In 1928, an Iowan woman claiming to hear disturbing voices underwent an exorcism—it lasted 23 days. It turns out that Anna Ecklund wasn't just possessed by one demon, but by several. Almost 100 years later, it remains one of the most famous exorcisms in history.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
The story of Anna Aclands exorcism is not only frightening, like locked the door. Keep the light on at night. Scary,
Also, one of the most documented cases apparent normal activity ever it took two
three days for multiple demons to leave her, and it happened in front of over a dozen witnesses to this day. Most of what
when I left by 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 exorcism of Anna ACT when the most famous
case of demonic possession in american history. You can find all epochs,
of supernatural with actually flowers and all other park asked originals for free on Spotify, and if you like, what your hearing reach out on face,
book and Instagram at par, cast and twitter at PAR cast network in his exorcism took place.
In nineteen twenty eight, so much of what we know about it is from eyewitness accounts. These were published a book in
nineteen, thirty six, but much of what the
look says is backed up by the personal diaries and notes left behind by the exorcist himself. These were compiled and published
in article on medium in April of two thousand nineteen, maybe the creek
yes 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
Glenn, isn't even her real name. It's a pseudonym for a woman named Emma Schmid, to keep things simple
I'm just going to call her Anna for this episode
I was born in Switzerland in eighteen. Eighty two shortly after her
her family moved to the? U S and settle in was content. We don't know a whole lot about Anna childhood, except that she probably didn't attend school pass. The elementary
level the other thing we know she was a devout Catholic, her
and we wasn't religious at all. In fact, her parents flout rejected the church, but Anna was a Dick
story. Sometimes she went to Mass twice a day and she even dreamed of becoming a none, 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
odd in religion makes her URI S. 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
I think that she suffering from hysteria, which is sort of like a cat
Child diagnosis for any kind of emotional instability or female trouble
the time, so they take her to doctors.
Even go all the way to New York to visit a specialist, but none of the doctors can
and the voices don't stop
Finally, she hears about someone who may be able to help her a priest whose an exorcist
His name is bother. The awful is rising her or Father Theo. For short, father thought
Oh, is a monk ETA 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 that 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 a majority of people who come to them for help are more likely suffering from mental illness. So before an exorcism can be approved, the priests has to be absolutely certain that the person is really possessed.
According to the roman ritual, which is sort of like this guide book for all the rights of the catholic Church, there are three:
stinks signs of possession
unusual strength, fluids,
in a language. Never before studied and knowledge of hidden thinks
fathers Theo goes to interview Anna. It's actually not the first time they ve met according
Interview Father Theo gave years later, Anna was
parishioner of his when he was still training to be a priest back then he fell
her to be cheerful and a devout young woman when he's
he's her again. It's obvious that she's changed during
their interview. He asked Anna about her life, her symptoms, and then he asks her to pray with him. This is when things start to get straight
which, as soon as he begins to bless her, she becomes furious. She actually starts foam.
At the mouth, even though Father Theo is prey
in Latin and Anna has never studied Latin before when he
if into regular nonreligious latin she's fine, she doesn't react like somehow. She can tell when he's praying and
he's not bother Theo try.
This in italian Hebrew, Polish, all Langley
is Anna doesn't know and the same thing happens each time
he also knows immediately when things have been blessed or doused with holy water in a different room, but if they bring something to her,
hasn't been blast. It doesn't bother her at all. Then there,
other strange occurrences at one point.
Interview. Anna is suddenly thrown across the room by an unseen force and when a priest whose helping thought
the AU tries to pick her up. He can't what she's too heavy, not even three
Greece, together, can do it. I mean
pretty small woman, so it shouldn't take more than one person to lift her. That's
invisible force must be tethering her to the ground. Some have even with
All these signs at 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 is dealing with a true possession. There's. No,
medical explanation for so much of what he see how she
the different languages, how she's thrown across the room he's positive that she's harbouring an evil spirit?
fathers 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, and it won't have any effect, even though they,
both live in Wisconsin Father Theo wants to do the exorcism in this tiny town called Early Iowa there's only three hundred and fifty people there.
This way he says if word gets out to the community, her identity can be kept secret, also fought
The EU is friends with the local parish priest, fathers Tiger and fast
stagger arranged for the exorcism 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 a bed, the nun
help her lie down onto a mattress which lays on a simple iron frame, and at least a few people organism
with her in the room at all times for extra protection, Father Theo places the whole
You in a small box called a picks and hangs it
on a chain around his neck.
