Mottlingen Possession

Mottlingen Possession
   German peasant woman possessed by a ghost and more than 1,000 DEMONs. The case was published in English for the first time by the spiritualist medium W. T. Stead in his book Borderland: A Casebook of True Supernatural Stories (1891–92). The victim was a single woman identified only by her initials, G. D., born around 1816 in Mottlingen, Wurtemberg, Germany. She was a servant who was by all accounts pious, so her friends and neighbors were mystified at the sudden onset of supernatural attack followed by complete demonic POSSESSION.
   Between 1836 and 1838, G. D. had a serious illness that weakened her overall health and left her with one leg shorter than the other. The same side of her body was affected as well, making it impossible for her continue work as a servant. She went to live with two sisters and a nearly blind brother, who lived on the ground floor of a house in Mottlingen. The illness may have made G. D. vulnerable to spirit invasion.
   G. D. immediately felt that a strange presence was in the house. On her very first day there, she was in the midst of saying grace at dinner when she had a seizure and fell unconscious. At night, weird sounds were heard in the house: a swishing, trailing noise and the sound of objects being rolled around on the floor. Even the family who lived on the second floor heard the noises and was alarmed by them.
   G. D. saw shadowy figures and moving lights, which were not visible to others. She felt an invisible force seize her hands at night and move them. G. D. underwent a change in personality, becoming unpleasant to others. By 1841, the nightly visitations and phenomena had become so distressing to G. D. that she sought out a clergyman, Pfarrar Blumhardt. He was at a loss to explain what was happening to her. That winter, she became ill again, but she was extremely unpleasant to Blumhardt when he paid visits to her.
   The disturbances escalated. By April 1842, the entire neighborhood could hear the noises at night. G. D. frequently saw the specter of a woman who had died two years prior in the village, holding a dead child in her arms. The ghost said she wanted rest. One night, a mysterious light in the house revealed a loose floorboard. A paper with writing was found underneath, but the dirt on it was so heavy that the writing could not be read. Two weeks later, another mysterious light and a noise emerged from behind the stove. Underneath the floor, there were hidden objects: money wrapped up in paper, packets of a strange powder, bird bones, and other items. G. D. and her siblings believed these to be magical objects used for spell casting. Blumhardt persuaded G. D. to move, and she went to live with another relative. The previous house continued to be haunted until 1844. Meanwhile, the activity also followed G. D. to her new residence. Now, she started having convulsions. Her possessions began.
   The dead woman kept appearing to her, and simultaneously G. D. would feel tapped and even struck sharply by invisible blows. G. D. said the woman had confessed to grievous sins on her deathbed and could find no peace. G. D. would fall unconscious, during which times “unearthly sounds” would fill the house. Blumhardt described the first time he saw her become possessed:
   Suddenly, something seemed to enter into her, and her whole body began to move. I said a few words of prayer, mentioning the name of Jesus. Immediately she rolled her eyes, threw out her hands, and spoke in a voice that was at once recognized as that of a stranger—not only on account of the sound, as of the expression and choice of words. The voice cried, “I cannot endure to hear that name!” All shuddered. I had never heard anything of the kind, and offered a silent prayer for wisdom and discretion.
   Blumhardt questioned the spirit, who said she had no rest in death because she had killed two children and buried them in fields. She could not pray and could not endure the name of JESUS. She said she was not alone; “the worst of all beings” was with her. She also said that she had practiced magic, which made her “the devil’s bondswoman.” She had been cast out of people seven times, and she was not about to be cast out again. Blumhardt told her she could not remain in the body of G. D., but the spirit was defiant. At last, it left after being sternly ordered out by the minister.
   Subsequently, G. D. suffered frequent possessions, with an increasing number of demons entering into her. Blumhardt cast out as many as 14 at one time. Onlookers often felt blows, but the minister was never harmed. The demons told him they could not harm him. The possessions intensified. G. D. felt invisible blows day and night. Sometimes, she was knocked down while walking on the street. One night, she awakened feeling a burning hand seize her neck. The skin blistered, and the wound festered for weeks.
   On July 25, 1842, G. D. suffered a particularly bad possession, lying unconscious “like dead” while more than 1,000 demons passed out of her through her mouth. According to Blumhardt, they exited in groups of 12, 14, and 28 at a time. After this, G. D. had some peace for a few weeks, but then the possessions returned, worse than ever. Every Wednesday and Friday night, the demons arrived. Her health declined.
   Others in the village urged the minister to use remedies of sympathetic magic, but he refused, believing that magic would only strengthen SATAN against him. He believed such folk magic practices, as well as fortune telling and divining the location of lost property, were the type of thing the Devil used to ensnare people.
   Instead, Blumhardt relied solely on prayer, even when he was not present with G. D. It always afforded her relief, but when he stopped, the attacks started again. Once, the demons said there were 1,067 of them, the largest of the attacks. They spoke in French, Italian, and “unknown” tongues as well as G. D.’s native German. Whenever Blumhardt cast them out, they stayed in the room for a long time, visible to G. D. but no one else. One of the demons, she said, dressed in rich, ancient clothing and always carried a book. This demon seemed to be the leader.
   Eventually, Blumhardt succeeded in casting them out and keeping them out of G. D. Some of them said they were delivered from servitude to the Devil by his prayer and were being sent to a place of rest until Judgment Day. Others were in despair, presumably because they had to go back to HELL. Among the first to leave G. D. was the spirit of the dead woman, who asked to haunt the village church. She was later seen there by G. D. The last demon was expelled on February 8, 1843. G. D. lay unconscious for hours. When she awakened, she said she had been to a foreign country, the description of which seemed to be the West Indies. A terrible earthquake had happened there, she said, and many of her tormenting demons were cast into the crater of a volcano, including the leader with the book. A few days later, a real earthquake struck the West Indies.
   Despite the expulsion of the demons, G. D.’s troubles were not over. She repeatedly vomited sand, pieces of glass, nails, shoe buckles, live grasshoppers, a frog, and a snake. Pins, needles, and knitting needles were drawn out of her body. The worst were two large nails, one of them bent, that were removed from her head and caused copious bleeding from her ears, nose, and eyes. Blumhardt removed many of these pins, nails, and needles himself. First, he would feel them under the skin, working their way out; then, they would pierce the skin. He opined that the Devil had the ability to dematerialize real objects and reassemble their atoms inside the body.
   G. D. was still visited at night by spirits, who touched her and forced something like bread into her mouth. However, they did not possess her. She attempted suicide. Her final struggle against the demons took place just before Christmas 1843, and her brother and one sister were affected as well. All three recovered. G. D. moved into Blumhardt’s house.
   Blumhardt believed that G. D. underwent these afflictions because as a child, she had a relative who was a witch, who promised to teach her the arts when she turned 10. The woman died when G. D. was eight, but Blumhardt said the Devil evidently considered her his property because of the witch’s intentions.
   - Stead, W. T. Borderland: A Casebook of True Supernatural Stories. Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1970.

Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology. . 2009.

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