Category Archive: Demonology

Jan 31

The Breastplate of St Patrick

Lillee Allee

Lillee Allee

Representative at National Paranormal Society
Lillee Allee has studied religion, spirituality and paranormal investigation for over 40 years. She is the widow of John D. Allee, an internationally known dark magician. She continues to consult in paranormal investigation. Her specialties include: Marian and cultural spiritual phenomena/apparitions, spiritual support to teams and clients who want spiritual counseling after investigation, evp work and old school audio, the accuracy and research of past life regression and seance, and spiritual protection. Lillee was also one of the first to incorporate trained canines into paranormal investigations. She hosts a radio program on the para-x.com network, Happy Mediums, with Debra Ann Freeman, who also consults with paranormal investigative teams in Southern New England. Lillee is a published author and journalist, and legal clergy with degrees in psychology and mass communication. Lillee walks on the middle path sees learning as a life-long endeavor and is looking to make a difference and contribution to this field before she too will be heard on someone’s EVP. Lillee is always available to educate and consult and continues to enjoy guesting on other’s radio and television programs.
Lillee Allee

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The Breastplate of St Patrick

By Lillee Allee

Many paranormal teams choose to use a protection prayer. Some are self-written, some are said with the group and some are said privately. While many people know of the St Michael Prayer from the Catholic Church, few know or utilize the Breastplate of St. Patrick, also known as the Lorica.

The site Ancient Texts (ancienttexts.com) explains that the prayer itself is to be authentic. It is similar to the early Irish bard’s poetic verse and is the origin of Patrick’s Rune, another prayer. According to folklore, this recitation turned St Patrick and other believers into deer so that the King’s men could not persecute them. This is why Lorica is used as it means “cry of the deer.” However, lorica also refers to a prayer of protection, Latin for breastplate. Originally a morning prayer, it is now used for protection.

St. Patrick is one of the most popular saints of the Catholic Church. He was a missionary in the 5th century. It is also said he was the first bishop of his region. On March 17th, the day of his death, the Catholic Church celebrates his service, and it has also been a day to honor Ireland.

I arise today

Through a mighty strength,

the invocation of the Trinity,

Through belief in the Threeness,

Through confession of the Onenessof the Creator of creation.

I arise today

Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,

Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,

Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,

Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today

Through the strength of the love of cherubim,

In the obedience of angels,

In the service of archangels,

In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,

In the prayers of patriarchs,

In the predictions of prophets,

In the preaching of apostles,

In the faith of confessors,

In the innocence of holy virgins,

In the deeds of righteous men.

I arise today,

throughThe strength of heaven,

The light of the sun,

The radiance of the moon,

The splendor of fire,

The speed of lightning,

The swiftness of wind,

The depth of the sea,

The stability of the earth,

The firmness of rock.

I arise today,

throughGod’s strength to pilot me,

God’s might to uphold me,

God’s wisdom to guide me,

God’s eye to look before me,

God’s ear to hear me,

God’s word to speak for me,

God’s hand to guard me,

God’s shield to protect me,

God’s host to save meFrom snares of devils,

From temptation of vices,

From everyone who shall wish me ill,afar and near.

I summon today

All these powers between me and those evils,

Against every cruel and merciless powerthat may oppose my body and soul,

Against incantations of false prophets,

Against black laws of pagandom,

Against false laws of heretics,

Against craft of idolatry,

Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,

Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;

Christ to shield me today

Against poison,

against burning,

Against drowning,

against wounding,

So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.

Christ with me,

Christ before me,

Christ behind me,

Christ in me,

Christ beneath me,

Christ above me,

Christ on my right,

Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down,

Christ when I sit down,Christ when I arise,

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.

[Note that people sometimes pray a shorter version of this prayer just with these 15 lines about Christ above. This is particularly a good choice for Christians who are not Catholic, or can edit to fit their beliefs. The conclusion follows below.]

I arise todayThrough a mighty strength,

the invocation of the Trinity,

Through belief in the Threeness,

Through confession of the Oneness

of the Creator of creation.

This prayer is particularly good for paranormal investigators as it basically creates a psychic shield around the individual and seals all five senses.

There are also pagan versions. While the original pagan Lorica was written by Ian Corrigan. The following version was written by Morgan:

A Modern Irish Pagan’s Lorica

“I arise today in joy

Through the strength of the sea,

Stability of the strong earth,

Endlessness of the eternal sky.

I bind to myself

The endurance of my ancestors,

The eloquence of the poets,

The truth of the ancient Druids.

I bind to myself

The speed of the hawk

The courage of the deer

The wisdom of the salmon.

I bind to myself

The inspiration of the Gods

The mystery of the Otherworld

The illumination of Spirit

I summon today all these powers

between me and any dangers

Every day that I recite this prayer

I am protected from harm

In the names of my gods

and by sea, earth, and sky”

Morgan. The Lorica . March 3, 2012. Retrieved from http://lairbhan.blogspot.com/search/label/lorica

St. Patrick’s Breastplate. Retrieved October 1, 2015 from http://www.ourcatholicprayers.com/st-patricks-breastplate.h…

The Lorica of Patrick. Retrieved October 4, 2015 from http://www.ancienttexts.org/library/celtic/ctexts/p03.html

Jan 31

Some Signs of a Demonic Haunting

Alexander LaFountain

Alexander LaFountain

Sr. Director/Demonology Dept Chair at National Paranormal Society
Alexander LaFountain is a Demonologist based out of Texas. He was a member of Ghost Watchers Paranormal Investigations when he lived in Georgia and became a member of the Afterlife Research Team when he relocated to east Texas. He spent the last several years studying demonology and handling demonic based cases. He is also working towards becoming a Catholic Priest in the Independent Catholic Community.
Alexander LaFountain

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Some Signs of a Demonic Haunting

By Alexander LaFountain

I have been asked a few times what constitutes a demonic haunting? How does a team of paranormal investigators going into a clients home, recognize demonic activity when it may be staring them straight in the face? How do we help those suffering from a demonic haunting? To be honest there are many things that could manifest in a demonic haunting of a home. Its important to understand that not every demonic haunting of a home is the same. They are all unique in their own way, though many cases exhibit some of the same signs found in other cases. Indeed the list below is comprised of some of the most commonly found symptoms in a demonic haunting. Its also very important that you understand, that this list is by no means an exhaustive list or a list that is meant to be the final authority on anything. This is simply a guide to help you identify what could be demonic. Its also crucial to note that not every symptom listed will manifest at a demonic haunting. Not ever haunting will have all of these symptoms and just because a haunting does feature maybe one or two of these symptoms, does not automatically mean its demonic. A good rule of thumb from my own experience with these situations, is that if the majority of these symptoms are present in a home, chances are good its demonic. If only one or two are present, its more then likely not demonic but some thing else entirely.

Banging or knocking, some times in spurts of three

People physically assaulted by an unseen force scratching, biting, punching, pushing, pulling, pinching, etc. Some times these physical assaults will happen in spurts of three such as three scratches, three punches, three bite marks, etc.

Random fires start in odd places for no reason. Example, bathroom sink catches on fire with no logical explanation as to how that happened.

Religious objects are destroyed, go missing, are defiled, or placed in positions that make a mockery of what they symbolize. For example, a cross with an image of Jesus Christ suddenly turns upside down with no logical explanation for that. Rosary beads are violently ripped apart during prayer or perhaps when left hanging on a wall, etc.

When people in the home begin to pray activity manifests or increases to distract the people praying. People may be unable to pray or suddenly find themselves very ill during the prayer.

Voices are heard speaking in what many have described as “inhuman tones” or voices are heard mocking, threatening, or insulting people in the home. These voices may be heard in the common language of the people in the house hold or some times spoken in other langues such as Latin, Arabic, German, Spanish, French, etc. May also speak in dead languages, though its very hard to actually recognize a dead language unless you have some sort of knowledge of it.

Strange smells present themselves such as sulfur, the smell of some thing burning, urine, fecal matter, rotting flesh, sweet perfume like smells, etc. These some times manifest before or after some thing else happens.

Items are thrown violently either at people or at random spots. These items are broken or damaged.

Shadow people are frequently spotted through out the house.

Children may start playing with “imaginary friends” who begin to reveal things that child could not have otherwise known such as the location of an unmarked grave, the details of a very old murder, an event about the future, etc. Often these imaginary friends soon turn on the child and the child will then report his/her friend being mean and becoming scary. The child also begins to express a personality different then his/her usual self because the imaginary friend told them to be bad or break rules.

Apparitions of truly horrifying figures appear or have been seen.

Apparent signs of summoning are present, such as a basement floor covered in a giant circle full of sigils commonly associated with demons.

The members of the house hold begin to have frequent nightmares, often being the same nightmare over and over. Often these nightmares involve their death or the death of a loved one and some times features the same “being” in each dream. On rare occasions the same demon may appear in multiple peoples nightmare at the same time in the household.

The personalities of the people inside the house begin to shift into a more depressed, easily angry, often violent state of mind with no medical explanation.

Activity some times seems centered around one person or perhaps one more seems to be more affected then the rest which potentially leads from the stage of infestation towards oppression and ultimately possession. (Infestation means a demon is present causing trouble and trying to find a victim to oppress. Oppressed means some one is under the influence of a demon and is constantly assaulted by a demon, and finally possessed means a demon or demons have gone into a person to inhabit their body. Clergy is needed at this point.)

Animals may react in unusual ways such as growling, hair standing up, and snarling or whining in a specific direction (as if responding to some thing there) where nothing is seen. Animals may also die suddenly with no logical reason as to their death. Example would be a dog with a clean bill of health from a vet, suddenly dying one night with other activity present.

When Clergy enter the home, there is a sharp manifestation of activity or some one responds negatively (such as screaming swear words at the Clergy member with no provocation) to the Clergy being there. I once spoke with a Priest who told me about the time he entered a home with a possessed boy. The boy was upstairs with his door closed and the Priest was down stairs talking with the mother, then the boy spoke in a loud deep voice telling him to get out.

As you can see this is a very lengthy list of symptoms. Remember that just because one or two symptoms from this list appear at a location, doesn’t automatically mean its demonic. Human spirits are capable of making knocking, banging, noises, are capable of speaking, are capable of moving objects, etc. Its important to observe and document as much of the activity as you possibly can, so that you can sit down and really look to see what is going on. Also please use common sense when investigating a place you think is demonic or the client says is demonic. Don’t walk in there screaming swear words at a potential demon or mocking it in an attempt to provoke a response. Such actions will potentially lead to danger both to the investigators and to the family of the home who may suffer after you leave. If you feel that at any point, a demon is indeed in the location, gather your team, get out and call a local Clergy member. Inform them of whats going, asking the clients if they would be open to a Clergy member coming to help them, and if they agree that a Clergy member is needed, try to get one to come out and help. I have shared evidence before with Clergy members on behalf of family members request, in order to get that Clergy member to come out and help. Do not attempt to take on a demonic spirit by yourself if you can help it. Above all, safety and common sense should rule.

Jan 31

Fallen Angels Part 1

Fallen Angels  Part 1

By David Scott

The history of demons goes back to the beginning of time itself. Demons did not always exist however. They were created as angels before man was created. As angels they were good in nature just like all the others, as God intended them to be. However, pride led to the downfall of many of them. It was this pride that caused these angels to not only think but to even believe that they were equal to God Himself. It was this pride that caused them to think that they did not have to stay in their assigned roles or duties, and thus put themselves above God and rule over even Him (Jude 6). Lucifer, who was the leader of this rebellion, would become known as Satan and the angels that followed him became demons.

It is important to know and understand one thing before I go any further. God did not create evil, he can’t. God is pure, love, kindness, omnipotent, omnipresent, etc. There is nothing bad or evil about God, there is no darkness in Him what so ever, only light.

It was the pride of some of the angels that caused them to sin against God, thus causing some of them to be chained and cast into the pits of nether gloom to be kept until the last judgment of Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 2:4) However, not all of the demons were chained and committed to those pits after the rebellion. The other demons were cast out of the third Heaven which is also known as the heaven of heavens. This is where Jesus Christ ascended to and now sits and rules over all having all authority, power, and dominion. Thus they were removed from the presence of God and Jesus Christ until the last judgment.

Once they were cast from Heaven they lost a great deal of their powers as a part of their punishment. When it comes to their powers they still have more power against non Christians than they do Christians. For example, against a non Christian they can control, possess, deceive, blind them spiritually, and trap them. To a Christian they can tempt, harass, and deceive them at times but never control or possess them. Demons can possess people and animals only, not dolls like some people believe. People will often hear stories of possessed dolls and toys and it is believed because the doll or toy was said to have moved on its own. What’s happening in those stories is that the doll or toy is being manipulated by the demon, not being possessed. Demons can not possess inanimate objects.

It’s not just the powers and abilities of demons that are popular, it’s their appearance too. Demons have even found their way into medieval art. During that era they usually appeared as little black evil creatures or “imps” in paintings. Of course demons do not actually have material or physical bodies. They can appear as a black humanoid form, but they can not duplicate the human form perfectly. This is because demons never were human. It is more common for them to appear as a black mass, red mist, or orange mist. Although demons have no true form or body they will also appear in an ugly, grotesque form to scare the people they are appearing before. This is to initiate a reaction of fear. Fear is what a demon feeds off of because it makes them stronger. Demons can also appear in more friendly forms though to gain acceptance into a home or life. For example, demons can appear to very small children as another child to gain acceptance into the child’s life and home. This is where some children get their imaginary friends. This is also a good example of how they deceive people to get what they want.

As I have stated before, demons will do whatever they can to get what they want, nothing is beneath them. Until the final judgment of Christ they have nothing but time, and the wisdom of the ages to do whatever they can to try and destroy mankind and make him/her suffer as much as possible in the process.

Source:

http://www.nademonicparanormal.com/fallen.html (no longer available)

Part 2

This article is a continuation of the first one that I wrote. In the first article I touched on some of the basics about demons, and their rebellion. In the first article I referred mostly to the demons that were cast out of Heaven in the rebellion with Satan and are now being kept in chains in the pits of nether gloom until the last judgment. That is the “Fallen Angels.” However that was only some of the demons. Not all of them were cast into pits of nether gloom and/or out of Heaven. I also went into a little detail about the appearance of demons. In this article I will be discussing the other demons, their kingdom, as well as one of the most popular misconceptions about them, which is their “names.”

The other demons that I’m referring to are the “free demons.” That is the one’s that are allowed to wander the earth with Satan stalking mankind. They are also known as the “principalities”, “powers of the air”, and “the powers of darkness.” It is these demons that still have access to the heavenlies, as well as the earth. These demons are the ones that seek to corrupt, possess, and destroy mankind. Before I go any further though I need to explain what I mean by the heavenlies. When Satan was cast out of heaven he was cast out of the third heaven also known as heaven of heavens. That is the Heaven where Jesus Christ ascended to and now sits ruling over all, and having all authority, power, and dominion. Satan was cast forever out of the presence of God until the last judgment, but, not out of Heaven completely. You have to remember that heaven itself is another realm, one that we can not see. Also, all demons are “Fallen Angels” there are just different ones.

Satan is of course the ruler of these demons, and has established a kingdom of his own. Just as there is a rank and order among the angels in Heaven that serve God and Jesus Christ there is a rank and order among the demons and their kingdom in serving Satan. Scripture indicates that there is a rank and order system among the demons when it refers to Abbadon. Abbadon is the ruler of the demons in the abyss. It is from this that we can reason that Satan has some type of ranking system within his kingdom, not to mention the fact that to assume that his kingdom and the demons that follow and serve him would be unorganized is not logical.

