“HOW DO I KNOW IF MY HOUSE IS HAUNTED?” #WeirdDarkness

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY HOUSE IS HAUNTED?” #WeirdDarkness

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IN THIS EPISODE: Think you hear whispers at night? Listen closer. That cold spot in your room? Might be a ghost. If your pet is always whining and staring at a corner, maybe it’s time to move out! We’ll look at a few signs so you can determine whether or not your house is truly haunted, and what you can do if you discover you are sharing your home with someone from the afterlife.

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WEIRDO WEB LINKS…
(Amazon links included may benefit me financially through qualifying purchases.)
BOOK: “This House is Haunted” by Guy Playfair: https://amzn.to/3m7BV96
BOOK: “The Great Amherst Mystery” by Walter Hubbell: https://amzn.to/35jNtiI
#ChurchOfTheUndead: “Don’t You Wish Life Had a Pause Button?”: https://weirddarkness.com/archives/7737

STORY AND MUSIC CREDITS/SOURCES…
(Over time links can and may become invalid, disappear, or have different content.)
“Signs Your House Is Haunted” by Stephen Wagner for Live About: https://tinyurl.com/y4clwan2
“What Is a Poltergeist” by Stephen Wagner for Live About: https://tinyurl.com/y35pjgbp
“Three Famous Poltergeist Cases” by Stephen Wagner for Live About: https://tinyurl.com/y4hxjvfz
“The Terrifying Amherst Poltergeist” by Stephen Wagner for Live About: https://tinyurl.com/y2j6fzxc
“Explanations for Shadow People” by Stephen Wagner for Live About: https://tinyurl.com/y6zjdlo3
“Can Dogs See Ghosts?” by Stephen Wagner for Live About: https://tinyurl.com/y3l5x3v9
“What To Do If You Live In a Haunted House” by Amanda Lauren for Forbes: https://tinyurl.com/yy68227e
(I always make sure to give authors credit for the material I use whenever possible. If I somehow overlooked doing that for a story, or if a credit is incorrect, please let me know and I’ll rectify it in the show notes as quickly as possible.)
Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music Library. Background music, varying by episode, provided by Alibi Music, EpidemicSound and/or AudioBlocks with paid license. Music from Shadows Symphony (https://tinyurl.com/yyrv987t), Midnight Syndicate (http://amzn.to/2BYCoXZ), Kevin MacLeod (https://tinyurl.com/y2v7fgbu), Tony Longworth (https://tinyurl.com/y2nhnbt7), and/or Nicolas Gasparini/Myuu (https://tinyurl.com/lnqpfs8) is used with permission.

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TRANSCRIPT:

DISCLAIMER==========

Stories and content in Weird Darkness can be disturbing for some listeners and is intended for mature audiences only. Parental discretion is strongly advised.

SHOW OPEN==========

Welcome, Weirdos – I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.

If you’re new here, welcome to the podcast – and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss future episodes! If you’re already a Weirdo, please share the podcast with others – doing so helps make it possible for me to keep creating episodes as often as I do!

This month marks five years of Weird Darkness, and I’m celebrating by raising funds and awareness about depression which I’ll tell you about later in the podcast, but I’d like to invite you to visit DarknessChallenge.com now to learn more about it – that’s DarknessChallenge.com.

Coming up in this episode…

Think you hear whispers at night? Listen closer. That cold spot in your room? Might be a ghost. If your pet is always whining and staring at a corner, maybe it’s time to move out! We’ll look at a few signs so you can determine whether or not your house is truly haunted.

While listening, be sure to check out the Weird Darkness website. At WeirdDarkness.com you can sign up for the newsletter to win monthly prizes, find paranormal and horror audiobooks I’ve narrated, watch old horror movies for free, plus you can visit the “Hope In The Darkness” page if you are struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.

Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!

STORY: SIGNS YOUR HOUSE IS HAUNTED==========

You hear heavy footsteps in the upstairs hallway when you know no one is up there. Doors slam unaccountably. Commonly-used items disappear and reappear without cause. The kitchen light turns on by itself. There’s the unmistakable scent of a strange perfume in the air. A persistent rapping echoes in the walls. Are these phenomena explainable by natural events, or could your house be haunted?

True hauntings are rare occurrences, and it can be difficult to determine whether or not any strange activities in your home are due to a haunting. For one thing, theories on what ghosts are and what a “real” haunting is—what causes it or why it starts—vary wildly. But if you are looking for reassurance (or confirmation of your fears), the typical signs I’m about to share may help you determine whether or not you have a legitimate case of a haunting.

Not all hauntings are alike, and they may exhibit a variety of phenomena. Some hauntings feature a single phenomenon—such as a particular door slamming shut that occurs repeatedly—while others consist of many different phenomena, ranging from odd noises to full-blown apparitions.

Here’s a partial list of phenomena that might indicate that your house is haunted:

Unexplained noises—Footsteps; knocks, banging, rapping; scratching sounds; sounds of something being dropped. Sometimes these noises can be subtle; other times they can be quite loud.

Doors, cabinets, and cupboards opening and closing—Most often, these phenomena are not seen directly. Residents of the house may hear doors opening and closing (homeowners know quite well the distinctive sounds their houses make) or may return to a room to find a door open or closed when they are certain that it was left in the opposite position. Sometimes furniture, like kitchen chairs, may seem to have been moved. Very rarely will residents of a haunted house actually witness the phenomenon as it takes place.

Lights turning off and on—Likewise, these events are seldom experienced as they occur. Rather, the lights are switched on or off when the house’s resident knows they were not left that way. This can also happen with TVs, radios and other electrically powered items.

Items disappearing and reappearing—This is known as the Disappearing Object Phenomenon (DOP) “the DOPler Effect” (DOP = Disappearing Object Phenomenon) or “the borrowers” phenomenon, and it’s the familiar experience of not being able to find a regularly used item — say, your set of car keys — which you believe you placed in a spot you routinely place them. But they’re gone and you look high and low for them with no success. Some time later, the keys are found — in exactly the place you normally put them. It’s as if the object was borrowed by someone or something for a short time, then returned. Sometimes they are not returned for days or even weeks, but when they are, it’s in an obvious place that should not have been missed by even a casual search.

Unexplained shadows—The sighting of fleeting shapes and shadows, usually seen out of the corner of the eye. Many times, the shadows have vaguely human forms, while other times they are less distinguishable or smaller. For those human forms, they are often labeled as shadow people, especially if they appear to act with an intelligence, as if the shadowy figure knows you are there and acts accordingly. We’ll look a little closer at shadow people later in this episode.

Strange animal behavior—A dog, cat or other pet behaves strangely. Dogs may bark at something unseen, cower without apparent reason or refuse to enter a room they normally do. Cats may seem to be “watching” something cross a room. Animals have sharper senses than humans, and many researchers think their psychic abilities might be more finely tuned also.  We’ll cover this more in depth later as well.

Feelings of being watched—This is not an uncommon feeling and can be attributed to many things, but it could have a paranormal source if the feeling consistently occurs in a particular part of the house at a particular time.

These are some of the most common experiences of those who think their houses are haunted. Yet even stranger things can happen. The following phenomena are more rare, but could be stronger evidence of a haunting:

Mild psychokinetic phenomena—Hearing a door open or close is one thing. Actually seeing it happen is quite another. Similarly, actually seeing a light go on or off by itself is greater proof that something unexplained is happening. Do you see the TV or radio turn on? Perhaps you’re present when a child’s powered toy begins to operate on its own. Doors and windows are locked or unlocked. Some people report that when they are in bed they can feel and/or hear something sitting on the bed.

Feelings of being touched—Feeling an unexplained touch is truly unsettling. Some people may feel something brush past them, a light brush of their hair, or a “hand” on the shoulder. Some feel a gentle poke, push or nudge.

Cries and whispers—On occasion, muffled voices, whispering and crying can be heard. Sometimes it’s music from some unknown source. People hear their names being said. This phenomenon gains more credibility if more than one person hears or sees the same thing at the same time.

Cold or hot spots—Cold spots are classic haunting symptoms; any instance of a noticeable variance in temperature without a discernible cause could be evidence.

Unexplained smells—The distinct fragrance of a perfume or cologne that you do not have in your house can indicate a supernatural presence. This phenomenon may come and go without any apparent cause, and may accompany other phenomena, such as shadows, voices or psychokinetic phenomena. The odor may be pleasant or foul.

Rarer still are more extreme phenomena, some of which have been called poltergeist phenomena, and can be quite strong evidence of a true haunting.

Moving or levitating objects (severe psychokinetic phenomena)—Dinner plates sliding across the table; pictures flying off walls; doors slamming shut with great force; furniture sliding across the floor.

Physical assault—Scratches, slaps, and hard shoves. This kind of personal assault is extremely rare, but obviously highly disturbing.

Other physical evidence—Unexplained writing on paper or walls; handprints and footprints.

Apparitions—Physical manifestation of a spirit or entity. These phenomena are also very rare and can take many forms: human-shaped mists or forming mists of some indistinguishable shape; transparent human forms that disappear quickly; and most rarely, human forms that look as real and solid as any living person, but that disappear into a room or even while being viewed.

BREAK==========

Up next we’ll look more closely at the poltergeist phenomenon, as well as some real-life cases of people and families being attacked by poltergeists. Hopefully, as we try to determine if your home is haunted, you aren’t experiencing anything of what these families are dealing with. That’s up next when Weird Darkness returns.

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STORY: WHAT IS A POLTERGEIST==========

Poltergeist is a German word meaning “noisy spirit.” It describes many effects such as knocks on walls, objects thrown about by unseen hands, furniture moved, and other occurrences. These manifestations were long thought to be the mischievous pranks of spirits or, more frightening, the malevolent works of demons.

Current research indicates, however, that poltergeist activity may have nothing to do with ghosts or spirits. Since the activity seems to center around an individual, it is believed that it is caused by the subconscious mind of that individual. It is, in effect, psychokinetic activity, moving objects solely by the power of the mind. The individual is often under emotional, psychological or physical stress (even going through puberty).

Poltergeist effects can include rappings on walls and floors, the physical movement of objects, effects on lights and other electric appliances. There can even be the manifestation of physical phenomena such as water dripping inexplicably from ceilings where no pipes are hidden, and small fires breaking out. Thanks largely to the work of parapsychologist William G. Roll in the 1950s and ’60s, they are now commonly understood to be psychokinetic manifestations produced by living persons.

Roll called it “recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis” or RSPK and found that the paranormal activity could almost always be traced to a person, clinically labeled an “agent.” This agent, although a victim of the puzzling and sometimes frightening activity, is unaware that he or she is actually the cause of it. By some mechanism that is still not understood, the activity arises out of the unconscious or subconscious of the individual in response to emotional stress or trauma.

So little is really known about the human brain and mind, but somehow the psychological stresses suffered by this agent produce effects in the surrounding physical world: pounding on the walls of a house, a book flying off a shelf, glowing orbs zipping across a room, heavy furniture sliding across the floor – perhaps even audible voices. In some rare cases, the manifestations can turn violent, producing scratches on the skin, shoves and slaps. So powerful is the unconscious mind under stress.

One possible and famous historical case is that of The Bell Witch from the early 19th century. This was a case of severe poltergeist phenomena that centered around young Betsy Bell. The activity, then attributed to a “witch”, threw things around the Bell home, moved furniture, and pinched and slapped the children, according to eyewitnesses. Betsy Bell appears to have been the agent in this instance.

