Sunday, 30 November 2014

Adieu to Highgate

Seán Manchester's final comment on the Highgate case:

It was necessary to tell the full story, even though this was not an easy decision, due to the overwhelming public interest in the case, but I really now feel the subject has been exhausted and all there is to say about it has been said. It has also exhausted me after decades of television and radio interviews, film documentaries and related projects concentrating on this one topic. There will always be people seeking to cash in and exploit my work for their own ends. Many, of course, will be too young to remember the happenings at Highgate. That notwithstanding, my book The Highgate Vampire is optioned for cinematic treatment, but that is not something I wish to elaborate upon here.

I am willing to quietly and privately set the record straight where need be, but I gave my final interview about this case to the broadcast media some years ago and have no intention of returning to the topic despite persistent requests from television and radio programmes for me to do so almost every week. I still make contributions on unrelated matters, but this subject of intense public fascination — in some cases obsession — concerning events at Highgate Cemetery more than forty-four years ago is not something I have an appetite to return to any longer. Having said that, my memoir in its unexpurgated form obviously mentions the case in a proper and fitting context to my life. However, I have no plans to have my memoir published — now or ever.

Unimaginable horrors were experienced by folk at the time of the contagion and these I feel are best not evoked. They should be left undisturbed. The reality that I and others, most now sadly deceased, experienced all those many years ago no longer exists, and next to the hunger to experience the supernatural, albeit in this case at its most maleficent and deadly, there is perhaps no stronger hunger than to forget.

Should an individual have a particular query about those mysterious happenings, I will give that person an answer (but not an interview); otherwise I have too much in the present with which to be concerned without reliving nightmares from the past.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Peter Underwood R.I.P.

Peter Underwood R.I.P. 

(16 May 1923 – 26 November 2014)

The Last Journey ...

Seán Manchester's (edited) obituary for Peter Underwood:

Peter Underwood was born in Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire, lived for much of his life in a small Hampshire village, and finally resided in Surrey. President of The Ghost Club since 1960, and a long-standing member of the Society of Psychical Research, Peter first entered the Vampire Research Society in 1973, having established a lively correspondence with myself wherein his support was unequivocal.

His colleague, Tom Perrott, had already invited me to address members of The Ghost Club in London. On 16 March 1973, Peter added: “We have a number of members who are deeply interested in the subject of vampires and I feel sure you would find our members kindly, sympathetic and friendly. I knew Montague Summers and members of The Ghost Club include Eric Maple and Robert Aickman who has written some excellent vampire stories. I hope that we may meet one day.”  In 1974, Peter took part in Daniel Farson’s television documentary on the subject of vampires and vampirism.

Peter kindly made me a Life-Member of The Ghost Club, whilst he, along with life-membership, was to become a Fellow Associate of the Vampire Research Society. Peter was already a member of the British Occult Society, an organisation that investigated the paranormal and occult phenomena, which was formally dissolved on 8 August 1988. The following year witnessed my collaboration with Peter on an anthology that would include the first published account of events in the early days of the Highgate Vampire case. On 14 October 1974, Peter wrote: “I am pleased to be able to advise you that I have now passed the proofs and I am very pleased with the way the book has turned out. It will be entitled The Vampire’s Bedside Companion and is due for publication early in 1975 [by Leslie Frewin Books].”

On 25 July 1975, Peter wrote: “As you know, I possess a medallion, given to me by Montague Summers, that is reputed to have power over vampires. … I am just wondering whether you happen to know of a current vampire infestation where [the medallion] might be tried [and tested]?”

The Highgate Vampire had been exorcised a year and a half earlier, but there were other vampires awaiting discovery. Thus began a comradeship in the field of vampirology that would endure to the sad news this month of my dear friend's death. On 15 December 1985, I was invited to give a piano recital of my own compositions on the occasion of Peter’s quarter of a century service as president of the The Ghost Club, at Berkeley Square, London. Other well-wishers included Dennis Wheatley, Vincent Price, Patrick Moore, Michael Bentine, Sir Alec Guiness and Dame Barbara Cartland — all of whom have now sadly passed on.

In 1990, Peter Underwood retold the events of the Highgate Vampire case (up to the first discovery of the undead tomb in Highgate Cemetery) in his book Exorcism! He commented in chapter six: “The Hon Ralph Shirley told me in the 1940s that he had studied the subject in some depth, sifted through the evidence and concluded that vampirism was by no means as dead as many people supposed; more likely, he thought, the facts were concealed. … My old friend Montague Summers has, to his own satisfaction, at least, traced back ‘the dark tradition of the vampire’ until it is ‘lost amid the ages of a dateless antiquity’.”

In his earlier book, containing the chapter with photographic evidence from the archive of the Vampire Research Society, written and contributed with Peter's encouragement by myself, he wrote: “Alleged sightings of a vampire-like creature — a grey spectre — lurking among the graves and tombstones have resulted in many vampire hunts. … In 1968, I heard first-hand evidence of such a sighting and my informant maintained that he and his companion had secreted themselves in one of the vaults and watched a dark figure flit among the catacombs and disappear into a huge vault from which the vampire … did not reappear. Subsequent search revealed no trace inside the vault but I was told that a trail of drops of blood stopped at an area of massive coffins which could have hidden a dozen vampires.”

