Chapter 5

The Principles of Demonic Infestation

Demonic attack plays a significant part in the Bible. A particularly well-known reference is encountered in the Compline exhortation, "Be on the alert! Wake up! Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, prowls around looking for someone to devour. Stand up to him, firm in your faith." The passage goes on to remind us that our fellow Christians in this world are going through the same kinds of suffering (1 Peter 5.8-9). The devil and his entourage, the demonic spirits, would appear to be figments of imagination and mere superstition to contemporary thought inasmuch as unusual phenomena can more plausibly be explained by natural causes, so much so that it is always right to seek a rational explanation for any unusual occurrence even if remotely feasible. But there are occasions when there is such a concatenation of bizarre phenomena that the person or the premises attacked appear to be under the influence of evil spirits far beyond the explanation of anything in the vicinity. It is easy enough to shrug off the matter with amused indifference if one is not personally involved, but those closer at hand cannot afford to assume such comfortable detachment. Finally they will be advised to seek the help of an exorcist, or minister of deliverance; the two essential requirements for such a person are keen psychic and personal sensitivity and the authority to expel noxious influences. These influences should be sent to God's caring love and not just out of sight or, worse still, to the outer darkness where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth, a metaphor for eternal damnation especially favoured by Matthew (see 8.12; 13.42, 50; 22.13; 24.51; 25.30).

In fact, all created things, pleasant and unpleasant alike, are subject to the divine creative will. In the words of the Nicene Creed, "I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible" (or "of all that is, seen and unseen" in the contemporary liturgy). It follows that the darkness of creation is as much God's work as what we describe as the light. The truth is that much so-called light is judged as such by the immediately comforting effects it has on human contentment; the later spiritual influences may be distinctly less impressive.

Thinking along these lines, it often strikes one how even ferocious animals and poisonous snakes have an important role to play in modifying our ecological environment. This they do by destroying such living creatures as feed on their environment without any restraint, and left to their own devices would rapidly procreate without any restraint until the world was overcrowded and widespread famine the inevitable outcome. Humans, with their vastly superior mental equipment, can restrain their procreative activity in accordance with their intelligence and religious allegiance. Such intellectual checks and balances are not to be found amongst our humbler animal brethren, and they therefore are liable to starve in times of famine. Of course, humans can also suffer likewise during periods of widespread famine; a good biblical example is described in 2 Kings 6.24-7.20. The case contrasts sharply with King Solomon's famous judgement where two mothers fought over a dead infant who had probably been overlain by one of them, one mother then subtly removing the living baby from the other while she was asleep. The mother noticed that the dead child in her arms was not hers, and created a commotion about the trick played upon her, and brought the case to the king for a final judgement. He ordered his sword to be brought so that he could cut the child in half. The responsible person remained unmoved by this threat to the infant's life, whereas the real mother was so horrified that she was prepared rather to let her baby go to the other woman than see the child die (1 Kings 3.16-28). Love is indeed the test of truth: "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned" (Song of Songs 8.7), a beautiful quotation from the Authorized Version of the Bible.

Why are some creatures unpleasant, even dangerous, to the majority of their fellow beings? Obviously no one can answer such a question without a thoroughly egoistical bias, yet the struggle for life is the way to mastery, whether the victor is a plant, an animal or a human. We know nothing about the "inner life" of a plant, and only mere glimpses illuminate our imagination about the psychic life of an animal. Some animals, those well domesticated in fact; can apparently make good relationships with humans; the most poignant evidence is the obvious grief many show when their owners die or move away to new homes. The fidelity of guide dogs towards their blind charges is another stirring example. There is no doubt that love brings out the best in all of us, whereas hatred evokes a correspondingly negative response. Remember that hatred may manifest itself as derision, cruelty, injustice or prejudice involving race, sex and lifestyle - to name only a few destructive impulses and hostile responses. When we consider how we respond to an unfriendly approach from a stranger, we are soon aware of an unpleasant emanation proceeding from them. The person is likely to exhibit one or more of the qualities I have already mentioned, and the hatred has a most unpleasant psychic effect that shows itself in the form of severe emotional depletion, which is a type of depression. The offensive person is clearly being "used", and is sometimes called a "channel", for powerful psychic energies coming through them but not originating from them. They are obviously ill-disposed to the victim, but do not know exactly what they are doing. This state of affairs is distinctly different from that of someone who bears a long-standing grudge or even inveterate hatred against another person; here too there are malign psychic energies being emitted, but they are personal in origin rather than demonic.

