There must be few things more terrifying to a God–fearing person than the thought of demonic possession. For those unfortunates who do befall such a fate, exorcism is often the only and final solution to their misery.
Shrouded in mystery and ritual, the ultimate battle between good and evil is played out in the most ghastly of circumstances and is rarely documented.
The possession of Anna Ecklund is an exception, her dreadful experience is one of the first cases of demonic possession recorded in America.
Chronicled in the pamphlet ‘Begone Satan’ it stands as the true testimony of strange events that took place almost a hundred years ago.
‘Begone satan’ was a pamphlet written over eighty years ago, detailing the events surrounding the possession and second exorcism of Anna Ecklund in 1928.
Originally written as an information pamphlet by Father Carl Vogl and featuring the testimony of a witness Rev. Joseph Steiger, it was intended for young Catholic priests in American seminaries.
Vogl hoped his work would support the priesthood in the identification of those possessed by evil entities. In 1973 the pamphlet was translated into English by the Rev. Celestine Kapsner.
The pamphlet and its subsequent translation into book form are freely available for the public to read.
The Possession of Anna Ecklund
Anna Ecklund was born in Wisconsin USA in 1882. Little is known of her early life other than she was a devout Catholic.
This could not have been the influence of her father for reasons that will become apparent, so it must be safe to assume that at least until the age of around eight there was a guiding influence in her life, possibly her mother.
From the age of eight until the age of fourteen a change came over Anna and she began to demonstrate the indications of possession.
There are some suggestions that she was cursed by her father and her maternal aunt, Mina. Jacob Eckland was said to be incensed that his pious child would not indulge in an incestuous relationship and colluded with the aunt to invoke the evil spirits that possessed the child.
Anna first began to display an aversion to anything holy or religious, rejecting the church and overwhelmed by feelings of hatred towards the priesthood.
She also began to display an unhealthy interest in perverse sexual acts and to blaspheme. By the age of fourteen Anna was displaying signs of total possession.
The First Exorcism
At some point in Anna’s childhood medical opinions were sought. When doctors could find no medical reason for Anna’s condition, the first exorcism was performed to rid Anna of the evil demons destroying her life.
On June 28th, 1912, Father Theophilus Reisinger carried out what turned out to be an unsuccessful exorcism.
The lack of success was put down to Anna’s father Jacob and her aunt Mina, who invoked the cast out demons to return to Anna. In accordance with warnings in The Bible, the demons returned seven times stronger, to possess Anna’s soul.
The Second Exorcism
The second exorcism of Anna Ecklund took place some twenty six years later when Anna was 46. It is hard to know what happened in the intervening years. Was Anna possessed during this time? Did she have periods of peace?
What is known is that the same priest, Father Reisinger performed the second, as well as the first exorcism. By this time Anna was possessed by numerous entities but four were particularly prominent.
Beelzebub: Beelzebub, Lord of the Flies and one of the seven princes of hell was one of the demons who possessed Anna. During the exorcism he engaged in philosophical debates with the priests involved, taunting and deriding them.
Judas Iscariot: The disciple who betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver is said to have taunted Anna constantly into committing suicide whilst occupying her soul.
Jacob Ecklund: Condemned to hell for trying to corrupt his daughter, the devil allowed Jacob to possess the soul of his daughter so he could satisfy his incestuous desires.
Aunt Mina: Rumored to have committed infanticide and to dabble in the dark arts, Anna’s maternal aunt Mina was another who possessed the troubled woman.
Possibly, to protect Anna from gossip and notoriety Father Reisinger removed Anna from her hometown to perform the exorcism.
He secreted Anna in a convent in Earling, Iowa. What followed was 23 days of paranormal phenomena.
23 Days of Hell
As soon as Anna arrived at the convent she began to demonstrate extreme signs of possession. She could tell which food had been blessed by the nuns and refused to eat it, hissing and spitting like a feral cat.
Said to possess an almost superhuman strength she could run up the walls and cling to them without falling, defying gravity.
Anna is described as levitating before witnesses and eventually had to be tethered down. Despite being tied to an iron bed for her own safety Anna still had to be held down by six nuns, who could barely contain her strength.
Emaciated and frail, refusing to eat, sometimes her body became so heavy that the iron bars supporting her mattress bowed until they touched the floor.
One of the most grotesque manifestations of Anna’s possession was the terrible trials her body endured. Constantly vomiting foul substances, various parts of her body swelled until those attending to her thought she would burst.
During those periods when the rites of exorcism were being performed, Anna is said to have been completely unconscious and her lips still. Despite this she is described shouting at the nuns reminding them of past sins only they could know of.
Having only a limited education Anna also spoke fluently in German, Latin and English, blaspheming and cursing those around her.
She also seemed to have the ability to predict future events, including a car crash involving Rev. Joseph Steiger, the priest of the church attached to the convent.
Throughout these 23 days the room where Anna lay was plagued with strange smells and flies, a true sign of Beelzebub’s presence.
Indeed, one of the strangest occurrences of this time was the vision Father Reisinger experienced of both Lucifer and Beelzebub present in the room where the exorcism was being undertaken. Their rage and anger they displayed towards him gave the priest hope that soon he may meet with success.
The Triumph of Good over Evil
Eventually, after 23 days good triumphed over evil. The demons were expelled from Anna Eckland, she awoke, was lucid and thanked Jesus for her delivery. What mark it left on her we can’t know.
What we do know is that the nuns who tended to the poor woman during her confinement were transferred within the year to other convents, said to be traumatised by their ghastly experience.
The Rev. Joseph Steiger’s witness testimony was recorded in ‘Begone satan’ as was that of his housekeeper who also witnessed events. Both the Rev. Steiger and his housekeeper testify that what they witnessed was the expulsion of demons from a troubled soul.
Little is known of Anna Ecklund after the successful exorcism of the demons that possessed her. She did return to the convent where she was healed to give thanks, some months later, but disappears after this date.
Was she truly possessed by evil spirits or did she suffer from a mental illness undiagnosed by doctors over a hundred years ago?
If you accept that the poor woman was mentally ill, what explanation can there be for the physical changes to her body, the voices that emanated from her, the prediction of future events, the visions of demons witnessed by priests and nuns alike?
Shocking as it may seem, the possession of the human spirit by evil entities is accepted as a real and horrifying phenomenon. Exorcism with its rites and rituals is often the last resort in purging the body of its depraved occupants, but more than this it becomes a battle between good and evil, for the very soul itself.
As for the possession of Anna Ecklund, whatever the truth of this strange paranormal event, she was certainly a lady who suffered greatly. One can only hope she went on to live a happy and peaceful life.