And so our history in this arcane field progressed. We corresponded regularly and I was invited on various occasions to become involved in various projects. What struck me always was Peter's dedication to his work and loyalty to me. He wrote a Foreword to my novel Carmel at the turn of the century which included these words: "Memories crowded in: [the author's] commanding lectures and television appearances; his ready and valuable co-operation in literary labours of love; his admiration of mutual friends such as Montague Summers, Dennis Wheatley and Devendra P Varma; his dealing with not always complimentary publicity; his piano playing and musical compositions; his abiding interest in unearthly subjects and his enduring publications  the list goes on and on."

Such was the generosity of spirit incumbent in Peter Underwood who ended his introduction to this author with the following:

"And as the shadows lengthen ... I often think, in the words he sometimes used to close his letters: 'Until we meet again ...' "

Peter's first and last acts in our long friendship was to offer me his unconditional support. And he knew I always offered mine. There were times after the death in 2003 of his wife, Joyce (whom I had met in the previous century and he had married on the day I was born), when Peter reached out to me in the full knowledge I would console, counsel and completely support him where others might have been less willing because of what transpired in the aftermath regarding his personal life. Such friendship, trust and loyalty between two people is rare in today's modern world, and we each recognised, understood and valued what comprised an archetypal English gentleman. Peter, indeed, was quintessentially an English gentleman. That is how I shall always remember him. Well-attired, upright, kind, considerate, polite and punctilious. A lovely, lovely man.

I have lost one of my closest colleagues and beloved friends. My condolences are extended to Peter's family, friends and colleagues. When he parted company with The Ghost Club in 1993 and formed the Ghost Club Society, one of the first things he did was to make me an honorary life-member.

Thank you for everything, Peter. I shall for ever hold you in my thoughts and prayers.

Until we meet again ...  

Friday, 28 November 2014

More on Monty

Seán Manchester (from his writings) says more about Monty:

The Right Reverend Alphonsus Joseph-Mary Augustus Montague Summers (1880-1948) was a fascinating character without whom demonological research would be very much the poorer. Throughout his life he was described by acquaintances as kind, courteous, generous and outrageously witty; but those who knew him well sensed an underlying discomfort and mystery. In appearance he was plump, round cheeked and generally smiling. His dress resembled that of an eighteenth century cleric, with a few added flourishes such as a silver-topped cane depicting Leda being ravished by Zeus in the form of a swan. He wore sweeping black capes crowned by a curious hairstyle of his own devising which led many to assume he wore a wig. His voice was high pitched, comical and often in complete contrast to the macabre tales he was in the habit of recounting. Throughout his life he astonished people with his knowledge of esoteric and unsettling occult lore. Many people later described him as the most extraordinary person they had ever known. I, like wise, began in the Church of England and converted to Roman Catholicism before entering holy orders in an autocephalous Catholic Church ~ as, of course, did Summers. We were both ordained within the context of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and, as Catholic Bishops, led self-governing and independent jurisdictions which held authority in Great Britain. Summers entered the Old Catholic priesthood in 1913 and, towards the end of his life, was elevated to the episcopate by Hugh George de Willmott Newman, Archbishop of Glastonbury ~ an office and currently held by myself. Summers was episcopally consecrated for the Order of Corporate Reunion. 

Despite his cherubic demeanour and affability some people found Montague Summers sinister, a view he delighted in encouraging. Although in everyday life he was kind and considerate, when engaged in academic debate Summers was furiously intolerant. There were also rumours that in his youth Summers had dabbled in the occult. If true, the only effect seems to have been to turn him completely against such meddling. Summers may have been fascinated, even obsessed by witches, vampires and the like but the tone of his writings is consistently hostile towards them.  

Montague Summers grew up in a wealthy family living in Clifton, near Bristol. Religion always played a large part in his life. He was raised as an evangelical Anglican, but his love of ceremonial and sacraments drew him to Anglo-Catholicism. After graduating in Theology at Oxford he took the first steps towards holy orders at Lichfield Theological College and entered his apprenticeship as a curate in the diocese of Bitton near Bristol. A year or so later he converted to Roman Catholicism. He had been made a deacon within the Church of England in 1908, and was diaconated again within the Roman Catholic Church, but it was not until he embraced the Old Catholic Church that he was ordained into the priesthood. He celebrated Mass publicly when travelling abroad, but at home in England he only performed this sacrament in private. This was probably due to the fact that he was ordained into the priesthood outside the regular procedures of the Church. Old Catholic holy orders, albeit valid, are irregular in the eyes of Rome. 

None of his close friends doubted the sincerity of his religious faith. Dame Sybil Thorndike wrote of him: 

“I think that because of his profound belief in the tenets of orthodox Catholic Christianity he was able to be in a way almost frivolous in his approach to certain macabre heterodoxies. His humour, his ‘wicked humour’ as some people called it, was most refreshing, so different from the tiresome sentimentalism of so many convinced believers.”

For a living, Summers was able to draw on a modest legacy from his father, supplemented by spells of teaching at various schools, including Hertford Grammar, the Central School of Arts and Crafts in Holborn, and Brockley School in south London where he was senior English and Classics Master. He described teaching as: 

“One of the most difficult and depressing of trades, and so in some measure it must have been even well-nigh three hundred years ago when boys were not nearly so stupid as they are today.” 

