Meet the the Dybbuk Box…
Featured at the center of the upcoming horror movie, The Possession, the box isn’t your average box. The term Dybbuk Box is the commonly used name of a wine cabinet which is said to be haunted by a dybbuk, a spirit from Jewish folklore. Dybbuks are said to be malicious or malevolent possessing spirits that are dislocated souls of a dead person. The Dybbuk Box itself received recognition after it was auctioned on eBay with an accompanying horror story by past owner, Kevin Mannis.
The term, “dybbuk” is an abbreviation of dibbuk me-ru’aḥ ra’ah (“a cleavage of an evil spirit”), or dibbuk min ḥa-hiẓonim (“dibbuk from the outside”), which is found in man. It supposedly leaves the host body once it has accomplished its goal, sometimes after being helped to achieve oft-malicious goals.
The film, The Possession is about a young girl named Em (Natasha Calis) who after purchasing an old box with a Hebrew inscription engraved on it at a yard sale, is obsessed with opening it. Although her father says it appears to have been designed to not open at all, Em begins to exhibit bizarre and violent behavior. Since her parents recently divorced, her initial actions go without much notice but Em’s behavior soon becomes more and more extreme. Fearing for their daughter, Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Stephanie Brenek (Kyra Sedgwick) make various attempts—from brain scans to consulting rabbis—to discover what the supernatural force behind the box is, what it wants, and how to keep it from destroying their daughter. The interesting thing about this film is that it is actually accompanied by a horrifying story of ambiguous truth.
The term was first used to describe the subject of an original story by Kevin Mannis posted as an eBay auction listing years ago and has created quite the ripples in the paranormal world. Mannis, a writer and creative professional by trade, owned a small antiques and furniture refinishing business in Portland, Oregon at the time. According to Mannis, he purportedly bought the Dybbuk Box at an estate sale in 2001. The box belonged to a Polish Holocaust survivor named Havela, who had escaped to Spain and purchased it there before emigrating to the United States. Havela’s granddaughter told Mannis that the Box had been kept in her grandmother’s sewing room and was never opened because a dybbuk (an evil spirit from Jewish folklore) was said to live inside it.
Mannis brought the cabinet back to his small furniture store, where he stowed it in the basement and left, leaving a young sales clerk in charge. About a half hour later, the saleswoman called:
She was absolutely hysterical and screaming that someone was in my workshop breaking glass and swearing. Furthermore, the intruder had locked the iron security gates and the emergency exit and she couldn’t get out. As I told her to call the police, my cell phone battery went dead. I hit speeds of 100 mph getting back to the shop. When I arrived, I found the gates locked. I went inside and found my employee on the floor in a corner of my office sobbing hysterically. I ran to the basement and went downstairs. At the bottom of the stairs, I was hit by an overpowering unmistakable odor of cat urine (there had never been any animals kept or found in my shop). The lights didn’t work. As I investigated, I found that the reason the lights didn’t work also explained the sounds of glass breaking. All of the light bulbs in the basement were broken. All nine incandescent bulbs had been broken in their sockets, and 10 four-foot fluorescent tubes were lying shattered on the floor. I did not find an intruder, however. I should also add that there was only one entrance to the basement. It would have been impossible for anyone to leave without meeting me head-on. I went back up to speak with my salesperson, but she had left.
He offered to give the box back to Havela’s granddaughter, but she became upset and refused to take it.
On opening the box, Mannis found that it contained two 1920s pennies, a lock of blonde hair bound with cord, a lock of black/brown hair bound with cord, a small statue engraved with the Hebrew word “Shalom”, a small, golden wine goblet, one dried rose bud, and a single candle holder with four octopus-shaped legs.
Numerous owners of the box have reported that strange phenomena accompany it. In his story, Mannis claimed he experienced a series of horrific nightmares shared with other people while they were in possession of the box. His mother suffered a stroke on the same day he gave her the box as a birthday present (October 31 2001). Every owner of the Box has reported that smells of cat urine or jasmine flowers and nightmares involving an old hag accompany the Box.
Iosif Neitzke, a Minnesota college student and the last person to auction the box on eBay, claimed that the box caused lights to burn out in his house and his hair to fall out. Neitzke sold it to Jason Haxton, Director of the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Missouri. Haxton ended up writing about his experiences in a book called, The Dibbuk Box. He claimed that he subsequently developed strange health problems, including hives, coughing up blood, and “head-to-toe” welts.
Both Mannis and Haxton report that they have been contacted by many people who claim to have had personal and paranormal experiences after encountering the story of the Dybbuk Box and/or images of the Dybbuk Box online. There are numerous documented cases of persons associated in one way or another with the Dybbuk Box having suffered strokes, loss of eyesight and other maladies with otherwise inexplicable origins.
There have been at least two deaths directly associated with victims who have come in contact with the Dybbuk Box.
To read more about the Dybbuk Box, check out the official website (yes, a box has its own official website).
The Possession opens in theaters nationwide this Friday, August 31.