Ghosties and ghoulies that go bump in the night are fun and pave the way for a spooky Halloween.
But what about the stories that are not so fun; the dark tales of the poor souls forever lost to the devil?
Possession, the ownership or command of something without regard for ownership, or domination by an evil spirit, has been commercialized by Hollywood and written about endlessly in books like The Exorcist and The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
Both of these books are supposedly based on true stories, The Exorcist about a young boy named Roland Doe (actually a pseudonym given by the Catholic church) who tried to contact his dead mother through the Ouija board, and The Exorcism of Emily Rose based on the 67 exorcisms of a disturbed girl named Annaliese Michel. Thinking she was invaded by unclean spirits, Annaliese refused food and drink, fasting to cleanse her body from evil, and eventually succumbing to starvation and malnutrition.
There are other books out there too, like Malachi Martin's Hostage to the Devil, a terrifying and controversial look at several stories of possession, written from an eye-witness point of view. Martin was a theologian and former professor at the Vatican's Pontifical Biblical Institute.
Another book, Glimpses of the Devil, written by F. Scott Peck, a student and follower of Martin, and psychologist and author of the very popular book The Road Less Traveled, is about Peck's studies of evil, and his eventual witnessing of an exorcism.
These are not good bedtime stories, even for those who are not easily scared.
For those that believe in God and Jesus it is a call to arms against the prince of darkness, for if you believe in God and the Bible, you have to at least consider the idea of the devil and possession to be real. For the non-believer, it is said that it does not matter if you believe or not, the devil still exists.
According to Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican exorcist and author of the book An Exorcist Tells His Story, Satan is very real and very busy these days. He claims that the number of exorcisms he performs increases yearly, and that he himself has released over 70,000 people from the clutches of demons, and even Lucifer himself. He said "the devil is not everywhere, but when he is present it is painful."
He also said, "The devil resides in the Vatican."
According to Amorth, there are three official signs that are recognized by the Roman Catholic church as signs of possessions, and could manifest if an individual is possessed. The first is showing great strength, the next is speaking in languages once unknown, and the third is precognition, or knowing things the individual should not really know.
He states that these are sometimes not present until the exorcism is taking place. Some other signs are changes in social behavior, like suddenly wanting no contact with others, supernatural abilities, sleep disturbances, violent behavior, the ability to speak in several voices at once, sacred aversions, or the inability to pray or enter church, confusion, amnesia, and hearing or seeing things.
Many of these symptoms can also manifest during a psychotic episode, so care must be taken to not influence a potential patient into thinking he may be possessed.
According to Amorth there are four stages to demonic possession. The first is:
1. Diabolical Infestation ~ this first stage is always brought on by an invitation. By making a conscious choice to ask the demonic into your world, you are in turn entering into the middle world, the world of the dead and the unknown. According to the bible, you are not supposed to be here, or seek to know these things.
For example, the Ouija board is marketed by Parker Brothers as a game. It can be purchased at Toys R Us by a child. The mere act of deciding to make the purchase is a step in the wrong direction. Although you may say you are only looking for good spirits, you have no control of what may actually appear. If you send out word that you are having a party and put no limits on who is invited, you would have no idea at who may end up knocking on your door.
Another invitation could be the use of Tarot cards. Viewed by some as a Jungian interpretation of our inner selves, these card give a view of the future, the past, and show information we would otherwise not know. They are designed with beautiful pictures, and can be overlooked as a portal or door. Just because the door is painted in a beautiful color does not mean there is beauty behind it.
Although infestation is considered the least troublesome of the steps to possession, there are some signs to watch for. A constant feeling of unease or of being watched may trouble you. You may start to see shapes or shadows move out of the corner of your eye, or feel like someone touched you lightly. Your sleep may be interrupted, many times at 3 am, since three is a mocking of the trinity. (Jesus was crucified at three in the afternoon, also. Another inversion.)