In practice though, he was both entertaining and effective as a teacher once he had overcome initial problems with discipline, and was popular with both pupils and colleagues despite making it plain his real interests lay elsewhere. 

From 1926, when he was in his mid-forties, Summers' writings and editing earned him the freedom to pursue full time his many enthusiasms and love of travel, particularly in Italy. The bulk of his activity then was related to English Restoration drama of the seventeenth century. Beginning in 1914 with the Shakespeare Head Press, Summers had edited a large number of Restoration plays for various publishers, accompanied by lengthy critical introductions that were highly praised in their own right, and did much to rescue that period of literature from oblivion. 

Not content with editing and introducing these plays, Summers helped in 1919 to found the Phoenix Society whose aim was to present them on stage in London. The venture was an immediate success and Summers threw himself wholeheartedly and popularly into all aspects of the productions, which were staged at various theatres. This brought him a measure of fame in London society and invitations to the most select salons, which he dazzled with his wit and erudition. By 1926 he was recognized as the greatest living authority on Restoration drama. Some ten years later he crystallized his knowledge in The Restoration Theatre and The Playhouse of Pepys which examined almost every possible aspect of the London stage between 1660 and 1710. Summers' involvement with the theatre presents a curious parallel with his near contemporary Bram Stoker, who for most of his working life was business manager to Sir Henry Irving at the Lyceum Theatre in London. There is even a suggestion of some jealousy in the grudging praise Summers gives Bram Stoker's Dracula, leading to his conclusion that the novel's success owed more to Stoker’s choice of subject than any authorial skill. One cannot fail to suspect that Summers felt he might have written the definitive vampire novel himself, only better. Notwithstanding this conjecture, Stoker’s Gothic masterpiece remains a work of sheer genius. It was left to myself to tie up the lose ends left flapping about at Dracula’s conclusion in a sequel titled Carmel. The thought must have surely occurred to Summers, but it was to be Summers’ own successor who executed the deed. 

Summers’ fame as an expert on the occult began in 1926 with the publication of his History of Demonology and Witchcraft followed by other studies of witches, vampires and werewolves; notably The Vampire: His Kith and Kin (1928) and The Vampire in Europe (1929). As an editor he also introduced to the public, along with many other works, a reprint of The Discovery of Witches by the infamous Matthew Hopkins and the first English translation of the classic fifteenth century treatise on witchcraft, Malleus Maleficarum. In later life he also wrote influential studies of the Gothic novel, another lifelong enthusiasm; notably The Gothic Quest: a History of the Gothic Novel (1938), and A Gothic Bibliography (1940). Much of Summers’ life remains in obscurity, many of his personal papers have been lost; yet he left an autobiography, The Galanty Show, that was published over thirty years after his death. 

In his introduction to Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto Summers articulated the appeal of Gothic novels, and perhaps also the appeal of all the dark mysteries that fascinated him: 

“There is in the Romantic revival a certain disquietude and a certain aspiration. It is this disquietude with earth and aspiration for heaven which inform the greatest Romance of all, Mysticism, the Romance of the Saints. The Classical writer set down fixed rules and precisely determined his boundaries. The Romantic spirit reaches out beyond these with an indefinite but very real longing to new and dimly guessed spheres of beauty. The Romantic writer fell in love with the Middle Ages, the vague years of long ago, the days of chivalry and strange adventure. He imagined and elaborated a mediaevalism for himself, he created a fresh world, a world which never was and never could have been, a domain which fancy built and fancy ruled. And in this land there will be mystery, because where there is mystery beauty may always lie hid. There will be wonder, because wonder always lurks where there is the unknown. And it is this longing for beauty intermingling with wonder and mystery that will express itself, perhaps exquisitely and passionately in the twilight moods of the romantic poets, perhaps a little crudely and even a little vulgarly in tales of horror and blood.” 

Bishop Montague Summers died of a heart attack in 1948 and his mantle awaited the arrival of another. When Sandy Roberston launched The Summers Project in 1986 to raise money for a tombstone to be laid on Summers’ unmarked grave in Richmond Cemetery, known only as plot 10818, I was grateful it was to me he turned for support. The simple stone, bearing the legend “Tell me strange things,” was erected on 26 November 1988. Summers invariably opened his conversation with those words when people visited him. He yearned to hear strange things. In 1991 an updated and enlarged hardcover edition of my best selling The Highgate Vampire was dedicated to the memory of Montague Summers. This fitting tribute to that former vampirologist still remains in print and soon to be made into a major cinema film. Two years after his death, Summers’ longstanding friend, Hector Stuart-Forbes, joined him in the then unmarked plot at Richmond.

I find myself faced with a dilemma where Montague Summers is concerned, which is why I have only judged and assessed him as a chronicler and believer in the supernatural, most notably vampires. In my own concise vampirological guide I give him the benefit of the doubt and suggest that if he did belong to an occultic fraternity on the Continent it was probably to "infiltrate and learn of its goings-on so that he might better defeat its evil purpose." (The Vampire Hunter's Handbook, page 93). Perhaps I was projecting too much of myself onto Summers?

