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History of the Winchester Mystery and the Hold it had on Me
by Christina Shelley
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Anyone who watches the Travel Channel may be familiar with the Friday night paranormal show “Most Haunted”. This show, which began sometime back in the U.K., has developed quite a following in the U.S.; and the team has fairly recently begun visiting popular U.S. locations as well.

On October 19th of this year, the team visited the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California.

I remember when I was eleven, and my mom and I visited that place. I thought it was freaky then. It was huge and cold, and I felt like eyes were fixed on me the whole time—eyes I couldn’t see. Now, it’s regarded as one of the most haunted places in the country—I believe it! The quote in the commercials said

“The house that fear built”… indeed!! It is the ultimate example of what grief and fear can drive someone to do.

Sarah Winchester was the wife of William Winchester, heir to the tremendous fortune brought by the sales of Winchester rifles. In the 1800’s Sarah watched her husband die a painful death because of TB. She also had an infant daughter who died of a rare childhood disease. Consumed by grief, she sought direction from a spiritual medium. This person told Sarah that the tragic deaths had been brought on because the many spirits of people killed with Winchester rifles were angry with her. She was also told that some of these spirits were good, and some were evil. The good spirits would protect Sarah from the evil spirits if she would build a house for them. She must begin building a house for these more “forgiving” souls, and in return she would receive protection from harm and also everlasting life. The catch: She could never stop work on the house. This promise of eternal life remained only as long as she kept building.

The grieving widow moved west from Connecticut, and bought an eight room farm house. She hired carpenters and designers, and the never ending work began. All financed by royalties from the Winchester rifle fortune, and driven by panic, the “house” that fear built, came to sprawl over six acres of farmland! The massive, elaborate structure, is today known as the Winchester Mystery House because of the sheer madness of its design. The place has 47 fireplaces, several of which are useless because she built a chimney that rises only to the ceiling, and then stops. Most of these fireplaces have upside down columns and posts. There’s a staircase that goes to the ceiling, doors that open into walls, windows that open into walls, doors that open to skylights with two storey drops, staircases that lead nowhere. handles and knobs that are placed backwards, and countless (pun intended) evidence of Sarah’s fascination with the number 13. This rather bizarre place has also been featured on America’s Castles, because this wealthy woman had nothing but the best… flooring, windows, fabric, lamps and light fixtures, carpeting, and modern inventions like an elevator and one of the earliest char broiler grills.

Why all the confusion? Because Sarah wanted to confuse and bewilder the evil spirits she believed would claim her life. She slept in a different bedroom each night, and had a séance room built in the center of the house, out of which, she took a different exit each night. She would sit in this room and “communicate” with the spirits governing her building, and would then present plans and ideas (drawings) for further building. The house has a grand ball room, in which there is a pipe organ Sarah was said to play at certain hours of the night. There’s also a bell tower, and it was said that the bell sounded at certain hours of the night. Employees at the house claim to hear organ music periodically.

So sad, isn’t it? We all live forever… just not here. We either go to Heaven, or Hell—and there’s no need for us to build a thing. Grief makes us unstable and unreasonable, and the wrong counsel can be absolutely devastating. Faith in our heavenly father gives us protection from such traps. Sarah listened to what she believed was reasonable at the time, and she bet her money, her time, her whole life on a lie. Today, the evidence of that lie brings in millions of dollars in tourist revenue.

So, what, or whom did they find on Friday night? Naturally, everyone hoped that Sarah Winchester would “come through” and tell these psychics what life is like on the other side. The sadder reality is that these people are participating in the very activity that Sarah did when she built this sprawling house… only to die in her sleep of heart failure on September 5th 1922.

Should we as Christians even be watching such things? Maybe if I hadn’t been to the house myself, I wouldn’t be so interested. We weren’t Christians at the time we went, and the intense involvement of the paranormal, gave me an unexpected obsession I never thought I would have. All the lines of fantasy and reality were blurred for me. Things that I believed happened only in movies were REAL to me. How could it be true—but it was. I bought a book when I was at the gift shop, and when I came home, I couldn’t put the book down. I was grieved for this woman and endlessly fascinated by the world she had tapped into. I began to become paranoid. I believed that I myself was being watched, or haunted by someone. I fantasized that maybe it was Sarah herself. These thoughts thrilled me—and scared me to death! My mom saw the monster that had been created and told me several times that one thing I needed to do was to get my mind on other things. She took the Winchester book and hid it from me. For a while, my worry settled down; but one day, I found the book—and the monster was awakened. The paranoia came back, and I began to have nightmares. These dreams consisted of ghosts watching me. They were real people that I had emotions towards, but the dreams always had a scary feeling, an anxiety. On occasion I would hear scary voices and loud noises, and feel strange things.

Finally, one day, I made a deal with God. I told him to stop the nightmares if I threw the book away. I threw the book away… and the nightmares did stop. Now I know that all psychic power is demonic and is dishonoring to God, and not to be messed with. Whether magic is black or white, it’s still demonic. Deuteronomy chapter 18 tells us that we are not to associate with, mediums, charmers, magicians and the like. No matter how seemingly angelic or “from God” these things might seem to be, we are not to mess with them. What scares me is the number of people who have no knowledge of this when they fill their mind with such things. They really believe that these abilities are from God and that they can be used for good. However, if this is true, then why would the Bible say otherwise? Did I watch to see what they found (Supposedly)? Yes; but my prayer is to be a witness and help the rest of my family remember that these psychics are tapping into demonic sources of power, and when that is done, weird and scary things are bound to happen. It’s all proof that Satan preys on our emotions because he knows it works. (Deut. 18: 9-23)

I do not write this to promote spiritualism as entertainment. I merely want to share an experience I went through, and how God taught me through it. The day I visited this weird place, Satan had me wrapped around his little finger; but only for a while. God’s truth is greater than Satan’s deception, and it’s my prayer that anyone else who may have been caught in this trap will realize this too.

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