Interview with the Demonologist: Ed Warren
PART 2 By Tony Spera
Note: This interview was conducted the evening prior to Ed & Lorraine Warren’s departure to England & Scotland on a three week excursion in search of ghosts. Ed was extremely excited during this interview. May 17, 1998
Q: Ed, the last time we spoke we talked a lot about how you became involved in this type of work and problems you’ve encountered with investigations. Anything you’d like to add before we continue?
A: Yes. I’d like to say that to be a good investigator you MUST have a sense of humor. You know how police officers like to joke around and blow off steam when they are together? Well it’s the same in this type of work. You can’t take it too seriously all of the time, because you’ll end up wacky. Humor is kind of like a release valve. You know Tony, you were a cop, so you know what I’m talking about.
Q: Right. Humor can work wonders to help you keep your sanity . . . and to keep your perspective on track. Do you have any other advice regarding how to be a good investigator?
A: Yeah. To be a really good investigator you have to have an instinct, an innate sense regarding a person’s truthfulness. You have to be able to read body language. The person could verbally be saying YES, while their body is saying NO. Hey! Too bad you can’t come to England & Scotland with us kid. We’re gonna see some fantastic sights! Remember that time you came with us and you were walking up that hill in Scotland, walking through the Heather, and you told us to go on without you . . . that you weren’t going back? You loved it over there.
Q: Yes I remember it quite well. I wish I were going with you. To get back to the question Ed, what are the fundamentals to being a good investigator?
A: Knowledge. Knowledge is the key. You can’t be involved in this type of work for a short time and know all there is to know about the supernatural. Hey Lorraine and I have been involved for over 50 years and we don’t know everything! We’re still learning.
Q: I’d like to ask you about demonic possession. We’ve all seen the movie “The Exorcist” and it scared the daylights out of many of us. Just how prevalent is demonic possession?
A: It’s pretty rare. Let’s put it this way. You probably have more of a chance of being struck by lightning than you do of becoming possessed by a devil or demon. I’m not saying that it isn’t possible because it is. I’ll put it in perspective for you. I’ve been involved in this work for over 50 years ok? I’ve investigated perhaps seven thousand cases of various kinds. Of all those cases- I’ve been involved in about 70 to 80 actual exorcisms, where people were possessed by a devil or demon. So what is the percentage of that?
Q: Not much, less than one percent I’d say.
A: Yeah, and that’s from a dedicated population of people who think (or their families think) they might be possessed. So out of the entire population I’d say the probability is extremely low. Less than one percent for sure.
Q: How then Ed, do you tell if someone is actually possessed? I mean just because they tell you doesn’t mean it’s true, right?
A: Hey, that’s it kid. You said it. Nobody who is REALLY possessed is going to tell you. You know why? Because they don’t know it! A possessed person wouldn’t know they are possessed. Anybody who tells you they are possessed- ISN”T! What we actually look for are outward manifestations.
Q: What do you mean?
A: Oh, levitation’s, facial changes, foul, disgusting odors, superhuman strength. If you have a 90 lb. girl throwing off six 250 lb. football players then that would give you a clue that you are not dealing with an ordinary situation. If the girl levitates off the chair and sits there …a foot from the chair then you are either watching David Copperfield’s magic show or you’ve got a major problem there. You get the idea. Hey, we’re going to the Isle of Skye too. You remember that place don’t you? (Ed was visibly excited)
Q: Oh I remember it very well Ed. I seem to remember an incident in Portree where I went into the men’s room and you started banging on what you thought was my stall. Turned out you were banging and yelling at the wrong guy, huh?
A: That was pretty funny. The guy in the stall didn’t think so though. Where was I? Oh yeah. The thing about possession is that it can be very deceptive. People aren’t “possessed 100 percent of the time you know. They vacillate between being perfectly normal, to maybe obsession, depression, to possession. Back and forth, ya know. It can be mistaken for a lot of other things too. That’s why it’s important to go through ALL of the proper channels first. They need to be checked out medically, and mentally, first. We have to rule out those conditions first. Conditions such as bi-polar disorder, manic depression, drug or alcohol use, those types of things. When they are given a clean bill of health with regard to their physical and mental condition then that’s when we look towards the preternatural.
Q: So Ed, let’s say that a person is actually possessed by a devil or demon. How do you help them?
A: Through the rite of Exorcism….the casting out of evil spirits.
Q: How many people have you personally exorcised?
Q: None? I thought you said……
A: Yeah. I said I was personally involved in 70 or 80 exorcisms. But I never performed one. That’s left to an exorcist. An extremely holy and pious individual, usually a priest, minister, or rabbi. I’ve been present at these exorcisms, watched the rite being performed by these holy men. And it’s only as effective as the priest or minister’s or rabbi’s faith. They MUST be true to their faith. They MUST be holy and pious…or they won’t be successful.
Q: So then are you saying not all priests are capable of performing a successful exorcism?
A: Right. There are good priests and bad priests. Just like anything else. There are good doctors and there are bad doctors. Good cops and bad cops… it’s like that in every profession….some are better than others.
Q: I understand… Ed I’d like to ask you what the most horrifying experience was that you’ve ever had. Can you tell me about that?
A: The MOST horrifying experience I don’t even talk about. It happened to Lorraine and me when we were up in a remote area of Canada. I never discuss it because just by thinking about it, and giving it recognition it could start up again, or it could come to you. The only thing I will say was that it was an attack on us- in our car- it was brutal and lasted for over five hours. That’s all I’ll say about it.
