RELIGIOUS DEMONOLOGY Q&A
Q: What makes you qualified to write on demonology?
A: I have a degree in environmental science and an advanced degree in psychology. I've worked for over five years as a therapist and done hundreds of psychological evaluations, many of them for forensic purposes. I've taught psychology at Penn State University and Gettysburg College.
My work in demonology is almost entirely within the Catholic Church. My functions include psychological evaluations to help determine if cases are mundane or demonic, assisting at exorcisms, house blessings, performing deliverance prayers, counseling victims and family members, investigating claims of paranormal activity, and speaking to the public about the dangers of demonology.
I am on a committee that put on a conference for clergy and laity involved in spiritual warfare in August of 2007 (see "For Clergy").
I am an auxiliary member of the International Association of Exorcists. My understanding has been examined by experienced members of the association.
Please remember that the information I am providing comes from a considerable body of direct experience. I feel most comfortable speaking on issues where I have experienced the Bibles teaching manifested in real life.
My purpose in putting qualifications to write on demonology here is not to impress or bring attention to myself, but to encourage you to take this site seriously.
Q: What is a demonologist?
A: The term demonology is very vague; it simply means the study of demons. The popular term, demonologist, is simply a person who studies demons. This study of demons is only a small part of what we do, but since it is a popular term please allow me to amend its definition for these questions and answers. I'll define demonologist here as: 'a person who studies and actively opposes demons and their activity'.
Functionally a demonologist evaluates people or places that have become entangled with the demonic, and in some cases assist clergy at religious intervention against the demons. In certain cases they may perform the spiritual work to expel a demon from a location or stop an infestation.
Q: What is a Religious Demonologist?
A: The title of Religious Demonologist is given by the Catholic Church to specific individuals who complete a dissertation on the topic. I am NOT a religious demonologist as I have not yet gotten this degree.
Q: What is a demon?
A: A demon is a fallen Angel that rebelled against God along with Satan, refusing to be humble before, and serve, God. Their primary sin is pride.
A demon is an immortal supernatural entity that hates human beings with a complete and merciless passion. Their only goal for humans is to deceive and corrupt them into turning away from good so that a person dies in a bad state and becomes their eternal slave and victim.
Demons deceive by their nature and their first deception is to convince you that there is no such thing as fallen angels. They wish you to doubt this because believing in fallen angels leads to thoughts about angels and God, which they don't want you to believe in.
Q: Do you do exorcisms?
A: No, never.
I assist at exorcisms, which usually means I hold the possessed person and respond to the prayers in the ritual.
A formal exorcism can only be performed by a Priest under instruction of their Bishop. Laity should never, ever, attempt to perform an exorcism. You will not only fail but you will be putting yourself and everyone in the room in grave danger.
Deliverance prayers, or praying to God to free a person, can technically be done by any baptized Christian. It is not advisable to use deliverance prayers against the demonic unless you are part of a properly formed and trained team being led by experienced clergy.
Q: If I say a
demon's name it will attack me / possess me, right?
The Book of Revelation is very clear that after the war in heaven Satan and the errant angels were cast down to Earth to roam here and tempt mankind until the final judgment. It seems to be a common assumption or misunderstanding that demons are locked in hell, they are not.
Q: Demons can possess anyone, anytime, right?
A: Almost certainly wrong.
Demons can scare us and influence our feelings, and sometimes thoughts, for a short time. Possession requires us to explicitly give permission. It is also very important to remember that demons don't move an inch without permission from God, they are not running free. [Addendum: what I mean is that the activity of demons is limited by God, not that he makes them try to destroy humanity. He allows them to go only so far, but not further.]
Q: What about 'X' religion and demons?
A: I can't really know the answer to that.
I take a Catholic perspective and my experience is with using Catholic prayers, symbols, sacramentals, and rituals against demons. Therefore I cannot ethically speak to whether other religious perspectives work or don't, because I have not witnessed them. I can say that I would not presume God's mercy would necessarily be withheld from those acting in good faith to help another person, no matter the religion they practice.
