The Disturbing Case of the Dark Mirror: Investigating the Haunted Object That’s Terrified Hundreds
Haunted objects are a fickle thing. Many people claim to own them, some collect them, and even more people sell them. Unfortunately, regardless of how creepy your vintage doll looks or how authentic your cursed idol is, most haunted objects carry a bad case of stage fright, flat out refusing to perform to the public, opting instead to reveal their true nature in the middle of the night, just out of the view of security cameras and skeptics.
For most of us, the closest we’ll ever get to experiencing the menace behind a haunted object is when it’s inevitably turned into a big screen spinoff of The Conjuring.
At least that’s what I thought until I met the Dark Mirror, a mysterious piece of glass that’s managed to terrify hundreds of people, from skeptics to believers, in just a few short months. Frankly, I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.
The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal & Occult
Over the last 15 years of tracking down cryptozoological monsters and paranormal mysteries, I’ve collected a good assortment of items that are allegedly haunted. Some of them are connected to famous cases like The Amityville Horror, most are relics from strange cases I’ve investigated, and a few of them were simply given to me by their former owners, many of them paranormal researchers themselves.
After awhile, I started to realize that keeping these things locked up in Planet Weird HQ was a waste, so I formed The Traveling Museum of the Paranormal and the Occult with my wife Dana. Over the last year the museum has visited loads of conferences and events across the country, including many held in some of the most iconic haunted hotspots in paranormal history. We don’t sell anything and we don’t charge anyone to see the pieces, we just plain enjoy doing it.
As word of the museum spread, so did the size of our display. More and more people began to reach out with stories of their own haunted objects, eager to send us a troublesome Ouija planchette, an eerie painting, or even things as mundane as a patch of graveyard dirt.
You might think with all of these spooky things lining the shelves at Weird HQ, we’d be swimming in the ectoplasmic residue of a multitude of ghosts, but to be perfectly honest, most of these things don’t so much as as rattle in the middle of the night, with most of their “creep factor” stemming from a frightening backstory or an off-putting appearance. In fact, it wasn’t until this week that we started needing to lock up some of the items at the HQ rather than keep them on display.
Sometimes all it takes is introducing one bad apple and the whole bushel turns rotten.
The Dark Mirror Arrives: A Brief History of Evil
Back in June, we were approached by a woman about an item that had started to cause particular strain on her family. We’ll call her “Sarah”. Sarah told us that after visiting a yearly Psychic Expo, her mother had taken an interest in black mirror scrying, purchasing her own mirror at the event.
Even if you don’t know it by name, if you’ve ever seen someone gaze into a crystal ball, you’re familiar with the concept of scrying. Since at least the 10th century, scryers have used reflective stones, bowls of water, and dark glass in order to induce a trancelike state they use to see the future, speak with the dead, or perform certain magic rituals. Hell, Joseph Smith even used scrying to help found the Latter Day Saints movement back in the 1820s.
Thanks to popularization by folks like Rosemary Ellen Guiley, scrying is starting to see a bit of a modern resurgence, but not in the pop-culture form which most people are familiar with. Instead of using a crystal ball, “black mirrors” have become the preferred method of divination, and it’s not hard to find them on Etsy, eBay, or lining booths at New Age Expos like the one Sarah’s mother attended.
Sarah told us that in the weeks that followed the expo, her mother became increasingly distant as she practiced her scrying with the new mirror. When she could manage to get her mother on the phone, her conversations were vacant and full of “gloom and doom”. Eventually, Sarah’s mother confided that no matter how hard she tried, her scrying attempts were less than successful. In fact, she believed that there was something wrong with her mirror.
As Sarah’s mother became more and more withdrawn and obsessed with perfecting her divination, Sarah finally decided to step in, visiting her mother’s home and demanding to see the mirror herself. Her mother, visibly distraught, opened a closet and pulled out a small frame draped in a black veil. When Sarah asked her mother why she’d been keeping the mirror covered and locked away, she broke down in tears and replied that it was simply “evil”. Sarah kept the mirror wrapped in its cloth, stuffed it in a box, and took it home with her.