Q: Ok we’ll drop that. What can you tell me about the Ouija board? Is the Ouija board ok to use?
A: The Ouija board is probably responsible for 7 out of 10 of our cases. It’s one of the first things I ask in an investigation…has any member of the family ever played with a Ouija board? Seven out of ten times the answer is yes!
Q: Yeah but Ed, why would an Ouija board be connected to haunting phenomena? It’s just a harmless game, right?
A: Oh no, no…it’s far from harmless kid. Yeah, the board itself is just a compressed piece of material, made out of fiberboard or some other material. Then there’s a plastic planchette that is used to spell out words. It’s not the board that is dangerous per se, it’s what you are asking FROM the board. The person using it is doing what? Asking to speak to spirits. The board is like a conduit for spirits to pass through. It’s a means for them to communicate with the physical realm. The person has absolutely no control over what comes over the board. You could be thinking you are speaking to your deceased loved one when in reality you might be speaking to something that has never walked the earth in human form.
Q: So you are saying that you don’t always get who you think you are getting?
A: Right, right. Remember that evil and demonic forces just love to confuse, to torment humans. Why? Because you are created in the image of God….that’s a hated image to the demonic.
Q: So people should not use the Ouija board?
A: My answer would be absolutely no. You see it’s like crossing a busy highway. You may cross it a thousand times and nothing happens. But all it takes is that one time to get hit by that car or truck and wham…it’s all over. You may cross and make it ok. Somebody else may not be so lucky. And remember too that just because nothing bad came to you at first, it could come later.
Q: What do you mean, exactly?
A: I mean you could play with the board and nothing bad comes over it. But it could be playing a waiting game. Spirits don’t necessarily come when you want them to. Once you invite them in, they come when THEY want to. Could be 3:00 O’clock in the morning when you’re all alone. Imagine lying in bed all alone and suddenly feeling something crawl into bed with you…invisible, intangible, hating you because you are made in the image of God. We’ve had many such cases. People being attacked by an incubus or a succubus, evil spirits that attack you physically and sexually!
Q: Wow Ed. It sounds pretty scary. Any advice to those who’ve used an Ouija board?
A: Yeah. Stop using it. Stop it NOW. Now I don’t want to alarm all those people who’ve used the board. Chances are nothing bad will ever happen to them. Odds are that they will be ok. But I’m saying why keep pushing your luck? It’s like smoking. You may not have lung cancer now, but if you keep smoking you increase your chances tremendously. If you stop, the odds start to go in your favor.
Q: You mentioned Incubus and Succubus. What exactly are they?
A: They are inhuman spirits. Demonic spirits that attack humans. If they target a woman we call them Incubus. If they target a man we call them Succubus. Because you see they have no gender themselves. They are neither male or female.
Q: Anything else people should avoid?
A: Oh yes. They shouldn’t go to psychic readers, or play with Tarot cards, or anything where they are asking for information from the spirit world. When they ask,”Will I ever get married?” or “Will I get a good job?” who do you think they are asking? The spirit world, of course. My advice is that if someone wants to communicate with spirits, they should go to church.
Q: That brings up a point Ed. Aren’t people communicating with spirits anyway when they go to church?
A: That’s called praying Tony. Big difference. When you pray, you are praying to God and the saints. You are not trying to communicate with the unknown. Remember faith in God is your protection. Prayers to God never go unanswered. Never. When you speak to God, he listens.
Q: Well Ed, it’s been a very enlightening interview. I know you are excited about your trip to England and Scotland.
A: Yeah. Lorraine and I love it over there. We’re bringing some students with us. We’re going to travel about 3,000 miles throughout England and Scotland. We start in the south of England and go all the way up to Land’s End, John O’Groats, in Scotland. Too bad you can’t come with us kid. I know how much you love it over there. Don’t worry, we’ll bring you back some souvenirs.
Q: Hey, tell me some of the spots you’re going to hit over there.
A: Oh Borley Church of course. We’ll probably spend our anniversary there. May 22nd Lorraine and I will be married 53 years on May 22nd. Then we’ll be going to York, Whitby Abbey, Scarborough, Loch Ness, Edinburgh, all over. It’s gonna be great!
Q: Anything else you’d like to add before we end this interview?
A: Yep. I’d like to thank Alan and Neal. Two students of ours. They’re doing one heck of a job on our Newsletter. Very professional. I wish you were coming with us kid. I found this great place for steak, covers the whole plate. Just great.
Q: You’re kidding! The last time I was over there we couldn’t find any good meat. Remember that place in Dundee where they said they had real beef stew?
A: Is that the place where I asked the guy if they used REAL meat?
A: ( Ed laughing heartily). Oh yeah. It turned out to be about an ounce and a half of shredded beef….a couple a carrots and a potato.
Q: Well Ed. Thanks again for this interview and have a great trip!
A: Ok Tony. Thanks to everyone for browsing our web site. We’ll talk again. Note: At this point Ed stood up and patted me on the back. He told me that he really couldn’t wait to get over there, (UK) but that he hated the plane ride. He turned to walk away and I noticed the back of his sweatshirt. On it was written: World War II ….U.S. NAVY…ARMED GUARD…..and I suddenly realized that this man wasn’t always a ghostbuster and that some memories never die.