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Horror Mystery and Lore

Telling the Difference Between Demonic Entities

Possession movies, even when they are highly religious in context, bring in huge crowds of fans, starting with The Exorcist (1973) and continuing on throughout the years, we never really get down to the brass tacks of demonic entities, who they are—or might be—and the people they have affected. Demon lore is complex in every religion and affiliated culture, there are elaborate organizational schemes for demons dated back from the 16th and 17th centuries and yet we still have so little understanding of them. For the many ills and misfortunes that plague the human race, there is the possibility of a demonic association that leads to exorcisms in many cultures. Specifically, in Catholicism, exorcisms deal with demonic possession, in which demons are said to battle for control of the soul of the victim they have targeted, these practices date back to 1614.

The Demons that Invade Our Lives

Christian demonologist Johann Weyer estimated that there were nearly 7.5 million demons that served as minions to 72 different princes of hell. Each of these demons belongs to a class of demons; to name a few, there are demons that attack people in their sleep, drain vitality, or possess those who are struggling with their own identity. So, let’s take a look at the different types of demonic entities that go beyond the typical Catholic exorcism expectations.

Attractive demoness
Photography by Alice Alinari

The Succubus

During the Middle Ages, authorities within the Christian religion asserted the existence of sex demons, which they furthered that to insinuating that sex with such demons was a sign of witchcraft. Although it’s a widely accepted possibility in the paranormal community, the stories and theories of such acts are described as horrific to experience. To be clear, while this may sound like an exciting ride for some lonely people out there, it’s not something that anyone in their right mind would purposefully pursue—it’s never consensual.

The Djinn

Collection of Genie Lamps--don't summon a Djinn!
Photography by Louis Hansel

Between 100 and 400 AD, the Testament of Solomon was written, which served as a list for Hebrew, Greek, Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, and Persian demons. The Djinn are self-propagating, malicious, yet mortal demons. They are an invisible creature by nature but have shape-shifting abilities so they may better stalk their prey. Solomon was able to control these types of demons which he called djinn with his magical ring and he would frequently treat them as his own personal slaves by making them transport him wherever he wished upon their backs.

My Dream, My Bad Dream, Fritz Schwimbeck, 1915. Fritz Schwimbeck
My Dream, My Bad Dream, Fritz Schwimbeck, 1915.

The Nightmare

The story of this nocturnal visitor originated in the ancient world, in which a spirit or demon would come into the room of its sleeping victim, male or female, to incapacitate the individual and feed off of their vitality. In all reported cases, it is said the victim awakens to either a heavy weight on their chest or one that starts at their feet and progresses to their chest, either way, they are unable to move out from under the weight of the night hag. As they’re feeding off of the individual, the victim feels as if they’re suffocating and paralyzed, despite being fully conscious. Victims of the night hag end up reporting feeling groggy, sick, and otherwise exhausted both mentally and physically the next day.

Western-style vampire bears her fangs.
Photography by Rondell Melling

The Vampire

Now just wait, you’re probably conjuring up an image of Dracula hunched in a dark window of his castle in Transylvania, brooding and dangerous. The concept of the vampire in modern culture, especially since Stoker’s rendition, are the undead who return to kill and torture the living, but the actual origin is somewhat different. Older than the Slavic version of Dracula is a supernatural and demonic entity that did not actually take human form and it spans the world with small variations.

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Featured Lifestyle

The Horror and Occult of Russia’s Anti-Christ, Rasputin

Grigori Efimovich Rasputin was born in 1969 into a peasant family who survived by farming and the courier service that his father provided. Since there was less opportunity for education for those living in poverty, it is believed that Grigori was illiterate until he was older. During his youth, he was a petty criminal but had a revelation during his late twenties when he was motivated to go on a spiritual pilgrimage. It was at this point that he spent several months at St. Nicholas Monastery which was several hundred miles from his home. Upon his return, he was apparently a changed man and wandered for years as a Strannik or, “holy wanderer,” with a small group of loyal followers.

His Return as a Holy-Man

Ecstatic Ritual of Khylysts by Radeniye
Ecstatic Ritual of Khylysts by Radeniye

Once he returned home he created a church in the basement of his family’s basement; something that would later be considered the beginning of his religious blasphemy. It is believed that Rasputin had actually created a church in the name of the fringe sect of the Russian Orthodox Church by the name of Khlysty. The root of the word Khlysty, khlyst translates to the Russian, “whip”–the followers of Khlysty didn’t worship God or the Holy Spirit through the conventional means, by attending church or studying scripture, instead they believed they could communicate directly with their higher power.

