Short Ghost Tour of Druid Hill in Baltimore, MD.

A Short Ghost Tour of Druid Hill in Baltimore, MD.
As part of the 31 Days of Archaeological Horror, I took a brief trip to Baltimore and decided to film a few, very impromptu tours. This is Druid Hill and a few of its shady ghost.

I hope you enjoy this quick tour and see you tomorrow for more ArchaeoHorror fun!

Archaeology is Telling Ghost Stories

Telling stories is ostensibly what archaeology is about.

When archaeologists tell a story, though, it’s a little different than average. Our stories are anchored to the past via evidence recovered by scientific excavation. From there, we try to deductively interpret what the evidence tells us about the past and past peoples.

But what about the ghosts?

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Since the late 90’s, there’s been a call in academic archaeology to revitalize the way we talk to the public about what we do and what we find. A call to action to make archaeology less inaccessible and more entraining to the public.

In the same time span we’ve seen the rise in popularity of TV shows like Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures and online, with the rise in publicly made videos and social media about investigating haunted locations.

April Beisaw (2016) and Michelle Hanks (2015) suggest that ghost hunting and its overall rise in popularity is a way for the “nonelite” public to become “Knowledge Producers” of the past. By interacting with the past in a way that others have argued is a pantomime of science (ie, using ‘equipment’ doing ‘research’ and ‘investigating’ locations), Ghost hunters create a version of the past that they can interact with, and more importantly, share with others. Even if it does take the form of breathless reveals of blurry images and garbled audio, it creates a story, and it’s a hell of a lot more entertaining than the last four archaeology reports I read.

That said, does archaeology need to become this same sensationalized storytelling machine?

No, and Yes.

Photo by Skitterphoto on

Beisaw mentions archaeology as ghost hunting in her 2016 article and highlights the storytelling aspect of it. She pulls on Michael Bell’s (1997) idea of the ‘Ghosts of Place’ and says that a compelling tale about the history of and what happed (the Ghost) at a given location (the Place) allows for better interaction and understanding with said location by the public.

We can tell history through story, and we can make that story even more real with the use of our archaeological evidence to create a bridge between the living and the dead.

In my humble opinion, this is what we should be doing anyway, and what we try to do when it comes to museums. Unfortunately, the usually sterile conditions of museums and the complete removal of context from artifacts in museums strips the humanity from objects in museums (and creates other supernatural issues with hauntings we’ll discuss later). House museums and Living Museums do a much better job of fostering that bridge between the past and the present, but they are often small museums with little-to-no funding or suffer the inclusion of fantasy elements (think Renfairs).

Ghost stories have the same issues of course, with the added benefit of the telephone-game-effect, where one person tells the story, and the next person changes it slightly, and so on down the line till details have changed, the story has become a new version of itself. This is the tradition of such stories, I think, and part of the fun of them. Ghost stories often have a moral to them or a lesson to be learned. “Don’t go to the old dark bridge at night,” or “Don’t anger strangers in the dark,” or some variation on those themes.
These stories-as-warnings can be traced back all through human history. Every culture has them, and every culture still uses them. We here in our vaulted modern world might call them superstitions, especially when we’re trying to seem superior to others, but every group has its folklore, even modern ones.

Archaeology can build on this and use the examples of these are a modern blueprint for better public outreach.

Photo by Octoptimist on

Beisaw teaches classes on Ghost Hunting at her university. She uses the modern ghost hunters’ kit to create engagement between her students and the locations they study. But most importantly, she uses the story as a history to teach about the site.

“Ghost hunting always begins with a back-story (Beisaw 2016),”

The back-story is where archaeology can, and should, come in. Prime the pump if you will prepare the observer for what they are about to observe. People go ghost hunting to interact with the Ghosts of Place, the memories of a location. Archaeology is precisely the same. There’s no reason not to share.


Beisaw, April M.
2016 Historical Archaeology as Ghost Hunting. DRAFT Paper prepared for “Haunted Landscapes” session of SHA 2016. Organized by Julia A. King and Alena Pirok

Bell, Michael Mayerfeld
1997 The Ghosts of Place. Theory and Society 26(6):813-836.

Deetz, James
1998 Discussion: Archaeologists as Storytellers. Historical Archaeology 32(1):94-96.

Hanks, Michelle
2015 Haunted Heritage: The Cultural Politics of Ghost Tourism, Populism, and the Past. Left Coast Press.

Folk Horror and Archaeology

Monochrome Horror Movie Poster

I have finally found time to read the first episode of Hellebore, the Samhain 2019 issue. I am blown away! I need to secure Issue 2 before Issue 3 comes out this year.

If you don’t know what Hellebore is, it’s a lovely little magazine, or maybe just a Zine from the UK power team of editor Maria J. Perez Cuervo and art director Nathaniel Winter-HebertTogether they merge Folk Horror with the academic and historical fields that feed it.

Which, if you’re wondering, does include Archaeology.

Archaeology and Folk Horror

We’ve touched on this overlap before, especially when we talk about Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos. But for once, we don’t have Lovecraft to thank for this. He was simply building on the work of those before him.

Some names might be familiar, M.R. James and Arthur Machen. Others might be a little less familiar, like Eleanor Scott, Catherine Crowe, or B.M. Croker.

Regardless, These early writers left their marks on modern horror.

Like many ‘types’ of horror, Folk Horror has a recipe to it, certain elements that categorize it. Often it’s set in the rural areas, and an urban visitor experiences the horror. Often said visitor becomes the victim of some old time-my religious rite, a human sacrifice.

