Speaking of ghosts…

Let’s hear your ghost stories. Here’s mine:

Towards the back end of my mission in 1997 I was DL in the Austrian countryside. Part of my job was to advise the elders in Haag am Hausruck about their haunted apartment.

Minor weird stuff had started to happen to them. Important things (like contact lists) went missing. They heard weird noises. This went on over the course of a few weeks. Then things got weirder. Lying on his bed one P-day morning, Elder X reported that something was banging the bottom of his bed. He assumed it was his companion playing a prank until he heard his comp in the next room. The banging became violent and the bed began to rise. Terror!

So, was this a tall tale spun by bored elders in the Austrian boondocks, two investigators in their teaching pool and not a dinner appointment to be had? Was it the imaginings of two hyper-religious youth prone to hag dreams and interpreting every bump in the night as the supernatural? Or was it real?

I believed them at the time as a) it seemed reasonable to me that (evil) spirits would harass missionaries, and b) I knew them both to be sane, sober elders. The MP also believed them and they moved out.

Share your ghost stories.

Comments

  1. I was companions in Bamberg, Germany with one of the most down-to-earth people you’d ever meet when we experienced our mission ghost story. I’d never believed that ghosts could do some of those things, but that experience half convinced me.

  2. While the thread dealt more with demonic possession, I feel compelled to bring up this classic post (really, one of the best ever) from a few years ago.

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2006/01/10/mormons-and-mental-illness-demonic-possession/

  3. This happened to my Mom. She grew up in the same farm house as had her father and his family and grandpa had a brother killed in WW1. One night my mom was laying awake in her bed and all of a sudden this very well man walked into the room, opened a small table drawer got something out, he didn’t seem to acknowledge her prescence, she had never seen him befor or since. He seemed to know exactley what he wanted and where it was. Was it some friend of her parents and they were playing some game downstairs and he needed something? or was it some spooky character from byond the grave? Who knows!

  4. If evil spirits can’t shake your hand, how are they shaking a bed?

  5. The best ghost story I ever heard (and I suspect it’s partially a tall tale) on my mission was your typical haunted house bit. And believe me, in Lousiana somehow these haunted house stories are a bit more believable. Weird place.

    Anyway the story starts like the typical haunted house story. I won’t go into the details. Basically the Elders move into an older house. Strange happenings start going on. Stories at Zone Conference start spreading. Then one transfer the new Elder decides to do some research and finds out this family was murdered in the home. Strange goings on progress to things moving and a feeling like the ghosts are upset.

    Here’s where the story takes a distinctively Mormon twist. The new Elder decides to start reading late at night the discussions and then the Book of Mormon. Then he contacts his family back in Utah to submit the names to get the temple work done. (This was in the 80’s when it was a little easier to do this for non-relatives. I actually did the work for a ton of scientists from centuries past.) As soon as their work is done, all the haunting ceases.

  6. Master Blaster says:

    Does anyone know anything about the urban legend of ‘evil spirits’ rushing the MTC and all missionaries there being instructed to stay away from the windows or something?

    Sorry, the details I know are scant. Please fill me in.

  7. BTW – in Louisiana most of really creepy stories weren’t ghost stories but voodoo and witchcraft stories. Man, now I have a ton of those.

  8. Master Blaster, I’ve never heard that one. Sounds like a variation on either Wilford Woodruff experience soon after arriving in England or the story about the sons of perdition attacking the temple and it being protected by angels. (I’m sure Ardis can give the cites for both those)

  9. these types of stores run rampant on missions. i think its a way to make it feel like there’s a tangible enemy that you are battling.

    there were stories of astral projection, rife within the “spiritualist” denominations in england.

    my ghost story came on my mission, though it was pretty tame. me, my companion, and two other elders went over to an older, single lady that the sisters were teaching (6 total missionaries) in york, england.

    the older lady complained of “spiritual warfare” which, is not really in our doctrinal vernacular but i think she was trying to describe feeling haunted and tormented. our zone leader gave the blessing, and during the blessing we heard cats meowing, and steps up above our heads. after the blessing, we asked her how many cats she had. she told us that she didn’t have any. it was a little spooky, and i made eye contact with the sisters during the blessing. a little weird, but definitely not… poltergeist creepy or anything like that.

