Counting Ghost Sheep aka Hoia Baciu Forest
Updated: Apr 29, 2021
Please note that this, and all episodes of Thrice Cursed have been adapted from their original spoken form to text by myself, and some additional ad-libbed content may have been omitted. All content within is the sole property of Thrice Cursed Podcast. Please don't plagiarize. Plagiarism sucks.
Hello. I’m Rebekkah Rosewood, and this is Thrice Cursed.
Happy International day of forests! In today’s bonus episode, I’ll be retelling a tale I once told on my former podcast to mark the occasion. And while it IS a day to celebrate forests, remember… fresh air is for dead people, and a forest is a GREAT place to get murdered. With that being said, let’s talk about a terrifying forest!
The Hoia Baciu (Hoya Bawtchu) Forest is located in Romania, and covers an area of over 250 hectares, or approximately 618 acres and is often referred to as “The Bermuda Triangle of Romania. And while the lore behind the ACTUAL Bermuda Triangle is likely fake, the stories that come out of this forest aren’t. It was named for a local shepherd who disappeared in the forest with his flock of 200 sheep. Neither him, or his sheep were ever seen again. (How do 200 sheep go missing? And what were restless people expected to count now that all their sheep were gone?! OR… are the spirits of these sheep the same sheep that all of us sleepless people see?) Ever since his disappearance, reports of paranormal activity, inexplicable occurrences, and even UFO sightings have been reported.
Adding to the mystery of this forest, is the strange ways in which the trees form. They are almost all bent in odd ways, some with trunks that spiral. Scientists have been unable to explain the strange trunk shapes, but some theories have arisen. One is that people of the past used some kind of unknown tool or technique to cause the bends. Similar to how Native Americans used to tie trees to cause them to grow with bends to mark pathways.
However, no tools have ever been found to prove this theory, and the bends don’t really resemble those that have been proven to have been created that way. Another theory is that there was a snowstorm that mangled or damaged the trunks when they were saplings, and a slow spring melt with ample snow weighing down the trees caused them to become permanently misshapen. No evidence of a snowstorm of this magnitude or length has been found, however. The final theory that was quickly dismissed, is that there is a strange gravitational force within the forest. However, gravity pulls downwards, not sideways, so this didn’t really make any sense.
Many hiking and biking trails wind through the forest, allowing you to get up close and personal with these weird trees, as well as a strange, oval-shaped patch of Earth where nothing grows, but many locals refuse to enter the forest. Some refuse to even speak of it. Many believe that if you enter the forest, like the shepherd, you will never return. Locals who disregarded the warnings and entered the forest have complained they experienced anxiety, malfunctioning electronics, a constant feeling of being watched, and several physical symptoms. These included rashes, vomiting, migraines, scratches, light-headedness, and burns-- which aren’t typically felt, but redness, and on rare occasions, blisters can be seen.
Symptoms like anxiety, that feeling of being watched, migraines, nausea, etc… could all be explained away with a simple argument of mind over matter. After all, if you go in expecting to feel these symptoms, or experience something strange, your mind can make that happen for you. Malfunctioning electronics could be explained away by the presence of a magnetic field, which isn’t exactly uncommon.
Then, we come to the weirdest physical symptom: the burns. Many have tried to rationalize that their skin probably came into contact with a plant that was toxic, or harmful to human skin. Doctors, however, have disproved this. So if it wasn’t a plant, what was it?
Archaeologists have determined based on soil, that there may have been a settlement in this forest at one point. Presumably on the patch where nothing grows, otherwise known as “The Circle.”
This settlement would have dated back to the Neolithic period, and is believed to have been established around 6500 BC, making it the oldest settlement from that time period to be found in Romania. It is believed that the peasants who once lived in this forest, are the spirits that now haunt it.
According to all articles I was able to find, it’s believed that the peasant settlement met its end in the form of a brutal slaughter at the hands of a raiding party from the region’s enemies. Obviously, if this were true, that’s a good way to get yourself some ghosts. If this is the case, it could explain why it’s reported that activity towards “The Circle” is more frequent and more intense.
The question everyone seems to have, however, is if there were truly a settlement, why are there no signs at all of a structure? In 6500BC, Romanians were already using cement to form their structures. Cement would only take a few hundred years to break down to the point there were no recognizable signs of civilization. Because of this, it is plausible that the settlement really did exist. Regardless of its cause, however, the hauntings persist.
Regardless of who, or what, haunts this forest, the hauntings are numerous. Photographs of black mist have been taken. People describe a “talking wind,” or disembodied voices heard throughout the forest. Some have reported seeing green eyes, and a black mist that may or may not show in photographs. There have been lights with no logical source, poltergeist activity in the form of those scratches and burns mentioned earlier, and EVPs have been recorded on site. Photos taken in “The Circle” have revealed hovering shapes and outlines of human forms. Joggers in the area have claimed to see various ectoplasms, and others report hearing a lot of giggling.
People who live near the forest have reported seeing a large collection of orbs of light coming from inside the tree line, but when using thermal technology, no heat signatures have been detected. Meaning, there’s no human in the forest causing these lights, and there aren’t any fires, either. Some who enter the forest report remembering all past experiences, but then forget the second they exit the forest. Interestingly enough, the happenings in this forest drew in scientific researchers, who have captured physical manifestations of faces and apparitions on film. Others have said they saw these apparitions with only their own two eyes.