This is where we will get into the names of the demons. I’m sure most of you have come across websites that list all the names of known demons and their ranks. While some of the names you see are legitimate, you simply can not trust all of them. As a matter of fact, you can throw most of them out. The Bible does name some of the demons in scripture as do other ancient writings. The problem with trusting any other ancient writings is that they have been found to be inaccurate as well as contradict what the Bible teaches. It is for these reasons that the names of demons found in anything but the Bible simply can not be trusted. Having said that, that doesn’t mean you have to disregard what it says altogether because some of it could be true. You should just be mindful that it could also be wrong. Remember though that the Holy Bible is the ultimate authority and it will never mislead you. The fact of the matter is that most demons will take on the name of whatever they’re inflicting or doing at the time. I will list some of the names of demons found in the Bible below. Most of these are the “gods” and idols that the different cultures and people worshipped. Scripture indicates that it was actually demons that influenced this type of worship and activity.

Legion

Gad

Baal

Balaam

Bel

Hammon

Belial

Lilith

Beelzebub (Satan)

Moloch

Seirim

Abaddon

Finally, I need to address an age old myth concerning the names of demons. That myth is that if you say or write the name of a demon you will be attacked. This stems from the old saying “Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself.” It is most unfortunate but there are some people that lead others to believe this. Saying or writing the name of a demon will not cause you to be attacked by one. It’s the fear and recognition that you are giving the demon that could cause an attack. Even then one would have to be around, and be strong enough to do anything. Not to mention several other things that would need to take place. I say the names of demons all the time, have just written a list of them above, and nothing happens.

In conclusion, there’s more to demons than most people realize. As I’ve said before, the only true way to correctly learn about demons and the demonic is through the Church, not your local library. Most of the websites on the internet that have information about demons are just not accurate or are completely wrong. The same goes for many of the books that have been written about demons. Unless you get your information through the Church, Seminary, or a Bible college you can not trust what is out there. Just like you shouldn’t believe everything you see and hear, you shouldn’t believe everything you read either.

Source:

http://www.nademonicparanormal.com/fallen2.html (no longer available)

 

Jan 31

Michtlantecuhtli

Shellie Langdeau

Shellie Langdeau

Health & Safety
Department Chair

Hi all! My name is Shellie. I live in Rockville, Rhode Island. Born and raised in “the sticks”, so to speak. I’ve been a social worker for very close to 25 years, working directly with people who suffer from chronic mental illness and substance abuse issues. I didn’t have my first paranormal experience till I was in my early 30’s. Since that time, I’ve been infatuated with the unknown. My mind is driven to want provable facts though. I will search and search to find a logical explanation for everything lol.
Shellie Langdeau

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Michtlantecuhtli

By Shellie Langdeau

In Aztec mythology, Mictlantecuhtli was the skeletal god of death who ruled over Mictlan, the underworld, with his wife, Mictlancihuatl.

After the restoration of the sky and earth by Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl, the two gods decide to create people to inhabit the new world. In order to do this, Quetzalcoatl travels to the underworld to retrieve the human bones of the last creation. After a conversation with Michlantechutli, the Lord of Mictlan agrees to give up the bones if Quetzalcoatl will complete a task that involved Quetzalcoatl traveling around the underworld four times while sounding a trumpet made out of a conch shell. Michlantechutli, however, not wanting to give up the bones so easily, makes the apparently simple task challenging by not drilling holes in the conch shell. Quetzalcoatl, nevertheless, is able to complete the task by calling upon worms to drill holes in the shell and by having bees enter the trumpet.

When Michlantechutli hears the conch sounding, he at first allows Quetzalcoatl to take the bones, then quickly changes his mind, but his efforts are in vain as Quetzalcoatl is able to escape the underworld with the bones. Angry at the fiasco, Michlantechutli orders his minions to dig a deep pit, and as Quetzalcoatl runs towards it, a quail pops out and frightens him. Quetzalcoatl falls in the pit dead, and the bones are broken and scattered – the reason why people are different sizes today.

mikl2Quetzalcoatl eventually revives and retrieves the bones, and gives them to the goddess Cihuacoatl (Woman Serpent) who grinds the bones into a flour-like mixture and puts it into a special container. The gods are then able to gather around this container, shed drops of their own blood, & from the combination, spawn the peoples of today.

 

Jun 27

BELIAL

By: Christopher “Lobo” Ostrowski

Demonology Team chair

 

“Belial means “without a master”, and symbolizes true independence, self-sufficiency, and personal accomplishment. Belial represents the earth element.” – “The Satanic Bible”
Anton LaVey (1969) Book of Belial: introduction

Of the Christianity, Judaism or Islam, has heard of Belial. He is Second on to Lucifer in the Hierarchy of Hell. Boys that did have the a Bris/Circumcision were called the “Sons of Belial”.

It is believed that Belial was Created as an Archangel right after Lucifer and helped Lucifer start the rebellion in Heaven. This made him one of the first angels cast out.

In Recent Movies:
More recent adaptations have taken Belial in many ways, sometimes only using the name.
The classic 1922 film Nosferatu says that the titular vampire originated from “Belial’s seed,” implying Belial’s hand in the creation of vampires.
One of the possessing demons in the later film The Exorcism of Emily Rose claims to be Belial, in this case possessing a small child.

In Literature:
Belial also figures in John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667). There, he is the Fallen Angel responsible for making “atheists” of priests, including the sons of Eli. In Book II of Paradise Lost, Milton depicts Belial as handsome and smooth-tongued, but one who realizes that the war against Heaven is dangerous and hopeless of success. Thus, he counsels sloth and ease. His hope is that if Hell does not provoke Heaven further, that the fallen angels may grow accustomed to the pains and fires of the underworld, and live in comfort. Belial does not advise seeking forgiveness or pleading for mercy from the heavenly victor.

Master of the Earth:
Now, let’s get to the Demonolatry side of the story.
Belial is The Sixty-eighth Spirit. He is a Mighty and a Powerful King. He appears in the Form of Two Beautiful Angels sitting in a Chariot of Fire. He speaks with a Seductive Voice. He gives excellent Familiars, and governs 80 Legions of Spirits/Demons. King Belial must have Offerings, Sacrifices and Gifts presented to him by the Demonolater, or else he will not give True Answers. Remember, He is a King, treat him with respect.

Belial is the carnal side of man, the lust, sex, pleasure and therefore the principal drives that make living worthwhile. People derive all the principal emotions of the higher ego from Belial: Pride comes from self-control and suppression of Belial’s influence. Strength, pleasure and independence come from embracing it. Belial is the Master of the Earth, the force that holds Humankind by its short hairs, any security or stability are results of lessons learnt from dealing with Him.

Belial is the champion of simply being human, for the flesh, the material and the carnal. In essence, a reverence for Belial affirms how “good” the flesh/humanity is. Unrestrained by law or morality; lawless; immoral; dissolute; lewd; lascivious, Unrestrained; uncurbed; uncontrolled; unruly; riotous; ungovernable; wanton; profligate; dissolute; lax; loose; sensual; impure; unchaste; lascivious; immoral, dissolute indulgence in sensual pleasure.

Belial is an excellent spirit to work with if you want a promotion or a new and better career entirely

SOURCES:
http://www.dpjs.co.uk/belial.html

http://hermetic.com/goetia/

https://www.amazon.com/Satanic-Bible-Anton-Sza…/…/0380015390

PHOTO CREDITS:
http://www.fromoldbooks.org/Mathers-G…/…/068-Seal-of-Belial/

http://www.occultopedia.com/b/belial.htm

Christopher Lobo Ostrowski's photo.
Christopher Lobo Ostrowski's photo.

Jun 01

CROWS, RAVENS, AND RAUM

By: Christopher “Lobo” Ostrowski
Demonology Team Chair

Last night, I had a wonderful conversation with a person that was wondering about seeing large Black Birds (the nature type. Not Conspiracy Theory type).Could these be Demons? Can, indeed Demons shapeshift in to other creatures? Can a demon be bound to a location to repeatedly haunt it?

It has been my experience that they can change their appearance. Marbas is one that comes to mind. He is said to have a Head of a Lion and the body of a man. This can cause a lot of fear in the practitioner. This is especially true when he speaks with his powerful voice. The Summoner can request that he appears in a less frightening state.
This can also be the opposite. If the Summoner is requesting the Demon to appear threatening to an adversary, the Demon can choose to do so.
As I have found, in my experiences, Demons don’t Haunt on their own accord. They generally have a reason. Once the reason is done, so is the “haunting”. Demons are not bound to the Earth as a Spirit might be. Think of a Demon as you would a Deity, more or less. You wouldn’t find an Angel bound to a specific spot on Earth. Therefore, why would a Demon?
Trust me, if they stayed bound, my house would look like the Haunted House at Disney World.

In Demonolatry, They have no real need to Haunt humans. Lucifer is a big on Free Will. To scare someone would do the opposite. It would turn you away and toward “God”. IF, like the Bible says, he is so opposed to “God”, why push you towards “God”?

Now, I will get back to the Big Black Birds.

There are numerous accounts of “Black Birds” in Mythos all over the world.

Odin, or Norse/Teutonic Myths has two, Huginn and Muninn. Their names mean “Knowledge and Memory”. They are said to fly the Nine Worlds and bring him reports

In the Celtic Traditions, The Morrígan (“phantom queen”) or Mórrígan (“great queen”), also known as Morrígu, is often associated with Crows and Ravens.

In Native American Totem Animals; Ravens wisdom includes introspection, courage, self-knowledge, magic, healing, creation, rebirth, keeper of secrets, master magician, shape-shifter, mysticism.
Now to Raum.

Raum is a Great Earl in Hell. He commands 30 Legions. His appearance is that of a Great Raven. But, at the request of the Summoner, will assume a human form. His abilities are stealing riches from Kings, to destroy Cities and Dignities of Men, and to tell all things, Past , Present, and Future. He will also cause Love between Friends and Foes.
He would be one to call upon when you back is against the wall by someone more powerful or influential then you. To summon for learning knowledge of events that are to come.

His “Stealing of Riches” can also be interpreted as stealing of knowledge and secrets. So all of this this would make him and his Legion very formidable against some much bigger then you. Raum is extremely helpful in legal battles against large conglomerates.

It must be noted that Members of the Corvus Family (Crows, Ravens, Bluejays), have extremely well developed memories, can learn to make tools, and have facial recognition abilities. Mourn and bury their dead. They also remember people that have been good to them, and those that mistreat them. They are NOTORIOUS for stealing shiny objects.

Maybe this is a reason why we have collective nouns like; “A Murder of Crows” and “An Unkindness of Ravens”.

Just something to think about before you chase birds away with stones and brooms.

SOURCES:
http://www.hermetics.org/pdf/grimoire/goetia.pdf

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/803038.Luciferian_Goetia

http://www.goodreads.com/b…/show/8046962-daemonolatry-goetia

PHOTO CREDITS:

http://tumview.com/tumblr/tag/bander

http://demonsanddemonolatry.com/demon-of-the-night-lord-ra…/

Christopher Lobo Ostrowski's photo.

 

May 15

The Demon named Astaroth

By: Christopher “Lobo” Ostrowski
Demonology Team Chair

The Demon named Astaroth
The Demon Astaroth is a unique Demon. There are many different tales related to this Grand Duke of Hell.

The one I will use is the one that is more plausible to me. That Astaroth is a Female Demon.

The name Astaroth (sometimes spelled Ashtaroth) probably derives from Astarte, a Canaanite fertility goddess worshipped by the Philistines and at Sidon. She was also an early goddess among the Sumerians, known to them as the “Queen of Heaven”. In each culture, though Her Role may have slightly been different, She was always a powerful mother figure. She was a caretaker to humanity in them all. She was possibly the most worshiped deity of her time.

It is believed that the goddess Astarte has become one of the most slandered deities since modern religions took over in the Middle East. Even the name “Astaroth” is a perverted version of Astarte. It is made to sound vile, evil and shameful in the pronunciation of the old languages of the time. When the followers of the “New Religions” came into power, they wanted to remove all sympathy for the old beliefs from existence. They vilified all the reputations of the Babylonian gods and goddesses into “evil demons”.

Astaroth is something of a politician among the demons. She will counsel both humans and demons alike. But she will only help those humans who still believe in her as a goddess. It’s only fair; you must treat a Lady like Lady. She has been beaten up over the centuries, some flowers and chocolates can go a long way. She can help one gain a good reputation. She can create friendships between her followers and people with power and social status in the community. She knows all about the past, present, and future. She also can show to her followers secrets through the prophetic dreams and visions. She can also teach all about the sciences and humanities as well.

Astarte/Astaroth is said to be very tall, beautiful, and elegant with fair skin and long blonde hair. It is said that everything she does is with great ease and grace. She will only work for the greater good of those who are Her true followers. Those who wish to use her gifts to take unjustly from others will be denied her good graces.

Astaroth is said to be the Great Duchess of Hell, in the first hierarchy with Beelzebub and Lucifer; She is part of the evil trinity. To those in Demonolatry the relationship between Astaroth and Astarte can be significant because the possible connection indicates spiritual power. Such power which Modern Religions have strived to diabolize and destroy is returning to help the people.

Sources:
http://demons.wikia.com/wiki/Astaroth

Belanger, Michelle. The Dictionary of Demon: Names of the Damneds. Llewellen Publications. 2010. ebook.
Cavendish, Richard. The Black Arts, A Perigee Book, New York. Berkley Publishing Group. 1967
Guiley, Rosemary Ellen.The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft. New York: Facts On File.1989PHOTO CREDITS:
https://www.pinterest.com/rosielea__/film/

http://demons.wikia.com/wiki/File:SealAstaroth.png

Christopher Lobo Ostrowski's photo.
Christopher Lobo Ostrowski's photo.

May 05

Południca – Lady Midday

Południca – Lady Midday
By:  Christopher M. Ostrowski
Demonology Team Chair

As a little boy, I remember my Polish Uncle and our Polish neighbors taking about Południca, on very hot days in the summer. They warn me about being out in the Hot Sun. That “Lady Midday” would “come and get me.”

The Lady of the Rye
Lady Midday is a Slavic noon-demon. Which is why, I see now, that my Great Grandmother would make me take a nap during the hottest parts of a summer’s Day. It is believed that She causes sunstroke and madness in fieldworkers. It is believed that, noon in the summer, is at the height of her power. The demon goes by many names, Poluudnica, Psezpolnica, Polednice, Polednica, Poludnitsa, Lady Midday Kornwyf and Pscipolnitsa, Lady of the Rye. She is reported to wear a white dress, carrying a scythe or shears, and can appear as a young girl, beautiful woman, or a an aged crone, whatever Her desire is at that moment. The Mythology tells that She would stop people as they walked through the countryside’s fields or while they were working. She would ask them difficult questions/riddles or perhaps simply engage them in conversation. This in itself is pretty harmless, right? Well, it seems that if she didn’t like your answer, or you failed to answer her question, or if they attempted to change the subject, the Lady Midday would cut off their head, or alternately, strike them with madness.
Slavic artists portrayed Lady Midday as a young woman dressed in white, roaming around the edges of crop fields. She would be shown carrying a scythe or a pair of large shears in her hands. The Field Worker, however, could see Lady Midday as she approached. They stated that She took the form of a dust cloud before becoming corporeal.

