Encounters of the Unknown—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, October 2018
Paul Bannister, the Brazilian poltergeist and the witch doctor
by: Brent Raynes
Paul Bannister, a former senior reporter for the National Enquirer who freelanced for many other US tabloids and magazines for several decades, and the author of Tabloid Man & the Baffling Chair of Death, covered numerous assignments all over the world – many that involved the paranormal.
Back in 2011, Bannister shared with me in a phone interview a spooky poltergeist phenomenon he covered in Brazil back in the 1970s not only where he recorded eyewitness testimony, but even experienced some anomalous things himself.
“I had an interesting thing that happened to me personally, which you know always carries a bit of weight when you witness it yourself,” Bannister told me. “It’s a lot more convincing than hearing it secondhand. I had been down in Sao Paolo, Brazil, for a story. Well, for a number of them actually, but there had been poltergeist activity at a house there. I don’t know Portuguese, so I had an interpreter. He said that the family told them that they had had a hex put on them by a macumbeira, by a witch doctor down there, and I talked to the police chief and he said yes, he had been to the house himself and here was a black plaster wall with apparent flames coming out of it. He realized that there was no heat from the flames and he got close and he put a bank note up among them and it didn’t burn. It was an image of flames but no heat, you see, so the family had hired another macumbeira to take the hex off. So I got the story.”
“While I was in the place, by the way, they had a green leather imitation sofa and while I was there, suddenly the back of it split in three straight parallel lines, as if somebody had just clawed across it. I mean, I was in the room and it was okay and then there was a noise and we all looked and this thing was just split open.”
“All of this stuff finally stopped after that, after they got their own witch doctor, and the interpreter said, 'Look, you should interview him.' I said, 'Hey look, I want to get back to Florida. I have had enough. It’s not going to add any credibility me talking to a guy with a bone through his nose.' He said, 'You really should.' I said, 'No. I’m not going to bother to. Don’t worry about it. I’ve got a police chief, I’ve got the family, I’ve got some pictures, and I’ve got this, that and the other.'”
“So that night I was in Sao Paolo and I went for my dinner and I’m eating this chicken pot pie and I bite on something and it’s a square piece of glass, like you get out of a broken windshield. It had been in the pie. So I was kind of indignant and the manager apologized and said they didn’t make it on the premises, dinner is on me, that kind of thing.”
“Well the next night I was in Rio. I had flown up to Rio and I was going to go home from there. I was in a bar and I was having a mixed drink. Again it was a hotel bar, a very nice place, and I had a drink with ice and then there was a cube of glass again. I was indignant and the bartender showed me that my glass wasn’t chipped and he said, 'It can’t come from here,' and he showed me that they had a revolving rubber thing that they clean the glasses with and I said, 'Ah well. Okay.'”
“Then the third night I was home in Florida, with just about a 24 hour cycle between these happenings, and I went to the fridge and while I rarely drink sodas my kids had a coke and for once I poured it into a glass and as I poured it in there was a tinkle and sure enough there was another little cube of glass. Three nights in a row.”
“I can’t explain it, but I’m guessing that the macumbeira just sent me a gentle little message. He didn’t harm me or frighten me. I figure he just sent me a little message, 'You know, there are things you don’t know about. Be respectful.'”