Beyond the edge of our physical world is a metaphysical realm in which evil, demonic spirits wallow and run wild. This may not be scientifically proven, but we all accept it one way or the other. It’s like an itch at the back of our heads that just won’t let up. That same itch tells us that these spirits will occasionally cross the threshold of the metaphysical realm and find their way into our world, for the sole purpose of taking over our minds and controlling us. And, as with all evil, it’s not for a noble cause.
We continue to hear stories, watch films, and read books about these paranormal occurrences. Despite this, we dismiss it as over-dramatized, Hollywood-induced nonsense. But we just can’t forget that damn itch. Below is a list of the most famous, gripping, and downright terrifying cases of real demonic possessions throughout history.
Anna Ecklund was born in the state of Wisconsin, in 1882. Records do not show what happened to her mother, but it is safe to assume that she died or otherwise disappeared when Anna was very young, leaving her father, Jacob, as the primary caregiver.
Anna seemed to be, by all accounts, a normal girl. She was religious; a devout Christian. This all changed on her 14th birthday. Suddenly, Anna began to have severe issues with going to church and receiving communion. She would have harmful and compulsive thoughts, such as wanting to smash Christian artifacts and harm priests. She was also reported to have experienced signs of depression, as well as hypersexual feelings. Over the next few years, Anna visited a number of doctors, but they made nothing of her behavior, insisting she was fine. At last, the local church got involved, and sent Father Theophilus Riesinger – an authority figure on exorcisms – to Anna’s aid. In 1912, the first exorcism of a 30-year-old Anna Ecklund was performed, and Father Riesinger managed to cast away the evil spirits that had taken hold of her body, albeit temporarily.
Two decades later, Anna’s demons returned. At the age of 46, Anna turned to Father Riesinger once more to help rid her of this desperate, evil presence. The second exorcism was a well-documented and terrifying affair. During the procedure, Anna remained repulsed by holy water and would refuse to eat “blessed” food, although unaware that it was blessed. She would curl up in a corner and emit inhuman noises, like a cat’s hissing, and climb walls until she was forcefully restrained to a bed. Being restrained seemed to be the catalyst for the evil spirits to come out in full force. Her unconscious body began to forcefully rise to the ceiling, and the only thing stopping it were the restraints.
Despite her vegetative state, loud voices, wails and groans would escape her body. As if that weren’t enough, her body began to change in appearance. Her eyes bulged violently from her face, her head and lips swelled and her abdomen became inflated. Anna also displayed other recognizable signs of demonic possession, such as the ability to understand and utter foreign languages she had no way of learning, or displaying extraordinary strength. The second exorcism of Anna Ecklund was performed over the course of 23 days, in 3 different sessions. The story of Anna Ecklund was recorded in a pamphlet titled, Begone Satan!
George Lukins was a British tailor who lived in a small town called Yatton, on the outskirts of Bristol, back in the 18th century. He was described as a man of great character and spirit. Which is ironic, because at the age of 44, he was possessed by evil, demonic spirits. As a young man, George would suffer from fits of an alarming nature, always claiming he was fine afterwards. All that changed one night.
After going through another of his fits, he would snarl aggressively and bark like a dog, as well as argue with himself loudly. He was not the same charismatic figure that the Yatton locals had grown accustomed to. He would react violently to any religious recitals. Lukins would also sing hymns backwards and began yelling in languages he couldn’t have possibly known. His condition only worsened with time, and it was soon clear that Lukins was in desperate need of medical attention. The doctors kept a close eye on George, but after a series of mishaps and freak accidents, declared him incurable.
George himself was convinced he was possessed by demons. More specifically, seven demons. Locals were highly concerned about Lukins’ condition, for he was a well-liked figure. A vicar named Joseph Easterbrook, the Reverend of one of the local churches, heard stories and rumors of Lukins’ mishaps, and was determined to help him exorcise the demons. He gathered an entourage of religious clergymen and arranged the exorcism. Easterbrook’s account of the exorcism makes for a vivid reading.
The exorcism began with Lukins singing in an uncharacteristically high voice – one that was most definitely not his own. His voice began alternating between low, gruff, masculine voices and high-pitched, feminine ones, which were incidentally spewing malicious, blasphemous rants and physically threatening the religious men present. Lukins would bark, scream, groan, sing and babble utter nonsense throughout the exorcism, even blurting a Satanic hymn at one point. Easterbrook also mentioned that Lukins would go berserk, requiring at least two men to physically restrain him. Eventually Easterbrook and his men were successful; Lukins woke up, praised Jesus and said that the evil spirits were gone. George Lukins would go on to live a relatively quiet, humble life until his death in 1805.
The exorcism of Roland Doe remains one of history’s most notorious stories of demonic possession. It is also the true story behind the novel and Hollywood blockbuster The Exorcist. It retells the demon-riddled life of a 14-year-old boy, and the paranormal events surrounding it. Roland Doe (a pseudonym given to the boy by the church to protect his identity) was born in the mid 1930s in Maryland, and was an only child.
He was close with his aunt as a child, who introduced him to Ouija boards when he expressed interest in them. In fact, many people speculate that, following his aunt’s death, Roland attempted to contact her through the Ouija board; an incident that opened the door for demons to possess his soul. Soon after, Roland’s house became plagued by weird noises and even weirder supernatural events. Sounds of dripping water that could not be placed were the first indication that something was wrong.
This was tame, however, compared to what followed. Scratching noises, loud and unexplained footsteps heard all around the house, and worst of all, religious hangings and artifacts would fly off and smash against the walls. Words would appear be carved into his flesh, and Roland would make inhuman noises and levitate in the air. Stories quickly got circulated around of the strange events in the Doe household, and this concerned the local church. Debates on the possibility of Roland being possessed quickly followed, and it was determined that he would require an exorcism.
Two Catholic priests were brought in for what would be a lengthy and arduous affair. His exorcism was performed over an entire month in several sessions. He would reportedly react in an aggressive and unruly manner towards the priests performing the exorcism, and often spoke Latin in what was described as a ‘demonic’ voice. Finally, Roland Doe was free of his demons, thanks to the painstaking efforts of the two priests, one of whom even remarked that Roland Doe later grew up to be a ‘fine, young man’.
Evil never sleeps
There are countless examples of people being possessed by evil, demonic spirits. The internet is overflowing with stories of ghost hauntings, demons wreaking havoc on people’s lives, and evil spirits wandering maliciously, disrupting the lives of poor, innocent souls. Whether there is any real merit to these accounts or not, the truth of the matter is that they dig into one of the deepest horrors known to man; fear of the unknown. As long as stories of these possessions continue to pop-up, the fear of demons will remain. And that little ‘itch’ we were talking about? Yeah, that is never going to go away.