Other times, we see said Urban visitor traded for a Scholar or researcher of old religions who decides to reenact one ritual in particular. And of course, there is always the witnessing of the summoning of an ancient, angry god, who wants blood in payment.

The critical element here is the old religion, the pagan ways, the ritual to the forgotten gods.

Keeping in mind the ‘origin’ of Folk Horror is the Victorian and Edwardian eras. The horror in many of these stories is a reversion of civilization. 

Darwin’s Theory was new and popular and applied to just about anything, including the idea of the development of civilization. Archaeology, still a developing field, work to piece together the artifacts and cultures they were – “discovering” – and tried to create an evolutionary timeline, which of course, ended with their own modern civilization as the ‘superior’ civilization. Much like modern humans were seen as the superior race, 19 cen European and Western Civilization was touted as the top of the evolutionary chain.

I’m being very critical of my own developing field here. It’s important to understand that, however, noble the origins and reasons behind archaeology were in the late 18th and 19th centuries, they wouldn’t hold up to modern-day standards. At their time, however, the belief was that these ideas were true, and archaeology was the way to prove it.

Along with the progression of Darwin’s idea of evolution seeping into every nook and cranny of 19th-century life, there was also the steady progression from rural-living to urbanization and industrialization. This time represented a significant shift in a lot of aspects of everyday life for the average person. There was a slipping away from Christianizing, or at least the overall power of the church. Freethinking, skepticism, science, and materialism took hold philosophically throughout the upper and lower ranks of society. This also fostered a fascination with past religions, at least how the 19th-century mind envisioned them. 

Margaret Murray gets a lot of flak for her investigations into what she termed the Witch-cult, as if no man before her has ever made any of the mistakes she made. Do I need a sarcasm flag here? James Fraser left his mark with his famous book : a study in comparative religion, Fraser was heavily influenced by Darwin’s idea of evolution and the application of it to the development of civilizations, believing that there was a straight timeline from the most primitive to the most sophisticated, which of course would be his own.

Murray and her research began to weave together the idea of the horned god and mother goddess. These elements would be familiar to most modern pagans today, especially those practicing modern witchcraft.

Both Murray and Fraser’s writings would influence not only other anthropologists of their time but also fiction and especially horror writers. With the establishment of the idea of pagan and folk religions surviving out in the furthest reaches of the rural areas, and the fear of civilization regressing along its evolutionary lines, horror writers had a Rich field in which to play.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the love of the ghost story blossomed during the 19th century and carried over into the 20th. This is the same time that we see archaeology and anthropology start coming into their own as research fields. With each discovery of the unknown and forgotten past brought into the imaginations of the public, new stories are woven and shared in the Pulp Fiction of the time.

Not to say the concept of a burial mound or ruins being haunted only came about in the 19th century. These ideas probably date back to the first set of ruins being encountered by the first civilized man. No matter where you are in the timeline of human history, there is almost certainly a past. So there is always something for the current people to puzzle over about their history and come up with explanations for. Modern haunted locations are no different, we forget what the places for, or we have a vague understanding of what it means, and so we weave stories around it to help us better understand the dark structures around us.

19th-century fears however did add a particular flavor to their horror. The idea shady pagan religions being kept alive in small out-of-the-way towns along the countryside, hungry forgotten gods needing to be appeased, and in general the regression of civilization to a more primitive form, represented by these pagan religions, and rural people.

This is not to say that 19th and 20th-century fiction only centered around these ideas of progress and evolution. There’s quite a bit of different kinds of writing being developed during these times, and horror and sci-fi written during these eras, especially by women, were used to do more than just communicate modern fears. We’re focusing on folk horror here, because we love horror.

One of the interesting characteristics of folk horror to me is that the essential elements of it haven’t really changed over the years. Folk horror relies on social groups separated from the modern world who are practicing old, often pagan religious rights. These are usually people who have purposefully set themselves aside from modern civilization. Not in the way that the Amish or Mennonites do, but more like the original wicker man movie from the 1970s. A small island town completely cut off from the mainland, who have actively decided to go back to the pagan ways of worship in order to ensure the prosperity of their people.

We can see this in modern horror as the religious cult living on a communal compound, or the hidden underground workings of a cabal within a modern city who uses ancient rights to ensure its own power. Either way it could be argued that the element of regression is still present. It relies on the idea that either current Christian religious practices or the complete lack of belief in religion often represented by skepticism and scientism are the superior civilization. Anything opposing that is often seen as backward, or barbaric. These particular elements usually represented by the practice of pagan like ceremonies and, more often than not, blood sacrifice, human or otherwise.

Which, of course, brings us to modern archaeology and evidence of human sacrifice in the past. 

Is there any?

If you rely solely on the accounts of individual writers and old historians, even ancient historians like taxis, you will find many written reports of human sacrifice being performed by civilizations, unlike the authors. This is a critical element to keep in mind. Particularly with the Romans and the Greeks, the idea of human or blood sacrifice was considered particularly barbaric or backward. Accusations of either practice were leveled at culture groups that were not part of the Roman or Greek own. It was historical slander. This particular practice did not change as time moved on. Accusations by early settlers and explorers of the New World were rampant against the indigenous people there that imaginative ways of sacrificing humans were practiced. And of course, in Europe, even as early as the 70s and 80s, explanations for old stone circles and megaliths almost always came back to some form of blood sacrifice practiced by ancient peoples.

And yet when we look at the archaeological evidence for these things, it’s nearly impossible to prove.

