August 09, 2016

A Troll in Somerville, Massachusetts?

One great thing about writing this blog is that I get to read lots of musty old books to find strange information. Usually those books are from the 19th century - a golden age of weird New England folklore - but sometimes those old books might only be from the 1980s.

For example, while I was on vacation recently I found a copy of Arthur Myers's book The Ghostly Register, which was published in 1986. That was only thirty years ago, but that's a long time to some people, and The Ghostly Register definitely has some strange information in it.

For example, it contains an account of a house in Somerville, Massachusetts that was haunted by a troll. I have never seen this mentioned anywhere else and thought it was worth sharing. Here are the details.

A young woman named Karen bought a Victorian-era house outside of Somerville's Davis Square in 1983. She liked living there, but there were a few things that seemed a little odd. The basement often flooded, which was annoying, but Karen suspected that something else was going on.

She often felt uncomfortable near the back wall of her house, particularly on the second and third floors. She kept her spare clothing up on the third floor but got such weird vibes that she did not go up there at night. She had tried sleeping in the back bedroom on the second floor, but did so only briefly because she felt uncomfortable there as well. She felt that there was something in the room with her at night:

"I had," she says, "a feeling of a presence at night, of its being almost like an an animal, as though it had claws or wanted to bite me."

A few years after buying the house Karen took a roommate. The roommate slept in the third floor bedroom and experienced many strange occurrences. She set up her bed about six inches away from the back wall, but every morning when she awoke she found that it had been moved flush against the wall. Her clothes and shoes would appear in strange places around the house, and lights would turn themselves on and off.

A still from the movie Troll (1986)

The two women finally realized their house might be haunted and approached a Cambridge psychic for help. But when the psychic came to investigate they were surprised to learn that the problems were being caused not by a ghost, but by a troll. The psychic said:

"Sometimes ... what we think of as ghosts - human beings who have died - are instead what might be called noxious rays, earth energies that are blocked. I felt this troll was stuck there. We did a ritual releasing of him. What came to me was to send him to another plane, where his energies could be transformed into a more positive and fruitful existence."
The troll was apparently connected with an underground spring that ran under the house and that caused the basement flooding. When the house was built on top of the spring the troll became trapped and would send its energy up along the back wall of the house. Karen had always felt its presence in the house, but the troll increased its activity once the roommate moved in and started to sleep near that wall.

The night after the ritual Karen heard a small voice speaking. It was the troll, begging her to let him stay. She also saw an image of her mind of a very small furry creature with claws. She didn't relent and told the troll he needed to leave.

It did. The strange occurrences in the house stopped, as did the basement flooding.

I find this story fascinating. For one thing, Myers gives the names of everyone involved and the address of the troll-haunted house. I have probably walked by the house several times. Here are a few more random thoughts:

1. Somerville is very, very densely settled. It has very little green space, so it's surprising that a nature spirit would show up there. I guess nature is everywhere, though, isn't it?

2. Myers's book was released in 1986. He doesn't say when the troll exorcism happened. In 1986 the horror film Troll was also released, which is about a troll taking over an apartment building. It stars Noah Hathaway as a character called Harry Potter, Jr. and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in her pre-Seinfeld days.

3. I find it very interesting that the psychic's diagnosis was a troll-haunting and not a ghost. You don't often read about troll's haunting houses in New England. I guess she was right, though, since her ritual worked. But maybe paranormal phenomena are shaped by our expectation. If you think the weird activity in your house is caused by a ghost, you'll see a ghost. If you think it's caused by a troll, you'll see a troll. If you think it's aliens, you'll see aliens.

4. This doesn't necessarily mean that paranormal phenomena exist just in our heads, though. Some writers (like Jacques Vallee or Patrick Harpur) suggest that there are actually entities out there that take different forms based on our cultural expectations. Maybe they're spirits, maybe they're daimones, or maybe they're extra-dimensional tricksters who just want to have a laugh at our expense. They could also be something lurking deep inside our subconscious, but I don't think that rules out any of the other possibilities. I'm sure there's a troll or two hiding somewhere deep inside my mind!

3 comments:

Kyle Van Helsing said...

Could it have been a Pukwudgie?

Anonymous said...

I lived on this street and knew this story. I used to walk much faster when walking by it at night, but there was a ghost story about one of the larger houses across the steet having had a maid murdered in it, so that made me uneasy too. Our house had a similar odd feeling on the second floor. But no floods...

Anonymous said...

I lived on this street and knew this story. I used to walk much faster when walking by it at night, but there was a ghost story about one of the larger houses across the street having had a maid murdered in it, so that made me uneasy too. Our house had a similar odd feeling on the second floor. But no floods...