Matthew 12: 43-46
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
I have a friend named Mary. We’ve known each other for quite a few years now. We met when I had just moved into my house in East Haven, CT. I joined a “paranormal investigation team”. Yeah, I know, it sounds ridiculous to me, too now. But at the time I was very excited about ghosthunting and making friends. It was a social thing to do in a new place and took my level of scare-seeking to the next level. Mary was the group’s “medium”. Since she was a small child she’d been seeing and communicating with spirits of what she was convinced were spirits of deceased humans. When she was little her best friend was the ghost of a little girl who had drown in her neighborhood years earlier.
Mary grew up speaking with these spirits as they presented themselves to her. She’d get details on how they lived, how they died, and passed messages from them along to their family members. She’d been raised Catholic and knew what the Bible said about communicating with the dead (the Bible explicitly says NOT to do it) but we convinced ourselves – with a little help from Satan – that hers must be a gift right from God, so that she could bring comfort to the living family and friends who were left behind.
She never had to seek out these spirits – go into a trance or use a Ouija board or anything. They came to her. Everywhere. At home, at work, in the car, in restaurants. We were once appearing on a CT talk show and the father of the skeptical show host came to her before the taping of the show. The skeptic was not so skeptical after hearing messages from her own departed father. Or…the spirit who came in the guise of her father, anyway.
One night, we were out on an investigation in someone’s home. Some of us were in the basement and some of us were in other parts of the house. Mary was in the basement with me, talking with the homeowner’s dead father. We got an alert on one of our radios from another group member who was in the attic using dowsing rods who was also apparently talking with the same dead father. How many places can one dead guy be at the same time?
So, Mary and I continued with our nitwittery out there for quite a long time – creeping through graveyards at night with our cameras and tape recorders, spending nights sitting in homes where people were being “haunted”, etc. Gradually we started to note that we were only getting cases where it turned out to be something extremely “negative”. Violent, even. Cases where people in their homes where pushed, scratched, bitten… We dealt with different churches, shamans, exorcists, etc.
Mary lost her long-term, good job. Due to complications with her citizenship paperwork which seemed to vanish, (she was born in Italy, to American citizens) she was unable to get another job because she couldn’t prove citizenship. Her previously solid marriage went into the toilet. She had two children to care for and no income. Her ex wouldn’t pay child support, she had to move in with her elderly aunt who she didn’t exactly get along with, and her health was declining. She had trouble with her liver and was suffering from a lot of other medical issues that came out of the blue. Her personal life was a disaster. Her bum-magnet turned on full-force and she had a series of relationships that had us all scratching our heads.
Mary had always kept a pretty tidy house. But those days were gone, too. The state of the house she was living in declined as rapidly as her health. She talked about dark shadows and spirits following her when she went outside, and spirits inside the house as well. To this day I’m not sure how many of those spirits were there before she moved in and how many more she brought with her. I had one harrowing little experience late one night in the home as well, so I know they weren’t figments of her imagination by any stretch, but I am convinced that she’d been picking up demons like spiritual dust bunnies her whole life.
Mary’s possession wasn’t an overnight thing. There was no one specific trigger event. You and I measure time in years, with an eye on the finite nature of our mortal lives. Thirty or forty years might seem like a very, very long time to us, but to a demon? To a demonic entity it’s the blink of an eye. They have nowhere else they need to be. They can harass a person for decades and it’s not really a big deal to them. Mary was slowly but surely being worn down and ground down to nothing.
The changes in her were slow ones. And honestly we chalked some of them up to bad luck and stress. She would drop in and out of my life – she’d just suddenly stop talking to me for no apparent reason for months at a time. When she lost her job she stopped talking to me, wouldn’t return my calls, wouldn’t return my texts. She had just gotten a new boyfriend and they quickly got engaged and I found out about that on Facebook. She lashed out at one point and said she didn’t need me anymore because she had God and was happy. I didn’t know what she was talking about. But a few months later it was like none of it ever happened. I got married that year. She didn’t attend the wedding, although she’d been invited. She said something about her and her boyfriend having the kids that weekend, or something. I adored her kids, and even liked her boyfriend’s girls. They would have been welcome to come, too – it’s not like it was some huge, formal event. We got married in our back yard and the “reception” was a cookout.
I remember one day after church services my husband and I went grocery shopping. I knew that food was probably getting pretty scarce at Mary’s house, so we grabbed a few extra bags of food and drove to her house. Her boyfriend met us out in the driveway. He went inside to get Mary and appeared a few minutes later, alone. He said she wouldn’t come downstairs. We chatted with him for a few minutes, and shared our concerns with him. I glanced over at the house and there she was…standing in the doorway…glaring at me. Glaring. I could practically feel the daggers coming out of her eyes.
My husband, Marty and I had started going to church pretty regularly. We’d been reading the Bible and studying together. We found a church we both liked a lot and we were really trying to change our lives. We asked Mary to come with us. A few times she accepted the invitation and came. More often than not she canceled on us because of conflicts with custody or illness. When we were together she was dark and morose, her conversations scattered and focus non-existent. She did and said some of the most out of character things. Still, even with my eyes opened more than most to things like possession I didn’t even seriously consider that that was what was going on with my friend until it was far too late. Looking back with 20/20 hindsight, sure! But at the time…not so much. And this is part of Satan’s game; he deceives and confuses. He causes doubts to arise and paints other faces on his treachery.
In 2009 Marty and I were introduced to a Judeo-Christian minister who had performed many exorcisms. We, in turn introduced him to Mary along the way. It was this minister who was called in to perform the second exorcism. The first exorcism was performed (unknown to me for quite a while after the fact) by a person of zero faith who had run one of the paranormal groups we’d been members of over the years. A young man with no faith at all was called in to perform an exorcism – and he used the Catholic exorcism ritual. I don’t even know where to start on what’s wrong with that whole scenario – it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Apparently he also videotaped it for posterity, so I’m sure he was in full-blown actor-mode at the time. I can’t even properly express how dangerous what he did was.
Mary recently finished a book of her own, chronicling her life and ordeals. It’s called The Place of Shadows and I highly recommend it – and not just because I’m in it.
to be continued…