piece originally appeared in LONDON Magazine,
London, Ontario, in the October/November, 1982 Issue as
the second of a series highlighting local interest in supernatural
that go Bump in the Night
of demons, spirits, ghosts and hauntings in London
Ont. - Have you ever thought about why thousands
of Londoners lined up for blocks to see the movie "The Exorcist?"
Or why so many of its viewers were deeply disturbed by it? What
was the fascination with the film "Poltergeist," seen this summer
in London, and, for that matter, all films preoccupied with occult
or hostile supernatural experiences? Might the fear these subjects
inspire be quite a different sort than that of imminent physical
harm or natural disaster? I suggest that it's fear of a special
sort of Unknown. I'll state further that there are such things as
I realize that many will laugh outright at this
assertion or shake their heads in disbelief that anyone could be
stupid or politically suicidal enough to make it in the first place.
But consider this; in 1981 there were upwards of 5000 reports of
incidents attributed to ghostly manifestation throughout North America,
according to exorcist and demonologist, Ed Warren.
If one has the effrontery to assert that ghosts
exist, one might as well put it on the line and state that there
also such things as demons. Who in his right mind would risk his
name and reputation by openly reporting his belief in the existence
of discarnate entities? Well, Pope Paul VI, for one. He said:
"Satan's smoke has made its way into
the temple of God through some crack. This came about through an
adverse power his name is the Devil. . . We believe that some preternatural
thing has come into the world precisely to disturb to suffocate
the fruits of the Ecumenical Council." (June 29,1972).
This is as open an admission of the existence
of inhuman spirits as one can hope to find. If one can accept the
word of a Pope, a man whose business it is the spiritual world, one
must accept that there are different types of spirits. Admittedly,
many would view the statement of a Roman Catholic Pope as containing
biased truth, but many others, with no traditional religious beliefs,
will, nevertheless, profess a faith in such things as spirits and
demons. Studies about these phenomena are going on in many American
and Canadian universities and being taken seriously.
"There are two types of spirits that are encountered
in true haunting situations," says Warren. "One is human; the other,
however, is inhuman. An inhuman spirit is something that has never
walked the earth in human form."
Ed and Lorraine Warren have spent over 35 years
investigating hauntings worldwide and have been lecturing on the
subject of demonic and ghostly oppression for the past decade. They
lectured to a full house in London's Alumni Hall recently and effectively
opened the eyes of a number of skeptics to the dangers of laughing
too smugly at what they refuse to believe.
When people think about spirits or ghosts at all,
they picture them lurking around in musty attics or basements of
old houses or in cemeteries in a misty, vaporous state, moaning
and lamenting their fate. But the commonly accepted theory held
by psychic researchers is that spirits or apparitions need physical
energy to manifest. This energy is either "borrowed" from the bioenergy
of living beings, the energy aura of humans, or from the natural
electro-magnetic discharges in the atmosphere.
How ghosts manifest is one thing, but how they
look is an entirely different matter. Why are some ghosts headless
or disfigured? Says Warren, "The spirit's appearance depends on
how that particular spirit determines to project itself in its own
mind. This is why encounters with earth-bound spirits are not always
easy-going, passive affairs.
"Tragedy comes in many forms," says Warren, "often
accompanied by violence, and an individual's last thoughts tend
to dominate the mind of the spirit after physical death. Thus, the
ghost will often manifest as a grotesque spectacle, representative
of the manner in which it died. Furthermore, an individual who meets
with a tragic end often carries a negative attitude into the afterlife."
This is the common explanation for the two types
of ghosts, real ghosts and not inhuman spirits, which are historically
called the Gray Ghost and the Poltergeist. It is believed by experts
that a person dying a violent or sudden death experiences a psychological
split in the conscious/subconscious dichotomy which makes up the
The gray ghost is the traditional weeping spirit
sighted most often where it lived in life. It is believed that this
is the conscious part of the mind, the part with no memory or drive.
These are the harmless spirits one reads about that haunt the places
they knew in life.
