Category Archives: possession

Debunked: The Ouija Board

10 Unexplained Paranormal Events

By Alltime10s via YouTube

From the mysterious death of Elisa Lam, who’s body was found in a hotel water cooler, to the real life events that inspired The Exorcist, check out our terrifying list of the top 10 unexplained paranormal events.

Spooky Science: Paranormal Beliefs Linked to Fearful Worldview

By Elizabeth Palermo via LiveScience.com

ghostly_173People who believe in ghosts may be more afraid of actual, real-world dangers — things like violent crimes or nuclear war — than are people who don’t hold paranormal beliefs, a new survey finds.

The Survey of American Fear asked people in the United States to divulge the terrors that keep them up at night. For the survey, nearly 1,500 participants responded to questions about 88 different fears and anxieties, ranging from commonplace phobias (like fear of heights) to less tangible concerns (like fear of government corruption). The survey also asked participants about their beliefs concerning paranormal and mythical things, like ghosts, Bigfoot and ancient aliens.

An inforgraphic demonstrating the paranormal beliefs included in the Fear Survey. Credit: Chapman University

An inforgraphic demonstrating the paranormal beliefs included in the Fear Survey.
Credit: Chapman University

“The reason we ask [about paranormal things] on the survey is that we’re interested in finding out what kind of clusters of beliefs tend to be associated with fear,” Christopher Bader, a professor of sociology at Chapman University in California and leader of the second annual Fear Survey, told Live Science.

ouija-board-gifLast year in the survey, researchers asked questions that gauged the respondents’ scientific reasoning. This was done to find out how the individuals’ knowledge of scientific ideas (how electricity works, why the sun sets in the west, etc.) related to those respondents’ fears. But this year, the focus was on supernatural beliefs, not scientific ones.

Bader and his colleagues found that quite a few Americans hold paranormal beliefs. The most common of these is the belief that spirits can haunt particular places; 41.4 percent of the demographically representative group of participants said they held this belief. A lot of Americans (26.5 percent) also think that the living and the dead can communicate with each other in some way, the survey found.

Many survey participants said  .  .  .

Continue Reading at LiveScience.com – – –

21st century exorcisms: Examining the psychology of possession

james-randi-69Via James Randi Education Foundation – JREF

A video has surfaced of a reported exorcism as it was taking place last February behind the closed doors of a Roman Catholic church in Vranov nad Dyji, Czech Republic.  A 26 year old visitor heard screams and filmed through the keyhole of the door. Not much is visible; there is plenty of screaming and obscenity (in another language) but nothing supernatural happens from this perspective. The drama that unfolded is what we would expect an exorcism to look like from our familiarity with sensational news reports. Pope FrancisOnly in the movies, in fiction, are there visions of horror that break the bounds of physics or human capabilities. In reality, exorcisms at their most basic, are an interaction between the victim in some disturbed state and the people who are enacting the ritual. Some might say the ritual enables the victim, encouraging the expression of possession. For some afflicted people, they may benefit psychologically from the process.

The Czech priest confronted over the released video says they were asking for God’s help to protect the anonymous person in the church. He is quoted as remarking, “Of course it helps.” Does it really help, or is this reinforcement of an antiquated belief system harmful? Therein lies a tricky question for religious officials, psychologists, and the skeptically-minded about the value of exorcism. Most rationalists would not condone an exorcism, likely feeling that the potential for harm that could occur is unethical or the endorsement of belief in demons is nonsense.  What once was a given fact – evil spirits can possess people, and had been usurped by modern medicinal practice, has recently been re-embraced by the Catholic Church and endorsed through rejuvenation of the exorcism ritual.

On November 11, 2014, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops approved an English translation of the Rite of Exorcism that was published by the Vatican in 1999.  The vote was 179 “yes” to 5 “no.” Pope Francis recognized 250 priests across 30 countries who are members of the International Association of Exorcists which many observers saw as a surprising step backwards in time for the church. exorcism_225pxThe church sees exorcism as something of a last resort and repeatedly notes that the cases are carefully evaluated by medical professionals to address medical or psychological problems. Who does these evaluations? Are the psychiatric evaluators Christian? What are their criteria for concluding that, yes, this person can not be helped by Western medicine and must be treated spiritually?

Curiously, as noted in this Catholic news agency piece, exorcism is “not magic.  It is the Church imploring God to come to the aid of the person afflicted.” This can be interpreted in a secular way –  if the troubled person believes that they can be helped with this ritual, then perhaps they really are helped. It is plausible that many cases of deliverance or exorcism have been successful because people have “named” their troubles and outwardly cast them away, like the devil, to be gone and leave them free. Professor Christopher French, Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit of the Department of Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London has studied the psychology of possession. He also thinks that, under certain circumstances, people can benefit from exorcism.

“As I believe that “possession” is a purely psychological phenomenon, any psychosomatic symptoms might be cured by any form of treatment that the victim believes in. Also, adoption of the “possessed” role sometimes allows people to let off steam without being held responsible for their actions.”

Dr. French is clear that exorcism will not directly help anyone who has an underlying neurological condition, although, he says, “If the condition was aggravated by stress and the ritual reduced the stress, it might produce temporary relief.” This is not to make light of the several downsides to exorcism. There have been several cases of families who subjected “possessed’ elders, women, the handicapped, and children to abuse. In some cases, this has resulted in death.

Yet, the popular belief in exorcism is growing.