Unease is the word here: as the sun goes down you will have a terrible feeling like something is about to happen, you will be afraid to look at your reflection in the mirror if the room is slightly dark, you may hear voices you can't understand, or while you are int the shower. To make a long story short, things seem sinister.
2. Demonic Oppression ~ If you have allowed the demons to win the first stage of the fight, you will enter the next phase. Although you are not possessed, you have allowed another level of evil to occur. The fight against evil occurs daily, and what we feel is "bad luck" or karma or the universe being "out to get us", may be demons, according to Amorth. As our psyches are becoming more and more broken, we feel defeated, and in turn stop caring. This phase, and the next phase, Demonic Possession, have been called boring by priests and psychologists, who have witnessed individuals as they become possessed. They are ill, exhausted, angry, and at a loss for what to do. (Boring because it is repetitive, the individual does not know how to help himself and just repeats the same mistakes and depressing actions over and over.) It is at this stage the person gives up, and grants the damning permission.
3. Demonic Possession ~ The possessed person is many times unable to control his mind. He is invaded by intrusive thoughts that he cannot stop. He feels defeated and hopeless and almost welcomes the invasion. According to F. Scott Peck, most possessions occur in people that are very lonely, and feel something akin to peace when they accept a demon into their lives. They are lulled into thinking it will be some kind of dark companion. Father Amorth says that the possessed's eyes may appear white, either rolled up or down in the sockets, or the iris appearing milky. They may speak hatefully and act violently. They experience amnesiac periods where an always hateful entity takes over. After they rouse from these "fits" they seem normal and can work and live normally, with no memory of the episode.
If a person is perfectly possessed, they may show none of the above discussed malevolence. They are not repulsed by the holy, can go to church, and show no further signs of possession. The individual is now completely under control of evil and there is no will left of the victim's own. Salvation is unlikely.
If someone willingly becomes a satanist, practitioner of black magic, or demon worshiper, the first three stages of possession may not happen. The devil does not have to fight for what is given to him.
I have a bit of first-hand experience with possession. It did not happen to me, but to a dear friend. You can read about it HERE.
Father Amorth has stated that about 90% of possessions come from curses. More causes of possession are:
* Making a pact with the devil, demons, Satan, or Lucifer
* Occult practices (Ouija, Tarot, divination, palm reading, seances, cult activity or esoteric practices, Freemasonry, or witchcraft)
* A sacrifice or offering (the worst being a parent offering a child to the devil)
* A curse or spell from a witch, black priest or priestess, or from a satanic cult.
If one member of a family is affected, it is a good idea for every member of the family to pray together, sprinkle holy water about the whole house, ask for protection, and read the bible together.
Placing crucifixes around the house and at entryways can help. The St. Benedict medal or cross can be worn to dispel evil, prevent possession, and dispel illness. It can even be worn by non-Catholics because Mary will supposedly bring conversion to those who wear it. The same is said of the the Brown Scapular devotion.
All items mentioned here can be purchased HERE.
You cannot buy, trade, order or invest in blessed items. You need to order them as is, and have them blessed by a priest yourself.
I heard a story about someone who was seeing shadows and shapes in their peripheral vision. Although not terrified, they were concerned. A friend told them to light a white candle and address it kindly and tell it to leave.
The Catholic church would disagree with this. The devil is a liar, they say, and will deceive you. If you are truly bothered by what you consider to be the demonic, consult a priest. If you do not feel he believes you, they recommend you find someone else.
They may bless your house. Sometimes it may take a few times before you feel the darkness leave.
The prayer of St. Michael is said to protect from evil. Repeat often:
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host,
by the Divine Power of God,
cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Be careful. Do not do anything that could be inferred as an invitation to dark spirits.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure never rang more true.
Books mentioned earlier:
Glimpses of the Devil by M. Scott Peck
Hostage to the Devil by Malachi Martin
An Exorcist Tells His Story by Gabriele Amorth