HAUNTED: The Exorcism of Anna Ecklund
The story of Anna Edwards schism is not only frightening like locked the door. Keep the light on at night scary. It's also one of the most documented cases of paranormal activity ever. It took twenty three days for multiple demons to leave her and it happened in front of over a dozen witnesses to this day. Most of what went on defy scientific explanation. This is supernatural apart cast original. And I'm your host Ashley Flowers. Every Wednesday I'll be taking a deep dive into a real unexplained occurrence to try and figure out the truth this week. We're looking at the excesses of Anna acclimate the most famous case of demonic possession. In American history. You can find all episodes of supernatural with Ashley Flowers and all other podcast originals for free on spotify. And if you like what you're hearing reach out on facebook and Instagram at podcast and twitter at podcast network extra schism took place in nineteen twenty eight so much of what we know about. It is from eyewitness accounts these were published as a book in. One thousand nine hundred thirty six but much of what? The book says is backed up by the personal. Diaries and notes left behind by the exorcist himself these were compiled and published in an article on medium in April of two thousand nineteen. Maybe the craziest thing about this story is how long the exorcism lasted over three weeks. Which means a lot of strange and disturbing things happened. It's no surprise that Anna Story has inspired countless books and movies but in this case everything is true. Despite how well documented the exorcism is not much is known about Anna herself for one thing. Anna Ackland isn't even her real name. It's a pseudonym for a woman named Emma Schmidt to keep things simple. I'm just going to call her Anna for this episode. Anna was born in Switzerland in eighteen. Eighty two shortly after her birth her family moved to the US and settle in Wisconsin. We don't know a whole lot about Anna's childhood except that she probably didn't attend school pass the elementary level. The other thing we know she was a devout Catholic. Her family wasn't religious at all. In fact her parents flat out rejected the Church but Anna was a different story sometimes. She went to mass twice a day and she even dreamed of becoming a nun. But then something changed. Accounts of this are mixed but sometime in her teens she began hearing voices and suddenly. She can't go to church. I mean she physically can't even walk through the front door. Everything about God and religion makes her furious. The voices in her head tell her to do unspeakable things sexual things violent things she even has the urge to strangle a priest. She has no idea where these thoughts are coming from. And she's horrified by them. Her parents at the time that she suffering from hysteria which is sort of like a catch all diagnosis for any kind of emotional instability or female trouble of the time. So they take her to doctor's even go all the way to New York to visit a specialist but none of the doctors can help and the voices don't stop. Finally she hears put someone who may be able to help her a priest. Whose AN EXORCIST. His name is father. The awfulness rising or or father. Theo for short father. Theo is a monk. Franciscan monastery in Wisconsin. Unusually strong and disciplined. He doesn't scare easily. He's also done his fair share of exorcisms he not only believes in their power. He considers it his duty to help people to get rid of their demons but first he has to decide whether or not Anna is actually possessed by one. The church knows that true possession is very rare and the majority of people who come to them for help or more likely suffering from mental illness so before an exorcism can be approved. The priest has to be absolutely certain that the person is really possessed according to the Roman ritual which is sort of like this guidebook for all the rights of the Catholic Church. There are three distinct signs of possession unusual strength fluency in a language never before studied and knowledge of hidden things so father. Theo goes to interview Anna. It's actually not the first time they've met. According to an interview. Father Theo gave years later. Anna was actually a parishioner of his when he was still training to be a priest back then he her to be cheerful and a devout young woman when he sees her again. It's obvious that she's changed during their interview. He Asks Anna about her life her symptoms and then he asks her to pray with him. This is when things start to get strange. As soon as he begins to bless her she becomes furious she actually stars foaming at the mouth even though father. Theo is praying in Latin. An Anna has never studied Latin before when he shifts into regular nonreligious Latin. She's fine she doesn't react like somehow she can tell when he's praying and when he's not bother. Theo tries this in Italian Hebrew Polish. All languages and doesn't know and the same thing happens each time. She also knows immediately when things have been blessed or doused with holy water in a different room but if they bring something to her that hasn't been blessed. It doesn't bother her at all then. There are other strange occurrences at one point in the interview. Anna is suddenly thrown across the room by an unseen force and when a priest helping