Every once in a while, I’ll run into a story that just gives me the shudders, despite my generally rationalistic approach. All this does, of course, is to highlight a truism about the human condition; when it comes to a fight between logic and emotion, emotion usually wins. We like to flatter ourselves, and think that our highly-developed prefrontal cortices make us smarter than our non-human cousins, but when it comes to a real throw-down match between the parts of the brain, I’m putting my money on the limbic system every time — the part of the brain that, along with the hypothalamus, governs the “four F’s” of behavior: feeding, fighting, flight, and… mating.
A story this week out of Brazil highlights the third “F” — which stands for the flight response. It could also stand for “fear,” because that’s what usually motivates an animal running away. The story, which comes out of the town of São Gonçalo de Campos, near Feira de Santana, in the state of Bahia, is about a rather terrifying cryptid that has been sighted more than once in local neighborhoods.
Even the government officials are taking it seriously. Apparently, for the last two weeks there’s been a curfew in the town; no one is to be outside after 9 PM. It started when a man identified only as “Pingo” described seeing a five-foot-tall black monster, which ran at him; Pingo turned and fled, escaping (he said) only by the narrowest of margins. At first, the other villagers made fun of him — until others had similar encounters. Locals are calling it a “werewolf.”
All of this would have been nothing more than another tale of “I saw something real, really I did” if it hadn’t been for the footage captured on a home security camera. Watch it for yourself:
Here’s a still:
Okay, yes, I know. There are no such things as werewolves. There’s no reason why this couldn’t have been faked. It probably is a guy in dark clothes jumping around in front of the homeowner’s security camera, in order to keep the whole scare going. Who knows? Maybe it’s even “Pingo,” who dreamed the story up to have his fifteen minutes (or in this case, more like two weeks) of fame.
But I have to admit that watching this video gave me some very irrational shudders right up the spine. There’s something about the way the creature moved that just doesn’t look… human. I’m probably being suggestible, I realize that; our fight-or-flight responses have been programmed through millions of years of evolution to shriek at us, whenever we see a shadowy shape in the dark, “DEAR GOD IT’S A PREDATOR RUN FOR YOUR LIFE OR YOU WILL BE MESSILY DEVOURED.” The chances of it being anything other than a hoaxing human are very small.
Even so, if I lived in São Gonçalo de Campos, I would definitely abide by the curfew. I probably would also deadbolt my doors shut at night. Maybe it is only Pingo playing a prank; that’s what my prefrontal cortex is telling me. But if I lived anywhere near where this thing had been seen, my limbic system would outshout my prefrontal cortex without even breaking a sweat.
This secret organization hides the “anomalous phenomena”
The SCP Foundation is a secret organization commissioned by world governments to contain and study anomalous entities, objects and phenomena that defy natural laws.
SCP refers to the acronym for Special Containment Procedures (Special Containment Procedures). If some of these SCP objects are left uncontrolled, they can pose a threat to humans, or at least to normal perception of reality.
The existence of SCPs is kept secret to prevent massive panic and related chaos that prevents humanity from performing its common tasks.
When a phenomenon is discovered, the SCP Foundation deploys agents to collect and transport the phenomenon somewhere in the Foundation, or to contain it at the location of its discovery if transportation is not possible.
Once contained, the phenomena are studied by Foundation scientists. Foundation-acquired prisoners (referred to as ‘Class D’ personnel) are used to interact with certain phenomena due to the danger they pose.
The Foundation maintains documentation of special containment processes for all phenomena in its custody. These documents describe the phenomenon and include instructions for keeping it properly contained.
Since 1992, the SCP Foundation has maintained containment procedures for over 2000 phenomena, and new procedures are often added.
This foundation was born on the Internet, where thousands of state secrets were released that supposedly should never have been disclosed.
As long as society lives in “peace,” this organization may struggle to contain what we don’t know and push these things away from the environment.
It is said to have, at least on the web, an archive full of non-fiction stories that certain people live outside and inside the premises of this organization. In addition, from the testimonials of scientists who conducted tests to find out the origin of entities and objects. And that has possibly been happening for a long time, and not as they say, since the beginning of the century.
Perhaps it is a very old secret society, where people and aliens alternate, which can broaden the knowledge that in our world, situations occur that cannot be controlled by human society.
What do you think? Do you think there are paranormal and mysterious phenomena that should not be seen by us humans?
Fright night on A&E channel on October 30th
If you live in the United States and your getting into the Halloween mood early then check out A&E Channel on October 30th for a night of Ghost Hunting.
First off at 8pm ET/PT, A&E embarks on the longest continuously filmed paranormal investigation in television history with “World’s Biggest Ghost Hunt: Pennhurst Asylum.”
Watch Paranormal investigators Ali Horrick, Katie Burr, Zak Heino, Max Baumle and Austin George as they investigate one of the most haunted places in the U.S in this 2 hour special.
You can read more about the show here in a post I wrote earlier this month.
Then at 10pm ET/PT, the highly anticipated season one finale of “Ghost Hunters” finds the team, Grant Wilson, Daryl Marston, Kristen Luman, Brandon Alvis, Mustafa Gatollari, Brian Murray and Richel Stratton, capturing compelling evidence of a figure lurking inside an abandon 19th century hospital in Texas.