Poltergeist agents are very often adolescents, but not always. It seems true that some adolescents under the combined stresses of growing up and the hormonal changes occurring during puberty can produce poltergeist activity, but adults under stress can be agents as well – especially, perhaps, if they have unresolved stresses from childhood.

It is unknown how common poltergeist activity is. Certainly, remarkable cases in which household objects are tossed about are relatively rare. But those are the cases that get attention and are documented simply because they are remarkable, especially if the activity persists over many days, weeks or months. There may be many more cases, however, that occur just once or on rare occasions to people.

There is ample documentation that poltergeist activity does take place, in various levels of severity and for various lengths of time. Many cases have been documented by such researchers as Hans Holzer, Brad Steiger and others (their books are available in libraries and bookstores).

There are numerous cases of poltergeists being investigated, but four in-particular are worth noting in this episode.

The Thornton Heath Poltergeist: In the 1970s, in Thornton Heath, England, a family was tormented by poltergeist phenomena that started one August night when they were woken in the middle of the night by a blaring bedside radio that had somehow turned itself on — tuned to a foreign-language station. This was the beginning of a string of events that lasted nearly four years.

A lampshade repeatedly was knocked to the floor by unaided hands. During the Christmas season of 1972, an ornament was hurled across the room, smashing into the husband’s forehead. “As he flopped into an armchair,” reports Haunted Croydon, “the Christmas tree began to shake violently. Come the New Year and there were footsteps in the bedroom when there was no one there, and one night the couple’s son awoke to find a man in old fashioned dress staring threateningly at him. The family’s fear grew when, as they entertained friends one night, there was a loud knocking at the front door, the living room door was then flung open and all the house’s lights came on.”

Having the house blessed failed to rid the house of the phenomena. “Objects flew through the air, loud noises were heard and the family would sometimes hear a noise which suggested some large piece of furniture… had crashed to the floor. When they went to investigate, nothing would be disturbed.”

A medium who was consulted told the family that the house was haunted by a farmer of the name Chatterton, who considered the family trespassers on his property. An investigation bore out the fact that Chatterton had indeed lived in the house in the mid-18th century. “Chatterton’s wife now joined in causing mayhem, and often the tenant’s wife would be followed up the stairs at night by an elderly gray-haired woman wearing a pinafore and with her hair tied back in a bun. If looked at, she would disappear back into the shadows. The family even reported seeing the farmer appear on their television screens, wearing a black jacket with wide, pointed lapels, high-necked shirt, and black cravat.”

After the family moved out of the house, the poltergeist activity ceased, and none have been reported by subsequent residents.

The Enfield Poltergeist Case: Another English ghost — this one in Enfield in North London — made headlines in 1977. The strange activity seemed to center around the daughter of Peggy Harper, a divorcee in her mid-40s. Again, it started on an August night. “Late at night,” An Urban Ghost Story relates, “Janet, aged 11 and her brother Pete, aged 10, complained that their beds were ‘jolting up and down and going all funny.’ As soon as Mrs. Harper got to the room, the movements had stopped — as far as she was concerned her kids were making it all up.”

But things got progressively more bizarre from there. Shuffling noises and knocks on the wall were followed by a heavy chest of drawers sliding by itself across the floor. Mrs. Harper promptly got her children out of the house and sought the assistance of a neighbor. “The neighbors searched the house and garden but found no one. Soon they also heard the knocks on the walls which continued at spaced out intervals. At 11 p.m. they called the police, who heard the knocks, one officer even saw a chair inexplicably move across the floor, and later signed a written statement to confirm the events.”

Several people were witness to the events that occurred in the following days: Lego bricks and marbles were thrown around the house and were often hot to the touch. In September of that year, Maurice Grosse of the Society for Psychical Research came to investigate. “Grosse claims that he experienced the strange happenings — first a marble was thrown at him from an unseen hand, he saw doors open and close by themselves, and claimed to feel a sudden breeze that seemed to move up from his feet to his head.”

Grosse was later joined in the investigation by writer Guy Lyon Playfair, and together they studied the case for two years. “The knocking on walls and floors became an almost nightly occurrence, furniture slid across the floor and was thrown down the stairs, drawers were wrenched out of dressing tables. Toys and other objects would fly across the room, bedclothes would be pulled off, water was found in mysterious puddles on the floors, there were outbreaks of fire followed by their inexplicable extinguishing.”

The case became decidedly unnerving when the spirits revealed themselves — through Janet. Speaking in a deep, gravely voice, the spirit announced that his name was Bill and had died in the house — a fact that has been verified. The voices and the phenomenon have been recorded on tape and film, and Playfair has written a book about the case called This House is Haunted, which I will link to in the show notes.

Despite the documentation, however, much controversy surrounds the case. Skeptics claim that the case is nothing more than the work of a very clever and mischievous girl — Janet. The poltergeist activity always stopped when she was watched closely, and when she was taken to a hospital for several days to be tested for physical or mental abnormality, the phenomena ceased in the house. Some researchers believe that Janet taught herself to speak in the strange male voice and that photos of her levitating in her bedroom merely caught her jumping off her bed. Was this poltergeist case just the result of an attention-seeking 11-year-old?

The Danny Poltergeist Case: In 1998, Jane Fishman, a reporter for the Savannah Morning News, began a series of articles about a possibly haunted antique bed in the home of Al Cobb of Savannah, Georgia. Cobb bought the vintage late-1800s bed at an auction as a Christmas present for his 14-year-old son, Jason — a purchase he later regretted.

“Three nights later,” Fishman reported, “Jason told his parents he felt as if someone had planted elbows on his pillow and was watching him and breathing cold air down the back of his neck. He felt sick. The next night he noticed the photo of his deceased grandparents on his wicker nightstand flipped down. So he righted it. The next day, the photo was facing down again.