father. Theo tries to pick her up. He can't like she's too heavy. Not even three priests together can do it. I mean an is a pretty small woman so it shouldn't take more than one person to lift her. That same invisible force must be tethering her to the ground somehow even with all these signs that something strange is going on. A priest can never be too cautious. Father Theo interviews Anna again and again until he can't deny that he's dealing with a true possession. There's no medical explanation for so much of what he's seeing. How she knows the different languages how she's thrown across the room. He's positive that she's harboring an evil spirit father. Theo gets permission from the Bishop for an exorcism. This is crucial because according to the church if you try to do an exorcism without proper authority the devil will know. It won't have any effect even though they both live in Wisconsin father. Theo wants to do the exercises in this tiny town called Erling Iowa. There's only like three hundred and fifty people there this way. He says if word gets out to the community her identity can be kept a secret. Also father. Theo is friends with the local parish. Priest Father Steiger and Father Steiger arranges for the to take place at a convent just outside of town. When Anna Arrives at the convent? She's led into a small room like a bare room furnished with only Abed. The nuns help her lie down onto a mattress which lays on a simple iron frame and at least a few people are gonna stay with her in the room at all times for extra protection. Father Theo places. The Holy Eucharist in a small box called picks and hangs it on a chain around his neck. He already senses that. This extra schism may be the most challenging of his life then father. Theo begins to pray. This is how an extra typically starts with some simple prayers. From the Bible the Litany of Saints Some Gospel readings and some psalm readings for most exorcisms. It can be a slow start. A demon will stay hidden as long as possible to show itself at all. Means that it's giving into the exorcist power but in this case. Anna passes out almost immediately. She seems to go unconscious lying there with her eyes shut and then something else takes over as soon as father. Theo invokes the father the son and the Holy Spirit Anna volts off the bed. She flies across the room toward the ceiling and lands on the wall above the door. This in front of Father Theo. The nuns and Father Steiger she stays there gripping the wall like an insect until the nuns have to pull her down and wrestle her onto the bed at this point. The nuns need to hold her down because as father. Theo continues to pray. She's screaming blood. Curdling sounds barks shrieks screams and moans but the whole time and is never open and her lips. Never move somehow. The voices are coming from inside her body. We'll hear more about the demons inside Anna when we return now back to the story from the moment. Anna's exorcism started. It was clear there was something horribly wrong with her. While the nuns held her down she screened in multiple different voices without ever moving her lips and then she started. Bomb it now. This is gross but without getting too far into it the spitting vomiting and defecating is overwhelming. Especially because this is not a big woman in fact it's biologically impossible that this much stuff could be coming out of any person let alone someone her size. She's also vomiting up objects that she even eaten at one point. It looks like she's thrown up chewed tobacco leaves as the exorcism goes on day after day. Anna needs to be injected with liquid food nevertheless the vomiting and everything else keeps coming so much so that bothered. Theo has to change his clothes. Three or four times a session as the screens go on. He can hear multiple voices inside Anna. Some sound human some sound inhuman but gradually he begins to realize. Anna isn't possessed by one demon but by several and so he asked them to reveal who they are now. They won't right away just as demons. Don't like to come to the surface. They also don't like to give their names. It's a waiver of the exorcist to gain power over them and they know it more hours pass until finally one of the demons speaks in a deep guttural voice. He says he's yells above. Be Els above is considered. Satan's second in command. His name means Lord of the flies and some accounts say that when he makes himself known to father the'll flies suddenly appear in the room. This demon is also extremely argumentative. He starts to work on father. Theo's pride he debates his knowledge of the Bible his knowledge of Latin he is a terrible mocking presence and he ends up. Being father feels main adversary when father. Theo ASP yells above. Why he's there. The Demon says that the possession wasn't even his idea it was actually caused by a curse put on Anna by her dead Father Jacob. Now this makes sense because according to the church a curse is considered a doorway to possession. A demon can't come in and invade someone's body without an opening or an opportunity and one of the strongest doorways. That exist is a curse especially if it's made by someone who's a blood relative to the victim all other. Theo knows about Anna's father Jacob is that he turned against religion later in life and would mock his daughter for her faith but why curse her father. Theo asks the