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Yes, no, goodbye: The ouija board used for spirit communication

By Bobby Nelson via randi.org (JREF)

Coming up around Halloween is a new movie based on the Ouija board. Popular culture ideas have a great impact on social acceptability and spread of beliefs. You can guarantee that the popularity of Ouija boards and the volumes of strange stories people tell about them will increase precipitously in conjunction with portrayals of totally fictional events. 

ouija-board-gifOne of the most controversial tools ever used in spirit communication, still used today, is a simple wooden board. It comes in many different sizes, with a variety of beautiful painted scenes and symbols. They all share certain characteristics. The surface of these boards will have inscribed the words “Yes”, “No” and “Goodbye“, the letters A through Z, and the numbers 0 through 9. The pointer, a planchette, is most typically a triangular or heart-shaped device that will point to the letters, numbers or words, spelling out phrases, names and dates. The planchette predates these boards, first seen in China a millennium ago and also used with a pencil attached for automatic writing (a method used regularly during the spiritualist movement of 19th century America.) Now the planchette and this board go hand in hand.

The board goes by many names – talking board, a witch board, spirit board – but most of us know it as the Ouija board.

The Ouija board is infamous. I would bet that most people reading this have heard a terrifying story that has either happened to a friend, or a friend of a friend, that involves the Ouija board. What is the history of this fascinating and popular tool of devilish mischief? Was it constructed under candlelight in a dark dungeon sometime in the Dark Ages? ouija board animated_300pxOr maybe it was created by a witch who practiced black magic and satanic rituals. Nope. The Ouija board is fairly young and it was made as a novelty item.

On May 28th 1890, a patent was filed by Elijah Bond, Charles W. Kennard and William H. A. Maupin for the item developed by The Kennard Novelty Company. The first boards were stamped February 10, 1891. Kennard named the board Ouija. People say the name Ouija means yes-yes because oui is French for yes and ja is German for yes, but Kennard claims the board itself repeatedly told him that Ouija meant good luck in Egyptian and the name stuck. The company only produced the Ouija board for fourteen months but kept corporate control until 1898 at which time the Ouija board was appointed to a man that would revolutionize the board’s history, William Fuld.

Fuld said that he invented the board and that the name did in fact mean yes-yes. In 1919, Fuld bought the remaining rights and sold millions of these boards along with other toys. Fuld would die from a horrible accident when he fell from his company’s rooftop while supervising a flag pole replacement. Fuld’s children took over the business and the production of Ouija boards. In 1966, the business was sold to Parker Brothers toy company, which was subsequently sold to Hasbro who now holds the rights to the Mystifying Oracle. [Source]

ouija board captain howdy

“Captain Howdy” with the Ouija board

So when did the Ouija Board turn evil? The history seems generally harmless, how did it go from a toy, a novelty item, to being associated with Satan and demons? While use of the board was always criticized by scientists and some religious authorities, the majority of “evil” reports relating to the board came about in the 70’s, after a novel was published which was made into a blockbuster movie two years later. The story was about a teenage girl who tells her mother she has been talking to a person named “Captain Howdy” through the Ouija board. Later this girl becomes possessed by the devil, which causes her body to contort, she spits up green vomit and her head spins 360 degrees (among other extraordinary events).  This iconic film, of course, is “The Exorcist” (responsible for the current popular culture perception of demonic possession.)

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The Haunted Dybbuk Box

A popular tale tells of a haunted Jewish wine box that brought ill fortune upon its owners… apparently.

Brian Dunningby Brian Dunning via skeptoid
Read transcript below or listen here

Every once in a while, there’s a small, local ghost story that’s not very good, or that even has an obvious commercial origin, and that has no business becoming popular — but it does. The famous “dybbuk box” (also spelled dibbuk) is one such story. It went from a screenwriter’s pen on an eBay auction page, all the way onto the Hollywood big screen, with 2012’s The Possession starring Kyra Sedgwick and directed by Sam Raimi. It is the story of a small antique wooden box designed to hold a few bottles of wine, to which was attached a horror story going all the way back to the Holocaust. Whoever owned the box, it was said, experienced terrible disturbances for as long as the box was in their home. Why? Because, according to the story, the wine box was inhabited by a “dybbuk”, said to be a tormented spirit come back from the dead.

Dybbuk, by Ephraim Moshe Lilien.

Dybbuk, by Ephraim Moshe Lilien.

The whole idea of the box being inhabited by a dybbuk (דיבבוק) is nonsensical, according to what a dybbuk is supposed to be. The Encyclopedia Mythica describes it as “a disembodied spirit possessing a living body that belongs to another soul” and usually talks from that person’s mouth. An important 1914 Yiddish play The Dybbuk was about the spirit of a dead man who possessed the living body of the woman he had loved, and had to be exorcised. The word comes from the Hebrew verb “to cling”, so a dybbuk is specifically a soul who clings to another. Nowhere in the folkloric literature is there precedent for a dybbuk inhabiting a box or other inanimate object.

But of course, we’re talking definitions of folkloric terms, fictional by their very definition; so there’s no reason why this particular dybbuk can’t inhabit a wooden box if it wants to. And besides, the fact that folklore exists for a possessing spirit tells us nothing about whether or not factual events did indeed harass the owners of this box. dybbuk box_225pxThe folklore is irrelevant to the question of whether or not this wine box did indeed cause the frightening disturbances attributed to it. So let’s see what the box’s claimed history is.

One thing to keep in mind is that, if you’ve heard this story before, you’ve probably heard that the box was owned by a whole series of people, each of whom had lots of terrifying experiences, and they then got rid of it to someone else. In fact, the lone skeptical quote associated with this story is from Chris French, who said of these many owners:

“[They were] already primed to be looking out for bad stuff. If you believe you have been cursed, then inevitably you explain the bad stuff that happens in terms of what you perceive to be the cause. Put it like this: I would be happy to own this object.”

kevin mannis syfy_250pxBut then when we look at its actual history, the number of people whose hands it is documented to have gone through becomes astonishingly small, two or three at most; and each of whom went to great pains to tell the ghost story in a dramatic way. Let’s have a look.