Q: If my faith is strong I'm safe around demons, right?
A: Very likely wrong.
Faith is not enough to make you safe and effective in confronting demons. There are specific gifts of God's grace moving through a demonologist that protects them from being driven mad or injured. Other grace comes from God and through the demonologist that drives the enemy back or causes them discomfort. Only people called by God to have direct interactions with evil are equipped with these gifts of protection and efficacy, faith does not make God give these special gifts.
Q: How do I become a demonologist?
A: Why would you want to?
Think about what you are expressing a desire to do. Many people in the paranormal community, and in the public, seem to think demonology is "cool" or "exciting" or will make them famous. These reasons fade very quickly for those unlucky enough to actually meet a demon. We get phone calls on a monthly or weekly basis from people, and it's usually the same: "I thought they were not real." or "I thought my personal power or strength would protect me." or "My friend told me to do X and they would be driven away." followed by "how do I get this out of my house?" or "how do I stop these attacks on my family?" or "my life is being ripped apart!" If the people weather their first entanglement with the enemy they usually stay away from that point on.
Being a demonologist is a spiritual calling that requires you to live part of your life in a kind of nightmare environment that often follows you home and attacks you personally. It is not fun or cool, at all. We do this because we have to, it's a calling that we answer because it's a moral imperative to do so. We don't choose to be demonologists.
There is no way for you to become a demonologist, God makes you a demonologist.
Please read the essay to the right for more on this question.
Q: What are some common tricks of the demonic?
A: The perspective of the religious demonologists sometime seems conservative or simplistic. This is true to an extent, but the reader must understand that this comes from experience. Here are some of the tricks of the enemy and the conservative stances that result from them.
Appearing to be a helpful or needy spirit / ghost / phenomenon / guide.
The enemy almost never appears in their true form, they lie and deceive constantly. We know from experience that many cases of demonic oppression and possession start with a "harmless" or "helpful" spirit haunting or interaction.
They sometimes start with communications with what seems to be a dearly departed relative or helpful spirit guide, or a pitiful soul that needs your help. If the demons showed up and looked horrible and menacing you would run the other way and right into a Church. They reel you in slowly by offering knowledge, playing on your pity, giving comfort or power. Only when they have a sufficient hold will their true intent (to take you away from God and destroy you) become clear.
This leads demonologists to distrusting "harmless" haunting and spirit communication with "positive" entities.
Convincing you that they will give you life / health / power / money / fame / sex / etc.
The enemy often takes advantage of weakness or misfortune: they come when you are sick, bankrupt, depressed, or swollen with pride. They offer to fix your problems or elevate you above others. The trick comes later: when you are at your peak they tear it all down so that you suffer the most intensely. The enemy can lift you up, but only so that your fall is harder.
This leads demonologists, or those that understand this, to eschew fame, undue attention or power.
Tricking you into letting a "spirit" enter your body.
The enemy has many tricks for convincing you to let a spirit into your body. Using your body as a tool to "free" or "remove" a spirit or demon from a haunted location is a bad idea.
There is always an act of free will involved in letting a demon enter your body; you just might be unaware that it is a demon. Your permission might be given in response to a deception, but the door is opened nonetheless. You should never assume that you can get something out once you let it in. If someone advises you to channel spirits, use your body to transport a spirit, or use your body to remove a spirit from a location you need to say no. We have seen and read many cases of possession that started in these ways.
This leads demonologists to be stubbornly against any form of admission of any spirit into the body.
Q: How is free will granted for full possession to take place?
A: A person makes a clear choice to say yes, verbally or in their mind, to the demons explicit request to fully possess them, knowing full well what they are giving themselves over to. It is often in exchange for something, like money, sex, power, fame, etc.
Q: Is there any accuracy to phenomenon displayed in the movie 'The Exorcist'?
A: Yes, to an extent. Everything in the movie, except the head turning completely around, has occurred at some time in the history of exorcisms. The movies are often an exaggerated combination of most the disparate things in the history of exorcism all put into one case or situation.
Q: Can demon possession really do the horrible things to the human body I see in movies?
A: Certainly, though the damage / wounds usually disappear when the person is freed.
Q: Is a person asking for trouble when they tinker with an Ouija board?
A: Yes, in the sense that if the demonic world deems them useful they will use their ignorance of how things work to trick them into relying on "spirits" and "guides" until they are obeying their commands consistently. Often a person tries to cut off the communication / obedience at some point and then the "guide" suddenly turns ugly and punishes them, showing their true colors.
Using spirit communication devices such as a Ouija board involves giving permission for an unknown spiritual entity to partly possess your body (by inviting them to use your arm and hand). Once they are in that far why would you assume they will leave peacefully?
Please read the essay to the right on spirit communication for more on this question.
Q: What are the requirements for working against demons?
A: There are a number of requirements for working in demonology. Without all of these you are putting yourself, your loved ones and your co-investigators in grave danger.
First and foremost, the religious demonologist must be called to the work by God, not by their own choice. If you want to be a demonologist, that is a problem. No rational person wants to interact with pure evil and put their sanity, their physical life, and their soul at risk when they don't have to. People in the work are called into the work and guided to people and situations that train them. God is in charge from the beginning to the end. If you are meddling because you want to be cool, you want to be thrilled, or you are going to defeat evil, you will either be corrupted by evil, driven insane, or dead soon enough.
Everyone functioning along with a demonologist must also be called to do so. There can be no bystanders or curious onlookers; they are open to being attacked and their presence is a major weakness that will be used against those present.
You must have special supernatural protection and intervention from God in order to survive, remain sane, and be effective in religious demonology. It is not the human person or the priest who drives a demon from a person's home or body. It is not the human will that makes a demon stop throwing objects around the room or causing horrible thoughts and pains in the people there. There is no personal power or authority in humans: all intervention, protection, and authority come from God on a moment-by-moment basis.
You might be free from sin and close to God one moment and be covered in sin and vulnerable the next. If you meddle with demonic forces without the special protection that comes from a calling from God, and without living in a way pleasing to God, you will know it from the outcomes of your interactions with the demonic. If you see yourself depressed, isolated, suicidal, homicidal, obsessed with demons, thinking you are powerful or in control of demons, or working for evil, there is a problem.
You must be under legitimate Church guidance and authority. Along with a legitimate calling from God naturally come the contacts, friends, and guidance from people with decades of experience in the work. It should come as no surprise that you cannot learn how to function as a religious demonologist from any book or web site. Doing so and thinking you have any real knowledge or understanding is folly.
You must understand what it means to give your life to God and surrender your physical life to the will of God. Without giving up your life to God's will, not your will, you will feel fear and intimidation in situations where you might die. This cannot happen as death is a real possibility in this work and that reality cannot be used against you to intimidate you or control you. If you are afraid to die in God's service, the demons will know -- and you will be crushed by your fear.
You should be of a mature age. It is unhealthy for a developing mind and soul to interact with the demonic realm. Once you cross the line into knowing the reality of demons you will go through a psychological and spiritual crisis where you must come to terms with your new reality. This can be very challenging for any adult; the young forming mind is generally not equipped to handle this successfully. Better to live a normal happy life when young and leave this topic for later in life.
The work must be done as an act of charity. You cannot mix any selfish motives into the work: fame, bragging rights, monetary compensation, social power, or other benefits. This must be work for good, for God, not for you in any sense. To do this for selfish reasons puts you in an arena with a supernatural force way beyond your comprehension with little or no protection.
Q: Should I trust information from "the dead"?
A: The Bible clearly forbids talking to the dead (necromancy). Why is this? It is very dangerous to attempt communicating with the dead because you have NO IDEA who or what you are communicating with.
Many people will say that they get information that convinces them that they are communicating with a dead relative, or a helping Angel, or some other entity that is "good". It is important to remember that demons can sometimes know personal things about you because they watch certain people during some of their lifetime. They can also mimic people very well, sounding just like whomever you want to hear from.
