Friday, January 24, 2014

The Woman in Blue

In the early 1600's, Spanish missionaries came to the Texas wilderness to teach the Indians about Jesus and God. They found the "savages" were already in possession of a number of religious material - a stone alter with Jesus on the cross, crude but recognizable paintings of several Catholic saints, and some who wore carved crosses on leather strips around their necks. And they all told of white-skinned gods who had once walked among them.. According to the Indians, these divine visitors had spoken to them in a language different from theirs, but one they could understand. These gods had come and gone in ages past, but all promised they would come again someday.

A common story which got the most attention from the missionaries was about a beautiful young white goddess who appeared among several different groups of Indians living in Texas and elsewhere in the southwest. The Indians called her the "woman in blue" because every time she came, she wore a blue cloak.

Intrigued and confused by these stories, the missionaries quickly informed the church back in Spain that something very strange was going on over here. It was a profound spiritual mystery - how could these pagan savages living on the far edge of a strange new world know about the Catholic doctrine and be in possession of symbols of Christian faith? In response, numerous more missionaries were sent to Texas by the church with an assigned task - solve the mystery of the "woman in blue."

One of these emissaries from the church was Father Damien Manzanet. By chance, Father Damien had recently read a new book titled The Mystical City of God. In the book, Sister Maria de Agreda, a cloistered Castilian nun who was then 29 years of age, told how she had been mysteriously transported to a remote wilderness on the edge of New Spain. There she had met a race of pagans and she introduced the Christian religion to them. The sister claimed to have made the mystical journey more than 500 times. She told how she had been well received by a tribe of dark-skinned savages who called themselves "Tejas" and that they had somehow understood her every word. She claimed her out-of-body travels occurred only as she slept when she would suddenly grow rigid in bed and a state of supreme ecstasy would seize her. She would then suddenly be whisked away at blinding speed to the wilderness where she worked and prayed with the naked savages. Most of her visits were with the Tejas tribe, but sometimes she would be sent to a different group of natives. Even though the different tribes spoke different languages, she claimed they all could somehow understand her. All of this was naturally looked on with skepticism by the church since Sister Maria had come to the convent when she was just 15 and had never been outside the convent walls since her arrival. 

The same year Father Damien came to this new frontier, about 50 Jumano Indians appeared at Isleta, a Pueblo mission near Albuquerque asking that missionaries be sent among them to teach them more about God and to baptize them. When asked why they wanted this, they explained that a beautiful white goddess had been coming to them for many years and instructed them in "the truths of Christian faith." She had recently instructed them to come to the mission and ask for missionaries to come to their village and baptize them. She had given them directions from their village to the mission over 300 miles away and had seen them safely during their journey through the territory ruled by the fierce Apache.

Texas Bluebonnets
During Father Damien's travels into and across Texas, he heard more stories about the lady in blue. One chief told how the lady had healed his mother by touching her brow. Another legend told by a number of different tribes was that delicate blue flowers, Texas Bluebonnets, always blossomed wherever she stepped. One old chief who's wife was near death asked Father Damien for a piece of blue cloth to bury her in. When asked why it needed to be blue, the chief explained "that was the color of the cloak worn long ago by the beautiful young woman who came to Texas to tell us about God."

The stories and legends told by so many different Indians and the similarities between them and what Sister Maria de Agreda claimed in the book led Father Damien to conclude that God had indeed sent her among the Indians in the new world to spread the Gospel. He eventually traveled back to Spain and met with Sister Maria. He found her to be extremely pious, always dressed in the white tunic and blue robe of her order, and physically very beautiful, just as the Indians had claimed. She accurately told him not only the names of numerous tribes, but even the names and descriptions of individuals. Nearly all of the tribes and most of the individuals she talked about were verified by Father Damien who had met them during his travels.
Isleta Pueblo where Franciscan friars first learned
about the "Lady in Blue" teaching God to
the Indians.

Sister Maria died of natural causes in 1665. After 244 years in the ground, her body was exhumed in 1909 and was found to have not decayed. She was placed in a glass-lidded coffin and moved inside the convent she had faithfully served for 45 years. Her body is still there and with permission, may still be viewed.

Today, there remains legends about the beautiful "goddess" dressed in blue who supernaturally roamed the southwest teaching Christianity. Some believe she still roams the hills and deserts causing flowers to bloom and bestowing love and riches on the unfortunate. Who's to say she doesn't?

