When working on my new novel series, I thought with a certification in demonology, I could write it without a sweat. But, it turns out that possessions go more profound than we thought. Welcome to Catholic-based possessions.
Each step of Catholic possession is coming, but first, we must put some warning!
Trigger Warnings: Mental Illness | Physical Abuse | Mental Abuse | Belief | Religion.
Note here that we are talking about Christianity and Catholic possessions.
With that said, consider yourself warned, and let’s dive in!
When Possession History Begins
In the Old Testament from The Bible, there is a mention of King Saul, who states that an evil spirit tormented him (1 Samuel 16:14.)
However, this seems to be outside of him and not something coming from within. Moreover, the Catholic Encyclopaedia is not keen on the idea of King Saul’s possession because it was a torment and not a proof of direct possession.
There are other mentions of demonic influence if not possession in The Bible. Theologians point out the places where the impact of the fallen angels and the demons are in The Bible.
So, because those texts reveal stories that took place millennia ago, we can say that demon possession goes back a while.
If you are not someone who shows interest in this type of story, possession is quite hard to explain. It has roots going far back and shares origins with antique religions.
The first case recorded is up for debate with King Saul. No one knows for sure what happened to him.
Possession In The Middle Ages
Let’s fast forward to the Middle Ages, which took place between the 800s and 1400s. Back in the Dark Ages, medicine was not at its finest moment, and studying the body was not popular. Needless to say that mental illness didn’t exist in people’s minds.
To explain hectic behavior or sudden physical reactions in an individual, demonic possession was often the answer.
The typical response to illness was bloodletting, which we know now is the opposite of what we should do. However, back then, knowledge was a limitation.
Exorcism was the remedy to eccentric behavior or mentally distressed people. Studied cases dating back to the thirteenth-century show similarities with medical disorders we know.
The Middle Ages Belief Of Demonic
The collective knowledge of exorcism in medieval times is something that witnesses the event wrote down. The writings depict what the victim suffered from to the best of their knowledge and how the exorcism proceeded. Were those a success or failure? Who knows? Let’s think about the witch-hunt in Europe.
Western Europe has an aggressive history of persecution of Pagans, Witches, and eccentric or distressed people. Demonic possession seemed to be the most prevalent diagnosis. A mental disorder equaled possession.
Now we know that inbreeding, such as Báthory, can cause many mental disorders. Among many, she had epilepsy and psychosis.
The Possession Of Possession
In Catholicism and Christianity, any possession derives from Hell’s demons and revolves around the fallen angels’ influence over humankind. One of Satan’s strategies to take over humanity is to possess the body and soul.
There are many passages in the Bible and precisely in the New Testament where Jesus exorcised demons from human bodies. While Christianity divides on the idea, most believe that demon possession is involuntary while others think it is.
Most people believe possession to be an affliction, but there are cases where humans demand to become a vessel for a demon. Judas is an example of voluntary possession.
Because he agreed to report Jesus after Satan’s influence on him, he submitted his mind and body to Satan. This statement is a passage from John 13:27.
While Other Possessions
In Catholicism, possessions have two different divisions. Therefore, it is crucial to understand which is which to communicate correctly.
Ordinary Possession refers to everyday temptation and succumbing to desires or what one knows is wrong. Confessing one’s sins to a priest in a church often rectifies this form of possession.
Then we have Extraordinary Possession, which is now directly leading to Satanic or demonic activity.
We are talking about six different varieties ranging from complete demonic control to someone who would voluntarily submit to a demon.
Possession Today Are Not Like Back In The Day
Possessions are serious ‘accusations.’ The Church doesn’t respond well to those possession allegations. It requires infinite amounts of proof.
While in the Middle Ages, it was easy to have a priest perform an exorcism or torture the distressed people, now it’s the extreme opposite.
Because the Church recognizes science for mental distress and physical illness, proving one suffers from demonic possession is hard.
The Church has many checkboxes, and exorcisms are rarely something they approve.
Because the Church suffered from a bad reputation for centuries, their rules for possession upgraded with medical advancement.
It is essential to understand that many possession cases are only, at the source, a cause and effect game.
Often victims are victims, harmed, submissive, or in a vulnerable position. In addition, those possessed can be under the influence of their parents, believing that a demon took over.
This form of possession is only a case psychosomatic. In those times, a priest can fake an exorcism to provoke a placebo effect in the patient, who recovers entirely.
The Six Stages Of Catholic Possession
The first stage of possession and first kind is simple it’s Possession! Possession is the first type where demons take full ownership of a person’s body without approval.
It often happens following a trauma, accumulation of negative emotions, rebellion, or grief. Then, the person’s mind becomes open to welcoming a greater force to help them.
