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The Evil TedSubmitted by Teeny on July 18, 2012 - 1:15 pm 36 Comments
We’ve all heard them - superstitious Jehovah’s Witness urban legends that always seem to end with the main character shouting out “Jehovah” at the top of their lungs.
Have you ever witnessed one of these urban legends yourself? I am proud to say that I have – at least partly – witnessed one of the greatest Jehovah’s Witness urban legends that did the rounds in North London, England, during the late eighties.
Grab a beer and a bowl of pop-corn, for The Evil Ted is coming to get you…
A Jehovah’s Witness Urban Legend – The Demonised Teddy
It was the height of winter and school was closed for the Christmas holidays. It had snowed too, which was the first time in my eight years on this earth I had seen real snow. As we were off school, my mother, Anna Marsh (look her up – she lives in the London Bethel), would take my younger sister, Sofia, and me along to her Bible Studies.
Today was a great day as it was Androulla’s turn for an almighty You Can Live Forever In A Paradise Earth book bashing. Plus, we loved going to Androulla’s house as her youngest children, Thalia and Stelios were our age and we used to pretend to be The Thundercats. That was before Jehovah introduced Sparlock, so don’t go getting your knickers in a twist.
Anyway, I remember that day very well, for it was the first time I had ever heard the words “if you call out Jehovah’s name, the demons will leave you alone.” My mother had brought it up during the Bible Study because Androulla, although progressing well, still had friends in “The World” that liked to do the extraordinary. Remember, this was the eighties – the decade of the Fads. Shoulder pads and soap that smelled like chocolate kept cropping up all over the place, as did Ouija Boards, CD players and scented candles. Mother didn’t approve of any fads, especially ones which included a hint of spiritism.
A week before in her study, Androulla complained that she had trouble sleeping at night. “Anna, it feels as though someone is stroking my neck and I have no idea what it is.” My mother had that glare in her eye. She knew exactly what was going on. After all, how many times do you have to tell your Bible Study’s that they shouldn’t be hanging with the wrong crowd? Bad associations and all that…
“Androulla, did one of your friends give you something – jewellery or some clothing?” mother enquired.
“No Anna, they didn’t.” Androulla lied. “Why do you ask?”
“Because some of your friends might be involved in the occult. You yourself told me about some of the things they get up to.”
“Yes, they mess around, but it’s all harmless fun Anna.”
“Androulla, Ouija Boards aren’t harmless fun. They will regret it if Satan decides to answer them. It’s easy adding Satan into your life. It’s nearly impossible taking him out of it!”
That was last weeks study. This week, the crescendo!
As I was screaming “Thundercats…Hooooooooo!” from the top of my larynx and pretending to hold the Sword of Omens, mother and Androulla ran towards us, then past us, and shot up the stairs faster than you could say Cheetara!
The four of us looked at each other. What was going on? Thalia, being the oldest (nine) knew something was up. She was far cleverer than she looked or than I gave her credit for. Before we had time to think, mother and Androulla flew down the stairs and ran towards the back living room where they had been conducting their Bible Study. Mother was holding something; something small.
“Kids, stay there!” Mother shouted. ”Put your hands over your ears and keep saying ‘Jehovah’ over and over again until I tell you to stop. Do it now children!”
What was I supposed to do? I wanted to pet lions and lambs and was promised that I would be doing that before I had reached puberty. In fact, we all wanted to be in paradise and knew Jehovah was the key to us getting there. So one by one, we all put our hands over our ears.
“Jehovah, Jehovah, Jehovah.” The chanting had begun. Stelios and Sofia were terrified. They were younger than Thalia and I and the shock had startled them.
Thalia and I were facing the distant living room. Mother was screaming “Jehovah! Jehovah! Jehovah!” at the top of her Cypriot throat. Now, if you’ve ever met a Cypriot woman, you’ll know that they can hit decibels that no other standard homo sapien can even dream of. Androulla was on her knees facing us. It was all very surreal.
Whatever was happening was finally over, and thank god for that.
Mother called us all into the living room.
“Children,” mother said in her ‘I know more than you so listen to me now or face my wrath’ voice, “we have just seen Jehovah’s power.”
We all looked dumbfounded. Sofia was in tears.
Looking at Thalia and Stelios, mother continued, “Penny [name changed because for the life of me, I can't remember her real name] gave your mum this teddy.” Mother pointed towards a char-grilled cuddly toy that was deep within the bowels of the living room fireplace.
“Do you know what that thing was doing? It was strangling your mother every night and would have killed her if we didn’t burn it.”
I remember Stelios’ mouth very clearly as it had a hard time closing. Mother continued in her matter of factly tone. “As we threw it into the fire, it started to scream. Did you hear it? You must have all heard it! You definitely heard it!!”
