THE DARK SACRAMENT – STORIES OF MODERN DAY POSSESSION
IF YOU are interested in exorcism and enjoy reading, I highly recommend the book, The Dark Sacrament by David Kiely. This work is a significant text which focuses on several cases of possession, cases that are unnerving as well as fascinating. Back when it was first released in 2007 (there has since been a revised and updated version), I read it in a short space of time, because the stories described within where so captivating – and frightening.
I have been personally interested in the subject of exorcism and possession since I was a teenager, when I first watched The Exorcist. I had also read several articles and fictional stories on the topic. I believe The Dark Sacrament is one of the most important and significant books on the subject. I have read it several times, the insight it sheds of the personal experience of the demonic is something very powerful, and it does play on your mind.
I was recently in contact with David Kiely, the man who co-authored the book with his wife Christina McKenna. He kindly agreed to be interviewed regarding his book and here is the result of our exchange. I hope you enjoy the interview – and I hope it inspires you to pick up a copy of a book that definitely deserves to be on your ‘To Be Read’ list.
I began by asking David how he came up with the idea for writing this book with his wife…
For several years I had this sort of book in the back of my mind. I’d read a number of books on the subject of Irish hauntings but all dealt with very old cases. My publisher at Gill & Macmillan visited us one day and was intrigued by Christina’s account of a prolonged haunting in her family home. It featured in her memoir, My Mother Wore a Yellow Dress. He wondered if we’d be interested in compiling a book of modern cases. We readily agreed.
Have you personally always believed in the paranormal? If so, why?
The answer is yes, and it’s largely thanks to my father, who told us children at an early age that he’d assisted at an exorcism when a young man. He didn’t go into too much detail for fear of scaring us witless, but it certainly fired my imagination and I developed a great interest in the subject. I moved to Amsterdam in my twenties and was drawn to all manner of things paranormal, thanks largely to the people I met and talks I attended at De Kosmos, a centre devoted to spiritual matters and the paranormal.
Was it hard to find people willing to talk about their frightening paranormal encounters?
For some I imagine it’s a hard topic to be open about.. Very hard, despite reassuring people that they’d remain anonymous. We even went so far as disguising the locations where the hauntings occurred and other relevant details. That said, several people were more than willing to discuss their experiences, largely because of their gratitude to the clergymen who’d rid them of the spirits that tormented them. They wished to comfort other victims and assure them that help is at hand.
Did you ever feel unsettled or unnerved during the writing of the book?
Most certainly. Being writers – like yourself – Christina and I have very vivid imaginations. That fact generally works in our favour but in the case of The Dark Sacrament it had the effect of putting us on edge on many occasions. We experienced insomnia a lot, no doubt due to the effect on our psyches of the many accounts of strange happenings we were privy to. I vividly recall an apparition I saw late one night: a serpentine, multicoloured form that moved across the ceiling for a few seconds and was gone.
Have you ever had any unexplained encounters of your own?
Not recently but I often had out-of-the-body experiences in years gone by. I’d meet entities with whom I’d converse wordlessly. Nothing evil or threatening, I’m happy to say. Christina was also visited by a ghost dressed in Victorian garb, who likewise did not speak and seemed quite benign.
Do you feel it is a spirituality dangerous thing to investigate, write about or dabble in the darker side of the paranormal?
Yes, it can be dangerous, particularly for newcomers who are unaware of the dangers. Those dangers are myriad, and as diverse as the entities that inhabit the unearthly realms. Sometimes a nefarious spirit will pretend to be good-natured and fool the unwary.
The Dark Sacrament was received very well by readers. Do you imagine ever writing a similar title again?
Well, Christina did just that. She published a follow-up in 2010 entitled Ireland’s Haunted Women. It featured ten cases concerning hauntings, told to her by women who approached her following the publication of The Dark Sacrament. She made these interesting observations in the preface: “During the research [of The Dark Sacrament] I was struck by the number of women involved; it was clear that they greatly outnumbered the men who had fallen victim to oppression by paranormal forces. Try as I might, I could not account for this, nor did I find a satisfactory explanation in the literature. Could it be that ghosts appear to men and women with equal frequency – but that women are more likely to share their experiences? After all, men tend to discuss their private lives less readily than do women. Or perhaps it’s because most men tend to suppress their ‘feminine’ side – what Jung called the anima – so that the creative, intuitive and visionary area of their subconscious mind is rarely acknowledged. It’s an interesting topic for debate. Whatever the truth, the fact remains that my portfolio of cases involving women far outweighs that of those involving men.”
Thank you David, for your time.
You can find The Dark Sacrament on the following links: