Originally posted in February 2016… the original written
response to a family member’s question was sometime in the early 2000’s.
(This is connected with my post on UFOs, they are a related topic.)
(Jump to Bibliography) Are there ghosts? Spirits that can posses a mediums body? Spirit guides? This is an interesting video that attempts to answer this with eyewitness encounters. (Please keep in mind this documentary was made in the 80’s. It has spooky music and is very much dated… the “disclaimer” below it applies as well. All that said, there are some great points made that are still relevant, and most importantly, true.)
(For more documentaries like this you must visit Jeremiah Films.)
Here is a poorly referenced paper of mine (really, it was part of a letter to a family member):
Most poles of late show that only about 5 to 7 percent of the American public are bona fide atheists. This leaves quite a bit of room for people who believe in some form of “life-after-death.” However, before I venture into this subject of life-after-death, and all the implications that follow (i.e., ghosts, specters, the paranormal, etc.), lets define some terms. According to the Dictionary of Cults, Sects, Religions and the Occult, the word Ghost means: “(occult). An APPARITION; a manifestation or appearance of a spirit being, usually one who has departed this life.”
Occult [in the same resource] is defined as: “Beyond the realm of empirical knowledge; the supernatural; that which is secret or hidden, the study of the occult is generally classified into three different areas: (1) SPIRITISM, (2)FORTUNE-TELLING, and (3) MAGIC.”
The word “occult” comes from the Latin word “Occultis” and it carries the idea of things hidden, secret and mysterious. David Hoover, in his book How to Respond to the Occult, lists three distinct characteristics of the occult:
- The occult deals with things secret or hidden;
- The occult deals with operations or events which seem to depend on human powers that go beyond the five senses;
- The occult deals with the supernatural, the presence of angelic or demonic forces.
Under the above definitions, the following practices can be listed under the occult (not meant as a complete list): witchcraft, magic, palm reading, fortune telling, ouija boards, tarot cards, Satanism, spiritism, demons and the use of crystal balls.
C. S. Lewis once commented,
- “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the ‘devils.’ One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight” (The Screwtape Letters, preface).
Of course, C. S. Lewis believed in the Biblical form of life-after-death and all that that belief encompasses (i.e., fallen angels and the like), as do I. So for someone who doesn’t hold to the belief in situ that “demons” could be behind supernatural occurrences, I sympathize, but only ask that you read on.
Two Examples of “Hauntings”
#1) Milbourne Cristopher, known as one of America’s foremost magicians, was also a psychic researcher. He was convinced that the accounts of ghosts and haunted houses could be explained on a natural level. He wrote in his book, ESP, Seers and Psychics, about an undated clipping, preserved by Houdini about a once attractive two-story cottage that was rented out to a family who lived there for quite a few years, undisturbed by anything unusual, they moved out…
[This is a paraphrase] The following family, however, complained to the real estate agent that a wailing cry could be heard through the house at night. After the agent gave the house a “once over,” and the howling continued, the tenants moved out. The next family that rented the house came to see the agent a week after moving in. The man asked if there was a murder at the residence, the agent said he knew of none. Three more families were in and out within the year. By this time, the story of the “haunted” house had spread all over the little town of Union, New York. It became impossible to rent the house out anymore and it went uncared for, and gradually took on an appearance that only a ghost would relish.
Early in December, a man came by to see the real estate agent about renting the house for a short time, explaining that he was interested in haunted houses. The agent obliged and the man went his way. About a week later the man returned and the agent asked, expecting the same old story: “Have you found the ghost?” His visitor replied: “I have, and here it is.” The man reached in his pocket and took out a small metal object he had found in the garret. “A child’s whistle had been fastened in a knothole,” he said. The first tenants children were the source of this house being haunted.
#2) Allen Spraggett describes the following event in his book, The Unexplained.
One winter night, in Northern Ontario, Canada, during the early days of World War Two, a middle-aged widow awakened from a troubled sleep to see her younger brother standing at the foot of the bed. The eerie thing was that she knew her brother was in England serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force. Yet, she saw him clearly, dressed in his pilots flying suit, his face deathly pale and solemn beyond description. The effect was horrific. The woman screamed. Abruptly the strange phantasm vanished.
When the woman’s three teen-aged children rushed into the room, they found her sobbing, “He’s dead, I know he’s dead.” The premonition proved to be correct. Sometime later, word came that the brothers Spitfire had been shot down over the English Channel on the same day – possibly the same hour – that the woman saw the specter in her room.
Two stories, one shown to be of a natural cause, the other, not. The real question is, can we contact the dead? Alternatively, can they contact us?
From a Diary to the Big-Screen
One of the most famous stories known of a lost loved one being contacted is that of a fourteen-year-old boy named Douglas Deen. The movie The Exorcist was based on this boy’s well-documented experience. The boy’s parent reported odd occurrences in the boy’s room, marks appearing on him, as well as noises coming from his room at night. Then objects were seen moving and thumping about in the boy’s room. The boy was studied at two hospitals (Georgetown University Hospital and the other was St. Louis University), by multiple psychiatrists, therapists, and other medical personnel who all reported seeing objects being moved, thrown, or people knocked down by unseen forces.
Skeptical neighbors even had the boy stay at their “un-haunted” house, only to see the same. “Brandings” appeared on the boy that spelled words such as SPITE, HELL, and EXIT. Dr. J. B. Rhine, director of the famed parapsychology laboratory at Duke University, came out to study the case. He was quoted as saying it was “the most impressive case of a poltergeist [German for: noisy ghost] phenomenon that had come to his attention” in his years of celebrated investigation in the field.
The ultimate process of deliverance was lengthy and difficult. During the ordeal, the exorcist – Rev. William Bowdern – underwent a fast of bread and water (referred to as the “black fast”) and subsequently lost more than forty pounds. The process of exorcism took about two months and twenty to thirty performances of the rite itself. The final exorcism was performed in May, of 1949, when the possessing spirit identified itself as one of the fallen angels mentioned in the Bible and then departed.
Was the boy really demon possessed? The doctors at two catholic hospitals, various catholic authorities, and other specialists were unable to help the boy through medical or psychiatric means. The parents exhausted every possible medical or psychiatric avenue before they turned to the ritual of exorcism. Permission to use the ritual is granted only when there is strong physical, emotional, and spiritual evidence of demon possession (my dad was an observer, of sorts, in one of these authorized exorcisms).
William Freidkin, director of The Exorcist, spent almost a year researching for the film before shooting began. His information and reaction on the case are very interesting:
This particular boy in the 1949 case on which the film was based met all the requirements for exorcism as set forth by the church. He was speaking in a voice not his own, a language not his own. He was possessed of superhuman powers. He broke the arm of the priest performing the exorcism [and another priests nose]. His bed shook up and down….
The priest spent the night in the room on a mat that slid all over the floor. The furniture tried to attack him. A bottle jumped off the wall and broke the tiles on the floor at his feet and yet the bottle didn’t break. The boy would vomit strange-smelling fluids. Doctors, psychiatrists, everyone they could get, examined him and nobody could figure out what was wrong….
The original exorcism was performed at a hospital in St. Louis. It didn’t happen in someone’s house or in a church or some place private where someone might’ve been carried away. Doctors and nurses were in attendance and I have day-to-day account of what happened. It’s the most incredible thing I have ever known.
The Root of the Problem
“How did this all begin?” is the next logical question I can see being asked. It all began when the boy’s beloved aunt (who used a Ouija board and tarot cards and other New Age items on a regular basis) died, and he missed her so much that he tried to contact her through the Ouija board. And it worked! The “spirit” identified itself, at first as his aunt, and even told the boy things that only he and his aunt knew or talked about. However, the contact became more prominent until this spirit inhabited the boy’s body.
