The Possession follows a young girl who buys an antique box at a yard sale, one that houses a malicious ancient spirit called a dibbuk—an evil spirit from Jewish lore. Her Father teams up with his ex-wife to find a way to rid the curse that has taken over their child. The film is based on a true story, which is basically the studio’s way of saying that there’s a lot of truth bending going on. But what really happened? What’s the real truth behind The Possession?
The true story is actually quite interesting, and like most of them, hard to believe. I find the idea of buying a complete stranger’s “junk” at a garage sale pretty interesting, mostly because you’ll never know the exact history behind that particular object. Could it be the home of an evil spirit that’s ready to latch on to a new owner? Because of that, I decided to take a look into the truth behind The Possession and its dibbuk box.
While I couldn’t find much on where the famous dibbuk box came from, it was in the mid 2000s when its haunting story first surfaced. It all started with a weird listing on eBay for an old wine box that had a starting bid of $1.00. In the box there were locks of hair, a couple of pennies, a wine cup, a slab of granite that had been engraved, and a dried flower. 50 bids later, the wine box ended up selling for almost $300. Not bad for a strange box on eBay, that’s for sure. The seller bought it from another seller, who was the first modern-day buyer of the box.
The original buyer, Kevin Mannis, says that this box was purchased at the estate sale of a 103-year-old Holocaust survivor. The old woman was the only person in her entire family to survive. When she came to the United States, she only brought three things with her; a steamer trunk, a sewing box, and this wine cabinet. The granddaughter, who managed the estate, remember that her grandmother was terrified of the box and would insist that her family never, ever open it. When the buyer had offered the box to her she immediately refused it.
Before the buyer could even get home with the box, Mannis received a nervous and frantic call from one of his employees at the furniture shop that he owned, claiming that someone was in the shop destroying the place. When Mannis finally arrived, he found his store covered in broken glass, but he never did find the mysterious stranger. That same day, his employee quit and never returned.
Mannis soon cleaned up the box and gave it to his mother for her birthday and within minutes of receiving the box, she had a stroke and lost the ability to speak for some time. Of course, Mannis doesn’t put two and two together and attempts to give the box to many of his friends and family members; all of which who did take the box gave it back to him shortly after. Some of them said that the doors wouldn’t stay closed and would open on themselves; others smelled a strange mixture of jasmine and cat urine while owning the box. When Mannis sold it to a couple they eventually left it on his doorstep two days later with a note that said: “This has a bad darkness.” Now that Mannis just couldn’t get rid of the box he started to have terrifying recurring nightmares about his friends turning into a demon and beating him to a pulp. He claims to have waken from these nightmares with bruises all over his body. All of the family members who had taken possession of the box suffered from the exact same nightmare. If that wasn’t bad enough, on Friday the 13th Mannis found all 10 fish in his aquarium had died. Coincidence?
This obviously begs the question, “Why the hell not throw the damn thing away?” The reason is that Mannis was so afraid to destroy the box that he worried it would cause whatever evil spirit that he believed might be haunting it would stay with him forever. Traditionally, if something like this happens they say you are supposed to formally transfer ownership for the spirit to move on, except he could never find anyone who would keep it for more than a couple of days. So instead, he sold it on eBay for $140 to a college student, Losif Nietzke who also claims to have had similar bad luck.
Nietzke says that in the seven months that he had possession of the box, he and his roommates fell victim to many injuries like broken fingers, bronchitis, swollen red eyes, and insomnia. Also, their house became plagued with decaying dead mice and their electronics would die daily. The worst came over Nietzke when the healthy 20-year-old started losing his hair.
Currently the box is in the hands of a university museum curator by the name of Jason Haxton in the Still College of Osteopathic Medicine Museum in Kirksville, MO who has experienced some of the same illnesses and has also smelled the odd mixture of jasmine and cat urine like many of the other owners. The reason Haxton is interested in the box is because of it religious background. There are Hebrew etchings all over the box, and it is believed to contain a dibbuk, a malevolent, misplaced Jewish spirit. It is said that, “a soul that has been unable to fulfill its function during its lifetime is given another opportunity to do so in dybbuk form.”
LTK (Love to Know) has an interview with Haxton, asking him what it’s like owning the box—his answers were surprising, stating that when he dies he “would like the Dibbuk Box to buried with me and for it to be finally gone from this world.” But probably the most interesting thing in the interview is Haxton’s own theory about the box, saying that it “is somewhat neutral – neither evil nor good. I believe it was designed and equipped to move a person toward their innermost desire or wish. Of course, sometimes what a person wants is not always a good thing for them or others.
The Dibbuk Box moves toward understanding and exposing the truth at the smallest level. Its original acting out against its early owners and others was a way of continuing to move toward the ultimate goal of its creator. Those not willing to move it forward received stronger assaults from it until they let loose of the box so it could find someone who would fulfill its destiny and accomplish the goal or task it was given. Now the journey and its work is finished. As long as the Dibbuk Box remains contained with no one requesting anything more from it, it will stay in a neutral state.”
Be sure to head over to LTK and read the full interview.
So is this dibbuk box real, or is it just some elaborate hoax that the film is using as an excuse to add to its horror?