A Dybbuk is a concept from Jewish mythology and concerns a restless, usually malicious, spirit said to be able to haunt and even possess the living.
The "Original" Dybbuk Box
The original Dybbuk box, supposedly from early 20th century Spain, gained notoriety when it was auctioned on eBay with an accompanying horror story written by Kevin Mannis.
According to Mannis' story, he bought the box at an estate sale in 2001. It had belonged to a survivor of the Holocaust in Poland named Havaleh, who had escaped to Spain and purchased it there before her immigration to the United States. Havaleh's granddaughter told Mannis that the box had been bought in Spain after the Holocaust. Upon hearing that the box was a family heirloom, Mannis offered to give the box back to the family, but the granddaughter insisted that he take it, saying that the family did not want the box. She told him the box had been kept in her grandmother's sewing room and was never opened because a dybbuk was said to live inside it.
Upon opening the box, Mannis wrote that he found that it contained two 1920s pennies, a lock of blond hair bound with cord, a lock of black/brown hair bound with cord, a small statue engraved with the Hebrew word "shalom", a small golden wine goblet, one dried rose bud, and a single candle holder with four octopus-shaped legs.
Numerous owners of the box have reported that strange phenomena accompany it. Mannis wrote that he experienced a series of horrific nightmares shared with other people while they were in possession of the box or when they stayed at his home while he had it. His mother suffered a stroke on the same day he gave her the box as a birthday present, October 31. Every owner of the box has reported that smells of cat urine or jasmine flowers and nightmares involving an old hag accompany the box.
Investigation of the box's construction revealed that it was assembled not in Spain but in the United States, and investigation of its backstory concluded that the legend is fictional according to Mannis, who despite not identifying as Jewish himself claims to have invented the story of Jewish folklore and haunted Holocaust survivors to sell his box.
Despite this box being a hoax, it has propelled Dybbuk boxes into the mainstream.
History of Dybbuk Boxes
The true story of Dybbuk boxes goes back centuries. In Jewish mythology, a Dybbuk (or dibbuk) is a malicious spirit that is believed to be the lost soul of a dead person. Instead of going to heaven, the soul becomes trapped in an object, and it will remain there until someone helps release the spirit. The word Dybbuk comes from an ancient Hebrew word meaning "to cling."
In its simplistic form these boxes serve as barriers between the living world and any force that should not be here. In other words they are not merely vessels but entrapments for metaphysical energies that should not exist in our living world. There are many names for these energies - ghosts, paranormal beings, jinns, apparitions, demons, evil spirits etc. Some Dybbuks are pure and non-malevolent while other Dybbuks have a sinister origin. They can be ancient in history or extremely young in terms of their afterlife.
Many Dybbuks are the result of occult practice gone wrong; a spell casting attempt that used the energy of a spirit not suitable for use, contacting an energy that ultimately was not pure, attempts to communicate with a ghost / spirit that the initiator was ill equipped to interact with or in some cases the Dybbuk was created to prevent someone from obtaining an afterlife such as a ritualistic murder.
In this extreme scenario where the victim is murdered, the offender incorporates the embedding of a victim through rituals, occult and dark prayer to a Dybbuk Box. It is perhaps the most vicious and evil form of Dybbuk, rendering the victim hostage to their murderer even past their living ordeal.
There is no "standard" Dybbuk Box. Remember these are vessels meant to contain an energy that for any reason, good or bad, is locked. The practice of using wax as a seal is a tradition that surpasses cultures and is ancient. This is why Dybbuks incorporate this technique. The wax, like the vessel, is just one aspect of the Dybbuk. In many cases the Dybbuk contains tangible objects that relate to the entity or spirit. These can be almost anything from hair, bones, burnt ashes, personal belongings, hand written messages, photos, appeasements and offerings or artifacts used in the initial contact such as when ghosts or spirits have been communicated with.
Extreme care must be taken when handling Dybbuk Boxes as powerful forces can lurk behind the wax. There is a reason why the Dybbuk was created in the first place. As such, these are not toys or decorations.