Południca, if nothing else is a useful tool in teaching farm workers about the dangers of the noon heat. What better reason to tell your Boss that you need to take a break?

She was also quite useful at scaring away small children who might be up to trouble around valuable crops.

SOURCES:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Midday

http://ancientstandard.com/category/ancient-russia/

PHOTO CREDITS:
https://cdn1.artstation.com/…/paola-tuazon-01-poludnica-fin…
http://digart.img.digart.pl/…/vo…/40/87/download/6743213.jpg

 

Christopher Lobo Ostrowski's photo.
Christopher Lobo Ostrowski's photo.

May 02

Pagan Celtic Celebration of Beltane

By: Christopher “Lobo” Ostrowski
Demonology Team Chair

Today is April 30*. Starting tonight at Sundown is the Pagan Celtic Celebration of Beltane. Imagine, centuries ago. The Fires of Bel would be light on the Mountain sides throughout the Celtic region of the World. The local tribes would pick a May Queen to symbolize the Goddess. She would choose a Male to represent the God that the Goddess gave birth to at the Winter Solstice. They would go off into to the woods to celebrate their Union.

Beltane’s fires also mark the bright half of the year. Since it lies in the northern hemisphere, we consider it spring. Actually it marks the start of summer whose middle point will be celebrated at “Midsummer” in June.

Other names for Beltane include: May Day, Cetsamhain, The ‘opposite Samhain’, Walpurgisnacht (in Germany), and Roodmas (the medieval Church’s name). This last came from Church Fathers who were hoping to shift the common people’s allegiance from the Maypole (Pagan lingam – symbol of life) to the Holy Rood (the Cross – Roman instrument of death)….

A good portion of ancient Celtic magic is sympathetic. This means that all actions were performed to simulate the desired result.

The Maypole is an important aspect of the Celebrations. It is the Symbol of the God. The Maypole dance was an important aspect of encouraging the return of fertility to the earth. As people passionately dance around and around the pole holding the brightly colored ribbons, the energy it raises is sent down into the earth’s womb, bringing about Her full awakening and fruitfulness
May was also the time to encourage crops, animals, and people to grow and reproduce abundantly. Unions among unmarried partners were a way to encourage this result, but it was considered unlucky to marry at this time of disorder
May is not the month to marry. May is the Goddess and God’s handfasting month, all honor would be Hers and His…

When the Romans invaded Western Europe and Britain, much of the symbolism and rites of the Floralia and Beltane became comingled. It became the holiday we now call May Day or Walpurgis. The custom of going ‘a-Maying’, which is collecting flowers, greenery and the maypole early on the morning of May 1, survives to this day. The lighting of Bel fires in Britain, Germany and other countries of Europe, also remains intact. The sexual aspect of the holiday, however sadly, has become almost extinct in many countries. The festivities became viewed as sinful by some Christian leaders, and in 1644 the celebration was banned by the Puritan-controlled Parliament in Britain….

Beltane, just like its counterpart Samhain, divides the year into its two primary seasons, Winter and Summer. As Samhain is about honoring Death, Beltane is about bringing forth Life. It is the time when the sun is fully released from his bondage of winter.
Beltane, also like Samhain, is a time of “No -Time”. “No-Time” is an in-between time, when the veils between the two worlds are at their thinnest. “No- Time” is when the two worlds can intermingle. It is when the strongest Magic can be performed. It is the time when the Faeries return from their winter respite.

On the night before Beltane, people would place rowan branches at their windows and doors for protection, many otherworldly occurrences could transpire during this time of “No-Time”.

* Although Beltane is now usually celebrated from sundown April 30th to sundown on the first of May, it should be noted that in earlier times, before the calendar changes of 1752, all dates year-round would have come some days later — precious extra days, in springtide especially, during which time the hawthorn (“mayflower”) and many more trees and flowers would have begun blooming.

SOURCES:
http://www.applewarrior.com/…/ejo…/beltane/about_beltane.htm

http://pagaian.org/essays/beltanesamhain-earthgaia

http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html…

PHOTO CREDITS:

https://beltane.org/

Christopher Lobo Ostrowski's photo.
Christopher Lobo Ostrowski's photo.

Apr 27

Marbas

Marbas

Marbas is a Demon that is classified as a President of Hell. He commands 36 Legions, a Legion is 3,000-6,000 strong, of Demons. Is a Demon that is Patron to Craftsman and Healers alike. He teaches mechanics or the machine as well as the body. It is also said that He can show Man how to Shapeshift.

He is believed to have taught men to forge steel for weapons. This has brought comparisons to him and Tubal Cane of Biblical and Hephaestus/Vulcan of Greek and Roman myths.

He has taught men to Heal well as curse. Is brutally honest when asked if a person can be cured or not. This makes him compared to Apollo and The Archangel Michael.

In Marbas we see a Duality of Healing and Destruction. The Creation of Metalwork and Tradesman for Farming tools as well as weapons of War. The Ability to Heal and to Curse are common practices of the Shaman and Herbalists all over the world. “The difference between Medicine and Poison, is the dosage.”
Marbas (sometimes called Barbas) appears to the Practitioner as man with the head of a Lion. Peaks in powerful, yet pleasant voice. He will also alter his appearance if the Practitioner finds it too intimidating.
I think Marbas shows us just how Free Will comes into play. He is a giver of knowledge that can be used to Hurt or Heal. It is our choice on how we use this knowledge

Christopher Lobo Ostrowski
Demonology Department Chair

SOURCES:
Pseudomonarchia Daemonum (Liber officiorum spirituum) by Johann Weyer

the Daemonolatry Goetia by S. Connolly

PHOTO CREDITS:
www.libroesoterico.com

www.fromoldbooks.org

Christopher Lobo Ostrowski's photo.

Apr 22

Lilith

 

Lilith

By: Christopher Lobo Ostrowski

So many people have heard the story of Adam and Eve. But, few have learned of Adam’s first wife, Lilith.

In Genesis 2:18, it states that “God Said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone’” According to from Alphabet of Ben Sira (ca 700-1000 CE), “He then created a woman for Adam, from the earth, as He had created Adam himself, and called her Lilith.” There soon grew to fright. Lilith would not take a role or position of submission/subservience to Adam. Lilith believed that because they both were made of the Earth, they are then Equal. But Adam refused to see Her point. So, Lilith raging with anger, cried the “Ineffable (incapable of being expressed or described in word) Name of God” And flew off in the direction of the Red Sea. This left Adam miffed. He cried to “God” that Lilith had left. At once, “God”, sent these three angels to bring her back. She refused and was cursed to The Red Sea.

Some stories also state that Lilith is the mother of Cain, Making him Half Demonic. This making Eve the Mother of Abel. That is the reason “God” rejected his offering. Starting the SECOND biggest fight and first Murder.

Lilith and Samael /Asmodeus:

Yes, this is a two parter. It seems Lilith didn’t say alone long. The Archangel Samael, which later gets a name change to Asmodeus, for no reason, found her walking. Samael and Lilith mated and are to have produced legions of “Unclean Spirits”, (Demons). Some of these Demons were believed to be Incubus and Succubus. It is also believed that if a baby laughs in its near the Sabbath, Lilith is playing with it.
She is also the first of Samael’s four wives. Lilith, Igrath, Naamah and Mahalath, each of them the mother of her own brood of Demons.

During Medieval Times, and in some places today, Lilith and her Daughters are said to “lay with” young men as the sleep. This is said to help produce more Demons.

In The Treatise on the Left Emanation

Lilith and Samael were created at the same time that Adam and Eve were. They were intertwined as was Adam and Eve. They gave birth to Cain and all the Demons.
It is believed that it was Lilith, in the guise of a Serpent, that seduced Eve in the garden of Eden, to eat the Apple. A lot of the medieval iconography show The Serpent in a feminine form.

The Appearance of Lilith

There has been much speculation as to what Lilith looks like. The most come is said to be that of a woman with Red Hair, wings, and talons for feet. There are others that say She is a woman above the waist, a serpent below, red hair, and wings. There is also a report of Lilith being a woman, but with “Fire” below the waist.

Lilith in Modern times

Lilith has gain popularity again as a Strong Feminine Mother/Woman. Always referred to as “Mother” and possessing the Feministic stance. Demanding equality and freedom from the oppression of a Patriarchal system.
In Luciferianism, she is the Consort of Lucifer. Lilith, being the Bride of the Devil, is one part of the Adversary as being the dark instinctual side of man and woman, feminine, yet horrific and loving all within the same Being.

Christopher “Papa Coyote” Ostrowski
Demonology Department Head

SOURCES:

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/ineffable

*Alphabet of Ben Sira (ca 700-1000 CE), – The Alphabet of ben Sira is an anonymous medieval text inspired by the Wisdom of Sirach

The Treatise on the Left Emanation is a Kabbalistic text by Rabbi Isaac ha-Kohen http://www.marquette.edu/maqom/leftemanation.pdf

Michael W. Ford and Akhtya Seker Arimanius, Black Witchcraft: Foundations of the Luciferian Path

PHOTO CREDITS:

letters-from-purgatory.tumblr.com

descubrelamagia.ning.com

Apr 19

The Ghosts of Carlisle Barracks

By: Christopher Rogue Ostrowski

Carlisle Barracks is located in the Cumberland Valley in Pennsylvania. It is considered one of the best military schools in the world.
Of its Graduates: John J. Pershing, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Omar N. Bradley are the top three recognized

Originally, a spot were early traders and settlers stopped to rest before they made their way across the Allegheny Mountains. It was made a Military post in 1757.
George Washington had visited the area during the Revolutionary War. He wanted it to the spot for the New Military Academy. But it lost out to West Point
The Post did serve as the U.S. Army Mounted Cavalry Training Area in the 1830’s
During the Civil War Union troops occupied both the post and the town of Carlisle. Major General J.E.B. Stuart a Confederate soldier demanded the post and the town surrender, when they didn’t he shelled both and set fire to the post.
In 1879, Carlisle Barracks became the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. Its most famous student and the best athlete was Jim Thorpe.
At the onset of World War l the Barracks was returned to the War Department. It became a hospital that specialized in the treatment of mental rehabilitation for those suffering from the newly identified trauma–called “Shell Shock”.
By the 1920s the Medical Field Service took over the Barracks.
In 1951, the U.S. Army War College relocated to Carlisle and to this day prepares senior officers for high command.
The Barracks assorted history has left the Barracks haunted by a plethora of ghosts. Some say Jim Thorpe can be seen in the Gym. Along with sounds of shuffling sneakers Many confounded Visitors hear faint 20’s and 30’s music from the Bandstand. When this music is heard it is often played off key so it felt that this was probably a young student band from the school preforming a concert.

At the Letort View Community Center, other ghosts can be seen including a well-dressed female student and a man dressed in farm attire. The cellar of this building is so active it has been dubbed, “Purgatory”.

Some of the ghostly activity reflects to the Revolutionary War. At Carlisle there is a building that was originally used as a powder magazine. Today this building is used as a museum that houses a variety of military artifacts.
It is believed that the Hessian soldiers who were forced to construct it in 1777 still haunt it.

Christopher “Papa Coyote” Ostrowski
Demonology Dept. NPS

SOURCES:

http://www.examiner.com/…/the-ghosts-of-carlisle-and-the-ca…

http://www.hauntedplaces.org/item/carlisle-barracks/

PHOTO SOURCES:

http://carlislebarracks.carlisle.army.mil/tour.htm

Christopher Rogue Ostrowski's photo.
Christopher Rogue Ostrowski's photo.

Apr 19

Samael

By: Christopher Rogue Ostrowski

Samael is an Archangel that is a very complex Angelic character. His name means “the venom of God,” and is believed, by some to the “Satan” in the Bible. He is mentioned in the Talmud as accuser, seducer, and destroyer who slays humans with a single drop of poison.
Samael also is said to have planted the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden This is where He also crosses paths with Lilith, the original Wife of Adam, according to the Jewish faith. He is said even to have possessed the serpent to tempt Eve. According to the Book of Enoch, which is not recognized by the Christian Faith, he taught humans Magic and was directly involved in the Angelic miscegenation that produced the Nephilim. Believed to be the race of ½ man and ½ angel that “God” tried to erase with the “Great Flood”.
Samael, like Azrael The Archangel of Death, has Twelve wings, and also holds full Archangelic status. Samael has the function of bringing Evil misfortunes and punishments upon Humankind, in God’s behalf. Yes, you read that right. There is a reason for misfortune. We can see, as it is stated in Isaiah 45:4-7, “God is the Source of all.” Even though this work depicted him as being one of the most wicked angels, he is nevertheless said to be an angel in the service of the Lord.

The Zohar* associates Lilith and Samael when speaking of the quaternion marriage. The quaternion marriage involved two couples; God and Shekina** above and Samael and Lilith below. But it is alleged that following the destruction of the temple that Shekina descended to be with her flock or people while her handmaiden Lilith ascended to become the consort of God, thus showing her importance.

Christopher “Papa Coyote” Ostrowski
Demonology Department Head

*The Zohar – is the foundational work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbalah

**Shekina is believed to be the Feminine Side of God

SOURCES:

Isaiah 45:4-7 https://carm.org/does-god-create-evil

http://www.zohar.com/

PHOTO SOURCES:

www.bitaites.org

http://www.fromoldbooks.org/…/105a-symbols-07-tuesday-sigi…/

Christopher Rogue Ostrowski's photo.

Apr 17

The Draugr

The Draugr

By: Christopher Rogue Ostrowski
Zombies seem to be the main attraction in so many movies and TV shows lately. I would be remiss to leave them out of my weekly article. Since my Ancestry is
Norse/Teutonic, I wanted to do their take on the Zombie or Draugr.
The Draugr are said to have pale flesh or skin as black as Hel, Hel being Norse Hel. She is the Goddess of the Helheim. She is said to have a face that half a beautiful woman and the other half of a Corpse.
Think the colors of a nasty bruise. The deep blues, plums, sickly greens and yellows. That would pretty much make up the every square inch of the Draugr’s body.

There are stories of Draugr being able to shapeshift. Horses, bulls, seals and cats are the common stories. Imagine going to bed with your new stray cat. It curls up on your chest, purring away. Then slowly gets heavier and heavier till it crushes you to death.

Draugr’s are said to be “as big as an Ox” Their swollen bodies are used to ram down doors. Smash through Halls. The all take part in an activity called “House Riding”. The climb to the top of a house, straddle it like a horse and drum their heels on the sides of the roof. Terrifying those below, while they are destroying the rafters.

While our Western image of the zombie draws more from the Caribbean influence of voodoo, it’s good to keep in mind the other traditions that have dealt with the undead. Norse mythology certainly has some great twists on the myths.

SOURCES:

Saxo Grammaticus, Vol I

Hermann Palsson and Paul Edwards, trans. Eyrbyggja Saga. Buffalo, U of Toronto P, 1973

PHOTO SOURCES:

http://jfoliveras.deviantart.com/art/Undead-560294438

Apr 17

Soucouyant

By: Christopher Rogue Ostrowski

Soucouyant

The Soucouyant has its origins in The Caribbean. It is believed to be a Vampire Witch.

A Witch is said to have made a deal or “Pact” with a Demon named Bazil that lived in a Silk Cotton tree. The witch will start to bring blood of the victims for the demon in exchange for Evil Magic Powers.
Upon the Witch’s death, the Witch will then become a Soucouyant.