demon. Why Anna's father would want his own child to be possessed but yells above doesn't answer he tells the priests asked Jacob Yourself before father. Theo can even try to summon the father's spirit. Another demon speaks up. Its voice is so deep and so loud that some of the nuns actually have to leave the room. It's not Jacob. It's Judas the disciple who betrayed Jesus too the Romans he took his own life shortly after Jesus's crucifixion and he says he wants an to do the same thing. He says he wants her to quote. Get the rope and hang herself. While juice is screaming through her. Anna's body is morphing and changing constantly. One moment her abdomen will swell up like a balloon. The next she'll go completely Pale. Her eyes will bug out of their sockets. Her lips will swell up her face. Turns RED AT ONE POINT? Her body becomes so heavy that it bends the iron bed frame. These body transformations are unknown. Occurrence in excess. `ISMs Anna's is an extreme case but present day exorcists say it's not unusual to see is rolling into the back of heads jaws dropping and contorted into impossible positions and hands clenching into claws at night when the sessions are over. Anna has no memory of anything that happened during the day. Now this is also a sign of true possession complete Amnesia about what happens when the demon takes over interestingly as exorcisms go on the demon can appear to become stronger instead of weaker as the days. Go on and his condition is getting worse but father. Theo keeps trying. He knows that the key to all of this is Anna's father Jacob if he can figure out why he's cursed her than he could heal her. He keeps praying the exorcism right doing everything he can to lure. Anna's father out of hiding and finally Jacob Answers. We don't know exactly when or how Anna's father died but as father. Theo speaks to him. It's clear that he's in Hell. Father Theo asks why he would do this to his own daughter. And Jacob's answer shocks. Everyone Anna refused to have sex with him and this is the moment where for a second. This case almost falls apart to me because sexual abuse in childhood is a leading cause of a bunch of psychological disorders including associated identity disorder which was formerly known as multiple personality disorder. It's what many doctors considered to be the best explanation for alleged demonic possession in dissociate identity disorder someone can develop alternate personalities with different voices and different names which seemed to take over their consciousness and act of their own accord it usually develops as a response to childhood trauma particularly sexual abuse so if Anna was a survivor of sexual abuse it cast a different light on. What's going on here? The changes in behavior the hatred of religion separate personalities. All of this could be a response to that trauma. But here's the thing. There are plenty of doctors out there who say they aren't even sure dissociate. Identity disorder is real some of them theorized that people can develop these personalities through suggestion by their therapists or even by popular culture. It's very controversial diagnosis. And there's not a lot of consensus on what causes it and of course it still can't account for all the other events going on here the other languages and I mean that way. Anna has literally flown across the room. Mental illness can't explain those things but on the other hand as it turns out. Sexual Abuse Apparently is also considered a doorway for possession. It said to create a psychic wounds that can allow a demon to enter. In fact one exorcists says that eighty percent of the people who come to him are sexual abuse survivors. So are those people actually suffering from dissociate identity disorder. Maybe but it's hard to say and in Anna's case since it was going on so long ago we don't have any clear answers at all according to one account and his dead father asks Father Theo why he can't torment his daughter after all. She's his child. He can do what he wants with her right and father. Theo says no as he's speaking to Jacob. He hears a woman's voice speaking as well. This is Anna's AUNT MEENA MEENA IT. Turns out was Jacobs mistress and was with him in hell allegedly for killing children now. We don't know what happened here but some people believe that these children she killed were her own. It also turns out that. Meena was considered a witch by the people in her town. Miss Makes Sense. Because the occult is considered another doorway to possession in fact according to the Church Dabbling in any kind of occult practices. I'm going to see a medium. Getting Tarot cards read even using crystals can create an opening for a demon. Meena turned out to be one of the most spiteful demons inside Anna the vomiting goes up a notch when she's present and by the second week Anna is getting weaker and weaker. She's so exhausted by the end of every day that she needs to be carried back to her room now. She's still has no memory of anything that's happening during the exercises them but at night she has visions. She talks about seeing God and the devil fighting each other with armies one day. She goes so pale during an exorcism. That Father Steiger early priests thinks she's about to die. An Anna isn't the only person feeling the strain by the second week. Bureau deal is taking its toll on Father Theo as well. The