Ankhie lives in a very old house – complete with bats, mice, spiders of all sizes (yes, even in winter) and more mysterious noises than any sane person could account for. The cats are always hissing at empty space, and the dogs growl – hackles raised- at empty doorways. Did I mention that Chez Ankhie is located on the downward slope of the town necropolis? The oldest and largest cemetery in Ankh-ville hulks behind – windswept on the calmest day and dark well before, and after, actual night.
So when someone knocks on the door, Ankhie waits before yelling out, “come in.” The Weiser Field Guide to the Paranormal has given me good indication of the kind of company that could come calling.
Here is but one example of phantom rappers from that terrifying tome!
The modern Spiritualist movement was born in 1848 when the Fox sisters of Hydesville, New York allegedly communicated with a spirit via rapping and knocking. Young Maggie Fox is usually credited with spontaneously inventing this system. Although it is highly unlikely that Maggie or anyone in the Fox family was aware of it,in fact, this type of mystical rapping was not a unique phenomenon. Over the centuries, similar experiences had been recounted. The best documented is the 16th-century haunting of the convent of St. Pierre de Lyons in France.
In 1522, Alix de Telieux, a young novice, ran away from this convent, absconding with some jewels. She was
reported to be living a dissolute life and, a few years later, the convent heard reports that she had died, possibly
in 1524. In 1528, another young nun, Anthoinette de Grollée, who had been Alix’s friend
when she was at the convent, began hearing mysterious sounds in her room, as if someone were rapping
loudly on the floor with their knuckles, although no one was there. The rapping was ignored at first, in hopes
that it would go away, but it did not. Instead, it grew louder and more continuous. As with the Fox sisters, this
disembodied rapping was not isolated to Anthoinette’s room, but followed her throughout the convent. Other nuns heard it as well.
Eventually, the convent’s mother superior felt obliged to notify the bishop. He dispatched a priest, Adrian de Montalambert, to investigate. Montalambert heard the rapping and, convinced that it was Alix, tried to communicate with her. He decided to ask the spirit questions that it could answer with a predetermined, 21 codified number of raps—one for yes, two for no, and
so forth. Once communication was established, the ghost became extremely communicative, even chatty.
The spirit confirmed that it was indeed Alix and said that she had obtained a reprieve from purgatory in
order to seek salvation. She gave the priest the sordid details of her life, confessed her sins, and begged for absolution.
She requested that arrangements be made for her corpse to be exhumed and reburied in the convent.
Only then, she claimed, could she rest in peace.
The request was granted. Alix was given a funeral appropriate to a nun in good standing. For a few days
afterward, all was quiet, but the spirit’s final departure was dramatic. The rapping abruptly returned—this
time in the form of loud, constant drumming. Father Montalambert returned to the convent and reestablished
contact. As the spirit announced that Alix had been released from purgatory and was en route to
heaven, Anthoinette was seen to be levitating. Suddenly, there was a huge thud similar to the
sound of a massive hammer. Witnesses heard the sound of thirty-three distinct and loud blows accompanied
by the sudden appearance of a light so blindingly, dazzlingly bright that no one could see. (In Christian
context, the number thirty-three has tremendous significance as the age Christ reputedly attained before
the Crucifixion.) Following these thirty-three thuds, the noise stopped, the light went out, and Anthoinette
tumbled to the ground. The rapping ceased forever.
from The Weiser Field Guide to the Paranormal by Judith Joyce (aka Judika Illes)