The belief that evil spirits can possess innocents is prevalent the world over, from India to Africa and the desserts of the United States. For many, such possessions seem more like the stuff of campfire tales or possibly psychological disorders. They point out that inhuman voices may be merely an unusual use of vocal chords and unnatural strength could result from raised adrenaline. However, the following examples represent well-documented instances of inexplicable levitation, precognition, and other events for which there is solid evidence that cannot be easily explained away.
Clara Germana Cele
In 1906, this sixteen-year-old was studying at St. Michael’s Mission in Natal, South Africa when she became afflicted – producing primal moans, demonstrating inhuman strength, showing a repulsion for religious objects, and levitating horizontally and vertically. At the same time, the Christian teen was able to understand the thoughts and personal histories of those around her, and she began speaking languages utterly foreign to her, including German, French, and Polish. After Cele admitted to making a pact with Satan, the mission’s nuns brought in two priests to exorcise whatever demons had possessed her. Although the girl attempted to strangle one of them, the priests succeeded after two days, with over one hundred and seventy people bearing witness to her levitation as they read from Scripture.
Arne Cheyenne Johnson
In 1981, Johnson and Debbie Glatzel were cleaning up a recently-acquired rental property when their son David encountered an old man who cursed his family. Shortly thereafter, the 11-year-old began experiencing visions of a demonic figure threatening to steal his soul. After showing signs of beating and choking by the demon, Johnson and Glatzel called in demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, who witnessed David levitate and predict a future murder. At the exorcism, Johnson taunted the demon, causing it to migrate into him and push him to kill his landlord during a heated discussion months later. According to his attorneys, this was become he had disregarded the Warrens’ warnings and investigated an old well beneath the rental property, where he had been fully possessed. Although Johnson’s attorneys pled not guilty by reason of possession, the judge denied convicted him of first-degree murder.
Michel’s story has been the basis of many fictional accounts, including the horror film The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005). This young German Catholic was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy at 16 years old and then treated for mental health at a psychiatric hospital. Three years later, Michel complained of seeing devils who told her that she would rot in hell. Around 1973, she experienced several intense, suicidal episodes, during which she ate insects, spurned religious objects, harmed herself, and even drank her own urine. Although her family refused an exorcism, Michel persuaded the local bishop to have the ritual performed in secret in 1976. After almost 70 exorcisms in 10 months, she perished in her own home from dehydration and malnutrition, and the priests were convicted of manslaughter.
Latoya Ammons’ Children
The first sign of trouble for mother of three Latoya Ammons was the swarm of flies on her porch window in the middle of winter. Shortly thereafter, Ammons began noticing odd sounds, shadowy figures, and wet boot-prints in her Gary, Indiana home. Things escalated when her 12-year-old daughter began levitating in 2012, but the other children soon showed signs of possession – with bulging eyes and evil smiles. Ammons’ 7-year-old son was thrown by an unseen force, and a nurse witnessed her 9-year-old son walk backwards up a wall and onto the ceiling. Indiana’s Department of Child Services eventually took the children away due to suspected abuse, but the local police captain subscribed to her story after numerous home visits and interviews, along with an iPhone photo of a white human form in the home.
Ecklund was raised a devout Catholic in Wisconsin, but by the time that she turned 14-years-old, the teen was fully under the thrall of possession. She was kept from entering churches by an unseen force, could not tolerate sacred objects, and was sexually depraved. However, a successful exorcism in 1912 seemed successful, at least until Ecklund was again possessed – this time by multiple entities including Judas Iscariot. Priests claimed that her father Jacob and Aunt Mina practiced witchcraft and regularly cursed the young woman with tainted food. So, she was taken to a convent in Earling, Iowa in 1928 for another exorcism, where she hissed, spat, levitated, climbed walls, spoke and understood foreign languages, and became horribly bloated over time. Still, after 23 days and 3 full exorcisms, Ecklund was finally free.
These cases of possession represent some of the most clearly documented instances of malevolent forces overtaking the innocent. As such, they provide some of the strongest evidence for the supernatural and shed light on the history of possession around the world. Furthermore, the above examples reveal that such occurrences remain common even in such developed countries and cultures as the contemporary United States. Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, spiritual ailments remain an especially dangerous part of human society.
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