Defining Demon and Spirit Possession as Ghost Possession
Tinseltown has embellished the religious notion, through use of movies, that demons can possess the human body. This along with ghost hunting TV shows has led some paranormal investigators to believe they can exorcise demons from homes and people. They often add a team member labeled as a "demonologist" to battle evil, unseen forces should they be encountered. But, just because mental issues are encountered or a real, nasty paranormal attack occurs does not mean that a demon is behind it. The use of superstitious or religious teachings (fear-based exorcisms) may only temporarily halt negative ghost behavior because the haunting, and for purposes of this article, a spirit possession, mislabeled and misdiagnosed. When frightening, paranormal activity happens, people tend first to believe what they have been taught: that spirit possession is demonic in nature. And, this usually leads to an excercise of someone attempting to dispel the possessing spirit with Holy Water, Bible verses and name-calling (e.g. Get out, you foul, evil devil!) - reenacting a Hollywood scene straight out of the movie, The Exorcist.
Demons Versus Ghosts: Mis-identification
We have noticed that what some are calling “demons” are the same as what other people are calling "shadow ghosts" (dark shadows that move). Shadow ghosts are earthbound people who have not progressed beyond this Earth, having chosen to remain behind with humanity. If a ghost does not undergo a cleansing review of their life and reunite with loved ones who await in spirit (light), then he or she will continue to carry around emotional baggage earned from the time spent on Earth while in body. The darkness these ghosts have as a countenance, meaning their black appearance, does not necessarily mean the spirit is a "bad egg" with ill intentiuons; for darkness (as mentioned in the Bible - not to sound religious) is indicative of a lack of understanding, ignorance, being lost, and of course, negativity. This does not make disembodied people, who look menacing, evil demons who work for a devil. We can find many a scary looking person around the globe who are very nice, good-hearted souls. In other words, appearances can be deceiving.
Ghosts: Dark Spirits Who "Attach" or "Possess"
Some "dark" spirits can be very negative and troublesome, however, but so can people who live in our world and have bodies. One need only read the local news for a recount of daily troubles. From the accounts we have uncovered, we tend to think that some ghosts (people in spirit) have learned that they can co-inhabit another person’s body or at least influence their behavior in some fashion. This is commonly referred to as "spirit possession" but should be better termed as “ghost possession.” If it makes you feel better, some investigators of the paranormal call it "attachment." No matter what you label this phenomenon, it is not "demon possession" as some might have you to believe. Think about it as being "unseen influences" from others who are with us. When you went to school, you were surrounded by classmates and had many teachers, perhaps. Each one of them had the ability to impact your life, your perspective, in some way. The idea of spirit influence is not dissimilar in concept.
Why or How Does Ghost Possession Happen?
Ghosts have been found to possess people for many reasons:
- by accident
- to assist the one whom they have possessed
- to continue experiencing physical life
- to experience former physical addictions (See hypnagogia and incubus, succubus ghosts.)
- due to strong attachment to earthly possessions or loved ones
- from trauma – not even understanding they have died (because they are, in fact, still alive)
- to menace or harm another person for revenge or just “the fun of it.”
"…we must consider that the bindings between people and ghosts might be strong, and that the exorcised ghosts may come back and possess these people again. The patient must work at not letting the ghost back in. Emotional bindings between people and ghosts are like rubber bands that draw the ghost back into the patient's body. Those emotional currents must be removed by the patient. That's why, in some cases, the patient also requires my psychotherapy. Hell exists only in their minds -- there is no such place in the non-material world - but the mind makes it true for them. That kind of psychotherapy takes some time, and is rarely easy, as some ghosts are completely unaware of their situation -- especially when they died under tragic or traumatic circumstances. During my thirty years practice, I've not encountered such entities. Instead, I've discovered that the attributes describing demons or the devil derive from ghosts in the human body."