Shortly afterwards, Sarah got in touch with us and admitted that while she had decided to chalk most of the events up to an elderly woman taking her hobbies too seriously, she still couldn’t shake the heebie-jeebies the scrying mirror gave her. Under the condition of anonymity (and regular updates), she donated the mirror the Traveling Museum of the Paranormal and the Occult. We cleared a display space for it in the living room, and like most of our items, it sat there quietly and without issue.
As curious as I was was, I’d only taken a peek at the mirror. Why? Because I was scared. Not scared of the mirror’s alleged powers, but scared that it would have no effect, thus ruining my enthusiasm for an interesting artifact with a spooky history. For about a week, the mirror sat on the mantle, no different than any other frame in the house, save for its black veil.
The Woman Who Saw Her Own Corpse
On the morning of June 20th, we surveyed our weird collection of paranormal ephemera and began packing up the pieces we wanted to display at the museum’s latest stop: the Perryville Battlefield in support of Ghost Adventures‘ Nick Groff. Eager to share the new object and its story, I grabbed the scrying mirror and placed it in our travel box. This would be its first time on public display.
It’s not an unusual occurrence for the Traveling Museum of the Paranormal to draw a crowd before being completely set up, and within minutes of unloading our boxes, guests were already inquiring as to what was hidden under the black veil. After recounting the history of the item, I reiterated one of the biggest draws of our traveling display: if you’d like to hold it, use it, experiment with it, or test it, be our guest, the caveat being that you do so only at your own risk. One woman waved her arms and bellowed a hearty “hell no!”, others pursed their lips and squinted their eyes while they weighed the pros and cons, but one woman wasted no time reaching down, grabbing the mirror, and ripping off the veil. She only gazed into the glinting black glass for about thirty seconds before her expression changed from incredulity to horror. She quickly slammed the frame face down on the table, her eyes wide with shock.
“So, what did you just see?” I nervously inquired.
“I saw my own decomposing corpse looking back at me,” she stammered. “That’s a dark mirror. I should not have done that. I need to go say a prayer. Excuse me.”
The lady wandered off quietly, and the name stuck. For the rest of the event, guests were whispering about the Dark Mirror, some eventually building up the courage to come and try it out for themselves. For many, the scariest thing they saw was their own reflection, but for the rest, the negative reactions were coming in so often and so aggressively that I began to wonder if I needed to rework our disclaimer.
Reports of strange visions, warping faces, and a general sense of dread were pouring in from the mirror gazers. Later in the evening, one woman decided to press her palm to the surface of the black glass and wound up spending the next two hours violently polishing the mirror in an attempt to get the imprint to disappear. She too had claimed to see her own corpse in the reflection, along with other visions she refused to repeat, and it wasn’t until she threatened to smash the mirror that her palm finally faded from the glass.
The mirror wasn’t quite the same when we brought it home, or maybe I wasn’t. After we had unpacked our collection and returned the items to their usual places, I began to notice myself staring “off into space”, and when snapped back to awareness, realizing that I’d been staring at the covered mirror the whole time. I’d started to feel a strong urge to gaze into black glass. Maybe I was just subconsciously weirded out by the disturbing reports of those who’d gazed, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that the mirror wanted me to use it. Whether it was own mind playing tricks on me or not, I resisted.
The Taste of Blood: The Dark Mirror Gets Physical
The following month, the museum was visiting Pennsylvania’s infamous Pennhurst Asylum when the mirror once again became the centerpiece for weirdness. We still had an hour to go before doors opened to the public, but the caretakers of the property, the Pennhurst Paranormal Association, were checking out the table and inquired about the mirror. As usual, I gave the history and then the option to try it out themselves. One woman, who referred to herself as the group skeptic, decided to give it a whirl. Moments later she was telling us that she’d watched her mouth whisper to her even though we could all vouch that her mouth had never moved.
Throughout the rest of the night, the reports from gazers were twice as creepy as before, if not more-so. One particularly large and imposing man, upon seeing the commotion the mirror was causing, shrugged off the warnings from bystanders and laughed as held the mirror at arm’s length and stared deeply, only to stagger backwards and nearly drop the piece, yelling a string of profanities the whole time. The man claims he’d watched another person, who looked exactly like himself, peer around from behind his reflection and walk away.