Later that morning, after leaving his room for breakfast, he returned and found in the middle of his bed two Beanie Babies — the zebra and the tiger — next to a conch shell, a dinosaur made of shells and a plaster toucan bird. That got his parents’ — and his twin brother, Lee’s — attention. Trying to make sense of the irrational, Al called out, ‘Do we have a Casper here? Tell me your name and how old you are.’ Then he left some lined composition paper and crayons and, with his family, walked out of the room. In 15 minutes they returned and found written vertically in large block childlike letters, ‘Danny, 7.'”

With his family out of the house, Al Cobb decided to continue trying to communicate with the spirit of Danny. With the same kind of notes, Danny indicated that his mother had died in that bed in 1899 and that he wanted to stay with the bed. He also made it clear that he didn’t want anyone else sleeping in it. “The same day they found a note reading, ‘No one sleep in bed,’ Jason, who had moved out of the room, decided to stretch out and pretend to take a nap. That, says Al, was a mistake. ‘I doubled back in the room to pick up my clothes,’ remembers Jason, ‘when this terra cotta head that had been hanging on the wall came flying through the room, just missing me before it smashed on the closet door.'”

“No one really knows,” Fishman writes in her second installment, “who — or what — is leaving the copious notes, moving the furniture, opening the kitchen drawers, setting the dining room table, flipping over the chairs, lighting the candles, arranging the posters to spell out a person’s name, Jill, then hanging the finished product on a bedroom wall. Jason also spoke of other spirits: ‘Uncle Sam,’ who had come to reclaim his daughter he said was buried under the house; ‘Gracie,’ a young girl whose sculpture sits in Bonaventure Cemetery; and ‘Jill,’ a young woman who left a number of handwritten messages, among them one inviting the Cobbs to a party in their living room.”

Parapsychologist Andrew Nichols, head of the Florida Society for Parapsychological Research, investigated the case. “What happened at the Cobbs,” he told Fishman, “more specifically to Jason — would have happened without ‘Danny,’ or the bed. It was the electromagnetic energy of the wall — that Jason started sleeping next to when they moved the bed there — that charged a psychic ability that the boy already had.”

And one of the most terrifying cases of all time, the Amherst Poltergeist: Some ghost stories live on because of the sheer terror they brought into the lives of those who experienced them firsthand. For the most part, ghosts and apparitions are harmless to those who witness them, flickering briefly into view to perform some timeless task or to relay a message to a loved one, and then fading back into the unknown. Poltergeist activity, however, is another matter entirely. Seeming to center around an individual, a poltergeist produces physical phenomena that have been known to cause serious harm and otherwise scare the daylights out of its victims.

Esther Cox of Amherst, Nova Scotia was such a victim in a case that became one of the most frightening poltergeist accounts in Canadian history. The strange events were witnessed and documented by many people, and even became the subject of a book.

The year was 1878 and the place was Princess Street in Amherst, a town in north central Nova Scotia where the province borders New Brunswick. Esther Cox, 19 years old, lived in a small rented house with her married sister Olive Teed, her husband Daniel Teed, and their two young children. The crowded little cottage was also home to Esther’s siblings, Jennie and William, as well as Daniel’s brother, John.

Suddenly, into the tedium of this ordinary home, horror struck. But not from some paranormal force, rather from an all-too-human monster: Esther was nearly raped by an acquaintance named Bob MacNeal, a shoemaker with a disdainful reputation of which Esther had been unaware. Although she escaped the attack with minor injuries, the violence against her seemed somehow to open a door to further attacks — this time from an unseen entity or entities. And the Amherst poltergeist mystery began.

Although the house was crowded with the Teeds and their extended family, it wasn’t unusual for households to take in boarders to help pay the rent. Walter Hubbell, a sometime actor, was a boarder at the Teed residence when the first stirrings of supernatural phenomena took place, and he recorded them in this book, The Great Amherst Mystery, which I have linked to in the show notes. One night, screams of fright brought all of the adults of the house rushing to the room where sisters Esther and Jennie shared a bed. The girls had seen the formation of something moving under their covers as they were about to go to sleep for the night; Esther thought it was a mouse. A search turned up nothing. The girls returned to bed and the house quieted for the night.

The following night, more screams disturbed the family. Esther and Jennie excitedly claimed that they had heard strange noises coming from a box of fabric scraps that was kept under the bed. When they brought the box out to the center of the room, it leapt into the air of its own accord and landed on its side. No sooner had the girls nervously righted the box when it jumped into the air again, eliciting the screams from the young women.

Up to this point, the events could have been attributed to the active imaginations of the two girls, especially given Esther’s recent, harrowing experience at the hands of Bob MacNeal. But the third night would provide evidence to all in the Teed house that something far out of the ordinary was happening with Esther Cox. That night, Esther excused herself to bed early, complaining that she felt feverish. At about 10 p.m., soon after Jennie joined her in bed, Esther jumped up from the bed to the center of the room, tearing at her nightclothes and screaming, “My God! What is happening to me? I’m dying!”

Jennie lit a lamp and looked at her sister, horrified to see that her skin was bright red and seemed to be swelling unnaturally. Olive rushed into the room and assisted Jennie in getting their sister back in bed as she now seemed to be choking and struggling to breathe. The other adults watched in disbelief as Esther’s entire body, which was remarkably hot to the touch, swelled and reddened. Esther’s eyes bulged and she cried in pain, fearing she was literally going to burst through her stretched skin. Then from beneath Esther’s bed came a deafening bang — like a clap of thunder — that shook the room. Three more loud reports exploded from under the bed, after which Esther’s swelling subsided and she fell into a deep, deep sleep.

