You'd be surprised what people managed to find this planet is a pretty big place and people have been living here for a long, long time. And that means just about everywhere you look, there's something lost or hidden waiting to be rediscovered. Most of us bump into things by chance, a crumpled 20 dollar bill on the sidewalk, a rare first edition or that vintage Mickey Mantle rookie card hiding away in your great grandmother's photo album, things turn up and they sometimes bring surprises with them.
Archaeologists are often in the best position for those surprises, though. For example, back in 2013, researchers working in a tomb in China's Hunan province discovered that one of the bronze pots still contained a liquid. Given the fact that the tomb is over 2000 years old, finding a burial vessel that still contains something had to feel like a major breakthrough. After documenting the find, they poured the liquid out into a measuring cup and caught the aroma of wine, but after analyzing the substance, they were surprised by an even more amazing result.
The liquid wasn't 2000 year old wine, after all, but an elixir that had only been read about before in ancient texts. It was a fabled Chinese elixir of life, a magical liquid that was supposed to grant eternal life to anyone who drank it. Of course, the ingredients of this elixir weren't the safest, including things like mercury, arsenic and even gold. But its very existence points to an ageless longing in just about every human culture throughout history.
We want to live forever. It's the one obstacle that we seem unable to overcome.
We might be able to eliminate physical pain for a while or broken social structures that hold us down. We've been able to cure diseases and send humans to the moon, but we've never been able to put a stopper in death. At least that's what we've been led to believe. But the history books contain hints at an alternate answer, one that says that even something as permanent and certain as death might be avoided. Death, some believe, can truly be beaten.
And if the stories are true. There are those who have already succeeded. I'm Aaron Manque, and this is lower. We've always hoped it was possible, one doesn't have to have lived very long to experience death at some level, maybe it's the loss of a friend or a family member. For some, it might just be watching a community around them mourn someone they themselves never knew. But no matter how death is first noticed, it becomes immediately clear how painful and permanence it can be.
As far back as human literature goes, so too do our dreams of immortality. One of the earliest stories ever written is the ancient Mesopotamian story called The Epic of Gilgamesh. And while its parts adventure story and part creation tale, it's also a story that explores the theme of death and our desire to defeat it. In the end, Gilgamesh realizes that immortality might not even be possible for humans at all. A depressing realization for sure. The ancient Greeks had similar ideas, the character of Sisyphus is most known today as the guy cursed forever to roll an enormous stone up a mountain, only to have it roll back down just before reaching his goal and forcing him to start over.
But the reason he was banished is such a painful and frustrating afterlife was because he had repeatedly cheated death and that sort of crime in the eyes of the gods at least needed to be punished. In Japan, there is the legend of the Yao Bikini, which dates back to at least the early 5th century. It discusses a mythological creature known as the Ninio, which is part human and part fish, but not in the same way that a mermaid might be.
Think of this. More of a fish with a human like head. And while its blood was seen as a powerful cure for diseases and illness, that blood had to be received from the Ninio as a gift not stolen.
Legend says that if a person, even the smallest piece of a ninio without the creature's permission, they would die. The legend of the yellow bikini is about a fisherman who does just that, catching an unusual fish and then inviting all of his friends to an elaborate dinner to share the fish as a meal. At some point in the night, though, most people notice what the fishermen missed, that the creature is really a ninio and they threw their food away.
But in the story, one man doesn't. And after arriving home, his daughter eats a piece that he had placed in his pocket. Instead of dying, though nothing happens, she grows up, gets married and then mysteriously never ages. She eventually lives for a full eight hundred years before taking her own life over the sadness of constantly watching her loved ones pass away. One of the common themes in a lot of the stories that can be found around the world is that there's a special thing that can gift immortality to humanity, a drink or an object of supernatural origin.
