In May of 1876 panic descended on the streets of the Chinese town, Hankin. Invisible demons had appeared, intent on tearing the traditional style of pig-tails from the heads of their unfortunate victims. As fear struck the very hearts of the occupants they were forced to walk the streets with their hands covering their hands at all times in a vain attempt to protect themselves. The panic spread to Shanghai, then other Chinese towns, where invisible forces started killing people in their sleep. For almost three years mass hysteria gripped the country and throughout this time the mysterious ‘hair shearing evil spirit’ was not discovered. Moreover this was not the first time it had appeared as documents testify that ‘the hair shearing poltergeist’ had already been heard of in China as far back as the Epoch of the Bay Dynasty (477-517 BC).
In 1890 Japan was seized by mass panic when the population believed poltergeist was attacking people, leaving a slight wound on the neck about the size of an inch. European newspapers, publishing similar information, covered the events with an all too condescending outlook - Asia - whatever shall they think up next? London’s Daily Mail, for example, jokingly described how in India people still believed in the existence of an invisible being that prowled the streets ready to grab any unsuspecting passersby.
But the wry smile was soon wiped from the face of the condescending English press in 1922, when poltergeists caused mass panic in London itself. An invisible hand began seizing young girls and cutting away their hair. Any attempts made to come to the help of the victims always ended unsuccessfully. No one could explain the fact that, in broad daylight, in one of the biggest cities in Europe, people’s hair was unexpectedly vanishing into thin air.
An enquiry was therefore started to try and get to the bottom of these inexplicable attacks. On the 23rd of April 1922 the newspaper ‘The People’ published a correspondence from Chairing Cross Hospital where one of their reporters was being treated after suffering a knife wound to the neck. He recounted how, having turned off Coventry Street he had suddenly been attacked and fell to the pavement. Just two hours later another patient was taken into hospital suffering from the very same injury. Finally, on the same day yet another man was attacked for no established reason, on the same crossing where both previous attacks had taken place…
History has born witness to the fact that in numerous countries and at different periods in time there have been many encounters with these inexplicable beings. Russian chronicles from as far back as 1092 recount the appearance of these poltergeists in the town of Polotsk where people were murdered in the streets and mass panic ensued: ‘At night was heard the noise of pounding hoofs for in the streets invisible demons ran amok. Those villagers unfortunate enough to take a glance from their windows were overcome by the horrific slaughter they had witnessed, and soon fell ill until death itself carried them away. Such was the doomed fate of the town of Polotsk and the surrounding region.’
In 1761 five women from the Italian hamlet of Ventimilia were returning home with bundles of wood. Suddenly one of them let out a scream and fell to the floor, dead, while her companions were left overcome with indescribable horror at what lay on the ground before them: it seemed that the woman, in just a split second, had been torn to pieces. Her clothes and shoes lay in shreds, and were scattered around her body. Her head had suffered severe injuries, her skull was broken, the right side which had been shattered and had collapsed outwards under an extreme force. The majority of her internal organs were flattened and it seemed the poor woman had been the victim of a sudden noiseless explosion. It was therefore suggested that the victim had been struck by a meteorite.
In October of 1873 in a small town of Wisconsin, USA, a young girl standing beside her mother on the street had the sensation that ‘someone was shearing my hair, almost to the roots, yet in a second they had disappeared into thin air. Then on the 8th of December 1831 ‘The New York Times’ published a tale concerning the captain of a German vessel ‘Brechzei’ and a very strange occurrence: one evening during a storm he was witness to the injury of one of his crew that occurred right before his very eyes. On the mariner’s head inexplicably appeared a wound about four inches which knocked him to the deck, unconscious.
In 1860 the publication of ‘The Narration of Extraordinary Events’ revealed how the children of one Richard Jayle suffered various attacks by poltergeists. One day, for example, a poltergeist left a bite mark on one of the children’s faces. Another time researches bore witness to a terrible scene in which one of the young girls was strangled by an invisible hand. The girl’s neck was seemingly being squeezed tighter and tighter, her neck muscles being forced inwards by an unseen force. Later on other children of the same family would, in turn, fall victim to the attacks of the poltergeist. During one evening five researches claimed to have seen how ‘an invisible presence bit one of the children’s arms 20 times…the child was incapable of having done it to herself as she did not leave our sight for a second. Studying the bite marks we found the marks of 18 to 20 teeth. On the surface of the wounds were traces of saliva and from this came a very unpleasant stench.’
Reading of these events one cannot help but recall the fairy tales and legends of the Invisible Hat and the Magic Raincoat that granted invisibility to whoever wore them. In the collection of legends from Wales in the Middle Ages, for example, the hero Kasvaldon, son of Bely, covers himself with a magic cloth that makes him invisible in order to take his enemies unaware. Falling to earth, the enemy could not see their murderer, but only the blade of his sword, appearing but for an instant before the fatal strike…
Yet nothing of the sort happened to a 20 year old South African farmer when poltergeists inflicted the most terrible of injuries on his body for several days running. A Police Commissar and three constables became witnesses to the scene as the farmer suddenly began screaming in agony while on his legs appeared an enormous wound. The following day, before the very eyes of two police officers, there appeared yet another wound, an enormous gash that tore across his chest but left his shirt completely intact. During the next few days wounds started appearing all over his body as though accurately carved into his skin, by a blade or scalpel.
In every single poltergeist attack there is one common feature: the wounds, no matter where they appear on the body, never seem to rip or tear the victim’s clothing. Till this very day the inexplicable phenomenon of the poltergeist remains wrapped in mystery. In 1092 one Russian chronicler wrote that he had no doubt wounds or marks caused by an invisible hand, or poltergeist, were in fact the attack of devils and, it must be acknowledged that the intuition of our ancestors was far more developed than it is today…
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