Whenever Dybbuk boxes are mentioned within groups or on social media posts everyone always assumes the first one was the Dybbuk Box that Kevin Mannis owned which some do and many do not believe his story regarding how he came into contact with it. However, the history of the dybbuk box goes back much further in my opinion and it would seem many people from over the world have been using items to trap spirits within for many years, which in turn shows some similar traits to the dybbuk box we know today and that is more publicly known about.
What is a Dybbuk Box?
The Dybbuk box, or dibbuk box is a box which is said to be haunted by a dybbuk. A dybbuk is a restless, usually malicious spirit believed to be able to haunt and even possess a person.
It is believed that the spirit of the dybbuk is summoned to the box in some way, which limits its power and it is only when the box is opened the full force of this entity will be shown.
Most Dybbuk boxes normally have some kind of symbols or writing engraved on them as a warning to those who come into contact with them and the warning is normally that it should not be opened.
Normally, the box will be sealed with wax, locked and has items within it, which can normally be felt when the box is shaken.
Over the years people have opened dybbuk boxes and they normally contain personal items such as ashes, items of a reglious manner.
The Pandora’s Box
Some may sat that the idea of the dybbuk box came from the story that associates with Pandora’s Box.
In mythology, according to Hesiod, when Prometheus stole fire from heaven, Zeus, the king of gods took vengeance by presenting Pandora to Prometheus brother, Epimetheus. Pandora opened a jar left in his care containing sickness, death and many other unspecified evils which were then released into the world.
Though, she hastened to close the container, only one thing was left behind – usually translated as Hope, though it could also have the pessimistic meaning of ‘deceptive expectation’.
From this story has grown the idiom ‘to open a Pandora’s box’, meaning to do or start something that will cause many unforeseen problems.
The word translated as ‘box’ was actually jar (pithos) in Greek.
The Demon Trap
There are many different forms of demon traps from all parts of the world. In theory the dybbuk box is a demon trap in itself within modern western culture but in previous years we have used different items to more or less achieve the same thing; To trap a bad spirit.
Over the centuries there as always been talk of evil spirits, ghosts and demons. There have been tales of ways to bind, subdue and imprison them. It is natural for us as humans to lash out and try and control, subjugate and tame the things we do not understand.
There as been many efforts to draw in and entrap demons, evil, spirits and other entities from beyond our understanding for us as humans to try and study them to some degree.
Medieval europe consisted of symbols that would draw in a demons curiosity and then it would be sealed with a never ending loop. These symbols would be designed so that any passing demon would be lured into the symbol to investigate, which on them investigating the symbol would lock in its energy. Such symbols would be used in buildings and there is proof of this to this day with some 18th and 19th century buildings still having the remains of such symbols on their doors, walls and even floors. It was believed that these symbols could draw away unwanted attention of evil spirits and demons away as well as trap them if they came too close.
What I find interesting is that items that claim to trap spirits, demons and dark entities away all have something in common and that is in certain cultures a piece of writing written in the old testament of the bible is always in some way included.
The legend of King Solomon states that a ring was given to him by the majestic archangel Michael, inscribed with a magical seal which is referred to as the ‘Seal of Solomon’. The magic ring apparently gave him power to control demons. This belief that a dark energy can be trapped and controlled within a ring can now be seen and depicted in some form or another in the Christian, Islamic and Jewish faiths.
The ring given to King Solomon is very widely believed in Arabic tales of Djinns. The Djinn is a variation many things and sits somewhere in between angels and mankind. Djinns are allegedly capable of many great acts both good and evil.
The most common items Djinns were allegedly trapped within were rings and lamps and it is said that some of the greatest magic and in Arabic lore were able to capture Djinns to their service.
Have you ever heard of the Disney Film Aladdlin? Well the film is based on this belief and the genie you see if actually the Djinn!
Normally rings with gems are often used to trap Djinns and the owner of the ring has complete control over the djinn. In some tales it is believed that Djinns will try to sway the owner or passer-by’s of the item by giving the option of 3 wishes in turn for being released. When released, the djinn would take revenge on humanity by killing/ tormenting the poor soul of who ever released them.
The Djinn are not strictly believed just in Arabic tales, its believed Djinns can be represented in Pagan beliefs however they have since been integrated into Islamic belief.
The creaure Shedim, described exactly as a Djinn is mentioned within Jewish Folklore too and the art of trapping such creatures is also documented too.
Thailand – The Mo Khao
A few years ago, I posted in our group about dybbuk boxes and a member of our community asked me what it was. He lived in Thailand and he stated that there was something similar in his cuulture, however it was not summoned to a box, or a ring but a clay pot.