In the same book I speak of how Summers was "unshakable in his belief in the dreadful reality of the forces of darkness and their evil emissaries, no matter how bizarre their outward manifestation" for which, like me, he was "outrageously misrepresented and parodied by those seeking cheap jibes." Yet there are some uncomfortable allegations regarding Summers that we must not shy away from (without wanting to sit in judgement on someone who has been dead and buried since 1948).

I have not previously needed to comment on his personal life because my own views on such perversions as some, rightly or wrongly, have alluded to in his case are well known and, of course, in line with the position that has always been upheld by mainstream denominations whether Anglican, Catholic or Orthodox; and, moerover, postulated unequivocally within both Old and New Testaments. What I would say, however, is that when Montague Summers was brought to trial he was found not guilty of what is undoubtedly the worst of these offences. As far as I am aware, he was not charged of any other crime or perversion.

We must not gloss over the fact of his acquittal while at the same time conceding without question he held an unhealthy interest, whether or not a  proclivity, in these unwholesome areas. Likewise, he had an interest in all the darker aspects of the occult and indeed the most malign manifestations of supernatural evil imaginable.

One of the more disturbing allegations is that in 1908 Summers is reported to have participated in a Black Mass. Furthermore, Geoffrey Evans Pickering claims that he personally partook in a Black Mass presided over by Summers at his residence on Eton Road, Hampstead, on Boxing Day of 1918. We might, therefore, surmise that between 1908 and 1918 Montague Summers possibly involved himself in occult practices for whatever reason, but, evidently, abandoned them some time between 1918 and 1923 when he severed his friendship with Evans Pickering. Something, I posit, occurred which so terrified Summers that it compelled him to turn against his former "involvement" and lent the fervour of a reformed sinner to his published attacks on all things occult, commencing with the 1926 publication of The History of Witchcraft and Demonology.

I have only ever approached Summers in his capacity as a scholar, vampirologist and as someone with deeply held Catholic convictions. He was certainly no sceptic. He absolutely believed, as do I, that the dark forces he shared with his readers were completely true and that such malevolent entities as vampires, and those who are damned to be transformed into wolves through occultic means, really happen. Indeed, not believing in such things, according to Summers, was akin to heresy or worse. These things were not disorders of the mind, but of the soul.

Summers was undoubtedly a throwback to an earlier age, an unreconstructed Jacobite who longed for the restoration of Catholic England. In that regard, plus his willingness to seriously address the reality of Luciferic demonry in all its manifestations, indicates we have much in common. But that is where it ends.

Montague Summers may be admired and celebrated for his scholarly works as a Catholic demonologist and chronicler of vampires. The rest is shrouded in mystery, conjecture and, invariably, circumlocution.


Seán Manchester (from his writings) on exorcism:

We must be careful how we define "vampire activity," but so long as we understand it to mean predatory demonic interference then, of course, such darkness remains extant in the world, and I believe it to be a demonic contagion which will be with us until the final days and will almost certainly magnify as worldly events worsen.

Demons have the ability to turn mankind from God and lead us toward destruction. Indeed, that is their ambition. Demons live in another realm, a nether region, and they require a portal to enter our realm. Those who have evil intent serve the Devil whether they believe in his existence or not, and create the conditions required for a portal to exist. Needles to say, the employment of LHP occultism can and will open that entry point.

Satan's kingdom is a lie. He wants to be like God, but in the first of the Ten Commandments, God told Moses: "I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods that are proposed to us in the kingdom of darkness." St Paul tells us to be on our guard: "The Spirit says clearly that some men will abandon their faith in later times. They will obey lying spirits and follow the teaching of demons" (1 Timothy 4: 1).  When the Israelites were about to come into the promised land, God gave them many commandments that had to do with the true worship that He desired, and the false worship that He hated. These same commandments hold true for us today.

In Satan's kingdom, the Devil wants everything that is in the Kingdom of God, but his kingdom is counterfeit. In the kingdom of darkness there is false worship, adoration and evil prayer. He offers us phoney happiness and peace. He holds out to us dark wisdom and knowledge. This is how he tempted Adam and Eve (Genesis 3: 5). Satan said: "No, God knows well that the moment you eat it [the forbidden fruit] your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad."

In his kingdom, Satan also offers us a health that is unto death, and a protection that is false. Just as we picture the angels of heaven singing and worshipping God, there is also a depraved sound which is the musical din of the kingdom of darkness.

The Lord says that we must be true to Him. We cannot serve two masters. Jesus said: "He who is not with Me is against Me" (Matthew 21: 30). We have to be firm in our resolve to follow only Jesus Christ.

Forbidden power is a form of magical power that produces effects apart from God and in a way that is beyond ordinary human means. It is to be avoided at all costs. These powers influence war just as demons frequently influence the leaders who take us to wars that lead to death and destruction. The rise of atheistic communism in the world is an obvious example, but there could be many such examples reaching back throughout history.

Casting out demons is the preserve of Christians; especially Christians in holy orders. The pursuit of those demonic entities known as vampires commenced for me in earnest with the unfolding of the Highgate case in the late 1960s. I was not in orders during that decade, but had contact with a sympathetic Roman Catholic priest and fellow students who, like me, were largely self-taught. The modern church as an institution was not entirely comfortable with the subject matter, but certainly did not dismiss it out of hand. However, individual priests along the way proved most helpful; especially those of the Eastern Orthodox persuasion. I entered the minor order of exorcist in early 1973. Highgate's principal demonic contagion was exorcised in the following year.

I have carried out multifarious exorcisms of demonic contamination down the years; some undoubtedly vampiric and I am still consulted by priests in other denominations due to the unique sub-category of vampirology within demonology being no longer part of their training and syllabus. More often I am contacted by clergy and laity where a suspected contagion arises. Whilst demonic interference is frequently unearthed, classical vampirism less often rears its head. Forms of vampirism can occur without the manifestation having an apparent corporeal presence. When it does have a tangible form it would be regarded by vampirologists as a traditional or classical case.

There are obvious reasons why I would not want to reveal just how many have been encountered by me and my colleagues. It is, of course, more than the recorded encounters and exorcisms in the published account of the Highgate investigation. The scourge of this unearthly phenomenon is by no means vanquished. It presents itself as a manifestation of that demonic legion referred to in Ephesians 6: 12 which we are required to resist in every way we can. This is the struggle that ensued at Highgate all those years ago. It is a permanent struggle for those of us called to cast out such evil.

Avoiding wherever possible the media in all its forms to ensure confidentiality to those who need help and whose help and co-operation is sought has allowed the ministry for dealing with such demonic molestation to become increasingly effective over the decades. Suffice that a world famous case was written about over the last four and a half decades where media intrusion was impossible to prevent. Countless film documentaries have been made about it and there have been televised dramatisations. There would have been no justification in repeating the unavoidable process of media co-operation applicable in the Highgate case over and again. By not discussing subsequent cases and by not exposing private people to a limelight they would certainly not welcome, my colleagues and I have been able to continue to operate with a reputation which precedes us for keeping confidences and not compromising people and places. Decades after that first case was both reported and sensationalised by the media, I am still being asked to discuss it. While remaining open to debating the topic privately, I avoid the particular when it comes to unpublicised incidents and cases; having resolved not to allow investigations in the wake of Highgate to become similarly blighted.

In Mark 16: 17, Jesus Christ states: "Believers will drive out demons in My name."

Our Lord confronted Satan in the wilderness. He also cast out demons during His ministry on Earth. Indeed, these comprise the majority of His miracles in the Synoptic Gospels.

How can a Christian, therefore, not recognise the real existence of the Devil and his legion of demons if Christ did and, moreover, instructed us to cast out demons in His name?

The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church in its traditional manifestation fully accepts such existence and consequently the requirement of exorcism. This embraces the traditional wing of such denominations as Anglo-Catholicism, Roman Catholicism, Old Catholicism, Eastern Catholicism, Western and Eastern Orthodoxy.

To exorcise means to deliver a person from the presence or influence of evil spirits. That the Devil, within the limits allowed by God, has retained a certain power over men even after the coming of Christ is clearly testified by Holy Scripture and the history of the Church. Jesus drove out demons from the possessed and He bestowed this power upon His apostles and disciples. In the early times of the Christian era many lay persons possessed this power as a charism.

It is in harmony with reason and faith to assume that the Devil has greater power over the unbaptised in consequence of original sin. For this reason, at a very early date, exorcisms were performed repeatedly over the catechumens in preparation for baptism. To perform these exorcisms and, in general, to exorcise persons possessed by or under the influence of evil spirits exorcists were ordained.

The rite speaks of exorcists as spiritual physicians endowed with the power of healing. This may also refer to bodily afflictions caused by the Devil; once the influence of the Devil is broken by the exorcism, the affliction ceases. 

The other duties of the exorcist stood in close relation to this principal function of the Order of the Exorcistate. According to the usual interpretation of the instruction read to the ordinands, he was to direct persons under exorcism, and for that reason barred from Holy Communion, when to withdraw. Furthermore, it was his duty at sacred functions to administer the water for the washing of hands to the officiating priest. The latter ceremony symbolises purification from sin, hence a banishing of the influence of the evil spirits; it was fitting, therefore, to assign this duty to the exorcist.

A simple exorcism for priests or laity can be found on my website at this link where I also provide a solemn exorcism (as found in the Rituale Romanumat this link.

Unless you are familiar and comfortable with Latin, I recommend the vernacular for such exorcism prayers and rituals.


Seán Manchester (from his writings) on shapeshifting:

The Book of Enoch (also 1 Enoch) is a pseudepigraphic work ascribed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah and son of Jared (Genesis 5: 18). While this book today is non-canonical in most Christian Churches, it was explicitly quoted in the New Testament (Letter of Jude 1: 14-15) and by many of the early Church Fathers. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church to this day regards it to be canonical. It is wholly extant only in the Ge'ez language, with Aramaic fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls and a few Greek and Latin fragments. There is no consensus among Western scholars about the original language: some propose Aramaic, others Hebrew, while the probable thesis according to E Isaac is that 1 Enoch, as Daniel, was composed partially in Aramaic and partially in Hebrew. Ethiopian scholars hold that Ge'ez is the language of the original from which the Greek and Aramaic copies were made, pointing out that it is the only language in which the complete text has been found.