Just common sense being applied to the idea of human sacrifice makes the logistics of it a bit unsustainable. If you already have a small population of people, eliminating one every year is not going to help your situation. Suppose you consider the cost analysis. If you don’t think our ancestors were capable of this, then you underestimate the human mind. You would need a large population to sustain even a once yearly sacrifice, especially if you were targeting a particular member, like only virginal women. Eventually, you’re going to shoot yourself in the foot, and your population will collapse.

That said, can I, as an archaeologist, definitively say there was never any human sacrifice performed by ancient peoples?


Though I do take any human sacrifice description with a full teaspoon of salt, there were probably some if we just go by written and oral traditions. The more modern these descriptions get, and the more they are filtered through a Western observational lens, the less credence I would give any of them. To the point of, any current-day claims of human sacrifice by ancient peoples better have some damn good evidence to back it up (I see you, Heather Lynn ). Gruesome descriptions of supposed past acts of human sacrifice should always be suspect, and those touting them as factual acts should be heavily questioned.

But they do make great movies!

And so we come back around to Folk Horror and the use of archaeology to bolster the thrilling idea of rural pagan people practicing ancient rituals of human sacrifice to hungry gods.

It’s a tantalizing idea to believe that somewhere out in the farmlands of America; there is a small cult of pagan worshipers masquerading as wholesome everyday people. Who at night gather around bonfires chanting worship towards unremembered gods and stabbing knives through the chests of unsuspecting vagrants who unluckily wandered into their town.

As both a writer and a consumer of this type of fiction, it’s important to understand why these horror elements work, especially for today’s society. It’s especially important to understand where these particular elements evolved from, and why they stick. It is a fear of the unknown, and a reaction to modernization, the loss of the connection between humans and nature. But it is also a form of othering of people we don’t understand; it’s a fear of going backward in modern progress, the fear of getting in touch with the unknown elements of the past, a fear of being caught up in a web we are unfamiliar with and have no modern coping mechanism for.

It’s very thrilling to be caught up in a story like this, and it may not be quite satisfying to understand why we find that so exciting.

ditto line

Hi! I’m an archaeologist who likes games, video games, gaming, horror, the supernatural, and debunking pseudoarchaeology. Check out my vids for more on the above topics, and toss us a coin if you like what I do.

Patreon –

Ko-Fi –

Twitter – @ArchyFantasies

IG – @ArchyFantasies

Website –

Emai –

The Haunting of Winchester Mansion with Dr. Karen Stollznow


Dr. Stollznow joins us as we examine the Winchester Mansion. Why is it haunted, how does that perception change how we interact with the property, and what’s the real story behind the mysterious Sarah Winchester?–Karen-Stollznow-ef0bqq

Show Notes:

Dr. Karen Stollznow:

Karen Stollznow on Twitter (@karenstollznow)

MonterTalk Podcast

ditto line

Hi! I’m an archaeologist who likes games, video games, gaming, horror, the supernatural, and debunking pseudoarchaeology. Check out my vids for more on the above topics, and toss us a coin if you like what I do.

Patreon –

Ko-Fi –

Twitter – @ArchyFantasies

IG – @ArchyFantasies

Website –

Emai –

What is Paranormal Archaeological Survey?

Landscape Photography Album Cover

Here on the Paranormal Archaeology blog, we have toyed with the idea of doing a paranormal archaeological survey. Using archaeological methods to look over the paranormality of sites or analyze artifacts that are perceived as being haunted. But trying to put together what that might look like in real life, has been a bit difficult. There aren’t a lot of examples to look at in the professional academic world as far as how to paranormally investigate something archaeologically. We could hold seances; we could use dowsing; we could fall back on psychic mediums to perform psychic archaeology for us. None of those things really will achieve what we are trying to do here. Which is to examine how the perception of something being haunted affects human interaction with it.

Two of the things I’ve been researching is the idea of the good old-fashioned ghost hunt that has become so popular of late with the various Ghost Hunters shows on television and YouTube. The other idea that’s been influencing my thought process is the work of John Sabol over at CASPER, his paranormal archaeological research group.

Sabol has some interesting ideas about how to conduct a paranormal investigation at haunted sites. He also has some fascinating insights about what makes a site haunted, how that haunted perception affects people around the site, and in general critiques about how archaeology and excavation influence the results and data collected from various sites. The majority of his writing is available on his Academia.EDU page. I can’t 100% say for sure that Sabol believes in ghosts or that a site is haunted. However, going off of his actions and his own research, I’m willing to think that he does? If he ever reads this and wishes to correct me, I would appreciate it, because I am very confused.

Whether or not Sabol believes in ghosts or not, his critiques of archaeology are very poignant, and his observations on sites, site formation, site use, and archaeological perception of excavation are very thought-provoking. I will say if you go attempt to read Sabol’s writings, be prepared for extremely jargon-heavy writing that can be disconnected at times. Though I’m sure, people can say that about my blogs.

Regardless, between the methods of now “traditional” ghost hunting using data collection devices, and Sabol’s recommendations for performative excavations, I have started to form ideas of how I would like to attempt a paranormal survey or ghost excavation.

Technology has advanced a lot. I’m not sure if anyone’s noticed, but these things we call cell phones are really just computers. And some of them are very powerful computers at that. My phone, for example, has the ability to record pretty much any data I would require on survey. It also has the ability to store data and access sites and apps that could potentially analyze said data for me. The only thing my phone really can’t do is dig my unit for me. Give it time, I’m sure.

That being said, I have no intention of doing an invasive excavation. There is no need to go into any site, haunted or otherwise, with intentions of disturbing the ground in any way. We also have no need to collect artifacts from the site and take them back to a lab location. It is my belief that with the technology offered inside of my cell phone and my handy dandy GoPro and my laptop, I am more than capable of recording all data necessary in the field.