On the other hand is the poltergeist. This is
believed to be the subconscious part of the individual. The part
with the memory of life and the energy, or bioenergy of that life,
but without direction or purpose. Hence we read about these spirits
causing physical damage to the living; levitating and throwing objects,
and sometimes people, with no apparent rhyme or reason. Poltergeist
manifestations are more spectacular than other manifestations simply
because of their destructiveness.
The poltergeist may be trying to draw attention
to its plight through these antics. Some experts in psychical research
theorize that the gray ghost and the poltergeist have to be reintroduced
to one another in order to reform the complete human spirit. In
this way the total entity can leave the earth and go wherever spirits
go when physical life is suspended.
The gray ghost, in the opinion of members of the
British and American Societies for Psychical Research, is often
unaware of its death, or refuses to believe it is dead. This accounts
for the thousands of reported sightings or hauntings in and around
locations familiar to the ghost during life. Many psychics and mediums
attempt to make the ghost face its death with the hope that it will
no longer be earth-bound. In many instances the same method is used
with the poltergeist with satisfactory results.
So, then, here we have two methods of freeing
ghosts from their earthly ties. But, what happens if the ghost doesn't
want to leave? The first thing to do is ask the question, Is this
really a ghost we're dealing with or is it something else?
And then there are demons . . .
Demons are lower forms existing in the spiritual
hierarchy. They are base, harmful and terrifying entities that plague
mankind whenever the opportunity presents itself. Many of the first
books printed in the English language dealt with demonology. References
to demons can be found in ancient Greek writings, as well, of course,
as in the Bible.
"The inhuman spirit often identifies itself as
the devil," says Warren. "And then, through physical or psychological
means, proves itself to be just that. I have been burned by these
invisible forces. I have been slashed and cut; these spirits have
gouged marks and symbols on my body. I've been thrown around rooms
like a toy, my arms have been twisted up around my back until they've
ached for weeks. I've incurred sudden illnesses to knock me out
of an investigation. Physicalized monstrosities have manifested
before me threatening death, ruin of my family and afterlife torment.
But, whatever I've witnessed has been suffered far worse by the
clergy who must challenge the demonic."
These inhuman spirits like to masquerade as ghosts
of people who just want to sit and talk to the living through Ouija
boards, seances, automatic writing or whatever. They weasel their
way into a home as harmless little ghosts like Casper and once in;
they cause incredible and malicious damage to both body and mind.
What do they want with human beings? To possess and destroy them.
The book and movie "The Exorcist" was based on a case in 1949 of
a teenage boy who allowed a demon to enter his house and then his
body simply through playing with a Ouija board.
Some of the more ghastly things done by these
inhuman spirits include strangulation of the victim, burning, biting,
slashing, levitating people and smashing them against walls and
ceilings, destroying religious objects, screaming blasphemies against
God and Christ, attacking children and babies, tearing doors from
their hinges and throwing them at people, possessing members of
a family and in some cases, causing death if the possessed is not
Inhuman spirit manifestations usually start out
like ghostly hauntings. There will be the sounds of footsteps, moaning,
creaking, things will vanish then reappear in a different part of
the house and sometimes the demon will show itself to the haunted
in some not too terrifying form. But the tell-tale sign reported
in all demonic manifestations is knockings. The spirit raps, taps,
knocks or pounds three times in succession, a conventional sign
of an inhuman presence.
Once the demon has gained entrance into a home
it begins to show itself for what it really is. Witnesses have described
them as "blacker than black" like a hole in the world in the hulking
shape of a semi human. Ed Warren has thousands of hours of tape
recordings of his exorcisms. In one he confronted a demon to describe
itself. The demon had been oppressing and sometimes possessing a
woman named Mary, then in her mid fifties, since she was eight years
Warren: Describe yourself to me.
If it weren't for the fact that Mary was under
siege for over forty years by this demonic being and was constantly
subjected to physical violence and torture, the preceding conversation
would sound ridiculous. In fact, taken out of context, it sounds quite
comical! A tail, indeed! But the sheer evil of the entity and what
it represents effectively stifles any laughter from this corner.
Voice: No! (A crucifix is then set in place near the woman,
followed by agonized screaming by the possessing .spirit.)