Let me break here to recommend two books on the incident, one by an investigative journalist (a non-Christian) and the other by the ex-Professor (Ed Gruss) of history and apologetics at Masters College, in Santa Clarita, California. Professor Gruss is a local resident, a past acquaintance, and a Christian.
- Book One: Possessed: The True Story of an Exorcism, by Thomas B. Allen
- Book Two: The Ouija Board: A Doorway to the Occult, by Edmund C. Gruss
Okay, let me begin this part with an interesting factoid: The December 1994 Consumer Reports published the results of a survey among 17,000 young people ages 10 to 14. They answered a query concerning what games they played with and which they enjoyed the most. Out of 83 games listed, Monopoly was number one and the Ouija Board was number two.
~ Side Note: Some of the following quotes are by “psychics,” who, I would contend, are involved with the same entities; the psychics, at least, that seem to give information above and beyond their realm of knowledge (which is very few). Non-the-less, even they realize the dangers of occultism (or at least some forms of it, of course not the kind that pays their bills)
Psychic Alan Vaughan points out the following information,
- “It is significant, however, that the greatest outcry against the use of Ouijas has come from the Spiritualists [and] not the parapsychologists. In England, Spiritualist groups are petitioning to ban the sale of Ouijas as toys for children–not because of vague dangers of ‘unhealthy effects on naive, suggestible persons’ — but because they fear that the children will become possessed.”
Psychic / spiritist Harold Sherman, president of ESP Research Associates Foundation in Little Rock, Arkansas, agrees:
- “The majority who have become involved with possessive and other entities came by this experience through the ouija board.”
The irony however, is that, despite the warnings, most people continue to view the Ouija board as a harmless pastime:
Professor Gruss refers to a clipping from the files of the famous magician Houdini concerning a Dr. Curry, a medical director of the State Insane Asylum of New Jersey, who stated the Ouija board was a “dangerous factor” in unbalancing the mind and predicted that insane asylums would be flooded with patients if interest in them did not wane.
Noted psychic researchers Ed and Lorraine Warren refer to one instance where the Ouija board was used “as little more than a joke” – and yet it led to the house becoming “infested” with evil spirits. Noted occultist Manly P. Hall founder of the Philosophical Research Society is considered as one of the leading authorities on the occult in this century. In Horizon magazine for October-December 1944, pages 76-77 he recalls,
- “During the last 20-5 years I have had considerable personal experience with persons who have complicated their lives through dabbling with the Ouija board. Out of every hundred such cases, at least 95 are worse off for the experience…. I know of broken homes, estranged families, and even suicides that can be traced directly to this source.”
Ed and Lorraine Warren, whom I cited above, state in their book Graveyard that (pp. 137-38):
- “Ouija boards are just as dangerous as drugs. They’re not to be played with… just as parents are responsible for other aspects of the children’s lives, they should take equal care to keep the tools of the devil from their children… especially in an error when satanic cults are on the rise. Remember: Seances and Ouija boards and other occult paraphernalia are dangerous because evil spirits often disguise themselves as your loved ones – and take over your life” (Edmond Gruss, The Ouija Board: A Doorway to the Occult)
Dr. Thelma Moss, a parapsychologist on the staff of UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute prefaced her discussion of the Ouija board in The Probability of the Impossible with: “Warning! For certain persons, the Ouija board is no game and can cause serious dissociation’s of personality.”