  10. I’ve got plenty of ghost stories, and they’re all pleasant. They all have to do with genealogy for temple purposes. It doesn’t seem to matter whether I’m tracing my own ancestors, or working for someone else, or just following up on a hunch that might lead to a Keepa post — they seem to know I’m susceptible both to them and to actually getting their work done, and they won’t leave me alone. Not that I want them to!

  11. My grandma and great-aunt (they were sisters-in-law) were doing the Ouija board and they were visited by this spirit back in the fifties. They have all kinds of cool details to tell, but the one that sticks out in my mind is that they asked the spirit about my grandma’s brother, who was missing in the Korean War. The spirit told them not only that he was alone and being held in a POW camp, but the name of the place he was being held. The spirit also told them the date of his release. Needless to say, he was released on that very date and was being held in the place the spirit spelled out for them (which they had written down). Spoooooookyyyyyy……

  12. I was at on a study abroad trip and stayed with a host family. In my room I occasionally heard a baby crying. My landlady told me one day that she didn’t like my room because of the baby crying. She insisted that no one in the apartment building had a baby. I found her claim curious, but I strangely it didn’t scare me. Whenever I heard the sound of the baby after that, I just shrugged my shoulders.

    There were also stories on my mission about ghosts that inhabited an old mission home where missionaries then lived. I was a bit skeptical.

    One companion I had claimed that the members home where they lived was possessed, however the spirit wouldn’t come the missionary apartment area unless the missionaries were being disobedient. She claimed that her former companion had decided to sleep in a different room that her own comp and as a result she saw an evil spirit laughing at her because she had a body. I found the stories interesting pieces of mission folklore, but part of me is a bit skeptical.

  13. One night in the MTC I got up to use the bathroom at around 11 pm. I went back to my room, but right before I got into bed, I felt a very strange feeling. It was subtle, but I had the distinct perception of some kind of evil presence. I had no idea what to do, so I just said a prayer and went to bed.

    Past midnight, we all awoke to loud banging on the door. The fire department was herding everyone out of our building. The power had gone out, so the gas-powered generators had kicked in. The room housing the generators was normally well-ventilated, but for some strange reason, the vents were shut, so exhaust fumes were filling our dorm.

    As the missionaries in our district sat around the cafeteria at 1am discussing what happened, one of the other elders asked, “Did anyone else feel an evil presence when we went to bed?”

    No idea what to make of this story, but I remember it anytime Satan or demons are referred to as mere myths.

  14. The father of the bishop in my hometown ward back in Idaho, had an interesting experience. There was a man who claimed to be able to speak with the dead and they decided to attend one of his meetings. The man asked if there was anyone they wanted to hear from, when he suggested Gadianton. After the man called for Gadianton, something lifted him off the ground, and threw him against the wall, while beating him repeatedly. After it stopped, the man got up and said, “Who the Hell is Gadianton?”

    I can’t verify this for myself, but I trust the source… that and I find it endlessly amusing.

  15. I don’t know about you, but we were all educated to avoid Sasquatch and any/all skinwalkers…

  16. As a deacon I had a bishop who was a German immigrant (is there a thread there?) and he used to occasionally regale us with stories of a wayward youth messing with the OcCuLt. Anyway his ghost stories would fit more with the evil spirit thing, being tossed about, having physical bouts with a visible ghost (not exactly touching but – well it’s hard to explain). Another son of German immigrants had similar stories and these are mirrored in common Mormon history stories (Sidney Rigdon, Newel Knight, etc.).

  17. Zen, the Gadianton ghost story is an old Mormon urban legend. I have a copy of a talk by BRM to some CES teachers that was given in 1968 or thereabouts that has it linked with JFS. So it has been around a while.

    The version of the MTC under attack by evil spirits story that I have always heard has a night janitor witnessing evil spiritsattacking the MTC (or attempting to anyway) buy he knows that things will be okay because in each window he sees two of the sons of Helaman to gaurd the occupants. How he knew that they were the SoH and not some otherangelic Lehites, I do not know.

  18. When I was a missionary on Long Island, one of the elders complained about how he would wake up in the middle of the night feeling attacked, and unable to move or even cry out to his companion. He was quite certain Satan had it in for him (which he does, but that’s a theological issue). Many elders believed him, and I believe a blessing casting out the devil was given.

