[Closer to Death] ‘Possession’: What Is A Dibbuk Box?

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The closer we get to August this summer, the more we are going to hear about Lionsgate’s Possession, the Sam Raimi produced, Ole Bornedal directed movie about a series of hauntings unleashed when someone opens a Dibbuk Box.

It’s based on a true story from 2004. No, really.

If you have no idea what a Dibbuk is, or just want to know where to draw the line of fact from fiction when it comes to this tale – you’re just like me before I looked into this. Read on and we’ll sort it all out for ya’.

A Dibbuk (more accurately spelled Dybbuk) is from Jewish folklore. In essence, a dybbuk is a malicious or malevolent possessing spirit believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person.

The word “dybbuk” comes from Hebrew, meaning “attachment”. The dybbuk (spirit) attaches itself to a living person and inhabits the flesh. According to Jewish belief, a soul that was unable to complete its mission during its lifetime is given another opportunity to do so as a dibbuk. It sometimes leaves the host body after accomplishing its goals.

The “Dibbuk Box” mentioned in the synopsis of Possession refers to a real Jewish wine cabinet brought to America by a Holocaust survivor after World War II.

In 2004 this wooden box was purchased on eBay (Mr. Disgusting was actually following the events as they occurred via a now defunct blog), and it apparently caused some ethereal havoc when the owner decided to open the box. It hadn’t been opened for some 60 years before, because supposedly, there was an angry spirit trapped inside. Its history is summed up well in Wikipedia, as detailed by Kevin Mannis – the one who posted the notorious eBay auction:

The origin of the box dates back to November 10, 1938, the date when a group of women living in the Lodz ghetto of pre-World War II Poland were supposed to have conducted a seance during which the women attempted to trap an evil spirit they had helped to manifest from the “other” side Having survived the Holocaust of World War II, the original creator of the Dibbuk Box was supposed to have emigrated, with the box, to the United States where she died in 2001.

Mannis, a writer and small business owner, purportedly bought the Dibbuk Box at an estate sale/auction of the woman’s estate that year. The survivor’s granddaughter told the buyer that the box had been kept in her grandmother’s sewing room and was never opened as a dybbuk – an evil spirit from Jewish folklore – lived inside. The furniture restorer offered to give the box back to the granddaughter, who became hysterical and refused to take it. – Wikipedia

The one who opened the box found this inside:

- two 1920s pennies
- a lock of blond hair bound with hemp cord
- a lock of brown hair bound with hemp cord
- a small statue engraved with the Hebrew word Shalom
- a small wine goblet
- two dried rose buds
- a single candle holder with 4 octopus shaped legs

Strange phenomenon declared by owners of the box:

- Iosif Neitzke, 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.

- the furniture restorer claimed that the box was responsible for a series of horrific nightmares shared with other people while they were in possession of the box.

- his mother is supposed to have suffered a stroke on the same day he gave her the box as a birthday present – October 31.

- every owner of the box has reported that a smell of cat urine, and Jasmine flowers and nightmares involving an old hag accompany the box.

Written by Juliet Snowden & Stiles White, “A recently divorced father’s (Morgan) youngest daughter becomes strangely connected to an antique wooden box she purchased at a yard sale. As his daughter’s behavior becomes more erratic, the father senses a dark presence building until he discovers that the box was built to contain a dibbuk — a dislocated spirit that inhabits and ultimately devours its human host.”

Possession is scheduled to open in theaters on August 31, 2012.

~ John Marrone – CLOSER to DEATH

  • John Marrone

    Cool background story, but not sure how much I believe in haunted Jewish wine boxes. Ive detected evil spirits in a Dutch Oven before, but we exercise those by lifting the sheets and opening a window…

  • evenscarier

    I’ve found forbidding deviled eggs entry into my home helps too.