Jan 24, 2023 I Nick Redfern

The Loch Ness Monster: The Weird Saga of a Dangerous Exorcism at the Loch

On the night of June 2, 1973, Loch Ness played host to something truly extraordinary, something you may not about. It was nothing less than a full-blown exorcism, one that was designed to forever banish the malignant monsters from the deep and dark waters. It was all the work of Donald Omand, both a doctor and a reverend. He was a man who had substantial knowledge on, and experience of, the domain of all things supernatural. Of his thoughts on the Nessie phenomenon, Reverend Omand said: “Each year I drive along most of the long, somewhat tedious, shore of Loch Ness in traveling from the Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness, and never yet have I observed the monster.” We should not, however, interpret this to mean that Omand was a skeptic when it came to the Loch Ness creatures. In fact, quite the opposite is the case. He believed that one had to be at the loch at the right time to encounter one of the monsters. His reasoning was simple: the Nessies are supernatural entities that can only be encountered when the circumstances are conducive to an encounter. For Omand, the monsters were projections of something large and terrifying from a bygone era – monsters that may have existed millions of years ago but which continue to manifest, albeit in paranormal form.  

For the god-fearing reverend, the supernatural beasts had to be cast out, and the sooner the better, too. He was helped in his venture by none other than Ted Holiday. Holiday’s interests in Omand’s opinions on the monsters of Loch Ness were prompted by the latter’s book, Experiences of a Present Day Priest. It’s a book that details the reverend’s nagging and worrying suspicions that lake-monsters have supernatural, rather than physical, origins. Omand was someone who had also focused his attentions on combating black magic and witchcraft, and had even exorcised bears, lions, and tigers believed to have been in the throes of dark, demonic possession. He was, then, hardly your average priest. But, he was exactly the kind of priest needed to rid Loch Ness of its strange inhabitants.

(Nick Redfern) Nessie and a late night exorcism.

It’s worth noting how, and why, the Reverend Donald Omand became so deeply immersed in the Loch Ness Monster controversy. In 1967, he had his own sighting of a black-humped beast in Loch Long, which is located in Argyll & Bute, Scotland. It was only in view for mere moments, but even so it was still long enough for Omand to have gotten a clear look at it and to realize it wasn’t anything so simple as a wave or a rotting tree trunk. It was a monster – and it was a monster that seemingly had the ability to boil and bubble the water. Omand was further exposed to the mysteries of water monsters in the following year, 1968 – the very same year in which Nessie seeker Ted Holiday was coming around to the idea that the Nessies had supernatural origins. Omand had confided in a friend what he had seen at Loch Long in 1967. That friend was a Norwegian sailor named Jan Andersen. The upshot of this revelation was that Captain Andersen invited Omand to accompany him, in June 1968, on a trip through the Fjord of the Trolls, otherwise known as the “eeriest waterway in Norway.” Omand jumped at the opportunity. Had he known what was going to happen, Omand might have declined the invite. As the pair negotiated the mysterious waters, and just like at Loch Long one year earlier, the water began to boil and bubble. As if right on cue, a pair of large, dark-colored humps rose from the depths and headed directly for Andersen’s boat. Such was the size of the humps Omand was deeply afraid that the leviathan might actually capsize the vessel and send the pair to Davy Jones’ locker. It was not to be, however. 

Captain Andersen reassured Omand that the animal would bring no harm to them. Sure enough, at the last moment, the creature abruptly changed course and sank beneath the surface. Andersen stressed to Omand the importance of recognizing that although the monster did no physical harm, it was definitively malevolent. Puzzled as to how the monster could be considered evil, when the pair was not hurt, Omand was told by Andersen that such creatures did not bring physical harm to anyone, as they wished to be perceived as being non-malevolent. This, however, was nothing more than a cunning and callous ruse. Omand asked Andersen what he meant by that, and the seafarer replied that it was not the bodies of the witnesses that the creatures were set on disrupting, but their minds and characters – and to the point of provoking anxiety, paranoia, and, finally, mental collapse.

Ted Holiday could personally relate to Andersen’s words and how his personal mindset had been radically altered and manipulated by exposure to the Nessies. Holiday wasted no time in sending Omand a letter, applauding him on his train of thought. It was the letter and the praise which led Omand to invite Holiday to spend a weekend with him, at his home in Devon, England. Holiday didn’t need to be asked twice: he jumped at the opportunity. During the course of their monster-themed meeting, Holiday learned that Omand had already spoken with the Bishop of Crediton about performing an exorcism at Loch Ness – which the bishop thought was an excellent idea. Given his dramatic change of opinion on the nature of the lake-monsters of Loch Ness, Holiday thought it would be a very wise move, too. 

(Nick Redfern) What lurks in the waters?

Holiday had another reason for contacting Omand: 1973 marked the publication of Holiday’s second book on lake monsters, The Dragon and the Disc. Holiday gave his book just about the most relevant and applicable sub-title as possible: An investigation into the totally fantastic. It was in the pages of The Dragon and the Disc that Holiday finally said “goodbye” to his earlier, and far more down to earth, theories for the things of Loch Ness. His new book encompassed not just the paranormal side of lake monsters in general, and the Nessies in particular, but UFOs in both times ancient and modern, too. He also dwelled on that curiously synchronistic series of events that spanned 1969 to 1971 and which were focused around Aleister Crowley, Boleskine House, an unsettling dragon cult, and Dr. John Dee and his modern day, slightly sinister, relative. And, so, keeping all this in mind, Holiday set a date to meet with Reverend Omand; the one man who, more than any other, shared Holiday’s deep conviction that the Loch Ness Monsters were not what they seemed to be. They were worse. Much, much worse. And, now, it was time to confront them. Maybe even head-on.

