America

A Dark Calling – The Story of Ed and Lorraine Warren by Amy Van De Casteele


In August of this year, while my family were visiting for the summer from their current home in the Far East, I decided I wanted to go to the cinema one afternoon with my brother and father to watch one of the latest blockbuster releases. The original plan was to catch a screening of The Lone Ranger. But, being discouraged by the poor reviews for that film, I opted instead to see new horror offering The Conjuring, about which I had read nothing but good things. I was familiar with the general plot of the film and knew that it related the experiences of two real-life paranormal investigators. What I didn’t realize was how harrowing their experiences were, nor how fascinating I would grow to find this couple as the film wore on. The paranormal researchers in question were Ed and Lorraine Warren, played with subtlety and quiet genius by the ethereally beautiful Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson.

It may sound odd, especially as I have a reputation among family and friends for being fascinated with the paranormal, but up until that day I had never heard of the Warrens – nor did I know anything about their terrifying Occult Museum, their lectures or the New England Society for Psychic Research which the couple founded in 1952. Originally developed as a means of studying ghostly occurrences the Society’s scope and purpose deepened from 1965 onwards and it became a platform for helping people struggling with such paranormal experiences as possessions and hauntings. Using a blend of scientific and religious knowledge the Warrens would travel across the country to afflicted homes where they would offer their services not only to the living people inside the house but also the trapped souls that lingered there.

Ed and Lorraine Warren – a demonologist and a trance medium respectively – undoubtedly had a fascinating profession, but they were intriguing characters in their own right. They met when they were 16 and Ed was working at The Colonial Theatre in Bridgeport, Connecticut and married a year later when Ed, then a Navy recruit, had 30 days survivor’s leave after his ship sank in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic. Ed served in World War II and then left the Navy to become an artist, studying for a time at the Perry Art School before leaving school to travel around the new tourist hotspots of Vermont and New Hampshire where he could earn decent money selling his paintings.

It was during these trips that the couple first began to develop their fascination with the paranormal. Ed had always been interested in ghosts, having grown up in a haunted house when he was a boy, and now he dragged his young wife to every haunted location they stumbled across. Back then the pair probably never imagined they would go on to become America’s leading paranormal investigators, founders of their own society, noted authors, trainers of demonologists and founders of their own private occult museum.

It is the museum that arguably holds me most enthralled. Recreated in The Conjuring, it is a small, highly atmospheric and terrifying showcase of haunted and obscure items from around the world. Packed with everything from possessed animal figurines to a haunted organ, shrunken head and vampire coffin, the museum’s most notorious inmate is the Annabelle doll which was also featured in The Conjuring. A Raggedy Ann doll haunted by a vicious entity named Annabelle, the toy has been responsible for all manner of petrifying paranormal activity. Bought as a gift for a nursing student, Donna, back in 1970 the doll soon began to exhibit unnatural qualities – namely the ability to seemingly move itself into different positions and leave eerie pencilled messages on scraps of paper lying around the apartment.

Understandably Donna and her roommate were rather disturbed by these strange happenings – but when Donna came home one night to find what looked like bloodstains on the antique doll her concern turned to fear and a medium was called in to conduct a séance. Supposedly the toy was being haunted by the spirit of a 7-year old girl named Annabelle Higgins who had died on the land that Donna’s apartment complex was built on. The spirit asked to remain inside the doll as she felt comfortable and safe ‘living’ in the apartment with the two girls. Donna and her roommate agreed – a decision which would turn out to be an awful mistake and lead to dreadful consequences for the young women and those who sought to help them.

To cut a long and gruesome story short, Donna’s decision to keep the doll resulted in the injury of her friend Lou, who had always been suspicious of the toy and warned her that it was evil. Lou ended up with vicious scratches across his body and was almost suffocated one night by the wicked entity controlling the doll. It was after these incidents that the two women sought help from the church and at the same time the Warrens decided to take on the case. Working together with Episcopal priest Father Cooke they came up with an exorcism ceremony to cleanse Donna’s home and it was agreed that the Warrens would take the doll away with them when they left.

This could have been the end of the troubles but the spirit animating the doll had other ideas. During the drive to the Warrens’ house it caused their car’s steering and brakes to fail perilously and once in residence in the Warrens’ home it resumed its eerie movements around the house, showing up in different rooms unexpectedly, particularly Ed’s study and favourite chair. It also nearly caused the death of a visiting exorcist, who spoke in contemptuous tones to the doll before tossing it down onto Ed’s easy chair where it was once again mysteriously seated. Just hours later the brakes in the priest’s car failed, resulting in a collision which could easily have killed him.