Which makes this an exciting proposition. Because it may also mean the paranormal survey could be very cost-effective in that I already own everything I need and probably don’t need to buy into anything new. Good news, in my opinion.

So using archaeological methods and practice to design a noninvasive excavation of the paranormal site is my goal. Using the data collection of “traditional” ghost hunting as well as archaeological data recovery, I think, will yield some exciting results. Perhaps even attempting some of the performative excavation that Sabol suggests would be interesting as well.

What is all of this going to get me besides a fun time at a “haunted” location? Well archaeology is nothing without data, but does that mean that data can prove archaeologically that the site is haunted?


One of the things archaeology does when looking at the results of data collection at a site, keeping in mind that data can be anything from soil colors and soil depths all the way up to actual physical artifacts recovered, to the very weather at the time of survey, is putting all these things together to create a story of how the site was interacted with by humans. We have plenty of examples throughout archaeology to show us different ways that humans interact with different types of sites, including those that they consider sacred or holy.

Now, if you followed some of my past blog posts, you will know that there are lots of crossovers when it comes to human behavior towards sacred or holy sites, and sites that are considered haunted or supernatural. The reasons for certain practices might be different, but in the end, the behavioral patterns look roughly the same. Through comparison of haunted sites to known sacred and holy places, it might be possible to determine if the location might be perceived as haunted by the people interacting with it.

To put it simply, there are certain behaviors that people perform towards a site or object when that site or object is thought to be paranormal. I want to know if we can see that archaeologically at modern sites.

Fortunately, living where I do, there are plenty of haunted places for me to go, some of them fairly famous in the ghost hunting community. This gives me an ideal data set to examine. At least in my opinion.

So then what do I do with this information once I’ve gathered it? Let’s say for argument’s sake that I can prove that a site is perceived as haunted simply through the archaeological assemblage of that site. I can now observe modern human interaction with that site. I can see how the perception of whether or not a site’s paranormal effects the people who interact with it, and to what degree. It is an argument of mine that the simple idea that a site might be paranormal, affects how everyone interacts with it whether or not they believe in the paranormal.

In the long run, a Paranormal Archaeological Survey truly has multiple parts, one part being the survey itself, and another part is how modern humans react to the site. There is also historical interaction with the site, and the reality of the history of the site compared to the paranormal history of the site. As I said, there are multiple pieces here.

I’m excited to fully flesh out the process of the paranormal survey. I want to have a working idea of what I plan to do before I just drop into any various site. I think people who own the site might be appreciative of that, also it would probably make my life easier in the long run.

That said, once I have a working idea, I plan to implement it. I’m looking forward to my first full paranormal archaeological survey in the near future, and I hope you are all looking forward to it as well.

ditto line

Hi! I’m an archaeologist who likes games, video games, gaming, horror, the supernatural, and debunking pseudoarchaeology. Check out my vids for more on the above topics, and toss us a coin if you like what I do.

Patreon –

Ko-Fi –

Twitter – @ArchyFantasies

IG – @ArchyFantasies

Website –

Emai –

The Coronavirus Outbreak as a Zombie Apocalypse

Paranormal Archaeology

New podcast episode over on Anchor.FM! 


Content Warning, the Coronavirus, and of course Zombies.

Also note, this is a cheeky way of dealing with anxiety, listen if you get the joke. 

Feeling a little scared by the Coronavirus Outbreak? Let’s talk about how the Zombie Apocalypse prepares us for the possibility of an epidemic, and see what it can tell us about our potential survival.

ditto line

Show Notes:

Zombie Preparedness | CDC

But If a Zombie Apocalypse Did Occur: Essays on Medical, Military, Governmental, Ethical, Economic and Other Implications (Contributions to Zombie Studies)

by Amy L. Thompson (Author, Editor), Foreword by Wade Davis (Author), Antonio S. Thompson (Editor)


ditto line


Bent and Broken Kevin MacLeod (

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Steel and Seething by Kevin MacLeod



Static Motion by Kevin MacLeod



Antique Shops and Haunted Objects.

Haunted antiques

We’ve been talking a lot on this blog about the idea of haunted objects. One of the most exciting things about haunted objects is how they can gather in certain places. One, of course, being a museum, which we will get to, but another one is the antique shop or thrift store.

This is something about an antique shop that immediately ignites our imaginations when you walk in — lured in by some shiny object in the window, something archaic-looking, or an Annabelle Doll innocently passing itself off as a Raggedy-Ann doll. You never know what you’re going to find inside an antique shop.

We discussed a couple of items on the blogs already, like the dybbuk box and Annabelle. Seemingly innocent items that were found in antique shops. But how often do you hear from someone that they’ve purchased a thing that then turns out to have a bit of life of its own?

A haunted rocking chair that moves in the corner without anyone sitting in it, a windup toy that seems to play itself, a picture that can start fires by being in the room alone, or a mirror with a trapped ghost inside.

What makes an item haunted when you buy it an antique shop? Many times the story behind the item has been lost, so there’s no benefit of back history to enlighten the new owner. So how do we decide that an unknown object is actually a spirit container?

The idea that what makes something spooky is a loss of memory of the thing is something Jeb Card brings up in his book Spooky Archaeology. It’s the loss of place or purpose of an item here in the antique shop. We may know what this plate was, the pattern, the maker, the purpose of the dish itself. But what we don’t know is who owned it last and if they use the item correctly.