In his book, "Interview with an Exorcist", Father Fortea explains that the dead only appear in one way to living humans: as a mute apparition that is asking for prayers. They don't seem to have permission to talk to the living but they do appear and look at us in order to draw attention to the fact that they are not yet with God.
It is very tempting to believe people have special powers to hear from the dead, or that some technique or technology like EVPs or others can do this. Generally this is a trick of the enemy to draw people into dependence on such methods to guide their life, as opposed to turning to God in prayer. It is an encouragement to rely on the occult as opposed to trusting in God's care, which is exactly what demons are all about.
I don't mean offense to people that believe these things are legitimate; I don't mean this as a personal attack on people that engage in necromancy or the occult.
Q: Can you tell me where the Bible says I shouldn't consult the dead?
A: Sure, here are some references. I understand that these references are more related to mediums than EVP's but the general message seems clear to me. I would prefer to not argue about the interpretation of these verses, I'm providing them because they were asked for. I am not providing these because I judge other faiths or expect any non-Christian to believe the Bible.
Deuteronomy 18:10: Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.
Isaiah 8:19: When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?
Leviticus 19:31: 'Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.
Leviticus 20:6: 'I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them, and I will cut him off from his people.
If you are Christian that engages in mediumship, psychic readings, necromancy, etc. you need to seriously ask yourself why you are exempt from God's clear commandments in the Bible. What makes you superior to, or exempt from God's word?
If you dismiss these references because they are from the Old Testament and therefore "don't count" then reflect on the following. In the New Testament Jesus states that he will be our judge after death but Moses will be our accusor and will accuse us based on God's law that he wrote down.
If you are a Catholic and feel justified in engaging in witchcraft, divination, necromancy, etc. then reflect on the fact that what you are doing goes against the words of Jesus, the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. What makes you exempt from every level of Catholic teaching on this topic?
Q: Should I trust information from demons?
A: No, basically never. Demons almost always lie, telling partial truths only when it fits their manipulative agenda. They only tell the full truth under duress, which I will not explain here. Information from demons almost always is designed to make you feel helpless, scared, and powerless. This is part of their plan because if you kept the truth in mind (that they are powerless before Jesus and God) they wouldn't be able to control you so easily.
Q: Can demons be redeemed and go back to God?
A: No, they cannot. This is because they made a free will choice very different than a human free will choice: their choice to turn away from God was made with 100% foresight and knowledge of the consequences. We are not capable of being totally aware of the truth and consequences of our actions, which is partly why there is always mercy for us from Jesus. There is no mercy or redemption for the devil and the demons because they knew exactly what they were committing to.
Q: I can use my psychic sensitivity to find out if demons are present, and their names, right?
A: Almost certainly wrong. Discernment is the word used to describe a spiritual gift from God that allows a person to detect the presence of demons. It is my opinion that discernment, as well as all gifts from God, is active on an "as needed" basis only. Psychic sensitivity seems to be connected with feeling the presence of human spirit, or of detecting a person's feelings or intent. Generally the people that have psychic sensitivity do not have discernment. This is seen most often in the trend of psychics claiming demons don't exist because they don't feel their presence. People with psychic sensitivity are generally used to it "working" all the time and being able to know what is "going on" in an area. This sometimes leads to a kind of arrogance that if they don't detect it then it's not there and no threat to them. This creates a situation where they are very vulnerable to being manipulated by demons. They exist and communicate in the spirit all the time; they can easily communicate any illusion or miss-information to a psychic sensitive without being detected for what they really are. The classic example of this is feeding a false name to a psychic, convincing them that they "got" the demons name. This is to encourage people to confront or try to expel the demon with this false name, thereby overstepping their bounds. Demons never, ever, give their real name unless under spiritual duress.
Q: You say that God restricts demons activity, yet they are deadly. How can this be?
A: If a person exercises their free will to knowingly confront or try to control a demon without a calling from God, and in God's name, they bear the consequences of that choice.
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