Linda Colling: Dangers of dabbling with the occult

Marie Williams with medium and clairvoyant Sean Roper in the hallway of her Hendon home.
Marie Williams with medium and clairvoyant Sean Roper in the hallway of her Hendon home.
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THEY haven’t got a clue what they could be getting themselves into, innocently thinking it’s all a laugh going to clairvoyants, psychic fairs and dabbling in spiritism.

Marie Williams, the widowed mother of six who told the story of her haunted house in the Echo this week, is someone you either believe or don’t.

I visited her home in Toward Road, Hendon, which she claims is a house possessed and which she thought had been cleansed by celebrity psychic Derek Acorah.

But the trashing of rooms, moving of heavy furniture, bangs and growling goes on, she says. All was ordered when I called.

And whatever the truth of the broken crockery and glasses she showed me, which she says was hurled down her hall by a poltergeist, taking chunks out of door hinges, this is a troubled house.

Since her story of ghosts and psychic phenomena appeared, Marie has gained some notoriety in national newspapers.

It’s meat and drink to paranormal investigators and mediums who have bombarded her with requests for visits.

She’s broadcast on paranormal radio and even before Acorah visited, had five mediums to her home. But she says the disruption only intensified.

Has this 34-year-old been involved before or after her husbands’ sudden death three years ago, with spiritualism I asked: “Yes, both before and after. It was to see if my husband had come through but nothing happened.”

Like many, Marie was seeking comfort in the hope of receiving a message “on some sort of personal level because of the way he passed. It was for comfort”.

Marie was shocked when I said that this can open the way for the kind of disturbances she has described and which drove her to contact the Echo pleading for help, rather than move out of the privately-rented house that is perfect but for the unexplained activity.

I called the Church of England convenor, who heads a seven-strong Durham diocesan deliverance team of clergy.

He told me he has carried out exorcisms in homes and some times it’s all been triggered by people who have been to see a medium and “pulled in things they shouldn’t pull in,” just like some others after dabbling with the occult and ouja boards.

He said: “I have been in a house where a medium left something behind, a so-called spirit guide, and I was called in to calm things down. I have been to houses and it just suddenly happens. Why? I can’t tell you.

“There’s some places where people have bought a house and the family moved in and something else has already been there.

“You find other people who have lived with that for years and all of a sudden decide they want rid of it. It can range from a vague kind of something black to something that feels like an actual presence, you might even say that might be a ghost. There are no spirits that we can’t handle.”

I know if I were in Marie’s shoes what I would do. Get in touch with a priest.

That’s exactly what a 43-year-old single mother from High Barnes did. She doesn’t go to church but, on the verge of being driven out of the cottage she had just moved into by unexplained happenings, called in the clergy.

This down-to-earth woman at first dismissed keys and objects going missing and turning up in odd places as pressure of work and a busy life: “I used to think ‘You’re going dizzy.’

“Then I would hear strange noises and I saw a man walking into the bathroom but when I looked there was nobody there and the back door was shut.

“I just thought I was seeing things but then it started to escalate. I would go to bed and hear a noise I couldn’t explain, a wardrobe door ping and always at 5.30 on a Sunday morning, the chopping of sticks.

“But the most frightening thing was one night lying in bed sound asleep and I heard a “Hergh” in my ear. I jumped up and said ‘You stupid girl,’ thinking it was my daughter. But it wasn’t. I thought it’s a nightmare but my ear was ringing when I lay down.

“Another night I felt someone get in the bed with me and the bed go down. It got to the point where I didn’t know whether I was coming or going.

“I thought I was keeping it from my daughter until I heard her tell one of her pals, ‘the house is haunted.’ The television would come on in her room during the night. She saw little white things blowing round in the room.

“Loads of things were happening, noises, things getting moved about, there was an atmosphere in the house.

“I felt a bit spooked. It was oppresive. That’s when I rang the priest.”

It reached such a pitch that both she and her daughter moved into her mother’s home until he came: “He brought a little altar cross and candle and put it on the dining table, lit the candle and went in every single room and prayed, then we said the Lord’s prayer.

“He left and the atmosphere had gone. No more. Nothing. Everything was just as it should be. Believe you me, if it hadn’t happened to me, I would say a pile of absolute crap.”

And that’s what many will say about her experience. Only, there are more things in heaven and earth than we know.