Chapter 1

Exorcism and Deliverance

Exorcism entails the ejection of an undesirable psychic entity from a person or a locality, whereas deliverance is concerned more with the handing over of the entity to God's care. In practice the two actions merge, but in principle there is a world of difference between "casting out a demonic spirit" into the outer realms where there is "wailing and grinding of teeth", to quote a favourite analogy in Matthew's Gospel, and bringing such a spirit into the loving influence of God's compassion and caring. The first way leaves the vicious entity in a state of fury (and fear) where it can still remain a considerable menace to unprotected humans (and other forms of life also), whereas the second way leaves all final judgements to the Creator alone. In the end I cannot believe that God has created any total failures, even if in the short term our world is a morass of suffering and cruelty. The question is: how are we to respond to the various forms of existence that we meet? Some are living forms that we can immediately recognize, but others are intangible except to inner senses that most of us have never been taught to accept, except in terms of distrust.

At this point certain definitions are worth citing:

Occulthidden from physical and intellectual sight.
Psychicshown by its emotional and disruptive content despite its occult character.
Demonicof occult character but decidedly evil intent.
Spiritual beingshidden from our personal view but shown by their effect on our way of life with special reference to the soul as acted on by God.
Charismatica word frequently misused, but properly meaning an absolute openness to the Holy Spirit without our getting in the way.
Clairvoyancefaculty of seeing mentally what is happening or exists out of sight.
Magicthe employment of psychic powers for purely selfish motives.

A demonic spirit is always evil, but the degree of harm it produces is connected to whether it is merely misplaced, or whether it has rejected its faith for personal reasons.

A discarnate human spirit is disposed in a self-centred way after that person's death. A demonic spirit is evil when its intentions are destructive, leading to hatred and vicious intentions in the victims. If merely misplaced, it shows signs of bewilderment that may produce a leap of discernment in is victim. It rarely produces an atmosphere of evil, but there may be severe confusion.

It is on this level that we may begin to grasp the deeper meaning of reality. So St Paul write's in 2 Corinthians 4.16-5.4:

No wonder we do not lose heart! Though our outward humanity is in decay, yet day by day we are inwardly renewed. Our troubles are slight and short-lived, and their outcome is an eternal glory which far outweighs them, provided our eyes are fixed, not on the things that are seen, but on the things that are unseen; for what is seen is transient, what is unseen is eternal. We know that if the earthly frame that houses us today is demolished, we possess a building which God has provided - a house not made by human hands, eternal and in heaven. In the present body we groan, yearning to be covered by our heavenly habitation put on over this one, in the hope that, being thus clothed, we shall not find ourselves naked. We groan indeed, we who are enclosed within this earthly frame; we are oppressed because we do not want to have the old body stripped off. What we want is to be covered by the new body put on over it, so that our mortality may be absorbed into life immortal.

It seems that the deeper experience of evil, so strong as to threaten our very existence, is closely related to the emanation that proceeds from another person or their habitation. Superficially these people may seem very pleasant, yet there is something about them that occasions a feeling of unease within us. We are intuitively aware that all is not right within them, and we cringe from their proffered friendship to retire into our own solitude (and safety), where we may encounter the Divine Presence in a state of complete confidence. The person themself is not necessarily evil, but is rather the plaything of demonic sources that spread unhappiness through them among all those people whom they may know, at least for a variable period of time. In a community of people such "infested" individuals can be easily discerned by those who are psychically sensitive, but we are all well advised to beware of criticizing others until we ourselves are clear of problems. We are warned in the course of the Sermon on the Mount to desist from judging others until we ourselves are less personally impure.