For the Greeks, it was a divine beverage known as ambrosia, although sometimes it's referred to as a food as well. Again, though, it must be consumed as a gift not taken without permission. In the mythology of ancient India, there's the ritual drink known as Soma, or sometimes Amrit. Him 848 of the Hindu Rigveda is an entire song devoted to Soma and its power to bestow immortality on humanity. It's sometimes called King Soma and even the Gods Soma.
But the similarities to ambrosia are clear, and the mythology of the ancient Egyptians describe the gods drinking a substance called white drops, or liquid gold, which was apparently the source of their immortality. But rising above all the other stories are a pair of infamous objects that seem to be permanently embedded in our popular culture, and the first of those is The Philosopher's Stone. Now, let me start by saying that the real history of The Philosopher's Stone is deep and complex and so much more than I could ever cover here in just a couple of minutes.
So this will be more of a summary. If I miss a detail that you happen to know and love, please forgive me. The roots of the Philosopher's Stone go back into the roots of alchemy, which is most commonly described as the science of turning one's substance into another, when most of us hear the word alchemy. We immediately think of mad scientists trying to turn lead into gold, which is like a really bad crib notes version of the truth.
But it gives you the basic idea. People were looking for a way to transform things and The Philosopher's Stone was at the center of that mission. The stone was the goal of most alchemists working throughout Europe for a very long time. It was also known as the essence, the stone of the wise, the magnum opus and even the quintessence. Clearly, people thought highly of it, and rightly so. This mysterious substance was said to transform base elements into new, more valuable ones.
But at the top of its list of properties was the one thing everyone wanted eternal life. The trouble was, there was no instructional guide for making it. Whenever someone wrote out their own version of the step by step process, it was always riddled with ambiguity. Even modern historians who study this subject in depth for a living can't get a clear, simple answer. But of course, that's to be expected. Something as powerful and life changing as The Philosopher's Stone should never be easy, right?
Descriptions of the stone vary sometimes it's a powder that's added to transmutation experiments, unlocking the magic. A powder is also supposed to be the main ingredient of the elixir of life. Most describe the stone as red, and many seem to agree that it can transform 100 times its own weight of any substance into gold. Benjamin Franklin said that we can all depend on taxes and death, so it makes sense that The Philosopher's Stone is said to answer both of those problems with never ending wealth and eternal life.
And that's why hundreds of early alchemists spent their entire lives chasing it down from unnamed nobodies to historical luminaries. And lastly, there's one other legendary object that has been chased after for centuries for many of the same reasons, the Holy Grail. It's also probably the most well-known of the objects associated with eternal life. And thanks to pop culture, it doesn't require a ton of explaining. Basically, the Holy Grail is the cup said to be used by Christ at the Last Supper and in many versions of the story.
It's also a cup used to catch some of his blood at the crucifixion. The word itself opens up the legend to all sorts of confusion, though Grail comes from the Latin Gradoli, which refers to a platter that was used to serve food at old European feasts. It all goes back to Indiana Jones and the last crusade, where the real cup, if there was one, probably doesn't meet any of our expectations. But its powers are easy to trace because of the Grillz connection to the Last Supper and the first Eucharist meal in history.
Many people across Europe begin to believe that it was the cup itself that gave eternal life, and that was enough to set people looking for it for centuries. In fact, treasure hunters are still out there today, digging away in archives and churches in a modern extension of those old medieval quests. Humanity's search for immortality is a journey that transcends cultures, geography and time for as long as people have been around. It seems we have been looking for a way to avoid the inevitable.
On some level, humanity has always refused to believe that death can't be overcome. Whether that solution was found at the bottom of a cup of mysterious liquid given off by a rare and powerful stone, or a gift sent to us straight from the divine, people seem to have looked everywhere for an answer, and according to history, a handful of individuals just might have done more than ask the right questions. They might have found the answer. He was barely known in his own time with explorer conquerors like Hernando Cortez or Francisco Vazquez de Coronado casting long shadows over the Spanish Empire.