Already senses that this exorcism, maybe the most challenging of his life. Then Father Theo begins to pray
This is how an exorcism typically starts with some simple,
air from the Bible. The link
of Saint some gospel readings and some som readings for most exorcisms
it can be a slow start. A demon Wilson,
hidden as long as possible to show itself at
All means that its giving in to the exorcist power, but in this case in the past
out almost immediately. She seems too
oh unconscious, lying there with her eyes shut and then something else takes over.
As soon as Father Theo invokes the Father, the sun and the Holy Spirit, Anna volts off the bed she fly.
Across the room toward the ceiling and lands on the wall above the door. This is in front of Father
Theo, the nuns and fathers Tiger she stays there
gripping the wall like an insect on
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,
pray, she's screaming blood
curdling sounds barks, shrieks, screams and moans, but the whole time Anna
eyes, never open and her lips
how the buoy are coming from inside her body.
Will hear more about the demons inside Anna when we return now back to the story
From the moment an exorcism started. It was clear. There was something horribly wrong with her, while
and held her down, she screamed in multiple different voices without ever moving her lips, and then she started to vomit,
without this is far, but without getting too far into it. The spitting, especially vomiting and is overwhelming, especially because this in
a big woman, in fact its bite,
logically impossible that this much stuff could be coming out of any person, let alone someone her size, she's,
oh bombing up objects that she hasn't even eaten at one point,
looks like she's thrown up chewed tobacco leaves
the exorcism goes on day after day and needs
be injected with liquid food, nevertheless,
the vomiting and everything else keeps coming so much
so that bothered Theo has to change his closed three or four times a session. As this
means go on. He can hear multiple voices inside Anna Scott,
sound human, some sound, inhuman, but
gradually, he begins to realise Anna isn't possessed by one deem it, but by several
and so he asked them to reveal who they are now they won't
away. Just as demons don't like to come to the surface, they also don't like to give their names its away for the excess,
to gain power over them and they know it more hours passed
Until finally, one of the demons speaks in a deep guttural voice. He says he's Beelzebub
Beelzebub is considered Satan's. Second in command his name.
Means Lord of the flies, and some account say that when he makes himself known to Father, Theale fly
suddenly appear in the room. This
Yemen is also extremely argumentative. He's
hard to work on Father Theo's pride, he debates his knowledge of the by
bore his knowledge of latin. He is a tear,
both mocking presence and he ends up being Father fuse main adversary. When Father Theo asked Beelzebub,
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
come in and invade someone's body without an opening or an opportunity, and one
strongest doorways that exist is a curse, especially if,
made by someone who's a blood relative to the victim off
Theo knows about Agnes Father. Jacob is that he turned
against religion later in life and would mark his daughter for her fate. But why curse her fathers Theo asked
the demon why Anna's father would want his own child to be possessed, but beyond
the bub doesn't answer. He tells the priest ass Jacob yourself before
Father Theo can even try to summon the Father Spirit. A nut
demons, speaks up its work
this is so deep and so loud that some of the nuns actually have to leave the room. It's not Jacob. Its Judas, the
Paypal who betrayed Jesus to the Romans. He took his
light shortly after Jesus is crucifixion, and he says
he once Anna to do the same thing he says he wants to quote. Get the rope and hang herself
well Judas is screaming through her aunt S, body is morphing and changing constantly one moment, her
abdomen, will swell up like a balloon. The
I shall go completely pale. Her eyes will be
out of their sockets. Her lips will swell up her face, turned red at one point, her body
comes so heavy that it benefits the iron bed frame
body transformations are unknown occurrence in exorcisms. Anna's is
extreme case but present day exercise say it's not unusual to see eyes rolling into the backup heads jaws dropping
contorting into impossible positions and hands clenching into clause.
At night, when the sessions are over Anna, has no memory of anything that happened during the day. This is
also assigned true possession complete amnesia about what happens when the demon takes over in
listing as exorcisms go on. The demon can appear to become stronger instead of weaker, as that
he's Goin Anna's condition is getting worse, but fathers Theo keeps trying. He knows that the key to all of them,
is an his father Jacob. If he can figure out. Why he's
cursed, her then he could hear her. He keeps praying
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 an his father died, but as Father Theo speaks to him,
its clear that he's in Hell, Father Theo Ass, why he
do this to his own daughter and Jacobs answer shocks. Everyone Anna refuse to have sex with him
and this is the moment where, for a second, this case almost falls apart to me
Sexual abuse in childhood is a leading cause of a bunch of psychological disorders, included
dissociated identity disorder, which was formerly known as multiple personality disorder. It's what many doc,
is considered to be the best explanation for alleged demonic possession in
those seated identity, disorder, someone
develop alternate personalities with different voices and different names, which seemed
take over their consciousness, an 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 casts a different light on what's going on here, the change
in behaviour, the hatred of religion, separate personnel
these all of this could be a response to that trauma. But here's the thing there are plenty of doctors out
their who say they aren't even sure dissociated. Identity disorder is real summit.