The Book of Enoch describes the fall of the Watchers, the angels who fathered the Nephilim. The fallen angels went to Enoch to intercede on their behalf with God after he declared to them their doom. The remainder of the book describes Enoch's visit to Heaven in the form of a vision, and his revelations. The antediluvian patriarch Enoch according to Genesis"walked with God and was seen no more, because God took him." This walking with God was naturally understood to refer to special revelations made to the patriarch, and this, together with the mystery surrounding his departure from the world, made Enoch's name an apt one for the purposes of apocalyptic writers. In consequence there arose a literature attributed to him.

It influenced not only later Jewish apocrypha, but has left its imprint on the New Testament and the works of the early Fathers. The canonical Epistle of St Jude, in verses 14, 15, explicitly quotes from the Book of Enoch; the citation is found in the Ethiopic version in verses 9 and 4 of the first chapter. There are probable traces of the Enoch literature in other portions of the New Testament. Passing to the patristic writers, the Book of Enoch enjoyed a high esteem among them, mainly owing to the quotation in Jude. The so-called Epistle of Barnabas twice cites Enoch as Scripture. Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, and even St Augustine suppose the work to be a genuine one of the patriarch. But in the fourth century the Enoch writings lost credit and ceased to be quoted. After an allusion by an author of the beginning of the ninth century, they disappear from view. So great was the oblivion into which they fell that only scanty fragments of Greek and Latin versions were preserved in the West. The complete text was thought to have perished when it was discovered in two Ethiopic manuscripts in Abyssinia, by the traveler Bruce in 1773. Since, several more copies in the same language have been brought to light. Recently a large Greek fragment comprising chapters i-xxxii was unearthed at Akhmîn in Egypt.

Scholars agree that the Book of Enoch was originally composed either in Hebrew or Aramaic, and that the Ethiopic version was derived from a Greek one. A comparison of the Ethiopic text with the Akhmîn Greek fragment proves that the former is in general a trustworthy translation. The work is a compilation, and its component parts were written in Palestine by Jews of the orthodox Hasidic or Pharisaic schools. Its composite character appears clearly from the palpable differences in eschatology, in the views of the origin of sin and of the character and importance of the Messias found in portions otherwise marked off from each other by diversities of subject. Critics agree that the oldest portions are those included in chapters i-xxxvi and (broadly speaking) lxxi-civ.

Shapeshifting is a common theme in mythology and folklore, as well as in science fiction and fantasy. In its broadest sense, it is when a being undergoes a transformation. Commonly the transformation is purposeful, and not a curse or spell. In some folklore once the shapeshifter transformed, it began to get harder and harder to change back to ones original form. Vampires and werewolves are somewhat similar. Vampires, in older pieces of mythology and folklore, were thought to be able to transform into a wolf or a bat, thus giving the vampire bat its name. Most shapeshifters change into an animal, they were believed to only be able to change into an animal, or person that they had seen.

The most important aspect of shape-shifting, thematically, is whether the transformation is voluntary. Circe transforms intruders to her island into swine, whereas Ged, in A Wizard of Earthsea, becomes a hawk to escape an evil wizard's stronghold. A werewolf's transformation, driven by internal forces, is as hideous as that which Circe enforces, and when Minerva transforms Cornix into a crow, Ovid put into Cornix's mouth that"the virgin goddess feels pity for a virgin and she helped me" because her new form enabled her to escape rape at Neptune's hands. When a form is taken on involuntarily, the thematic effect is one of confinement and restraint; the person is bound to the new form. In extreme cases, such as petrifaction, the character is entirely disabled. Voluntary forms, on the other hand, are means of escape and liberation; even when the form is not undertaken to effect a literal escape, the abilities specific to the form, or the disguise afforded by it, allow the character to act in a manner previously impossible.

I could not opine as to whether shapeshifting was taught to men prior to the Flood. What I will say is that the phenomenon is something familiar to demons.

Shadow Beings

Seán Manchester (from his writings) on shadow beings:

While a number of witnesses believe that shadow beings act as benevolent guardians watching over us, just as many witnesses have no doubt they are demonic. Some believe shadow beings to be ghosts, but the many stories received and compiled convince others that these beings are a type of inter-dimensional phenomenon from which apparition is only one sub-category. Serious research into this paranormal (and possibly psychological) genre will paint a clearer understanding of the nature and make-up of these dark mysterious images. One thing you can be sure of is that the experience is real enough to those who encounter these strange apparitions.

Shadow-like creatures of modern folklore are attested by many witnesses who claim dark forms, seen mostly in peripheral vision, appearing like flitting phantoms in cloaks, hoods and sometimes hats. Reports of shadow beings are not dissimilar in many ways to sightings of ghosts.

Shadow beings are typically described as black humanoid silhouettes with no discernible mouths, noses or facial expressions, child-sized humanoids, or shapeless masses that sometimes change to human like form and featuring eyes that are either glowing or not apparent. Movement is said to be quick and disjointed, and some stories describe the visible outline of a cloak, and sometimes a wide-brimmed hat.