We all gasped! “Why did it scream?” Sofia sobbed.
“Because the Devil was in it. He knows your mother is studying so that she can learn more about Jehovah. Satan doesn’t want her to learn about Jehovah and so he is trying to stop her.” Putting a shocked and now teary Androulla in her arms, mother continued, “Satan knows that your mum loves Jehovah and so is trying very very hard to stop her. He made the teddy first stoke your mum’s neck so that she would feel nice. When he saw that your mum was still interested in learning about Jehovah, he tried to kill her.”
And that’s a wrap…
If you were in North London during the late eighties, early nineties and were knocking around Bowes Road Assembly Hall, you would have heard that experience being said time and time again. Mother spread the story like wildfire. I’m surprised she didn’t make t-shirts. I heard various renditions of it. Some of them had my mother pulling the teddy off Androulla’s neck, whilst others had mother rolling around on the living room floor, desperately wrestling with the teddy before smiting him from this world.
Thing is, mother didn’t count on me growing up and telling you all what really happened. She certainly didn’t count on Thalia – a little rebellious so and so – seeing absolutely everything. We both saw my mother push Androulla down to the carpet, facing her away from the fireplace. In all the commotion, mother made Androulla put her hands over her head and told her to chant too.
Then there was screaming. I would like to thank Thalia for telling me that it was my pioneering mother that made all that noise. As the screaming started, mother left my line of sight. To be honest, even if Thalia hadn’t told me what had happened, I would have realised it as I had heard those sounds before. Mother loved beating us up for no reason, and as an extra bonus, loved making strange sounds.
As I look back on the things I saw and heard growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness, I smile. I smile because I actually believed in all those Jehovah’s Witness urban legends. Remember, up until the end of 2008, I was a devout Witness and so took all these stories to heart. It wasn’t until I heard some similar religious urban myths from my ex-Mormon friends that I really started to question if any of them were true.
I always knew the demonised teddy bear fiasco was rubbish, but didn’t let it bother me. Thing is, it bothers me now. It bothers me that I was used as a reference source whenever mother brought up the story with doubters in her midst. “Yes, the story is true, ask the children, they were there when it happened, ask them.” I had to tell everyone that my mothers version of the story was true as I was terrified of what she would do to me if I defied her.
So then, there are a few questions that need to be answered. Why would mother do something like this? What was the point? Well, why do you think she did what she did? Why are there so many JW urban legends still doing the rounds?
I mentioned that mother lives and serves in the London Bethel – and boy does she deserve to be there! In the worlds Bethel’s, the Governing Body and their strong psychological marketing team come up with ways to make non-believers believe. My mother did what needed to be done. She was, as Jack Bauer so eloquently puts it, “following protocol.”
That day in the late eighties will live with me forever – not because a teddy had Satan as a tenant – but because of her theatrics. She made a believer out of Androulla, something I never thought possible. I am pretty sure others – whose faith was dithering – listened to that experience (and other ones) and were motivated to up their game.
Demonised Teddy – Fact or Fiction?
Let’s take a look at some of the facts. The teddy was fairly small. I’m taking a shot in the dark here, but I’d say that his (or her) arms were no more than 2 inches long. Androulla at the time was quite a large lady. There was no way that teddy bear was going to choke her.
Honestly, if Satan was a clever spirit, wouldn’t he have possessed something that was at least larger than Androulla’s neck? Why didn’t her friends give her a snake door draft stopper? They were all the rage in the eighties too. Satan’s at least got experience with snakes!
Do I believe that Androulla really did have issues with her neck while she was sleeping? Sure. Androulla has been suffering from Thyroid problems ever since I have known her, and guess what, a common symptom of Thyroid Disease is the “tender or tight feeling in the neck or throat, hoarseness or coughing, and difficulty swallowing or breathing.” – Source material.
It’s all starting to fall into place now isn’t it? Okay, but how did my mother brainwash Androulla into thinking that Satan was wearing a teddy bear suit?
It all comes down to what the mind thinks it needs. No sleight of hand was needed into making Androulla believe that a teddy was indeed possessed. “An arm around a shoulder is all that is needed.” – Harry Redknapp, former Tottenham Hotspur and England wannabe football manager.
Androulla was going through a troubled divorce. She was depressed and needed comfort. The Watchtower Society, along with my mothers help, gave her everything she thought she needed – an arm around a shoulder. It’s a shame that many like Androulla are used as pawns as the Organisation plays its mind games.
How many Jehovah’s Witness urban legends have you heard? Do tell! Also, if you’ve been lucky enough to participate in one, drop us an email and let us know all about it.