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The Secret History of Poltergeists and Haunted Houses

From Pagan Folklore to Modern Manifestations

What poltergeist accounts through the ages reveal about our own worldviews

• Provides a wide array of case studies from ancient Greece and Rome to medieval Europe to the modern world

• Explores the relationship between poltergeists and troubled adolescence

• Looks beneath the Christian adulteration of pagan practices to reveal the hidden ancestral beliefs tied to poltergeists and haunted houses

Stories of poltergeists and their mischievous and sometimes violent actions--knocking, stone or chair throwing, moving objects with invisible hands, and slamming or opening doors--are a constant through the ages. What changes is how we interpret this activity. For our pagan ancestors this phenomenon was caused by helper spirits whose manifestations revealed their unhappiness with a household. The medieval Christian church demonized these once helpful spirits and held exorcisms to expel them from the houses they haunted--which proved effective less than half the time. The Age of Enlightenment cast these incidents as clever hoaxes, and many still believe this today. But poltergeist manifestations continue to appear and often defy attempts to debunk them as pranks. What then is behind this phenomenon?

Exploring accounts of poltergeists from ancient Greece and Rome, medieval Europe, and the modern world, Claude Lecouteux finds that while our interpretations of poltergeists may change, the manifestations always follow a similar course and evolution. He shows how modern scientific studies of poltergeist manifestations have found a strong tie between these visitations and the presence of a troubled adolescent in the house. Looking beneath the Christian adulteration of pagan practices to reveal the hidden ancestral beliefs tied to poltergeists and haunted houses, the author shows how these unhappy spirits serve as confirmation of the supernatural beings that share the earth with us and of our relationship with the natural and unseen world, a relationship we must take care to keep in balance.

Claude Lecouteux is a former professor of medieval literature and civilization at the Sorbonne. He is the author of numerous books on medieval and pagan afterlife beliefs and magic, including The Book of Grimoires, Dictionary of Ancient Magic Words and Spells, and The Tradition of Household Spirits. He lives in Paris.

“I can’t imagine a more thorough text available on the subject of poltergeists and the homes they haunt. Are they spirits, genies, the dead, the Devil, demons, witchcraft, hoaxes, or from psychokinetic abilities? Lecouteux covers all of that as well as the variety of ways people from all eras would attempt to rid themselves of poltergeists. If you’re anybody who is anybody claiming to know anything about the paranormal, you have to read this book. Also, if you’re anybody looking for an insanely fascinating read about the evolution of poltergeists in human culture, you also really should read this book.”

– Magical Buffet, June 2012

“For those interested in paranormal research and study, this book is an incredible resource, presenting a substantial collection of documented accounts of paranormal activity in several classifications. Overall this is an excellent and interesting study.”

– Frater U.I.F, Behutet Magazine, October 2012

“...the book looks beneath the Christian adulteration of pagan practices and reveals the hidden ancestral beliefs linked to polts and their connection with household spirits such as brownies, hobgoblins and house elves found in European folklore. Recommended.”

– The Cauldron, December 2012

“Once again Claude Lecouteux produces a thoroughly researched, eminently readable and delightfully entertaining text that blends scholarly ethos with respect for the unknown. Lecouteux turns his attention to the phenomenon of poltergeists and other ghostly haunting, taking care to scrupulously trace first hand accounts and second hand analyses from medieval through modern times. Lecouteux is meticulous in his approach, paying particular attention to establishing the proper definition of deployed terms. Readers with a casual interest in the supernatural will find their knowledge greatly expanded and their curiosity provoked even further. Those already adept in the subject will nonetheless find much to mull over.”

– Witches’ Almanac, December 2013

“Claude Lecouteux offers an exhaustively researched history of poltergeist activity and hauntings from the middle ages to today. Packed full of case histories and general information, The Secret History of Poltergeists and Haunted Houses is an essential addition to the library of any serious ghost hunter or paranormal enthusiast. Lecouteux maintains an evidential viewpoint, balancing skepticism with the inevitable conclusion that, like it or not, poltergeist phenomenon is real...The Secret History of Poltergeists and Haunted Houses seeks to inform, not entertain, and is a welcome change from the standard book store fare.”

– Spiral Nature, December 2014

More books from this author: Claude Lecouteux