    I was highly unpopular for suggesting that it was merely a case of sleep paralysis.

  19. WVS, it must be all the witches at Walpurgisnacht. They are luring all the ghosts to Germany! Is is a coincidence that “Poltergeist” is a German word? I think not.

  20. We lived near the Mtc. There was a young man in our area who had out of body experiences. He told of visiting with legions of angels protecting the mtc and the temple. They would call him by name and tell him to go home. He supposedly visited a friend’s bedroom closet and told the friend what was in it, thus proving he actually was able to have these experiences.

  21. I can’t decide if this thread is going to be highly entertaining or highly embarrassing…

  22. Wes @21: both.

  23. #17 Andrew H. do you by chance have a copy of that talk? I would love to have one if you don’t mind me asking! robertsnibley@yahoo.ca, thanks either way!

  24. Having had at least one experience in which I was in the presence of a Satanic Angel in my apartment on my mission, I am very hesitant to treat others’ stories as if they are BS.

  25. MCS, #18

    I resemble that story! Shortly after I got married I started having sleep paralysis experiences, and the first couple times it happened I was convinced it was a demonic attack of some sort. In defense of my naivette, I will point out it wasn’t just the paralysis and the inability to breathe, but the accompanying spine-tingling, hair-raising anxiety. It felt spiritual in a very negative, scary way, like the opposite of what I identify as the Holy Ghost feeling.

    My poor wife. The only way I could find to snap out of it was to try to yell. The yell would start out very soft and low-pitched, rising rapidly in volume and pitch until I’d gasp for breathe and do it again even louder. Scared my wife half out of her wits. Fortunately, this hasn’t happened for some time, but I’m still kind of convinced that if I didn’t yell I’d just die of asphyxiation.

  26. Someone asked me to shake hands once….

  27. I had an investigator in Germany who claimed he spoke with spirits. After I left, my old companion told me how the he and his companion showed up one day and heard strange, disturbing voices from inside the guy’s apartment. They then heard the investigator’s voice, telling them he’d be there in a minute. Both missionaries got an extremely bad feeling and took off. Sometime within the next day or two, they noticed firetrucks and smoke at the apartment. The guy’s apartment had been gutted by fire, and he had disappeared.

    I initially shrugged the story off a bit, as I’m a bit of a skeptic. But I saw enough strange things on my mission that I now believe that story.

    My own story is a lot less exciting–we tracted into man who just felt evil. Everyone else I’ve met in this world has been some shade of grey, but this guy was black. I do think he was possessed; I don’t think I’d believe in possession if I hadn’t met him. We left as quickly as we could. We later got death threats from the guy (at least I’m pretty sure it was him) telling us over the phone that if we showed up again he’d shoot us.

  28. #18 and 25, I’ve had those same experiences. The first time it happened I was in 8th grade, and I was traumatized–afraid I’d had an experience with an evil spirit–until I found out it was a hypnagogic hallucination (see http://neurology.health-cares.net/hypnagogic-hallucination.php).

  29. What I claim as my “official” ghost story happened to me when I was about 14. I was staying with my grandparents on their ranch in Eastern Nevada. They had a ranch-hand with some kids, but they were all under the age of 5. Otherwise, I was the only kid for perhaps 15 miles. This is important.

    One night, I was asleep with my arms above my head, when it felt like someone was running a feather over my armpit. I thought it was my sister (despite her being ~100 miles away at the time) and told her to knock it off. At this point, I opened my eyes, and saw a boy about my age standing at the foot of my bed–I can still see him, he had red hair, freckles, and was dressed in a well-worn plaid flannel shirt and overalls. He was laughing, but not maliciously, but I didn’t hear anything. I thought to myself “Oh, it’s just a ghost” and closed my eyes. At which point my brain kicked me with “A GHOST!” and I opened my eyes, but he was gone.

    I still haven’t told my grandparents that story, mostly because I don’t know how they would react to it.

    As for my MTC ghost/evil spirit/stress-induced trauma story…
    Sleep is a big deal for me–I ALWAYS have a hard time falling asleep, and I can’t function if I don’t get enough sleep–worse than most people, I mean.