It’s been noted that experiences of paranormal investigators vary from those of locals. This is said to be a possible side effect of outsiders wishing to seek contact, while locals may not.
Now, another belief in regards to “The Circle” is that it has nothing to do with a settlement, and everything to do with UFOs. Why a UFO would cause a lack of forest growth, I’m not sure. BUT, there is some evidence to suggest an otherworldly presence in Hoia Baciu.
Hoia Baciu actually didn’t receive much notoriety until the late 1960s. On August 18, 1968, 45-year-old military technician Emil Barnea captured a photo, that has since been made famous, of a saucer flying over the forest. I think it’s important here to note that Barnea would have gained absolutely nothing from announcing his findings. At the time, Romania was a communist country, and their government equated a belief in the paranormal with madness, and state sabotage. Publicizing his findings caused Barnea to lose his job in a country that offered no support to the unemployed.
After these photos surfaced, the area became a hotbed for UFO sightings throughout the 1970s, as well as those inexplicable lights mentioned earlier.
Another person happened to photograph UFOs as well. This person was Alexandru Sift, a biologist. He’d actually taken an interest in stories of strange happenings prior to Barnea’s photos, and had been venturing deeper and deeper into the forest to research the light and magnetism phenomena. According to Sift, he had gathered a wealth of substantial photographic evidence. Unfortunately, most of that evidence was lost. In 1993, Alexandru Sift passed away, and all of his photographs either went missing, or were destroyed. Most of his work was never recovered.
What photos of his work were recovered ended up being published in a book by a chemistry professor, who was also Sift’s friend, Adrian. He continued Sift’s research. Despite his friend’s belief in UFO’s, Adrian believed that all of the occurrences are natural, but unknown to science. They are not paranormal or extraterrestrial.
He often cites that it’s very common to change behaviors while in the woods, as well as have sudden onset illnesses. He says it’s possible that people were exposed to concentrated electromagnetic fields, and that people could have what’s called Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity. This is a condition that isn’t recognized by either the medical or scientific community. Regardless of this, symptoms attributed to this are redness of the skin, tingling and or burning sensations, fatigue, tiredness, concentration difficulties, dizziness, nausea, heart palpitations, and digestive disturbances. This would basically explain away all of the symptoms mentioned above, were it true.
Whether you believe these occurrences are paranormal, extraterrestrial, or natural, you are welcome to take a guided tour --after covid. A man named Alex created the Hoia Baciu project, which a non-govt, non-profit created to promote tourism and improve the image of Romania, as well as bring some notoriety. He is not only the project manager, but he is also a tour guide.
When asked about camping overnight in the forest, Alex refuses. Apparently, once while camping with friends in the forest, they were awoken by the sound of hooves, (like those of a horse or a particularly large deer). Upon sticking their heads out of their tent to investigate, the noise would stop.
His next overnight trip to the forest, Alex decided to sleep in a hammock, in hopes he’d get a glimpse of whatever may have caused the noise. Instead, he was pelted in the face with a freaking bat. He wrapped up that trip early, and hasn’t slept in the forest since. Despite these interactions though, he adamantly states, “ The forest is only haunted if you bring your own ghosts.”
There weren’t a lot of openly available stories I could find on the internet, however, there are two that I found.
One story tells of a five-year old girl who went missing in the forest. Despite several searches being done, no one was able to find her. She came back 5 years later, wearing the same clothes, clean, and not appearing to have aged a day. This leads many to believe the forest may be a portal to another dimension. It is believed that some 1,000 people may have disappeared in Hoia Baciu. It makes you wonder if one day they’ll all return.
Another story comes from reddit user psychoduck1
Psychoduck stated that he and his friends were spending time together on what appeared to be a beautiful Summer day. They rode their bikes, and eventually found themselves at the edge of Hoia Baciu. They ventured into the forest and were hanging out, when their “crappy alcatel cellphone” began to ring randomly. They weren’t receiving any calls or text messages, so it was a bit strange. They kind of ignored this though. That is, until they had the unnerving feeling that they were being watched. They began to hurriedly move away from the area, but recalled that it started to get dark very quickly, like the sun was setting far faster than normal. Once out of the forest, however, it was still a bright and sunny day. They recall that it also felt like they had spent half the day in the forest, but in reality, only 2 hours had passed.
Basically, if you want to live the longest day of your life because 2 hours turns into an entire day, go ahead and visit Hoia Baciu. Side note, I’m in no way suggesting that you SHOULD go to Hoia Baciu, so if you do, don’t try and sue me for it. I very strongly suggest NOT going because I don’t want to disappear and have to live the rest of my life surrounded by 200 ghost sheep. If you do? Well, that sounds very much like a you problem.
Wow. I just opened my mouth and my mother came out. That’s probably the most horrifying thing from this entire episode. And with that, I’ll leave you.
This has been the cursed tale of the Hoia Baciu forest in Romania. It has everything you could ever fear. Ghosts, disappearing sheeple, aliens, creepy trees, and bats that intentionally fly into your face. (Though that last one sounds magical to me, I would LOVE to have a pet bat. Send me some? The jarred or taxidermy varieties are fine for now, I think Luke and his family would make me the next topic of my own podcast if I brought live bats into the house.)
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Until next time, keep your curses hexy, and your hexes sexy.
Hoia Baciu Project
check out more images at https://hoiabaciu.wixsite.com/project/about