Voice: I must in truth tell you what I look like. I am wicked
- and ugly looking. I am inhuman. I am vindictive. I have much gross
hair on my body. I am burnt. I grow hair. My nails are long, my
toes are clawed. I have a tail. I use a spear. What else do you
want to know?
Warren: What do you call yourself?
Voice: (Proclaiming.) I am Resisilobus! I am Resisilobus!
Stepping up from the slime of demonic oppression,
let's take a look at some slightly more subdued, yet equally spooky
hauntings. These deal with traditional, familiar ghosts.
There are as many stories of ghostly manifestations
around the world as there are towns and cities. One famous haunting
took place right here in our fair forested city of London.
Beatrice Simms lived on Colborn Street in London
for years until she was forced to sell and move to Toronto. She
swore she would one day return to the house she loved so much. Unfortunately
she died in 1967 before she could revisit her modest three-storey
house. Here's where the fun begins.
The old house changed hands a number of times
until Ken Davis and his family moved in. Davis and his wife had
three small children, the youngest being a six-week old baby. Sometime
in September of 1967 some odd things began to happen in their home.
Doors and stairs creaked, footsteps were heard where no one could
be seen walking and disembodied voices called out in imitation of
the two children. Obviously the baby couldn't talk yet. The manifestations
occurred several times a week for five months.
The family dog would sit and stare for hours on
end at something Davis and his wife couldn't see. On Hallowe'en
of that year the dog disappeared and was never seen again. Shortly
thereafter the family budgie and two of the children's goldfish
died for no apparent reason. Soon afterwards the regular baby sitter
refused to sit with the children alone in the house. Then she stopped
The family could hardly blame the baby sitter
for abandoning them. One day when the Davises were out shopping
the sitter heard the baby laughing in its carriage downstairs while
the sitter was making the beds upstairs. She decided to go down
to see why and how a six-week old infant could be laughing. She
was stopped dead in her tracks by the sounds of heavy footsteps
climbing the stairs. There was nobody on the stairs. The sitter
took the other two children and hid under the bed until the parents
On other occasions footsteps were heard walking
through the house, following the opening of the locked front door,
moving to the back porch where the footsteps ended and the sounds
of a rocking chair were heard. There was a rocking chair in the
back porch. But the door to the rocking chair was also locked!
Finally Mrs. Davis was told of Beatrice Simms
by a neighbor. She learned of Beatrice's desire to revisit her old
home. "After that I sort of took a friendly attitude to this whatever-it-was
in the house," said Mrs. Davis. She began to talk to the ghost whenever
its presence was felt. "You could feel someone watching. You knew
something was standing there by the railing at the top of the stairs,"
At one point Mrs. Davis blew up at the spirit
and told it, "Go on, get out of here. I don't want you around anymore!"
Apparently this worked. Whatever the presence was, it took the hint
and the manifestations stopped. The Davises were left in peace and
the present owners of the house have reported no unusual manifestations,
aside from the occasional creak and groan. But, of course that's
just the old house settling on its foundations, isn't it?
This is only one reported haunting in London.
There are many others. We're sure if you keep your ears open you'll
catch the occasional whisper in a restaurant or a bar about a house
out on Base Line that has trouble keeping its doors closed and its
lights on. Somebody might tell you that the Eldon House has a ghost
or two. Or you might come across an old house somewhere in the city
one foggy night that will send a chill down your spine. And what
about those houses ' that go up for sale every six months without
any explanation to neighbors? A Realtor's delight!
Take a drive out to the Roman Line one night when
there's a full moon and listen for the ghostly cries and gunfire
from the old Donnelley place where almost an entire family was murdered
and its home burned.
Or, if you're feeling really brave screw your
courage up one night this fall and take a bottle of wine and a collection
of the works of Edgar Allen Poe, along with a warm blanket and search
out a quaint little cemetery in or near London. Then just settle
back with your wine and book and spend a few hours listening to
the voices and convince yourself it's only the wind - nothing more.
There are such things as ghosts. If you haven't
seen one, count yourself lucky . . . and if you meet someone who
has seen one, try to convince him it was just his imagination and
see what happens. You may become one of the convinced. And if not,
his certainty will nevertheless haunt you.