People, Places and Things
Most people know something about “haunted” houses. There are many books on the subject and there have been quite a few movies as well, some of them well done. However, what many people do not realize is that hauntings are not limited to houses alone, in many instances, people and things can be haunted too, as this case will illustrate. For Mrs. Pam Sax, her haunting began innocently enough. The 70-year-old widow decided that she wanted to spruce up her apartment a bit so she set out to buy some new curtains for the living room. She also decided to attend a furniture auction in a nearby town in North Carolina. She had nothing particular in mind; she just wanted to see what was available. She loved antique furniture and she thought that maybe she would find a small table or something like that. Besides, there was not much else to do on a cold January day.
While at the auction, she saw a bedroom set that she fell in love with immediately. When she saw the price it was going for, she decided that she must buy it. It was a lovely, high quality set in perfect condition and she knew it would look wonderful in her home. For reasons she did not understand, she felt that she had to have it. She paid for the set and could not wait to have it delivered. On the day the furniture was delivered, Mrs. Sax was beside herself with joy. For some reason, she really loved the set from the minute she had laid her eyes on it. She explained to her daughter that she did not know why she had been so drawn to it. “It is just one of those crazy things, I guess,” she told Jane.
The day dragged on forever but finally, the set arrived. As soon as the deliverymen left, she put the new sheets she had just bought onto the bed. Although it did not need it, she also polished the entire set. She could not wait until she could sleep in it. Around ten that night, she finally had the opportunity to lie on the bed. She immediately loved the way it felt. She took a book into bed with her but she knew it would not take long before she fell asleep. In fact, she had barely read a page before she started to doze off. Just as she hit twilight sleep, that short period where you are not asleep yet but you are also not fully awake, something odd happened: It felt to her that someone had just touched her feet. She sat up and turned on the lamp next to the bed. She looked at the bottom of the bed but there was nothing amiss. “You old fool,” she chided herself, “you are just imagining things.” With that she turned off the light and was asleep almost immediately.
The next thing she knew, she was wide-awake again. Something had touched her feet again and this time she was sure of it. Well, maybe not exactly sure, she told herself. Just the same, she decided to get out of bed and head to the kitchen to get a snack. Once that was done, she went back to bed. However, for some reason, she could not fall back to sleep. The room seemed cold to her, even though she knew the heat was working. She got out of bed and retrieved a comforter from the linen closet. Once she was back in bed, she pulled the blankets up and leaned over to turn off the lamp. Darkness filled the room and she began to doze once again. However, just as sleep was about to claim her, her blankets were ripped from the bed. She reached for her lamp with hands that were shaking. Had someone broken into the apartment? When the room became bathed in light, Mrs. Sax was relieved to see that there was no one in the room with her. She checked the other rooms as well. Having been so frightened, she chose to stay awake.
Mrs. Sax talked to her daughter that day and told her about her weird night. Jane told her mother that she had probably just been overtired. Mrs. Sax had to agree with her daughter. After all, she reasoned, she was 70! Later that afternoon, Mrs. Sax found herself growing tired. She began to doze off on the couch but she decided to go into her bedroom for a nap. She fell asleep almost immediately but her nap would not last long. Suddenly, she was jolted awake by the feeling of someone grabbing her leg. The room was dim but not dark. There was no one in the room but she could feel the touch. This time, it did not go away when she woke up. Mrs. Sax sat in her bed, fear welling up in her. Whatever was in the room with her was rubbing her feet. She recoiled and pulled her legs up. Then she watched as her blanket was tugged from under her. She bolted from her bed and raced out of the room.
She immediately called her daughter but Jane was not home. She was too terrified to stay in the apartment alone so she went to visit her friend down the road. After a short time with her friend, Mrs. Sax began to relax a bit. Her friend Toni had a suggestion. She would go over and sit on the bed herself. In her mind, she knew that there was nothing wrong with the apartment or the bed. She was sure that her friend was just over tired. However, if it would make her feel better, she would try it. Once at Mrs. Sax house, she went into the bedroom and sat on the bed. When nothing happened, she stood up. “You see,” she began to tell her friend, “there is nothing…” but before she could finish her sentence, she watched as the blanket was pulled slowly from the bed. “Oh my God, what in the name of God is going on here?” There were no answers to that question. Thus began a haunting.
Over the ensuing months, many people would witness the blanket being tugged or they would feel their feet touched. Many of her friends were skeptical, to say the least but they all left the home believers. By that time, Mrs. Sax no longer slept in her bed. Instead, she slept on the couch in the living room. She knew that she needed help and her friends had suggested things like seeing a psychic or someone of that nature. Fortunately, she chose not to go that route. Many people who are being haunted do go that route, almost always with disastrous results. If those who do are lucky, they just lose some money. The unlucky ones turn minor hauntings into full blown ones. However, she did not know where to turn. The only thing she knew for sure was that there was some kind of ghost or something living in her home. By that time, Mrs. Sax was trying to find a way to move out of the house. Unfortunately, she was not in a position where she could afford to move. Besides that, she feared that her ghost would follow her. She had no idea how the ghost got in but she assumed it could follow her. Around that time, Jane began searching the Internet. She wrote to several individuals about her mother’s problem and she received many tips. However, some of the suggestions were beyond ridiculous. Finally, she reached us.
