Although Valak is portrayed in “The Nun” as a habit-wearing spirit, the real demon appears as a child riding a two-headed dragon – at least according to a 17th-century demon-hunting manual.
Skeptics are quick to dismiss the veracity of horror films that claim to be based on real events, but references to the demon Valak – the one at the center of the nun – date back centuries.
Valak or Valac appears in a variety of medieval grimoires, which were basically manuals on demons and spells.
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Unlike the 2018 film, Valak does not appear as a nun but rather as a sinister child with the ability to conjure snakes. According to a 17th century text, Valak controls a legion of serpentine spirits and can summon living serpents to meet his bad bids.
While Valak may not be real, the divine fear he instilled in God-fearing citizens of old certainly was — and continues to thrill moviegoers today.
Valak first appears in The Lesser Key of Solomon
The earliest known reference to the name “Valak” is in a 17th-century grimoire titled Clavicula Solomonis Regisor the Solomon’s key.
Owen Davies, professor at the University of Hertfordshire, specialist in the history of ghosts and witchcraft, describe grimoires as “books which contain a mixture of spells, conjurations, natural secrets and ancient wisdom”. In effect, Solomon is a self-proclaimed guide to “the ceremonial art of commanding good and evil spirits”.
Solomon features King Solomon of Old Testament fame who was renowned for his wisdom. Around the 2nd century BC. AD, the idea spread that the king’s domain of knowledge also included certain secrets of astrology and magic. The grimoire bearing his name lists the 72 demons the king is said to have defeated during his reign, providing readers with their names and instructions to expel them if they themselves come into contact with such spirits.
Valak, which is sometimes also spelled Ualac, Valu, Volac, Doolas, or Volach, is the 62nd spirit listed in Solomon, according to which he “appears as a boy with angel wings, riding a two-headed dragon”. His special power, according to the text, is to find snakes and hidden treasures while leading an army of 30 demons.
The Bible itself contains no reference to Solomon’s 72 demons, but Solomon was actually listed in the Vatican Index librorum prohibitorumor the List of banned books, which the Church continually updated until suppressing it completely in 1966. The Church considered the text not only not religious but heretical. However, to the dismay of many inquisitors, the grimoire was still found in the possession of many Catholic priests.
Despite its ban, the grimoire remained hugely popular in Europe and, given the success of the Conjuring movies, it seems its content still has a terrifying appeal to this day.
A 1970 encounter between paranormal investigators and an inspired ghost the nun
The demon Valak made its first appearance in the film series The Conjuring 2, during which a character named Lorraine Warren is able to stop him and send him back to Hell by using her own name against him. In the nunanother payment in Conspiracy horror series, a Romanian monastery is haunted by a demonic presence dressed in the habit of a Catholic nun.
Ultimately, there is some truth to both of these scenarios. Lorraine Warren was a real person and she was truly a paranormal investigator who encountered a presence in a church.
Ed and Lorraine Warren first came into the limelight after their initial investigation into the famous Amityville haunting in 1976. Lorraine Warren claimed to be a clairvoyant and psychic while her husband was a self-proclaimed demonologist.
Although the disturbing and supposedly supernatural events at the Amityville house were later widely reported to be a hoax, the popularity of the 1977 book The Amityville Horror and the following 1979 film catapulted the Warrens into the limelight.
The Warrens, who were devout Catholics, claimed to have investigated more than 10,000 cases of paranormal activity during their career.
And according the Warrens’ son-in-law, the Warrens met a “spectral nun” on a trip to the haunted church of Borley in southern England in the 1970s. According to lore, the cemetery ghost was a nun who had been buried alive within the brick walls of the convent centuries ago after having an affair with a monk.
Lorraine Warren is said to have encountered this ghost face to face at midnight one evening in the churchyard – and walked away unscathed.
Valak’s recent depiction as a nun was a pure fabrication by the director of The Conjuring 2James Wan.
“I had a very clear view of the whole movie, but the one thing I wasn’t quite sure [was the design of the demon character]”Wan said in 2016.
According to Wan, the real Lorraine Warren had told him about a “spectral entity” that appeared as a “swirling tornado vortex with this hooded figure.” Wan then decided to have the character don the costume of a nun in order to bring him into more direct conflict with the Warrens’ Catholic faith.
“Because it’s a demonic vision that haunts her, that only attacks her, I wanted something that would attack her faith,” Wan continued, “and that’s ultimately how the idea for this image very iconographic of a sacred icon cemented itself in my head.”
The idea of being haunted by your own faith was so powerful for Wan that Valak became a central character in 2018 The nunin which the demon terrorizes and possesses the devout members of a Romanian abbey in 1952. With veins and black lips protruding from a ghostly white face, Valak is truly a horrifying presence.
After this look at Valak from The nunread the disturbing story of Anneliese Michel and the real story behind The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Then find out how Roland Doe inspired The Exorcist.
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Why The True Demon Valak Is Even Scarier Than ‘The Nun’
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