So what then is the nature of these demonic agencies, seen metaphorically as our adversary, the devil? I personally feel that what we call "evil" is part of the divine creation, almost the divine will, for without the constant challenge to grow in spiritual awareness and stature, by which I mean becoming less self-centred and more dedicated to the welfare of all our fellow creatures (the vegetable and animal groups as well as the human one), the more we would remain stuck in an all too easy complacency. This is the type of heaven conjured up by some religious and spiritualistic groups, as was indicted in the last chapter. I do not simply accept a permissive view of evil - that it is an inevitable part of human nature which we have to accept as best we can - on the contrary, I see that it plays a paradoxical part in the divine economy.

Consider, for instance, Jesus' teaching in Luke 13.1-5, on the surface cold and very disheartening.

At that time some people came and told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. He answered them: "Do you suppose that, because these Galileans suffered this fate, they must have been greater sinners than anyone else in Galilee? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all of you come to the same end. Or the eighteen people who were killed when the tower fell on them at Siloam - do you imagine they must have been more guilty than all the other people living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all come to an end like theirs."

In other words, God visits calamity on his creatures, especially the human with its high intelligence, in order to train them for higher things. If we sincerely repent, we shall no longer be waylaid by a particular vice or bad habit, but instead we will almost inevitably move from the domination of the self-centred ego consciousness that looks for satisfaction above all else to a genuine concern for the welfare of other creatures. The final product of this more profound concern is a warmth of affection that may culminate in love, initially between two people but eventually among many more. Material success tends to separate people as they guard their own personal interests, while a natural or national disaster brings all members of the group close together.

It may be objected that this point of view, though doubtless philosophical, is wretched in terms of the very love I have been expounding, and I would not dispute this, but I do remember that our lives on this planet are a mere parenthesis in eternity. "Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal, but store up treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust will destroy, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6.19-21). The demonic spirits are here to test and train us, though few of us are sufficiently spiritually astute to understand what the battle for our lives on earth really entails. "Now is the hour of judgement for this world; now shall the prince of this world be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth I shall draw everyone to myself" (John 12.31-2). The "prince of this world" is the devil and his army, and their work consists largely in terrifying uncommitted people by inexplicable psychic phenomena so that they are easily seduced into any mode of behaviour that promises rapid relief.

When an atmosphere is demonically infested, the normal thought processes of the obsessed person are radically impaired. Frank demonic possession is extremely rare and is associated with typical signs that we shall later consider. Much more typical is an atmosphere of gloom and foreboding that paralyses the mental and emotional faculties of all but the most stalwart person in the locality. Often the malign influence appears to emanate from a particular individual, and those with a gift of clairvoyance may see a zone, or aura, around them, without having any prior information, yet knowing that they are dealing with a source of evil. The essence of evil is the desire to seduce another person and then to feed parasitically on them. In the end the victim is discarded barely alive or even dead while the predator enjoys their fill. These predatory people seem to possess a "psychic constitution" that especially lays them open to demonic infestation. Furthermore, their way of life brings them into especially close contact with the demonic powers that pervade the universe.

People who boast about their piety and generally faultless lifestyle may be at least as vulnerable to demonic attack, or even demonic infestation, as the more sinful among us who do not make any show of their moral excellence. Good examples of this danger of spiritual pride - which in fact can never be other than an illusion about our deep-rooted sinfulness that is conveniently though only temporarily occluded by a mist of complacent self reliance - are to be found repeatedly in the Old Testament, especially in the prophetic books of Amos and Jeremiah. But it is in the teaching of Jesus that the truth is explicitly spelt out, as in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax-collector (Luke 18.9-14) or in Jesus' severe criticism of those people who exhibit their piety in the fulsome performance of the religious duties of their faith, especially fasting (Matthew 6.2-18). They may evoke the admiration of their peers for a short period of time, but all this show is soon forgotten by the fickle human mind. There is a lasting and completely trustworthy concern for us in our Creator alone; in the Divine Presence we can assimilate the undemanding love which would never allow us to be sacrificed for a selfish ideal, but instead leaves us to grow into the full stature of mature humans.

Therefore the most certain way of assessing an unclean psychic atmosphere is by noting the effect it produces on our temperament, our present mood, and our intolerance to various kinds of people, varying from strangers to our close associates. If an unaccountable hostility towards someone we believe we know quite well suddenly assails us, it could be that we are the victim of an attack by a demonic spirit which has found a very pleasant home in a vulnerable mind.

When an unclean spirit comes out of someone it wanders over the desert sands seeking a resting-place; and if it finds none, it says, "I will go back to the home I left." So it returns and finds the house swept clean and tidy. It goes off and collects seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they all come in and settle there; and in the end that person's plight is worse than before. (Luke 11.24-6)

We can learn much from this well-known parable. First of all, a so-called healing - whether physical, mental or psychical - is never to be taken for granted. It is always a special gift from God, and if it is squandered or even disregarded by not allowing it to effect a change in our lifestyle, not only will its fruits be lost but the promising benefit will be followed a little while later by a prolonged period of lamentation when we compare our present distress with the only recently past time of relief. The recurrent periods of suffering recounted in the Old Testament illustrate this sequence most poignantly.