Four nights later, these terrifying events repeated themselves — Esther’s unexplained swelling and torture ended only by the thunderous noises from under the bed. At a loss to cope with this unearthly ordeal, Daniel asked a local doctor, Dr. Carritte, to examine Esther. And he was witness to some of the most frightening events of all.

Attending at Esther’s bedside, he watched in astonishment as her pillow moved beneath her head, untouched by any hands. He heard the loud bangs from beneath the bed, but could find no cause for them. He saw her bedclothes thrown across the room by unseen hands. Then the doctor heard a scratching noise, like a metal tool scraping into plaster. Dr. Carritte looked to the wall above Esther’s bed and saw letters nearly a foot high etching themselves into the wall. When it was done, it had spelled out: ESTHER COX YOU ARE MINE TO KILL

A jagged clump of plaster then tore off the wall, flew across the room and landed and the doctor’s feet. After two hours, the house fell quiet.

Dr. Carritte — out of courage, compassion or curiosity — returned the next day and bore witness to more unexplained manifestations. Potatoes hurled themselves across rooms… the deafening noises now seemed to be coming from the roof of the house, yet when the doctor investigated, there was no apparent cause. Of these events, years later he would write to a colleague: “Honestly skeptical persons were on all occasions soon convinced that there was no fraud or deception in the case. Were I to publish the case in the medical journals, as you suggest, I doubt if it would be believed by physicians generally. I am certain I could not have believed such apparent miracles had I not witnessed them.”

The doctor could, of course, do nothing to help Esther or settle the disturbances at the Teed home. The haunting continued and, in fact, became more destructive and threatening:

  • unexplained fires erupted around the house
  • knives and forks were thrown by some entity, sticking violently into woodwork
  • lit matches materialized out of thin air and dropped onto beds
  • furniture moved about by itself, flipping over or slamming into walls
  • loud slaps were heard, followed by the appearance of red finger marks on Esther’s face
  • sewing pins appeared from nowhere and were jabbed into Esther’s face
  • a pocketknife was ripped from the hand of a neighborhood boy and stabbed into Esther’s back

Poor, tormented Esther tried several times to escape the devilish entity, but it followed wherever she went. One Sunday, Esther attended a Baptist church service and sat in one of the rear pews. Once the service had begun, knockings and rappings echoed throughout the church, seeming to come from the front of the church. The noises grew louder and louder, drowning out the minister’s sermon. Knowing she was the cause, Esther left the building and the noises stopped.

She even tried to spare her family from the malevolent haunting. At first she moved to a neighbor’s house, but the poltergeist followed and she was forced to return home. The Teed’s landlord, fearing the destructive nature of the phenomena, wanted to evict the family. Again taking responsibility for the events, Esther moved herself out instead, finding work at a nearby farm. When the farm’s barn burned to the ground, however, the farmer had Esther arrested for arson, for which she was convicted to a four-month sentence.

Fortunately, Esther served only one month in jail and was released. The short sentence may have at first seemed like a low-point to the much-troubled Esther, but it did have its upside. After she was freed from jail, the poltergeist activity seemed to just fade away. There were minor instances for a short time, and then the haunting stopped completely.

Esther later married, twice, and died in 1912 at the age of 53. Walter Hubbell published his book, The Great Amherst Mystery, after her death, and it included an affidavit signed by 16 witnesses of the horrific events at Amherst.

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When Weird Darkness returns…

You were reading, sitting comfortably on your sofa in the dim light when some movement across the room caught your attention. It seemed dark and shadowy, but there was nothing there. You returned to your reading—and a moment later there it was again. You looked up quickly this time and saw the fleeting but distinctly human shape of the shadow pass quickly over the far wall—and disappear. What was that? Often when people report their homes being haunted, they’ll talk of shadow beings – dark entities in human form they’ll glimpse out of the corner of their eye, and then the entity will be gone or jump out of sight. Coming up, we’ll look at the phenomenon and possible explanations for shadow people. That and more when Weird Darkness returns.

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As I mentioned earlier, this month I’m celebrating the 5th birthday of Weird Darkness by raising funds for the International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression through the Darkness Challenge. Visit DarknessChallenge.com and you can find a button to click so you can make a donation, and you can also learn about making a challenge video if you want to open up and tell others about your own struggles with depression and how there’s hope for them if they visit DarknessChallenge.com. And if you can’t make a video, just share the URL DarknessChallenge.com with others and encourage them to check it out – it would be great if we could get it to go viral and bring hope to those who struggle with depression! I also want to take a couple of minutes to thank some incredibly generous people who made donations over the past few days! Zenovia generously donated $50 to the Darkness Challenge, thank you Zenovia! Joseph dug deep into his wallet to add another $30 to our total, we appreciate it Joseph! Ian followed that up with a generous $25 donation, that’s great Ian, thank you! Then yesterday our two biggest gifts have come in to date… Michael donated $163… wow! Thank you, Michael! $163 is a strange amount to donate, I’m sure the number 163 has some special meaning to you and it has a special meaning to us as well because that is incredibly generous! And then Matthew… unbelievable… the biggest donation we’ve received this year… $500! WHOA! That gift alone is almost 25% of the goal we’re searching for! Thank you so much, Matthew! We still have a long way to go though – only 11 more days left in the month and we’re only 45% of our way towards our goal of $2,020! If you can help, a gift of any size can help tremendously – as does sharing the link DarknessChallenge.com. Please give whatever you can to help us bring hope to those who suffer from depression and to also bring awareness about depression and shed light on condition that has remained in the dark for too long! Visit DarknessChallenge.com today to learn more. That’s DarknessChallenge.com. Thank you!

