“Every ghost story begins with a love story, and usually more than one. Once they are untangled, you will always find eternal love, unbearable loss, and unconquerable fear.
Everywhere, every minute, people all over the world are desperately begging God and any other power they can think of to not take someone they love, their child, their husband or wife, mother or father or friend. And finally, at the end, don’t take me.
There is no spot on earth that is free from loss. On this street, or in this room, someone lay down or was put down and was no more. Someone held someone else for the last time here. Rivers and lakes and oceans are full of people who vanished beneath the surface and were never seen again. Wherever you are standing, wherever you call home, someone left the earth there.
Everyone we love dies and disappears.
Something more substantial than a memory must survive of all that love. It’s unthinkable that the dead are truly and completely gone. And if the dead are not completely gone, we, as every generation that came before, are compelled to look for whatever remains.
What is death but the end of all we love? Ghosts are what survive of love. Real or unreal, they are a testament to love, and the hope that no matter what, love lasts.
The men and women of the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory were scientists. They never would have phrased it this way. But when all is said and done, as they tried to prove that death is not the end, what they were really trying to prove is that love lasts forever.
The problem was how to scientifically demonstrate that life and all the feelings that go with it survive death. A medium relaying messages of continuing love from a dead wife might be enough for an inconsolable widower, but it will never be enough for the scientific community, which demands not only more convincing evidence but also experiments that can be reliably repeated to produce consistent results. To move an idea out of the realm of belief and into the world of accepted fact, others must be able to verify your results. There are no shortcuts to this process, and no exceptions. Like those we pray to when death is imminent, the scientific method is immune to longing, hope, and pleas.”
—Stacy Horn, from the Preface to Unvelievable: Inveatigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena, from the Duke Parasychology Laboratory (HarperCollins 2009)
[Image: Still from the 2017 David Lowry film A Ghost Story, starring Casey Affleck (mentor-less.com).]
“…then psychic medium Chris Fleming sends me a text. He’s heard I bought the house. He sends me a warning that I’ll never forget. He tells me there’s a 12-foot-tall ‘demon guardian’, just like the one from my dream at that house. And I better stay the hell away from it.” —Zak Bagans, Demon House
In my opinion film-school graduate and 13-year veteran of demonology and ghost hunting, Zak Bagans, is among our greatest documentary filmmakers. The skill of his vision, authenticity, and artist’s eye for the truth can be seen in Ghost Adventures—the Travel Channel series Bagans created which has been on the air scaring the shit out of millions of viewers for almost 20 years. Bagans doesn’t play. He’s often foolish in his taunting of the demonic—he has learned to be, let’s say, more careful—more respectful—over the years. However, a few years ago, when he learned of the Haunted House in Gary, Indiana in the window of which a police officer caught on film a ghostly entity, Bagans wasted no time. He bought the house straight-up…over the phone. When you’re rich you can do things like that. But rich or poor: you’re regrets for having done so…will be very much the same.
Below, after the trailer, are two articles to whet your interest in The Ammons “House of 200 Demons”—one that takes the phenomenon of demonology and related infestations seriously—and to be fair to the other side, one written for Skeptical Inquirer. I’ve also included Links to some other interesting articles and videos as well as where to buy/view Bagan’s documentary.
The film advises that Viewers Watch Demon House “at Your Own Risk”.
As always when dealing with dark things—evil things as some would call them—beings or phenomenon—whether or not you purport to believe in such things—it is prudent to exercise caution.
I was slightly disappointed after having read the groundbreaking 2005 book by Colm Kelleher and George Knapp, upon which a lot of the documentary is supposedly based. The book is structured better. I’m going to refrain from further commentary here. I dig Jeremy Corbell and his other films. This one has its issues; but it’s worth a watch. “Three-ish” stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️.
No Hand Was Visible: The Mysterious “Wall Writings” at Borley Rectory— An Investigation
Andrew Clarke, 2003
The wall-writings at England’s infamously haunted Borley Rectory have proven to be of enduring interest. Although they may not be unique, they are memorable, with the repeated calling of the name ‘Marianne’, their chilling pleas for ‘Rest’, exhortations for ‘Light’ the ‘Mass Prayers’, and childlike scribbling, redolent of a tortured soul desperate to communicate.
Who can fail to be stirred by the account of their arrival as remembered by a visitor, the professional medium, Guy L’Estrange?:
“Later, being entertained by the rector and his wife, he heard for the first time of mysterious forms, male and female, being seen inside and outside the house; of lights in unoccupied rooms; of articles appearing and being thrown; of fires breaking out; of mysterious whisperings and unexplained writings on walls and scraps of paper. Once, the rector told him, he was working alone in his study when he saw a pencil rise from the desk and scrawl words on the wall in front of him -no hand was visible!’
— Guy L’Estrange, quoted in Borley Postscript by Peter Underwood, p.114
It is an image that we all kept when we first read the Harry Price books about Borley Rectory: the pencil rising from the desk and scrawling the words ‘Get light, mass, prayers.’
This account was introduced by the professional medium, Guy L’Estrange. Unfortunately Guy seems to have made it up. Lionel Foyster, the rector would never have said it. He was meticulous in his care for the truth and was always keen to point out that he never saw anything of a paranormal nature whilst at Borley Rectory. The story of the pencil rising from the desk does not appear in any other account.