The dybbuk box first appeared in 2003 as an eBay auction by Kevin Mannis, who owned a used furniture shop in Portland, Oregon. But it was not listed as a piece of furniture; it was listed as a mysterious haunted item. Mannis wrote on his eBay page an elaborate horror story.

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Click image to watch

Click image to watch

The Real Amityville Horror

America’s most popular true ghost story was a hoax.

Brian DunningBy Brian Dunning via Skeptoid, 2007
Read transcript below or listen here

In the small town of Amityville on New York’s Long Island, on a dark evening in 1974, 23 year old Ronald “Butch” DeFeo burst into a bar and declared that his entire family had just been shot. Police discovered six bodies in the DeFeo home at 112 Ocean Avenue, and what’s more, the subsequent investigation revealed that Butch DeFeo had himself killed them all: both his parents, and his four younger siblings, with a Marlin rifle. Despite DeFeo’s claim that strange voices in his head compelled him to commit the murders, he was convicted of all six murders and remains imprisoned to this day.

Amityville_Horror_1979_300pxJust over a year after the murders, the home was purchased by newlyweds George and Kathy Lutz, who moved in with their three children. The house was sold furnished so all of the DeFeo’s furniture was still there, just as it had been on the night of the murders. George Lutz had heard of the murders, so just to be on the safe side, they called a priest whom Kathy knew, to bless the house. The trouble began when the priest was driven out of the house by an angry disembodied voice, and received stigmatic blisters on his skin. The family daughter reported a friendly pig named Jodie, who later began making appearances to the rest of the family through windows. A sculpted lion came to life and walked around the house, and even bit George Lutz. The apparition of a demonic boy appeared and was photographed, which you can find online. Angry red eyes looked into the house at night, and left cloven footprints in the snow. George Lutz woke up in a sweat every night at the same hour the DeFeos were murdered. Stephen Kaplan, a local parapsychologist, was called in to investigate. Powerful forces caused doors to explode off their hinges. Kathy developed strange red marks on her chest and levitated two feet off her bed, and George saw her transform into a hideous old hag. Green slime oozed from the walls of the house, and a crucifix on the wall constantly rotated itself upside down. And, in one final night of terror that the Lutzes have never even been able to describe, the family was driven out of the house, never to return. Their stay had lasted only 28 days.

The apparition of a demonic boy appeared and was photographed.

The apparition of a demonic boy appeared and was photographed.

The events are not surprising, since a few hundred years before the Defeos were murdered, the local Shinnecock Indians used the same property as a sort of insane asylum for their sick and dying. Negative demonic energy was nothing new to the Amityville Horror house.

So what happened next?

George Lutz, whose business was failing (ostensibly as a result of the distraction of the haunting), hoped to find a silver lining and called up the publisher Prentice-Hall. The Exorcist had come out only two years before and had been wildly successful, putting things like demons and abused priests firmly in the public consciousness, so Prentice-Hall was keen to capitalize on the Lutzes’ experience. The publisher engaged author Jay Anson to write the book The Amityville Horror, and the rest is history. The book and subsequent nine motion pictures were highly successful, though most critics agree that the movies were all stupid.

Where it started to get murky was a meeting that George Lutz had during his 28 days in the house. The man he met with was William Weber, who was none other than Butch DeFeo’s defense attorney. Who initiated the meeting is not clear. According to William Weber’s admission in later years, what transpired in that meeting was an agreement that served both men’s interests. The story of the haunting was concocted, based in part upon elements from The Exorcist. George Lutz stood to gain from the potential commerciality of a ghost story based upon the DeFeo murders, and Weber would have a new defense for his client: Demons, as evidenced by the Lutzes’ experience, caused Butch DeFeo to murder his family, at least in Butch’s own mind.

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Ouija wackiness south of the border

Gordon Bonnetby Gordon Bonnet via Skeptophilia

Ouija boards have been around for a long time — since 1890, in fact — but they’ve only really hit an upswing in popularity (and a commensurate downward spiral amongst the highly religious) in the last couple of decades.  In fact, I’ve dealt with them before, and wouldn’t be back on this topic again if it weren’t for our dear friends at The Daily Fail.

a98653_possession_250pxMail.  The Daily Mail, is of course what I meant.  They’ve once again reinforced their reputation for high-quality, groundbreaking journalism with their story entitled, “Three Americans Hospitalized After Becoming ‘Possessed’ Following Ouija Board Game in Mexican Village.”

In this story, we hear about twenty-something siblings Alexandra and Sergio Huerta, and their cousin Fernando Cuevas, who were visiting relatives in the village of San Juan Tlacotenco, Mexico, when they decided to whip out the ol’ Ouija board and see what the spirits had to say.  And of course, as with most cases of the ideomotor effect, the spirits very likely didn’t have much of interest to say other than what the participants already knew — until Alexandra Huerta went into a “trance-like state” and started growling.

Then the two boys began to “show signs of possession, including feelings of blindness, deafness, and hallucinations.”  So all three were taken to a nearby hospital, where all three were given “painkillers, anti-stress medications, and eye drops.”

ouija board animated_300pxBecause you know how susceptible demons are to eye drops.  Whip out the Visine, and Satan is screwed.

Interestingly, Alexandra’s parents called a local Catholic priest for an exorcism, who refused because the three were “not regular churchgoers.”  I guess as a priest, your job fighting the Evil One is contingent on the possessed individual belonging to the church Social Committee, or something.

But so far, all we have is the usual ridiculous fare that The Daily Mail has become notorious for — a non-story about three young adults who either were faking the whole thing for attention or else had suffered panic attacks and some sort of contagious hysteria.  Worthy of little attention and even less serious consideration, right?

