These days, there are no two figures within the paranormal research world with more celebrity status than Demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren. Ed Warren passed away in 2006, respectively, but his life’s work and legacy within the community lives on. His wife and investigative partner, Lorraine Warren at 91 years old, has pulled back from their work but is still very much a voice and an emblem for paranormal research.
Ed claimed that he spent his childhood years growing up in a haunted house. He stated:
“My family would all go to bed and just around two to three o’clock in the morning, many times I would hear the closet door beginning to open up. At first I’d look into that closet and see only shapeless darkness, then slowly I’d start to see a light beginning to form and it would morph into like a ball shape, sort of like a basketball and then I’d begin to see a face in that ball. That is called a Ghost Globule. In that Globule was a face. face of an old woman, and she was not looking at all pleasant. The globule would then come out into my bedroom and then accompanied by audible footsteps and heavy breathing. The room would then became icy cold, an unnatural cold, a Psychic Cold, and I’m saying to myself, “Ed There’s a logical reason for everything,” But by that time I was out of the bed and right between my mother and father in their bed.”
Ed and Lorraine were high school sweethearts. They married and soon after the couple had a daughter. Ed was an artist and had served in the U.S. Navy. The small family seemed like so many other American families at the time, but Ed soon fell away from his art and began to focus on something else, something which had drawn him in since his childhood years.
Ed began to teach himself more about the paranormal world, about demons and exorcisms, and ultimately how to fight and overpower evil. The young couple would pack up their paints and supplies, and pick a home that Ed would proceed to replicate on canvas. He’d then knock on the door and offer to sell the one of a kind piece to the home’s owner. But while Ed looks around for new houses to paint, his interest was always tugged by the homes that claimed to be haunted.
Ed realized that he could use his paintings as a way to get inside these haunted homes, to speak to the residents and see for himself if there was any truth to the claims.
“I would do a really nice sketch of the house with ghosts coming out of it, and I’d give it to Lorraine, she’d go knock on the door and with her Irish personality she’d say, ‘Oh, my husband loves to sketch and paint haunted houses ,and he made this for you.’ I made it special for them,” he said.
Lorraine soon became a partner in Ed’s work when she began to realize that she possessed psychic abilities. She claimed that as a child, she’d often see halos or auras around the nun’s heads at her Catholic School. Though, once she and Ed began asking the owners of haunted homes for their stories, Lorraine realized the abilities that had been there all along, and she began to perfect them.
Lorraine: “What psychic ability I had just seemed to develop naturally, almost through osmosis I guess you could say. By being around it so much. I guess it’s the same as someone who goes to a foreign country for a long period of time. They pick up the language just by being around it so much. It just seems to come naturally. How does a person know if he or she has a greater than normal psychic ability? I guess the best analogy I can use is this; when you are in love with someone, you know it, no one has to tell you, right? Well it’s the same with psychic ability. If you have it, you just know it. No one has to tell you.”
In 1952, Ed and Lorraine Warren founded the New England Society for Psychic Research, or N.E.S.P.R., a service aimed at investigating hauntings. Ed claimed to be the biggest skeptic whenever presented with a new case. Just how many cases to be exact? “More than I can count,” Ed said, “Thousands literally. If I had to guess I’d say at least 10,000 cases.” Some of the Warren’s most memorable cases have come to be experienced through the vision of Hollywood Director James Wan. The Amityville murders carried out by Ronald Joseph “Butch” DeFeo Jr., the possession of the famed Annabelle Doll, The Perron Family of Heron, Rhode Island, and the Enfield Poltergeist tormenting a family in England in the 1970s are just a handful, though some of the most notable, cases investigated by the Warrens.
As would be expected, skeptics permeated the Warren’s practices, beliefs, and influence. One of their biggest and most vocal critics was Joe Nickell, a notable skeptic and investigator of the paranormal as well. On the Sally show aired in 1992, viewers saw a heated debate between Nickell and the Warrens. In a MonsterTalk Podcast, Nickell said, “When you have someone who’s an expert explaining to them that there are these different kinds of spirits and this and that and the other, they don’t know any better. They think maybe these people know what they’re talking about. It’s interesting that in every case of this, these were Catholic families.”
Regardless of the critics throughout their careers, Ed and Lorraine’s work in the paranormal spanned five decades.
In all that time, the Warren’s main goal was to assist those who were being hurt by paranormal phenomena and to educate the public and bring about an understanding of the supernatural, so that others can learn and cope with the trials and tests of evil.
Hollywood and movie-goers have come to know the Warrens well. The case of the Amityville mass killing of the DeFeo family has been reproduced on film over a hundred times. In the last five years, filmmaker James Wan has dipped into the Warren’s case files to bring audiences The Conjuring I & II (2013, 2016), Annabelle (2014), and The Nun (2018). The sequential films set in the same world focuses on the Warren’s work and fictional portrayal of their character stories. Together, the ‘Conjuring World’ has raked in more than $898 million worldwide at the box office, with each film earning more than its predecessor.
What the Warrens wanted through their investigations the most was to better educate and equip the general public against the harms of the paranormal world. Ed Warren was passionately against the use of the Ouija Board, for instance, as he said the Ouija on average was responsible for seven out of ten cases they handled. The Warren’s appearances in the media, their lectures at colleges and universities, and even their website, all aim at providing years of gathered knowledge to their students and the open-minded.
Today, horror fans gather eagerly in movie theaters for a glimmer into the mysterious dark world of Ed and Lorraine Warren. Whether or not their cases can be proven as credible is beside the point to many. Their footprint in the paranormal research field has already been cemented. Jump scares aside, their teaching continue to reach new audiences, on a scale larger than ever before.
-By Christina Persaud
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