The ‘paranormal’ writings first appeared in the spring of 1931 when the Foysters were living at the Rectory.
The diary of occurrences, written soon after the event, records the first manifestations of this strange phenomenon, and then, in instalments describes how it evolved:
“Another strange occurrence is that Marianne’s name was at one time continually being written on little odd pieces of paper in a rather shaky childish hand (Adelaide, needless to say, cannot write yet) That has stopped now as far as I know (March 23rd).”
—Lionel Foyster Diary of Occurences, p.17
In Lionel’s final account which was written seven years later, some detail was added that gave this a much more ‘paranormal’ air:
‘MF sees paper in the air; it at once falls to the ground; discovered to huave some hardly decipherable writing on it. Next day, when we come up, it has disappeared.”
—Lionel Foyster, Summary of experiences, p.4
A decade before the world famous Amityville, New York, and Enfield, England poltergeist cases came to public attention, a little heard of, but acknowledged as Europe’s most violent haunting, took place in the town of Pontefract, Yorkshire.
Number 30 East Drive, on the Chequerfields Estate, East Yorkshire, stood on a corner at the top of a hill, close to what was once the site of the town gallows. Living at number 30 were Jean and Joe Pritchard; their son Philip, aged 15; and their daughter Diane, aged 12.
The poltergeist, later to become known as the Black Monk of Pontefract, began disturbing the Pritchard family in 1966 with a wide variety of paranormal activity. Water pools, lights turning off and on again, furniture overturning, pictures being slashed, objects flying or levitating, knocking sounds, objects disappearing and appearing again, foul smells, farmyard noises, heavy breathing sounds, sudden drops of temperature, and a mysterious black-robed figure, whose appearances became more and more frequent were all reported at the house!
Read the full post, here:
What would you do if a piece of your furniture suddenly slid along the floor on its own in front of your eyes? Think for a moment and be honest with yourself. What would you actually do?
Maybe, after getting over the initial shock, you would shrug your shoulders, assume it must have had something to do with mice or an earthquake, and just hope it doesn’t happen again.
But it does happen again. And again. And all sorts of even odder things happen as well. Stones fall on your kitchen floor, as if they had come through the ceiling. Somebody – or something – starts banging on the wall. Things disappear and reappear somewhere else. Before long, you realise that it can’t be anything to do with earthquakes or mice, but must be something else, something wholly inexplicable and very frightening. You know these things can’t happen yet you also know they are happening.
Whatever you would do next, or like to think you would, I can tell you what people who have found themselves in this predicament have done.
Quite often, they have simply panicked. In 1978 a Birmingham family abandoned the house in which they had lived happily for eleven years, refusing to set foot in it again. A South London couple rushed out of their brand new council flat leaving their furniture and most of their belongings behind, and were never seen in the area again.
Others have appealed for help from neighbours, the police, priests, doctors and newspapers, but in vain. Sometimes, in fact, such appeals have only made things worse. As word spreads around that something spooky is going on in your house, you suddenly find your friends pointedly looking the other way when you pass them in the street. People give you funny looks in the local shops. Passers-by stop and stare at your house. You receive malicious phone calls and threatening letters. In short, your life is ruined. This has all happened.
It is said that the wretched ghost of Mary Howard haunts the heart of Dartmoor.
Some say they have seen her spectral form at the gatehouse of her old home in Tavistock; others, that they have glimpsed a mysterious coach travelling across the moors. The spectre of her dog, with demonic eyes, has been seen running along the dark lanes to Okehampton Castle. The stories have been told over and over in the old pubs in Tavistock and Okehampton, perhaps as a warning to unwary travellers or to hurry the drunks off home to bed.
Even the famous lyricist and historian Sabine Baring-Gould recalled a number of eyewitness accounts of the famous white lady who appears every night at midnight by the Tavistock gatehouse. There she boards a spectral coach made of human bones; the skulls of her four husbands are at each corner, and it is driven by a headless coachman:
I’d rather walk a hundred miles,
And run by night and day,
Than have that carriage halt for me
And hear my ladye say –
‘Now pray step in, and make no din,
Step in with me to ride;
There’s room, I trow, by me for you,
And all the world beside.’
– Sabine Baring-Gould, 1908
A skeletal black dog with fiery eyes accompanies her, according to Baring-Gould, running alongside the coach as it flies across the winding roads of Dartmoor, past the ruins of old Lydford Gaol and out towards Okehampton. On arrival at Okehampton Castle, Mary plucks a blade of grass, and then the coach returns as fast as it came, all the way back to that gatehouse—back and forth every night, from midnight till dawn. Mary must make this journey every night for eternity as penance for murdering four husbands, the story goes say; and once she has taken every blade of grass from the grounds of Okehampton Castle…the world will come to a gruesome end. Also, according to the legend, whenever someone sees the white lady on the road, a death will occur.
(Some variations on the story say that Mary Howard must make her journey until the end of the world. I prefer the (probably more modern) version that when she has plucked every blade of grass from Okehampton, then, will the world end. The impossibility of removing every blade of grass implies the world will never end, as grass continues to grow, hopefully that is…)
Link to purchase this book is in the image caption above.
(Source: The Devil Comes to Dartmoor—The Haunting True Story of Mary Howard: Devon’s Demon Bride by Laura Quigley)