Wrong.  You should read the comments, although you may need some fortification before doing so, because I thought that the comments on CNN Online and the Yahoo! News were bad until I started reading this bunch.  These people bring superstitious credulity to new levels.  Here’s a sampling, representing the number I was able to read until my pre-frontal cortex was begging for mercy . . .

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Zombies

Part 1 via Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know – YouTube

Nowadays, zombies are big business. But outside of the horror films and video games, is there any truth to the zombie legends?


Part 2 via Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know – YouTube

Some experts believe that Haitian zombies are victims of tetrodotoxin poisoning — sometimes they’ve been buried and revived, but they were never actually dead. So what are the odds of actually resurrecting a corpse?

5 Things I’ve noticed about… Zombies

By via The Soap Box

zombie1118_250pxWell it’s Halloween time and so I decided to do something special and talk about a monster that everyone seems to like these days: Zombies!!!

Zombies are ofcourse the reanimated corpses of people who’s only goal in their new life is to eat other people (preferably living).

Now there are lots of things that I (and I’m sure many others) have noticed about zombies, but I’ve narrowed it down to five different things.

So here are five things I’ve noticed about zombies:

5. They’re hard to kill.

(Author’s note: before anyone says it, yes I know zombies are technically dead, but because saying that you’re killing them is the simplest term I can come up with when it concerns taking one out, I’ve decided to use that.)

zombie axe head_250pxThanks to movies and television shows many people have been led to believe that zombies are easy to kill, what with many screens of only a few people taking on huge hordes of the undead, I would believe that too. The problem with this is that this is unrealistic (besides the fighting zombies part) and it would actually be pretty difficult to kill a zombie.

I’m sure that everyone knows that you have to destroy a zombie’s brain inorder to kill it (you can cut a zombie’s head and the head will still be alive) but this is not as easy as it sounds because the brain is actually a pretty small target. For most people they would have to get pretty close to someone if they are shooting them inorder to hit their brain, especially if you’re using a pistol or even a shotgun, and if you have a melee weapon, you have to get up close regardless.

Now some people might think that it is okay to fight up close against a zombies because that is how it is often depicted in movies and TV, but infact…

4. People fight them the wrong way.

zombie_shotgun_250pxI know that in movies and on TV that often times battles with zombies are depicted as being up close and personal type of combat, and if you were to fight one or two of them up close there wouldn’t be any problems, but if you were to fight an entire zombie horde… you’re zombie food, because while you might be able to take a lot of them out, unless you can escape as quickly as possible, the zombies will overwhelm you and eat you!

The best way (and safest) to fight zombies is from a distance with a rifle, which is more accurate and has a greater range than a shotgun or a pistol.

Also, being up high (like in a tree) helps as well, just be sure you have a way to escape quickly incase a zombie horde is coming and you have to get out of there.

3. The supernatural explanation for them makes more sense than the viral explanation.

In almost all modern versions of zombies they are most often depicted as becoming member of the undead via a virus of some type, and while this make seem like a rational and logical explanation for why a zombie would exist in the first place, really the old traditional way that a corpse reanimates itself, via voodoo magic, makes more logical sense if you think about it.

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zombie-girl-torso-WIDE copy

▶ James Randi – Fighting the Fakers

Via ▶ James Randi – YouTube

James Randi has an international reputation as a magician and escape artist, but today he is best known as the world’s most tireless investigator and demystifier of paranormal and pseudoscientific claims. Randi has pursued “psychic” spoonbenders, exposed the dirty tricks of faith healers, investigated homeopathic water “with a memory,” and generally been a thorn in the sides of those who try to pull the wool over the public’s eyes in the name of the supernatural. He is the author of numerous books, including The Truth About Uri Geller, The Faith Healers, Flim-Flam!, and An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural.

10 Terrifying Cases of Demonic Possession

by Beverly Jenkins via Oddee.com

Though evil spirits possessing the body of a hapless human victim seems like the stuff of science fiction, the possibility of being possessed by demons is, in fact, a common belief held by religions around the world. Even the Christian Bible alludes to demonic possession more than thirty times, including several cases of Jesus “casting out demons” from people. Most religions offer prayers, spells, or incantations that are used to remove these invading spirits via exorcism rituals.

As hard as it may be to believe, countless accounts by victims and witnesses dating back to ancient times are hard to ignore. Let’s explore ten cases of truly scary and, by all accounts, real demonic possession.

Note: For most of these cases, there are no photographs for us to share with you here. We have used images from movies and other sources to illustrate this post.

1 • Clara Germana Cele

a98653_exorcist_250pxIn 1906, Clara Germana Cele was a Christian student at St. Michael’s Mission in Natal, South Africa. For some reason, Cele prayed and made a pact with Satan when she was sixteen years-old, and just days later, Cele was overtaken by strange impulses. She was repulsed by religious artifacts like crucifixes, she could speak and understand several languages of which she had no previous knowledge, and she became clairvoyant regarding the thoughts and histories of the people around her.

Nuns who attended to Cele reported that she produced horrible, animalistic sounds; she also levitated up to five feet in the air. Eventually, two priests were brought in to perform an exorcism. Cele tried to strangle one of the priests with his stole, and over one hundred and seventy people witnessed her levitating as the priests read Scripture. Over the course of two days, the rites of exorcism successfully drove the dark spirits from her body.

(Link | Photo)

2 • Anneliese Michel

a98653_Anneliese-Michel_250pxAnneliese Michel is a controversial case, as well as the subject of many fictional accounts of her tragic story, most notably the 2005 courtroom drama The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Sixteen year-old Anneliese Michel had a history of epilepsy and mental illness, for which she had often been treated at a psychiatric hospital. However, in 1973 Michel become suicidal, spurned all religious artifacts, drank her own urine, and began to hear voices. Medicine did nothing to help the girl, who begged her family to bring in a priest because she believed that she was possessed by demons. Though her request was rejected, two local priests secretly began treating her with exorcism rites. Meanwhile, her parents stopped treating her epilepsy and mental disorders. She was dead within a year.