The Soucouyant is Shape Shifter. During the day it will appear as an old woman, very reclusive. When night falls, She will remove her skin and place it a mortar. In her true form, she appears as a fire ball the streaks across the sky looking for victims. Once a victim is found, the Soucouyant can squeeze through any crack, keyhole or crevice.

The Soucouyant sucks blood from soft parts, arms, and legs of the victims. This leaves a Blackish-blue mark in the morning. If it drains too much blood, the victim will die and become a Socouyant itself or die completely. Then the Soucouyant can use its victim’s skin.

To expose a Soucouyant, one can place a heap of rice at crossroad. The Soucouyant will feel compelled to count every grain of it. It is said to pile the rice high. If the Soucouyant can’t get back into her skin by sunrise, she will die. Also, if you can find her skin and throw salt on it, she can’t put it back on.

To protect your home, place salt at the door and an upside down broom.

Sources:
http://www.dominicanewsonline.com/all_news/general/6173.html

Image Credit: Leda_d / Shutterstock-MAY 7, 2013-Soucouyants: A Different Kind Of Vampire-by Gerard LeBlond
Christopher Rogue Ostrowski's photo.

Jan 23

Demons in Buddhism

Julie Carter

Julie Carter

I was born in Denver, Colorado. I only lived there until I was four. I next lived in Boise, ID and after that, Edmonds, WA. I graduated from Edmonds High School and went on to Everett Community College where I studied Theatre. I have been married for 36 years and have three grown children and a granddog, who is also grown.
I have had several jobs in my life due to moving around for my husband's job, including: Trade Administrator for a barter type company, selling newspaper advertising for the local newspaper and I taught Theatre to high school kids.
I love The Eagles, and I also love to read, play cards and the paranormal.
I'd like to go on an investigation sometime. For now? I'm content to soak up as much as I can from NPS.
Julie Carter

Latest posts by Julie Carter (see all)

There are many supernatural beings in Buddhist literature. Many are referred to as demons. Demons serve many purposes in Buddhism which gives us a different aspect of how they affected Buddha and his struggles to reach enlightenment. Demons represent everything a Buddhist wishes to transcend.

Ancient artworks depict vivid and ominous images. These likenesses have been found in long abandoned caves in the Himalayas; beautiful murals on their walls. Colorful paintings, sculptures and ceremonial ritual objects that are found in museums. All attest to the Buddha’s confrontations with demons.

The Wrathful Deities – are ferocious demonic beings. Terrifying forms, many of them baring fangs, drinking blood or wearing garlands of severed heads. Though these hideous, hair-raising images seem contradictory to Buddhist ideals, they are not the personifications of evil or demonic forces. Rather, the Wrathful Deities are benevolent gods, symbolizing the tremendous task to vanquish evil. These beings inspire determination, destroys negativity and ignorance and instills fear in the enemy. These deities are an embodiment of the “Demonic Divine” and serve as protectors and guardians of the Buddhist faith.

q3Oni – the Oni are great horned demons who appear in a variety of colors. They have three fingers and three toes. Oni is represented as having enormous, thick, misshaped bodies often having the head of an oxen or horse. Sometimes they can be found with three eyes, as well. This demon is a torturer and jailer in the Buddhist hell. Oni is responsible for illness and disease. Buddhist priests performed annual rituals in order to keep the demons at bay. The Oni are cruel and lecherous entities often said to swoop down from the sky to steal the souls of those who lay dying.

Blue Three Eyed Oni

Preta – the Sanskrit word for Hungry Ghost is “Preta”, which means “departed one”. Hungry q2Ghosts are pitiful creatures with enormous empty bellies and pinhole mouths. Their necks are so thin they cannot swallow, so remain hungry. These beings are insatiable; the greedy ones, trapped in agony. The Preta are reborn entities or spirits that are trapped by the evil deeds they have done. Hungry Ghosts are associated with compulsion, greed, addiction and obsession. Preta Hell

Mara – the personification of evil and temptation. Mara is one of the earliest non-human beings to appear in Buddhist scriptures. Mara is a demon, often referred to as the “Lord of Death”. Mara personifies the fulfillment of desire of the “Triple Thirst”; the thirst for existence, the thirst for pleasure, the thirst for power.

Mara’s role in Buddha’s path to enlightenment is significant. The soon-to-be Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama sat in meditation. Mara, the demon of evil and temptation; the seducer; the provider of sensory pleasures; the master of delusions and bringer of spiritual death brought his three daughters, Desire, Fulfillment and Regret to seduce Siddhartha. Siddhartha remained in meditation. Then Mara called upon his army of demons and monsters to attack him. Yet Siddhartha remained untouched.

q1Finally, the Lord of Death claimed that enlightenment seat rightfully belonged to him and not to the mortal Siddhartha. Mara’s horde of demons cried out together, “I am his witness!” Then Mara challenged Siddhartha, “Who will speak for you?”

Mara Attacking Siddhartha

Then Siddhartha placed his right hand on the earth, and the earth spoke, “I bear you witness!” With that, Mara disappeared. As the morning sun broke the horizon, Siddhartha Gautama realized enlightenment and became the Buddha.

In contrast to western representations, the demons of Asia are primarily the powerful ancient spirits of nature, who require recognition and appeasement. Many offerings are set out to this day to placate these demons.

q

Buddha Achieves Enlightenment

Sources:

Dorjeshugden.com

Nortonsimon.org

Lizaphoenix.com

Barbara O’Brien – About.com

People.opposingviews.com

Faeriesight Blog Spot

Dec 31

Hindu Beliefs on Demons

Lisa Shaner-Hilty

Lisa Shaner-Hilty

I am a supervisor for several programs assisting individuals with intellectual and mental challenges. I have 2 Masters Degrees from Penn State in Communication Disorders and Psychology. My first experiences with the paranormal were around age 5. I’ve been fascinated ever since. I have been an investigator for over 10 years (first 5 years with a team, then leaving to form my own more than 5 years ago, and have taught classes on investigation, evidence analysis (especially EVP) and debunking at local community college. I also have abilities, some of which began at age 5 and others around puberty. Therefore my fields of major interest are investigation and psychic and empath. While I am open to considering all aspect and viewpoints, I am dedicated to seeking natural explanations first before anything is considered evidence.
Lisa Shaner-Hilty

Latest posts by Lisa Shaner-Hilty (see all)

rakEvery belief system seems to include the alleged existence of demons. As you will notice, National Paranormal Society is compiling a series of articles detailing how those who follow each belief system view demons, and exploring whether or not any proof of demons exists.

“According to scholars, the evolution of Hinduism may be divided into three periods: the ancient (6500 BC-1000 AD), the medieval (1000-1800 AD), and the modern (1800 AD to present). Hinduism is commonly thought to be the oldest religion in the history of human civilization. (“Theories About the Origin of Hinduism”, article taken fromHinduismabout.com). The name was taken from the Indus River, along which the peoples who are believed to have developed Hinduism were settled. Hinduism, a polytheistic religion (believing in more than one God or deity), ranks fourth in order of most prevalent worldwide.

According to Hinduism Facts, each living creature, human or not, has a soul. “The soul travels through 84 million species” before earning entrance into a human body. The soul is then reincarnated into another body based on the karma during life; this new body could be that of human or another creature. The soul is to strive to reach unity with the Supreme Soul, a state of Nirvana.

There is “no equivalent of Satan in Hinduism. Hinduism has a universal Brahman which pervades all things good as well as evil…there are only three principles or entities that exist in reality…Brahm (God), Jeevatma (the countless souls) and Maya (the material energy).” (HinduismStackExchange) “All the ‘demons’ in the Hindu religion are classified under the ‘soul’ category. Due to their Karmas (actions) they are born in those wicked races and have such sinful propensities…no one can be equal to God, thus, there is no room for any independent being to work against the will/design of God in Hinduism. (ibid)

“Hindu scriptures state that any person performs actions only according to his will. Of course, these actions are shaped by his company and atmosphere, but there never is any inherently evil being whispering sin into his ears. In fact, Hinduism denies the very idea of evil. Evil, according to the Hindu scriptures, is non-existent. There are three modes of nature – sattva, rajas and tamas. The demons and other cruel people are said to be possessed of tamas, but even they can overcome this darkness by purifying their mind through association with sattvic matter/personalities.” (ibid) Tamas refers to the concept of lethargy, ignorance, darkness or death. It is not a demonic entity, or an entity at all. Rather it is the lowest of the forms of energy in both Hinduism and Buddhism. (dictionaryofspiritualterms.com)

KALI: “Kali is an angry form of Shakti (Shiva’s consort). Here the statement that Kali is a demon is only correct if the word “demon” is understood in its ancient touch. Her fierce depictions are only based upon her need to fight against desires of one’s ego. She is misunderstood by Europeans and Americans, and her “demonic” attributes are artificially given to her by people from other cultures. She is not a demon… She is included here only with purpose to invalidate this” depiction. (“Hinduism Is” by Sanatana Dharma)

In summary, Hinduism seems to refute the opening premise of this article, which I have allowed to remain above as it relates to the purpose of this series of articles. Hinduism does not teach the existence of demons per se, but rather only the negative actions cognizantly chosen actions of humans along their soul’s journey toward Nirvana. Such behaviors result in negative karma and a regression to a lower form upon death and reincarnation. The soul then has another opportunity to correct the bad karma and move back to a higher form in its next life.

Sources:
HinduismFacts
Hinduismabout.com
HinduismStackExchange.com
“Hinduism Is” by Sanatana Dharma
dictionaryofspiritualterms.com

Dec 31

Islamic Beliefs on Demons

Lisa Shaner-Hilty

Lisa Shaner-Hilty

I am a supervisor for several programs assisting individuals with intellectual and mental challenges. I have 2 Masters Degrees from Penn State in Communication Disorders and Psychology. My first experiences with the paranormal were around age 5. I’ve been fascinated ever since. I have been an investigator for over 10 years (first 5 years with a team, then leaving to form my own more than 5 years ago, and have taught classes on investigation, evidence analysis (especially EVP) and debunking at local community college. I also have abilities, some of which began at age 5 and others around puberty. Therefore my fields of major interest are investigation and psychic and empath. While I am open to considering all aspect and viewpoints, I am dedicated to seeking natural explanations first before anything is considered evidence.
Lisa Shaner-Hilty

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demon6Every belief system seems to include the alleged existence of demons. As you will notice, National Paranormal Society is compiling a series of articles detailing how those who follow each belief system view demons, and exploring whether or not any proof of demons exists.

Islam is the second most commonly practiced religion in the world. Dating back to 622 AD, Islam is based on the teachings of the prophet Muhammad (570-632AD), who is considered by Muslims (those who practice Islam) as the last of the prophets of Allah, according to EncyclopaediaBritannica (britannica.com). These teachings given to Muhammad are detailed in The Qur’an, the sacred book of Islam.

THE JINN: The Qur’an references the creation of entities called Jinn, which were said to be created from smokeless flame or fire for the purpose of worshipping Allah. Abdul Barr in his book, “The World of Jinn and Devils” states that there are different types of Jinn. Most relevant to this article are the aamar, who live among man; the shaitan who are evil and work against man; and the stronger, more dangerous afreet. Barr goes on to describe shayteen, or “satan” or “devil”, defined as jinn and man who are disbelieving and disobedient.

Similar to the story of creation of man in Christianity and Judaism, the Qur’an teaches that Adam was created the first man, and was made from clay. Allah instructed the angels and jinn to prostrate themselves before his creation Adam. One of the jinn, Iblis (Satan), refused to prostrate himself before Adam and was banished from the heaven by Allah. The Qur’an references shaytaan (plural of shayteen) as being both jinn and human in form, human followers being “hizh”. Followers, both disobedient jinn and man are condemned to hell by Allah. The Qur’an states that the influence of the jinn who chose to be disobedient is in whispering evil into the hearts of man. These whispers are intended to lead man to commit acts contrary to their faith. Some are said to be possessed by Jinn. Those who practice Islam are encouraged to whisper “I seek refuge in Allah” when shaytaan whisper to them, in order to repel the entity.

“The Jinn are beings created with free will, living on earth in a world parallel to mankind. The Arabic word Jinn is from the verb ‘Janna’ which means to hide or conceal. Thus, they are physically invisible from man as their description suggests. This invisibility is one of the reasons why some people have denied their existence.” (Invitation to Islam) This article further states that some jinn chose to be Muslim while others chose not to follow Allah, but rather to follow Iblis. “That which clearly distinguishes the Jinn from mankind, are their powers and abilities. Allah has given them these powers as a test for them. If they oppress others with them, then they will be held accountable. By knowing of their powers, we can often make sense of much of the mysteries which go on around us. One of the powers of the Jinn, is that they are able to take on any physical form they like.” (ibid) The article further discusses the possibility that what humans have perceived as aliens may in fact be jinn; likewise that alleged demonic possession is also the work of evil jinn, as well as activities that fall under the category of the occult.

DEMONS: The Qur’an does reference Muhammad and Jesus casting out demons. There is disagreement among Islamic scholars, however, regarding whether demons and jinn are 2 distinct entities, or one and the same. Their actions and abilities to possess a human, as well as cover great distances in seconds and take on various forms are the same.

BUT DO THEY EXIST? As in other belief systems, there is no undeniable proof that jinn or demons exist. While anecdotal evidence is plentiful, personal experience, from a scientific standpoint, is not considered proof. The first link provided alleges to be proof of a jinn lurking in a mosque:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7wkrAIZIHM. However, it appears to simply be a person on all fours dressed in black.

The second link provided depicts an alleged possession of a woman by a jinn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkwffkJiSVE. A number of possible natural explanations for this alleged possession may be presented to debunk. An investigator would need to consider Tourette Syndrome. Tourette’s is a neurological/psychiatric disorder which at times presents with uncontrolled inappropriate verbalizations, which are frequently strained (possibly due to the individual’s attempts to fight the verbal tics; possibly simply a part of the disorder itself). Other physical conditions may manifest with strained speech as well, such as cerebral palsy and other disorders which impact the vocal musculature. Outright fraud must also be considered. The woman who is alleged to be possessed is not present in the video; therefore we have no idea what is in reality transpiring. Unfortunately falsified evidence is quite common in the paranormal, and therefore cannot be ruled out. In short, there remains no irrefutable evidence of demons under the Islamic belief system.

Sources:
The Qur’an
IslamicAwareness.net
“The World of Jinn and Devils” by Ibn Abdu Barr
Britannica.com (Muhammad Prophet of Islam by: Seyyed Hossein Nasr)
Invitation to Islam, Issue 4, January 1998
The Jinn (In the Qur?an and Sunnah) by Mustafa Ashour
The Jinn by Abu Al Hasan (Al Jumuah Magazine)

Oct 24

Demonic Possession and the resemblance to Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis

Holly Moreland

Holly Moreland

Director - Div 2 at National Paranormal Society
Hi, My name is Holly. I live in the middle of Michigan on a small quiet lake with my significant other. I have 2 children, and a couple I choose to also call my own! I have had a few experiences that have made me scratch my head about so I reached out to see what others have encountered! I love to research and communicate what I find in any aspect of life! I also seem to have a need to help others or I could say others seem to seek me out for help! Happy to be part of the group!!.
Holly Moreland

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Demonic Possession and the resemblance to Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis.