It was difficult for anyone else to rise above. But thanks to a good helping of folklore and a few centuries of word of mouth, just about everyone today knows about Ponce de Leon. This man wasn't a slouch. Believe me, he was part of the second voyage of Christopher Columbus. He founded the city of San Juan in Puerto Rico, and he was the first European to officially set foot in what is now the state of Florida. In fact, in an era when most explorers simply returned over and over again to the same part of the world, Ponce de Leon was one of the few to bravely travel to uncharted territory.
But legend says that he did more than that on a trip to the Bahamas in the early 1400's, DeLeon was rumored to have discovered something amazing, the fountain of youth. Maybe it was just a natural spring, or perhaps it was the ancient stone fountain carved by some past civilization. Either way, that's what the story says he found. The trouble is, the earliest mention of this discovery comes from a 15 34 book called The General History of the Indies, and it's a single sentence referring only to that fountain of Bimini, which is an island about 50 miles east of Miami.
Every single thing mentioned in the legend outside of that detail has been added on over the past 400 plus years. It's not as if people weren't looking for such a thing. There's an ancient Hindu legend about the pool of youth and Hebrew stories of a river of immortality that flowed out of the Garden of Eden. Early retellings of the life of Alexander the Great contain references to a dear fountain of sweet water that poured from the mouth of a golden statue of a lion.
One version of that story from the 13th century describes how Alexander's oldest soldiers bathed in it and were transformed into men half their age. In the end, the story of Ponce de Leon and his fountain of youth might be more legend than fact. But that hasn't stopped people from debating why De Leon was searching for it in the first place. Some think that it was for his own aging body, but he was only about 40 at the time. Others say it was to retrieve some water for the aged king of Spain.
But the earliest reason given in that same 15 34 history book was that De Leon was looking for a cure for his own impotence. Even if Ponce de Leon couldn't stand up to historical scrutiny, we have other candidates to explore. And our next one could qualify for an 18th century version of the most interesting man in the world. No one knows where he was born or what his real name was, but history has remembered him ever since as the count of St.
Germain. Now, before you assume he was a made up person, rest assured that St. Germain was a real live human being. He first appears on the public record in London, in 1745, where he worked as a musician, publishing a number of original compositions with his name on them. After that, he pops up in Germany and then Paris a few years later. And it was during his time in France that he became a friend of King Louis the 15th.
He would end up socializing with a whole list of European rulers and nobility, Saint-Germain was a rising star and he had a way of attracting attention with his charismatic personality, his love of the arts, and stories about his own life, stories that included hints at something more amazing than simple social status. Saint-Germain, it seems, had been alive for centuries. The secret to his long life, according to the rumors, at least, was something that might sound familiar at this point, an elixir of life, whether he made it himself or acquired it someplace else is unknown.
Many of the stories about him, though, describe his lifelong passion for creating new dyes for fabric, a mission that he believed would help the poor look more like royalty. So maybe there was a bit of chemistry in his background. What is clear is that he seemed to have the knowledge of someone many times his age. During his time in Europe, he worked as a diplomat, an adviser to kings and a composer. He was regarded as a polymath and artistic genius and seemed to be able to do just about anything he set his mind to, whether that be chemistry, engineering, writing or magically transforming handfuls of diamonds into one larger gem.
The French writer Voltaire possibly said it best. He is a man who does not die and who knows everything. At least that was the common belief about St.. Germain at the time. But one of the man's own students recorded that St. Germain passed away in 1784, which seems to cast doubt on those grand claims. Still, that hasn't stopped people from claiming to have seen St.. Germain in the years since the legendary Immortal was spotted the year after his death in Paris at a meeting of the Freemasons and then appeared at the Russian Royal Court the year after that.
He was reportedly seen in Paris in 1934 and in other locations in the decades since. Honestly, even if St. Germain isn't really still alive, the stories about him certainly are. And then there's our final rumored immortal, a man that seems to have maintained his place in pop culture for hundreds of years, most of you would recognize his name from the first Harry Potter novel, but that doesn't mean he was a fictional figure. Quite the contrary. Nicholas Flamel was a real documented person.