One of the most important roles we assume is to help teach the victim of a haunting ways of making it easier for them to cope with the situation. In the early stages of an investigation, that is sometimes the only thing we can do. There are defenses that can be employed and there are coping skills that can be taught. In this case, as in most, that was my first response. The next step is to try to figure out what is there and why it is there. Once we know those things, we can formulate a strategy to defend against it, assuming that it is evil. (Most “ghostly” encounters are with benign spirits who are being misunderstood. Contrary to popular belief, there are not nine million demons running around haunting everyone in sight.) By the time Mrs. Sax contacted us, she wondered whether the bed itself was the problem. After several discussions, I determined that the bed was indeed part of the problem, although I believed it was probably just the entry point of the spirit. We were not yet convinced that the bed itself was “haunted.” Let me explain that. There are cases where the spirit of a person will attach itself to an item. Wherever the item goes, so too does the spirit. If you get rid of the item, you get rid of the spirit. Unfortunately, most cases are not that simple and easy to correct. There are times where a spirit will attach itself to an item and ride with it until it finds a place where it wants to stay. In that scenario, getting rid of the item will have no effect at all. That was a concern here. The big question now was which scenario were we dealing with.
The situation then turned dicey. Mrs. Sax decided to visit some relatives out of state. She correctly felt that she needed the rest and she needed to be away from the apartment. However, while on the trip down, she felt something grab her leg, just like it did in the bedroom. Now we had ourselves a spirit who would travel. Although it is well within the abilities of a human spirit to travel, this was the first bit of evidence to suggest that this entity might just be a bigger problem than originally thought. As if on cue, the activity escalated. One day, a friend had come over. Mrs. Sax asked her if she would change the bulb in the fixture over the bed. The friend told her that she would be glad to. However, as she stood on the bed to reach the socket, something grabber her ankle hard enough that she almost fell. In addition to that, Mrs. Sax reported that the mattress appeared to be punched from under the bed when she tried to change the bulb. The time had come to test this spirit. Once she was home, Mrs. Sax was instructed to keep holy water by her bed. That is always a good policy whether you are being haunted or not. Whenever she felt movement, she was to sprinkle the holy water and command the spirit to leave in the name of Jesus Christ. That night, she put the theory to the test. The results were odd; there had been absolutely no change in the activity. That can point to two things. The first is that the spirit was powerful enough that it could hide and ignore the holy water. That would be unusual to say the least. Even the most powerful of demons react in some way to holy water. The other reason and the more likely of the two was that the spirit was human and was not evil.
Many people will tell you that all spirits must leave when commanded. It is not that simple. In my years of research, holy water, prayers and commands are extremely effective in dealing with malevolent entities. However, if a spirit is not evil, why would a prayer make it leave? This led me to believe that we had a human spirit to deal with. Again, that was based on the fact that the spirit did not respond to the holy water at all. Had it been a demonic spirit, there would have been either the stopping of the activity or the worsening of it. It would not stay the same. Demonic spirits will retaliate when attacked. Of course, knowing it was a human spirit was one thing; it still had to be dealt with because of the effect it was having on Mrs. Sax. Handling human spirits can be tricky, since most of the time, they are staying around for a reason. Thus, the key is to find out what that reason is. However, that can be very difficult to do. Communication between the spirit world and the physical is difficult at best. It may be a case where the spirit does not want to leave for any number of reasons. One common reason why some spirits remain earthbound is because they fear crossing over, expecting to pay for their sins. In other cases, the spirit may stay around because it misses someone or something in the physical world. Many people believe that we automatically cross over at death. However, it appears that God allows us our free will after death too. That should not surprise anyone. If He allows us to use our free will in life, why would He change that in death?
While the unusual activity continued, Mrs. Sax was trying to do some research, trying to find out who had previously owned the bed. She would soon discover that the former owner of the bed had been a woman who suffered from diabetes, just as she herself did. When the woman passed on, her furniture was put up for auction. Now we began to wonder if that was the connection. It made perfect sense, if that was the case. A spirit looking for a home will try to find someone it can relate to, someone with whom it shares something in common. As time went by, the activity picked up in intensity. Now added to the list of strange things were knocking noises. They were not the loud bangs that are often heard during demonic infestations of poltergeist explosions; these were simply knocks. One of Mrs. Sax friends knew a Pentecostal minister. She suggested that Mrs. Sax call him and see if he could help her. Mrs. Sax agreed to call him. After discussing the situation with him, he agreed to visit her at the house. While there, he performed a Deliverance ritual, going after what he termed as a “spirit of fear.”
In speaking to me after the ritual, he said that he felt and observed nothing out of the ordinary. He also did not believe that there was a demonic force present. When there was no evidence of retaliation after the ritual, it was obvious that we were dealing with a human spirit as we suspected. Still, we had taken a shot. The case continued to roll along with no further increases in the level or intensity of activity. It certainly appeared that the spirit had no intention of hurting Mrs. Sax but it also had no intentions of leaving either. Again, we found ourselves asking the simple question: Was this spirit attached to the furniture or was that its entry point and nothing more? The only way to determine that would be to get rid of the furniture. Of course, that was an expensive proposition, too especially if it did not work. However, the question I asked was a simple one. Can you live with the activity the way it is? Mrs. Sax thought about that and finally decided that the furniture would have to go. It had indeed become too much to live with. Around the time she listed the items for sale, the feelings of being touched began taking place in rooms other than the bedroom. It was beginning to appear that the spirit did not want the furniture to go.
Now, what did that mean? We had several discussions over the significance of the change in activity. Solving a human spirit “haunting” can be much like a chess match. We often find ourselves matching wits with the spirit in question. It would do something and we would look to see what we thought it would do next. We would then apply a strategy and see what the reaction would be. Solving the puzzle could be the key to ending the situation in a positive way, one that was good for Mrs. Sax and good for the spirit. We looked at the change in the location of the activity and the fact that it coincided with the ad to sell the furniture. That told me that the spirit feared that it would leave with the bed. If that were in fact the case, the problem would end once the furniture left.
Unfortunately, that became a difficult proposition. Although Mrs. Sax was selling the set for far less than the market value, there appeared to be no takers. People would come over to look at it and rave about how lovely the set was. Then Mrs. Sax would tell them what she wanted for the set and they were all thrilled. One woman told her that she was planning to spend much more on a set and she was sure she would buy it once she talked to her husband. Mrs. Sax kept he hopes up. However, invariably, they would call back at a later date and announce that they did not want the set. She began to wonder whether the spirit was finding some way of dissuading potential buyers. Were that the case, the haunting took on a new dimension. If the spirit was capable of that, it was stronger than we thought it was. That did not make it inhuman, it just meant that it was stronger than suspected. However, there was always the other side of the coin. If the spirit were that strong, it would not be afraid of moving. It would let the bed go and it would stay around.
Finally, a buyer stepped forward. When he went to see the set, he made an offer for more than she had planned on selling it for. She thanked God but she felt it necessary to inform the buyer that she thought that the furniture was haunted. He laughed and told her that there was no such thing as a haunted bed. Gladly, he took the set off her hands. That night, Mrs. Sax slept on the couch in her living room. She would go look for bedroom furniture the following day. For the first time in almost a year, she slept peacefully. The first few days were important but it was possible that there would still be some activity. Residual energy can stay around for several days after a spirit has departed. For that reason, before a haunting can be pronounced over, it has to stand the test of time. For Mrs. Sax, things remained quiet for a short time. However, every once in a while, she would sense the presence of the spirit. She pointed out that it was much weaker than it had been before but she occasionally felt it. This is not uncommon. Sometimes a spirit that is attached to something will attempt to go back where it was most comfortable. However, it may not have the strength to do so easily or often. However, it can make an occasional appearance. For the most part, the haunting ended with the removal of the furniture. For the record, the new owner of the bed reported no problems. So, what happened in this case?
Hauntings are not an exact science. After dissecting enough of them, we learn that many share some common traits. In others, we are often left to wonder what happened and why. I have seen hauntings, bad ones at that, end just as quickly and oddly as they began. This is often true with poltergeist explosions. There have been times when I “solved” a case without having done anything more than shake my head in wonder. Certainly, nothing I did played a roll. My best bet is that the spirit in question had chosen to stay with the bed. Once the spirit moved with the furniture into Mrs. Sax apartment, the spirit found someone it could relate to. Here was a woman close in age who also suffered from the same disease that it had suffered from. However, the spirit found that it could not effectively communicate with Mrs. Sax. Her attempts resulted in causing fear for Mrs. Sax. Once a person begins to fear a spirit, it becomes that much harder for the victim to believe that the spirit means no harm to them. It then becomes even more difficult for the spirit to communicate anything without adding to the fear already present. That seems to have been the case here.
Will the spirit still visit Mrs. Sax occasionally in the future? It is possible although it is likely to do so less and less. Hopefully, the spirit will move forward and cross over. That happens often in cases involving human spirits. They seem to learn something from their “hauntings.” Will that bedroom set haunt any future owners? There is probably little chance of that happening. In most cases of this type, the spirit will only stay around with a person they feel some comfort with, someone with whom they have something in common. Therefore, it is most likely that the bedroom furniture is no longer “haunted.”
© 1999 T. Cooney