STORY: THE SHADOW PEOPLE PHENOMENON==========

What was it that you just saw in your peripheral vision? Was it a natural shadow? Your heightened imagination? Or a ghost? Maybe it was something that seems to be a spreading phenomenon—apparitions that are coming to be known as “shadow people” or “shadow beings.” Perhaps this is an old phenomenon with a new name that is now being discussed more openly, in part thanks to the Internet. Or maybe it’s a phenomenon that, for some reason, is manifesting with greater frequency and intensity now.

Those who are experiencing and studying the shadow people phenomenon say that these entities almost always used to be seen out of the corner of the eye and very briefly. But more and more, people are beginning to see them straight on and for longer periods of time. Some experiencers testify that they have even seen eyes, usually red, on these shadow beings.

The mysterious sightings have become a hot topic of conversion in paranormal chat rooms, message boards, and websites, and it is given widespread attention on paranormal talk radio.

Several theories have been offered as to what shadow people are, and where they come from.

The explanation we get from skeptics and mainstream science—and who are usually people who have never experienced the shadow people phenomenon—is that it is nothing more than the active human imagination. It’s our minds playing tricks on us, our eyes seeing things in a fraction of a second that isn’t really there—illusions. Real shadows caused by passing auto headlights, or some similar explanation. And without a doubt, these explanations probably can account for some if not many experiences. The human eye and mind are easily fooled. But can they account for all cases?

Perhaps they are… ghosts? To call these entities ghosts demands first a definition of what we mean by ghosts. But by almost any definition, shadow people are somewhat different than ghost phenomena. Whereas ghost apparitions are almost always a misty white, vapor-like or have a decidedly human form and appearance (very often with discernible “clothing”), shadow beings are much darker and more shadow-like. In general, although the shadow people often do have a human outline or shape, because they are dark, the details of their appearance is lacking. This is in contrast to many ghost sightings in which the witness can describe the ghost’s facial features, style of clothing, and other details. The one detail most often noted in some shadow being sightings are their glowing red eyes.

Demons or other dark entities: The dark countenance and malevolent feelings that are often reported in association with these creatures have led some researchers to speculate that they may be demonic in nature. If they are demons, we have to wonder what their purpose or intent is in letting themselves be seen in this manner. Is it merely to frighten?

Astral bodies: One theory suggests that shadow people are the shadows or essences of people who are having out-of-body experiences. According to Jerry Gross, an author, lecturer, and teacher of astral travel, we all travel out of the body when we are asleep. Perhaps, this theory says, we are seeing the ephemeral astral bodies of these twilight travelers.

Time travelers: Another theory is that people from the future could have found the means to travel to the past—our time. However they are able to accomplish this incredible feat, perhaps in that state, they appear to us merely as passing shadows as they observe the events of our timeline.

Interdimensional beings: Even mainstream science is fairly convinced that there are dimensions other than the three we inhabit. And if these other dimensions exist, who or what (if anything) inhabits them? Some theorists say that these dimensions exist parallel and very close to our own, although invisible to us. And if there are inhabitants in these other dimensions, it is possible that they have found a way to intrude on our dimension and become, at least partially, visible? If so, they could very well appear as shadows. It has long been held by psychics and other sensitives that beings on other planes of existence are of different “vibrations.” Science is beginning to look at reality, on a quantum level, in the same way—that particles of the smallest size exist as vibrations. Perhaps, some theorize, the vibrations of our existence are beginning to mesh with those of another dimension, which accounts for the increase in such phenomena as ghosts, shadow people, and possibly aliens.

Aliens: The alien and abduction phenomena are so bizarre that it’s no surprise that extraterrestrials are suspects as the shadow people. Abductees have reported in many cases that the alien grays seem to be able to pass through walls and closed windows and to appear and disappear abruptly, among other otherworldly talents. Perhaps, too, they can go about their alien agenda disguised in the shadows. There’s a good deal of overlapping among the above ideas, of course. Aliens and ghosts could be inter-dimensional beings, or aliens could be time travelers—and some believe demons are responsible for all of these disturbing phenomena.

Maybe we’ll never know. There is no way to prove or disprove any theories about a phenomenon that is so mysterious, that happens so quickly and without warning. Science finds it virtually impossible to catalog or study such phenomena in any methodical way. All we can do, at present, is to document personal experiences and try to piece together what the shadow people phenomenon might be. Perhaps it’s an old mystery becoming more recognizable—perhaps it represents a doorway to and from different planes of existence… or perhaps they simply are just shadows.

STORY: CAN DOGS SEE GHOSTS==========

We’ve all seen it happen – a dog or cat suddenly stop mid-run and stare down a hallway as if something is there, but we don’t see or hear anything. Are they seeing a ghost? It’s something we all wonder even if we don’t suspect our house to truly be haunted. But maybe our house is haunted and we just don’t know it is, but our pets do.

Do animals have unique connections to the paranormal? Even people who believe in an afterlife and the possibility of ghosts are often skeptical when it comes to the idea of animal spirits. Animals don’t have souls or spirits they say, so therefore they cannot have a life in the next world. But cats, dogs, birds, and other animals are made up of the same energy that we humans are, and it may be just as possible that this energy can survive death, just as it can for people. We won’t know until we cross over to the other side ourselves.

Anyone who is close to their pets will testify to the psychic connection they share. Psychic energy and spiritual energy may all be a part of the same phenomenon, and so animals might have as much of a connection to the unseen world as we do.

Maybe more. Animals not only may appear as ghostly forms, but they may also be more sensitive to the proximity of spirits, alerting us to what we cannot see for ourselves.

Dogs can be just as sensitive as cats when it comes to sensing the unseen. People have reported their dogs growling at unseen beings, acting protectively towards their owners, or cowering from spirits.

Animals, with their intense hearing and senses of smell, may indeed be able to sense other beings that humans cannot.