Michel had almost seventy exorcisms performed on her over the course of ten months. She refused to eat, and often talked of dying as a martyr. Many of the attempted exorcisms were recorded:

Anneliese Michel died from emaciation and starvation. Consequently, her parents and the priests responsible were charged with negligent homicide. (Link | Photo)

3 • “Roland Doe“/”Robbie Mannheim”

a98653_exorcism_250pxKnown as the “real” story behind the novel and Hollywood movie The Exorcist, the tale of fourteen year-old Roland Doe is one of the most notorious stories of demonic possession. In fact, Roland Doe is not his real name; it is a pseudonym assigned to him by the Catholic church in order to preserve the boy’s privacy. In the late 1940s, Doe’s aunt encouraged him to use a Ouija board, and many speculate that after her death the boy attempted to contact his aunt with the Ouija board, an act which opened the door for the demons who wished to possess him.

The possession started with strange sounds, like dripping water, that no one could place. Eventually, religious artifacts began to quake and fly off the walls, and unexplained footsteps and scratching noises could be heard around the home. Scratches began to appear on the boy’s body, including words that seemed to have been carved into his flesh by unseen claws. The boy spoke in tongues in a guttural voice and levitated in the air, with his body contorted in pain.

His family brought in a Catholic priest, who determined that the boy was possessed by evil spirits and needed an exorcism. The exorcism ritual was performed over thirty times, with the boy injuring the priest many times throughout. When, at last, the rite was successful, the entire hospital heard Doe’s cries of bestial anguish and reported a horrible sulfuric odor hanging in the air. (Link | Photo)

4 • “Julia”

a98653_possession_250pxIn 2008, Dr. Richard E. Gallagher, a board-certified psychiatrist and associate professor of clinical psychiatry at New York Medical College, documented the case of a patient nicknamed “Julia” whom he deduced was indeed possessed by demons. It’s rare that a scientist and psychiatrist would acknowledge the possibility of possession; typically doctors think that possession is either fraudulent or a result of mental illness.

Dr. Gallagher personally observed items flying around the room, Julia levitating off the bed, speaking in tongues, and knowing things about people around her that she could not possibly have known. Here is an excerpt from Gallagher’s statement:

“Periodically, in our presence, Julia would go into a trance state of a recurring nature,” writes Gallagher. “Mentally troubled individuals often ‘dissociate,’ but Julia’s trances were accompanied by an unusual phenomenon: Out of her mouth would come various threats, taunts and scatological language, phrases like ‘Leave her alone, you idiot,’ ‘She’s ours,’ ‘Leave, you imbecile priest,’ or just ‘Leave.’ The tone of this voice differed markedly from Julia’s own, and it varied, sometimes sounding guttural and vaguely masculine, at other points high pitched. Most of her comments during these ‘trances,’ or at the subsequent exorcisms, displayed a marked contempt for anything religious or sacred.” (Link | Via | Photo)

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Video: The curse of the spinning statue at Manchester Museum

By via Manchester Evening News

The 10-inch tall relic, which dates back to 1800 BC, was found in a mummy’s tomb and has been at the Manchester Museum for 80 years.

An ancient Egyptian statue has spooked museum bosses – after it mysteriously started to spin round in a display case

An ancient Egyptian statue has spooked museum bosses – after it mysteriously started to spin round in a display case.

The 10-inch tall relic, which dates back to 1800 BC, was found in a mummy’s tomb and has been at the Manchester Museum for 80 years.

But in recent weeks, curators have been left scratching their heads after they kept finding it facing the wrong way.  Experts decided to monitor the room on time-lapse video and were astonished to see it clearly show the statuette spinning 180 degrees – with nobody going near it.

The statue of a man named Neb-Senu is seen to remain still at night but slowly rotate round during the day.

Now scientists are trying to explain the phenomenon, with TV boffin Brian Cox among the experts being consulted.

Scientists who explored the Egyptian tombs in the 1920s were popularly believed to be struck by a ‘curse of the Pharaohs’ – and Campbell Price, a curator at the museum on Oxford Road, said he believes there may be a spiritual explanation to the spinning statue.

Watch the time-lapse video as the statue spookily moves all by itself…

Egyptologist Mr Price, 29, said: “I noticed one day that it had turned around. I thought it was strange because it is in a case and I am the only one who has a key.

“I put it back but then the next day it had moved again. We set up a time-lapse video and, although the naked eye can’t see it, you can clearly see it rotate on the film. The statuette is something that used to go in the tomb along with the mummy.

“Mourners would lay offerings at its feet. The hieroglyphics on the back ask for ‘bread, beer and beef’.

“In Ancient Egypt they believed that if the mummy is destroyed then the statuette can act as an alternative vessel for the spirit. Maybe that is what is causing the movement.”

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Exorcism-gone-awry lands Wyoming woman in hospital

By Jessica Chasmar via Washington Times

exorcism-of-emily-rose_300pxAn exorcism-gone-awry landed a Wyoming woman in the hospital after she reportedly went into cardiac arrest after being sprayed with Holy Water.

A bizarre emergency call was made to the Fremont County Emergency Dispatch Center last week by several occupants of a residence, reporting that the 31-year-old woman was possessed by a “poltergeist” and that a “biting demon” had been terrorizing their home, The Daily Mail reported.

Those performing the exorcism told police a demon had broken windows and dishes and bitten people inside the home for two days, but the deputy found nothing to indicate criminal (or supernatural) activity.

