Forest Hill Cemetary sits tucked neatly into the corner of Observatory and Geddes, but there’s nothing neat about the sprawls of mismatched graves and headstones strewn about the gated hills and trees. There’s no practical way of navigating this labyrinth. No matter where among the sprawling graves your feet may lead to, you always feel as if you’re right in the center of an endless world of stone and marble. There’s crumbling old gravestones too worn to read and sharply-cut marble that looks as if it were shined yesterday. There are tombstones short as stumps, and others that stretch toward the sky.


A monumental chalice, a shell of its former beauty, stands battered and dirty with a hole it the bottom that spills out whatever it was once meant to hold. A woman mourns over the dead, holding her face steady in a stone hand.

 

Religious images, of course, dominate the landscape. An angel stands tallest amongst its surroundings eternally offers its respects to the remains it towers above.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 
An esoteric symbol decorates this monument. The Greek letters “Iota Delta Phi” appear to be written at the bottom of the half-moon. Is this the name of a fraternity, or some other secretive organization with a prominent presence on this individual’s life to be worthy of placement on his grave.


 
Chin Kai has a date of birth and no date of death…is his date of death unknown, or is he really still alive? Seems like a terrible omen to have your name inscribed on a tomb when you haven’t even died.

 
But perhaps the most puzzling thing about the graveyard were the countless piles of stones placed atop tombstones.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Who put all these stones there? And why? I immediately felt like these stones had some spiritual, perhaps supernatural significance. What if they were supposed to be some sort of spell, the purpose of which I can only imagine.
A purpose I can only imagine or Google, that is. Upon further research I found that the stones could possibly be some sort of Jewish custom. Rabbi Jeremy Schwartz of the interwebs explains that “The leaving of a pebble is in a way the erection of a small, new monument-a tomb-stone to honour the memory of the dead. Indeed, the custom may have evolved from an ancient method of marking graves. So in one sense, it is simply a way of saying: here lie the remains of a person worth remembering. And the pebble also lets others know that someone did come and remember. Symbolically, it suggests the continuing presence of love and memory which are as strong and enduring as a rock. And we know that one name for God is “The Rock of Israel.” So the rock is a reminder of the presence of the Rock, Whose love truly is stronger than death.”
So, nothing of the occult with that explanation. But then take a look at this pile.
That is by far the largest pile of stones I found in the graveyard, and it was sitting beside a freshly dug grave. The grave was free from snow, and the dirt looked raw and soft. The rocks must have been placed there quite recently. They seemed abnormal and almost sinister. Further investigation into the matter led me to the Irish legend of the Dearg-due, a spirit-like monster than rises from the grave to suck blood. The only way to keep this these vengeful ghosts from rising is to erect stone piles called cairns atop the graves of the dead. I don’t know why the stone piles are there or what they are for, and most likely I never will. I entered the graveyard with a friend, scouring for interesting photos, but I ended up scouring the internet for some explanation to the puzzle I’d stumbled upon.

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