The ghosts of animals may be as common as the ghosts of humans. There are many reports from people who have sensed, felt, smelled, heard and even seen the spirits of a recently departed pet.

Besides animals sensing ghosts, it is possible to come into contact with the ghost of a dearly loved pet. Many owners have reported feeling their deceased pet’s presence in their homes. For example, in times of crisis, individuals have said they felt a comforting warmth, similar to the feeling of a pet curling up in your lap. Others have reported hearing the jingle of their pet’s collars, long after the dog or cat passed away.

In fact, there have been incidents of deceased pets making their presence known, even to strangers. Guests at hotels with a reputation for hauntings have experienced phantom barks, meowing noises, and even feeling as if an animal brushed by them.

While animals are sadly cursed with shorter lifespans than humans, they may have other senses that help compensate them. With their exceptional sight and hearing, they may be able to sense spirits that humans cannot see. Even after death, our beloved pets may still linger, giving comfort and protection long after they die.

So the next time your pet acts strangely, staring at an unseen object in a corner or growling at nothing, consider that he may be able to see something that you cannot.

STORY: WHAT DO I DO IF MY HOUSE IS HAUNTED==========

So what can you do if you determine the home you’re living in is haunted?

Getting a spirit to leave a home or property can be far more challenging than identifying one. After all, they were there before you were. Chris Medina suggests the first defense is asking them to leave, but many ghosts just aren’t cooperative. “They can become very territorial. If demanding they leave doesn’t work, that’s where I and/or any respectable, experienced medium comes in,” he says. “We will go in to assess the home and entity to determine what needs to be done. From a simple sage or incense cleansing to a full-blown ceremonial cleansing, it can be a process. A cleansing/clearing can last anywhere from a few minutes to days. It all depends on how much of an attachment the presence has to the home and the people living in it.”

Keidi Pushi, who is a psychic, healer and executive coach shares the key to getting spirits to leave is to come from a place of strength. “I make sure I feel grounded and strong in myself. Standing in one area or walking around the house, I point a finger around the physical space I am declaring to clear,” she says. “I say my name and my right to claim the space as pure and my own. I ask the physical infrastructure of the house to hold only loving spirits.”

Heather Hannan has made a business out of being a real-life ghostbuster. She calls herself an Anam Cara. “Anam is the Gaelic word for soul and Cara is the word for friend. In Celtic tradition, an Anam Cara is a spiritual guide.”

Based in Toronto, Hannan and her business partner, Catherine Varga, work on approximately 75 homes per year. “We clear homes for real estate agents, people who lease homes to renters, people selling homes or who have just purchased a new home and want its energy buffed and polished for when they move in. We also have clients that just don’t feel comfortable in their homes because they or their children are seeing or hearing things moving around.”

The women clear the space using a vibrational sound healing technique they developed called Sound Reiki. “We discovered that with this technique we could move energy for healing and clearing homes and properties with much faster and more effective results.”

They are also able to practice this technique from a distance. “We have the ability to see any ghosts or spirits on a property, and clear these energies, anywhere we have the address.”

And of course you can always ask a local church pastor or priest to come and bless your home and anoint the entryways with oil, or do so yourself.

Sometimes, despite the best efforts, a ghost will simply refuse to leave. If vacating the property isn’t an option, the only choice left is to peacefully coexist with the spirit. Medina suggests setting boundaries, which is good advice when dealing with any kind of roommate or guest. “Make sure you stay on your side and they stay on theirs.”

He also notes that not all spirits are here to haunt. “Some just want to keep doing what they were doing before, taking care of people,” Medina explains. “I had a woman who would sleep in my kids’ room while they were sleeping. I would see her in passing as I would walk to get water in the middle of the night. A couple of times I caught her off guard and woke her up. She was going to leave and I told her I didn’t mind her being there. I understood she was watching the kids and protecting them and that I was happy to have her.”

One night, the spirit saved Medina’s son from very real danger. “I was asleep and woke up to her tapping my foot in bed to wake me up. She told me to go check on my son. I immediately ran into his room and saw that the sheet was wrapped around his neck and he was almost falling off the bed. I was trying not to panic and felt the woman try to comfort me. I unwrapped the sheet and positioned him back into bed. I thanked her and told her to make herself at home!”

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Up next, we’ll step into the Chamber of Comments… and there is one very special email I received that I’m still feeling goosebumps about.

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CHAMBER OF COMMENTS==========

Here in the Chamber of Comments I answer your emails, comments, podcast reviews, letters I get in the mail, and more. You can find all of my contact information, postal address, and social media links on the CONTACT page at WeirdDarkness.com. While you’re there, you can join the very active “Weird Darkness Weirdos” Facebook Group, and hang out with me and the rest of our Weirdo family! And you can drop me an email anytime at: darren @ weirddarkness.com.

(Review from Dr. Toot Toot Jr.): Too scary!!! I had nightmares for 2 weeks!

REPLY: Well then, Dr. Toot Toot Jr…. Mission accomplished!

(Review from Desi Dez Dep): This podcast is informative yet super relaxing, the host is so incredibly talented! Since finding this podcast I’ve searched for others that I think could be similar but I’ve never found one that I like as much as this! I can fall asleep listening because there isn’t any annoying loud sound effects but most the time Im too scared to actually fall asleep! This is my second time reviewing because it’s that good!”

REPLY: Thank you, Desi Dez Dep! I appreciate the positive 5-star review, and the fact that you’ve come back a second time to review me again, that’s very nice of you! As for being too scary for you to fall asleep, maybe you can text or call Dr. Toot Toot on those nights because he ain’t sleeping either!

(Review from Bretchen Manticore): The review about luring you in with spooky things but then assaulting you with right wing hyper conservatism is beyond accurate. YIKES.. but maybe.. that’s why it’s a horror podcast?! By George we’ve cracked it!

