By now you creeps have a fair idea of what scares me.
Dolls, mirrors, home invasion, ghosts with secret passwords, summoning rituals, Ouija Boards -- I've accidentally armed all of you with enough eerie ammo to terrorize me into permanent residence in a panic room. (TRUTH: I do kind of want a secret panic room stocked with tacos, Haribo Gold-Bears, gluten free cheesy bread rolls, and free "emergency" Amazon Prime Instant Video.)
Some of you long time readers may have noticed that there's one topic I kind of tiptoe around: POSSESSION.
I know, I know, I've talked about how I lived in "The Exorcist" dorm, and here and there I've yammered on about cursed objects and the walking dead, but I've always stopped short of doing a post devoted to possession.
Why? Because, Creepy Corneristas, your troupe leader has this paranoia that if you call it, "it" will come.
Let me explain!
I'm not religious. I have no problem with organized religion, in fact I love the history, ritual, and comfort religion brings to many people. I just steer my own path when it comes to spirituality.
However, I am a product of several spiritual-cultural backgrounds (southern Catholic, Asian-influenced Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, my mom's New Age "flavor of the month" when I was a teen...) each of which have versions of possession. Furthermore, each of them warn of inviting in the dead or "a demon." Believe it or not, there are some things I just don't want to take a chance with.
As much as I try to be critical amidst my fascination with the paranormal, the reason I, and I'll wager YOU, get a thrill out of this stuff is that no matter how illogical or beyond your belief system a lot of this goes, a small part of you is titillated by the question, "But what if..?" For me the idea of possession is the most frightening question of, "But what if?"
In many ways it is the ultimate collision of what is scary: inviting some malicious "thing" into your home, unexplained activity, violence, and loss of control.
Now I fully admit that many instances of modern possession can probably be attributed to mental illness or actual medical conditions that we simply don't have all the facts on. This may even be more terrifying than the idea of an "inhuman entity" using your body as a wonderland.
But there's always that "What if..?" that I can't get enough of. So I thought it only fair to turn on all the lights in my home and give you a rundown on possession, the topic that is scaring me most right now.
Almost all the cases of possession start with a person either consciously or unconsciously inviting "something" in.
This is a big reason why Ouija Boards and like give me the heebie jeebies. Ninety-nine percent of the time nothing happens. It's "superstitious nonsense."
Pentagram Party! Necronomicon Night! Spirit Board Circuit Party!
Writing a Creepy Corner about possession...
But what's the saying? "Speak of the Devil and the Devil appears"? Read accounts from so-called demonologists -- William Bradshaw, Ralph Sarchie, the Warrens (think of them as you will, I'm still on the fence), one of the "Ghost Bros" on TV -- almost all of the instances these people tell of start with someone inviting something in.
My mom tells how her grandmother would warn her not to stare too closely at the dead, or to never "wish the dead back to life" because you never know who could come knocking at your door (or in your walls). As often seen in Christian belief, my grandmother warned that what may respond to your summons might look or sound like your deceased beloved, but very likely they are something evil in disguise.
I just watched an old episode of "Paranormal Witness" (why does nobody ever turn on the lights?) detailing the events of what has been called "The Long Island Terror." Through no fault of her own, a widow of a firefighter is plagued by a terrible entity that threatens to physically harm her and her children. While she personally didn't do anything to invite such things in, she soon discovers occult symbols on and around her property.
Bundle of hair and bone tied to a tree = demonic "Evite."
Whether it's leaving your front door unlocked while there's a serial killer on the loose, or asking the Candyman to come through your mirror, there's something about possession and tempting fate that plays on ALL my Creepy Corner fears. (Not going to lie, I'm still vaguely afraid that Oiwa is going to come and punish me for telling her story without permission.)
And let me just say, if I found a pentagram under a rug in my basement, with mysterious symbols scratched in around it, you can bet I'd be taking a chance on Lorraine Warren.
What have you let in lately?
Basically good ol' fashioned haunting. Sort of.
It's bad enough to be afraid you have a ghost in your house (I think we can all attest to this after falling too deep into the Internet supernatural rabbit hole late at night), but in the case of possession related infestation, all the spooky stuff has a purpose. Supposedly, there'a an intelligence there. The "ghost" or "demon" or "creature in the closet masquerading as your dead Aunt Buddence" is ramping up to wear you down.
Haunting? Scary. Intelligent haunting? Scarier. Goal-oriented malevolent inhuman haunting? NOPE.
If you're going to go by what Ed Warren says in his book, "The Demonologists" -- real or not, a freaking scary good read -- after you've invited an entity in, its next step is to draw you in and trick you into validating it. Its endgame is of course, POSSESSION.
My grandfather (the guy who saw the "zombies"), maintained that every ghost had a "tell." If you invited something inhuman in, you should look for missing fingers, or lack of a tongue (?), or a stinking toothless maw.
A story has floated around our family of how grandpa's best friend "came back" after a period of obsessive mourning. Only it wasn't his best friend. Grandpa figured this out because his feet made no sound as he walked the halls, and because he did not actually breathe.
Upon this discovery, so the story goes, chaos broke loose in the house -- banging on walls, voices that seemed to "fall from the ceiling," the stink of death floating from room to room. It wasn't until the house was blessed by monks that all returned to normal.
Grandpa maintained that if he hadn't made the difficult decision to turn his back on his "friend," he too would have been dragged into death.
Moral of this story? If your long dead buddy comes to your door, maaaaybe don't let him in. Or at least ask him to take a deep breath.
Oppression and POSSESSION
So you've let the wrong one in, you've been awoken every night at 3 a.m. to three bangs at your front door while all the plates in your kitchen are rearranged on the floor in sets of threes, and the "Sherlock" episode "Sign of Three" is stuck on repeat on your TV.
Basically whatever has decided to take up residence with you is trying to beat you down and take you over.
If this were a movie, this is the part where the person or persons is "willing to do anything" to make the nightmare stop. Ralph Sarchie, in his book "Deliver Us From Evil," talks about a case of oppression in which an actual image of what Christians would call "the Devil" appeared in a family's home -- tail, cloven hooves, and all. It's not so much that that's what "the Devil" looks like, it's the idea that the entity knows how to play on an individual's worst fears. And the darker it got outside, the worse things got inside.
The terror keeps building until you either succumb or go down the path of exorcism.
Stories of exorcisms come from cultures all around the world, from Africa to Asia to what we understand in America. And while the means through which an exorcism is achieved tend to vary, there are a few consistencies:
1. Calling out the "demon."
2. Speaking prescribed sacred words at the "demon."
3. Demanding to know its identity.
4. Physical torture the possessed or exorcist might endure.
5. Asking for proof that the "demon" has vacated the premises.
So that's what's keeping me up at night.
Do I 100% believe in this stuff? I don't know. Is it compelling to me? Absolutely.
I find the elements in a possession, if nothing else the IDEA of such things happening, to be terrifying. If such a thing as possession exists as a whole, I can't think of anything more frightening in the paranormal realm.
Thanks for hanging in there with me Creepy Corneristas. I realize that this post is wading a little deeper into the dark and dreary spooky pool. But with a whole new year before us (Halloween is the beginning of the Creepy Corner calendar year right?) I figure it's time to up the ante.
Be safe friends!