- Wanda Pratnicka , author of Possessed by Ghosts: Exorcisms in the 21 Century
Wanda’s experiences parallel what the Bible claims Jesus taught about demons (unclean spirits) leaving a person’s body, and then, returning at a later time:
“When an unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walks through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he comes back, he finds it empty, swept, and garnished. Then he goes, and takes with himself seven other spirits more bad natured than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last [state] of that man is worse than the first...” - Matthew 12:43-45
Helping Unclean Spirits
What does this mean? Ghosts are people in spirit - unclean spirits who need assistance to move past the temporary prison that their mind has produced. This type of assistance would be similar to what a psychologist might do to help a person throught traditional means: counseling. We read in 1 Peter 3:19 that Jesus “preached to the spirits in prison.” If these "people in spirit" (unclean spirits) had been condemned to an eternal hell, Jesus would not have inclined to help them. We, too, should help "unclean spirits" by letting them know they should:
1) not be afraid to move on with their lives - for better things await them
2) understand that their bodies have died, though they are still alive in the present time
3) not fear eternal punishment (in hell), for it does not exist
4) reunite with loved ones who await them by turning toward the light to experiencing freedom, true peace, joy, and most importantly, love
Loved ones, enlightened spirits, await these lost people, attempt to reach them, and at times, may need our help assisting the ghost. Similar in idea, in the movie, The Matrix, people were able to remain behind and oversee others who went into a virtual world; these "watchers" aided and guided them back out of that world unto reality.
Helping Ghosts is about moving the ghost, who is a person, into the present moment, while leaving behind troubles from the past. Maybe it takes assistance from both planes to help some of the departed make it home to the afterworld.
Curing Ghost or "Spirit Possession"
Working with spirit possession- ghost attachment - is not our expertise, but there are others who do specialize in this field of work. Dr. Edith Fiore, a noted psychologist and author of the book, The Unquiet Dead, has worked with patients for twenty years whom she at first thought had multiple personalities or even past lives. She soon discovered there were more than one person or spirit inhabiting the body of some of her patients. Edith learned to explain to the possessing spirit that he or she needed to leave the patient's body and that loved ones were awaiting with the promise of joy and peace. The ghost possessing the body of another would learn through her counseling that their life journey could continue if they headed unto the light with family or friends. She never encountered a demon in twenty years of work and is a highly regarded author and authority on ghost possession.
Jesus, the Bible and Possession
Perhaps two accounts of Jesus in the Bible give us important keys to understanding the spirit world. Jesus stated to Nathanael, “You shall see angels ascending and descending upon the son of man,” and we are told that James, Peter and John witnessed Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah from the other side. Perhaps, Jesus was showing us that the angels ascending and descending represented two-way communication between spirit and the physical worlds taking place, and that the pulling back of the veil (so to speak) revealed Moses and Elijah or disembodied spirits in the light (spirit world) speak to us. We wonder if Jesus’ true mission was to free earth-bound spirits and assist them in moving on with their lives. Maybe the advice he gave was not only for us who are alive and in-body but also for those who have passed but need assistance. This thought aligns nicely with certain sects of Judaism who understand spirit attachment, often aiding the attached ghosts move on through a ritual of exorcism that helps both the ghost as well as the person who is suffering the attachment (See How to Get Rid of Ghosts and Judiasm & Ghosts).
Think about Jesus in the Bible casting out unclean spirits and imagine what happened, if true. We read that witnesses saw the physical manifestations of the real ministry Jesus was doing in the unseen realm. We cannot help but wonder if he was freeing the unseen captives in spirit while freeing people bound by them in the physical world. We read that he demonstrated power when he spoke with the possessing spirits, directing them to leave the person who was possessed. Upon removal of the ghost (or ghosts) that was co-inhabiting another’s body, the rightful owner of the body would be instantly transformed – freed from whatever physical and mental abnormalities were present prior to the exorcism. This agrees with what Dr. Edith Fiore also found to be true.
I believe our understanding of possession has to come into the light of this truth. People want to continue to chase "demons" because they are unable to wrap their minds around the idea of ghosts possessing or, at least, attaching to human beings. Some religion can create greater damage if it promotes fear and falsehoods to people. Paranormal investigators and so-called "demonologists" need to cease from chasing ghosts for fun and fame and begin to seek to understand how to help those bound on the either side of the grave.