REPLY: I gotta be honest Bretchen, I have no idea what you or the other reviewer you are referencing are talking about. If anyone knows what episode these people are talking about where I go off into some hyper conservative tangent, let me know, would you? I honest am clueless as to what they are referring to. Granted, I’m clueless about a lot of things in life so that’s not all that surprising, but still.

(Email from Ashley): Dear Darren, I found your podcast by chance on iTunes under shows you might like. I listened to you for a few days I couldn’t get enough. I’ve never heard of a Christian that likes horror except me. I’ve always felt like God is disappointed in me for enjoying this stuff. When I realized you were in fact a Christian, it made me wonder if maybe God isn’t hating me for liking horror. Thank you for all you do. I hope you keep doing the church of the undead if you can. I look forward to it every day. Your fellow Weirdo in Christ, Ashley.

REPLY: Thank you, Ashley – no, God is NOT hating you for liking horror. He isn’t hating you for anything, He loves you and I’m sure you already know that. You sent this email some time back so you’ve likely heard by now that the Church of the Undead has been closed, but the previous messages are still available on the Weird Darkness website, and I will still come out with the occasional episode if a Weird Darkness episode inspires me to create a Church of the Undead message branching off the same topic.

(Review from Pazuzu1991): This is a truly underrated show. The man has a voice that adds a dramatic flair to anything he narrates. He’s funny, kind and scary, all at the same time. His humility, personality and talent blend in order to bring life into a collection of stories that flow effortlessly into the imagination. The man has an ability to make his show relatable regardless of how far into the spectrum of the fantastic or surreal he decides to take you. One of my favorite touches is how he closes every episode. Go through his catalog, pick an episode, any episode, they’re all excellent. Give him a try, you will be happy you did.

REPLY: One of the kindest reviews I’ve read in weeks, thank you Pazuzu1991. I have to admit that I’m surprised though that a demon of your notoriety would be a fan of how I close each episode with a bible verse. Is your father below going to punish you for typing that out? I hope my reading your review in the show just now doesn’t put you down one more level in hell. I’d hate to do that to a loyal listener – evil demon or not.

And I want to share one last thing, but I don’t want to read the email verbatim because it is much too personal. So I’ll give you the Cliff’s Notes version of the email. A young woman whom I will call “Betty” (that’s not her real name), emailed me a couple of days ago, but I only read her email just this morning. She told me that she had been listening to dark depression music on Spotify because she was feeling suicidal. Suddenly, without warning, one of my podcast episodes began playing. She didn’t put it in her playlist, it just started playing on its own – but she listened anyway, and Betty considered it a sign from God. You see, the night before, she was seriously contemplating suicide and asked God to send her a sign to let her know what she should do. The next morning she was still planning on ending her life later in the day – but then she heard the Church of the Undead episode titled “Don’t You Wish Life Had a Pause Button” and knew in her heart that was God speaking to her. She wrote this email to me the day before I canceled the Church of the Undead podcast because my life was so busy that I needed to press the pause button on a few things that were keeping me from maintaining my sanity. She heard the message exactly one day before it disappeared from the internet. I have re-posted it though so you can hear it, I’ll link to it in the show notes. Now, the reason I’m telling you this is not to lift me up, because this is not something that I did – it’s something God did, playing a podcast for someone who wasn’t even trying to listen to a podcast. But I’m sharing this story with you because I want you to know how much of an impact YOU are having on the world simply by sharing the podcast with others. Because you listen and share the podcast, it reaches others not just as entertainment, but sometimes as encouragement or hope, especially when they reach the Chamber of Comments or the end when I leave off with a final thought and a bit of light. I hear this from people so often, and when they email me to tell me their stories it gives me an opportunity to point them to resources that might help them with their depression like iFred.org which we are raising funds for this month, or to the 7 Cups mobile app which is free to download. None of that happens without you, my Weirdo family who listen regularly, you patrons who have stepped up even more to keep the podcast moving forward, and to those who share the episodes on social media and recommend a friend, family member, or coworker give it a listen. You’re not just benefiting me when you do these things… you are benefiting others… and in some cases, you might be saving someone’s life, just like Betty. And Betty, if you’re listening – thank you for sharing your story with me. I’ll be praying for you tonight and I hope the Weirdos in Christ who are listening will do the same.

I’ll answer more of your emails, comments, and letters next time! Again, you can find all of my social media and contact information on the CONTACT page of the website, or drop me an email at darren @ weirddarkness.com.

SHOW CLOSE, CREDITS, A LITTLE LIGHT, AND A FINAL THOUGHT==========

Thanks for listening. If you like the podcast, and you haven’t already subscribed, be sure to do so now so you don’t miss future episodes! And also, please – tell someone else about the podcast. Recommend Weird Darkness to anyone who loves the paranormal, horror stories, or true crime like you do! Every time you share the podcast with someone new, it helps spread the word about the show – and a growing audience makes it possible for me to keep creating episodes as often as I do.

And again, this month I’m raising awareness and funds to battle depression and I need your help – please visit DarknessChallenge.com to give as much as you can, and if you struggle with depression, consider making a video to help raise awareness. Get the details about the video challenge or make a donation, or do both at DarknessChallenge.com.

Do you have a dark tale to tell of your own? Fact or fiction, click on “Tell Your Story” on the website and I might use it in a future episode.

All stories in Weird Darkness are purported to be true (unless stated otherwise), and you can find source links or links to the authors in the show notes.

Weird Darkness theme by Alibi Music.

WeirdDarkness™ – is a registered trademark. Copyright ©Weird Darkness 2020.

If you’d like a transcript of this episode, you can find a link in the show notes.

Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” – James 1:5

And a final thought… “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” – George Bernard Shaw

I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.

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