By Holly Moreland

 

Lets talk today about “demonic possession” and the resemblance to Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis. What is Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis you ask? I will get to that in a minute. I first want to tell you what originally sparked my interest in this particular subject. I am guilty! My interest did not come from the very well known movie “The Exorcist”, but came from watching a movie “Exorcism of Emily Rose”. Many of you may have watched this movie based on the case of Anneliese Michel. Now I am not saying that Anneliese suffered from this disease. Only that it peeked my interest and some of the symptoms are so similar. Makes one wonder if this disease had been discovered back then if it was possible it could have been the cause and had a different outcome.

I came across an actual case of Susannah Cahalan. A healthy 24 year old reporter for the New York Post. She was the 217th person to be diagnosed with this disease in 2009. The disease was first identified in 2007. I have attached a link to one of many articles telling her story.

Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis is a rare autoimmune disease that can attack the brain. Antibodies turn on the brain its self and causes it to swell. The disease mostly infects young women and is often mis diagnosed as psychological disorders, and possibly demonic possession. Although extremely rare, you can see why asking the tough questions and searching for all answers is crucial to the paranormal community.

Main symptoms

Flu-like symptoms

Memory deficits, including loss of short-term memory;

Sleep disorders;

Speech dysfunction – the patient is no longer able to produce coherent language or may be completely unable to communicate

Cognitive and behavioral disturbances – confused thinking, hallucinations, delusional thinking, dis inhibited behaviors;

Seizures;

Movement disorders – usually of the arms and legs and the mouth and tongue, but may include full body spasms. These types of movements are very common in Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis and the patient is unable to control them. They are often quite severe, requiring the patient to be restrained and sedated for their own safety and those of their care-givers. Sometimes patients are unable to move, and may appear like a statue, holding the same position for hours or days (catatonia);

Loss of consciousness – The patient may be semi-conscious or may slip into a coma;

Autonomic dysfunction – erratic breathing, heartbeat and blood pressure; loss of bladder control and bowel movements;

Central hypoventilation – the patient may stop breathing, and may require a mechanical breathing machine.

Vision and/or hearing may also be impaired.

I encourage you to read Susannah’s story! How her life was turned upside down! Her symptoms were mimicking that of what some people believe to be demonic possession. Also read the article attached on the disease. What are your thoughts? What might we ask or do if we come across such a case this extreme?

http://www.antinmdafoundation.org/…/what-is-anti-nmda-rece…/

Oct 06

St. Michael’s Prayer for Protection

Lillee Allee

Lillee Allee

Representative at National Paranormal Society
Lillee Allee has studied religion, spirituality and paranormal investigation for over 40 years. She is the widow of John D. Allee, an internationally known dark magician. She continues to consult in paranormal investigation. Her specialties include: Marian and cultural spiritual phenomena/apparitions, spiritual support to teams and clients who want spiritual counseling after investigation, evp work and old school audio, the accuracy and research of past life regression and seance, and spiritual protection. Lillee was also one of the first to incorporate trained canines into paranormal investigations. She hosts a radio program on the para-x.com network, Happy Mediums, with Debra Ann Freeman, who also consults with paranormal investigative teams in Southern New England. Lillee is a published author and journalist, and legal clergy with degrees in psychology and mass communication. Lillee walks on the middle path sees learning as a life-long endeavor and is looking to make a difference and contribution to this field before she too will be heard on someone’s EVP. Lillee is always available to educate and consult and continues to enjoy guesting on other’s radio and television programs.
Lillee Allee

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12079177_1168810169801092_9132659252124991635_nThere is only one entity in the history of the Church that is both an angel and a saint: St. Michael the Archangel. This protection prayer is particularly good for paranormal teams, though St Michael is the patron saint of the military and the police. He also is patron of grocers, mariners, paratroopers, and sickness. The story around the creation of this prayer is particularly unusual.
In 1884, Pope Leo XIII was in conference with Cardinals (high priests of the Catholic Church). He celebrated Mass, and suddenly fainted. Physicians were called and found no pulse. Suddenly, the pontiff came back and explained that he had had a horrible vision of evil spirits released from their captivity in hell in order to destroy the Church. He then saw St. Michael appear and threw them all back into the pit. He then wrote out the long prayer you will find below. It was also part of practice for the St. Michael Prayer to be said in church after a low mass during Vatican I. This practice vanished with the beginning of Vatican II.
St. Michael’s feast day was originally September 29th and some still celebrate that today. His color (for candles, for example) is red, and his direction is south when occult rituals place angels in every quarter of a ritual. His name, which a direct nod to his story in the Christian Bible, means “Who is like God?” In angel hierarchy, he is a prince of the Seraphim.
Sacred places devoted to Michael first appeared in the 4th century, as a healing angel, and then believers saw him as a protector and the leader of the army of God against By the 6th century, devotions to Archangel Michael were widespread both in the Eastern and Western Churches. Today Christians and others venerate St. Michael.

The popular short version (most common:

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen

In Latin, the Vatican I version:

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium. Ímperet ílli Déus, súpplices deprecámur: tuque, prínceps milítiæ cæléstis, Sátanam aliósque spíritus malígnos, qui ad perditiónem animárum pervagántur in múndo, divína virtúte, in inférnum detrúde. Ámen

The long original version:

“O Glorious Prince of the heavenly host, St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the battle and in the terrible warfare that we are waging against the principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against the evil spirits. Come to the aid of man, whom Almighty God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of Satan.

“Fight this day the battle of the Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in Heaven. That cruel, ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels. Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay and cast into eternal perdition souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. This wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity.

“These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where the See of Holy Peter and the Chair of Truth has been set up as the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be.

“Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate thee as their protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious power of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly find mercy in the sight of the Lord; and vanquishing the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.
V. Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered ye hostile powers.
R. The Lion of the tribe of Judah has conquered the root of David.
V. Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord.
R. As we have hoped in Thee.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.

Let us pray.
O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy Name, and as supplicants, we implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin Immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious St. Michael the Archangel, Thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all the other unclean spirits who wander about the world for the injury of the human race and the ruin of souls. Amen.”

Sources:

Roman Raccolta, July 23, 1898, supplement approved July 31,1902, London: Burnes, Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1935, 12th edition.

St. Michael the Archangel. Retrieved October 5, 2015 from http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=308

St. Michael the Archangel Prayer. Retrieved October 4, 2015 from http://www.traditioninaction.org/religious/b009rpMichael.htm

Jun 30

Demonology according to King James

Samuel Sanfratello

Samuel Sanfratello

My name is Samuel Sanfratello (Sam). I am a NY state dual-certified Mathematics and Special Education teacher and a nationally certified Consulting Hypnotist. I am also the proud owner and operator of two companies: Monroe Hypnosis and Rochester Analytics. I am a 2nd generation Spiritualist (American Spiritualism) and a certified Medium with the Plymouth Spiritualist Church (the mother church of modern spiritualism). I am an organizer of the Rochester Paranormal Researchers, founded in 2007 and a lead investigator for the Paranormal Science Institute’s F.R.I.N.G.E team. In my spare time, I give back to my community by doing volunteer work for my church and for my local chamber of commerce. I became interested in the paranormal when I spoke with a spirit in my grandmother’s house in the early 1980s. I enjoy reading publications and scientific articles about the fringe sciences and I enjoy sharing these understandings with others.
Samuel Sanfratello

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For a historical perspective of demonology, I’m going to provide some summary points for a book King James I (who commissioned the King James Bible) commissioned in the late 1500s titled: “Daemonolgie”. At that time, the people of England and Scotland lived in fear of the devil and witchcraft. To this end, King James commissioned this book which is set into 3 parts: part one is scripture which he believes validates the existence of the devil, part two is on sorcery and witchcraft, and part three is on spirits that trouble humanity.

One of the theories based on 2. Cor. 11. 14. states that, “Diuel is permitted at som-times to put himself in the liknes of the Saintes, it is plaine in the Scriptures, where it is said, that Sathan can trans-forme himselfe into an Angell of light” (James, 4). The skill is equated to that of a modern day illusionist. “the Deuill may delude our senses, since we see by common proofe, that simple juglars will make an hundreth thinges seeme both to our eies and eares otherwaies then they are” (James, 24). To this end, there was a separation of magicians and necromancers from witches and sorcerers.

In Book 2, sorcery and witchcraft are defined as, “ I say, some of them rich and worldly-wise, some of them fatte or corpulent in their bodies, and most part of them altogether giuen ouer to the pleasures of the flesh, continual haunting of companie, and all kind of merrines, both lawfull and vnlawfull, which are thinges directly contrary to the symptomes of Melancholie, whereof I spake, and further experience daylie proues how loath they are to confesse without torture, which witnesseth their guiltines, where by the contrary, the Melancholicques neuer spares to bewray themselues, by their continuall discourses, feeding therby their humor in that which they thinke no crime” (James, 30). James claims that witches use their knowledge mostly from a desire for revenge, worldly riches, or to satisfy their cruel minds by hurting men (James, 35). To this end, witches were able to utilize the powers of the devil to punish people by: causing children to misbehave utilizing “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), make people sick, and haunt houses and the inhabitants of houses (James, 47).

Necromancers were said to share the ability of the Devil to possess dead bodies (James, 41). He also mentions that “the soule once parting from the bodie, cannot wander anie longer in the worlde, but to the owne resting place must it goe immediatlie, abiding the conjunction of the bodie againe, at the latter daie” (James, 41).

Amongst the more modern label of demons, Incubi and Sucubi are described in Book 3, Chapter 3, “The description of a particular sort of that kind of following spirites, called Incubi and Succubi: And what is the reason wherefore these kindes of spirites hauntes most the Northerne and barbarous partes of the world” (James 66). There are indepth references to people being physically violated by these spirits as well as those who, “while we are sleeping, intercludes so our vitall spirites, and takes all power from vs, as maks vs think that there were some vnnaturall burden or spirite, lying vpon vs and holding vs downe.“ (James, 69). This bares a startling resemblance to the scientific phenomena of “night terrors”.

Lastly, James references Matthew 12 and Mark 3 to describe how the “Dæmoniackes” possess humans and the effects of possession. In Matthew, the possessed became “blind and dumb”; however, the possessed were restored through Christ/God and prayer. James sites that for all of these cases, the way to rid spirits and works of the devil is to “The one is ardent prayer to God, both of these persones that are troubled with them, and of that Church whereof they are. The other is the purging of themselues by amende ment of life from such sinnes as haue procured that extraordinarie plague” (James, 60).

Source:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/kjd/

Mar 25

The monastery of the devil

Luciferby Αναστασία Μεγρέμη

In Argolida, an abandoned monastery creates fear among the citizens. The monastery of St. Dimitrios the Egg one (my apologies for the clumsy translation) found its name from an egg. Before the monastery was built the builders wanted to find a strong foundation for it. There is a big isolated rock just below the mountain and they liked it. To test it, they prayed to St. Dimitrios and then threw an egg from the top of the hi.The egg did not break. So they built the monastery there.

In the monastery many years ago five monks lived there. Suddenly, they started to die one after another from a heart attack and they were buried there. After that it was abandoned. According to witnesses, after some time, a group of kids went into the church and saw the walls full of occult symbols, all the saints paintings and pictures were black like they were burned even though no one reported a fire. And on the floor, the monks’ bones were uncovered from the graves. Most of the symbols were satanic in origin. The villagers knew that satanic rites took place in the monastery but no one talked. The ministry however took action and cleared the walls of the symbols. The energy though still remains…

Someone that is curious enough to visit is warned by the villagers even about the road leading to it. Strange voices that come out of nowhere have been reported and a negative energy is felt.

Another thing that is quite strange is the reports of two figures on the rocks above the monastery; the one is of Satan and the other of Virgin Mary. It is controversial whether the two figures are actually seen on the rocks and according to many, no man could have painted that. The voices are still heard and the energy of the monastery remains a mystery…

Mar 22

Non Religion & Demonology

the-inferno-canto-9When we hear the term ‘demonology’ we tend to cringe … The term demon (or daemon) you will find will literally translate as such: an evil spirit or devil, especially one thought to possess a person or act as a tormenter in hell. What most people may not know about demonology is that it was considered a field in science in early modern Europe which is in part quite responsible in forming a rigorous and rational investigation into the natural world. Some of these contributions include contributions to nature, medicine and religion.

To understand in large; we must first distinguish demonology from witchcraft. In the middle ages; demonology was generally practiced by an intellectual elite. Charges of witchcraft were usually leveled at people further down the social hierarchy. These ideas of demons were grounded within Aristotelian ideas such as hot-cold and wet-dry and of course the four elements—earth, air, water and fire. Humoral medicine would have mapped easily onto this scheme. The study of demons was, in other words, a completely natural project.

Now that we are discovering some of the differences between the two as established in the middle ages, let’s fast forward to the 21st century.

In modern medicine we know a lot about various ‘would-be’ symptoms of a possible demonic case. For example; we can use modern knowledge of the medical field to know when we are seeing a seizure, or even a case of mental disorders. Back in the ancient times the Neolithic society and most people believed that mental illness and abnormality were due in large to demons. If for example a man has continual seizures, he would have been viewed as under a possession where then trephination or other religion ceremonies would have been used to treat the mental illness. There were some societies such as ancient Rome where many believed that mental illness was a punishment from the gods. If you angered the gods, this would therefore lead to you or a family member to suffer from mental disorders.

Now that we have the bricks set, and we kind of have an idea of what demonology is about I would like to approach beliefs (the whys and why-nots!)

Although the bible often references demons, there are those who simply don’t believe at all, or even those who will accept the existence of a demon before they would any religion. In all of my years of study on this particular subject, I have found that it is widely believed that demons lurk nearby and are waiting for you to fall into that solitary weakness or oppression. In some circles, it is easier for people to accept the existence of a demon than it is to accept any religion.

It is of this author’s opinion (and certainly the opinion of various scholars) that a demon presence can be easily accepted o’er a religious belief because we see a lot of human suffering, mental illness, and oppression all around us on a daily basis. We don’t often see reminders of a Promised Land or even Jesus Christ as often. This is not the result of it not being there, or because it doesn’t exist, but more so because we tend to focus more on the darker shades of life as opposed to the other. Popular media can as well become a culprit in this cycle of beliefs. Demons have become quite popular in recent media such as television shows, video games, blockbuster movies, books and even music. Because of these various levels of information coming at all angles, it opens doors for the non-believers to accept and believe that demons can and do exist even if they don’t have belief in religion.

So, why do others believe?

Mark 5:1-13 (new King James Version)

5 Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. 2 And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, 3 who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, 4 because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. 5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.

6 When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. 7 And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.”

8 For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!” 9 Then He asked him, “What is your name?”

And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10 Also he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country.

11 Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. 12 So all the demons begged Him, saying, “Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.” 13 And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea.

In some cases, the New Testament had talked with them about demons and what Jesus has spoken to them. However. These passages may also make a believer of Jesus not believe in demons at all. A Christian for instance has been taught that Jesus Christ has power over demons and this could lead some to believe that maybe all of the demons have since disappeared through time. Certainly the Old Testament talks a little more about demons and modern believers tend to feel that demons don’t exist at all even though they are well aware of the devil and his presence.

The teeter totter seems to never quite get a balance as we delve into demonology in a whole and there is no true equilibrium. In the 21st century we are more aware of medical reasons that can outweigh signs of a demonic presence. These facts alone begin to lay brick for those who don’t believe in demons at all and then we can sit back and observe that the belief of demons has been around since the first ever documented word of mankind.
Can it boil down to individual perception? Absolutely!

