Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Box of Horrors

I want to start off by saying that my Aunt found this in a magazine and I found it very interesting so I had to share it with you all.




     On Sunday. Oct. 10. 2004. Jason Haxton placed a wooden cabinet with a Hebrew Prayer carved on its back in the cellar of a rental property he owned in northern Missouri and performed a Wiccan ceremony to contain an evil spirit he feared might dwell inside it. Haxton isn't Jewish (he was raised Methodist). Nor is he a regular practitioner of pagan rituals. However a dramatic decline in his health since he'd aquired the wine-bottle storage cabinet eight months earlier had forced him to reconsider his beliefs -or lack of them and turn to a remedy he would once have regarded as lunatic. "I thought I was on a fast track to getting incapacitated," says Haxton.
    For the final part of the ritual, Haxton returned to his own home next door and took a purifying bath in sea salt and basil. While rinsing off, he felt ill and coughed up a huge mass of slime. "It was literally two handfuls of this curd," he says. "I'm 54, and nothing like that has ever happened to me. To this day it freaks me out."
    Today Lionsgate relased The Possession, a film produced by Sam Raimi (director of The Evil Dead and Spider Man) that's loosely based on the terrifying experiences endured by Haxton and the previous owners of the wine cabinet, which has become known in some circles as the Dibbuk Box. A "dibbuk" is a Jewish term for a restless spirit that finds refuge in a living creature.
    For almost a decade, the 12 1/2" by 7 1/2"  by 16 1/4" box has fascinated paranormalists and paranormal debunkers alike. Now it will reach the masses in cinematic form, with Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick starring as the parents of a young girl (Natasha Calis) who acquires the box. Raimi, who raised in a conservative Jewish home, says he had a "natural curiosity" about the subject. "You don't hear about dibbuks when you go to synagogue," he explains. "I know the demonic lore of The Exorcist. But what does my faith believe about demonic possession?" The other thing was, "it scared me something horrible," he says. "The stories chilled me to the bone." They certainly gave Morgan pause for thought. "In the research I did, I started getting creeped out," the actor says. "My girlfriend was like, 'Let's just make sure that we don't actually go near the real Dibbuk Box.'"

