As humans, we have a lot of stuff. We have so much stuff were not even aware of the stuff that we have. When was the last time you took inventory of every piece of cutlery you use on a day-to-day basis? Yet I could guarantee most of us have a favorite fork or spoon that we prefer to stir our coffee with or eat our meals off of. What makes that particular one more special than the others? And how upset would you be if it vanished?
It seems silly, but at the moment that we acknowledge our emotional attachment, however thin, to an object, we have begun the imbuing process of making that object more than merely what it is. This process of elevating them above the mundane is key to paranormal archaeological artifacts.
When we talk here about imbued objects, we can be talking about a variety of things; things that were intentionally made to become paranormal objects, fetishes, amulets, spirit boxes, alter icons, magical candles, spirit boards, prayer wheels, and so on. These objects that were created with intention can be easy to spot in the modern paranormal landscape. Often they’re created in a way to show their specialness and set them aside from an everyday object.
But what happens when a mundane object is elevated to the status of being paranormal?
This is most often seen with the idea of haunted objects, many times and antique brought home from an estate sale or an antique shop. It could even be something passed down between generations, or just a gift given between family members. The object itself isn’t important. The story that goes along with the object is. It’s the story of that object that makes it valuable and begins the process of elevating it above the status of mundane.
Look back on the story of the Dybbuk box, the original Dybbuk box story have the object being purchased from an estate sale. Had the box merely been bought and taken home by the antique dealer, nothing more would have been said about it. However, according to the original story, before the purchaser took the box home, he was informed by the descendant of the original owner that the box was a Dybbuk box and that it had some kind of family history.
Primed with that story, the new owner took the box back to his antique shop and began to open the box, at which time strange things started to occur.
Now, of course, this is all according to the story of the dybbuk box, a story that has been admitted to be made up. The important thing here is that the original Dybbuk box created the pattern for every Dybbuk box since. As of this writing, I can go on either Esty or eBay and purchase my very own Dybbuk box already sealed with a demon inside. Most of these boxes contain some sort of paranormal story to go along with them, and all of them claim to be old, some kind of relic from a bygone era something found out of place or will do down to them by a family ancestor. The stories follow a format that imbued in the box with more meaning than it initially would’ve had.
The Dybbuk boxes are interesting also because the lore of the Dybbuk box doesn’t stop with the outer shell of the box itself, but also the items inside the box. Of all of the UN-boxing’s that I’ve witnessed on YouTube, most Dybbuk boxes are filled with random things. I think the purpose here is to tell some sort of story with the items inside the box or to complete the creepy paranormal feel by having strange looking out of time out of place items inside an already haunted object. This, of course, makes the object inside the box paranormal themselves, for each object inside the haunted box must itself also be haunted.
Oddly have not seen much done with the objects inside the Dybbuk boxes as far as them being tested for paranormal activity. It’s almost as if by coming out of the box, they lose their paranormal-Nessa, even though the box itself maintains it.
If you’ve ever seen a Dybbuk box on boxing done by someone attempting to convince you that the Dybbuk box is real, you’ll notice that they use a variety of ghost hunting equipment on the boxes, including EMF readers and temperature gages. Many will also have a tape recorder digital recorder running to collect EVP’s, or electronic recordings of the voices of the boxes contents. I’ve watched several of these now, and I can’t recall seeing one do that to the objects inside the box themselves.
But what about the creation of a new sacred object?
I recently took a trip to Salem, Massachusetts, and got to spend some time in the various paranormal and witchcraft stores all over the shopping district is truly a fun time, and everyone I encountered was very friendly. But one of my main research questions, while I was there, was to look at objects that had been created with the intent of becoming ritual objects.
If you’re not familiar with the practice of paganism, specifically Wicca or the Norse Heathenism, you may not be aware of how much ritual goes into the practice. Many rituals are very simplistic, requiring nothing more than a candle. Some get very elaborate, however, requiring several objects in order for the ceremony to be performed correctly. These objects can be purchased from artisans and craftspeople who have made such objects with the specific purpose of becoming ritual objects.
Another way of obtaining these is to repurpose an old item. I can recall seeing one time a silver candy dish that had been turned into a witch’s scrying bowl. I’ve often seen antique candle holders that have been repurposed into altar items. It’s not uncommon to see old jewelry, especially antique jewelry with semiprecious stones or Amber being used as ritual objects.
This creates two classifications of paranormal objects here, one being those created with the specific purpose of becoming ritualistic and one being those that are objects that were created for a different purpose being repurposed as ceremonial objects.
You will also find objects that are modern in origin, that were not created with the intent and purpose of becoming a ritual object, that has been adapted as such. Journals come to mind immediately. You can purchase many blank books and blank journals from just about any store that sells books. Most of these are not intended to become spell books or books of shadows, but many end up that way.
I currently want to focus on objects created with the intent of becoming ritualistic, which brings us back to my trip to Salem. Since there are so many shops there that cater to witchcraft Andi’s magical practices, most of the objects sold in these stores are sold with the purpose of becoming or being used in rituals. You can find mass-produced things, mass-produced candles, candle holders, Prue-tumbled rocks, herbs, shells, salts and stands, and a variety of jewelry.
Often, however, you will come across objects that were made by hand, specifically for that purpose.
I’m thinking of the spirit boards that I encountered while I was visiting one of the shops. Spirit boards are the non-brand-name of Ouija boards. All Ouija boards are spirit boards, much like all Kleenex are facial tissue.
These particular spirit boards were handmade by an artist, who picked the wood specifically for the board’s so that the wood itself would have spiritual elements. She would then prepare the wood to be enhanced either by carving or painting or a combination. The decoration that she applied to each spirit board was intentional and reflected the purpose saying of the board.
