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When one explores the vast trove of literature related to the subject of Demonic possession, the student will eventually come across a quote originating in the mid-nineteenth century, a statement that is only a brief observation but one of questionable provenance. With that said, many researchers of such trivia agree that, most likely, the quote can be attributed to one man in particular. A man who in his day enjoyed a reputation of being the epitome of evil, due to his writings that scandalized the polite gentry. His literary themes—in our modern world would hardly raise an eyebrow or attract undue attention—but in the early eighteen hundreds, his poetry was considered pornographic, so much so that he was even brought to trial. So who was this French poet who also produced notable work as an essayist, art critic and translator? His name was Charles Baudelaire and as previously noted, many credit Baudelaire with a statement that has been widely quoted:
“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”
Many writers including yours truly, have fallen back on this quote in attempts to convince the world that evil is not just abstruse atrocities committed against mankind by those who are arguably criminally insane, but rather we attempt to persuade the masses that evil is made manifest by a singular creature, a one time arch angel—who according to legend—was cast out of heaven due to its overwhelming malignant narcissism; the creature widely known as the Devil.
Western cultures, have embraced scientific thought, rendering as naught but childish superstition, anything that cannot be analyzed, quantified, scrutinized or other wise examined in a laboratory environment. If it cannot be proven to exist with tools developed by humans, then, they presume it therefore must not exist.
But these captains of modern thought fail to recognize that there is a realm that transcends or exceeds their own handiwork, a domain sometimes referred to as the realm of Spirituality.
The powers and principalities of the Spiritual realm—both good and evil—refuse to stoop to our levels and allow our men and women of science to subject them to tests, that to them seem absurd as these experiments lower them to a level comparable to bored animals trained to jump through hoops on command only to be rewarded with a tasty tidbit while on the sidelines, spell bound humans watch with utter amazement. Therefore in our arrogant pomposity, we choose to ignore the prince of darkness and his minions, as he gloats in the success of his labors of convincing the ignorant masses he does not exist.
As we go about our mundane lives, blissfully ignorant of the battle that rages around us, people of great faith are literally fighting a war against demonic oppression. With spiritual intervention, prayers and rites religious as their weapons, they fight to free the oppressed from the yoke of demonic possession.
Until the 1973 motion picture that became a cult classic, The Exorcist, the Devil had been so successful in his attempt to convince us he didn’t exist, that most people were not even aware of the spiritual dangers that surrounded them. However, as with most aspects of pop culture, The Exorcist inspired possibly millions to seek enlightenment, learning more about that, which their elitist academic betters had insisted, did not exist.
Today we are quietly watching, what seems to be indications of a great spiritual revival in the West. Spirituality, that seeming nebulous concept which many Generation Xer’s and Millennials reject, seems to be growing among those of generation Z. With this growth in spirituality there is an accompanying growth in the way of awareness of demonic oppression and even possession. Part of this increasing awareness, is due to media actually paying attention to the cases of raw evil that manifests itself in our communities. You simply cannot turn on the news and not witness a report of abject evil, incidents that transcend ordinary criminality and exposes the horror of the Devil’s work.
With this growing awareness, people are stopping to take time for introspection and often asking themselves if they are among the demonically possessed. This increased awareness is comparable to the scenarios we see when a new virus is spreading and those concerned about their health flock to the doctor for a vaccination. In the case of Demonic possession, so many individuals are now aware of the dangers, that Exorcists and their Protestant counterparts known as Deliverance ministers, are inundated with requests for deliverance, or even the sacramental religious rite of Exorcism.
Most likely, if you think you are possessed by demonic entities, you probably are not. You might be oppressed but not possessed. A process similar to Demonic possession in humans, can be observed in nature when a protozoan parasite invades the body of an insect or even a fish, makings its way to the victim’s brain, then rendering the victim incapable of autonomous actions, the invasive entity then forces the victim to do things that place the victim in harms way, often rendering the victim incapable of avoiding higher predators and victim ends up as some predator’s next meal.