The woman was taken to a nearby hospital and was in stable condition the next day, KTAK radio reported.

Attempted exorcisms are not so rare in the United States. Earlier this month, a Virginia man was sentenced to more than 20 years after he told police that an evil spirit entered his body while he was trying to exorcise his 2-year-old daughter, and it forced him to murder her in cold blood, the Associated Press reported.

Derek Acorah cancels psychic show due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’

Via Mirror Online UK
H/T: Thomas J. Proffit

Fans were left fuming after Acorah apparently couldn’t see what was about to happen in his own life

derek acorah_300pxTelly psychic Derek Acorah was forced to cancel his latest show because of unforeseen ­circumstances, the Sunday People has reported.

Fans were left fuming after Acorah, 63, who claims to be able to contact the dead, apparently couldn’t see what was about to happen in his own life.

The star of ghost show Most Haunted was due to perform at Carnegie Hall in Dunfermline, Fife, last night for the latest leg of his Eternal Spirits Tour.

But a statement on the venue’s website told ticket buyers: “Please note – the performance at Carnegie Hall has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.”

An annoyed fan told the Sunday People: “How can a psychic have his show cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances?

“You would think he would have seen it coming.”

Acorah’s booking agent Brian Shaw said: “Why the theatre have used the words ‘unforeseen circumstances’ I don’t know.

Why don't you remember this headline?

Why don’t you remember this headline?

“You couldn’t make it up – it’s an old music hall joke. We transferred the date more than a week ago to the Adam Smith Theatre in Kirkcaldy for September 11. All tickets will be transferable and still be valid.

“It made more sense to do that due to the other upcoming dates on Derek’s tour and for personal reasons.”

Acorah claims he can speak to dead people by contacting his Ethiopian spirit guide Sam.

The Kevin Keegan lookalike set himself up as a medium after failing to make the grade as a footballer at Liverpool.

He then got his big break in 2001 on TV’s Most Haunted.

He is considered the UK’s No.1 TV psychic but has also been hit by controversy including claims his act is fake.

In 2005 he was allegedly outed as a fraud by Most Haunted’s psychologist Dr Ciaran O’Keeffe.

That year George Best’s friends accused him of cashing in after he claimed he would speak with the dead football legend.


Derek Acorah: “Mary loves Dick!”

How Belief in Magic Spreads HIV in Africa

by Benjamin Radford via Discovery News

42-25074860In many countries throughout the world belief in witches is common, and black magic is considered part of everyday life. A 2010 poll of 18 countries in sub-Saharan Africa found that over half of the population believe in magic. Witch doctors are consulted not only for healing diseases, but also for placing, or removing, curses or bringing luck.

One human rights activist in the small African country of Malawi, Seodi White, has been fighting for years to stem many traditional beliefs that help spread HIV, especially among poor and underprivileged women.

According to a CNN story, widows in some parts of southern Africa are expected to engage in unprotected sex in order to “cleanse” them. The belief is that the husband’s spirit will return otherwise, cursing the family.

“It’s a mindset issue,” White told CNN. “Even the widows, they’ve told me, ‘I don’t want to die, I don’t want a curse to come to my husband.’ They cry to be cleansed.”

Because this spiritual cleansing involves unprotected sex — just as sex with the deceased husband was assumed to have been — the widows are placed at increased risk of contracting HIV, which is endemic on the continent. There are even professional “cleansers” who charge high prices for their services, which the widows are often eager to pay to avoid a curse on their families.

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Exorcism: Facts and Fiction About Demonic Possession

By Benjamin Radford via LiveScience

To the extent that exorcisms "work," it is due to the power of suggestion and psychology: If you believe you're possessed (and that an exorcism will cure you), then it just might.

To the extent that exorcisms “work,” it is due to the power of suggestion and psychology: If you believe you’re possessed (and that an exorcism will cure you), then it just might.
CREDIT: udra11 | Shutterstock

The belief that demons exist and can possess people is of course the stuff of fiction and horror films — but it is also one of the most widely-held religious beliefs in the world. Most religions claim that humans can be possessed by demonic spirits (the Bible, for example, recounts six instances of Jesus casting out demons), and offer exorcisms to remedy this threat.

The idea that invading spirits are inherently evil is largely a Judeo-Christian concept; many religions and belief systems accept possession by both beneficent and malevolent entities for short periods of time as uncommon — and not especially alarming — aspects of spiritual life. Spiritualism, a religion that flourished across America in the 1800s and is still practiced in a few places today, teaches that death is an illusion and that spirits can possess humans. New Agers have also long embraced a form of possession called channeling, in which spirits of the dead are said to inhabit a medium’s body and communicate through them. Hundreds of books, and even some symphonies, have been allegedly composed by spirits.

Fictional exorcisms

Hollywood, of course, has been eager to capitalize on the public’s continued fascination with exorcism and demonic possession with films often dubbed “based on a true story.” There are countless exorcism-inspired films, including “The Last Exorcism,” “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” “The Devil Inside” and “The Rite” — wildly varying in quality, originality, and scariness. The greatest cultural influence, of course, came from the classic “The Exorcist.” In the weeks after the film came out in 1974, a Boston Catholic center received daily requests for exorcisms. The script was written by William Peter Blatty, adapted from his best-selling 1971 novel of the same name. Blatty described the inspiration for the film as a Washington Post article he’d read in 1949 about a Maryland boy who had been exorcised. Blatty believed (or claimed to believe) it was an accurate account, though later research revealed the story had been sensationalized was far from credible.

Michael Cuneo, in his book “American Exorcism: Expelling Demons in the Land of Plenty,” credits Blatty and “The Exorcist” with much of the modern-day interest in exorcism. As for historical accuracy, though, Cuneo characterizes Blatty’s work as a massive structure of fantasy resting on a flimsy foundation of one priest’s diary. There really was a boy who underwent an exorcism, but virtually all of the gory and sensational details appearing in the book and film were wildly exaggerated or completely made up.