Sister Maria almost 350 years after death

Friday, January 17, 2014

Doppelganger Teacher - A Most Curious Case

DO YOU HAVE an exact double somewhere in the world? Can a person be in two places at once? There are a number of creditable reports that some people do indeed have such an ability. In instances of bi-location, a person can either spontaneously or willingly project his or her double, known as a "wraith," to a remote location. This double is indistinguishable from the real person and can interact with others just as the real person would.

 One of the most fascinating reports of a doppelganger comes from the American writer Robert Dale Owen who was told the story by Julie von Güldenstubbe, the second daughter of Baron von Güldenstubbe. In 1845, when von Güldenstubbe was 13 years of age, she attended Pensionat von Neuwelcke, an exclusive girl's school near Wolmar in what is now Latvia. One of her teachers was a 32-year-old French woman named Emilie Sagée. Although the school's administration was quite pleased with Sagée's performance, she soon became the object of rumor and odd speculation. Sagée, witnesses said, had a double that would appear and disappear in full view of the students.

In the middle of class one day, while Sagée was writing on the blackboard, her exact double appeared beside her. The doppelganger precisely copied the teacher's every move as she wrote, except that it did not hold any chalk. The event was witnessed by 13 students in the classroom. A similar incident was reported at dinner one evening when Sagée's doppelganger was seen standing behind her, mimicking the movements of her eating, although it held no utensils.
The doppelganger did not always echo her movements, however. On several occasions, Sagée would be seen in one part of the school when it was known for certain that she was in another area at that time. The most astonishing instance of this took place in full view of the entire student body of 42 students one summer day in 1846. 

The girls were all assembled in the school hall for their sewing and embroidery lessons. As they sat at the long, wooden tables working, they could clearly see through the four open windows Sagée outside in the school's garden gathering flowers. Another teacher was supervising the children. When this teacher left the room to talk to the headmistress, Sagée's doppelganger appeared in her chair - while the real Sagée could still be seen in the garden. The students noted that Sagée's movements in the garden looked tired or slow while the doppelganger sat motionless. Two brave girls approached the phantom and tried to touch it, but felt an odd resistance in the air surrounding it. One girl actually stepped between the teacher's chair and the table, passing right through the apparition, which remained motionless. It then slowly vanished. The girl reported the figure itself felt like muslin cloth and the air was very cold as she passed through.
Sagée claimed never to have seen the doppelganger herself, but said she felt drained and fatigued  exactly when others said it appeared. Her physical color even seemed to pale at those times. She seemed to never have learned how to control the appearance of her doppelganger and had to go from one school to another to find employment as each school would end up letting her go when the stories became too numerous to ignore and worried parents began pulling their children out of school. Unfortunately, what became of Emile Sagée is unknown as she eventually disappeared from recorded history.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Strange Tale of the Possessed Raggedy Ann Doll

