Sunday, January 19, 2020

Enfield Miscellany (Part 3)

(For an explanation of what this series is about, see part 1 here. You can read part 2 here. I'll be referencing Maurice Grosse and Guy Playfair's Enfield tapes. I'll use "MG" to refer to a tape from Grosse's collection and "GP" to refer to one from Playfair's. So, MG65B refers to tape 65B in Grosse's collection, and GP4A refers to 4A in Playfair's.)

Why The Family Didn't Move

In the opening paragraph of a post a few years ago, I explained some of the reasons why the Hodgsons didn't move from their house after they noticed paranormal events occurring. One of the reasons I mention there is that poltergeists center around people, not locations, so that moving would just relocate the poltergeist rather than getting rid of it. The family had some experience of the poltergeist following them outside the house soon after the events of August 31, 1977. And if an apparition Margaret saw in connection with using a Ouija board in 1974 in a location outside the house was the first event of the case, then that first event occurred outside the house. There's further information on Grosse and Playfair's tapes about this issue of the potential for the poltergeist to follow the family to another location. Grosse explains that he told the family on the day he began investigating the case (September 5, 1977) that poltergeists usually follow people around (MG2A, 24:41). More significantly, he says elsewhere that a member of the local government who happened to be knowledgeable of poltergeists told the family the same thing (MG1A, 3:00). Peggy Hodgson probably had that man in mind when she said in a 1980 interview that they didn't move from the house because somebody told them the poltergeist would follow them (GP43A, 1:49). It seems that this government official had that discussion with the Hodgsons sometime between when they first noticed phenomena in their house (the night of August 31) and when Grosse arrived (the afternoon of September 5). Judging by what Peggy Nottingham said here, there's a good chance that the discussion with that government official took place on September 1. So, the family initially did leave the house (to go to the Nottinghams) and were told shortly afterward about the potential for the poltergeist to follow them if they moved. Their staying in the house makes a lot of sense, then, not only for the reason just mentioned, but also for the others mentioned in my previous post linked above.

Paranormal Slowness

I've mentioned that poltergeists often operate with unusually high speed. They'll turn a table over faster than anybody faking the overturning of the table could, for example. But there are some occasions, far less common ones, when poltergeists operate in an unusually slow manner. For example, an object thrown across a room will suddenly slow down while going through the air. David Robertson provided an example in a discussion with me a couple of years ago. He recalled an occasion when a large ashtray was thrown at his head and referred to how it "would have been going much faster under normal throwing conditions". You sometimes get the impression that the poltergeist is carrying the object, guiding it through the air much as we would operate a remote-controlled airplane, or doing something else of that nature rather than throwing it. Peggy remembered an occasion when an object slowed down as it was moving through the air, as if the poltergeist was hesitant about where to drop it: "It seemed to me as though it got there, and it was trying to make its mind up where to fall, because there wasn't a lot of space." (MG10A, 16:06). Margaret commented on seeing a levitation of Janet in which she was lifted fast, then moved forward and was dropped slowly (MG28A, 2:29). There was a banging noise at the start and finish, for whatever reason. The poltergeist would often move people's bed covers. Peggy referred to seeing the covers of Janet's bed moving slowly (MG39A, 0:48). Notice how counterproductive that would be if the cover movement was being faked. Slower movement would make faking easier to detect. And Peggy says that the covers "keep" doing that, so it wasn't an isolated incident. Furthermore, it happened shortly before Janet was thrown from her bed (1:56), witnessed by both Peggy and Grosse, an incident that seems highly likely to be genuine. So, the surrounding context supports the authenticity of the cover movement. Robertson reported that a sideboard moved on its own, one that Grosse described as "very, very heavy", and Robertson referred to how it tipped over slowly (MG59B, 1:29). He refers to how he strained his back trying to lift it up. Peggy saw a light bulb move out of a ceiling light and slowly drift down (MG65B, 29:02). She saw Billy levitated while he was in a horizontal position a few times and is "certain" that he went up slowly (MG89A, 9:37). Playfair saw a slipper move over a door slowly (GP39A, 27:56), the slipper movement I discussed in another post. Peggy and the girls referred to a book they saw move up into the air slowly, after which it moved fast (GP45B, 14:58).

Seeing Through A Door

On one of the tapes, there's a loud bang, apparently from a slipper having been thrown at something by the poltergeist (GP9B, 16:19). Shortly after, Playfair comes into the room and mentions that he saw it happen. He then comments on how it doesn't make sense that he was able to see it, since the door was in the way. It sounds like he then goes back out of the room to verify that the door should have been blocking his view. He comes back in and mentions again that he shouldn't have been able to have seen what he saw. He then comments, "I'll work all that out later." I don't think it was ever brought up on the tapes again, and I don't remember seeing it discussed elsewhere. Apparently, the poltergeist or some other factor involved gave him the ability to see through the door in some sense while the event was occurring.

Followed Around The House

There are passages in Playfair's book in which he talks about how he'd make sounds like he was going down the steps without actually going all the way down, then would go back up without walking on the creaky parts of the stairs. That would allow him to be upstairs monitoring what was going on there while the family and others involved thought he was downstairs. He also taught other people, like Graham Morris, how to do it. He does it on one of his tapes (GP11B, 12:38), and it's a tape that has unusually good audio quality. He's explaining to a couple of visitors how he does the trick. You can hear Playfair making the sound of going down the steps, and it's convincing. He then goes back up the steps, and there's no way you could tell from the audio that he was going back up without hearing him say so. Yet, as he notes, the poltergeist would react to what he did in such situations. It seemed to know, at least sometimes, what he was doing when the family and others involved had no normal way of knowing. He explains that when he'd fake going down the steps, the poltergeist would remain inactive upstairs. But when he'd actually go downstairs, it would become active. It knew whether he was around, even when the family didn't. He comments, on the tape just cited, "That rules out fraud." Judging by what you can hear on the tape, it does seem to be a good trick, and it does seem to be significant evidence against a fraud hypothesis. I've given examples of this sort of thing in other contexts in previous posts. For instance, I've noted how a variety of people reported having a sense of being followed around the house, even when none of the children were in the room or even on the same floor. (See the last paragraph of the post here.) When I discussed the knocking phenomena in an earlier post, I mentioned that Playfair would sometimes get responses from the poltergeist through knocking even when he was talking to it in places in the house where the family couldn't have heard what he was saying. I doubt that the poltergeist was able to observe everything that was going on in the area at all times. There were occasions when it seemed to be ignorant of some of what was going on around it. But it seems to have had paranormal knowledge of its surroundings to some extent. The level of knowledge it had probably varied depending on how much energy it had at the time, whether anything was interfering with its operations, or whatever other factors, much as we can be prevented from seeing things with our eyes due to blinking, sleep, getting dirt in an eye, being distracted, etc.

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