Anthea arise that people can develop these personalities through suggestion by their therapists or even by popular culture. It's a very
controversial diagnosis and there's not a lot of consensus on what causes it and, of course it still can't I
for all of 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
is apparently is also considered a doorway for possession. It said to create
a psychic wound that can allow a demon to enter. In fact, one acts
says says that eighty percent of the people who come to him or sexual abuse survivors, so are those people actually said.
Varying from dissociated identity disorder, maybe, but it
hard to say and in end
case, since it was going on so long ago. We don't happen
clear answers at all
to one account and his dead Father asks Father Theo why he can't torment his daughter after all, she's. His
he can do what he wants with our right and
they feel says no. As he's speaking to Jacob here
Here's a woman's voice, speaking as well, this is Anna's aunt Mina,
China, 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
We believe that these children she killed were her own. It also turns
that means was considered a which, by the people in her town, Miss makes
because the occult is considered another doorway to possession in fact accords.
To the church, dabbling in any kind of a coal practices, are going to see a medium getting her taro cards read even using crystals.
Can create an opening for a demon me
It turned out to be one of the most spiteful demons inside Anna the vote.
Goes up a notch when she's present and by the sea
week. Anna is getting weaker and weaker. She saw
exhausted by the end of every day that she needs to be carried back to her room note she still
has no memory of anything, that's happening during the exorcism, but at night she has visions. She
talks about seen God and the devil fighting each other with armies,
one day she goes so pale during an exorcism that fathers Tiger, the Earl increased, thinks he's about to die and Anna isn't
only person feeling the strain by this
week your deal is taking its toll on father. Theo was well the sheer fist
I'll stamina needed for hours, a prayer, not to mention the bombings in the horrible sounds, would bring any
when 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
God to help Anna late.
When he knows the demons are more vulnerable, who commanded them to leave, but for now
else above, is undeterred, he's now tor
bring every one in the room. He shouting
everyone's secrets, old sins, embarrassing transgressions and here's the thing ever
thing he's saying, is true the deed.
And somehow knows everything about every one, but there's a
a bit of a crazy catch. He doesn't know
about this since that had been confessed to a priest, and this is an accepted fact in the catholic church.
So much so that its recommended that anyone who be helping in an exorcism go to confession beforehand,
you. We have to take a lot of this 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
it's a mistake to dismiss it so easily. At one point, the demons predict that
father stagger will be in a car crash. Fathers too,
you're just shake it off, probably like. I would because the devil says a lot of things plays a lot of tricks. You can't believe anything it says, or can you in the middle,
the day. Soon after, while he's coming back from giving someone there last rites stagger
this is control of his car. A black cloud appears in front of him out
nowhere blocking his vision and he almost goes off a bridge. He beer,
we escapes with his life when five
stay here comes back to the exorcism room. The demon starts laughing in asked.
And how he enjoyed the cruel little trick it played on him
its 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 away without a fight. He starts
commanding the demons to leave bothered Theo stays uproar through
night in a row until he wears the demons down. He sprinkles
with holy water, he brandishes crucifixes, and then
for one surreal. Half our father Theo actually sees Satan himself standing in a
of the room wearing a crown and holding a sword beelzebub.
I his side and
flame surrounding them both. Finally,
after more than twenty one days. The demons give up
the night of December twenty third nineteen, twenty eight Anna rises
from bed and then falls back down lip,
and then she shrieks all four of the demons names their voice
his grow fainter and fainter. Until they just disappear, then all was quiet. Anna opens her eyes.
A horrible smell of sulphur walks through the room, and this
is the demons parting gift? Apparently there partial the sulphur, it seems like it's. Finally, over Anna is back to her old self, but this isn't the end of it. Soon. She's hearing voices again
bees? Voices are something much more powerful than the demons will 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 exorcism, but
real life amnesty
we had an interesting postscript according to
notes, left behind by Father Theo. Her visions eventually came back, and this time they were
just visions of demons. They were also
oh 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
other Theo TAT he needed to prepare for the Anti Christ in catholic teaching. The anti crime
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 too
our in nineteen fifty two when they reached the age of thirty three, the same age, Jesus was when he died. Father Theo takes this protection seriously.