When I spoke with the shop clerk who was explaining the spirit boards to me, she informed me that users of the boards sometimes prefer to have one board that reflected their personalities or the purpose of their seances. She said others preferred to have ones that reflected the seasons or the times of the year. When I visited the store had recently finished it’s Halloween season and was moving into the holiday season. Wiccans, of course, celebrate Samhain and Yule, which correspond with Halloween and Christmas on the Christian calendar. There were several spirit boards for sale at the time that were decorated with motifs of the upcoming Yule season. As well as several that were decorated with black cats, moons and stars, goddess figures, and so on.
Another item in the same store carried were handmade spell candles. I was informed by the clerk that said candles were very potent, and everyone who uses them in ritual commented on how successful the candles made the rituals. The reason for this, she explained to me, was because of how the candles were made. Each batch was made with corresponding herbs and oils as well as the color of the candle to make sure that it would correspond correctly with the spell being cast. This process, to me, speaks of intense. Where the candles could have just been mass-produced, colored with little care to the purpose, and random fragrances injected. These candles were hand-poured, specially scented and colored, and sprinkled with herbs to enhance their magical properties, some even containing crystals to help their power.
These two items, the spirit board, and the magic candles, had a very elaborate production process to them. Now it is entirely possible that none of this was true and that both of these objects could simply have been quickly produced in the cheapest way possible with no attention paid to the overall and purpose of the objects. However, telling me the story of the object’s creation begins the process of the object becoming sacred.
I, as the purchaser, have been told that these objects have been created specifically for ritualistic purposes. I have been primed for that, so if I were to buy the board or the candles, I would already feel good about it because I would know that these objects were made for the purpose that I am going to put to them. If I was so inclined to believe in these magical objects, I would think of the care and consideration put into the creation of them would enhance their paranormal-ness going forward.
Could I simply buy the magical candles to burn and make my house smell nice? Of course. Once I’ve purchased the object, how it is used is up to me and out of the hands of whoever created it. However, if I’m specifically looking for magical candles, I found them.
Could I buy a scented candle from anywhere and use it in my magical spells?
Again, of course, but purchasing a candle that I believe has been created for the specific purpose of the spell that I am casting mentally enhances the effectiveness of the spell in on my own mind.
And here is the interesting thing about the paranormal object. It doesn’t matter what the object is, or really if it was indeed made the way I believe that it has been made. It matters what I, as the user believes.
Dybbuk boxes are entirely made up; therefore, any Dybbuk box on the market is fake. But if I buy a Dybbuk box believing that there is a demon inside of it, I’m going to react to the box and treat the box as if that were so. It is pretty much guaranteed that no Dybbuk box on the market today has undergone any form of ritual or purposeful creation to be a container for a demon.
On the other hand, I can purchase a spirit board specially designed to enhance my abilities to communicate with otherworldly spirits. If I buy the board just to take it home and display it, I’m not using it for its intended purpose, but I’m also not going to be harmed by it, nor am I damaging the board.
The critical thing here is that people purchase both the spirit boards and the Dybbuk boxes, believing in the paranormal aspects of both.
I believe, personally, that those that create Dybbuk boxes for sale on Etsy and eBay know that there is nothing paranormal about the boxes, and are taking advantage of people who are either looking for a box for the thrill of it or who believe that they are purchasing a demon. This is, of course, the definition of fraud, but buyer beware. The fascinating thing for me happens when people who have purchased a Dybbuk box get it back to their house and begin to experience paranormal activity that they attribute to the box. These people believe that they have brought an otherworldly entity into their lives and begin to associate strange happenings thereafter with the entity and the box.
Very similar to how those that purchase the spirit boards, which I believe, personally, are created with the intent of helping others communicate with spirits. People buy these boards with the expectation that they will be able to take it and use it to communicate with spirit guides or otherworldly entities. So when they do use the board, and they are able to “contact” the other world, they’re happy with their purchase, and it furthers their belief in the power of the board.
What both situations do is convince the owner of the objects of the power of the object. Elevating that objects away from being a mundane box with wax dripped around it, or a mere piece of wood that has been carved and painted, and into an object’s that houses an entity of some variety.
This then creates a situation where the object is being treated differently than one would treat a mundane box or piece of wood. In the example of the spirit board, the board may be store d’s in a particular way wrapped in a special cloth, sprinkled with herbs and purified water, blessed activated or purified with crystals incense smoke or candles. These are not processes that an everyday item would go through, but make sense for a sacred object.
The same can be said of a Dybbuk box. As with a regular object, if you wanted to get rid of it, you would simply throw it away. Those who try to get rid of a possessed Dybbuk box often find themselves going through a much more elaborate process up to and including various cleansing methods on the box again incense purified water magic candles and such. Some have even claimed to have had to have exorcisms performed in order to clean the area of demonic entities. Last time I wanted to get rid of a shoebox I tossed it out. This isn’t the proper disposal method for a possessed object.
Both of these scenarios are dependent on the belief of the object’s owner. If the owner believes that there is nothing special about either object, then there will be no special care given to either object. But belief in the paranormal-ness of these objects requires that they are treated differently than mundane objects.
So, the process of the creation of a paranormal object is tied to the story of its creation and my personal belief in that story. But often, paranormal objects are sought after, so a buyer could come already primed to believe in the paranormal-ness of an object. Belief enhances story and story enhances belief. It’s a cycle.
Does an object have to be created intentionally to become paranormal? No. Again, story and belief are important here. We’ll examine the processes of an everyday object becoming paranormal in the next post.
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