Myths and urban legends from around the world have passed down through the generations scaring young and innocent minds to death, so to speak. From real-life historical characters to mythical creatures, we name our top 10 most terrifying ghosts from around the world. Even better, we tell you where you might meet some of them! If this doesn’t get you ready for Halloween, we don’t know what will…
Bloody Mary, various places
Who’s tried summoning Bloody Mary? Most of us, no? If you haven’t, then you’ve had some seriously depressing sleepovers. After calling her name three times in front of a mirror and in complete darkness, she is said to appear next to you. Origins of Bloody Mary vary by culture, but it is a widespread belief that the legend was inspired by Queen Mary I.
La Llorona, Latin America
Also known in English as the “Weeping Woman,” she is a legend famous throughout Latin America. There are a dozen variations, but the main legend is of Maria, a young woman who drowned her own children in despair over her cheating husband. Then, facing the realization her children were dead, she killed herself. Cursed by the eternal search for her children, she appears as a tall and beautiful white spirit roaming the rivers and creeks, constantly weeping.
Anne Boleyn, United Kingdom
Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, is perhaps the best-traveled ghost in the entire world. Sightings of her apparition have been reported throughout Britain. The most well-known sightings of Anne occur at the site of her imprisonment and execution, the Tower of London, where she’s been seen wearing a white Tudor dress. She’s also been seen at Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace and at some of her childhood homes: Hever Castle and Blickling Hall.
The Resurrection Mary, Justice, Illinois
Various folk cultures around the world have at least one story of a hitchhiking ghost, but none are as famous as the story of Resurrection Mary in Illinois. A young female hitchhiker is said to be wearing a formal white dress and stopping male drivers on the highway near the Resurrection Cemetery in Justice, Illinois. After getting into a car, she disappears just a few minutes later. Do you dare to give her a ride?
The Slit Mouthed-Woman, Nagasaki, Japan
Known in Japan as “Kuchisake-onna,” she can be allegedly spotted in the Nagasaki prefecture. The story is of a cheating wife whose betrayed husband, in revenge, slits her mouth open with his sword. It’s believed the woman lives on as a malicious spirit in order to remind people of her wrongs by her horrible scar. Her ghost is said to be of a pretty young lady wearing a surgical mask; “Am I pretty?” she will ask. When answered positively she rips off the surgical mask and ask again. If the answer is no the second time around, she is thought to kill the respondent with her own hands.
The Bell Witch, Adams, Tennessee
It all started in 1817 on a quiet farm in Adams, Tennessee when the Bell family started experiencing weird events involving strange animals visiting their farm and assaults by dark forces. It is widely believed the family came under attack from a neighbor, Kate Batts, who put a curse on the family. Many believed Mrs. Batts to be a witch after she returned 107 years later in 1935. This legend inspired many horror movies including “American Haunting” and “The Blair Witch Project.” Like Bloody Mary, you can summon the spirit by calling her name 13 times at 3 a.m. in front of the mirror. When you notice your eyes changing it means she’s looking back at you.
The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall, Norfolk, England
The Brown Lady has been captured for eternity in perhaps the most famous ghost photograph in the world. The ghostly image taken in 1936 is widely believed to be the white apparition of Lady Dorothy Walpole, also known as Lady Townshend. Since her death in 1726, many have reported sightings of her. The most famous is by Frederick Maryat. It is said the ghost of Lady Townshend is still roaming the rooms of Raynham Hall in Norfolk, England.
The White House Ghost, Washington, D.C.
There are several resident ghosts in the White House, but the most famous is that of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln’s spirit is said to have been roaming the rooms of the presidential residence freely ever since his assassination. It all escalated when the photographs of his widow, Mary Todd Lincoln, were published with Lincoln’s apparition behind her in 1869. Another famous sighting happened much later by former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who was naked when he encountered Lincoln’s apparition.
The White Woman of Belchen Tunnel, Switzerland
Another hitchhiking story, but this time from a traffic tunnel in Switzerland. This ghost is said to be of an old woman dressed in all white who appears out of nowhere and sometimes even speaking to passengers driving through the tunnel. The apparent sightings have made the tunnel a famous Swiss tourist spot that many visit in the hope that they will see the famous ghost as they drive through. The tunnel is part of the A2 motorway from Basel to Chiasso.
Marie Laveau, New Orleans, Louisiana
Well known throughout New Orleans as the Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau still sends shivers down the spines of many. Her spirit is thought to linger around her tomb and many have reported supernatural encounters and sightings in the vicinity. Some of her followers visit her reputed tomb in New Orleans’ historic St. Louis Cemetery to get their wishes granted by knocking three times on the crypt. This urban legend inspired the character of Marie Laveau in “American Horror Story: Coven.”