No two people are ever going to agree on every belief and religions view (or a lack thereof.) We can peel back the layers on anything presented and point out the why-nots and then continue to add opinion or theorize based solely on the perceived view we had obtained with the initial observation. It’s very easy to assume that if someone has reported a demonic case that perhaps it’s simply a mental illness. For some it’s very easy to assume that demons are floating in the air unseen just waiting for their way in. Not everyone who believes in demonic possession believes in religion even though it is believed in large the two go together. In any case, the best approach would be to research and study. Many argue that demonic possession doesn’t afflict people today. Some theorize them as having relation to alien civilizations and the list goes on.

I will leave you with this:

(1)Demonology is a real field of study, frequently misunderstood by those on the outside looking in. To be a demonologist involves a thorough and detailed approach, often working with the faith of the Demonologist. Demonology was originally simply the study of demons and nothing more, however as time has gone on demonology has changed to become a spiritual field in which people feel called to work in. The evolution of demonologists has left us with a field of spiritual warriors and such notable people as the Warrens who brought it to modern attention.

References:
(1) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+5%3A1-13&version=NKJV
(2) http://www.pachs.net/blogs/comments/really_demonology_was_a_science/
(3) http://study.com/academy/lesson/reforms-in-abnormal-psychology-demonology-through-humanitarian-reforms.html

Mar 22

Christianity

Alexander LaFountain

Alexander LaFountain

Sr. Director/Demonology Dept Chair at National Paranormal Society
Alexander LaFountain is a Demonologist based out of Texas. He was a member of Ghost Watchers Paranormal Investigations when he lived in Georgia and became a member of the Afterlife Research Team when he relocated to east Texas. He spent the last several years studying demonology and handling demonic based cases. He is also working towards becoming a Catholic Priest in the Independent Catholic Community.
Alexander LaFountain

Latest posts by Alexander LaFountain (see all)

AnamelechThe devil is a very familiar creature to most Christians. The devil (or Satan, Lucifer) is a fallen angel (a demon) who leads an unknown number of fellow fallen angels who oppose God. The common Christian belief and teaching, is that Lucifer was once an angel who let his pride get the best of him. Lucifer (with his pride as the driving force behind his decisions) managed to get 1/3rd of the Heavenly Host to rebel against God. Lucifer led his army in a cosmic battle against God who in turn sent out an army led by St. Michael the Archangel. Lucifer and his followers were ultimately defeated and cast down to the earth. Jesus Christ actually refers to the falling of Lucifer to the earth in Luke 10:18, “And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.”

Lucifer, along with those other fallen angels, became twisted and perverted by their fall. They retained though many of their angelic powers but found that God had placed limits on what they could and could not do. Even in their fallen state, the demons are subject to God’s will like any other part of creation. They roam the earth seeking people to victimize as St. Peter points out in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Christians are taught that the best way to combat against the Devil and demonic forces is through our faith. Most Christians refer to Ephesians 6:10-17 as the way in which one can defend and move against demonic forces.

Ephesians 6:10-17

Last of all I want to remind you that your strength must come from the Lord’s mighty power within you. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand safe against all strategies and tricks of Satan. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world.

So use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will still be standing up.

But to do this, you will need the strong belt of truth and the breastplate of God’s approval. Wear shoes that are able to speed you on as you preach the Good News of peace with God. In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. And you will need the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit—which is the Word of God.

Christians believe that through our faith in God we can not only defend ourselves from demons but we can also fight back against them. Many Christian denominations feature offices or people who are trained in that denomination to handle demonic cases. In Catholicism for example, Exorcists are Priests who have undergone specialized training that equips them for ministry work that involves possessions and demonic issues. Different denominations have different ways of approaching spiritual warfare though so not all agree on who can and cannot participate in certain areas of spiritual warfare.

In Christianity prayers to the Lord are used to drive away demonic forces and commands in the name of the Lord are also used. It is stressed however that faith in the Lord is the ultimate key to defending from and driving away demonic forces. Through Jesus Christ, Christians believe that we have the authority to rebuke demons. Lack of faith in Jesus Christ means that one has a lack of authority in rebuking demonic entities as pointed out in Acts 19:13-16, “Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.”

Demons in the Christian religion are seen as fallen angels who possess a lot of supernatural power. They, like humanity, have free will and at one time decided to rebel against God. Demons, unlike humanity, do not have the ability to repent of their sins and thus are stuck with the decisions that they made. This is one reason for their hatred against humanity. They also hate humanity because we are made in God’s image and thus we reflect God which is a constant reminder of what they lost. They also hate humanity because of humanity’s relationship to God and God’s ultimate love for humanity. This inspires jealousy in them and they also believe that by destroying humans one by one, they can get even with God.

Feb 28

Spiritism

Courtesy of:  http://www.religionresourcesonline.org

spi1Spiritism is a philosophical doctrine, established in France in the mid-nineteenth century.

Spiritism, or French spiritualism, is based on books written by French educator Hypolite Léon Denizard Rivail under the pseudonym Allan Kardec reporting séances in which he observed a series of phenomena that he attributed to incorporeal intelligence (spirits). His assumption of spirit communication was validated by many contemporaries, among them many scientists and philosophers who attended séances and studied the phenomena. His work was later extended by writers like Leon Denis, Arthur Conan Doyle, Camille Flammarion, Ernesto Bozzano, Chico Xavier, Divaldo Pereira Franco, Waldo Vieira, Johannes Greber and others.

Spiritism has adherents in many countries throughout the world, including Spain, United States, Japan, Germany, France, England, Argentina, Portugal and especially Brazil, which has the largest proportion and the greatest number of followers.

Character of Spiritism

Many spiritists see themselves as not adhering to a religion, but to a philosophy with scientific inspirations and moral consequences. Allan Kardec refers to Spiritism in What is Spiritism? as a science dedicated to the relationship between incorporeal beings (spirits) and human beings. In the other hand, many spiritists don’t see any problem about calling it a religion as well.

Spiritists pray to God, who is seen as the ultimate cause, or source, of all things and beings. Spiritist doctrine argues that if God is perceived as a natural and somewhat necessary hypothesis within the Spiritist paradigm, that does not constitute religious reasoning.

The Spiritist moral principles are in agreement with the ones taught by Jesus (according to Kardec), Francis of Assisi, Paul the Apostle, Buddha and Gandhi. Spiritist philosophical inquiry is concerned with the study of moral aspects in the context of an eternal life in spiritual evolution through reincarnation, a process believers hold as revealed by Spirits. Sympathetic research on Spiritism by scientists can be found in the works of Sir William Crookes, Ernesto Bozzano, the Society for Psychical Research, William James, the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine winner Charles Richet, Prof. Ian Stevenson’s group at University of Virginia , and Prof. G. Schwartz at University of Arizona.

Precursors

spi2Developments leading directly to Kardec’s research were the famous Fox sisters and the phenomenon of the Talking boards. Interest in Mesmerism also contributed to the early Spiritist practice.

Emanuel Swedenborg

Emanuel Swedenborg (January 29, 1688 – March 29, 1772) was a Swedish scientist, philosopher, seer, and theologian. Swedenborg had a prolific career as an inventor and scientist. Then at age fifty-six he entered into a spiritual phase of his life, where he experienced visions of the spiritual world and claimed to have talked with angels, devils, and spirits by visiting heaven and hell. He claimed of being directed by God, the Lord Jesus Christ to reveal the doctrines of His second coming.

From 1747 until his death in 1772 he lived in Stockholm, Holland and London. During these 25 years he wrote 14 works of a spiritual nature of which most were published during his lifetime. Throughout this period he was befriended by many people who regarded him as a kind and warm-hearted man. Many people disbelieved in his visions; based on what they had heard, they drew the conclusions that he had lost his mind or had a vivid imagination. But they refrained from ridiculing him in his presence. Those who talked with him understood that he was devoted to his beliefs. He never argued matters of religion, and if obliged to defend himself he usually did it with gentleness and in a few words.

The Fox Sisters

Sisters Catherine (1838–92), Leah (1814–90) and Margaret (1836–93) Fox played an important role in the creation of Spiritualism. The daughters of David and Margaret Fox, they were residents of Hydesville, New York. In 1848, the family began to hear unexplained rapping sounds. Kate and Margaret conducted channeling sessions in an attempt to contact the presumed spiritual entity creating the sounds, and claimed contact with the spirit of a peddler who was allegedly murdered and buried beneath the house. A skeleton later found in the basement seemed to confirm this. The Fox girls became instant celebrities. They demonstrated their communication with the spirit by using taps and knocks, automatic writing, and later even voice communication, as the spirit took control of one of the girls.

Skeptics suspected this was nothing but clever deception and fraud. Indeed, sister Margaret eventually confessed to using her toe-joints to produce the sound. And although she later recanted this confession, both she and her sister Catherine were widely considered discredited, and died in poverty. Nonetheless, belief in the ability to communicate with the dead grew rapidly, becoming a religious movement called Spiritualism, and contributing greatly to Kardec’s ideas.

Talking boards

Just after the news of the Fox affair came to France, people became even more interested in what was sometimes termed the “Spiritual Telegraph”. In the beginning, a table spun with the “energy” from the spirits present by means of human channeling (hence the term “medium”. But, as the process was too slow and cumbersome, a new one was devised, supposedly from a suggestion by the spirits themselves: the talking board.

Early examples of talking boards were baskets attached to a pointy object that spun under the hands of the mediums, to point at letters printed on cards scattered around, or engraved on, the table. Such devices were called corbeille à bec (“basket with a beak”). The pointy object was usually a pencil.

Talking boards were tricky to set up and to operate. A typical séance using a talking board saw people sitting at a round table, feet resting on the chairs’ supports and hands on the table top or, later, on the talking board itself. The energy channeled from the spirits through their hands made the board spin around and find letters which, once written down by a scribe, would form intelligible words, phrases, and sentences. The system was an early, and less effective, precursor of the Ouija boards that later became so popular.

Franz Anton Mesmer

Franz Anton Mesmer (May 23, 1734 – March 5, 1815) discovered what he called magnétism animal (animal magnetism) and others often called mesmerism. The evolution of Mesmer’s ideas and practices led James Braid (1795-1860) to develop hypnosis in 1842.

Spiritism incorporated and kept some practices inspired or directly taken from Mesmerism. Among them, the healing touch, still in Europe, and the “energization” of water to be used as a medicine for spirit and body.

Doctrine

Basic books

The basic doctrine of Spiritism (“the Codification”) is defined in five books written and published by Allan Kardec during his life:

  1. The Spirits’ Book — Defines the guidelines of the doctrine, covering points like God, Spirit, Universe, Man, Society, Culture, Morals and Religion.
  2. The Book on Mediums — Details the “mechanics” of the spiritual world, the processes involved in channeling spirits, techniques to be developed by would-be mediums, etc.
  3. The Gospel According to Spiritism — Comments on the Gospels, highlighting passages that, according to Kardec, would show the ethical fundamentals shared by all religious and philosophical systems. This may be the first religious book to acknowledge the existence of life elsewhere in the Universe, based on Jesus’ saying “The houses in the realm of my father are many” (John, 14, 1-3).
  4. Heaven and Hell — A didactic series of interviews with spirits of deceased people intending to establish a correlation between the lives they lead and their conditions in the beyond.
  5. The Genesis According to Spiritism — Tries to reconcile religion and science, dealing with the three major points of friction between the two: the origin of the universe (and of life, as a consequence) and the concepts of miracle and premonition.

Kardec also wrote a brief introductory pamphlet (What is Spiritism?) and was the most frequent contributor to the Spiritist Review. His essays and articles would be posthumously collected into the aptly-named tome Posthumous Works.

Doctrine

The five chief points of the doctrine are:

  1. There is a God, defined as “The Supreme Intelligence and Primary Cause of everything”;
  2. There are Spirits, all of whom are created simple and ignorant, but owning the power to gradually perfect themselves;
  3. The natural method of this perfection process is reincarnation, through which the Spirit faces countless different situations, problems and obstacles, and needs to learn how to deal with them;
  4. As part of Nature, Spirits can naturally communicate with living people, as well as interfere in their lives;
  5. Many planets in the universe are inhabited.

The central tenet of Spiritist doctrine is the belief in spiritual life. The spirit is eternal, and evolves through a series of incarnations in the material world. The true life is the spiritual one; life in the material world is just a short-termed stage, where the spirit has the opportunity to learn and develop its potentials. Reincarnation is the process where the spirit, once free in the spiritual world, comes back to the world for further learning.

Relation to Jesus

Jesus, according to Spiritism, is the greatest moral example for humankind, is deemed to have incarnated here to show us, through his example, the path that we have to take to achieve our own spiritual perfection. The Gospels are reinterpreted in Spiritism; some of the words of Christ or his actions are clarified in the light of the spiritual phenomena (presented as law of nature, and not as something “miraculous”). It’s only because of our own imperfection that we can’t achieve similar things; as we evolve, we will not only understand better, but we will be able to do similar things, for all spirits are created equal, and are destined for the same end.

Evolution and Karma

Spiritist Doctrine stresses the importance of spiritual evolution. According to this view, we are destined for perfection; there are other planets hosting more advanced life forms, and happier societies, where the spirit has the chance to keep evolving both in the moral and intellectual sense. Although not clear from Kardec’s works, later spiritist writers elaborated on this point further: it seems to them that we cannot detect more advanced life forms on other planets, as they are living in a slightly different “plane” from ours, in the same way the spiritual plane is superimposed over our own plane. There is STILL no scientific evidence to back this claim.

Mediumship

The communication between the spiritual world and the material world happen all the time, but to various degrees. Some people barely sense what the spirits tell them, in an entirely instinctive way, while others have greater cognizance of their guidance. The so-called mediums have these natural abilities highly developed, and are able to communicate with the spirits and interact with them by several means: listening, seeing, or writing through spiritual command (also known by Kardecists as automatic writing). Direct manipulation of physical objects by spirits is not possible; for it to happen the spirits need the help (voluntary or not) of mediums with particular abilities for physical effects.

Spiritist Practice

Kardec’s works do not establish any rituals or formal practices. Instead, the doctrine suggests that followers adhere to some principles regarded as common to all religions. The religious experience within spiritism is, therefore, largely informal. The exception to this is The National Spiritist Church of Alberta. This Church (which is fully recognized by the government as a religious denomination) has a Holy Communion Worship Service and a Marriage Ceremony in addition to the more standard Kardecist study groups.

Meetings

The most important types of practices within Spiritism are:

Regular Meetings – with a regular schedule, usually on evenings, two or three times a week. They involve a short lecture on some subject followed by some interactive participation of the attendants. These meetings are open to anyone.

Medium Meetings – usually held after a regular meeting, only those deemed prepared or “in need” of it are expected to attend.

Youth and Children’s Meetings – once a week, usually on Saturday afternoons or Sunday mornings, are the Spiritist equivalent to Christian Sunday schools.

Healing

Lectures – longer, in-depth lectures on subjects thought to be “of general interest” which are held on larger rooms, sometimes at theatres or ballrooms, so that more people can attend. Lecturers are often invited from far away centers.

Special Meetings – special séances held in relative discretion which try to conduct some worthy work on behalf of those in need

Spiritist Week and Book fairs.