The short version of his bio is that he was born around 13, 30 in a small village a few miles north of Paris. His parents weren't wealthy, but they had enough means to provide Nicholas with an education when he finally left his hometown to find work in the big city. It was as a scribe, reading and copying manuscripts, and it was work that led him to become a bookseller. That was life for a very long while he got married, grew his business and earned a modest living, he and his wife were never wealthy, but they managed to get by.
And then everything changed in the mid 13 50s. That was when he had a dream that set his path on a new course, a dream in which an angel appeared and showed him a magical book.
A day will come. The angel told him, When you will find this book and see in it something no one else will. He might have forgotten about that dream in the months and years that followed, but in 1957, he purchased a number of old books from a local supplier and one of the volumes in particular stood out to him. It was the book from his dream, large and old, with gilded edges and cover. And the pages were made of an odd thin bark material, pages that were covered in intricate drawings and symbols.
It said that he spent the rest of his life working on interpreting that book and the knowledge he discovered inside allowed him to create The Philosopher's Stone, Flamel himself states that he had his breakthrough on January 17th of 13 82 when he used the stone to transmute lead into gold. It sounds too fantastic to believe. I know, and maybe that's true. But in the months and years that followed, he and his wife donated massive amounts of money to local churches, charities and hospitals far more than his bookseller career would have allowed.
And that stone was used by Flamel to create his elixir of life. Yes, he and his wife are supposed to be buried in Paris, but the legends say that was just a ruse to hide from King Charles, the sixth who had started to get a bit too interested in flammables immense fortune. After that, he and his wife went into hiding, traveling the world and learning all they could along the way. In the 18th century, a writer named Paul Lucas claimed to have met a man in Anatolia in Western Asia who had an amazing story to tell, this stranger claimed that he was one of seven sages who devoted their lives to knowledge.
And it was a journey that had brought him into contact with Nicholas Flamel. In fact, he had seen him as recently as three years before in the West Indies. Clearly, the rumors of immortals living among us is an old and common sort of tale, and I think you can understand why. If we can cling to the belief that death has been beaten by someone along the way, it gives us hope that perhaps, just maybe if we're lucky, we too might dodge our inevitable fate.
Under the microscope, though, all of those legends seem to dissolve into a blurry mess. Facts don't line up. Evidence is too far removed from the actual sources, and the entire web seems tied together with strings of hearsay and folklore.
But there's one more person I'd like to tell you about, partly because his story involves the very same quest we're on and partly because of how credible that story truly is. This man not only beat death, but he testified about it in court. No one is really sure what crime he committed. There are some that believe he was just a thief, while others have bought into the rumor that he had killed someone. Whatever the offense was, though, one thing was certain he was going to pay for it.
When Lady Mary Debrosse took the stand in 13 07, she claimed that William had been a famous bandit, which is why her late husband, Baron William Dario's, had arrested him 17 years earlier. All we know for sure is that when William Apress was arrested in 12 91, he was carted off to Swanzey Castle in South Wales and the penalty for his crimes was death. On the morning of November 12th, William and another prisoner were visited in their cell by a priest who took their last confessions, and then the men were both escorted out of the castle and down the road about a quarter of a mile to where a gallows had been constructed, arriving there about 9:00 in the morning.
William was first up the ladder, the noose already around his neck, while the authorities tied it to the cross beam above, he prayed out loud to a local bishop who had passed away a few years earlier, Thomas to cantaloupe. And then the latter was removed, leaving him to suffocate to death. With William dead, the other man was next, but this man was a bit larger than they had planned for and the latter didn't seem to be able to hold his weight.
So they placed the noose over his head, looped the rope over the crossbeam, and then a group of men pulled him up and off his feet. A moment later, though, a loud crack split the air and the beam broke, dropping both men to the ground. The authorities scrambled to clean up their mess. The second man was still alive, and so they hanged him again right away, completing their work without failure. This time, William Arborists, however, was already dead.