Sinning to Be Rid of Sin

These ritualistic gatherings entailed Rasputin’s acolytes gathering in his would-be church to sing strange hymns and take part in orgies and various other sexual acts. Practicing self-flagellation and these orgies were designed to help believers attain grace by performing sinful acts, a belief that a willful practice of sin within ritual performance was ridding them of their sin altogether.

It was said that there would be one man and one woman designated to be physical representations of Christ and the Mother of God. Of course, these practices were never endorsed by church officials and his group of Khylysts were oftentimes persecuted by the mainstream Russian Orthodoxy. While this wasn’t an extremely long-lived part of his pursuit of spiritual enlightenment, he would continue the acts later in life, even after being accused by many women of assault and even rape.

Rasputin’s Infamy

This holy man’s charisma and influence are what led to his infamy in the early 1900s and he became one of the most well-known monks within monastic circles as a mystic with enormous power. He gained influence over the royal family in 1905, after having journeyed to St. Petersburg and befriended the Russian aristocracy, then cemented his status as a spiritual guide, healer, and eventually the political advisor to Nicholas II and the Czarina, Alexandra.

Rasputin was officially endeared to Alexandra and immediately caused them to form a significant bond, was his ability to heal her sick son, Alexei. Diagnosed with hemophilia, the inability to clot after an injury that drew blood, which was an incurable disease at the time. Rasputin, having the reputation of a healer was called to help heal Alexei after an internal hemorrhage would have meant his inevitable death. Two days after Rasputin’s faith healing, Alexei somehow made a full recovery which caused Alexandra to place her full trust in this strange, mysterious holy-man.

Being Seen For What He Was

Those who were outside of the immediate royal family could see his malignant hold over the Czar and Czarina and believed he would be the downfall of the Romanov family. These Russian court members referred to him as the Mad Monk and believed he was an immoral man who sought only to meddle in the affairs of royalty. This distrust spurred them to have him surveilled regularly, which revealed to them his true nature; they even created detailed records that took account of the many prostitutes he engaged with, as well as his lust over money and alcohol–they were of course published and circulated in newspapers which caused the people of Russia to oppose him as well.

The naysayers were right though, Rasputin’s hold over the Russian royal family brought the entire country to unrest during World War I. Rasputin even endeavored to make things worse when he told Nicholas II to take control over his military forces because he would otherwise face defeat. Unfortunately, following his advisor’s words proved to be a ruinous move for the Czar. Within the calamity of the First World War, the Czar was away at war, which gave Rasputin full opportunity to seize control over Russia’s government and the rich. This lowered his reputation as well as that of the royal family in such a way that even Alexandra, who was half German, was accused of being a German spy. Rasputin himself was regularly accused of using hypnosis to bend the wills of others and was said to have, “satanic eyes.”

The Many Assassination Attempts

There were so many attempts made against Rasputin’s life, but the final attempts were what proved to make him famous for being the man who would not die. In Moika Palace, Prince Yusupov and politician Purshkevich came together in an effort to take him down; he was given cakes and wine laced with lethal amounts of cyanide, but even two hours after eating the cakes and drinking the wine Rasputin didn’t seem to be affected by the attempted poisoning. It was at this point that Yusupov shot Rasputin several times in the chest, which after an elaborate attempt to cover up the shooting, found that this crazy monk was still alive. He even managed to escape outside, at which point he was shot in the back, then thrown into an icy river. When his body was recovered and an autopsy was performed, it was revealed that Rasputin only succumbed to death after drowning and by any of the other failed attempts.

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Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966)

Hammer Film Productions came out with this largely fictionalized story that features only half-truths about some of the events that led up to Rasputin’s assassination. The film shows us Grigori Rasputin, the Russian peasant who is a self-proclaimed mystic, holy-man, and healer; he had gained a powerful position of influence with the royal family prior to the Russian Revolution and World War I. Interestingly enough, the character of Yusupov within the movie had to be changed for legal reasons, since the real Yusupov was still alive when the film was released.

Rasputin: The Mad Monk IMDB listing

Who Is the Real Rasputin? – Russia’s Own Anti-Christ

The mystery of one of Russia’s most historically notable and powerful men, Rasputin, is often regarded with skepticism yet undeniable uncertainty. Shiver gave us a good in-depth look into Rasputin’s life and the kind of control he really had over the royal family.

https://youtu.be/c1rJZO_c4Go

The Mysterious Life and Death of Rasputin

The experts at TEDEd gave us their best explanation of the life and death of the holy-man Rasputin and how they believe he became the man who wouldn’t die.

Was He Truly an Occultist?

Widely considered to be the anti-Christ by the people of his day, it is speculated that Rasputin was deeply immersed in the occult, consorting with demons and eventually being possessed by them himself. Skeptics have found other theories to explain his inability to die after so many attempts, but it doesn’t account for Rasputin’s prophecy of his own death.

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Featured Horror Books Scary Movies and Series

The Necronomicon in The Evil Dead Franchise

After Lovecraft introduced The Necronomicon (1927), it traveled far and wide within horror-lore and culture. This book has now been used in horror franchises over the last forty years; in the very spirit in which it was created, it has appeared with the interest of expanding upon a universe that develops something truly ancient and terrifying. Less than a week ago we discussed the origins of The Necronomicon as well as investigated whether or not the book had any basis in reality and we were surprised to find what we did.

The History of the Necronomicon Book (1927)

Essentially an extensive chronology of the origin of the Necronomicon book, The History of the Necronomicon (1927) creates a detailed timeline of a book that floats through time with limited translations; an ancient tome that is understandably considered a forbidden text within the context of its own interesting unknown universe. It created a solid foundation for the mythology that would include the text within each story-line, as not only a prop, but a symbol of darkness, madness, and destruction.

It’s been pointed out that Lovecraft made sure to name drop the book within his stories, so that it would stay ever-present on the minds of his readers, but that it seems to be doing the same with modern culture and not just within horror culture–but we can talk about that later.

That is not dead which can eternal lie…

Abdul Alhazred

The Evil Dead Franchise

Within the Woods (1978)

A franchise that has become somewhat legendary in horror culture started with a production budget of $1,600. Within the Woods (1978) started the franchise and although it wasn’t written as a prequel, that’s what it eventually became. It was really Raimi’s proof of concept short horror film to help to build interest of potential investors, but even though he had cast his friends and operated under a severely low budget he was able to convince a local theater to screen the film with The Rocky Horror Picture Show in the normal grindhouse manner. This initial production inspired a larger budget remake that Raimi also directed, The Evil Dead (1981)

Sam Raimi started something when he developed a story based around Lovecraft’s book and regardless if it was something that Lovecraft would have approved of as far as the content of the story, it did bring a different perspective to the cosmic horror that Lovecraft was so famous for. Then again, that’s what we’re all about here at Puzzle Box Horror, we’ve found inspiration through the works of others and now we want to give other people a place to find their own source to create and be inspired.

The Evil Dead (1981)

Here I continued my research undisturbed by the myriad distractions of modern civilization and far from the groves of academe. I believe I have made a significant find in the Candarian Ruins. A volume of Ancient Sumerian burial practices and funerary incantations. It is entitled Naturom Demonto – roughly translated, ‘Book of the Dead’.

Straight out of a Lovecraft tale, The Evil Dead (1981) features a quote through a tape recording of a long-dead professor.

Within the context of The Evil Dead franchise, the Necronomicon is considered the foundation of the darkness that follows the characters throughout –at one point, The Evil Dead (1981) it even had the working title of Book of the Dead. While it didn’t exactly go with Lovecraft’s narrative that the book was something that could be lost on the shelves of some ancient library, forgotten and dusty, it still provided a much-needed foothold in modern horror culture.

In the movie, this ancient tome actually appears as a kind of abomination as a book bound in human skin, the words inked in human blood, nothing that Lovecraft would have ever dreamt up. Suffice it to say, it’s a memorable look for a book that is said to drive the reader insane–it became quite a cultural phenomenon and seems like it will continue to be one.

Evil Dead II (1987)

By this time, the franchise realized its slightly comedic take on a story about possession and evil as the result of playing a recording of a passage from the evil texts of The Necronomicon. So instead of a serious horror, they essentially parodied their original movie. Regardless of the initial popularity, Evil Dead II (1987) has acquired a quite large cult following on a global scale.

Army of Darkness (1992)

Officially considered the third installment of the Evil Dead franchise, Army of Darkness (1992) was released as another horror comedy, where our protagonist from the first two movies is trapped in the Middle Ages and it’s almost like the third Back to the Future, ridiculous but somehow still worth the watch. The book has a larger role in this film, where it serves as a means of time travel.

Evil Dead (2013)

The Necronomicon has a renewed appearance in the newest remake of Evil Dead (2013), where they stepped up the game in removing the book from its archaic and unholy origins of antiquity to being a prop filled will awful images and obscenities, but it doesn’t come across as a remake, as much as it does a soft reboot and a continuation of the original and not as a comedy, but a hard horror movie.

Ash vs. Evil Dead (2015 – 2018)

This television continuation of the original comedic horror was a three-year run that was filmed for the Starz network, where Bruce Campbell reprises his role as Ash. It’s considered a sequel, of sorts, to the original trilogy, but was canceled after the third season