sheer physical stamina needed for hours of prayer not to mention the bomb. It and the horrible sounds would bring anyone to their breaking point. Even the nuns are on the verge of collapse by now father. Theo has moved into the core of the exorcism ritual. He's calling on God to help Anna later when he knows the demons are more vulnerable. Who COMMAND THEM TO LEAVE. But for now be els above is undeterred. He's now torturing everyone in the room he shouting out. Everyone's secrets old sins embarrassing transgressions. And here's the thing everything he's saying is true. The Demon Somehow knows everything about everyone. But there's a little bit of a crazy catch. He doesn't know about the sins that have been confessed to a priest and this is an accepted fact in the Catholic Church so much so that it's recommended that anyone who will be helping in an X.'s. And Go to confession beforehand. Obviously we have to take a lot of the story with a grain of salt because who knows how accurate this hundred year. Old Account is at this point. The events are getting so crazy. It seems like they have to be exaggerating. But maybe it's a mistake to dismiss it so easily. At one point. The DEMONS PREDICT THAT FATHER. Steiger will be in a car crash. Father Steiger just kind of shakes it off. Probably like I would because the devil says a lot of plays a lot of tricks. You can't believe anything it says or can you in the middle of the day soon after while he's coming back from someone their last rites Steiger loses control of his car. A black cloud appears in front of him out of nowhere blocking his vision and he almost goes off a bridge. He barely escapes with his life. When Father Steiger comes back to the extra schism room the demon starts laughing in asked him how he enjoyed. The cruel little trick played on him. It's common knowledge in the exorcist community. That things are at their worst just before the battle is over father. Theo can feel that the demons are close to defeat but they aren't going to go without a fight. He starts commanding the demons to leave father. Theo stays up for three nights in a row until he wears the demons down. He Sprinkles Anna with holy water he brandishes crucifixes and then for one surreal half hour father. Theo actually sees Satan himself standing in a corner of the room wearing a crown and holding a sword beal's above by his side and flame surrounding them both finally after more than twenty one days the demons give up on the night of December Twenty Third Nineteen Twenty eight Anna rises from bed and then falls back down limp and then she shrieks all four of the demons names. Their voices grow fainter and fainter until they disappear then all quiet in opens. Her is a horrible smell of sulfur wafts through the room. And this is the demons parting gift. Apparently they're partial to sulphur. It seems like it's over. Anna is back to her old self. But this isn't the end of it soon. She's hearing voices again. And these voices are something much more powerful than the demons. We'll hear about Anna's new visitor when we return. Let's get back to the story in the popular book about Anna's possession it ends right after the exorcist them but in real life. Anna story had an interesting postscript. According to notes left behind by Father Theo. Her visions eventually came back and this time they weren't just visions of demons. They were also of Jesus Mary and the Saints Eventually. Anna even began to speak in the voice of who she claimed to be. Jesus Christ the voice told Father Theo that he needed to prepare for the Anti Christ in Catholic teaching. The Anti Christ is a false messiah. Who supposed to come before the end of the world to test people's faith and according to the voice this figure was already walking the earth. The Anti Christ would apparently come to power in nineteen fifty two when they reached the age of thirty three the same age. Jesus was when he died father. Theo takes this prediction seriously. Because it's eerily similar to another mystics production. A woman who lived in the nineteenth century named Kathryn Emmerick. She had predicted the Anti Christ would come to power about fifty years before the year. Two thousand now. Maybe it's just a coincidence. That two women century apart made the same prediction but after everything else. That's happened with Anna Father. Theo doesn't think so according to Catholic theology. God's sometimes allows those who are the most spiritual to be possessed by extreme evil to make them even stronger in their faith. This might have been the case with Anna. At a certain point the demonic inside her gave way and she became a conduit for the divine to warn the world that a bigger more destructive evil was on the way so father. Theo put together a team to search for the Anti Christ working backwards. He puts the anti Christ's birthday at Nineteen nineteen. It's the early thirties now. So he asked his fellow priests to look for a twelve year. Old Boy who is already showing signs of evil activity now. They come up with a few different options. One of them is a boy living in Siberia who seems to have a talent for creating weapons. This boy Mikhail Kalashnikov grows up to become the inventor of the AK forty seven so while his invention is indirectly responsible for a lot of deaths. He didn't actually shepherd in the end of the world. Another boy they had their