Still, the baron wanted to make an example of him, so his body was placed back on the gallows and left to hang for the rest of the day. Williams body was finally cut down at sunset that day, and then Lady Mary, the Baron's wife, stepped in to help make sure he received a proper burial. It's not clear why, although it wouldn't be out of the question for a married couple to have opposing views on something. While her husband had hated the man, she seems to have had a soft spot for him.
And so she arranged to have the body transported to the chapel of St. John the Baptist on the north side of town. Now, when I say transported, you probably pictured a wagon or a cart, but apparently, even though he had allowed his wife to help the old bear and wasn't about to miss a chance for more theatrics, so Williams body was strapped to a large wheel and literally rolled to the church. It was a torture device that typically killed people.
So the baron's message was clear, don't mess with me or this will happen to you. At the church, Williams body was laid out, multiple witnesses passed through the room to view him, and the descriptions were gruesome. His face was blackened by death and his throat and mouth were swollen. Blood oozed from his lips and nose in both of his eyes had popped out of their sockets and were resting on his cheekbones. Like I said, not for the faint of heart, but pretty close to what one might expect after such an execution.
As the evening went on, Williams body was measured for Thomas to cantaloupe, the dead bishop that he had prayed to earlier that day, a man who was apparently something of a local hero. Now, measuring in this context was a specific ritual. The injuries of an executed person were measured with a string, which was then covered in wax and turned into a candle. Then the candle was lit in the church to attract the attention of the dead saint or figure.
The larger the injuries, the longer the candle would burn. Since Williams entire body showed the signs of execution, his wick was the length of his entire body. And with that, the church was ready to begin caring for his soul. We know all of this because Lady Mary took the stand 17 years later to tell the story in London. Why? Because by then, Thomas, the cantaloupe was up for sainthood and the Catholic Church had called her in to testify to a miracle that had been attributed to the dead bishop.
And what was that miracle? Well, I'm not sure you'd believe me if I told you. But then again, that's why you're here, isn't it? You see, after measuring his body to make that candle, William Apress laid waiting for a morning burial. But around midnight, something unexpected happened. He moved. At first, it was just the twitching of his feet and hands, then his chest began to rise and fall slowly and painfully. Even his eyes began to return to their sockets all on their own.
It wasn't instantaneous. William didn't start breathing and then hop up and jump for joy.
He slowly transitioned from clearly dead to barely alive and then recovered at a similar pace four days after that. And then many days later, when he was able to travel, he walked back to Swanzey Castle, where he presented himself to Mary and her husband, William, amazed by what they saw. They pardoned him and refused to try his case again. There's more than a bit of poetry in his tale, most recounting of William's story today referred to him as William Craig, but that seems to have been a nickname.
Cragg, according to William himself, was a Welsh term for Scabby. And while it might have referred to his personality or reputation in his earlier life, it saw fulfilment in his death when his corpse was scabbed over with dried blood and blackened flesh. Oh, and one more thing, the day after Lady Mary DeBrie, who's took the stand in 13 07, William himself arrived and submitted himself to questioning. He answered all of their inquiries with complete humility and attested as best he could to the miraculous powers that brought him back to life and events he was certain was a gift from that dead bishop.
It said that he took advantage of his new lease on life by giving up his criminal ways, life might have started out a bit rough for William Craig, but he certainly found a way to fix that, even if it was a bit extreme. All he had to do, it seems, was beat death to make it happen. It's easy to be unsatisfied with the short amount of time we're all given, knowing how old the world is and how much has happened over the course of human civilization, our individual lives are little more than a speck of dust on a clean hardwood floor.
Before we know it, each of us will be swept away.
And I think the more aware we become of how fleeting our lives truly are, the more we long for that thing that's so far out of our grasp to live longer than everyone else, to see more, to experience a whole new chapter of our life, or even crack the cover on a sequel all by living forever from the vampire novels of Anne Rice to the Wandering Warriors of the Hylander.
We've woven our longing for immortality into the very fabric of pop culture, and along the way it's kept all those old stories alive with them. Nicholas Flamel, Ponce de Leon, The Philosopher's Stone and the Holy Grail. Just saying them out loud can give you chills. Each new generation has tried to bend science to this goal. Luigi Galvani tried using electricity in the late 18th century to reanimate the dead. Much of the late 19th, hundreds were spent chasing miracles in the field of cryonics.
And even today there are medical startups that laud the benefits of injecting the blood of young people into the bodies of the elderly. And as long as new tools and discoveries come our way.
That list will keep growing. But as we've already learned, history is full of its own surprises.
William Apress was a walking miracle, someone who did the impossible by traveling into the realm of the dead and then coming back to life. How it happened. No one knows. And while there are a lot of theories, none of them answer all the questions. There's some irony in his tale, though, the only reason we know about it at all is because his story was presented as one of a long list of miracles that demonstrated why Thomas to cantaloupe should be considered for sainthood.
But along the way, a number of those reasons were crossed off the list, including William Apress. Cantaloupe still became a saint, and he's remembered in both the Anglican and Catholic Church as the father of modern charity. In fact, Mother Teresa pointed him out as one of her biggest inspirations. So it seems that it all worked out for him. William, though, seems to have disappeared. We don't know what happened to him after he testified in London in 13 07.
We don't know where he lived out the remainder of his days or what sort of work he did to make ends meet. For a moment he was there and then he was gone, but not entirely because, of course, we're still talking about him today. William Apress might have faded into obscurity in his own time, but he left a mark that was impossible to ignore. Thanks to what happened to him. His story will forever be on our lips.
And that demonstrates the truth in words once spoken by another powerful figure, legendary martial arts instructor Bruce Lee. The key to immortality, he said, is first living a life. Worth remembering. Stories of immortality and our quest to find it are incredibly common, from famous legends to forgotten tales, our undying obsession with living forever has left us with some amazing stories to revisit. And I've tracked down one that's going to give you chills. Stick around after this brief sponsor break to hear all about it.
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And if the events in the article really happen, it's a story you'll likely never forget.
The story itself came from a journal entry written down sometime in the early 80s and then locked away sometime after the owner passed away. Though the journal was rediscovered and the tale it contained was published for all to read. And it starts with a winter visit to a small village just a few miles outside of Montpelier, Vermont. We don't know why William was visiting the area, and as you'll later learn, it wasn't home for him, but he had arrived in January to piles of snow and subzero temperatures.
And as part of his trip, he visited with a local family who all lived together in one dirt floor cabin in the Vermont woods. The day he arrived, though, seemed to be a somber one inside the cabin, he found six bodies laid out on the floor, unmoving and lifeless. Five of them were clearly elderly, well beyond the age of the others. One of the six, though, seemed younger.
And according to William, he was later told that the young man suffered from a crippling disability. And as he watched, the various family members all worked quickly to prepare their bodies for, well, something. Near nightfall, with the temperature dropping into the realm of painfully cold, each of the bodies was stripped down to just a single item of clothing, and then one by one, they were carried outside and laid atop a large fallen tree. Most of the family quickly returned to the cabin, but William and a couple of the other stayed a bit longer and watched as the cold quickly turned extremities of the bodies.
Snow White. After spending an hour or so inside by the fire.
William took one more trip outside to see the six bodies and discovered them to be as white as sheets and their flesh as hard as stone.
It was the most unusual funeral ritual he had ever encountered. And to make matters worse, everyone inside the house seemed to be relieved and happy. William claims he was so unsettled by what he saw that after everyone else went to bed, he stoked the fire high and hot and sat close by it all through the night, disturbed by his host's apparent lack of sympathy or grief. But as the sun rose on a new day, that confusion would only deepen.
The family ate a simple breakfast and some of the men even smoked their clay pipes, and then the household dispersed and tackled a variety of jobs without explanation.