    Anyway, one night at the MTC, I had gone to bed as usual. After a while, I woke up when it felt like someone had grabbed my shoulders and was shaking them. On the wall by my bed, I saw a black hole type thing, about eight inches across, that slowly closed.

    “Okay,” I thought, “That was a weird dream” it took me a while, but I managed to fall back to sleep.

    Then, it happened again. Exactly the same way, with the shaking and the waking up and the hole…

    I was terrified, and spent probably a good hour praying after that. Eventually, I felt like I was protected enough to fall back to sleep. When I told my companion and roommates about it in the morning, my companion reported that she knew I was shaking, it had rattled the bunk beds enough to wake her up too.

  30. Josh B, I know a ton of skinwalker/LDS missionary ghost stories from the four corner areas. And the Navajo there really are into skinwalker tales. Scares the heck out of all the ones I knew.

  31. Paul Bohman says:

    I bought a house and was quite proud of it. I was putting a lot of work into it, remodeling it and such. During this time I had some roommates as well. One of them told the bishop that he felt an evil presence in my house. The bishopric came over to see what they could do about it. I was offended that my roommate would say that about the house that I loved. The bishopric said they didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary, to which I responded to myself: of course not! Maybe he’s haunted, but my house certainly isn’t. I was a little more diplomatic than that out loud. The roommate moved out, and apparently he never experienced that again. Just don’t blame it on my house, man.

  32. Gerald Snarr says:

    I used to see many occurrences of what could be considered the “occult”-ish. Demonic possession, ghosts, night-visions.

    The only way they stopped was when I became a jack mormon for a spell and stop trying to be so religious. I believe in the reality of all these things, and have great pleasure in being left alone since that time. Since repenting, I have had no more.

  33. Gerald Snarr says:

    I also had sleep paralysis when I first married, and can testify to the awful effect upshots of adrenaline while asleep can make you feel. There is a reason so many cultures refer to it as a witch sitting on you, taking your breath.

  34. Years ago, before I was married, I lived alone in an apartment in Orange County, CA. One Sunday night I went to bed at around 11 PM, completely exhausted. I fell asleep immediately. An hour later I abruptly woke up to an earthquake. My whole bedroom seemed to be shaking and it was LOUD, much louder than most earthquakes. I sat in bed, stunned, waiting for the earthquake to stop. Oddly, as the shaking began to subside, the noise got louder and louder. It was so loud that it sounded like a train running right through my apartment. It then occurred to me that maybe this wasn’t an earthquake, but indeed a train barreling past my apartment. But there were no train tracks nearby.

    After about 15 seconds, the whole experience stopped, and for some reason, and I am being completely honest here, I thought to myself, and said out loud to the darkness, “That felt like a ghost passing through my apartment.” I thought that if there were such a thing as ghosts, that this must be what an encounter with them was like.

    I looked at the clock, and it was just midnight. I’d only been sleeping for an hour. I was still exhausted, so despite the oddness of my experience, I fell back in bed and went to sleep immediately again. The next morning, Monday, I left for work, giving no thought to the events the night before. Tuesday morning I did the same. Then, Wednesday morning, as I descended the steps outside my apartment, I became aware of an odd smell. My apartment was near the dumpster so sometimes I would get a little whiff of garbage, especially in the mornings. But this smell was different, and I wondered if perhaps an animal had died in the bushes below.

    When I got home from work that evening, I saw that the apartment with which my apartment shared a front porch (occupied by a single man who’d only been living there for a couple of months) was sealed off with a coroner’s sticker. I asked around and learned that over the weekend (perhaps Sunday???), apparently, my neighbor had shot himself in the head and his body was not discovered until late Wednesday morning after his employer had reported him missing to police.

    I then remembered the odd experience from Sunday night and shuddered. I decided to look online to find out if there had been any earthquakes the previous Sunday night and there had not.

  35. Gerald, that’s why it’s often called hag dreams or hag visions. (Hag being an old term for witch) These tend to peak around the ages young men are on missions. I wouldn’t be at all surprised were many of these stories tied to such normal physiological phenomena. (Which isn’t to say they all were)

  36. #23 cameron

    Your email is incomplete. I tried to guess and send you a copy but it did not work. Can you re post it or send me an email to teancum2001@yahoo.com and I will get you a copy of the talk I mentioned

  37. Mine isn’t so spectacular in the telling, but it was strange to experience.

    I was on my mission in a rural part of Connecticut. I had heard about a lady in our ward who thought the house she was renting was haunted. She was inactive, and being a missionary, I had the perfect reason to drop by.