After this the Warrens made a special glass case for Annabelle and there she remains even now, though being locked away has not prevented her from killing and injuring again.

As well as the Annabelle case the Warrens were also directly involved in the infamous Amityville Horror, entering the house with a team of other researchers to try and determine the cause of the terrible happenings which had been plaguing the Lutz family, who were living there but had now fled in fear of their lives. Both Ed and Lorraine experienced physical attacks and Lorraine felt a demonic presence inhabiting the building as well as being troubled by psychic visions of the family who had been murdered in the building before the Lutz family took it on. Sadly the Warrens could do no real good in this case as the negative energies inside the building were too powerful but they did help to retrieve some of the Lutz’s property so that the house could then be sold.

Ed Warren sadly passed away in 2006 but his legacy remains a powerful one and his wife Lorraine still dedicates herself to their paranormal work, conducting investigations and continuing to run their Occult Museum in Connecticut. Whether you agree with their statements about the supernatural world or not, there is no doubt that this devoted couple were fascinating people and led incredible lives, standing firmly on the frontline between this world and a darker one we tend to prefer not to think too much about…

If you share my fascination with this intriguing couple, why not check out their website to learn more about their work and, if you are brave enough, arrange a museum tour where you can come face to face with Annabelle herself.

http://www.warrens.net

“Diabolical forces are formidable. These forces are eternal, and they exist today. The fairy tale is true. The devil exists. God exists. And for us, as people, our very destiny hinges upon which one we elect to follow.” – Ed Warren

Scotland

Glasgow’s Ghost Buster – Archie E Roy (1924 – 2012) by MJ Steel Collins

Professor Archie Roy, ‘Glasgow’s ghostbuster’, passed away at the age of 88 on the 27th of December 2012.  Primarily an astronomer, this popular and respected man also made significant contributions to the field of the paranormal and psychical research. In an interview with freelance journalist Michael E. Tymn to promote his last book, Archie recalled how he came into the paranormal, “I lost my way in the old [Glasgow] University library and found shelves of books on spiritualism and psychical research. My first ignorant reaction was ‘what is this rubbish doing in a university library?’ But curiosity made me open some of the books. I was surprised to recognise some of the authors such as Sir Oliver Lodge, Professor William James, Professor William Crookes and so on. My balloon of ignorance was punctured by the needle of my scientific curiosity and I found myself called up to a new career.”
Archie Edmiston Roy was born on 24 June 1924 in Yoker, Glasgow. A three-year spell in hospital with Tuberculosis as a teenager saw him change his initial plan to become an architect. Watching the night sky through the hospital window from his bed sparked an interest in astronomy, leading him to read as much as he could on the topic. He became an undergraduate at Glasgow University in 1941, graduating with a BSc in 1950 and again with a doctorate in 1954.
At first, Archie taught science at Shawlands Academy, in the Southside of the city, but continued research in the University’s astronomy department during the summer. In 1958, he was confined to bed in hospital with a slipped disc in his back, when he heard that the University was about to advertise a lecturing vacancy in astronomy. He was invited to apply, and the rather sore Archie got himself out of bed and up to Gilmorehill, the main University campus, for an interview. Suffice to say he got it, on the 1st of April, to which he attached some significance!
Archie’s career at the University was a successful one; he became a Senior Lecturer of astronomy in 1966, Reader in 1973 and Professor of the department in the late 1970s.  By 1962, he was one of the best in the field of aerodynamics. In 1964, he took a Sabbatical to the United States, where he worked trajectories for the Lunar Orbital program. When he returned in 1965, Archie strolled into the William Hill bookmakers to place a £10 bet (£159 in current terms) on a manned Lunar landing before 1970, with odds of  120 -1. He collected his winnings in July 1969, keeping the payout slip pinned to his office blackboard with the legend “Go and do thou likewise” chalked below.

Another of Archie’s fields of expertise was archaeoastronomy and he was the first person to discover the first examples of elliptical stone rings in the UK on Machrie Moor, the Isle of Arran in Scotland. Aubrey Burl later excavated these. Prof Alexander Thom, a renowned expert in archaeoastronomy, also acknowledged Archie for this achievement. In 1978, Archie successfully recommended a former student, Duncan Lunan, as Manager of the Glasgow Parks Astronomy Project, which resulted in the construction of the Sighthill Stone Circle in 1979. The first astronomically aligned stone circle built in Britain for millennia, it was dedicated to Archie, along with Prof Thom, his son Dr Archie Thom and Euan Mackie, all pioneers in archaeoastronomy. At the time of Archie Roy’s death, the circle was and remains under the threat of demolition by Glasgow City Council, though a strong campaign is underway to save it.