Images seen in peripheral areas of vision can be caused by pareidolia, a condition in which the brain incorrectly interprets random patterns of light/shadow or texture as being familiar patterns such as faces and human forms. The same condition can also be observed in macular vision in low light conditions, or when viewing a complex but random image. A common example would be perceiving a shadow, thrown by an item of furniture in a darkened room, as being a person. Hypnagogia, also known as "waking-sleep," a physiological condition in which a person is part-way between sleeping and waking, can also account for such perceptions. During hypnagogia, a person can be conscious and aware of their environment, but also in a dream-like state where they can perceive images from their subconscious. People experiencing waking-sleep commonly report the sensation of lights or shadows moving around them, as well as other visual hallucinations. A feeling of dread is also a sensation that occurs when experiencing hypnagogia. Hypnagogia is sometimes known as faces in the dark phenomenon because those who experience this state commonly report seeing faces while experiencing waking-sleep. Similar hypotheses have been put forward linking this condition to a number of other apparent paranormal experiences, including alien abductions, paranormal nocturnal visitations, and religious experiences such as contact with angels or demons.

My own view is that the experience could be any of the above. I am always struck how the aliens in popular culture, sometimes called "greys," frequently resemble depictions of demons in past ages; especially medieval paintings. I do not believe in alien abductions or aliens walking among us. I do, on the other hand, know that demons sometimes invade our environment and sometimes attempt to interfere in our lives and even to the point of possession.

Electronic Voice Phenomena

Seán Manchester (from his writings) on E.V.P.:

Electronic voice phenomena (EVP) are recordings of voice or voice-like sounds that are not audible to the human ear. This is also known as instrumental transcommunication which is the collective term for conversing with the world beyond using electronic instrumentation. These instruments can include tape recorders, camcorders, telephones, answer-machines, radios, televisions, or anything else that is electronic. The frequencies of these sounds are usually well below the range of sounds that can be perceived by the human ear. They are usually brief, emitting for the duration of only one word or a short phrase. They are sometimes in a foreign of archaic language. Many are cryptic. Parapsychologist Konstantin Raudive, who popularised the idea of electronic voice phenomena, confirms the emissions as being typically brief, usually the length of a word or short phrase. Konstantin Raudive, a Latvian psychologist who had taught at the University of Uppsala, Sweden, made over one hundred thousand recordings which he described as being communications with discarnate people. Some of these recordings were conducted in an RF-screened laboratory and contained words Raudive said were identifiable. In the 1920s, Thomas Edison told a reporter from theScientific American magazine that he was working on a machine that would be able to contact the dead.

Ever since the invention of electronic recording devices, people have found strange and often eerie voices surfacing on their recordings. Sometimes the voices speak directly to them, despite nobody else being present. Electronic voice phenomena (EVP) is claimed by some to be the voices of souls who have passed on and wish to speak to loved ones left behind. Could this be the case with Juana Chino? Or is it something else, natural or supernatural (demonic), causing the phenomena?  

Thomas Edison, when interviewed, stated: "It is possible to construct an apparatus which will be so delicate that if there are personalities in another existence ... this apparatus will at least give them a better opportunity to express themselves." That first device was the electronic recording.

Some will say that all people are hearing in electronic voice phenomenon recordings is random noise filtered through the desire to hear something. Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus, often an image or sound, being mistakenly perceived as recognisable. 

We create sounds on the Earthly plane by passing air through our throat and mouth to create the sound frequencies our ears perceive. It has been sought to discover how a non-physical entity can produce the frequencies on tape that we can hear. Perhaps the reason the EVP researchers do not hear the voices directly is because whatever is causing the sounds are having to manipulate existing sound frequencies at the point in the machine where the processing of the analog sound to a digital format for storage is taking place?

Whatever the truth might be about electronic voice phenomena, the jury is still out.

Disembodied Voices

Seán Manchester (from his writings) on disembodied voices:

Disembodied voices can be attributed a variety of phenomena, and "ghosts" are one of them.

The basic Christian premise of good souls going to Heaven and the bad ones go to Hell is strongly questioned by a belief in ghosts. Ghosts are considered by most who believe in them to be the spirits of people who have never departed the Earth. These spirits travel around continuing to do the same things that were done in life. This is completely against the fundamental tenet of Heaven and Hell as understood by most Christians. Paradoxically, many Christians still claim to believe in the existence of ghosts.

The Catholic Church, however, believes that ghosts, ie spirits, do exist. There are even times when spirits appear to our benefit, but Catholics are warned against attempting to contact spirits.

“Ghost” is simply another word for “spirit” (geist means “spirit” in German). Spirit is of three kinds: the human spirit which combined with body make up a human being; the defined spirit that has no body, such as angels; and the infinite Spirit, or God, of Whom the Third Person is the Holy Ghost. When someone asks whether ghosts exist, he usually has in mind the first kind, a human spirit. Hence Father John Hardon defines a ghost as “a disembodied spirit. Christianity believes that God may, and sometimes does, permit a departed soul to appear in some visible form to people on earth. Allowing for legend and illusion, there is enough authentic evidence, for example in the lives of the saints, to indicate that such apparitions occur. Their purpose may be to teach or warn, or request some favour of the living” - Fr John A Hardon SJ, Modern Catholic Dictionary (Garden City, New York: John A. Hardon, © 1980) published by Doubleday and Company, p. 229.

