The Legend of Pearl Bryan
In the HAUNTS expansion pack for The Southern Gothic Oracle there is a card featuring a... well there's no easy way to say it: A headless woman. A gruesome, decapitated woman stands helplessly alongside a large marble structure, clutching at her throat as if to express surprise and shock. The card represents "Crimes of Passion."
Some background here: The HAUNTS pack is a nine-card expansion pack, and the 9 cards are designed to be shuffled into the main oracle deck of The Southern Gothic Oracle. All nine of them are dark, and the messages they deliver can be pretty harsh.
The Crimes of Passion card is inspired by the story of one Miss Pearl Bryan. Pearl Bryan was a young single woman visiting Kentucky in the 1890s (she was originally from Indiana). She was working as a Sunday school teacher, and courting a dentistry student named Scott Jackson. She went missing in the winter of 1896. Soon after her disappearance, a woman’s headless body was found in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, on February 1, 1896, by a 17-year-old farm hand, and it was a grisly sight indeed. According to the presiding coroner, the woman was found with multiple wounds across her back and her hands. He also wrote that in his estimation, she was decapitated while still alive. The victim was five months pregnant at the time of her death.
The case became even more sensationalized when rumors began to circulate that Pearl had been involved in some sort of occult activity and that her murderers had performed a satanic ritual as part of their crime. These rumors were never substantiated, but they added an extra layer of intrigue to an already macabre story.
In the years since Pearl Bryan's death, her legend has only grown. Her story has been the subject of books, songs, and even a horror movie. People continue to visit her grave in Greencastle, Indiana, and the site where her body was found in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, in search of some kind of connection to the tragic young woman and the disturbing events that surrounded her death.
The pregnancy and unmarried status of the victim certainly suggests a motive, considering the context and social rules of her time. At first, no one could guess the identity of the victim, as the head was missing from the scene. The body was later identified as the remains of Pearl Bryan, because of the tag in her custom-made shoes from Greencastle, Indiana.
Her head was never found.
Scott Jackson, along with the man believed to be his accomplice, were hanged in Cincinnati, Ohio after a trial. The folks in Fort Thomas believe that her ghost still haunts the area.
The Crimes of Passion card depicts Pearl Bryan’s headless ghost, but it also represents symbolically all of the other victims of senseless violence of the domestic sort. If you draw the Crimes of Passion card, maybe one of your own passions is spiraling out of control, making you irrational. Examine thoughts you may be having that feel like jealousy, or other dangerous urges. Tap into your own sense of self-worth, and be reminded that in order to truly love others, you must first love and respect yourself. Don’t lose your head