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4 Apr 2013

D is for Dybbuk Box

I learnt about this story from Paranormal Witness, a show that interviews people who have witnessed supernatural events, getting their side of the story and also uses actors and actresses to dramatise the events.  For the A-Z blogging challenge I thought it would be interesting to write a weekly post on something folkloric, for inspiration purposes. :)

In Jewish mythology a dybbuk is a ghost or spirit that can possess a living person.  The were previously known as '"ruchim" in early Biblical and Talmudic accounts and it means "spirit" in Hebrew.  Later on in the 16th century the term changed to "dybbuk", meaning "clinging spirit" in Yiddish. 
                  - Information credit

The tale of the Dybbuk Box (not trying to sound like an Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode) haunted three people as it was passed around from one owner to the other.  The first buyer was Kevin Mannis who owned a small antique and furniture refinishing business in Portland, Oregon.  He came across the box, a wine cabinet, at an estate sale in 2001.  The sale was being held by the granddaughter of a recently deceased woman and told Mannis he had bought the Dybbuk Box.

When that box was taken back to Mannis's store the strange events began to happen.  His sales assistant was by herself and in charge of the store while he went away to run errands.  He got a call on his cell phone while he was out and it was the sales assistant who was absolutely terrified.  She claimed there was someone in the workshop and whoever had broken in had locked all exits so she couldn't get out.  On return Mannis found his sales assistant in his office, scared and sobbing.  Down in the basement where the box was being kept and there was a stench of cat urine and the lights didn't work.  He found the bulbs had all been broken, some shattered on the floor.  There was no intruder.  Unable to explain the events, the sales assistant left and never came back.

When Kevin Mannis opened the box up he found two 1920s pennies, a lock of blonde hair bound with a cord, a lock of dark brown hair bound with cord, a small statue engraved with "Shalom", a small, golden wine goblet, a dried rose bud and a single candle holder with four octopus shaped legs.

The strange occurrences continued.   Mannis kept having a series of nightmares, haunted by an old hag that kept appearing and hurting him.  His mother suffered a stroke when it was presented to her as a birthday day.  In the end Mannis had enough of the box and sold it on ebay.

The next owner was Iosif Neitzke, a student.  When he received the box the strange events began straight away.  There were frequent electronic failure around the house from lights burning to computer failure.  Insect swarms kept appearing around the box and Neizke also started to fall ill with medical conditions such as a severe and sudden hair loss.  Eventually he put the box back on ebay where it was bought by Jason Haxton, Director of the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine.  Haxton claimed he suffered and developed strange health conditions such as hives, coughing up blood and welts from head to toe.  His wife experienced blisters.  Like Neitzke and Mannis Haxton also experienced lights bulbs bursting and breaking as well as comouter failure.  Haxton took the box out of his office but kept it in the back of his truck where it would be parked at home in the evening. Haxton experienced the same nightmares as Mannis but it involved more hag-like women.  The last event Haxton witnessed happened when he was watching television with his son who noticed a flame-like mass in the living room.  After seeking advice from Rabbis Haxton managed to reseal the box and place it in a secret location.

It's a strange tale and one that inspired the film The Possession.  If you're interested in more information on the story here's a link to a website about the story. And there should be clips on youtube about the case. :)


  1. Weird! *shudder*

    One reason why I'm really glad that I get heevie jeevies around furniture before I buy them.

    1. I know. Really creepy. I do tend to believe there is a bit of supernatural in the world but I can be skeptical of people's accounts. Still when the same things happened to separate people I do have wonder.

      I'd have to ask about the history of an item if it had previous owners. Never taking any chances!

  2. I don't recall anything in the Old Testament (i.e., the Hebrew Scriptures) about disembodied souls that possess people, so I'm thinking this is more of a later Jewish idea. Of course, as a Christian, I have no problem with the supernatural. That the supernatural exists I think is without question. How you understand and deal with it is another issue...

    This is certainly an interesting story--a feast for horror/suspense writers! :)

    1. 16th century apparently, according to the website. If the term before just meant 'spirit' then it probably wasn't known as one that could possess and haunt. It's when the meaning changed that I think we get the spirit that gets us hiding behind cushions and sofas. ;) Be interesting to know why it changed.

  3. I actually saw The Possession, did you watch the documentary on the special features? It was really interesting and creepy. Especially the white odorless substance that started growing just in the area the box was being kept. Cool stuff.

    1. No, it's on list of horrors to watch. The trailer looked creepy as hell. I've heard about the strange stuff that happened when filming. Like the fire that burnt all their props. Very strange. ^^