Why such a long treatise on the Ouija board? Because this is the most popular way to call up the spirits of the dead, as well as loved ones… or so-called. These occurrences of contacting spirits via the Ouija, is very similar to those of spirits contacted by mediums, or in seances, or even – believe it or not – UFO abductions. After the initial contact, the entities are either violent, or most often, lie and mislead. And they lie and mislead on one subject more than any other… the religious subject. They most often give a religious message (mostly by automatic writing, like the Urantia Book, A Course In Miracles, or Conversations With God, to name a few) that always deals with Christ not being God, but an “avatar” or a “good teacher”, like Buddha or Confucius. These messages are relevant because, if, and what a big if, the Biblical account of spiritual warfare is true, then this would be proof – of sorts – that these “spirits” main goal is to get people involved in doctrines that would lead people away from the one true God. How many people have you known that have been contacted by a spirit, or a departed “loved one” join a healthy, well-balanced church and become a member? How many start getting involved in New Age metaphysics that include the Ojai Board, tarot readings, meditations, and the like?
Again, for those who don’t believe in the Christian (theistic) presupposition or worldview, I sympathize, but after studying this array of supernatural events, and investigating story after story of abductions, possessions, and spirit contact, there is no better explanation that I have found. Mind you, there are other explanations, but most are reached by people who neither take the time to really investigate all avenues of research, or feel complacent with where they are with they’re own beliefs and lot in life. With the recent rise and popularity of neo-paganism and in all that the New Age movement encompasses, is it any wonder that spiritual contacts, UFO sightings, ghosts, etc., (real and fraudulent) are on the rise?
- Testing the Spirits, by Elizebeth L. Hillstrom
- The Culting of America, by Ron Rhodes (especially chapter 12)
- Alien Obsession: What Lies Behind Abductions, Sightings, and the Attraction to the Paranormal, by Ron Rhodes
- Dictionary of Cults, Sects, Religioons and the Occult, by Mather and Nichols
- Occult Invasion: The Subtle Seduction of the World & the Church, by Dave Hunt
- Biblical Demonology: A Study of Spiritual Forces at Work Today, by Merrill F. Unger
- Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, by Ankerberg and Weldon
- The Facts on the New Age Movement, Ankerberg and Weldon
- Occult ABC, by Kurt Koch
- Christian Counseling & Occultism, by Kurt Koch
- Occult Bondage and Deliverance, by Kurt Koch
- Demonology, Past & Present, by Kurt Koch
- Handbook of Today’s Religions, by McDowell and Stewart
- The Occult Shock and Psychic Forces, Wilson and Weldon
- Cults: And the Occult, by Edmond Gruss
- The Ouija Board: A Doorway to the Occult, by Edmund Gruss
- Ouija: The Most Dangerous Game, by Stoker Hunt
- The Beautiful Side of Evil, by Johanna Michaelsen
- The Occult Roots of Nazism, by Nicholas Goodrick
- Witchcraft: Exploring the World of Wicca, by Craig Hawkins
- UFO’s and the Alien Agenda: Uncovering the Mystery Behind UFO’s and the Paranormal, by Bob Larson
- Encounters with UFO’s, by Weldon and Levitt
- UFOs in the New Age: Extraterrestrial Messages & the Truth of Scripture, by William Alnor
- UFO Cults & the New Millennium, by William Alnor
- Alien Encounters: The Secret Behind the UFO Phenomenon, by Missler and Eastman
- The New Age Cult, by Walter Martin
- Beware! Deception & Delusion in the Church, by Bill Rudge
- Communion: A True Story: Encounters with the Unknown, by Whitley Strieber
- The Unexplained, by Allen Spraggett
- Mediums, Mystics and the Occult, by Milbourne Christopher
- Ghosts Among Us: True Stories of Spirit Encounters, by Leslie Rule
- Possessed: The True Story of an Exorcism, by Thomas B. Allen
- Thirty Years Among the Dead: Historic Studies in Spiritualism; A Psychiatrist’s Investigation of Spirit Mediums and Psychic Possession in his Patients, by Carl August Wickland
- Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue, Book 1, by Neale Donald Walsch
- A Course in Miracles, by Helen Schucman
- The Urantia Book: Revealing the Mysteries of God, the Universe, World History, Jesus, and Ourselves, “Multiple” authors
A note from my Facebook about this and my other post: