You have probably heard about demonic possession, when a demon takes over the body of a human but what about when someone is taken over by the malicious spirit of someone who is deceased? This is the what in Jewish tradition is known as a Dybbuk.
The concept of the Dybbuk was first explored 16th-century Jewish writings, though it did not gain widespread recognition until S. Ansky’s play The Dybbuk popularized the concept. In this play a woman was possessed by an evil spirit who entered her in a sexual manner. In Jewish tradition it is said that having doubt in the Torah or being a bad housewife can lead to Dybbuk possession. In some dybbuk reports, the spirit attaches itself to a human in order to complete unfinished business from it’s former life.
Since a dybbuk used to be human, sometimes a rabbi will attempt to communicate with it and ask it to leave. The dybbuk does not seem to be under any obligation to follow a rabbi’s instructions and will leave or not under its own free will. The rabbi will attempt to convince the dybbuk to leave by reading Psalm 91 and blowing a shofar (traditional Jewish horn). The rabbi will try to appease the spirit and help it achieve its goals so that it may leave the human alone.
A dybbuk invades the body in a way that changes its host. Unlike demonic possession where the demon is a separate entity that comes and goes at will a dybbuk will attempt to slowly take over the life of its host. It will attempt to become the person it was before it passed away. For example, if the dybbuk was a loner in life then its host will begin to isolate themselves from friends and family so the dybbuk can exist in familiar circumstances. The host’s personality will change to be more like that of the dybbuk.
A Jewish woman in Poland in the 18th century aid to be possessed by a dybbuk which spoke from her throat in Polish. Polish was not her first language and she was not particularly adept at speaking it on her own. The dybbuk caused her great pain when it was speaking, It would not allow her to pray or follow any Jewish rituals. Three exorcisms by prominent rabbi’s were attempted. The first rabbi gave her a special amulet to wear. The second recited several prayers. Both exorcisms were effective for a few days before the spirit returned. The third exorcism was not a typical exorcism. The possessed woman asked for the lamps to be lit and cried out that she must be great sinner to have such suffering. Suddenly a disembodied voice boomed out over the synagogue which witnesses recognized as the voice of a famous rabbi who had died some years previously. The voice said that the woman was a righteous woman who would get better and bare a son. The words of the rabbi came true.
Another dybbuk was alleged to possess Eidel, the daughter of a respected Jewish leader named Rabbi Sholom Rokach of Belz. The rabbi was heartbroken when his wife passed away and raised his favorite child Eidel as a boy, training her sacred Jewish practices that were usually reserved for men even though he had sons. When the rabbi his role taken by his son Rabbi Yehoshua as was the expected practice. Eidel also became a respected teacher and her wisdom was admired. Many of her father’s followers became her followers rather than her brothers. Eidel’s brothers claimed that she was possessed by the spirit of her father and that is how she had gained such wisdom. Eidel’s brothers attempted an exorcism and the voice of their father emanated from her calling out some of their embarrassing sins. The sons continued and managed to get the spirit of their father to leave. Following this Eidel collapsed and lost her sanity.
In more recent times the Dybbuk box has risen to fame as a physical object possessed by a dybbuk that causes bad luck to fall upon its owner. The most prominent story is that of a wine cabinet owned by Kevin Mannis who claimed that it was occupied by a dybbuk. He recanted his story in 2021 claiming that the story was entirely fictional and that he is a creative writer. In spite of this many people believe in the reality of dybbuks and while they appear less commonly in modern times there are still isolated reports of their existence.
Walking Sam: The Suicide Spirit of Pine Ridge
Walking Sam: The Suicide Spirit. Photo: Ranker.
In 2015 a spree of suicides took place in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Some believe these were caused by an evil spirit called Walking Sam.
Who is Walking Sam?
An artist’s depiction of Walking Sam. Photo: Ranker
Walking Sam is known by various names, including “Tall Man” and “Stovepipe Hat Bigfoot.” He is a towering figure standing at seven feet tall and has eyes but no mouth, sometimes wearing a stove-pipe hat.
When he raises his arms, people can see the bodies of his past victims hanging beneath him. Walking Sam is said to call out to teenagers and try to convince them that they are worthless, urging them to take their own lives. Some believe that he targets young people because they are more vulnerable to his manipulations.
According to Native American legends, Walking Sam is an ancient being closely linked to “Stick Indians,” who are dark and shadowy spirit entities.
Kids grow up hearing spooky stories about these evil forces that haunt reservations and try to lure unsuspecting victims to their doom. They’re always followed by a creepy cloud of death that just hangs around them.
If you hear whistling, it might be one of these Stick Indians nearby. But if you follow the sound, you could get paralyzed, hypnotized, or even lose your mind completely.
If you disrespect them, they’ll hold a grudge and seek revenge no matter what. Some tribes are so scared of them that they won’t even talk about them, so we don’t know everything about these beings. But Walking Sam is supposed to be one of the most powerful ones.
There are those who believe that Walking Sam represents the pain and trauma that the Lakota Indians endure on a daily basis. Given the deep spiritual connection that the Lakota people have with their land and heritage, some see Walking Sam as a physical embodiment of this suffering.
The Pine Ridge Suicides
A video telling the story of Walking Sam
The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is located near the Black Hills of South Dakota and is home to the Oglala Lakota tribe. It’s one of the largest Indian reservations in the US. Sadly, Pine Ridge has a sad past as hundreds of Lakota Indians were killed during the Wounded Knee Massacre.
It’s one of the poorest counties in the US. In 2015, a number of young people committed suicide on the reservation, and some people thought that supernatural forces like the legendary Walking Sam were to blame.
From December 2014 to March 2015, there were a staggering 103 suicide attempts, with nine of them being successful, and tragically, none of the victims were older than twenty-five.
The majority of those who died had used hanging as the method of suicide. Although there had been other clusters of suicides in previous years, this was the largest. As the community struggled to understand and deal with the crisis, some looked to traditional Native American beliefs for answers.
Lakota children are raised hearing stories about “suicide spirits,” “stick people,” and shadow people who try to lure young people away from their homes at night. These stories may have evolved over time, influenced by the popularity of Slender Man, into the figure now known as Walking Sam.
Walking Sam Sightings
During meetings of reservation officials, one of the topics that often comes up is Walking Sam. These officials advise reservation members to avoid walking on the streets at night as it would be an ideal time for Walking Sam to approach his victims.
Several residents have expressed concern and requested the police to keep a lookout for Walking Sam. Many residents have reported seeing his shadow and have shared their encounters with the police. Some residents have even reported hearing whistling sounds coming from nowhere.
Have you ever seen Walking Sam? Let us know in the comments.
If you enjoyed learning about Walking Sam you might also be interested in Diao Si Gui: Chinese Hanged Ghosts or La Ciguapa: The Woman with Backwards Feet.
Diao Si Gui: Chinese Hanged Ghosts
A Diao Si Gui or Hanged Ghost. Photo: Cryptid Wiki
According to Chinese legend, Diao Si Gui are the souls of those who took their own lives or were executed. These spirits may manifest as a body with a protruding, lengthy red tongue and attempt to persuade those who cross their path to join them in the world beyond.
The Legend of the Diao Si Gui
Diao Si Gui, or Hanged Ghosts can be created in two ways: when a person takes their own life by hanging or when they are executed by hanging as a punishment for their crimes.
The more prolonged and painful the death, such as by slow suffocation instead of a quick snap of the neck, the greater the likelihood of them becoming a Diao Si Gui.
These ghosts are said to haunt the vicinity of the location where they committed suicide and are often depicted with a noose around their neck, dangling feet, and long red tongues hanging from their mouths.
It is believed that one should avoid making eye contact with a Dio Si Gui as they may lure you into a hypnotic state and persuade you to hang yourself.
In some versions of the legend, if the ghost successfully persuades someone to hang themselves, that person becomes a Hanged Ghost while the original ghost goes free.
Other versions suggest that a Hanged Ghost is not limited to a specific location and can torment a person for days, gradually convincing them to take their own life. When the time is right, the ghost will appear to the person in a high place and lower a noose to them.
Stories About Diao Si Gui
In the Chinese Fairy Book by Dr. R. Wilhelm (1921), there is a story known as The Hanged Ghost, which tells the tale of a soldier seeking refuge for the night in an old, run-down temple.
While there, he witnesses a female ghost descending from the rafters, unaware of his presence in the shadows. Intrigued, he follows her to a farmhouse where he discovers the ghost urging a young mother and her child to hang themselves. The soldier intervenes, saving the woman’s life and causing the ghost to flee.
On his way back to the temple, the soldier takes the rope left behind by the ghost, but she appears on the road and demands that he give it back.
He refuses and wraps the rope around his arm, causing the ghost to transform and attack him. The soldier defends himself by flinging his own blood at the ghost, causing her to retreat. He continues his journey with the rope now part of his arm, unfazed by the encounter.
A video telling the tale of Diao Si Gui or hanged ghosts
Possible Explanations for the Diao Si Gui
It is possible that the legend of the hanged ghost came about as a way to help families come to terms with the unexpected suicides of their loved ones. It’s easier to believe that a loved one may have been manipulated in to killing them self by a spirit than it is to believe that they wanted to die.
Have you ever seen a Diao Sui Gui or Hanged Ghost? Let us know in the comments.
If you enjoyed learning about the Diao Sui Gui you might also be interested in the mysterious stain left behind by the body of Margaret Schilling or how the ghost of Teresita Basa solved her own murder.
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