Spirit Possession

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Demonic possession is often the term used to describe the control over a human form by a demon. Descriptions of demonic possessions often include: erased memories or personalities, convulsions, “fits” and fainting as if one were dying.[1] Unlike in channeling or other forms of possession, the subject has no control over the possessing entity and so it will persist until forced to leave the victim, usually through a form of exorcism. Other descriptions include access to hidden knowledge and foreign languages, drastic changes in vocal intonation and facial structure, sudden appearance of injury (scratches, bite marks) or lesions, and superhuman strength.

Many cultures and religions contain some concept of demonic possession, but the details vary considerably. The Roma people believe that demons can also possess animals, plants, deceased persons or inanimate objects.

For lessons on the topic of Possession, follow this link.

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 [2]. The priests who practiced exorcisms in these nations were called ashipu (sorcerer) as opposed to an asu (physician) who applied bandages and salves[3]. 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.

Most illustrations portray these spirits as small, sadistic-looking or tormented-looking beings with a human likeness. Demons are often referenced as familiars. Witches would provide shelter and nourishment via the witches' teat in exchange for the valuable services of familiars.[4]

Shamanic cultures also believe in demon possession and shamans perform exorcisms too; in these cultures often diseases are attributed to the presence of a vengeful spirit or (loosely termed) demon in the body of the patient. These spirits are more often the spectres of animals or people wronged by the bearer, the exorcism rites usually consisting of respectful offerings or sacrificial offerings.

The Malleus Maleficarum speaks about some exorcisms that can be done in different cases. Depending on the severity of the alleged possession, solutions range from prayers of deliverance to the Solemn Rite of Exorcism as practiced by the Catholic Church.


The supposed casting out of devils since the arrival of the Spirit of Truth has been a matter of confounding a belief in demoniacal possession with hysteria, insanity, and feeble-mindedness. But just because Michael's bestowal has forever liberated all human minds on Urantia from the possibility of demoniacal possession, do not imagine that such was not a reality in former ages.[1]


  1. Ferber, Sarah, Demonic Possession and Exorcism in Early Modern France(London, Routledge, 2004, 25, 116).
  2. Sumerian "gidim"
  4. Willis, Deborah, Malevolent Nurture: Witch-Hunting and Maternal Power in Early Modern England (New York, Cornell University Press, 1995)
  5. Murphy, Ed. 1996.The Handbook for Spiritual Warfare. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Rev. Ed., p.51
  6. Murphy, Ed. 1996. The Handbook for Spiritual Warfare. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Rev. Ed., p.50
  7. MacNutt, Francis. 1995. Deliverance from evil Spirits: a practical manual. Grand Rapids: Chosen Books. p.71
  8. Broedel, Hans Peter, The Malleus Malfeicarum and the Construction of Witchcraft (Great Britain, Manchester University Press, 2003, 32-33), Barajo, Caro, World of the Witches, (Great Britain, University of Chicago Press, 1964, 73)
  9. Microsoft Word - Haraldur Erlendsson 1.6.03 Multiple Personality
  10. Martin Shaw has a devil of a job in Apparitions, The Times. November 8, 2008


Castaneda, Carlos. 1998. The Active side of Infinity. NYC HarperCollins.

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