Demonic possession represents the control over a human being by Satan, an evil spirit or demon. When possessed, a person can demonstrate certain physical and character traits such as memory loss or change in personality, convulsions, fits and fainting as if one were dying. The victim normally has little or no control over their thoughts and actions so the entity persists until forced to leave the victim through what is called an Exorcism.
Many cultures and religions contain different forms of demonic possession and the details vary. Some cultures, in particular the Roma people, believe that demons can also possess animals, plants, deceased persons or inanimate objects.
The oldest references to demonic possession are from the Sumerians, who believed that all diseases of the body and mind were caused by “sickness demons” called gidim or gid-dim. The priests who practiced exorcisms in these nations were called ashipu (sorcerer) as opposed to an asu (physician) who applied bandages and salves. Many cuneiform tablets contain prayers to certain gods asking for protection from demons, while others ask the gods to expel the demons that have invaded their bodies.
Shamanic cultures also believe in demon possession and shamans perform Exorcisms. In these cultures, diseases are often attributed to the presence of an evil spirit or demon in the body of the patient.
History shows that demon possession became a plague among Christians. Exorcisms and executions were performed on persons allegedly possessed and many mentally ill people were accused of being possessed and were executed. The Malleus Malefic arum speaks about some exorcisms that can be done in different cases. In Christianity, animals were also believed to be able of being possessed. During the Middle Ages, hundreds of cats, goats, and other animals were slain because of the idea that they were either an incarnation of a demon or possessed by one.
Before an Exorcism can be performed however, many things are analysed. The person’s mental health is assessed as well as any known physical illnesses that we know of today that could demonstrate the characteristics described of a possessed person. Furthermore, the Christian Church and others look for the following ability known to be associated with possession:
- Speaking (and often curse/blaspheme) in a foreign language that would otherwise be unknown to the person.
- Telekinesis or clairvoyance.
- Abnormally strong or able to perform physical efforts that would otherwise be impossible for that person to carry out.
Other symptoms often associated with possession include:
- Fear and/or hatred of holy objects.
- The inability to say the word “Christ”.
- The act of spitting or vomiting.
Within the Roman Catholic Church, a priest may only perform an Exorcism with the express consent of his bishop.
DID YOU KNOW
In 1993 a Roman Catholic organization called the International Association of Exorcists was founded by six priests (some sources say 7) including the world famous Exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth. Father Amorth is also a former medical doctor. This association still exists today and is believed to now have over 200 members.
Only three of the original founding members are known:
- Father Gabriele Amorth
- Father Jeremy Davies
- Father Rufus Pereira (also named Vice-President of the Association in 1994)
The currently acting president of the association is Father Giancarlo Gramolazzo.
Membership is apparently restricted and exclusive. A priest must have permission from his bishop in order to join. The association meets secretly bi-annually in Rome, Italy to seek out new suitable candidates The association sends out a quarterly newsletter where members can tell of their particularly difficult or interesting cases.
Because of the profound inherent spiritual, mental, and physical danger of dealing with genuine evil spirits. Exorcism is inherently dangerous and should never be attempted by amateurs. Exorcism is not a field for thrill seekers, but only for the spiritually mature who have been trained and tested by years and years of prayer and spiritual discipline.
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