Jamestown was founded in 1607 by English colonists. The starving time was a period two years later in which 80% of the colonists died. Besieged by Powhatan Indians in their wooden fort, the settlers had been joined by new colonists late that summer, among them women and children, whose main supply ship had disappeared in a storm, leaving them without food. Only 60 of 300 people survived the winter.
A man named Heinz Heger was being kept in the Flossenberg concentration camp during the Holocaust. He recounted observing this strange form of torture in his book The Men with the Pink Triangle. He recalls witnesses a man being tickled with goose feathers. The man was naked and was tickled in many places of his body, including the feet, armpits and legs. The man initially stayed silent, but eventually began laughing, which eventually turned into crying.
It’s believed that people as far back as the 14th century thought that concealed shoes would ward off evil spirits and bring good luck. They are often found near chimneys, perhaps because evil spirits would enter through the highest point of the house, as well as near other access points like doors and windows. The shoes are usually well-worn, and are more likely to have belonged to children or women than men.
Nábrókarstafur, or “Necropants,” is an Icelandic magical stave, or runelike symbol, associated with a pair of pants made from a dead man’s skin. As the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft cheerfully notes, ”If you want to make your own necropants, you have to get permission from a living man to use his skin after his dead.”