Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Rathskeller

The Seelbach Hotel has more than its share of crazy history - Al Capone had secret tunnels in and out of the place as part of his organized crime operation, and F. Scott Fitzgerald loved the place so much he featured it in "The Great Gatsby". It's also chock-full of ghost legends, some of which you'll find in Weird Kentucky.

But what I really love about the Seelbach is its spooky subterranean grotto ballroom called the Rathskeller. It's the only surviving room in the world completely encrusted in Rookwood pottery, from stem to stern, and has a powerfully creepy vibe.

Strange designs and symbols pervade the room’s ornate decor, a mixture of signs from zodiacal, alchemical, Masonic, heraldic, and various other symbologies. Rookwood pelicans pervade the area, and although the Hotel’s tourist information likes to cheerfully note that the pelicans are there “for good luck,” it’s also true that the pelican is regarded in some occult mythologies as a symbol of resurrecting one’s children after having killed them oneself, by anointing them with one’s own blood. The pelican has also long been synonymous with the Phoenix (the mythological bird of occult initiation, wherein one is reborn into a new awareness or gnosis) and with Henet (a pelican goddess from pyramid-era Egypt, who appears on walls of ancient tombs and in royal funerary texts).

The Seelbach is located in downtown Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Muhammad Ali Boulevard.

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