eye on was Georgios Papadopoulos. Now he lived in Greece. And it's not really clear why he raised red flags as a twelve year old boy but as an adult he led a coup in Greece and then ruled as a dictator from nineteen sixty seven to nineteen seventy-three again. Not a great guy. But it's a stretch to call him the Literal Anti Christ. So was Anna's prediction correct. As far as I can tell no which makes me wonder if she was really possessed or just suffering from a psychological disorder. There are still details. Don't add up though the flying across the room. The horrifying Boise's all the knowledge of different languages. And knowing everyone's secrets I mean even that car crash that almost killed Father Steiger now. Of course it's possible that none of that ever actually happened. I mean the whole story comes from a book written almost a century ago by a priest who probably had an agenda their father. Theo's notes to which confirm most of what happened but again. It's just kind of hard to know how much we can trust in his word still for those skeptics out there who want to say this was strictly a product of its time and would probably never happened today. Keep this in mind. In recent years possessions have been increasing in December two thousand eighteen. The Atlantic reported that more Americans are requesting exorcisms now than ever before in fact the exorcist for the archdiocese of Indianapolis here eyelid says that he received seventeen hundred requests for X.'s. Them just in two thousand eighteen alone and in Italy more than five hundred thousand people see an exorcist. Every year the question of course is why in two thousand eighteen. A Gallup poll found that only fifty percent of Americans consider themselves members of a specific church. So I don't know you'd think that like a declining interest in religion would mean less of a belief in the devil right but that's not what we're seeing average attendance drops occult practices. Tend to go up. There's been a surge of interest in strategy Tarot Crystals and paganism remember. The church considers the Colt to be a potential doorway for a demon to enter a person so the rise called activity could account for the increase in possessions or at least if you're skeptical the increased belief in demons. It's also possible that people are becoming disillusioned with traditional medicine and psychiatry studies. Have shown that for some people having an exorcism can fill the same purpose as seeing a therapist. It's a safe place to work through psychological issues. That are just hard to talk about regular life. So does that mean that possessions and mental illness are two ways of looking at the same thing. Maybe maybe not there might actually be a third answer. That's only been discovered recently. There's a rare neurological condition called Anti N. Md A receptor encephalitis which causes inflammation in the brain. This can cause a wide range of symptoms from psychosis to hallucinations to seizures. I mean behavior can change. Overnight and extreme delusions are comet in a lot of ways. It kind of appears like schizophrenia. And it's often misdiagnosed as such but there are other motor symptoms that look more like your classic case of possession. I mean speaking in Tongues. Loss of memory horrifying muscle contortions or uncontrollably. Throwing yourself across the room. The symptoms physical and psychological are almost identical to historic accounts of possession. There are only a few things about Anna Story. But don't fit into this bucket like the climbing on the ceiling and knowing everyone secrets but we could talk those up to exaggeration since this is all coming from again a one hundred year old memoir looking at all the options anti MDA receptor in. Cephalophagus is probably the best explanation for what was happening to her. Unfortunately an Akron died in nineteen sixty four without ever getting a diagnosis. She was buried next to her father. The same man who apparently cursed her. Today she's remembered for creating the American X.'s. Them it's the basis for a lot of the urban legends and fictional stories. That were still hearing today. But the next time you see a movie with a girl's head spinning around and a steady stream of green vomit just remember. There's more to the story whether it's possession or mental illness. There are real people who are suffering through these things without an explanation. And if Anna's later visions are any indicator the people who carried the most darkness might also be full of the most light Thanks for listening. I'll be back next week with another episode. You can find all episodes of supernatural and all other podcast originals for free on spotify. Spotify has all your favorite music and podcasts. All in one place. They're making it easier to listen to whatever you WanNa hear for free on your phone computer or Smart Speaker. And if you like the show follow at podcast on facebook and instagram and at podcast network on twitter supernatural was created by Max Cutler and stars Ashley Flowers and is a podcast duty original. It's executive produced by Max Cutler. Sound designed by Ron Shapiro with production assistance by Carly Madden. This episode of supernatural was written by Joanna Philbin with writing assistance by drew coal to hear more stories hosted by me. Checkout Crime Junkie and all other audio chuck originals.