    Powers of the Dibbuk Box first became public knowledge in June 2003, when Kevin Mannis, the owner of a furniture-refinishing business in Portland, Ore., put the item up for sale on eBay along with its original contents, which included two locks of hair, a small granite statue gilded with the word "shalom" in Hebrew lettering, and a cast-iron candlestick holder. Mannis had bought the box a couple of years earlier at the estate sale of a Jewish woman, a concentration-camp survivor named Havela who had died at the age of 103. In his lengthy seller's note, Mannis recalled being told by Havela's granddaughter that after escaping from the camp, she had wound up in Spain, where she purchased the cabinet. When Havela immigrated to the U.S., she brought the item and always claimed it contained a "dibbuk." Mannis, suddenly aware that he had bought a family heirloom, offered to let Havela's granddaughter keep what she called the "Dibbuk Box." She adamantly declined, telling him, "You bought it! You made a deal!We don't want it!"
    Mannis took the box to his store and left it in the basement workshop, where he planned to refinish the item before giving it to his mother as a birthday gift. He went to run some errands but returned when his sales assistant called and began screaming that someone was in the basement breaking glass and swearing. However when he arrived back he found no one down there but that there was the smell of cat urine. "Then" Mannis wrote in his sellers note, "things got worse."
    As planned, Mannis gave the mother the box as a birthday present. Five minutes after he handed her the item, she suffered a stroke and was taken to a hospital by ambulance. Having lost the ability to speak, Mannis' mother could communicate only by pointing to letters of the alphabet. When Mannis visited her the next day, he asked her how she was feeling. She started to cry. "N-O-G-I-F-T," she spelled out. "H-A-T-E-G-I-F-T." (she did eventually recover her speech.) Mannis found himself plagued by a dream in which he was physically beaten by a demonic-looking hag. Sometimes, he awoke covered in bruises and welts. Mannis, who is Jewish, did not connect these unfortunate events to the box. "I don't think in terms of ghosts or demons," says Mannis 47. "The last thing I thought was that these things had anything to do with the wine cabinet. That to me is like saying 'I've got a haunted turkey baster'." 
    Mannis then gave the box to his sister, who returned it, he says, after complaining that the cabinet's doors kept opening of their own accord. Next he gave the item to his brother, who also gave right back after his wife said it smelled like cat urain. Finally, he sold it to a middle-aged couple. Three days later he found the box sitting outside his store with a note that read, "This has a bad darkness." One evening, Mannis hosted a family dinner, and his relatives stayed the night. The next day his visitors all reported having had the same nightmare, about an abusive hag. "I went, 'What the heck ?What's the common denominator here?'" says Mannis "And the common denominator turned out to be the box."
    In the week after the dinner, Mannis started to see "shadow things" in his peripheral vision. Once, while trying to research the box on the Internet, he fell asleep and again dreamed of the hag. Upon waking, he had the feeling that someone was breathing on his neck and glimpsed one of the shadow things loping away down the hallway. Enough was enough. Concerned that if he destroyed the box, whatever entity it contained might stay with him, Mannis decided to sell it. "I have been told that there are people who shop on eBay who understand these kinds of things," Mannis wrote in his post. "If you are one of the people , please, please, please buy this cabinet and do whatever it is that you do with a thing like this. Help me." He eventually sold the box for $140, to a student who lived in Haxton's hometown. 
    On June 17, 2003, a young colleague of Haxton's at the museum announced that over the weekend his roommate had "bought a haunted box" and showed the curator Mannis' seller's note. Haxton was intrigued, and was soon able to buy the box himself when the student resold it on eBay several months later. In his note, the student said he had trouble sleeping, saw large vertical blurs in his peripheral vision, and had started to lose his hair. On Feb. 9, 2004, Haxton successfully bid $280 for it.
    Although Haxton was interested in the stories surrounding the box, he actually bought it for a magician friend, who planned to incorporate it into his act. After the box was delivered to Haxton's museum the pair inspected it while wearing gloves. Haxton even ran a black light over it in a futile attempt to locate any kind of residue that might explain the smell of cat urain that Mannis had mentioned, he found nothing. And when he removed his gloves and put his hand on the box it felt warm, and the wood seemed to shift beneath his fingers, as if it had a pulse. Suddenly, while his palms were still on the box, he felt a pain erupt in his side and migrate into his stomach, where it bothered him for hours. That night, Haxton dreamed of faces disfigured by wounds. Each face finally morph into that of a white haired hag who watched him with hollow eyes.
    In the days after the box arrived at the museum, various staff members began to suffer misfortunes of their own including the death of ones grandparant and expressed concern about having it on the property. Haxton repacked it, placed it in the covered bed of his pickup, and drove home. Upon returning to the vehicle the next day, he says, he was assaulted with the smell of cat urain. He kept trying to deliver it to his magician friend who kept putting him off, citing inconvenient timing or illness. Eventually Haxton just put it in a closet in an unused room in his home which he shares with his wife and children. Soon however the Haxtons started experiencing an array of inexplicable phenomena. The house was grew cold and stayed that way no matter how high they jacked up the heat. One day Haxton and his son watched a shadow expand and drift across the floor even though the room was brightly lit. But what really scared Haxton was his health. He developed vision problems and found it difficult to swallow. He also periodically broke out in head to toe welts that would suddenly vanish and reappear. "I've never been I'll" he says. " That's when I became really frightened."
    In June 2004, Haxton visited Portland for work and, after finding Mannis' unlisted number they arranged a meeting, and the two embarked on a Dubbik Box quest. Eventually Mannis found the original house where he bought the box and visited with an elderly lady named Sophie, Havela's cousin. Sophie recalled her own childhood in '30s Poland and how Havela had attempted to capture a spirit to help the Jews fight against the Nazis but instead had allowed a malevolent entity to enter instead.
    Today Haxton still has the box and hopes that when he dies he will be buried with it to put an end to its bad deeds.

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