Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cult or Culture?

On my Examiner page I am starting a new series of stories that concern modern religious oddities and cult beliefs as they pop up in the news. Most odd beliefs are either a twist of theology or Cultural norms so I am calling this new series Cult or Culture.

First up, a clegryman from Kent tells his congregation that a wife should shut up and obey her husband. What a great Valentine's Day gift! Of course it went over very well with the female congregants. I myself have encountered a simular attitude by clergy as I served in Upstate New York almost 20 years ago. As I have said here before, it all comes down to context. Is this erroneous belief because of cult beliefs of cultural misunderstanding?

Read the story on my Examiner page here: The Pittsburgh Paranormal Examiner

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Why Don't They Just Leave??!!

Lately it seems there has been a marked increase in violent paranormal activity when it comes to hauntings.

I have encountered it as well as associates and colleagues. For many workers in the area the cases that need assistance in this have doubled, tripled or just plain gone out of control.

Why? There are as many answers as there are questions, but I think each situation is unique in its own right. But that there is a increase in the general knowledge of the populace that such incidents do happen no wonder we have a remarkable rise on the number of cases reported.

As I have said before, even though they may not be perceived, we are surrounded by a horry host of spirits, both benign and malevolent. Sometimes all it takes is the perception that an encounter or haunting can occur, and you will suddenly be faced with one. Was that noise the wind or an spectral creature? It may well have been the wind, but the perception and mindset of the witness can draw a malevolent being who will be more than willing to take the blame and claim the fear.

Whatever the cause, the need for intervention by trained workers has risen dramatically.

Doing a house blessing, consecration or even exorcism is never a sure thing. And many times the rituals of clergy and laity seem to have no effect.

It is the same with inanimate objects as it is with people; circumstances and influences change radically the effect of a ritual. A ritual may clear the house and the client no longer has issues; the phenomena may come back after a time; or the problems may multiply exponentially.


There can be a multitude of reasons, most of them fall innto one of the more following categories:

1) Ownership: Many spirits are territorial. Although the battle is in the spiritual realm (Ephesians 6:12 ), tradition and experience of those engaging the demonic have noticed that they tend to be either tied to a general area or are drawn to specific areas. Spirits that are considered the disembodied residue of the deceased also tend to lurk in specific areas.

Therefore whatever the nature of the spiritual being, it has a vested interest in the area where it dwells and claims it as its own.

Sometimes the mere fact that the area now belongs to someone else can not be counted on as the impetus for persuading the spirit to leave. Many times they need to be commanded out through the authority of a higher power. The spirit needs to be driven out against their will. Prayers, Scripture, and specific commands can be used to loosen the spirit's hold on the area and force it to leave.

Many times the subject of ownership is not one of a subjective metaphysical nature, but rather one of a concrete physical legal status.

A renter may consent to the ritual and claim the territory, but they are not the owner in reality. The spirit will know this and this fact gives it reason to not obey the pleading and commands of anyone who tries to make it move on. Therefore it is essential that the consent of the owner or landlord be given before one

2) Faith: In the book of Matthew 17, the writer relates how Jesus' Disciples were not able to heal an affliced boy, but all Jesus had to do was touch him and the boy was healed. the Disciples asked Jesus, “Why could we not cast it out?” So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

Doubt and fear are natural when coming face to face with supernatural entities. In fact some demonic presences thrive on it. But the power to do the rite and the power to protect you is not from within, it comes from the Creator and Lord of the Cosmos. Faith is a nebulous concept, but without the assurance you draw from faith in these confrontations, the spirits will have no right or desire to obey you. The concept of prayer and fasting advised by Jesus can give us clarity and dynamic spiritual power. It can increase faith and spiritual awareness.

3) Invitation: Simply put, one or more of the persons living in the dwelling directly or indirectly invites the spirit back.
There could be a spiritual dynamic between the spirit and one of the clients. It's presence could actually give one of the residents comfort while causing stress and fear to all the others abiding there. It could be a conscious relationship or a subconscious bonding. It is hard to discern when the bond is an indirect connection, but most times things add up. the hardest part of such an instance is the confrontation with the client who unwittingly invited the entity back.
With direct connections while it might be more easy to identify, it will be harder to reconcile. The individual clearly wants the relationship and derives some satisfaction from the spirits presence. the client who is bonded must be willing to give up all connections to desires or activities that invite the spirit back.

Another way to invite a spirit back is sin. While sin and wrong doing is part of human nature, certain activities open up the individual to addiction and spiritual invasion. Some sins seem to draw demonic entities more than others: incest, abuse, and sexual addiction can "give ground to the enemy" and open one up for oppression or even possession. While committing such sins do not inherently involve demonic forces, depending on the individual one can become heavily harassed. However, it does not have to be these 'big' sins. Sometimes it can even be the mundane but equally destructive negative behaviors such as gossip or slander. Like everything else, it depends upon the individual and the circumstances. Negative behavior usually destroys relationships or personal integrity. They produce very intense emotions, and some malevolent entities thrive on raw emotions.

4) Misidentification: I remember going in a house where the residents were having violent encounters. We first performed a blessing and when that did not work a exorcism. It did not work. The family had two adolescent girls. No matter what your opinion of psychic abilities or latent abilities in adolescents...or their causes...there has been enough documentation of paranormal phenomena associated with adolescent girls that it cannot be ignored. The conclusion I came to at this juncture was that the phenomena was the product of these two young girls and that once they pass puberty the instances will gradually stop. And they did.

What causes this phenomena? that is worthy of a long discussion in and of itself. However most of these girls display no psychic abilities once past the 'poltergeist' stage. Is it latent psychic power that manifests itself with the hormonal rush of puberty? Another line of though dwells upon the physical changes in the girl herself. The beginning of the menstrual cycle and the flowing of virgin blood, has been the focus of many rituals in indigenous tribes throughout history. The thought that certain spirits are drawn to young woman beginning their menstrual cycles is mostly associated with pagan and animistic religions, but the idea has also evolved into many benign rituals such as the Niddah of Judaism.

Conclusion: Sometimes you may never fully get rid of the spirit. Sometimes the third time truly is the charm. If a blessing, consecration or exorcism does not remove the entity, all avenues as to why must be explored. Something is awry. Be it the clients, the location or the officiant.

I cover more on this subject in my book, An Exorcist's Field Guide. It is relatively inexpensive and hopefully a good resource for the ritual's officiant.

Until Next Time,
Pastor Swope