The last sentence of Father Hardon’s definition implicitly gives the Church’s teaching on ghosts. Appearances of ghosts are understood with regard to our salvation. Ghosts can come to us for good, but we must not attempt to conjure or control spirits. The Church teaches that spiritism, ie seeking recourse or power from ghosts, is contrary to the virtue of religion (the Commandment: “You shall have no other gods before Me”):

“All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one's service and have a supernatural power over others — even if this were for the sake of restoring their health — are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another’s credulity.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, number 2117).

Thus, while the Church recognises the existence of ghosts, Catholics are not to intentionally seek them out — for good or for ill. Another theory about ghosts is that these spectres are actually a space-time-continuum replay of events that have happened in the past. This theory is possible, and is the most likely one that could fit into the belief system of the majority of Christians. Finally, there is always the strong risk that a "ghost" might, in fact, be a demon masquerading as a departed soul to torment and deceive the living. The Catholic Church unequivocally teaches that angels and demons are real personal beings, not just symbolic devices.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Psychic Vampires

Seán Manchester (from his writings) on psychic vampirism:

Individuals who seem to drain the energy of those around them have probably been experienced by many people, myself included, but here we are employing the word "vampire" as an adjective.

Experiencing such energy-drainers is nowhere near the same as a predatory demonic entity masquerading as a dead person; though I recall an old lady who ran an antiquarian bookshop in north London many years ago telling me about her encounter with Aleister Crowley as he passed her on the shop's stairs and how she immediately felt faint and nauseous. Was this Crowley draining her of energy? Or was it his extraordinary notoriety effecting how she felt? She claimed the former. I suspect the latter. But we will never know.

So-called "psychic vampires," or "psi-vampyres" as they sometimes like to call themselves, claim to lack an adequate energy system, and this inadequacy compels them to feed upon and tap into the energy and vitality of other unsuspecting host victims. This allegedly results in a temporary surge of energy in the "psychic vampire" and a serious loss of physical and mental energy for the "prey."

Victims attacked by "psychic vampires" have reported to have felt depleted both mentally and emotionally. The more unfortunate victims suffer from a prolonged loss of energy and permanent damage to their general health and vitality. In certain severe cases it is claimed the prey might even suffer from very serious illness after having such an encounter. I cannot say I have witnessed anything of this sort. That notwithstanding, I have been aware of a small number of people who appear to be draining on one's energy when in their presence. Yet I suspect we have all experienced this at some time without necessarily attributing it to "psychic vampirism."


Seán Manchester (from his writings) on werewolfism:

The Vampire Research Society has an interest in werewolfism and has investigated suspected cases in the British Isles and France, but it is impossible to know how common the affliction might be in such places as America and parts of Europe generally. This is largely because the lycanthrope/werewolf can fall under a number of different categories, some of them medical, and is of a different kidney to the vampire. I met a woman in Highgate in the 1980s who believed she was turning into a werewolf, but actually suffered from an extreme form of lupus syndrome which is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when the body's immune system attacks its own tissues and organs (auto-immunity). Inflammation caused by lupus syndrome can affect many different body systems, including joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, heart, and lungs. It occurs more frequently in women than in men, although the reasons for this are unknown. Four types of the condition exist — systemic lupus erythematosus, discoid lupus erythematosus, drug-induced lupus erythematosus and neo-natal lupus syndrome. Of these, systemic lupus erythematosus is the most common and serious form of lupus syndrome. These are medical conditions and not werewolfism.

Some people with lupus syndrome also have problems with their blood clotting too quickly. These people have anti-phospholipid antibody syndrome, lupus anti-coagulant or anti-cardiolipin. The condition is managed with blood thinner like coumadin or wafarin and must be carefully monitored. Lupus erythematosus is a connective tissue disease. There is also a mental illness called lycanthropy in which a patient believes he or she is, or has transformed into, an animal and behaves accordingly. This is sometimes referred to as clinical lycanthropy to distinguish it from its folkloric counterpart where the person has the apparent ability or power of a human being to undergo transformation into a wolf, or to gain wolf-like characteristics.

The term lycanthropy comes from the Greek lykánthropos (λυκάνθρωπος): λύκος, lýkos ("wolf") plus άνθρωπος, ánthrōpos ("human"). It is sometimes used generically for any transformation of a human into animal form, though the precise term for that is technically therianthropy. The werewolf may be regarded as a man or woman who, either of his or her own will through the black arts, is able to assume the hideous appetite, ferocity, cunning, and other qualities of the wolf; so that he or she will attack human beings in the same way as a wild animal. There are recorded instances where the person has taken on a wolf-like appearance. Werewolfism can be hereditary, or acquired through a demonic agency, but, unlike the vampire, werewolves are living persons either afflicted, or self-afflicted, with the malady that sometimes results in an apparent transformation. Vampires, on the other hand, are demonic entities in apparent corporeal form which manifest at night to feed of the blood of the living whereby their material appearance is maintained and indeed nourished. Werewolves, on the other hand, are people who assume a wolf-form and wolf-like behaviour.

The lycanthrope werewolf should not be confused with the voluntary werewolf, under whom for this consideration any form of apparent shape-shifting may be included. An essential prerequisite is a pact, formal or tacit, with a demonic agency. Such metamorphosis as that examplified in the voluntary werewolf can only be wrought by engagement in the dark arts. Shapeshifting is certainly not uncommon where demonic agencies are involved, and I have encountered this phenomenon in the course of my research and investigations.