A decision was reached to undertake a number of exorcisms: several on the shore at various points along the loch, and one in the dead center, on the water itself. A small boat was generously provided by Wing-Commander Basil Cary, who lived with his wife near the shore of the loch, and who was particularly intrigued by the monster legend. The BBC was intrigued too, and was determined to be on the scene to capture the exorcism on camera – or, as it transpired, a recreation, since the camera crew turned up late. As things began, the seriousness of the affair quickly became apparent. When the pair – along with Tony Artus, a captain in the British Army with an interest in the controversy of Nessie, and a photographer friend of Omand – arrived at Lochend, Omand asked the pair to kneel, which they did, and holy water was sprinkled on their foreheads, in the shape of a cross. As if right on cue, a chilled wind suddenly enveloped the area. That was not necessarily a good sign – at all. With that act performed, Omand approached the mysterious waters, lowered his head, and said, in quiet and deliberate tones:

“I exorcise thee, O Creature of Salt, by the living God, by the true God, by the Holy God, by that God who by the prophet Eliseus commanded thee to be cast into the water to cure its barrenness: that thou mayest by this exorcism be made beneficial to the faithful, and become to all those who make use of thee healthful both to soul and body: and that in whatsoever place thou shalt be sprinkled, all illusions and wickedness and crafty wiles of Satan may be chased away and depart from that place; and every unclean spirit commanded in His name, who is to come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire.” It was quite a statement, to be sure! Omand continued, asking for Loch Ness and its surroundings to be free of malevolent, supernatural spirits, and that the monsters be forever dispatched to a paranormal realm far away from the loch. Just for good measure, Omand sprinkled a liberal amount of holy water into the loch. The same ritual was undertaken, and the same words were spoken, at a pebbled stretch of beach, at Borlum Bay, and at Fort Augustus. These particular exorcisms had a profound effect on Ted Holiday. Looking back on that night a few years later, he said that while he held no particular, firm beliefs when it came to the matter of religion, “I felt a distinct tension creep into the atmosphere at this point. It was as if we had shifted some invisible levers, and were awaiting the result.” 

In addition, Holiday recalled that the photographer looked very worried. Tony Artus had plunged into a state of complete silence. Only the reverend seemed unaffected by the near-unique situation all four found themselves in. By the time the final land-based exorcism was over, evening was nearing its end and the all-enveloping darkness of night was beginning to blanket the area. There was no time to waste: the intrepid mariners headed for the waters of Fort Augustus, intent on bringing the matter of Nessie’s presence to a hopeful closure. Whitecaps and a howling wind appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. Yet again, it appeared, a bad sign was the order of the day – or, rather, of the night. Holiday felt a distinct air of menace envelope him and he took a deep breath. If there be monsters, now was possibly the time for them to make their presence known and engage the reverend in the ultimate battle of good vs. evil. Once again, the reverend had words to say – and to say out loud – as he called for the reign of the monsters to end and for their banishing from Loch Ness. 

(Nick Redfern) Nessie: A connection with the paranormal.

The last of the holy water was then poured into the loch, amid hopes that it would help to drive the paranormal presence away for good. Instead, something else happened: the Reverend Omand visibly, and suddenly, paled, shivered, and appeared close to passing out. The group raced to get the boat to the shore, and there then followed a torturously slow walk across the surrounding, now-darkness-filled hills. It was a walk that saw Holiday and Tony Artus constantly supporting Omand, to prevent him from keeling over into the grass. Despite the seemingly serious nature of the situation, Omand later explained that feeling drained and light-headed were two of the classic after-effects of performing an exorcism and nothing to overly worry about. After a while, Omand was fully recovered and the group retired to their beds, earnestly hoping and praying that the Nessies would never again darken Loch Ness. As history has shown, however, they did – time and time again. Perhaps as some form of malignant backlash against the valiant attempts to banish the monsters, dark forces seemed to hover ominously around the area for almost a week afterwards. Several days after the exorcism, Holiday took a night-time drive to the home of Basil and Winifred Cary, specifically to get their views on the Sundberg UFO encounter at Loch Ness in August 1971. A psychic with notable powers of precognition, and someone who had spent time in India and who worked for the Special Operations Executive during the Second World War, Mrs. Cary was not someone who encouraged delving into the domain of the unknown. She did her utmost to discourage it.

(Nick Redfern) Monsters: not what they seem to be.

As Holiday brought up the matter of the UFO encounter, Mrs. Cary’s face took on a deeply furrowed frown, then a look of concern, and finally one of downright fear. In no uncertain terms, she quietly cautioned Holiday to keep away from the reported landing site of the allegedly alien craft, warning him that the only outcome of such an action would be disaster – or worse. An evil presence was apparently hovering around and listening intently to her words. At that very moment, a whirlwind-like sound filled the air, shadowy and racing forms filled the garden, and heavy thumping sounds reverberated around the old property. A plume of a black, smoke-like substance appeared amid the garden’s flowers and plants. An ear-splitting scream from Mrs. Cary filled the living room. The entire household was briefly enveloped by a cloak of terror and mayhem. After around twenty seconds or so, however, normality was returned and the brief atmosphere of paranormal terror was gone.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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