Some people have never been satisfied with accumulating Happy Meal toys or rare coins. They’re drawn to something different, something darker. And their collections across history have demonstrated one truth that’s difficult for many of us to swallow: if there’s one thing humans have always been good at collecting, it’s ourselves.
The concluding October installment of the Lore podcast features a ghoulish topic: the collection of human body parts. Host Aaron Mahnke opens by discussing holy relics (from the Christian Cult of the Saints to the Buddhist Temple of the Tooth) and trophies whose power resided in their manner of obtainment (here Mahnke reveals the practical consideration that led to the practice of scalping). A good chunk of the narrative is devoted to infamous killers (Jack the Ripper, H.H. Holmes, Ed Gein) who took “their hunger for human remains to a dark, horrific place.” Then there’s the strange tale of a month-old corpse who had his body fat stolen from the grave in 1858 Ireland (a forewarning: you’ll never think of the process of butter-making the same way again.). Throw in a closing story that connects an executed Scottish witch and an American captain of industry, and “Falling to Pieces” forms one impressive body of grim lore.