It was whilst still a student Archie became interested in the paranormal, having come across those books in the furthest reaches of the old Glasgow University Library. In 1973, Archie joined the Society for Psychical Research in London. The 1970s saw him become involved in a poltergeist case to rival that of Enfield with his friend the Rev. Max Magee, Chaplain at Strathclyde University. Between 1974 and 1975, a family in Maxwell Park, Pollokshields, Glasgow, had been disturbed by violent poltergeist activity that left them terrified. By time Archie got involved, the case had been rumbling on for six months, and had a wide range of witnesses, ranging from local politicians, doctors, electricians and the police. Archie noted that the police officer in charge of the case said to him, “You know, I had to take some of my men off of that case. They were turning in reports like ‘The bed was proceeding in a northerly direction.’”
Archie and Rev. Magee’s role in the case was mainly to support the family. The focus of the activity was the family’s slightly rebellious 14-year-old son. Add to that, the family also had difficulty with the residents living in the flat below.  The family had attempted to flee the activity in their home by staying with a relative, but found it followed them. Archie and Rev. Magee stayed over at the family’s home in an effort to assuage their fears. It came to an end after three events; the death of the old man living below with whom the family had difficulties, a cleansing by Rev Magee and the 14 year old going to live with his grandparents for a short period.  Guy Lyon Playfair noted in his book This House Is Haunted, that the investigators got an idea of how to proceed with the Enfield Poltergeist case after attending a talk on poltergeists given by Archie.
A lot of Archie’s involvement in the paranormal was investigating haunted locations, usually as a result of people looking for help with a haunting. He stated that he acted as ‘a paranormal plumber’ in a lot of cases, trying to find a resolution to the activity as well as investigate it. In some instances, the cause of the activity was not paranormal at all, but structural issues in the property, or sadly, mental health problems. Still, he dealt with various types of phenomena, ranging from poltergeist activity, apparitions and a mixture of the two. On investigations, Archie would turn up his hearing aid trying to pick up signals from spirits. As well as this, he also conducted controlled experiments on psychical activity.
In the 1990s, Archie sat in on one of the Scole Experiment sessions, investigating cross communication. He was too busy at the time to have a larger role, but had quite an interesting experience, when one of the spirits in communication began having a complex debate about astronomy with him, regarding calculating the orbit of satellites and planets. He said that it dawned on him only a handful of people would have had the expertise to discuss astronomy at that level. He hadn’t mentioned the fact that he was one of the country’s leading astronomers!
In 1987, Archie established the Scottish Society of Psychical Research (SSPR) at Glasgow University, and was its founding President. The group continues today as a charitable organisation carrying out research, investigations and regularly meets at the University. According to Duncan Lunan, Archie was a touch shy about his involvement in establishing the SSPR.  Archie was also central in the establishment of an introductory night class on Psychical Research at Glasgow University’s Dept for Adult and Continuing Education several years ago. The 8 – 10 week course runs every year, and partly taught by Archie until a few years ago.
Archie was an important member of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) in London (set up in 1882 and separate from its Scottish cousin). He was SPR President from 1993 to 1995, and then on the General Council.  He was a frequent contributor to the Society’s publications and events. The SPR awarded Archie the Myers Memorial Medal in 2004 for outstanding contribution to psychical research. Archie regarded Frederic Myers, one of the SPR founders, as the most talented and greatest pioneer in psychical research.
As well as his involvement in astronomy and the paranormal, Archie was also a prolific author, writing thirty books, including several astronomy textbooks, some of which are the standards, supernatural thrillers and paranormal books. The latter include A Sense of Something Strange (1990), Archives of the Mind (1996) and The Eager Dead (2008), the latter looking at cross communication.  He was also a member of a number of organisations as well as the SPR and SSPR including The International Astronomy Union, the Brain Research Association and was a fellow in the Royal Astronomical Society, the British Interplanetary Society and the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
In 1989, Archie partially retired and became Emeritus Professor of Astronomy. Glasgow University marked his time there with a one-day event called A Lad O Pairts, which consisted of talks in all the fields Archie was involved in. The final talk, given that evening, took in an attendance of 800, filling up three lecture halls. Archie rued the idea of sitting back and putting his feet up in retirement. His research in the paranormal made him believe that people need to keep developing until they died, so he kept active fairly close to his death.
When asked what he did, Archie responded that he was a teacher. He had an asteroid named after him, 5806Archieroy.
He leaves behind his wife, Frances, and three sons, David, Archie and Ian.

Acknowledgements to Duncan and Linda Lunan for help in compiling this article. 

Additional sources Geoff Holder The Guide To Mysterious Glasgow (2008)
Michael E Tymn An Interview with Professor Archie Roy