Real exorcisms

While many Americans think of real exorcisms as relics of the Dark Ages, exorcisms continue to be performed, often on people who are emotionally and mentally disturbed.

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Crystal Skulls: Legend, Vodka & Indiana Jones

via LiveScience

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Crystal skulls are wonders to behold, but their only power may be to fascinate.
CREDIT: Victor Habbick | Shutterstock

Crystal skulls are among the strangest and most mysterious artifacts in the world. They have been displayed in the finest museums; they have inspired books, films, legends and liquor. According to some they even have supernatural power.

Skulls are, of course, made of minerals; bone is mostly calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate. Skulls are at once both mundane and macabre, symbolic reminders of both healing medicine and death. Of all the materials that a skull might be made of, crystal is perhaps the most intriguing. Crystals are central to New Age beliefs, and New Agers have constructed an intricate belief system around them involving auras, reincarnation, chakras, healing, vibrations, and so on.

There are many skulls in the world carved out of quartz, of varying sizes and designs (New Age shops around the world are well-stocked), though not all of them are steeped in myth and romance. There are only a handful of the largest, life-size skulls in existence, and they have inspired awe for generations. They are said to be hundreds or thousands of years old, and possibly of Mayan, Aztec, or even Atlantean origin. The skulls are indeed a sight to behold. skull death_200pxBeyond the artistry of carved crystal, many believe the skulls have special abilities, such as aiding psychic abilities, healing the sick, and even having power over death.

Crystal skulls have captured the imagination of countless New Agers, curiosity seekers, and others; screenwriter George Lucas was so intrigued by crystal skulls he wrote a script about them: the 2008 film “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls.” A Canadian company called Crystal Head Vodka (co-founded by actor and paranormal buff Dan Aykroyd) launched in 2008, bottling its crystal-filtered libation in novelty glass skulls.

The Skull of Doom

The most famous crystal skull is the so-called Skull of Doom, a human-like skull composed of two pieces and made from clear crystal quartz.

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James Randi Videos Added!

James Randi is one of my heroes.

I’ve just added a new series of James Randi videos from the “James Randi: Psychic Investigator” series from 1991. There were 6 episodes, Randi investigated Mediums, Astrology, Psychic Surgery, Dowsing, New Age, and Psychometry/Graphology – all in front of a live audience.

These video links are now permanently located above, in the pulldown menu links just below the iLLumiNuTTi banner. Enjoy!!! 🙂

Who is James Randi?

Biography*

JamesRandi_300pxJames Randi has an international reputation as a magician and escape artist, but today he is best known as the world’s most tireless investigator and demystifier of paranormal and pseudoscientific claims.

Randi has pursued “psychic” spoonbenders, exposed the dirty tricks of faith healers, investigated homeopathic water “with a memory,” and generally been a thorn in the sides of those who try to pull the wool over the public’s eyes in the name of the supernatural.

He has received numerous awards and recognitions, including a Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 1986.

On October 19, 1993, the PBS-TV “NOVA” program broadcast a one-hour special dealing with Randi’s life work, particularly with his investigations of Uri Geller and various occult and healing claims being made by scientists in Russia.

He is the author of numerous books, including The Truth About Uri Geller, The Faith Healers, Flim-Flam!, and An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural. His lectures and television appearances have delighted — and vexed — audiences around the world.

In 1996, the James Randi Education Foundation was established to further Randi’s work. Randi’s long-standing challenge to psychics now stands as a $1,000,000 prize administered by the Foundation. It remains unclaimed.
randii_600px

*From the official James Randi FaceBook page.

A review of the top paranormal events of 2012

By via paranormal.about.com

Fright_300px_250px_250pxIT’S EASY TO forget how many paranormal news stories are reported with a year until you see a roundup like the one following. And these are just the top stories; there were many, many more, proving that 2012 was another remarkable year for the unexplained. There were ghost sightings, ghost pictures and video, dozens and dozens of Bigfoot sightings and lots of alleged Bigfoot pictures and videos. There were also many sightings of lake monsters, chupacabras, and other undefined crypto-creatures. There were reports of psychic phenomena, work by psychic detectives, stories of exorcisms and miracles… and a lot more, as you’ll see in this roundup of the entire year.

GHOSTS, POLTERGEISTS AND HAUNTINGS

Ghost photos and video. The ghost of an 18th century nun was photographed in Galway. The ghost of Guildford was photographed in thick fog. A ghostly photo was captured by students from Triabunna High School. The ghost of Glastonbury pub was allegedly also caught on camera.

Ghostly apparition caught on camera at Perth tearoom hailed as best evidence of paranormal in 10 years

A ghostly apparition caught on camera at Perth tearoom was hailed as best evidence of paranormal in 10 years, while a daylight photo from a gazebo at the Weems-Botts Museum shows a ghostly figure. Guests captured yet another spooky visitor in a picture at the haunted Glastonbury pub.

Workers at the Manchester Arms pub in Hull’s Old Town claimed to have captured a ghost on video. A grandmother was astonished when a photo from her granddaughter’s christening seemed to show the ghost of her late husband. And reporter Vanessa Bolano was working on a story about a haunted plantation when she discovered a ghost on film. Then some said a ghost appeared in a photo taken at the Stansted pub.

A ghostly message left on a frosted up window?

A ghostly message left on a frosty window?

Poltergeists. A grocery throwing poltergeist was reported in a Brompton IGA store. A woman pleaded for help in her own poltergeist nightmare. And a phony video of a woman who claimed she had a haunted toaster went viral.