Church Services (in the case of The National Spiritist Church of Alberta – in Canada)

Source:
http://www.religionresourcesonline.org/religious-beliefs-wiki/Summary_of_Spiritism

Feb 23

Demonology According to the Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology

Courtesy of: http://www.encyclopedia.com

saThe study of demons or evil spirits; also a branch of magic that deals with such beings. In religious science it has come to indicate knowledge regarding supernatural beings that are not deities. The Greek term daimon originally indicated “genius” or “spirit,” and claimed to have had intercourse with his daimon. However, with the advent of Christianity it came to mean a malevolent spirit entity. Demonology was especially developed during the Middle Ages.

According to Michael Psellus (1018-ca. 1079), author of De Operatione Daemonum Dialogus, demons are divided into six main bodies: the demons of fire; of the air; of the earth; those of the waters and rivers, who cause tempests and floods; the subterranean who prepare earthquakes and excite volcanic eruptions, and the shadowy ones who are somewhat like ghosts. (St. Augustine (354-430 C.E.) considered all demons under the last category.) Psellus’s classification is not unlike the system of the Middle Ages, which divided all spirits into those belonging to the four elements: fire, air, earth, and water (salamanders, sylphs, gnomes, and undines, respectively).

Early Concepts of Demonology

The medieval idea of demons, of course, evolved from ancient Christian and Gnostic belief, especially from the accounts of demons in the Bible. Among the Jews, the gods of the surrounding nations were called demons, and those nations were condemned for making sacrifices to demons instead of to the one God, Yaweh (Deut. 32:17; Ps. 106:37). The Christian New Testament speaks of demons as inferior spirits who operate as subjects of the devil. Such demons can take possession of a human being causing various illnesses and physical ailments. Demons were named as causative factors in disease in a prescientific age.

Demons have an expansive role in the biblical record. They can affect the behavior of swine (Matt. 8:30-32) and speak with a knowledge beyond that of an ordinary person (Mark 1:23-24). Biblical authors did understand demons as objectively present in the world and pictured the apostles as trying to drive them away. Considering demons as having an objective existence placed many questions about the nature of their origin, existence, operation, and habitation on the theological agenda. By the third century, the angel Lucifer, who fell from heaven (Isa. 14:12), was identified with Satan, and the fallen angels with demons.

The Gnostics (who competed for members with the early Christians), imitating Plato’s classification of the orders of spirits, attempted a similar arrangement with respect to a hierarchy of angels. The first and highest order was named seraphim; the second, cherubim; the third was the order of thrones; the fourth, dominions; the fifth, virtues; the sixth, powers; the seventh, principalities; the eighth, archangels; and the ninth, and lowest, angels.
This classification was censured by the Christian church, yet almost outlived the pneumatologists of the Middle Ages. These scholars—studying the account in which the angel Lucifer rebelled against heaven (Isa. 14:12), and that in which Michael, the archangel, warred against him (Rev. 12:7)—long asked the momentous question, “What orders of angels fell on this occasion?”

At length it became the prevailing opinion that Lucifer was of the order of seraphim. It was also asserted, after laborious research, that Agares, Belial, and Barbatos, each of whom deposed angels of great rank, had been of the order of virtues; that Bileth, Focalor, and Phoenix had been of the order of thrones; that Goap had been of the order of powers; that Purson had been of both the order of virtues and the order of thrones; and that Murmur had belonged to both the order of thrones and the order of angels. The pedigree of many other noble devils was likewise determined.

As the centuries progressed, theologians began to inquire, “How many fallen angels were engaged in the contest?” This was a question of vital importance, and it gave rise to the most strenuous research and to a variety of discordant opinions.

Others asked, “Where was the battle fought—in the inferior heaven, in the highest region of the air, in the firmament, or in Paradise?” and “How long did it last?” These were difficult questions, but the notion that ultimately prevailed was that the engagement was concluded in exactly three seconds, and that while Lucifer, with a number of his followers, fell into hell, the rest were left in the air to tempt man.

A newer question rose out of these investigations: whether a greater number of angels fell with Lucifer or remained in heaven with Michael. Noted scribes were inclined to think that the rebel chief had been beaten by a superior force, and that consequently devils of darkness were fewer in number than angels of light.

These discussions, which for centuries interested the whole of Christendom, exercised the talents of some of the most erudite persons in Europe. The last objective of demonologists was to assess Lucifer’s routed forces and reorganize them into a decided form of subordination or government. Hence, extensive districts were given to certain chiefs who fought under the general Lucifer.

There was Zimimar, “the lordly monarch of the north,” as Shakespeare calls him, who had his distinct province of devils; Gorson, the king of the South; Amaymon, the king of the East; and Goap, the prince of the West. These sovereigns had many noble spirits subordinate to them whose various ranks were settled with all the preciseness of heraldic distinction. There were devil dukes, devil marquises, devil counts, devil earls, devil knights, devil presidents, and devil prelates.

As a picture of the infernal kingdom was constructed, it was determined that the armed host under Lucifer had been composed of nearly twenty-four hundred legions, of which each demon of rank commanded a certain number. Beleth for instance, who has been described as “a great king and terrible, riding on a pale horse, before whom go trumpets and all melodious music,” commanded 85 legions; Agares, the first duke under the power of the East, commanded 31 legions; Leraie, a great marquis, 30 legions; Morax, a great earl and a president, 36 legions; Furcas, a knight, 20 legions. The forces of the other devil chieftains were enumerated after the same manner.

The Appearance of Demons

The strange and hideous forms connected with the popular image of demons were derived from the descriptive writings of the early demonologists, who maintained that demons possessed a decidedly corporeal form and were mortal, or that, like Milton’s spirits, they could assume any sex and take any shape they chose. In the Middle Ages, when conjuration was regularly practiced in Europe, devils of rank were supposed to appear under characteristic forms by which they were as well recognized as the head of any ancient family would be by his crest and armorial bearings.

Along with their names and characters were registered the shapes they were said to adopt. A devil would appear like an angel seated in a fiery chariot or riding on an infernal dragon and carrying a viper in his right hand; or he would assume a lion’s head, a goose’s feet, and a hare’s tail; or put on a raven’s head and come mounted on a strong wolf.

Among other forms taken by demons were those of a fierce warrior, or of an old man with a hawk in his hand riding upon a crocodile. A human figure would arise having the wings of a griffin or sporting three heads, two of them like those of a toad and one like a cat’s; or displaying huge teeth and horns and armed with a sword; or exhibiting a dog’s teeth and a large raven’s head; or mounted upon a pale horse and exhibiting a serpent’s tail; or gloriously crowned and riding upon a dromedary; or presenting the face of a lion; or bestriding a bear while grasping a viper.
Other forms were those of a goodly knight, or of one who bore lance, ensigns, and even a scepter, or of a soldier, either riding on a black horse and surrounded by a flame of fire, or wearing a duke’s crown and mounted on a crocodile.

Hundreds of such varied shapes were assumed by devils of rank. In his Sketches of the Philosophy of Apparitions (1824), Dr. S. Hibbert comments:

“It would therefore betray too much of the aristocratical spirit to omit noticing the forms which the lower orders of such beings displayed. In an ancient Latin poem, describing the lamentable vision of a devoted hermit, and supposed to have been written by St. Bernard in the year 1238, those spirits, who had no more important business upon earth than to carry away condemned souls, were described as blacker than pitch; as having teeth like lions, nails on their fingers like those of a wild-boar, on their fore-head horns, through the extremities of which poison was emitted, having wide ears flowing with corruption, and discharging serpents from their nostrils. The devout writer of these verses has even accompanied them from drawings, in which the addition of the cloven feet is not omitted. But this appendage, as Sir Thomas Brown has proved, is a mistake, which has arisen from the devil frequently appearing to the Jews in the shape of a rough and hairy goat, this animal being the emblem of sin-offering.”

The form of the demons described by St. Bernard (1090-1153) differs little from that which was no less carefully portrayed by English writer Reginald Scot 450 years later, and, perhaps, by the demonologists of modern times. “In our childhood,” says Scot, “our mother’s maids have so terrified us with an ouglie divell having horns on his head, fier in his mouth, and a tail on his breech, eies like a bason, fangs like a dog, clawes like a beare, … and a voice like a roaring lion.”

The Powers of Demons

Although the leading tenets of the occult science of demonology may be traced to the Jews and early Christians, they matured through communication with the Moors of Spain, who were the chief philosophers of the early Middle Ages. There was much intercultural exchange between the moors and the natives of France and Italy. Toledo, Seville, and Salamanca became the great schools of magic. At Salamanca discourses on the black art were, in keeping with the solemnity of the subject, delivered within the walls of a vast and gloomy cavern.

The instructors taught that all knowledge and power might be obtained from the fallen angels. They were skilled in the abstract sciences, in the knowledge of precious stones, in alchemy, in the various languages of mankind and of the lower animals, in belles lettres, in moral philosophy, pneumatology, divinity, magic, history, and prophecy, it was told. The demons could control the winds, the waters, and the influence of the stars; they could raise earthquakes; induce diseases or cure them; accomplish vast mechanical tasks; and release souls from purgatory. It was said that they could influence the passions of the mind, procure the reconciliation of friends or foes, engender mutual discord, induce mania and melancholy, or direct the force and objects of sexual affection.

Hierarchy of Demons

According to Johan Weyer, the prominent sixteenth-century Protestant demonologist, demons were divided into a great many classes, into regular kingdoms and principalities, and into mobility and commoners. According to Weyer, Satan was by no means the great sovereign of this monarchy; this honor was held by Beelzebub. Satan was alluded to by Weyer as a dethroned monarch and chief of the opposition; Moloch was called chief of the army; Pluto, prince of fire; and Leonard, grand master of the sphere. The masters of these infernal courts were Adramelech, grand chancellor; Astaroth, grand treasurer; Nergal, chief of the secret police; Baal, chief of the satanic army.

Weyer maintained that each state in Europe also had its infernal ambassadors. Belphegor is assigned to France, Mammon to England, Belial to Turkey, Rimmon to Russia, Thamuz to Spain, Hutjin to Italy, and Martinet to Switzerland.

According to Weyer’s calculations the infernal regions contained an army of 7,405,926 devils and demons, organized into 1,111 divisions of 6,666 each.

One of the strangest authorities on demonology was surely Alexis Vincent Charles Berbiguier, known as “the Scourge of the Demons,” author of the three-volume encyclopedic work Les Farfadets, ou tous les démons ne sont pas de l’autre monde (1821). In this great study, he describes the infernal court: “This court has representatives on earth. These mandatories are innumerable. I give nomenclature and degree of power of each: Moreau, magician and sorcerer of Paris, represents Beelzebub; Pinel, a doctor of Saltpétrière, represents Satan; Bouge, represents Pluto; Nicholas, a doctor of Avigum, represents Moloch.” But Berbiguier was not just a theorist, since he claimed to have caught thousands of demons, impaling them on pins like a butterfly hunter and sealing them in bottles.

Modern Demonology

Belief in demons possibly reached its lowest ebb in the nineteenth century, though occultists such as William Barrett proposed their own demonic hierarchies. By the beginning of the twentieth century, demonology was unfashionable, even in occult circles, but during the occult boom of the 1960s and 1970s, the theme of demonic possession was revived in conservative Christian circles and given widespread coverage in books and movies like The Exorcist, by William P. Blatty. The idea of demons became a divisive force in the church, with some churchmen reviving rituals of exorcism and others remaining adamant in their unwillingness to endorse ancient concepts of demonology. At any rate, the sensationalist aspect of possession by demons is in keeping with the apocalyptic character of modern life, and demons have once again become part of theological discourse.

Source:

http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Demons.aspx#1

Feb 16

Do Buddhists Believe in Demons?

Courtesy of:  http://people.opposingviews.com/

dae1Demons, crept up from the hell realms and out of the imagination, represent everything a Buddhist wishes to transcend.You see them clustered in the background of exquisite painted thangkas from Tibet and Nepal, vivid and ominous looming in the murals of long abandoned caves in the Himalayas and along the Silk Road, popping up in the sutras and the most well-known and beloved stories of Gautama Buddha’s life.

Inner and Outer Demons

Buddhist sutras teach that there are four types of demons — three internal demons and a demon of outside influence. The internal demons are afflictions, illnesses and death. The external demons are “heavenly” demons or demons from the spiritual world. Yama, lord of death, is a demon as is Mara, the evil king of demons who directly confronts Buddha. Psychologically, demons represent negative states of mind and harmful actions, such as jealousy, hatred, environmental exploitation, and greed. Physically, the demons are given names and personas in scripture so there are teachings and stories about yakshas and rakshasas, who devour people whole and eat human flesh, and khumbhandas, who sustain themselves by consuming a person’s spirit.

Mara and Siddhartha

dae2When Siddhartha, the Buddha, struggled in the final stages of achieving enlightenment, the hideous demon Mara, lord of desire, brought legions of his demon followers to tempt him. This is a real Buddhist teaching with a strong allegorical character. Mara gets right in Buddha’s face and tempts him with monstrous armed warriors whose arrows turn to flowers; fierce, frightening storms and floods which fail to shake Buddha’s serenity; erotic maidens who are finally revealed in their decrepit aged state. Nothing deters Buddha from his goal of liberation and so Mara can be seen as a lesson to resist being swayed by the temptations and threats of the world when meditating on the true nature of being. Mara was as much an illusion in Buddha’s mind as a demon attacking him with an arsenal of distractions.

Wrathful Deities

dae3The demons of indigenous religions were “converted” to forces for good when Buddhism replaced local beliefs. Hayagriva, a demon protector of Tibetan horse dealers, became a horse-headed demon-chasing avatar of Avalokiteshvara, deity of compassion. The hideous Mahakala wears a tiara of skulls and tramples obstacles. The wrathful demons still require offerings and appeasement in their new roles as fierce upholders of the dharma and scourges of the forces of evil. Those ferocious, demon-like images are seen clustered around the entrances to temples and caves painted with Tibetan murals and appear as forbidding as they are meant to — creatures to give pause to any but the devout. Wrathful Tantric deities, a demonic army of them, may be depicted with bloody fangs and multiple heads and arms to indicate their tremendous and varied powers.

Demons and Dharma

dae4Parables of demons in the Buddhist sutras tell engaging stories with a strong moral message. The story of Alavaka the demon gave Buddha the vehicle to teach important lessons about how to live. Alavaka was a cannibal demon who decimated the population of an entire kingdom before Buddha intervened. When Buddha arrived at his cave of bones, Alavaka challenged him to answer riddles. But Buddha was unfazed, instead discoursing on a virtuous existence as he converted the demon’s wives. Buddha calmly told the monster that the greatest wealth is confidence, the sweetest taste is truth, and moral behavior, real courage and generosity would ease the grief of loss and death. Alavaka tried to exhaust, intimidate and kill the Buddha but, in the end, his mind and heart were opened and he embraced the dharma –and probably became a vegetarian as he never again ate flesh.

Source:

http://people.opposingviews.com/buddhists-believe-demons-5744.html

Feb 16

Tribal Religions

Courtesy of:  http://www.unexplainedstuff.com

tribaslThe legends of the dead told by ancient or tribal people are perhaps the most accurate indicators of their religious thought. And from what can be assumed from the burial rites of early humans, they pondered the same kinds of questions concerning the afterlife as humans do today. Where had their friends gone? What do they do and see when they disappear into the unknown? Will they live again? Can their spirits return to communicate? Or are they just gone—forever? Early humans could not answer these great questions, and so, to temper their fear of death, they created rituals, rites, and religions to comfort them.