Perhaps this silver serving platter was the centerpiece for many a family dinner. Maybe it was a dissection plate for the neighborhood animals? Or could it have just been a trinket tray, or something shoved in the back of a cupboard and forgotten until grandma passed away and it was sent away to the thrift store for rehoming?

Not knowing the history of an item allows us to create one ourselves. We can observe the object, decide if we see any abnormalities, come up with a story for it, and let it marinate in our minds till we’ve decided it’s real.

I went and spoke with several of the vendors in my local antique shops, identifying myself and telling them what I was doing. After they all got over me being an archaeologist, we were able to have some interesting discussions about haunted objects in the antique shops. I asked a few of them if they could show me an item that they consider haunted. One item that was presented was an old print at least 50 years old. I asked what it was about the print that made it haunted, did it do something, or cause an effect on the environment?

Sometimes just a feeling is enough for something to be believed to be haunted. It’s creepy or brings a sense of serenity, or any strong emotional response that doesn’t seem to have an explanation. Contributing emotional reactions to an object is a way of imbuing it with human-like qualities, and that’s the first step to making an object a spirit container. The old postcard that you picked up as a collection piece on a whim from the antique shop last time you are out shopping, the image sparks some kind of feeling to you that makes it now unique. Perhaps you wish to display it or keep it near. You’re now going to treat it a little bit more special, make sure it doesn’t get bent or wet. Pay a little bit more attention than you would any other postcard that you might receive in the mail.

The nature of the object is now changed because of the human reaction to it. And because that nature has changed, further human reaction to it will continue to adapt and change.

Many practitioners of pagan religions maintain what they call an altar, either for magical practice purposes or for worshiping purposes. Whatever the reasoning for the altar, they are almost always adorned with various objects that mean something to the practitioner. And though items specific to certain religions and magical practices can be purchased, intentional items made for intentional rituals or such, often times a variety of objects on altars seem to be random everyday items that have been elevated to a position of spiritual or magical significance.

Often times, these items come from antique shops. The feel of something old or mysterious looking is enough to spark the human imagination and make an item special enough for an altar. Or it could be something specific is being sought for the altar, a silver bowl, a particular type of stone jewelry, a golden knife which could be a gold letter opener in a former life. Often these items are expensive if purchased new, but in an antique shop, they can be purchased for cheap. These items are then brought home, and through and imbuing process becomes a religious object.

But what about the shop itself?

One of the interesting conversations I had with shop owners was the idea that the shop itself was haunted. Some were specifically because of the buildings the antique shops were in. Philadelphia is a 400-year-old city; it has ghosts in every nook and cranny. But most interesting was when a shop owner would tell me that a space within the shop has become haunted because of the objects inside of it. Often the objects provenance, or place of origin, is known to the shop owners and employees. The story has not been lost yet, and that can affect the haunted status of an object or set of objects. I was shown items that were considered the favorite pieces of an elderly relative who passed. The family, of course stating that they could feel remnants of their relative on the items. That being interpreted by the shop owners has the spirit of the relative has somehow attached itself to the items. Thusly, the item becomes haunted.

Haunting, in this case, is not inevitably negative. Most of the things I was shown were haunted objects in that they were anchoring points for a portion of the spirit of a deceased person. They were not evil or good, and they were simply haunted.

Some of the more problematic objects for me were those that contained human remains.

These are not on the level of religious relics, which often contain a piece of the body of a saint or person of religious significance, but it can be the same idea — lockets with curls of hair inside of them, small charm boxes with baby teeth. I have even seen full skeletons recovered from medical schools. In the United States, it’s not illegal to sell human remains on the open market, apparently, as long as those remains are of a certain age and are not Native American. That leaves quite a few people who are now commodities in their death.

The morality and ethics of this particular trade is a bit beyond this blog at this time. However, the reaction to these artifacts is quite on point.

There’s something in us that recognizes humanity and death, and often times these tokens are still treated with a tad more respect than other objects in the shop. This is not to say I haven’t seen human remains in deplorable conditions, but on average, I see them displayed behind glass, up where they can’t be reached easily, or not on display at all and must be asked for. This is a consumer-driven economy, and we must understand the antique shops are not museums, they are businesses, and I cannot begrudge them trying to make ends meet. This is also not the blog for my overall opinions on the matter.

The reaction of potential customers towards these remains is also interesting. There is almost always this childlike interest and glee in presenting an item containing human remains to an inexperienced customer. The customer is then quite interested but reverent enough not simply to grab the item and start handling it. Often these items must be passed between the shop owner and the potential customer with purpose. There is always a moment of hushed observation. I like to think there’s some deep human recognition happening, but I’m probably just being romantic.

I myself do not possess any items that contain human remains beyond those that belong to my immediate family. I have the obligatory baby teeth of my parents that were kept by my grandparents and passed on to me because, I am, of course, an archaeologist. Therefore I get all the weird things from my family’s treasure trove.

I also have several locks of hair that belong to various family members throughout the family history. That is the extent of it, though. I have seen stranger things shown to me by other people that are passed down within the family.

I think the most intriguing was a mostly gold tooth that had been set into a ring. The story being the individual whose tooth it’d been in life had so much gold in their teeth that they had bequeathed it to their family, who then had several pieces of jewelry made from the teeth.

Were I to find something like this in an antique shop would I look at it? Yes. There is a human curiosity when confronting death, even in something as small as a misplaced tooth now set in jewelry. Would I buy it and take it home, no. But that has more to do with my opinions on human remains, then my belief in anything haunted about the item.

But for those antique shops that have become repositories for various bits of past people, there’s almost always a story of haunting attached to the relics. In the case of the skeleton recovered from medical school, I remember being told that it could be found in different locations around the store as if it had moved on its own. Apparently, whoever the individual was liked to walk around the shop when everyone had gone home. I’ve heard stories of Morning Hair displays, the Victorian craft form of braiding human hair into thread from which incredibly intricate sculptures and wreaths were then woven, could be the source of whispers in the shop.

Who’s to say if the antique shop truly is haunted by the collective spirits attached to its jumble of items? Who’s to say they aren’t havens for spirit boxes and haunted objects waiting to be taken home by an unsuspecting customer where they will now take up residence?

We are not here to debate the reality of spirits or the validity of belief in them. What we wish to understand is how the perception of that affects human interaction with those items.

An interesting custom of the medical school skeleton was that it was often dressed in clothing fitting the season. Even though this can be looked on as being a bit comical, it’s not behavior that would have been performed on any other humanoid looking object in the shop. There were several large dolls and even dress forms that could have been draped in a seasonal selection of clothes. They were not. It was only the skeleton that “needed” to be dressed. It can almost be said that this was done out of reverence. A one-time thing would’ve been evidence of a joke, the continuation of the behavior, the selection of clothes, and the care during dressing so as not to damage the skeleton, suggests that this became more of a ceremony in its own way.

The setting of nonreligious relics up and away from curious hands and unobservant eyes is a way of restricting access to these objects. Only someone who knows what they’re looking for will be able to see them or find them, this becoming akin to only those who are worthy can possess them. Maybe this is intentional on the end of the shop owner, wanting to make sure that there isn’t some negative reaction to what many might find an unsettling piece. But even this particular behavior is different from the often overwhelming display of items and clutter that can be found in most antique shops.

So is an antique shop haunted because of the items that it keeps, or do the items become haunted once they’ve gone to the antique shop? Something to explore in another blog in the future. It’s enough for now to understand that there is a connection between antique shops and the idea of haunted objects and spirit containers. This connection is something we will come back to because of the pop culture trope of the haunted antique shop in horror movies and sci-fi. The idea that many haunted objects in a single space can become hazardous, dangerous, or even deadly.

ditto line

Hi! I’m an archaeologist who likes games, video games, gaming, horror, the supernatural, and debunking pseudoarchaeology. Check out my vids for more on the above topics, and toss us a coin if you like what I do.

Patreon –

Ko-Fi –

Twitter – @ArchyFantasies

IG – @ArchyFantasies

Website –

Emai –


The Archaeology of Annabelle the Doll, Paranormal Archaeology Episode 1

Welcome to the first episode of the Paranormal Archaeology Podcast. This is a companion podcast to the blog where we can talk about and look a little deeper into different paranormal topics.

Today we’re looking at Annabelle the doll and how it’s an excellent example of an ordinary object that becomes a haunted artifact.

ditto line


If you’d like to support us please check out either our Patreon page or buy us a Ko-Fi.

You can follow us on twitter @ArchyFantasies, or look us up on Facebook. You can reach us by email at

Contact us below or leave a comment.


ditto line
Show Notes:
Paranormal Archaeology Patreon

Ryan visits the Annabelle Doll at The Warren’s Occult Museum

The Demonic Curse of Annabelle the Doll

When Does an Object Become Paranormal?

When Does an Object Become Paranormal_

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.

brown pumpkin halloween decor and gray skull at grass field
Photo by on

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.

ditto line

If you’d like to support us please check out either our Patreon page or buy us a Ko-Fi.

You can follow us on twitter @ArchyFantasies, or look us up on Facebook. You can reach us by email at

Contact us below or leave a comment.

The Archaeology of Dybbuk Boxes

Divvy the Dybbuk in his box.

Dybbuk Boxes are a new thing. The first “confirmed” Dybbuk Box I can track down is the ‘original’ Dybbuk Box from 2003, which is now owned by Zak Bagan’s in his Haunted Museum. The box has an interesting history because as far as anyone can tell, it’s completely made up. Yet this particular object has spawned several replicants, and you can now go online and buy your very own Dybbuk Box on the Internet if you look hard enough. At the height of their popularity, nearly every paranormal YouTuber was buying and opening these boxes and then recording all the spookiness that occurred afterward.

What got me thinking about this particular object, was a re-read of Chris Caple’s book Objects: Reluctant Witnesses to the Past (2006). He hits on a class of objects;

“Objects as symbols: spirit containers. Many cultures believe in spirit worlds, some believing that spirits can and frequently do reside in objects […] This can make some objects very significant to believers, and place restrictions on object use, ownership, handling, etc. […] …[Offerings and libations are made to the object] if the object is considered partially human and capable of absorbing or appreciating the offering. […] …it is difficult to identify such objects from external appearance. “

Now Caple isn’t talking about Dybbuk Box here, but oddly enough, these boxes are modern examples of Caple’s Spirit Containers. Allow me to explain.

Let’s take a quick look at the history of the Dybbuk Boxes

First, we should talk about what a Dybbuk is. According to Dr. Ilil Arbel on the Encyclopedia Mythica site (2002), the Dybbuk itself is not mentioned in the Talmud, nor is it part of mainstream Judaism. The concept of a Dybbuk doesn’t seem to have evolved until the eighth century and was most likely a product of integration of other religion’s concepts into Judaism. The Dybbuk is one of three kinds of soul transmigration, the movement of the soul from one state to another. For example, the first form is birth, where according to Jewish lore the soul enters the body. The Dybbuk represents a malicious form of possession, and I need to differentiate here because there is a positive form of possession according to Arbel (2002). The Dybbuk is a lost soul of sorts, though there are some early descriptions hinting that the diabetic can be a demon. However, normally the Dybbuk is the lost soul of a human being. The reason the soul has become lost can be many; they were either a sinner trying to escape punishment in the afterlife, they may be a soul seeking revenge or to complete something on earth, or they can be someone who is gotten lost and who is purposefully seeking help to pass on.

