Friday, 1 March 2019


Evil spirits and gremlins are the number one cause of serious motorcycle accidents. At least that’s what hard core bikers say they believe. Like me.

I used to ride a 1200cc Harley Sportster Custom. That was before neuropathy disabled my right hand. Holding up and maneuvering a five hundred plus pound Screaming Eagle machine became too dangerous for me and the other riders in my pack. I didn’t want to accidently injure anyone. Before I sold my bike, I cried. Then I took off a bell that had been given to me by a fellow rider. 

My love for bikes – the joy of wind in my face, bugs in my teeth, the power and sound of the engine roaring - and the bell – became part of my son’s heritage I handed down. He rides now. He bought a black Triumph Bonneville motorcycle. 

Passing a bell to him is a tradition of kindness and respect between riders and friends. The love and blessings of the fellow rider bestows the power of the bell’s protection. If my son had bought his own bell, it would not have the ability to protect. 

A bell must be secured to the lowest part of the bike because gremlins lurk on the surface of the road. A bell must be the easiest part of the bike the gremlins grabs.  

The hollow of the bell captures them. Between the ringing of the bell and the vibration of the road, the gremlins are either killed or become so infuriated, they panic, release their hold, and let go. If the gremlins survive, they return to the road and wait for another rider without a bell to harass and harm. 

A biker’s bell can be called a gremlin bell, a guardian, or a spirit bell. There are rules to owning a bell. A bell must be taken off before a bike is sold - the way I did. If a bike is stolen, the bell attracts gremlins that attack the thief. Most bikers call that justice. 

The origins of gargoyles, gremlins, gizmos, and grotesques are attributed to St. Romanus, or Romain. Legend states Romain saved his country from Gogi, a monster also known as Gargouille. This monster was so scary looking it frightened off evil spirits. 

Gargouille means the sound of a gurgling throat. The word gargoyle originated from Gargouille.

The gargoyles that watch over Notre Dame contain a passageway inside that redirects rainwater away from the roof through their throats. Both gargoyles and grotesques stand guard and protect the church and its worshipers from evil spirits. They also serve as a visual reminder to both pagans and converts to avoid purgatory and hell. 

As early as the 11th Century AD, Catholics in England and Scotland rang “dead bells” in a funeral procession to ward off evil spirits. The use of bells grew in popularity as a way to mourn passing souls and express grief. It continues to this day. In many cultures, the use of bells overhanging houses and gardens are still in use as protective charms. 

Gremlin means to vex or annoy. The word gremlin was coined during the 1920’s. Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots accused gremlins of causing dangerous technical malfunctions. It may have been a way to humorously explain away pilot error and/or the defective technology used to build their planes. Pilots began using bells both for good luck and to ward off the havoc of the gremlins. 

Roald Dahl was a fighter pilot in the RAF during WWII. He wrote a children’s’ book, The Gremlin. It was published by Walt Disney, was widely read and began a cult-like following. His other books include James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Matilda. 

American pilots enhanced gremlin folklore when they claimed to have seen them just before a crash. When these pilots returned home from WWII, many exchanged their planes for motorcycles, continued their wartime camaraderie and formed clubs. They became warriors on motorcycles and attached bells to their bikes.  

I wish someone had attached a bell to my ankle when I was born. I tend to attract gremlins who abuse me and do me harm. 

For my son, I have hope and faith that God will keep him safe, but sharing this memoir of bikes and bells was informative and fun. 

Gremlins aren’t always evil. They can be as cute as this AMC Gremlin car. LOL.

For more stories about the true heritage of hope:

True Crime Memoir – Survivor: As Long As I Breathe
is dedicated to:
survivors of emotional, physical, spiritual, or sexual abuse,
those who have had to bury a murdered child,
former members of a religious cult based on misogyny,
children born with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome,
and anyone who was falsely accused of a crime.


Joyce A Lefler is a true crime survivor and the author of
From Miracle to Murder: Justice For Adam.
She is a facilitator for Parents of Murdered Children,
a bereavement counselor, registered nurse,
and an advocate against abuse.

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