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. For as you judge others, so you will yourselves be judged, and whatever measure you deal out to others will be dealt to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye, with never a thought for the plank in your own? How can you say to your brother, "Let me take the speck out of your eye," when all the time there is a plank in your own? You hypocrite! First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's. (Matthew 7.1-5)

Psychic attentiveness is a special grace, a gift from God to apparently exceptional people, but I believe that it is present to a greater or lesser extent in the awareness of all people provided their eyes are fixed on "unseen things", to quote 2 Corinthians 4.18 once more. This grace is maligned especially by those individuals who are ignorant, prejudiced and intolerant, to say nothing of those who, apparently unaware of it in themselves, seek to disprove its existence or beneficence in those who seem to be uncannily gifted in predicting future events that later indeed prove to be true. We are most likely to have use of this "occult" grace when we sit in self giving quietness before God, whether in devout, silent prayer or in active, attentive concern for a fellow creature who is troubled and desperately needs our help.

The gift is indeed a grace from God, but we have to play our own part if it is to show itself to its greatest value. This means divesting ourselves of all desires of self gratification, so that we can neither claim a special benefit from the work nor bask in reflected glory: "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the first and love the second, or he will be devoted to the first and despise the second. You cannot serve God and money (or mammon, the god of money)" (Matthew 6.24). A felicitous working arrangement between the things of this world and eternity itself is the object of the world's desire. Mammon is a very powerful psychic entity that flows out to us in the form of a personal desire for possessions and money. These, though not to be discarded in the world of matter in which we lead our earthly lives, are of use only in transient things that feed the body. When they impinge on the soul, which is the seat of our value judgements, they have a subtle corrupting influence, and soon they wear down the beauty of the personality. Thus Jesus warns us, "Do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Fear him rather who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell" (Matthew 10.28).

Here we approach the evil influence of the psychic dimension: it corrupts by enticing us to yield to the lesser - the world of matter and pleasure - instead of aspiring to the greater - the knowledge of God which passes all human understanding. It does this by leading us away from the life of material limitation, whose end is necessarily transient and encompassed in bodily death with little apparent hope of any survival of the personality beyond a form that seems completely enclosed in the desires of the flesh, blood and bone. But there is also a more attractive psychic world that carries us forward from the purely physical aspects of our personality, so that we may catch a glimpse of something of a life ahead of us. This view of reality is derided by the materialist as pure delusion, while denounced by the "religious" type of person as dangerous trafficking in dubious spirits whose testimony is not to be trusted.

The knowledge of God is indeed derived from the psychic realm, but it claims no material value for itself. On the contrary, it leads us from all personal objectives in order to play our part in the glorification of the world under the aegis of God. Therefore the psychic realm can be one of selfish delusion or altruistic endeavour on behalf of all creatures in their upward trail to the presence of God within themselves. This is what Colossians 1.27 describes as "Christ in you, the hope of glory". This is the blue light of transparent character that shows itself when we are close to the Divine Presence in deep, prayerful meditation. This is nothing that we can conjure up by our own imagination and will. On the contrary, when we are still and in self giving attention to the Divine Presence we are most able to move beyond our customary self-centred consciousness, and then our inner awareness is cleansed of trivial desire.

Self-centred desire is the real basis of psychic illusion, in which our own desires, lusts and avarice take on the misleading character of divine inspiration. This, of course, is the way in which the demonic agents assume the character of forces of light. But their light does not possess the consistent, penetrating quality of spiritual light, which is the psychic way in which we can identify the divine origin of the light. I am always reminded of a favourite biblical quotation, "God is love; he who dwells in love is dwelling in God, and God in him" (1 John 4.16). If the psychic light of spiritual emanation is clear and blue, the psychic light of garish, personal desire is above all else a glaring, whitish colour, but it lacks the delicacy of spiritual illumination. It scintillates but it does not enlighten.

We are most open to the divine grace - and therefore aware of the wiles of the demonic entities that inhabit the lower reaches of the psychic realm - when our minds are free from personal vice and most open to a charitable influx from the world around us. The seven deadly sins - which at least to some extent are opposites of that harvest of the Holy Spirit enumerated in Galatians 5.22-3 - are pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth. These have to be confronted with honesty and courage. If we try to slip out of our moral responsibility by evading our psychic darkness and looking to others for our guidance and help, we find that we sink into a state of moral impotence in which we fall victim to the forces of destruction in the world, and become increasingly incapable of making any decisions of our own.