The term Dybbuk is Yiddish for the action “to cleave” or “to cling”. It is a form of possession. In all of the Jewish folklore that mentions Dybbuks, none have ever mentioned a Dybbuk possessing an inanimate object.

That is until 2003.

Not whether or not the Dybbuk Box is actually possessed of a Dybbuk is not the focus of our article today. What we are looking at is the formation and sustainment of an artifact. Specifically, one that falls into Caple’s category of the spirit container.

Caple advocates for the study of an object’s history. He wants us to take an object all the way back to its manufacturing in order to understand the full meaning of an artifact. In a case like the Dybbuk Box, we don’t necessarily have to take the physical object that is the Dybbuk Box all the way back to its manufacturing, though we can with a little bit of study. What we need to do is trace the Dybbuk Box back to when it first became the Dybbuk Box.

In 2003 and antique dealer by the name of, Kevin Mannis, listed a peculiar looking box on eBay. He started bidding at one dollar, and by the end of its run got $140 for what he described as a “haunted Jewish wine box.” Before Mannis put this box up for sale, there had never been an instance of a Dybbuk Box existing.

Again there are suspicious instances that surround the origin story of the Dybbuk Box and its history since. Lots of people have taken a look at the overall reality of the Dybbuk Box, and I will link them in the references below. This is not what we’re interested in here. Regardless of if the Dybbuk Box is authentically haunted, is aside from the point.

Much like the Annabel doll, the Dybbuk Box has taken on a life of its own, sustained by its own legend and is amplified by the modern media and the Internet.

The Dybbuk Box, according to the story, was originally purchased by a college student who claimed to have blogged strange happenings occurring after the Dybbuk Box was brought into their dorm room. This college student, deciding that the box was the cause of the misfortunes they were experiencing, put the box back up on eBay and sold it for twice what they originally paid.

From there the Dybbuk Box fell into the hands of, Jason Haxton, who was the second-longest owner of the box. Now, Haxton took a scholarly interest in the box. It wasn’t enough for him to own it, he wanted to know all he could about it. Caple would be proud. Haxton claims to have on the box for roughly 7 years, and wrote a book about his experiences with it in that time. Because of Haxton, we can trace the elevation of the Dybbuk Box from a random Internet curiosity, to the haunted darling that it became.

In his book, Haxton (2011), details the history of the box as he understood it, and of course, outlines all of his experiences while owning the box. He also conducted several interviews during this time with various online news sources. He stated he was being asked far too many questions by random people to be able to answer all of them one-on-one, so he created a website for the box for people to turn to with questions.

Now because of the book and the website, and the generous use of the Internet, the box became a topic of discussion for many paranormal research and discussion groups. This helped fan the flames of the legend behind the Dybbuk Box, elevating it further. Now people wanted to come and see the box, they wanted to interact with the box, they wanted to have a personal encounter with whatever was inside the box.

Haxton, claimed that most of this desire was being generated by the box itself because the box wanted to be understood. As far as I can tell, Haxton, is the first person to start attributing human-like qualities to the box, and the possible entity inside. Before, the box had merely been explained as a bad luck charm. No one prior to Haxton had assigned desires to the box. Both Mannis and the college student merely mentioned the bad luck and unfortunate events that occurred around them during their ownership of the box. Haxton is the one who began to say that the box itself wanted something.

Image Description
The Dibbuk Box in its gold-lined acacia wood ark.


Haxton is also the first person to start restricting access to the box. He had a special ark created for the box following specific traits that he considered spiritual. He built this box from the same kind of wood the Ark of the Covenant supposedly was built from, he lacquered the inside of the box with 24 karat gold, he had the box itself constructed by Amish workers, and then had a replica made of the original Dybbuk Box, so that the original could be kept away from the prying eyes of the public.

All of these traits put the Dybbuk Box into the category of a Spirit Container. The gifting of humanlike qualities, the restricting of access, and the creation of an elaborate resting place, move the Dybbuk Box away from being an everyday object into a sacred object of sorts. Interestingly the Dybbuk Box is not a religious item in the traditional sense. It is neither Jewish nor Kabbalahlic in nature.

Again a Dybbuk spirit has never possessed an inanimate object only living things. According to Dr. Yitskhok (Itzik) N. Gottesman in an interview with The Paranormal Files on YouTube (2018), what Jewish folklore there is about Dybbuks, actually seem to require the Dybbuks to work its way up from a ‘lesser creature’ like a fish or a cow in order to get to a human being that then must come in contact with it in order to become possessed. Seeing the reasons behind the Dybbuks existing in the first place, there would be no purpose for a Dybbuk to even possess something like a box, it would be counterproductive to their goals.

Gottesman also rules out Jewish mysticism because of the legibility of the writing on the box. He says that should the box have been a magical relic per Kabbalah, the writing would be gibberish It would be unreadable to anyone except the magician who carved it. The fact that the words on the box can be read and understood rule out Jewish magic.

Image Description
The back of the Dibbuk Box.