    She was a 30-something single mother from somewhere in eastern Europe. My companion and I visited with her for a while and I finally broached the subject, as tactfully as I felt I could, asking her if she thought her place was haunted. She answered affirmatively and as nonplussed as if I has asked her if the sky was blue.

    She said it was an old man who she would see in the very living room where we were sitting. She believed he was the former owner of the home who she knew had passed. I asked her why she wasn’t scared (it was just she and her cute little 3 yr old daughter). Again, just as matter-of-factly as before, she said that he never hurt or harmed them. She even had some pet name for him; something generic like “our little ghost friend.”

    There was definitely an odd feeling about the place. Not evil, but just odd. Particularly when we were on the subject of this old male ghost.

  38. A companion on my mission told me of his wrestle with a ghost. He was asleep and suddenly was jolted awake by a dark force moving up his arms. He tried to fight it, but it kept creeping up his arms. It then reached his garment line on the arm and could proceed no further. It then abruptly disappeared.

    He said the whole thing lasted for only about 15 seconds, but he was dripping with sweat and completely and utterly exhausted.

  39. I was 16 getting ready for early morning seminary. I was standing in the kitchen pouring a bowl of cereal when I heard a noise and looked across the room to see a dark figure pass from the hall to the basement door and go down the stairs. The lights were on but this figure was just a figure, no features, like a silhouette but more substantive. It seemed like it was wearing a hood and robe. I thought that’s crazy. I must be seeing things but when I looked at my cat she was looking over in the same direction and her hair was standing on end. So I thought it isn’t just me.
    So I figured it was a sibling or parent and I just hadn’t seen them well so I went to the top of the stairs and called everyones’ name. No response. Totally quiet. I was feeling a little creeped out. But I wanted to figure out the logical explanation so I walked upstairs to see who was missing from their bed. Everyone was still asleep.

    To this day I still can’t think of a good explanation. But the featureless thing made it seem oddly not human but it stood at the height and had the shape of a regular adult. It moved slowly at a regular walking pace and kind if slid walked along the wall. Crazy right? What could it have been? Any ideas?

  40. A few years ago, I participated in a “paranormal study” in a hospital in Salt Lake City. I’m incredibly skeptical by nature which made what we saw all the more bizarre and weird.

    I wrote the entire experience down in a blog, if anyone cares to look at it. We DID find a ghost, and have pictures of it.

    http://wbcruise.blogspot.com/2010/09/earning-your-scooby-snack.html

  41. No ghost stories, but I met one guy on my mission who was beyond creepy. We knocked on his door while tracting, and he invited us in immediately.

    After a little chit-chatting, he asked us if we could leave a glass of milk on the table for days and command it not to go bad – like he could. I don’t remember what we said, but we got out of there as fast as we could. There was a feeling in his house that only can be described as evil.

  42. I have to say one thing. No one can visit Dachau and not believe in ghosts, at least a little.

  43. Re: “Who the hell is Gadianton” story —

    Susan Easton Black, BYU Church History teacher and storyteller extraordinaire, told us the Gadianton story, only with some church history figure, such as Parley Pratt, leading the amusing trick.

    She told this story in 2002 or 2003 (I took two different semesters from her, a year a part), but as the years go by the more I find that many of her stories don’t quite add up.

  44. In this part of the country, the missionaries have a testimony of two things:
    1. the Book of Mormon
    2. Navajo skinwalkers

    My own mission was ghost-free and possession-free, thankfully.

    My only ghost story was when I was maybe 6 or 7. My parents had gone to the hospital to deliver a sibling, and for reasons I don’t remember this meant I had to sleep out on the couch. I couldn’t sleep because I kept hearing soldiers marching to drumbeats out on the highway (they were Continentals, I think, don’t ask me how I knew this). I am convinced that this phenomenon was 100% hallucination/psychological.

  45. On the other hand, as a missionary I got to be pretty good friends with a guy who regularly saw visions of a particular icon of Christ moving around and telling him things. He was dead serious about it, and to this day I have no explanation for it. My companion was convinced it was the Devil. May be.

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