A few of the men headed out into the forest, vanishing behind the thick trees, too, though, stayed behind and began constructing an enormous box out of boards and nails. According to William, the finished box was roughly 10 feet long and five feet wide and another five feet tall after it was completed, along with a lid that lay to the side, the bottom of the box was filled with a thick layer of straw and then almost as if they were packing away their Christmas decorations.
The men lifted three of the frozen bodies and laid them side by side in the enormous coffin. After covering them with a thick layer of cloth and then more straw, the other three were placed on top of the first and then the lid was nailed down and the job was done. Well, that one was at least because after that, the men led a cart over and loaded the giant coffin onto it and carried it off to the foot of a nearby ledge.
As those men placed the coffin on the ground there, the rest returned from the forest with carts filled with branches and cut timber, mostly from hemlock fir trees, all of those branches were then piled on top of the enormous wooden box. And only when that work was completed did everyone relax and head back to the warmth of the cabin. William was beyond confused. He'd never seen a burial like it, and after nearly a day of very little conversation with his hosts, he finally managed to get one of the women to answer his questions.
But what he learned did nothing to settle his nerves. In fact, when she was done explaining what had happened, he was horrified. Those bodies, you see weren't dead, the six people they had buried outside in a tomb that would soon be hidden beneath a dozen or more feet of fresh winter snow, those people had been alive and well the morning before William had arrived.
Each of the six had willingly ingested a powerful drug that had placed them into a deep sleep, almost to the point of death. But they were still alive when they were buried. The woman explain their reasons these men would be needed in the spring to help with planting crops, but for the family to survive the winter and make their food stores last, the weakest among them needed to sleep like hibernating animals. They would vanish from life for a little while and then return with the warmer weather.
William couldn't believe what he was hearing, but he was told that if he came back on May 10th, he could watch the family reverse their deeds from that day. That's when they would unearth the box and free the sleeping people inside. Eager to see her fantasy proven wrong, William promised to do just that. When he returned five months later, the woods of Vermont were clearly near the end of their thought. There were still pockets of snow in the darkest ravines, but most of life had returned to the forest.
And when he arrived at the home of the family, he saw that they were ready to begin. The makeshift tomb was still covered in its pile of branches and there was even some snow still collected around the bottom of the box, but after hauling the wood away and shoveling out the snow, the men cracked open the lid and retrieved the bodies inside. Each one was placed into a long wooden trough filled with cold water, but slowly load by load, they carried buckets of boiling hot water from the cabin and added it to each tub.
Before long, the bodies of each of the six sleepers was lain in water, almost too hot for William to touch. And then they began to move. William described how their color returned and how their limbs flexed and moved in the water. It took a while, but soon each of them was sitting up in their bath, taking a sip of alcohol from a cup. And after helping each of them back into the cabin, life essentially returned to normal.
The six sleepers each ate enormous meals that night and laughed and talked as if the previous five months had never happened at all. Now, this is one of those stories that's easy to hear and dismiss, a family that freezes their elders each winter only to wake them up in time for the spring planting that would make international headlines today if it were proven to be true. And sadly, that's not something we can do for this story. No, it will have to remain exactly what it always was, an unbelievable tale that hints at a longing deep inside all of us.
We want to believe that life can be extended, that we can escape our inevitable death or at least hold it off from arriving too soon. Reality, though, seems to be a lot more disappointing. But there is one lesson we can all learn from stories like this. Our lives may come and go, but thankfully folklore is here to stay. This episode of law was written and produced by me, Aaron Manque, with research by Sam Alberti and music by Chad Lawson, law is much more than just a podcast.
There's a book series available in bookstores and online and two seasons of the television show on Amazon Prime video. Check them both out if you want more law in your life. I also make an executive produce a whole bunch of other podcasts, including air, and makes cabinets of curiosities and noble blood, all of which I think you'd enjoy. My production company, Greyman Mild, specializes in shows that sit at the intersection of the dark and historical. You can learn more about all of those shows and everything else going on over in one central place, grim and mild dotcom.
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