Survivors of possession report that their experience was like living in a nightmare, a bad dream in which they were aware of what was going on around them but totally incapable of doing anything about it. Others report having no memory of the events that occurred during the time in which they were possessed.
Most of the psychiatrists and scientists practicing today will steadfastly deny the existence of the Devil as well as the possibility of Demonic Possession; however, when confronted with evidence such as that which often manifests in a case of possession, these same enlightened individuals often are at a loss to provide adequate explanations as to the why and how these things happen.
There are those that occasionally will admit that there is sometimes something more afoot than extreme mental illness, some even going so far as to say that in rare instances, the demon inhabiting a victim causes the outward signs to mimic classic symptoms of otherwise well diagnosed mental disease.
Some of these doctors quietly refer patients to Exorcists, preferring to avoid entanglements from a press that diligently searches for sensational stories and potential embarrassment by their own peers who too quickly dismiss the therapeutic value of Exorcism.
At Saint Michael’s Journal, we have shared reports of those mental health professionals that openly admit that they work with Exorcists, such as the recent story on Doctor Richard Gallagher who we first reported on several years ago but whose name still continues to appear in articles and press releases relevant to this discussion.
In one such interview, Doctor Gallagher was reported to have enumerated the classic signs of possession, the first sign, being that the possessed can suddenly and inexplicably speak or even converse fluently in a foreign language or even an ancient language that they have never studied. There are many reports of victims of possession beginning to speak in ecclesiastical Latin, the language used by the Catholic Church or in other cases they begin to speak in Aramaic, the ancient tongue that Christ himself would have used.
The sudden development of unusual strength is a symptom often reported by those who have witnessed the acts of a possessed person. While we have all heard fanciful tales of a distraught parent seeing a heavy object fall on their child and then suddenly their body produces sufficient adrenaline hormone that they can lift the weight off of the child saving it from assured death, but while such a seemingly similar situation, there is a difference. Usually when superior strength in made manifest in a possessed person, there is no accompanying emotional disaster such as that when a parent sees a child in danger. I myself have witnessed such an outburst when an eighteen year old woman picked up a man, by the arms like a rag doll and flung him across the room as if he was weightless.
Levitation is sometimes reported during a possession. In the case of Roland or Robbie Doe, the child the book and movie The Exorcist wre based upon, Doe was said to levitate as well as being capable of unusual strength when the demon manifested its presence. In the case of Latoya Ammons, more commonly known as the Possession in Gary Indiana, Ms Ammons’ children were said to levitate in front of medial staff and a Social Services worker even submitted an official report in which he claims to have witnessed one of the children walk up the wall and across the ceiling.
A case that was documented a century ago claims that a 16-year-old from South Africa, Clara Cele, was heard making a pact with the devil and soon began behaving erratically, tearing at her clothes, growling, speaking in tongues, and demonstrating super-human strength. In 1906 and 1907, two priests performed exorcisms on Clara and her body levitated before 170 witnesses.
In many cases of possession, the victim is reported as suddenly developing an unusual aversion to anything religious, a classic example of this is the tragic story of Anneliese Michel. While on a pilgrimage, Anneliese was unable to walk past a crucifix and refused to drink the water of a holy spring. During the exorcism in South Africa in the early 20th century a young lady named Clara Cele, it is reported that her skin “burned” when touched by holy water. In other cases religious artifacts such as crosses or paintings fall from the walls where they previously hung. Or religiously themed decorations and artifacts, completely disappear altogether.
Doctor Gallagher, who we mentioned earlier, told a reporter from the Washington Post in a 2016 interview of one of his patients who could tell how individuals had died, individuals she had never known, including Gallagher’s own mother and her fatal case of ovarian cancer, knowledge that the Doctor claims the patient never had access to through normal means. In many cases of Possession, witnesses report that the possessed person demonstrated detailed knowledge about strangers’ histories and their most shameful secrets.