Jesus performs the glorious work of salvation for all the creation, especially his fellow humans. The end of his work in the world is his betrayal and murder mounted by the collective forces of darkness, also called the demonic powers or demonic spirits. In his case there is, I believe, good reason to believe in an actual personal resurrection on the third day after his death, because a number of people who had known him very well while he was still alive in the flesh saw him closely and even heard him speak to them. To me, the various post resurrection appearances come into the category of clairvoyance and clairaudience. I do not accept solid materializations such as some spiritualists claim, nor do I believe that Jesus' physical body continued to survive in an earthly form. It was, on the contrary, in the psychic realm where it may still be actively at work, refreshing and rendering increasingly holy a very intermediate state of existence where the souls of those in the purgatorial state are being progressively cleansed and educated for the work in front of them. To me, the most convincing proof of Jesus' resurrection was the emotional resurrection of the disciples; who were previously broken with shame and disappointment, and terrified by the fear of sharing their Master's fate. Some life-shattering event must have taken place to have provoked this change of heart and mind, a so-called "metanoia". The subsequent worldwide spread of Christianity would appear to substantiate this probability, especially when we remember the early persecutions continuing well into the fourth century.

The psychic means of communication, whether friendly or demonic, are described as telepathic. Telepathy may be defined as the communication from one mind to another at a distance other than through the known senses. Parapsychology, traditionally known as psychical research, is as we have already noted in chapters 1 and 2 infuriatingly unpredictable; its phenomena appear out of the blue. For instance, a sequence of telepathic messages may arrest the attention of two friends or colleagues, and then for no apparently good reason the sequence shuts down. Emotional rapport is a necessary factor in telepathic communication, but most people have only very poorly developed psychic faculties. The intellectually accomplished type of person, who has great difficulty in accepting the very existence of the paranormal dimension of communication, will know little indeed of the subject because of prior prejudice against anything other than materialistic explanations for all phenomena. Such a person is at a considerable disadvantage in self-knowledge and in accepting the spiritual component of reality. By this I mean the supreme reality that religious people call God, remembering that there is an important distinction between religion and spirituality. Spirituality is the spontaneous recognition of the soul as it responds to the divine grace, whereas religion is a set of rules, doctrines, dogmas and general ways of life that should lead us on the spiritual path whose end is the knowledge of God.

It might nevertheless be argued that psychic insensitivity is a safe option; even if it deadens a person's response to some amazing experiences, even the direct apprehension of God so far as this is available to human consciousness. Certainly psychic sensitivity opens us up to the world of demonic spirits in no uncertain way, but then this is an aspect of our life's experience, comparable in its typically occult way to such mundane misfortunes as being swindled by criminals, falling in with doubtful characters in our worldly life, or being subject to physical misfortunes such as terrorist attacks or more ordinary civilian or military injuries. I am not suggesting that any of these is necessarily a manifestation of demonic activity, though I do believe that God is in charge of his universe and capable of bringing light to instances of individual darkness when there is repentance together with the courage to proceed onward. We also require the faith to trust in the generosity of life provided we are sensible enough to use it wisely, not only for ourselves but for the family also. "Family" starts on a very personal level but must proceed to include all living animals if it is to be real in its entirety. The demonic aspect of reality shows itself in a personal destructiveness whose aim is complete dominance of the creation; it prefers to use and enslave the human victim rather than killing it out-right. The reason for this is that the demonic spirit tends to feed parasitically on its victim, killing it only when it has completed its primarily destructive work. Therefore once again one must avoid colluding in ignorance with demonic spirits, a collusion that commences as an innocent enough dabbling with the occult.

But returning to the point just made; is a psychically insensitive individual more to be envied for his or her relative immunity to psychic attack from afar? In fact such a person is more rather than less vulnerable inasmuch as a sensitive person will have acquired a degree of psychic defence over the years of experience behind them, whereas the psychically ignorant individual, when suddenly and unexpectedly assailed by a demonic spirit, is very liable to suffer severe psychological damage which shows itself in anxiety, insomnia and a tendency to distrust the motives of other people, even those whom were previously well known and highly regarded. The sudden feeling of insecurity also manifests itself in guarding property and money very obsessively. Those with psychological knowledge would have little difficulty in identifying the state I have described as a paranoid reaction, and since few psychiatrists have any knowledge of, or sympathy towards, psychic matters, the condition may remain unrelieved for some time.