And yet, the Dybbuk Box is considered one of the most haunted objects of the modern era. Zak Bagan received the box from Haxton and promptly put it in his haunted museum in Las Vegas, Nevada. Bagan continues the paranormal treatment of the Dybbuk Box. He keeps it in a secure room, he does not make it part of his regular tour of the museum, to see the box you must fill out forms protecting him from any injuries or mishaps that may come from observing the box. He doesn’t take the box out very frequently to show to the public, and when he does it’s often the replica that’s Haxton had made for this purpose.

In 2015, Kevin Mannis, took to Facebook posting on a fan page for the show Haunt ME, and admitted that he created the whole concept of the Dybbuk Box.

db admit
Screenshot showing Mannis admitting he originally created the story.


I am the original creator of the story of The Dibbuk Box which appeared as one of my Ebay posts back in 2003. The idea that dibbuk boxes have some kind of history prior to my story, and the idea that a dibbuk box could contain anything other than a dibbuk, along with any deviation to the type of contents I created to be found inside of a dibbuk box is laughable at best. How about this- if you or anyone else can find any reference to a Dibbut [sic] Box anywhere in history prior to my Ebay post, I’ll pay you $100,000.00 and tattoo your name on my forehead. Bottom line: I applaud your reference to my work, but use your own creativity to come up with something for your show and leave my practice of Kabbalah, and my intellectual property alone.

Despite this admission, the Dybbuk Box continues to be one of the most popular haunted objects today. This I’m sure this is owed in no small part to the published book and the movie The Possession (2012), which was written about a similar haunted object, also called a Dybbuk Box. Bagans reportedly will not open the box for fear of releasing something evil, and when on his show Deadly Possessions, he received the box from Haxton, Haxton appeared to have some sort of spiritual reaction in the presence of the box.

There appears to be a belief about the box that is strong even today. The Internet has played a huge role in the growth and maintenance of the story of the Dybbuk Box. Pictures of the object itself are considered by some to be cursed. This includes not only physical pictures but digital ones as well. Both Haxton and Bagans have mentioned receiving comments from viewers on the Internet claiming to have had misfortune occur around them after viewing pictures of the Dybbuk Box. A few have even reached out to the two men asking them for ways to counteract this bad luck. Pleas have been made to Haxton especially, to take down pictures that he posted of the Dybbuk Box so that the evil spirit within can’t use those pictures to travel throughout the internet. 

It’s these sort of statements that clearly show that the Dybbuk Box is considered by many to be a haunted object. Even without fully understanding the nature of a Dybbuk, or the history of the object itself.

What does all this mean in the eyes of paranormal archaeology?

What we have just outlined here is the creation of a paranormal artifact. Again keeping in mind the reality of Dybbuks, mysticism, or the box being an authentic Jewish artifact, are not the focus here. We are examining is, as Caple explained above, that some people believe that spirits can reside inside physical objects , and that makes the object significant’s to those believers. This object doesn’t have to be religious in nature. As we’ve seen with the DB, though arguably spiritual, the box itself is nonreligious. It does not belong to the religious or mystical practices that it is supposedly linked to, but because people believe that it does, it is treated in a way that one would treat a spiritual object.

Keeping in mind that anything created by human hands is by definition an artifact. The point here is, this seemingly innocuous 1950s portable liquor cabinet has been elevated to the rank of a spiritual container and haunted object, not only by the purposeful creation of a story surrounding it but by other individuals belief that the object is what the story says. Whether or not the story is true is again beside the point. What is important is that’s the object was created to serve this purpose of supporting the story, and it has served its purpose. Many people continue to believe that the DB is real, not only that the DB is itself is real, but that other dB exist. This is the creation of an entire class of objects from the existence of one.

What is perhaps most interesting here, is that even if the original DB was proven beyond a doubt to be fake (and we’re really not going to go into that here), belief in the other dB that exists would not be affected. The concepts of a DB has been placed into the public mind, and it will be interesting for archaeologists years from now to start finding these handmade DB replicas, seeing how other people have interpreted the DB, brought it into their own personal use, and pass along this particular piece of paranormal culture.

ditto line

If you’d like to support us please check out either our Patreon page or buy us a Ko-Fi.

You can follow us on twitter @ArchyFantasies, or look us up on Facebook. You can reach us by email at

Contact us below or leave a comment.

ditto line


Arbel, I.

2002    “Dybbuk.” Judaic Mythology. Encyclopedia Mythica, 22 Apr. 2002. Accessed Nov. 5,  2019.

Bonnet, G.

2013    “For sale: one wine cabinet. Comes with an evil spirit.” Skeptophilia. Gordon Bonnet, 1 Feb. 2013. Accessed Nov. 5,  2019.

Brevet, B.

2012    “The True Story of the Haunted Dibbuk Box that Became The Possession.” Rope of Silicon. LLC, 4 May 2012. Accessed Nov. 5,  2019.

Caple, Chris

2006    Objects: Reluctant Witnesses to the Past.  London: Routledge, 2006.

Dunning, B.

2019    “The Haunted Dybbuk Box.” Skeptoid Podcast. Skeptoid Media, 19 Aug 2014. Accessed Nov. 5,  2019.

Friazier, Karen

2019    “Frightening True Story of the Haunted Dybbuk Box.” Accessed Nov. 5,  2019.

Gornstein, L.

2011    “A Jinx in a Box?” Los Angeles Times. 24 Jul. 2004, Newspaper.
Haxton, J. The Dibbuk Box. Kirksville: Truman State University Press, 2011. Accessed Nov. 5,  2019.

Mayhem, Marquis

2019    “The True Story of the Dybbuk Box and Where It Is Now”  Accessed Nov. 5,  2019.