The next question in our discussion that arises is that of who can be possessed and who cannot?
Today the Internet is rife with videos on YouTube, podcasts, blog posts and other media in which the author or speaker authoritatively states that, a Christian can not be possessed. They justify that statement by adding that anyone in which the Holy Spirit dwells, is—rhetorically speaking—vaccinated against demonic possession. Which may be true, at least I would like to think so.
However when embroiled in debate with a Protestant who happens to hold fast to the preceding claim, that a Christian cannot be possessed, you simply have to ask them, “Well what about those so called back-sliders?”
For those unschooled in protestant parlance and rhetoric, a back-slider is, a born again protestant Christian who has regressed in his path to spiritual and sin free life. But a good Baptist will tell you that there is no such thing as a back-slider, but rather the person accused of such was never really a Christian to begin with, they never had an authentic conversion experience.
This is the opening, the opportunity for your “Ah-Haa” moment, you have just been able to get the protestant to admit that some conversions are not authentic, and perhaps the back-sliding person was what is characterized as a Cultural Christian. This is a term used to describe those that since birth, have grown up in the church and requested Baptism because that sacrament, seemed to them to be a prerequisite, an act of passage so to speak.
These Cultural Christians never underwent an authentic, dark night of the soul, conversion experience. Therefore they may not have this metaphorical vaccination protecting them from demonic infection. If this presumption is accurate, is it then not prudent to say that some of those we thought were born again Christians, are actually at risk of Demonic Possession? Perhaps a friend, family member, or even yourself are a part of this at risk demographic.
Other theologians have opined that, the word possession—as we know it—is not true to the original Greek that the New Testament was written in. Passages in Matthew Luke and John all use the phrase, “he has a demon” and not he or she is possessed. Therefore, it is probably best to not use the term “possessed” when referring to demonic control of people. Demons afflict both believers and nonbelievers, and in that affliction, they exert various levels of control and influence.
Our next logical question is; “How do we avoid being possessed by a demon?”
Incremental changes, those events that occur over an extended period of time, are changes that are difficult to notice compared to sudden and drastic change.
There is an old parable that claims, if you drop a frog into a pot of boiling water it will instinctively hop out. However if you put the frog into a pot of cold water and slowly increase the heat, it will fail to notice the change and be boiled to death. This apologue is comparable to the slow takeover that leads to possession. The demon entices the victim to commit increasingly sinful acts, until such a point is reached in that it has “legal right” to possess a child of God.
My advice to those that want to be proactive in protecting themselves from Demonic possession, is to adopt a religious lifestyle. Research prayer regimens and practice those daily. Read up on spiritual discernment which tells one how to identify those thoughts that enter into your head and whether these thoughts originate in heaven, or hell.
Avoid all things considered Occult, or hidden knowledge, as these activities can lead one off of the path to heaven. Likewise avoid all things considered New Age, books, websites, or related media. Never allow an Ouija board in your home or allow your children to play with one.
If you have prior severe psychological trauma that has been left untreated, seek out help. The National Catholic Register recently did a story about a young lady that had undergone Exorcism; she had been raped as a child and refused to tell anyone fearing that she would be blamed. Perhaps you recall that Saint Michael’s Journal shared this report and that the first signs of trouble was unexplained illnesses in her children. The children were not possessed, but rather, she was.
If you have sudden thoughts of violence, towards yourself or others, get help immediately.
There are literally tons of information on the Internet regarding how not to be possessed.
In conclusion, Demonic Possession is very real, it does exist, regardless of how hard the devil has tried to convince us he is not real. At one time not so long ago, we of the clergy, insisted that possession was rare, however, many of us are finding that it is not so rare, but perhaps wide spread.
How prevalent is the phenomena in our culture? I shudder when I reflect on the obvious answer of how wide spread possession is, when I question just how many of our neighbors and friends are possessed, all I can say is, that, we simply do not know.