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Photo by Peter Becker on flickr, used under Creative Commons license.

A Victorian-style séance tells a true tale of horror

By Hollie James on November 11, 2016

Please note that this article contains graphic descriptions of violence, abuse, and murder.

Classic infamous real life spooky stories enthrall us all. We’ve followed along with “Making a Murderer” on Netflix, “Killing Fields” on Investigation Discovery, not to mention endless episodes of 20/20, 48 Hours, and Dateline. People enjoy themselves a good murder mystery.

Well, what if you could be a part of one? Are you daring enough to take it that far? For something different to do on Halloween weekend, I was looking through my go-to website for the events in my lovely neighborhood of Kitchissippi, when I excitedly stumbled upon an iconic Victorian séance being held at an undisclosed location. Super spooky, I’m in. Escape Manor and Ottawa mentalist James Whyte teamed up to present a very memorable Hallowe’en.

Practically everyone knows about the stories of Charles Manson’s cult and that other one where everyone drank the cyanide Kool-Aid, but unbeknownst to me, and probably you, is the history of the Ant Hill Kids Movement.

seance-2The séance was all about this story. Between 1977 and 1989, the self-proclaimed prophet Roch Thériault led a small religious group based near Burnt River, Ontario. Along with Clifford Olson and Paul Bernardo, Thériault is considered one of Canada’s most notorious criminals.

He was your typical cult leader, prohibiting the group from remaining in contact with their families, preparing for the end of the world, and abusing his power to the point of physical, mental, and emotional damage. However, it gets way more disturbing. Thériault had some devastating punishments for his followers, such as plucking each body hair individually, defecating on them, forcing them to eat dead mice, and even having them break their own legs. When one follower complained of an upset stomach, he laid her naked on a table, jammed a plastic tube up her rectum to perform an enema with molasses and olive oil, then cut open her abdomen and ripped off parts of her intestine with his bare hands. She died the next day. The cult was finally shut down in 1989, and Thériault was arrested and given a life sentence.

James set up this séance by using some of those disturing historical facts, and adding a twist.

After meeting at Escape Manor in Hintonburg we were led into the neighborhood, to a decrepit and destitute ramshackle house. Walking in was reminiscent of any kind of séance horror film scene – it was complete darkness other than lit candles upon candles and an indescribable eerie feel.

We were told that part of the Ant Hill Kids cult had fled to this exact location, where Thériault planned a mass suicide. Everyone was given a drug and finished themselves off by putting plastic bags over their heads – subsequently all dying, while Thériault escaped, nowhere to be found. After hearing this story in that setting everyone in the group was definitely on edge.

The paranormal is a fascinating subject – there was definitely a level of skepticism in the group, but the vibe was a mixture of fear along with entertainment, everyone having a blast, on the edges of our seats wondering what was going to happen next. The paranormal crept up slowly, little by little. It was kind of like a 90 minute haunted house experience. It was very interactive, and many of us were able to partake in something different throughout the night, including looking into a crystal ball, using a Ouija board, and doing what you do in a seance – rising spirits from the dead in order to speak with them.

And speak with them we did. There was this bell that would ring when the spirit wanted to communicate with us. At the end of the night a frightening climax had everybody running and screaming out of the house. As the night wound down and it was time for bed, there was a subtle unsettling fear within me and I definitely shimmied up to my man and my kitty that night because I was scared. It was a success.

If you want to know more about Jamyes White and his interesting abilities, visit his website.

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