Chances are that at one time or another as a child you were the victim of a bully. The daily ritual of going to school brought dread, knowing that someone was waiting to make your day just a little worse. You feared the day knowing that when you least expected it your books would be knocked from your hands or a shiny welt would be left as a reminder of the morning’s punch to your arm. Now imagine that your bully wasn’t a child from down the block but a violent, invisible force. It wasn’t content just to make your school day miserable, but included the days and nights of you and your loved ones as well. That bully from beyond, the poltergeist could be exponentially more terrifying than any schoolyard bully.
The poltergeist has always been among us causing misunderstood chaos for it’s victims. The first known documented case of a poltergeist comes to us from Bingen, Germany during the 5th century CE. It was reported that an unseen “devil” descended upon the home of a farmer and his family. Day and night, it would violently pound on walls, throw belongings and start fires. The farmer contacted the local church, but when nothing could be done the family fled and the house was burned. The rest is lost to history.
Looking back at this ancient case, this poltergeist is considered by many to be one of the nastiest on record. But what exactly is a poltergeist? When it comes to this mysterious force, like most paranormal activity, we really don’t know. However there are three prevailing theories regarding the poltergiests origin. But as with any theory pertaining to anomalous phenomena, all three may be right and all three may be entirely incorrect.
The most popular and widely accepted theory concerning poltergeists is that they can be traced to a person displaying latent psychic ability gone horribly wrong or as parapsychologists like to call it, Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis. The simplest way to explain RSPK is to imagine filling a balloon with water to the point where its structural integrity is threatened. Keep filling it and eventually the balloon pops, spilling it’s contents and causing a watery mess.
It is commonly believed that teen or preteen children, experiencing the emotional and physical travails of adolescence and puberty are the culprits behind RSPK and the violence of a poltergeist. In the annals of Psychical Research there are countless recorded cases to support this theory but to assign poltergiest activity to only this group may be inaccurate. There have been a number of reported cases where the producer of RSPK is anything but a young teen.
The most famous of the post adolescent RSPK cases is that of 19 year old Annemarie Schaberl, an employee of a law firm in Rosenheim, Germany and it is this case that caused many researchers to rethink the adolescent model. In this case, whenever Ms. Schabrel was at her workplace light fixtures would swing, typewriters would take on a life of their own and countless telephone calls were made to a time and date service. Because this strange activity seemed to happen only around this young woman her co-workers thought she was behind the havoc. They just didn’t know how she was doing it but that would soon be explained in an unusual and controversial way.
Hans Bender, a noted German parapsychologist, was the one to make the psychic connection between the woman and the unexplained activity. Upon investigation, Bender discovered that Schabrel’s life was in complete dismay. She disliked her job and felt stuck in her career. Her boyfriend was abusive and she was estranged from her family. Taking all this into consideration, Dr. Bender, came to the conclusion that the office worker was an unwitting focus of psycho-kinetic energy. His theory was reinforced when the girl terminated her job and all the psychic unrest abruptly stopped.
A second popular and viable theory concerning poltergeists is that the activity is caused by vengeful spirits. Although apparitions are rarely seen during an outbreak of RSPK, it is not unheard of and one famous case that began with violent psychic energy and ended with the witnessing of a menacing apparition is often cited.
In 1967, a family in Pontefract, UK, found themselves experiencing a horrific psychic disturbance in their home. It started off innocently enough with a strange white substance falling from the ceiling. The activity then progressed to loud knocks on the walls and pools of water formed on the floor. To most researchers this would seem like a typical RSPK event until the apparition of a cloaked monk unexpectedly appeared.
The Black Monk Of Pontefract, as it has come to be known, was believed to be the apparition of a Cluniac monk from a nearby monastery that lay in ruins. Parapsychologists have speculated that the Monk was a psychological construct created by the RSPK focus. But there may be another not so conventional explanation. It might be possible that psychic energy becomes so powerful that it can fuel existing paranormal activity or draw transient spirits in. If this is the case, the black monk, assuming it was real, could have been attracted to the existing psychic energy in the house. This case has sparked debate for 50 years and convinced some researchers that poltergeist activity is caused by spirits rather than mere psychic energy.
The third and final theory we will look at is one that finds it’s origins in the dark and diabolical world of demons. In a number of poltergeist cases the energy takes it’s wrath out on religious belongings. Bibles are found torn apart, crosses are ripped from walls and statues of Saints are shattered. In “Demonology” these are considered to be the signs of an inhuman infestation or attack. Psychical researchers would argue this theory is brought on by fear and filtered through the belief system of the experiencer . This argument may have some merit but in a field filled with the unknown it is important to keep an open mind to this and any plausible theory.
A poltergeist outbreak can be one of the most frightening types of paranormal experiences for those involved. Creating more than just creepy feelings and shadows in the dark, poltergeists can be disruptive, violent and dangerous. They cause fear in experiencers and debate among researchers. Many researchers believe that if the activity is psychic in nature the energy could dissipate in between two hours and two years, depending upon the amount of psychic turmoil in the focus. However, if the activity is caused by spirit or inhuman manifestation, it could last for years and even decades.
The Poltergeist is likely the least understood of all psychic phenomena. It has horrified and been glorified in both research and the media. It is hard to document, harder to prove and its victims are often mocked, making the experience even more emotionally painful. It’s origins can be debated but the experiencer has to asnwer one question; what do you do if you are the cause?
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