He explained to me that dark entities would be summoned to a clay pot, this would be sealed and then thrown into the sea. He stated that the name for such pots was The Mo Khao.
The Clay pots are normally used to cook rice, however within ceremonies they are used to capture evil ghosts and to banish them.
Not much is documented on Mo Khao pots. I have visited Thailand and I do know that a lot of their population hold strong spiritual beliefs and maybe such things are not that often spoke about as Thailand’s people may be frighten to speak out about such things in case they are found and opened. I have found this as been the case in several countries I have visited in my years of travelling, people just don’t want to talk about the darker side of their spirituality in case it opens the door and invites bad in from speaking about it.
The Tokolosh is a fabulous Water Spirit or kelpy, that is rumoured to haunt certain rivers and it is known to be very fond of women. It is described as being a mischievous and is often thought to be used by witches for nefarious purposes. It is said its appearance resembles a tiny, hairy dwarf.
The Tokolosh is more commonly known in Africa and it would seem the belief in this entity is very high amongst the African culture.
I first came to hear about The Tokolosh in our group, when a man posted a post seeking advice, He explained in his post that he lived in south Africa and that several months ago a family friend of 50 years passed away.
He stated that during his friends funeral, his friends son approached him and informed him that his father had made him promise and it was to give him a box. This box was to remain sealed and came with the strict instruction to never open it and in the event of his death he was to pass it on to whomever he choose so it would be safe.
He explained that in African folklore, there was a evil spirit known as the Tokolash and apparently in the 1970s locals at a village was plague by a Tokolash and a witch doctor aka a Sangoma was summoned to get rid of it. Apparently several ceremonies had taken place to capture the Tokolash and it was captured and sealed in the wooded box he received. A curse was then placed on the box to anyone who dared opened it.
The poster asked for advice on what he thought he should do with it, he did not want to open it, he did not want to pass it to his children and the instructions stated he was not to burn it.
I believe this gentleman’s account to be true, after researching I found out that Africans really fear this entity and that its believed they are sent to families to cause pain and disruption. Some families often put bricks under their beds to raise it so that nothing can attack while they are asleep.
There is daily reports in African newspapers of Tokolash attacks with some headlines stating ‘A TOKOLOSH ATTACKS A CHURCH’ and ‘RAPED BY A TOKOLOSH.
Recently, I spoke to a African lady I look after and she very much agreed the Tokolosh is feared and she also believed it does terrorise families. She also agreed that in order to remove such a creature from villages, a local witch doctor or a spiritual healer (known as a n’anga), would come and would do ceremonies s in order to rid a village of such a thing. She also stated that in some instances the witch doctor themselves by be killed by the villagers after because they had simply dealt with the entity.
The Spirit Trap
The spirit trap looks very similar to what some of us regonise as ‘The Dream Catcher’, Well, the roots of The Dream catcher go back to what native Americans dubbed it as ‘The Spirit Trap’.
The diference is that a spirit trap as hoops and has no central hole. It is believed that is there is a hole even a small one, spirit could get through.
Alot of spirit traps are machine made so that the hoops are so tight that they are classified as ‘traps’. The spirit trap is said to draw spirit near and will trap the spirit within until the dawns light comes which then the spirit will burn in the morning light and will send them back to where they belong
These are often placed outside of houses and hung over a front down as the believe is if it doesn’t see the sun rays of dawn then the spirit will not burn.
So, with so many different cultures using items to capture and spirits over the centuries it is not hard to see why dybbuks boxes may have more meaning then some actually think. Whether you believe Kevin Mannis story on how he came into connect with the dybbuk box or not and what he experienced the fact is, we have been trying to conceal entity’s into items for centuries.
So next time you see a post and someone states the dybbuk box was a made up story by Kevin Mannis in order to gain frame and that nothing is documented about dybbuk boxes prior to this time, then actually they are wrong because there is, some of the entities and items may be named something different but there most definitely similar stories out there so people doing such things way before Kevin Mannis made public the dybbuk box.
Real or Fake
Admittly, most dybbuk boxes we see online are fake and when I say fake I mean, I don’t believe they have had ceremonies done on them with the intent of trapping something within. I think most are nothing more than creative pieces done by people who attach a story alongside it to make it seem more dark and sinister and a more legitimate selling point,
If you believe you are being tormented by something evil you could try and attempt with help, to summon something to a item. Obviously then, your own intent and your own instructions are with that item and it would be a more legitimate item than buying one off eBay or doing one one personally during a arts and craft afternoon.
You have to have reason, there has to be a genuine concern and you have to have genuine intent and most of all you have to know what your doing!
Originally featured in Paranormal Hauntings Magazine; Dybbuk Edition – Updated and Written by Charlene Lowe Kemp for Halloween 2021