The second type or stage is Obsession. This stage requires a demonstration of unexpected outbreaks. Often the victims show irrational thinking and obsess over subjects they would typically disregard.
Sometimes it can derail into suicidal thoughts and vivid dreaming. The Obsession stage or possession resemble depression and can turn to be aggressive.
The third stage or type of possession is Oppression. Oppression is when the person’s spirit breaks. Negativity takes over the house, and anger spreads. Trouble thoughts, actions, bad luck are all common in that stage.
Oppression is brutal to get rid of because it requires hope. Usually, the victim doesn’t have any left at that point. So it gets harder to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The fourth stage or possession is Masochism. However, be careful with that term because it has two truths: if you are a scientific mind, you believe the victims inflict physical pain on themselves. If you believe in the possibility of demonic possession, the demon is acting through the victim’s body to hurt the flesh.
Masochism is serious, and so the victim needs a guardian at all times. In some cases, words carve from the inside. Words like ‘help’ or ‘save me’ appear on the stomach or back or arms.
The fifth stage or possession is Infestation. Some scientific minds would say we enter the psychosomatic or mass hysteria level. If you believe in the possibility of demonic possession, people around the victim, including the house and objects, become subjective to the demonic influence.
The Infestation travels from the land to the house to the people and belongings. That’s how an object in a demonic environment can contact a stranger when people move and leave something behind. It carries demonic energy.
The final sixth stage or possession is the subjection. At this point in the possession or scene, the victim is no more. The person you knew entirely disappeared into the demonic presence. Often the body rotted, and the demon sucked all the life and personality out of the body.
The victim surrendered to the demon, and all that’s left is a shell. If you’re scientific, you would say the person stopped their medication or was too long without proper medical care and assistance.
But That’s Not All
The Church cannot approve of an exorcism because a victim checks the six boxes or stages. You might wonder why? Well, that’s because they are stages, so they don’t all happen at once. Possessions can take months to be in full effect.
Therefore, the Church must look at what could be supernatural and not possible for humans to fake or do. According to the Church, someone who is a victim of mental distress or physical abuse cannot do all four of these precise subjects.
The first thing one might look for is the demonic manifestation. Manifestation means that someone has meta strength. So we are talking about a source of physical force beyond the victim’s capability, even at their most healthy.
Often this means using raw strength to free themselves from restraints. It can also have a demonstration by breaking an object. Victims are frequently weak under possession and look the part, so it is an easy way to see if the victim is fake or not.
The second topic to look for is a foreign language that is unknown to the victim. It is possible to learn many languages. Even dead ones can be a subject of study. However, to the best of the victim’s family and friends’ knowledge, would it be possible for the victim to speak a foreign language.
Often those are: Latin in reverse—not usually accepted by the Church as a foreign language, Aramaic, Mesopotamian, Sumerian, among others. So, most of them qualify a dead language, and none are popular for people to learn.
The third matter revolves around knowledge the victim had no means to know. We are walking the psychic path now! If the victim can reveal the deepest secrets of the priest who is present or someone stranger to them, often they become interested in studying further.
There are other means too if the victim can speak about events that took place with members of the Church but were close to the public. But, unfortunately, the best way priests often test the victim is by dropping false information or showing deceptive facial expressions.
It is a way to ensure the victim does not possess the ability to read body language. If the victim is manipulative, the priest can know by sharing false talking points.
The final theme is blasphemy, cursing, and profanity. One would think this one is easy to fake, right? False. Priests are, unbelievably, prepare to study a victim that caught the Church’s attention to study them.
Cursing is easy for someone like you or me. However, we are not talking about swearing like a trucker taking a vacation on a sailor’s ship! While the victim can swear and give many offensive gestures, what priests are looking for is a chemical reaction.
When showing a cross to a demon, often they would hiss, retreat, or scream. The expectation would be the same reaction to holy water or the Bible. But, like when testing knowledge, priests would show regular crosses and use tap water. Usually, it would do nothing to a demon.
If the victim does not react to regular items but can detect the difference with the actual blessed crosses, rosary, and Bible, more serious measures come into play.
The ultimate proof would be a chemical reaction between the skin and wood or metal of the cross, leather of the Bible, or beads of a rosary.
A Possessive Conclusion
Possession throughout history evolved with our knowledge of the medical field. When mental distress showed illnesses needing attention without the Church’s intervention, it created turmoil.
People had a routine to take the Church’s word for the gospel, pun intended, but times changed. Now we know better, and the Church does too. Of course, it’s not every day that we can say such a thing, but when it comes to demonic possession and exorcism, the Church is careful with each of their decision.
More often than none, the Church refuses exorcism, and this will be the subject of my next article about the rise in exorcism popularity!