Because it's eerily similar to another mystics protection, a woman who lived in the nineteenth century named Catherine M wreck. She had predicted that 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 a century apart, made the same protection, but after everything else that's happened with Anna
bother. Theo doesn't think so. According to catholic theology
God sometimes allows those who are the most spiritual to be possessed by extreme evil to make them even stronger in their favour. This might have been the case with Anna
a certain point. The demonic voices inside her gave way and she became a conduit for the divine to warn the world than a bigger, more destructive evil was on the way so Father Theo puts together a team to search for the Anti Christ working backwards. He puts the Anti Christ birthday at night,
in nineteen. It's the early thirties now, so he asked his fellow priest to look for a twelve year old boy. Who is all
Eddie showing signs of evil activity. Now they come up with a few different options. One
there is a boy living in Siberia who seems to have a talent for creating weapons. This boy
Kyle Kalashnikov grows up to become the inventor of the aid K. Forty seven so well
His invention is indirectly risk
answerable for a lot of debts. He didn't
truly shepherd in the end of the world and
boy they had their ion was Gorgias 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
Men ruled as a dictator from nineteen sixty seven to nineteen. Seventy three again not
rate guy, but it's a stretch to call him. The literal anti Christ, so was
this prediction correct as far as I can tell no, which
makes me wonder if she was really possessed, or just some
from a psychological disorder. There are still detail
but don't add up, though, the flying across the room, the horrifying voices, all the knowledge of different languages and knowing everyone secrets, I mean even that car crash that almost
father stagger now, of course,
possible that none of that ever actually happened. I mean the whole story comes
book written almost a century ago by a priest who probably had an agenda. There are followed fields.
To which confirm most of what happened. But again it's just kind
a hard to know how much we can trust in his word still for those sceptics 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 and eighteen, the Atlantic reported that more Americans are requesting exorcisms now than ever before. In fact, the exercise for the arched
issues of Indianapolis. Here, where I live, says that he received seventeen hundred requests for exorcism just
two thousand eighteen alone and in ITALY
more than five hundred thousand people seeing exorcist every year. The question, of course, is why
in two thousand eighteen, a gallop poor found that only fifty percent of Americans considered themselves members of a specific church. So I don't you think that,
a declining interest in religion would mean less of a belief in the devil. Right
That's not what we're seeing because, as church attendants drops, a cold practices tend to go up.
There has been a surge of interest in astrology, taro, crystals and paganism. Remember that,
church, considers the occult to be a potential doorway for a demon to enter a person, so the rise in a cold activity could account for,
increase in possessions, or at least if your skeptical be increased belief in demons. It's also possible
People are becoming disillusioned with traditional medicine and psychiatry study
have shown that for some people having an exorcism can feel the same purpose as sing a therapist. It's a safe place to work through. So
the logical issues that are just part to talk about
regular life, so desire,
mean that possessions and mental illness are two ways of looking at the same thing. Maybe maybe not, there might actually be a third answered. That's only been discovered Reese
There is a rare neurological condition called anti an m d receptor encephalitis, which causes
information in the brain. This can cause
Why range of symptoms? From psychosis to hallucinations? To seizures I mean behind
You can change overnight and extreme delusions or comment in a law
what of ways it kind of appears likes.
It's a free media and its often misdiagnosed as such, but there are other more
her symptoms that look more like a classic case of possession and speaking in tongue
loss of memory, horrified
muscle contortions or uncontrollably throwing herself across the room. This
condemns physical and psychological are almost identical to historic accounts of possession. There are only a
you things about Anna story that don't fit into this bucket, like
climbing on the ceiling and knowing everyone secrets, but we could chalk those
two exaggeration, since this is all coming from again a one hundred year old memoir, looking at all
the options, Auntie EM de receptor encephalitis- is probably the best explanation for what was happening to her
Unfortunately, Anna Ackland died in nineteen sixty four. Without ever getting a diagnosis she.
Buried next to her father. The same man who had apparently cursor today
she's remembered for creating the american exorcism it's the base.
For a lot of the urban legends and fictional stories that we're 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 its possession or mental illness there are real people who are suffering
through these things, without an explanation and if Anna's,
Peter 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
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supernatural was created by MAX Cutler and stars. Ashley flowers and is a park, has studios original its executive.
Used by MAX Cutler, sound designed by IRAN Shapiro with production assistance by Carly Madden. This episode of supernatural was
written by Joanna fill them with writing assistance by drew call to hear me
we're stories hosted by me, check out, crying junkie and all other audio chuck originals.
Transcript generated on 2020-06-20.