Crowley's own version of magick - Kabbalah and yoga, with a particular empasis on tantric practices, hetero- and homosexual rituals, and the use of drugs to heighten intensity - life in the Abbey was often described as bleak. The house had neither gas nor electricity, and no plumbing. General conditions were unsanitary in the extreme, and in the summer the air was thick with flies, gnats and mosquitoes. With Crowley as a drugged, benevolent dictator at his best, and a gruesome, perverted manipulator at his worst, the days at the Abbey could be harsh. On top of that, the magical training was rigorous and unrelenting. Newcomers would spend the night in "La chambre des cauchemars" - "The Room of Nightmares" - its principle features - three large walls painted in fresco, representing earth, heaven and hell, depicting mostly demons, goblins and graphic sex scenes. Here, the new student of magick would experience "The nightside of Eden" primed by a "secret process" - probably a potent mixture of hashish and opium, administered by Crowley - as the walls came alive. The idea behind the ordeal was to contemplate every possible phantom that can assail the soul, to face the "Abyss of Horror", and thereby gain mastery over the mind. This approach was strikingly similar to what was practiced 43 years later in Timothy Leary's community, Catalina, founded in a vacant hotel in the sleepy Mexican beach town of Zihuatenjo, where members would sit alone in a lifeguard tower on the beach, dosed on LSD, summoning the forces of the 'irrational', trying to break through to the other side."
(Joachim Koester, 2005 - excerpt)
"The oldest and most famous haunted house in Switzerland is about to be torn down to make room for a 40 room hotel.The house which is in Stans was lived in by a lawyer and his family in 1862. Upon moving into the house the owner started experiencing things that couldn not be explained. besides the usual trick of doors and windows openning and closing by themselves. Rocks the size of fists were projected from the fireplace through the window and landed near his children who were playing in the garden. His youngest son was found unconscious in his room after having seen a ghost. Melchior Joller went onto write a book about his experiences only to be ridiculed and losing his parliament seat and his business. he moved to Italy with his family and died in mysterious circumstances in 1865.Now the house is to be torn down and a hotel built in its place. The new owner does want to keep some of the doors for his new place, do you think that it will also be haunted?"