The right procedure in such a case is for a minister of deliverance to expel (or exorcize) the demonic spirit from its present abode, but making sure that it has a good home (a place of loving concern) to which to proceed. The matter has already been considered in relation to demonic spirits who return to their previous abode accompanied by more of their kind because they were not moved on elsewhere, which in effect means into the care of God. It is a basic principle that every created object has its place in the scheme of things. Noxious agents, when they have necessarily been annihilated by humans, continue to live on in the divine consciousness similarly to the "useful" orders, for God loves all created things. If this were not the case none of us would survive for even the briefest moment. Every living form, however useless or noxious it may appear to us, has its use in the divine economy. In the instance of disease-producing organisms, not only do they cut down the number of rapidly reproducing living forms but, by their destructive effect, enable those animals who survive (including humans) to grow in strength and complexity. Where there is no challenge there is little growth, for most of us prefer the status quo where we can happily drop off to sleep and depend on someone else for our sustenance. When that "someone else" is God himself, we can lose all sense of personal responsibility such as is the situation of our animal brethren. This explains the special privilege of being a human as well as the pain and suffering associated with that privilege. The essence of that pain and suffering is our exquisite psychic sensitivity. The pain that sensitivity bequeaths on us follows on our mutual membership of the body of humanity, as we noted in chapter 1.

In the hierarchy of relationships between humans and the rest of the world it is no surprise that the most intimate connection is a psychic one, for it joins at the level of the soul. From this soul contact flow emotions both positive and negative as well as thoughts of various intensities. The body is our amazingly sensitive instrument for working in a world of ever-evolving ideas, discoveries and enterprises, which in turn are centred around the love and will of God. It is of note that God's will is freedom for his most brilliant creature, the human, and those who believe that sub-servience to God is the human absolute duty are far from the mark. Thus Jesus says in John 8.32, "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." This freedom is a rupture from the past sinful attitudes and actions, as the passage goes on to explain to the Jews who are indignant that anyone should suggest that they have ever been slaves to any temporal power. But Jesus is speaking about slavery to sin in its manifold forms.

The knowledge of God comes from an enlightened conscience which is illuminated from the Divine Source itself. The light clears the psychic sense, which is comparable in its own right to the eye or the ear and those parts of the brain that receive visual and auditory impressions from these peripheral organs of sensation. Then we know intuitively with a confidence that moves beyond personal judgement with its inevitable traces of prejudice, no matter how far we go to eliminate these from our mind. In fact, this enlightened communication, which is also direct communion, with God is an experience of pure joy; because, as when we receive the elements of the Eucharist, we are given the supreme privilege as an act of pure grace. We do not earn it, nor can we do anything to receive it except by living as charitably and lovingly as possible. This mode of living is furthermore a part of our everyday life and not something assumed for a definite purpose. As we continue along this path of grace, so our psychic faculties are cleansed and we can begin to see more clearly that which is absolutely invisible to most of our peers.

It would appear that we have two basic means of acquiring information about our local and mundane situation. The first and most obvious is our native intelligence which processes the data provided by our sense organs and integrates them into a system of thoughts and ideas. It is this cognitive means of communication that brings our various experiences into a system of communication whereby we can compare different perceptions and conceptions rationally with other people. This "knowing" faculty is the basis of teaching and learning, and its end is the education of a group of people to achieve the work necessary for their survival. This way of communication is a feature of the civilized human mind; therefore being most well developed in humans who have lived in relatively recent eras. By contrast, even the ape family have only a rudimentary intelligence in comparison with their human relatives.

The other mode of getting knowledge about our situation, whether local or mundane, is one that transcends the native intelligence completely. This is the psychic way of knowledge, and is at least as powerful in intellectually indifferent people as in the learned. There is incidentally a subtle difference between the intellect and intelligence. The first has the capacity to grasp truth with an intuitive certainty even though the person themself may be poorly educated. The second is the capacity to learn rapidly by experience; as such it is invaluable in teaching and learning, and is the basis of education. Intelligence requires no recommendation, but the intellect is cultivated by the person's way of life which separates them from the trivia of much everyday activity. It is sad that so much of the intellect has been clouded by a dominant, scientific approach to reality, an approach that is oblivious of any model of truth except the crassly materialistic. And yet, to be fair, this approach is both measurable and repeatable whereas the indefinite psychic intimations of reality can neither be produced at will nor measured. The entire study of paranormal phenomena is frustrating. It is a good general rule that the type of person who boasts of their psychic capacities is seldom accurate in their assessment of those capacities, and often they are unpleasantly egotistical. The true psychic has a spiritual aura around them; humility, not exhibitionism, is the mark of their gift, which in their hands is a true one.

Chapter 6
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