When Demons Get Into Our World
An exorcism is a religious practice of removing demons or other possessing spirits from a person or place. Ridding someone of a diabolic possession is not always an easy process, but many believe it is necessary for the safety of the victim and those around them.
Exorcisms have been practiced for thousands of years and across several major religions, including: Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and, of course, Catholicism.
Exorcism in Catholicism
Though called by a variety of names, the ritual of exorcism can be found in nearly every form of religion. However, it is most often associated with the removal of demons in Christianity; specifically in the denomination of Catholicism. Catholics believe that the power of Jesus Christ provides priests with the power to expel evil demons.
Baptism, blessings, and the cleansing Prayers of Deliverance can be considered forms of exorcism in the Catholic faith, but Major Exorcisms are what we typically associate with the word.
This form, also known as the Rite of Exorcism, is considered when a powerful entity has taken control of an individual. This rite can only be performed by a priest, or with the permission of a Bishop.
Identifying the Possessed
Demonic or spiritual possession can display itself in many ways depending on who, or what, has actually taken hold of the host. Most signs are quite similar to what we associate with mental disorders like schizophrenia, but escalate much quicker and are accompanied by events or characteristics that can only be considered paranormal.
Some symptoms of possession are:
– Sudden hair or eye color changes.
– Tone of voice switches randomly from very high to very low.
– Speaks in tongues, or languages they’ve never learned.
– Ability to move the body in unnatural or humanly impossible positions.
– A sudden aversion to all religious objects, practices, or materials.
– Exhibits extreme rage along with superhuman strength.
– Recants past events they’ve never heard of as if they were there.
– Ability to read the thoughts of those around them.
– Levitates at will or during sleep.
Due to advancement in medicine and many tragedies that have occurred during exorcisms, an extensive investigation is now required before an exorcism will be performed. It’s essentially a process of elimination to determine if the person is truly possessed by a spiritual being or not.
A priest will enlist the help of a psychiatrist, medical doctor, and Church-appointed paranormal expert to determine if the symptoms can be explained by mental illness, a medical condition, or fraud. If the investigation concludes that the individual is truly possessed, then an exorcist is appointed to the case.
Performing the Rite of Exorcism
The appointed exorcist dresses in this surplice along with a purple stole, and makes his way to the victim. He then begins the ritual by speaking a series of statements, prayers, and appeals.
These can be divided into two groups: Those in which the priest asks God to free the subject from the demon, and those in which the priest commands the demon to leave by the name of God.
The priest will perform various actions at specific times during his recitations, such as: laying his hands on the victim, splashing holy water on everyone in the area, clasping or hold up a holy relic, and making signs that signify the cross on himself as well as the victim.
All of these things are repeated until the demon has been expelled, or the priest has exhausted all options.
Most Famous Exorcisms
Though there have been many documented cases of exorcisms, there are a few that stand out.
The Exorcism of Ronald Doe
Upon the sudden death of his aunt, a teenage boy attempted to communicate with her through Ouija board. Soon after, many strange things started occurring around him. When no one could explain the events, two priests were called to help.
During multiple exorcisms performed on him in 1949, the priests witnessed his bed shake violently, various objects flying around the room, many words appearing in wounds on his body, and the boy speaking in a guttural tone.
Once the 30th rite was completed, everything suddenly stopped and the boy had no memory of the previous events. Though given the pseudonyms Ronald Doe and Ronnie Mannheim, the boy’s true name was never released. The diary kept by one of the priests was adapted into the film and novel, The Exorcist.
The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel
A German Catholic woman named Anneliese Michel, initially thought to be suffering from depression, began hearing voices that told her she was damned. Over time she developed seizures and became intolerant to many things related to her religion, like walking past a crucifix or drinking holy water.
After psychiatric treatment and medication showed no improvement, her family turned to the church for help. From 1975-76 over 60 exorcisms were performed, some lasting as long as 4 hours.
She died in her home on July 1, 1976 from malnutrition. Her case has been considered a misdiagnosis of mental illness, negligence, and abuse. The films of Requiem and The Exorcism of Emily Rose are based on her story.
Ossett murder case of 1974
In the British town of Ossett, a man by the name of Michael Taylor expressed that he felt evil within himself. He began to verbally lash out in his Christian Fellowship Group, and his erratic behavior escalated even after an absolution was performed.
A priest and a group of Methodist clergymen were eventually called in to carry out an exorcism. The rite lasted for many hours from October 5th to 6th in 1976 and those involved claimed that at least forty demons spoke through him.
When they were all too exhausted to go on they allowed him to return home, though they feared that at least three demons were still present. A few hours later, he was found in the street covered in blood. He had murdered his wife; tearing her face off with his bare hands.
Exorcisms are protected under the first amendment in the US and still preformed throughout the world today. In fact, the many films related to them have caused a sharp increase in the number of exorcisms being requested.
However, only a handful of priests have been given the ability to perform them and less than 1% of all requests are granted. Whether you believe in possessions or not, the need for exorcisms has been around for a long time and will probably be around for many years to come.
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