Unlike the Perryville Battlefield event, the experiences this time weren’t simply constrained to visual strangeness. Nearly half a dozen gazers reported the feeling of electricity coursing from the mirror’s frame as they held it, even rubbing their sore arms afterwards. Some complained of headaches after staring into it. One woman vividly described the feeling, and taste, of her mouth filling with blood.
When it came time for the guests to begin their paranormal investigations of the property, Jennifer Kirkland, one of the organizers of the Nick Groff Tour and investigator with SHOCK Paranormal, took the Dark Mirror to one of Pennhurst’s quiet rooms for her own experiment. Half an hour later she returned, her eyes wide, telling us how she’d watched people who weren’t there mill around the empty room.
When we arrived home from the event, I placed the Dark Mirror back on its usual shelf and collapsed from exhaustion after an eight hour drive. When I woke up, I noticed that both of our cats were sitting in the chair at the far end the living room, doing that hilarious head-bobble thing they do when they see a squirrel out the window. That’s when I realized that not only do they never sit in the same chair at once, but that they weren’t looking out the window at all. They were looking at the mirror… and it was uncovered, its veil lying on the floor.
Sure, maybe the cats pulled the veil off and got spooked. Maybe I was so tired after the drive that I made a half-assed attempt at covering the mirror before giving up and crashing. Maybe the wind did it. As I picked the frame up and went to cover it, the cats scattered and and ran into the next room. In fact, the cats would go nowhere near the mirror, even going into hiding when presented with it.
For the next several days it continued. Each morning we’d walk into the living room, pausing quietly when we found the unveiled mirror glinting in the sunlight. The mirror was uncovering itself at night.
I pulled out the motion activated trail camera that we’d snagged for our Bigfoot hunting adventures, mounted it on a tripod, and for the next week, pointed it at the Dark Mirror every night before bed.
Not only did I find the mirror uncovered three out of those seven nights, but the camera memory card was empty each time. No cats, no wind, nothing. Even stranger, on day seven, I went to check the SD card, only to find it had been corrupted. I can tell that it has nearly 100 megabytes of used space, but it refuses to open. Any attempt to even format the card fails, creating a status bar that keeps growing to infinity.
Live On Air: The Ohio State Reformatory Incident
A few weeks ago, we displayed the museum at Ohio State Reformatory (where I’d previously had a frightening experience that I still can’t explain) for Unity: A Journey of Hope’s annual LOCKDOWN fundraiser, and again, the Dark Mirror was willing to perform. No corpses this time, but instead, at least three separate guests reported watching a “black mass” hover near their left shoulder, while others claimed to see themselves age forty years.
The highlight though, came when Brock and Dave, the guys from Paramania Radio, invited me to sit down for a live interview, during which someone hands me the mirror. I’m sure you can tell where this is going.
After a bit of coaxing from Dave, who was back in studio, Brock, who was seated next to me, decided that he would give the mirror a try live on air. With an exclamation of “holy shit!”, Brock described watching his face distort as a twisted grin spread across his face. He covered it up and refused to look into it any further. You can hear the broadcast here (the bit with the mirror starts around 1:28.25).
That about brings us up to date, and to the current issue with which we’re attempting to deal with at Weird HQ. You see, it seems that that Dark Mirror is a bad influence. Not just on the people who dare to gaze into it, but on the objects that it’s displayed with. Suddenly and for the first time, many of the objects that were presented to us as haunted are starting actually act that way; the Haunted Painting as finally tossed itself from a wall, the creepy doll named Ruby has mysteriously disappeared, and while neither of us have seen it, we’re pretty sure we’ve heard the charred Ouija planchette sliding around in its glass display case late at night.
For that reason, we don’t keep the mirror on display in our living room anymore. Instead, we’ve wrapped it in a sheet, draped a rosary over it, and locked it in a chest. It’s only been a few days, but so far, nothing out of the ordinary, and the other objects seem back to “normal”, or as normal as they can get, anyway.
Feeding on Fear: Reflections on the Dark Mirror
After coming into possession of the Dark Mirror and watching hundreds of people have their own terrifying experiences while using it, it’s our belief that the piece isn’t exactly “haunted” per se, but an object that seems to feed on human interaction, even fear. In the beginning, The Dark Mirror was just another object with an intriguing story behind it, but as we began to feed it a steady stream of freaked out experiencers in haunted locations across the country, it became pretty easy to see that the mirror was affected by all the attention. It took Sarah’s mother several weeks of regular, individual scrying sessions for her interactions with the mirror to come to a head, but for three months we’ve been feeding it a veritable all-you-can-eat buffet.
While we’re still in the very early stages of experimenting with the mirror, it’s clear that it has an effect on its surroundings, enhancing and influencing already strange objects and places. After being handled by a few hundred people and reintroducing it to Weird HQ, many items which never showed any kind of activity started to exhibit anomalous behavior. Objects that were allegedly haunted started to actually act haunted for the first time. But why?
It’s as if the Dark Mirror is acting as a kind of battery. After each event, the phenomena that the mirror exhibits gets a little harder to ignore, leading me to believe that by allowing the brave and the curious gaze into the mirror, not to mention doing so in some of the world’s most haunted places, we’re “charging it”. In turn, it seems like the “juice” gets used not just by the Dark Mirror, but by other objects as well.
There is some precedence for this kind of “storage”. Throughout history, a number of cultures believed that mirrors had the power to capture energy, even souls. Serbo-Croatian cultures would bury their dead with a mirror in order to trap the soul of the deceased, preventing it from wandering the Earth for the rest of eternity. Even before that, mirrors were believed to act a kind of portal to the “spiritual realm”, and that they could be used to capture and contain evil spirits… only to release them later.
Like most folklore, it’s easy to for some to dismiss these stories as tales told by the uneducated during superstitious time periods, but even modern day science lends credibility to the claim that mirrors can store energy. In fact, a lot of research into green energy is invested in the use of mirrors to trap and contain sunlight.
“According to theory, a mirror can absorb energy from virtual photons onto its surface and then re-emit that energy as real photons. The effect only works when the mirror is moving through a vacuum at nearly the speed of light — which is almost impossible for everyday mechanical devices.”
Did you catch that? What these physicists are saying is that they were able to take a reflection and pull it from the mirror and into reality. Granted, it takes a vacuum, the speed of light, and boatload of cash, but the precedent is there. If a photon that only exists in a reflection can pop out of a mirror and into reality, could something larger? Makes you think twice about playing “Bloody Mary”, doesn’t it?
Continued Observation of the Dark Mirror
Considering what we’ve seen from the Dark Mirror in just the last three months, the question now is, “should we continue to bring such an object to events?”
Of course! So far, while most experiences with the mirror have been downright scary, they haven’t been dangerous. Nothing has been flown through the air, no one has been possessed, and no one’s eyes have exploded. Yet. Why shouldn’t we share the mirror with as many investigators as possible? After all, how often has anyone had a strange object that liked performing in front of a crowd?
The whole purpose of the Traveling Museum of the Paranormal and the Occult is to offer the curious the ability to get up close in personal with allegedly haunted items while allowing paranormal investigators test the objects for themselves. It’s rare enough to see someone who owns a haunted item offer it up for public scrutiny, and even rarer to find an item that so regularly interacts with a crowd. It seems like a real waste to keep that kind of thing locked up in a case or bound at the bottom of a river, particularly when so many are looking to have a paranormal experience of their own.
As we continue to pack up the Dark Mirror for events across the country, now with the added step of unlocking the big wooden chest where it’s stored, I’m just as excited as I am nervous to see what kind of charge it gets from the next crowd. Will we manifest a full body apparition? Can we get the mirror to intelligently interact with the latest ghost hunting gadgets? Will someone’s eyes explode? There’s only one way to find out, but I still won’t look into it.
Next month the Traveling Museum of the Paranormal and the Occult is scheduled to appear on a friggin’ haunted island with Strange Escapes, and I’m more curious than ever to see how the Dark Mirror acts after being cooped up in a locked chest all month.
Just remember, you gaze at your own risk.
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