In 1970 a loving mother doting on her only daughter, purchased a Raggedy Ann doll from an antique store. The cute red-headed doll was a present for her daughter Donna who was at that time residing with her roommate Angie in a small apartment and preparing to graduate from college. Thinking nothing more of the doll than a sign of affection from her mother, she placed the doll on her bed in her room and basically forgot about it. And thus began one of the most unusual cases of a possessed object on record.
As time passed, Angie and Donna noticed a strangeness about the doll. The young ladies reported the doll would move, relatively unnoticeable movements at first, like a change in position, but as time passed, the movement became more noticeable. The doll was once found standing upright, leaning against a chair with its legs crossed. After awhile the girls said the doll would actually change rooms! It would be left in the living room before they locked up and left for work or school and upon returning it would be found on Donna's bed in her room. 
A few weeks later, Donna began to find penciled messages written on old-fashioned parchment paper. The alarming messages looked like they were written in the handwriting of a small child, scribbled and almost illegible. The messages clearly stated "Help Us" or "Help Lou". Donna didn't have any idea exactly who the "us" was and she had no clue where the paper came from as she had never kept parchment paper in the  apartment nor had she ever used that type of paper herself. Could it have been conjured out of the air by the doll itself? Could a cloth doll possibly be writing messages?
Donna returned home one evening to find the doll had moved once again. This time though, Donna felt as though something was really off. A menacing presence seemed to emulate from the doll and she had the deepest urge to inspect it. What she found would haunt her forever.
The doll had blood on it. Blood was on both the back of its hands and its chest. Now completely scared and desperate for help, Donna decided it was time to seek an expert.
Determined to get to the bottom of things, Donna contacted a medium who agreed to hold a seance. During the seance, it was revealed there was a spirit that had taken up residence in the doll. Her name was Annabelle Higgins. From what the medium could determine, Annabelle Higgins was a young girl of only 7 years when her lifeless body was found in the field upon which the apartment complex Donna resided in was built . The spirit basically took up residence with the doll and it wanted to stay. Upon hearing this, seeing no harm in it and feeling sorry for what the spirit had experienced in life, Donna agreed it could stay. The true nature of this entity however, had yet to be revealed.
Lou, Donna's boyfriend, was less than thrilled with the doll. On numerous occasions Lou warned Donna the doll felt threatening and sinister. Something was off and Lou knew it. Lou's dislike of the doll was well known. He was destined to have more than one terrifying experience with Annabelle.
Lou awoke one night from a deep sleep and in panic. Once again he had a reoccurring bad dream. Only this time somehow, something seemed different. It was as though he was awake but couldn't move. He looked around the room but couldn't discern anything out of the ordinary and then it happened. Looking down toward his feet he saw the doll, Annabelle. It began to slowly glide up his leg, moved over his chest and then stopped. Within seconds the doll was strangling him. Paralyzed and gasping for breath, Lou, at the point of asphyxiation, blacked out. Lou awoke the next morning, certain it wasn't a dream. He was determined to rid himself of that doll and the spirit that possessed it. Lou, however, would have one more terrifying experience with Annabelle. Preparing for a road trip the next day, while waiting for Donna to return from work, Lou and Angie were reading over maps alone in the apartment. The apartment seemed eerily quiet. Suddenly, rustling sounds coming from Donna's room aroused fear that someone had possibly broken into the apartment. Lou, determined to figure out who or what it was, quietly made his way to the bedroom door. He waited for the noises to stop before entering and turning on the light. The room was empty except for Annabelle whom was tossed on the floor in the corner. 
Lou scoured the room for forced entry but found nothing out of place. As he got close to the doll however, he felt that somebody was behind him. Spinning around he was quick to realize that nobody else was there. Then in a flash, he found himself grabbing for his chest, doubled over, cut and bleeding. His shirt was stained with blood and upon opening it, there on his chest was what looked to be 7 distinct claw marks, three vertically and four horizontally, all were hot like burns. These scratches healed very quickly, half gone the next day, fully gone by day two. 
Had the entity finally revealed it's true nature? Due to Lou's experiences, the doll was no longer believed to be a docile spirit but inhuman and demonic in nature. Donna decided to contact a priest, Father Hegan. With his help, their case was referred to the world famous paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.

"Ed and Lorraine Warren immediately took interest in the case and contacted Donna concerning the doll. The Warrens, after speaking with Donna, Angie, and Lou, came to the immediate conclusion that the doll itself was not in fact possessed but manipulated by an inhuman presence. Spirits do not possess inanimate objects like houses or toys, they posses people. An inhuman spirit can attach itself to a place or object and this is what occurred in the Annabelle case. This spirit manipulated the doll and created the illusion of it being alive in order to get recognition. Truly, the spirit was not looking to stay attached to the doll, it was looking to posses a human host.
The demonic spirit was essentially in the infestation stage of the phenomenon. It first began moving the doll around the apartment by means of teleportation to arouse the occupants curiosity in hopes that they would give it recognition.Then, predictably, the mistake of bringing a medium into the apartment to communicate with it. The inhuman spirit now able to communicate through the medium, preyed on the girls emotional vulnerabilities by pretending to be a rather harmless, lost young girl which, during the seance, was allowed permission from Donna to haunt the apartment. It then set about causing negative phenomena to occur; it aroused fear through the weird movements of the doll, the symbolic drops of blood on the doll, and ultimately it even attacked Lou, leaving behind the symbolic mark of the beast. The next stage of the infestation phenomenon would have been complete human possession. Had these experiences lasted another 2 or 3 more weeks the spirit would have completely possessed, if not harmed or killed one or all of the occupants in the house."
An actual exorcism was performed on the doll before the Warren's left, hoping it would rid Annabelle of the infectious demon. At the conclusion of the investigation, Ed and Loraine decided the best course of action to prevent the spirit from doing further harm was to relieve Donna of its presence and take the doll home with them as they weren't completely sure if the doll had been exorcised of the entity.
If you want to visit Annabell, she can be found at the Warren Occult Museum in Moodus, Connecticut. There, housed in a permanently locked glass case, you will find Annabell. Be aware though, museum workers report Annabell still moves about occasionally and is known to make growling noises at visitors.