On January 22, 1941 a group of young idealists went to a cabin in the Maryland woods to put a voodoo spell on Hitler. Black magic or not, these Nazi-haters knew how to party. According to LIFE magazine, the party featured “a dressmaker’s dummy, a Nazi uniform, nails, axes, tom-toms and plenty of Jamaica rum,” and was inspired by a book by occultist and writer William Seabrook that was popular at the time: Witchcraft: Its Power in the World Today.
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.”