Haunted places. Noise from a “ghost train” drove residents mad in Kerry. A couple tried to sell a house plagued by the ghost of the Titanic captain who was born there. And a family in Toms River fled their house that they said was haunted.

The Sports Legends Museum was speculated to be haunted. Screaming spirits, unexplained voices and ghosts were reported in the kitchen of a New Mexico haunted saloon. Kansas City was named haunted house capital of the world by USA Today, while Hertford claimed to be the most haunted town in the U.K. And ghosts doled out advice at the Hotel Galvez in Galveston.

GhostGirl_250pxGhost hunting. Grant Wilson explained why he left the Ghost Hunters Syfy show. And a ghost hunter died after exposure to bat and rodent droppings during an investigation.

Life after death. A University of California, Riverside philosophy professor, John Martin Fischer, was awarded a $5 million grant to study life after death. And two quantum physics experts claimed that near-death experiences occur when the soul leaves the nervous system and enters the universe. A woman claimed that her dead son was guiding her hand to send her messages from beyond the grave. Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University and the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil analyzed brain activity of spirit mediums.

PSYCHIC PHENOMENA AND PROPHECY

hallucination1024_250pxProphecies. December 21 came and went without an apocalypse or advance in human enlightenment, nullifying any fears about the Mayan calendar. NASA did its best to debunk the prophecy, but mild panic arose in some places.

Mind over matter. A woman in Pittsburgh stunned doctors with her ability to control a robotic arm with her thoughts alone.

Psychic phenomena. A Forest Lake mum won $1.3 million in Gold Lotto after a psychic prediction. Remote viewers in Nevada helped solve a California murder. A US intelligence officer revealed that a psychic was used to track spy Jean-Philippe Wispelaere during a secretive operation.

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Curse That Painting!

By Massimo Polidoro via The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry – csicop.org

Paranormal legends about paintings have always existed. Some think that a picture falling off the wall represents a bad omen for the person depicted or photographed in it. Others feel watched by some portraits whose eyes seem to follow onlookers as they move through a room. And still others claim that paintings can come alive; people in it can move, smile, close their eyes, or even leave the picture. And, of course, tales of “cursed” paintings abound.

Certainly great writers, from Oscar Wilde with The Picture of Dorian Gray to Stephen King with Rose Madder, have been able to tell extraordinary stories of scary and unsettling paintings. However, many believe that “haunted” paintings can exist in real life. Coming from a family that has always dealt with paintings—my grandfather is a painter, my father was an art collector, and together with their wives they have run a shop selling paintings for over fifty years—it is easy to understand why this is a subject that particularly fascinates me.

The Hands Resist Him

polidoro-curse-painting-hands-resist

The Hands Resist Him painting by Bill Stoneham was sold on eBay as “cursed.”

In February 2000, a supposedly cursed painting was auctioned on eBay. It was titled The Hands Resist Him and was painted in 1972 by California artist Bill Stoneham. It depicted a young boy and a female doll standing in front of a glass paneled door against which many hands are pressed. The owners claimed that the characters in it came alive, sometimes leaving the painting and entering the room in which it was being displayed. It was sold for $1,025 to Perception Gallery in Grand Rapids, Mich­igan, which, when contacted some time later, stated that they had not noticed anything strange since buying the painting.

Luckily for Stoneham, the rumor caused by the story made the painting so popular that it was depicted in a short movie by A.D. Calvo (Sitter), as the CD cover art for Carnival Divine’s self-titled album, and was featured in the PC video game “Scratches.” Today, prints of it—and of its sequel, Resistance at the Threshold—are sold in different sizes.

Smiling Portrait

polidoro-curse-painting-smiling-portrait

Teresa Rovere. On the right, seen through a viewfinder, the face seems to smile;
it’s just an illusion created by the shape of the lens.

In November 2005, the Italian TV show Voyager showed a painting owned by self-proclaimed psychic Gustavo Rol from Turin. It depicted a noble lady, Teresa Rovere, wearing nineteenth century garments and a somber frown. However, when the painting was seen through the viewfinder of a camera the mouth seemed to curl upward, forming a smile. Nothing could be seen with the naked eye and the film recorded through the camera did not show anything unusual. On the show, it was claimed that this was an unexplainable phenomenon, maybe an after-life paranormal experiment of the late Rol. In reality, it was a simple optical effect due to the round shape of the viewfinder, the lens of which tends to narrow and make rounder anything seen through it: thus, the coronet on Teresa’s hair seems to bend downward just like the mouth appears to bend upward, creating the illusion of a smile that in reality is not there.

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Catholic Church Sets Up Exorcism Hotline

By Greg Newkirk via Who Forted? Magazine

exorcismhotlineDo you think you might be possessed by a demon? Unsure of what to do, where to go, or who to see? Well, the Catholic Church has the hotline for you! In one hell of an ambitious pilot program, an “exorcism hotline” has been launched in Milan.. and it’s so popular they’ve had to install a switchboard during the week.

The diocese’s exorcism head honcho since 1995, Monsignor Angelo Mascheroni, told The Independent that requests for deliverance have doubled over the last two years, and thusly, their efforts to combat the surge of demonic activity have had to grow and adapt as well. Enter: Dial An Exorcist.

“People in need can call and will be able to find a priest in the same area who doesn’t have to travel too far.”

What began as one priest fielding phone calls from the afflicted, quickly turned to six, and eventually became 12 priests working Monday through Friday, giving so many blessings that they’ve had to bring in a switchboard for peak hours. Mascheroni mentions that he even knew of one priest who was doing as many as 120 exorcisms a day, but cautions that stretching yourself that thing can be too taxing on a priest. “There should be two to four appointments a day, no more, otherwise it’s too much.”

So, what’s causing this influx of individuals begging to be delivered?

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