During these eras, exorcists were both members of the clergy and laypeople — as long as one was Christian, one had the power to cast out demons. The common belief was that each saint had a demon that they were in an eternal struggle with, so the only way to cast the demon out was to determine which saint was responsible for it. The saints followed what stories there were of Jesus casting out demons, using holy water, salt, prayers, the sign of the cross, the laying on of hands and sometimes brutal beatings, which were directed at the demon but took their toll on the victim.
The demon was chased out of the victim through either their mouth or their victim, and special care had to be taken afterwards to prevent repossession. However, post-mortem saintly exorcism was much more common, since the saint was believed to have come into their true power once they were united with god.
In many cases, a possessed individual was brought to the tomb of a saint and left there until the demon had left his or her body, sometimes remaining there for days. In other cases, the individual was touched with relics or brought to places of importance for the saint — where they performed their miracles or where they were martyred. Below are depictions of exorcism from the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance, featuring saints, clergy and Jesus himself casting demons out of the possessed.
For a more detailed account of Medieval exorcism, go here. Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey.
Oxford, University College. Bede, Vita S. Guthberti, ca — Leo IX frees a possessed old man from evil spirits. Many tribal cultures believe that evil spirits are the hostile spirits of deceased ancestors, Ancestral worship and various rites of exorcism have emerged from this belief. Such ideas about evil spirits spilled over into Judaism.
Some, even today, believe that demons are the spirits of the offspring of unions between angels and antediluvian women. The Bible is the foundation of knowledge. It does not contain all knowledge, but provides us with the foundational knowledge on how this world came to be, why God created man, and the destiny of humankind.
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The Bible has little to say on the origin of demons, but the little it does say provides us with information sufficient for deriving reasonable conclusions about what demons are and why they exist. This is proved by a simple concordant study. For both to have used it is completely out of the question! Though men are sinners, in this case it was angels that sinned and abandoned the purpose for which they had been created. And as sinners, they must be judged in the world to come.
Had there been no sinning angels, there would be no need for a judgment of angels. This prophecy has yet to be fulfilled; but, scriptural evidence indicates that this, as many other prophecies, has dual meaning, where a past occurrence is used to describe a future event.
This implies that the devil and his angels have already been cast out of heaven—and from all indications, it happened long ago, in the pre-Adamic world. Yes, demons do exist! They have been active on this earth for millennia, as we have seen. But what kinds of problems do they cause? Are there different kinds of demons? Are some more aggressive than others? And what about mental illness; how does it differ from demon possession?
But on one occasion, His disciples were unable to cast out an evil spirit Mark , In this case, the demon appears to have been a particularly stubborn, aggressive kind. The following are some of the ways demons affect their hosts:. Some demons attempt to hurt, harm, or destroy the persons they possess. Some demons cause physical impairments such as dumbness, deafness, and blindness. Demon possessed persons sometimes display extraordinary physical strength.
Very often, demons cause the persons they possess to appear insane. This may not be true of every case, but it is certainly true of many.
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In addition to the above facts about demon possession, the Scriptures also reveal that multiple possession —when a person is possessed by several demons at the same time—occasionally occurs. The number of swine may indicate how many demons had possessed the man. Distinguishing between possession and mental illness, however, is often difficult. However, where there are marked changes in personality not the occurrence of despondency, depression, or anxiety , the onset of sudden bouts of violent hostility, or the occurrence of supernatural phenomena in the vicinity of the person in question, then demon possession is a very real possibility.
The psychiatric evaluation of a trained professional is the first course of action one should pursue.
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Moreover, it is a mistake to see demons lurking behind every bush, or to assume demon influence or possession every time something strange happens. Most unidentified flying objects, strange noises, and creaking floors are not the result of demonic activity. Most mental and emotional illnesses are not brought on by demons. The drives and emotions involved in problems such as these do not warrant expulsion; they call for a firmly established set of priorities , for a disciplined life, and for time. This is not to say that demons do not exert an influence in the evils of this world.
Indeed, they do. But influence and possession are two entirely different manifestations of demonic activity. In possession, the evil spirit inhabits and takes control of the mind of its victim. This suggests that the devil—and, by extension, the whole demonic realm—is a major causal factor behind the evils of this world. It also provides an important clue on how to avoid demonic influence: Do not follow the course of this world! Do not become a child of disobedience! Rather, follow Christ! Obey God!
From the New Testament record, we learn that demon possession was fairly common in the first century. And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. However, evidence of demonic activity—including actual cases of possession—in the United States and other English-speaking countries has increased since the arrival of the New Age movement, and with the spread of occult practices and Satanism. In some pagan exorcisms, the possessed is tortured—based on the belief that the possessing spirit can be afflicted, and thus driven out, by afflicting the body of the possessed.
Apparently, and for whatever reason, a certain degree of success has been achieved through the use of such cruel techniques. The exorcism rites of ancient Jews were apparently borrowed from pagan cultures, Josephus tells of an exorcism wherein the demon was drawn through the nostrils of the possessed person by use of a special method allegedly handed down from Solomon.
The rite consisted of a special nose ring and incantations allegedly composed by Solomon. Of course, no such rites appear in the Law of Moses, and are nowhere authorized by Scripture. If the exorcism ritual described by Josephus was indeed composed by Solomon, then it was composed in his latter years, while he was under the influence of his heathen wives. Many cases of possession and exorcism have been documented in the professing Christian world, as well.
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Before detailing the events of the five cases, Martin states that the cases are true, and that his accounts are based on extensive interviews with persons directly and indirectly involved, and on tapes made during the exorcisms. The chapters that follow recount some of the most chilling events imaginable. The aberrant behavior of the possessed, as well as the supernatural phenomena occurring during exorcism, are in some ways similar to the fictional story of Regan, the twelve-year-old demoniac of the film, The Exorcist. Before the exorcism rites begin, loose objects are removed from the room.
Others are also appointed to assist the exorcist in his grueling task. According to Martin, exorcisms commonly last 10 or 12 hours, but some continue for several days, and a few last for weeks! Exorcisms are not only stressful for the possessed, but for the exorcism teams as well. In People of the Lie, author M. Scott Peck, M. One lasted four days; the other lasted three days, he says, and both were successful.
Peck is not certain about which comes first: involvement in the occult or demon possession. But one thing is certain: There is a definite connection between the two. Both the patients in the exorcisms he witnessed had been involved in the occult. The lesson is clear: If you value your life, your sanity, your mental and emotional health and well-being, then stay away from the occult! Avoid anything that resembles the occult, including New Age spiritualism. Remember, Almighty God utterly condemns such things!
The following is a summarization of the things you can do to protect yourself from demonic activity:.
Also be aware of the harmful effects of drugs cocaine, heroin, etc. Ancient mediums used mood-inducing substances and environments to prepare their minds for contact with the spirit world; their modern-day counterparts are still using drugs. Most strange occurrences are not demonic in origin, and most mental patients are not possessed.
Assuming demonic activity where none exists is more harmful than helpful. Think of it; an exorcist of our time spends long grueling hours, which may expand into days and weeks, trying to expel a single demonic spirit. He risks injury and emotional impairment during the ordeal. And when it is over, he may require some weeks in recovering from the incredibly demanding experience, But Jesus, who cast out more demons than any exorcist ever has, did not need long hours to accomplish the task.