When we accept the existence of points of darkness within ourself, we can respond positively to God's grace by opening ourselves to it and letting it play upon our areas of spiritual and psychic weakness. Once we become open to the strife within ourself, we can begin to pray earnestly and effectually in a state of liberation and detached loving concern for all the world's creatures which we all know in our own native incarnational experience. This includes both personal relations and the wider world around us. Our time on earth provides invaluable insight into how we move in the intricate maze of our relationships with other people, and through them with other forms of life (especially animal) that in the usual course of events we would scarcely notice at all. This sheds light on our natural tendency to remain oblivious of the needs of our fellow creatures until we are forced to share in the experience common to all humans. The parable of the prodigal son (Luke 10.29-37) emphasizes this on the level of personal experience. Only thus do we know what it feels like to be out in the cold.

The manifest failure of a Christian healing ministry at least on a personal level, is described in 2 Corinthians 12.1-10. About fourteen years after St Paul had had a very momentous experience of divine revelation, he was given a "thorn in the flesh", which he identified with a messenger from Satan sent to buffet him, to prevent him from becoming unduly elated. On three occasions he prayed fervently to be rid of this problem, but the answer he received was: "My grace is all you need; power is most fully seen in weakness." Paul was therefore happy to boast of his weaknesses, because then the power of Christ would rest on him. So he was content with a life of weakness, insult, hardship, persecution and distress, all for Christ's sake. He made the final dogmatic declaration: "for when I am weak, then I am strong." The nature of Paul's "thorn in the flesh" remains unknown; it was most likely a medical condition of spasmodic attacks that embarrassed the great apostle to the Gentiles. But one thing is certain to me: all our fullness of being depends on the presence and love of Christ in our lives. "On him the whole body depends. Bonded and held together by every constituent joint, the whole frame grows through the proper functioning of each part, and builds itself up in love" (Ephesians 4.16). It is this constant, compact and indissoluble union of all creation - whether in the body, the mind or the soul - that is effected by psychic interdependence. And yet, having made this categorical statement, I find that it has at once to be modified by the Spirit of God who can indeed break up all allegedly indissoluble states of union. This is the basis of true deliverance or exorcism: it is performed under the aegis of God, whose authority transcends any purely psychic power without in any way denying that power. God is both the Creator and the Master of the physical universe, the mental world and the psychic sphere.

We, as ignorant humans, automatically take charge of one aspect of our great world, and in so doing bring it down to our diminutive size. In this way we can deify even ourselves and our treasured possessions. When we are confronted by "natural disasters" - floods, hurricanes, droughts and famines, such as were encountered repeatedly in the history of the Bible - we come rapidly to the conclusion that mankind acting on its own is little more than a broken reed. It is then that an almost automatic response to the unknown God breaks forth from the lips of a previously urbane, agnostic population. Such is the great variation in the attitude of unthinking humans; brusque arrogance moving rapidly to humble prayer before the Unknown God whom it hopes is still there. Those who are psychically aware are less agnostic about the personal power of the agents of good and evil. These agents have been known for generations as "angels", which are messengers from on high, even if the message they transmit is not always pleasant or even holy. They are nevertheless the intermediaries between God and the more material creation.

It is evident that not all spiritual beings or entities, working from the psychic realm, are beneficial. Some, by their spiritual attentiveness and inner beauty, lead us closely to the Divine Presence. It is essentially those who divert our attention from the great spiritual quest whose end is the discovery and service of God - and lead us to seek instead for security, the approval of other people, and worldly rewards at the end of the day - that are pernicious, even demonic in origin. In the end, as we have already said, nobody can serve two masters.

Chapter 2
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