Home » Education » Demonic Possession and Exorcism Throughout History

Demonic Possession and Exorcism Throughout History

Demonic possession is one of the most misunderstood aspects of occultism. While popular media tends to sensationalize the process of extracting demons from a possessed individual, demonic possession can be both a blessing and a curse. For example, Christian pastors and Catholic priests believe demons cause illnesses, seizures, personality disorders, and mental issues. This is why priests and other religious leaders exorcise people as soon as they exhibit signs of spirit possession.

Differing Views on Demonic Possession

Occultists usually describe demonic possession in a more positive way than Christians do. In fact, occultists believe that most individuals who experience demonic possession purposely allow spirits to take control of their mind or body. The primary benefit of allowing a demon to inhabit your body is that it makes communicating with other spiritual realms a much easier process. Shamans regularly allow different spirits, poltergeists, and demons to take advantage of their faculties in order to uncover a unique medical cure or spiritual secret.

Alternatively, secular Americans do not believe that demon possession is possible. They attribute diseases and imbalances to viruses or bacteria, and use medicine to cure these issues.

More on Demonic Possession

Stories of demonic possession have been documented since ancient times. The first mention of spirit possession in a religious text comes from a Sumerian scroll. In this particular instance, a scribe wrote that diseases, illnesses, psychological problems, and physical maladies were often caused by malignant spirits that inhabited a sick person’s mind or body.

Sumerians referred to the dead spirits as gid-dim, and warned that they came from the underworld to cause havoc in small villages. Interestingly, Sumerians believed that these poltergeists haunted village people who failed to bury their relatives properly. To combat the possibility of gid-dim possession, Sumerians buried part of their relative’s body underneath the floor of their home. This ensured that the deceased person would not miss his or her family too much.

Demonic Possession in Roman Society

Demonic possession also appeared in Rome. The Roman view of demons differed greatly from the Sumerian understanding of spirits. While Sumerians believed that their demons could only harm human beings, Romans thought that spirits could possess people, animals, inanimate objects, and plants.

One of the most famous possession stories to emerge out of the Roman Empire was written by Pope Gregory I. According to Pope Gregory, a nun was inhabited by a demon after eating a haunted lettuce leaf.

Definition of Exorcism

Exorcism is a ritual ceremony that is performed by an authoritative figure in the religious community. This ceremony was designed to expel the evil demons and malicious spirits that possessed a living person.

Depending on your religion, some people believe that a child’s baptism is also an exorcism ceremony. This is because a baptism cleanses a baby of all the spirits that penetrate the child after it is born. In Catholicism, only specially-trained individuals are allowed to perform baptism rites.

Zachary John is an astral scholar who has blogged extensively about occultism and demonic possession. John also enjoys examining historical instances of exorcism.