Although the process of death and the reasons why the once animated body became lifeless were puzzles, aboriginal tribal societies understood that there was something in their departed friends and family members that survived somehow in another existence. The reason for this belief can be easily imagined. As they slept, early humans saw those persons whom they knew to be dead, alive and well in their dreams. Perhaps they themselves had witnessed their friends being killed in a dispute with another tribe or mangled by a predator, yet now they saw them and spoke with them, just as they had before their death. These vivid dreams of the dead undoubtedly led to the belief that there existed an immaterial aspect of human beings, a part that managed to survive the dissolution of the body.

Many Native American tribes believed that the physical body housed two or more souls, which became separated at death. The ancient Chinese affirmed three souls set free at death: one remained in the family house to serve as a kind of protector; another watched over the grave site as “guardian of the tomb”; and the third passed into the invisible realm. The aboriginal people of New Zealand, the Maori, believe that each of the eyes of the deceased is given a separate immortality: the spirit of the left eye ascends to heaven and is seen as a new dark star in the sky, and the spirit of the right takes flight to Reinga, a place beyond the sea.

The Fang people of Gabon envision seven types of souls:
1.a vital principle that resides in the brain until death, when it disappears;
2.the heart, the seat of the conscience, which inspires action during the life experience, but also disappears at the time of death;
3.the person’s name, which achieves a kind of individuality after death;
4.the essence of the person, which perpetuates itself after death;
5.the active principle of the soul as long as the body lives;
6.the blending of shadow and soul;
7.the spiritual residue, which can appear to living humans as a ghost.

The aboriginal inhabitants of the Fiji Islands believe that a human has two souls: the “dark spirit” and the “light spirit.” The Nootkas of British Columbia regarded the soul as a tiny facsimile of the person that lived in the crown of the head.

Early humans generally did not accept death as due to natural causes. Death was either the result of acts of violence caused by human or animal enemies, or it was caused by evil and unseen demons. To the primitive mind, if a man or a woman, without wound or injury, fell silently asleep and never awakened, they had to have been the victim of malevolent spirits.

Some of the earliest rituals revolving around death concerned the interaction between the living and the body of the newly dead. Some tribal cultures believed that an evil spirit inhabited the corpse, and it should not be touched for fear of providing the malevolent entity with a living body to possess. Some anthropologists have theorized that it was fear of the dead body that led early humans to dispose of it. Since evil spirits had caused the “long sleep,” they must undoubtedly still be lurking near the body to seize new victims. Therefore, the practical thing to do was to bury or burn or otherwise dispose of the body, thereby removing both the dead and the demons at the same time.

The Australian aborigines showed their fear of the dead by burning all the deceased’s property and running away to establish a new village. They believed that the demon resided not only in the dead body, but in all the deceased’s belongings. Early tribes in Greenland threw everything out of the house that had been owned by the dead person. At Batta funerals, the natives marched behind the body, brandishing swords to frighten away the death demons. The Galibis of Guiana dance on the newly covered grave to stamp down the spirits. The Winnebago tribe had a fear of evil spirits troubling the corpses of their deceased loved ones, so they swept the grass around the grave in a circle from six to 20 feet in diameter, a ritual that they believed prevented the evil spirits from approaching the departed’s final earthly resting place.

The cosmology of certain eastern Native American tribes placed two powerful manitous, representatives of the Great Spirit, on duty in the Land of the Departed. One of the manitous, Chibiabos, like the Egyptian god Osiris and the Hindu judge of the dead, Yama, was master over the realm of the dead and escorted the newly arriving souls into their new environment. Sometimes there was a process of judgment involved, in which the worthy souls would be allowed to dwell in the Land of the Departed and the unworthy would be set adrift in space. The other manitou, Pauguk, protected the realm of the dead from unwelcome intruders with his bow and arrows.

Many Native American tribes believed that spirits of the dead lingered among the living until certain rites had been performed that would aid the spirits in their passage to the other world. Among the Ogallala Sioux, it was maintained that the spirit of the dead passed into the spirit world, by degrees, at the completion of necessary rituals that became the duty of the deceased person’s family. Like fleeting shadows, the spirits of the dead slowly migrated to the Land of the Grandparents, gaining strength for their journey from the energy received from their living relatives, who performed a long and demanding rite known as the Shadow or Ghost Ceremony. The time needed to complete the ritual successfully could amount to as long as two years, during which period the immediate family and close relatives endured great privation to ensure the safe passage of the departed spirit.

These extensive rites were conducted in special Ghost Lodges, and it was here that the body of the deceased was kept prior to burial and where the ceremonies on the part of the deceased were held long after his or her interment. The Ogallala most often kept Ghost Lodges when the death was a particularly sad one, such as the passing of a child by accident or illness.

Among the Ojibway people it is customary to cut the hair of a child who has died and make a little doll of it, which they call the “doll of sorrow.” This doll takes the place of the deceased child, and the mother carries it with her everywhere for a year. They believe that during this period of time, the soul of the child is transferred through the hair from the dead body to the doll.

The ghost land or spirit land of tribal people is equivalent to the concept of a heaven or a paradise: It is a place free from worry, illness, war, and the fear of death. It seems a general belief among many different tribal cultures that the afterlife of the soul is concerned with the same kind of pursuits that the entity followed as a living person. The spirit land would feature good hunting and fishing, beautiful new lands to explore, and no warfare or tribal rivalries.

Because the deceased individuals would be continuing a life similar to their life on Earth, they would need their valuables, their tools and weapons, and, of course, food and drink. Therefore, in nearly all tribal religions, it was customary to bury material things with the body. For the Papuans, Tahitians, Polynesians, Malanans, ancient Peruvians, Brazilians, and countless others, food and drink was left with the corpse. In Patagonia, it was the annual custom to open the burial chambers and reclothe the dead. Each year the Eskimo take clothes as a gift to the dead. Among the Kukis, the widow is compelled to remain for a year beside the tomb of her deceased husband, while other members of the family bring food daily for her and the spirit of the deceased. In the Mosquito tribe, the widow is obligated to supply the grave of her husband with provisions for a year.

It has been suggested that the religious aspects of funerals grew out of the belief that death was nothing more than a journey to another world and that the newly dead expect to have ceremonies performed for them to hasten their travels and to lessen the dangers of the journey. Among most tribal cultures, therefore, it is customary to dance and feast at the time of death for purposes of pleasing the spirit of the departed and to stamp upon the ground to frighten away evil spirits.

Source: http://www.unexplainedstuff.com/Afterlife-Mysteries/Tribal-Religions.html

Feb 16

Do Jews Believe in Demons?

Ashley Ann Lewis

Ashley Ann Lewis

Director / Dept Chair Occult at National Paranormal Society
Ashley became interested in the paranormal at a young age, but at that young age she did not have much understanding in it at all. I wasn’t until 2010 that she really became interested. Thanks to a Resolve carpet cleaning can that flew across the room, Ashley among three others who witness what happen that night, they pulled a team together. Ashley is a heavy researcher and though she may find the answer to what she is searching for she’ll search even harder. She’s overly determined and takes her part in the paranormal field very seriously. Between working hard and spending every dime she had she became a found of a paranormal team that is based out of Historic Louisiana and was honored to take on a position as a Representative with The National Paranormal Society. There is still so much she does not understand which drives her to work even harder and to further educate herself on everything.
Ashley Ann Lewis

Latest posts by Ashley Ann Lewis (see all)

jewsThough the idea of demons raises concerns about divine providence, belief in demons developed among some Jews throughout history.

Demons are supernatural, malevolent beings with the power to cause hurt to humans. Beliefs in Demons though not very pronounced in Jewish life and thought, is still prevalent, in a semi-comical way, at the level of folklore. Even some of the learned feel compelled to accept, perhaps not too seriously, belief in demons because this belief is implied in the Talmud in many places.

The Babylonian Talmud, in particular, produced against a Zoroastrian background in which the belief was strongly rooted, contains stories of visitations by demons and spells to ward them off.There is even a report of a rabbi conversing with a demon prince.

It is completely unhistorical to maintain, as did Krochmal, that all these references were inserted into the Talmud by ignorant copyists or by those influenced by folk-beliefs said to have been repudiated by the rabbis themselves.

Medieval Rationalists
Some of the medieval thinkers accepted the belief in demons. Others rejected the belief as contrary to the doctrine of divine providence. Why should God have surrendered His control of the universe, on some occasions, into the power of such creatures?

Abraham Ibn Ezra rejects entirely the notion that demons really exist. Maimonides either ignores the talmudic references to demons or gives these a rationalistic explanation; as, for example, when he understands the mishnaic reference to an ‘evil spirit’ against which a light can be put out even on the Sabbath, to mean a spirit of melancholy.

Menahem Meiri generally follows a similar demythologizing tendency when he understands the talmudic reference to warding off the demons by reciting the Shema before retiring as meaning that evil thoughts invade the mind at bedtime and these can successfully be dispelled through the recitation of the Shema. Meiri also understands the talmudic reference to Joseph the demon, who was able to traverse great distances through the air, to mean that there was a skilled acrobat who could vault over great distances and who was known as ‘Joseph the devil’ in the sense that he was a devil-may-care character.

Source:  http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/do-jews-believe-in-demons/

Dybbuks, demons and exorcism in Judaism
Rabbi Isaac Luria, one of the greatest of Jewish mystics, would walk in the hills of 16th century Safed and point out to his students the souls of the dead, often standing on their graves. In the same city at the same time, the great legal scholar Joseph Karo, author of the Shulchan Aruch, the great code of Jewish Law, was composing another book dictated to him by an angel.

These visions were not as exceptional as modern Jews like to believe. Dybbuks and demons, possession and magic are woven throughout Jewish history. Amulets to ward off the evil eye, spitting, touching a mezuzah for good luck and a thousand other practices attest to the deep current of folk belief in Judaism. The next time someone persuades you that everything about Judaism is rational, logical and clear, you do not even need to tell them the story in rabbinic literature about the town that beat the river until the blood of the unwelcome water demon appeared. Just ask them to stand in a congregation while everyone is waving a lulav and spinning the etrog; the explanation may be logical, but the atmosphere is redolent of magic.

And yes, we Jews performed exorcisms, too. Anyone who spends time with rabbinic literature (or, for that matter, with the stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer) is familiar with demons. Jewish demons, like their counterparts in other traditions, like to inhabit people or simply upend them from time to time. Not only are there many discussions of demons in rabbinic literature, but also, as a result of demonic activity, there are many spells directed against them, as where there are demons, there must be defenses and antidotes. Some demons are granted names. (Ashmedai, from the book of Tobit, is among the most notable. He is the king of demons, and in the Talmud, King Solomon tricked him into helping with the construction of the Temple.) And there are endless discussions of their activities and depredations.

Exorcism reached a peak in the mystical community of 16th century Safed. The scholar J.H. Chajes has translated several accounts of spirit possession in Safed. One, in which a man named Samuel Zafrati entered a woman, involved Hayyim Vital, the principle disciple of the Ari, Rabbi Isaac Luria. He asked the spirit, “How can we be sure your name is Samuel Zafrati?” and the spirit, through the woman, accurately recounted all the details of the man’s life. “Then we recognized, all those present, that the spirit was the speaker.”

As the questioning and exorcism continued, the spirit was asked where he had been since his death three years before:

“I have gone from mountain to mountain, and from hill to hill. I did not find rest in any place, except that for a period I was in Shekhem, where I entered into one woman, and they removed me through the aforementioned and placed amulets upon her so that I was unable to return to her further.” The narrator then says that he knows all of this to be true from independent inquiries. The spirit continues: “After that I was roving through the city to enter synagogues [thinking that] perhaps I would find rest and comfort there for my soul, but they did not allow me to enter any synagogue.” The spirit then explained that the sages of the past did not permit him to enter, and so he wandered until he found this “kosher” woman to enter. And when asked if he thought it was legitimate to couple with a married woman, the spirit, with wonderful ethereal insouciance, answers, “What of it? Her husband is not here, but in Salonika!”

With demons about, the consequences of a business trip could be dire.

The most eminent scholars of the time, Isaac Luria, Shlomo Alkabetz, Joseph Karo, Hayyim Vital and others were involved in exorcisms. Some were possessed themselves, like Karo, whose Maggid Mishna took hold of him and dictated, but such possession could on occasion be benevolent. The point is that this was not restricted to a fringe or the untutored; the world was rife with spirits.

Are such stories merely a quaint remnant of an earlier age? In 1999 in Dimona (a name whose origin is from Joshua 21, not from the seeming cognate “demon”), a widowed mother of eight claimed that her deceased husband had entered her body. Although several rabbis refused her an exorcism, one, Rabbi David Basri, head of the Shalom Yeshiva in Jerusalem, was equal to the task. Over the objections of many notable rabbis — and on Israeli national television — he performed the exorcism, apparently successfully.

For a while after this incident, there was a spate of claims of possession in Israel, but the wave abated.
Some examples practically beg the listener to sneer. In his famous work Or Zarua, the 13th century rabbi Isaac ben Moses writes (recorded by Joshua Trachtenberg in his still valuable “Jewish Magic and Superstition”) of the married woman who had relations with a demon — who appeared once in the shape of her husband and once in the uniform of a local petty count. The question was — is she permitted to her husband after this demonic coupling? Was it adultery — was it voluntary? In the end, she was permitted to her husband by the rabbinic court. There is no report on the fate of the real petty count.

Jewish sources do at times distinguish mental illness from possession, although today we might be inclined to include all such stories in the category of mental disturbances. Recently I was teaching what might be reckoned the very first case of possession — the case of Saul:

“The spirit of God departed from Saul and an evil spirit of God tormented him. And Saul’s servants said to him, ‘Behold now, an evil spirit of God is tormenting you. Let our Lord command your servants, who are before you, to seek out a man, who knows how to play the lyre, and when the evil spirit of God is upon you, he will play with his hand and all will be well.” (I Samuel 16:14-16)

When David, who was then summoned, played music for Saul, it did indeed cure him, at least temporarily. So if this was an exorcism — a matter debated in the sources — then King David was the first recorded exorcist. It gives the profession a noble pedigree, at least.

What was notable in teaching this incident to my Torah class was that not a single member of the class was tempted to interpret this as anything but an internal event in Saul — that is, not an external spirit that afflicted him but a mental disturbance. Although exorcisms are a radical example, we have turned religious experience into a neurological datum: visions are hysteria, trances mania, and prophesies seizures. A desacralized world is more devastating to demons than any exorcist. Vampires make good television and zombies are a mainstay of horror lit, but in life a taste for blood or a lack of affect wrapped in masking tape lead us to grab the DSM and scissors, not a cross and silver bullet.

The meaning of exorcism is tied up for many in issues of gender (some believe this was a bursting forth of frustration from constraint for women or even of obtaining some public power, although plenty of men reported possessions as well) or of Christian influence (although scholars debate whether Jewish exorcisms were a result of the upsurge in the Christian world). Most of all, it reflects the belief, deeply held and derived from the Talmud, that we were constantly surrounded by invisible forces. In a world of suffering, who could believe that such forces would never be malevolent?

It seems so reminiscent of an outgrown age. And yet … we retain some suspicion, evident in traces of our language, of an earlier world view: “I am not myself today.” “I don’t know what got into me.” Even splitting off selves from essence — “I don’t know who I am” — is a sign of the duality of nature we feel and the way in which boundaries of the self sometimes feel porous. We, too, seek shamans and rabbis and healers, though they often go by different names. And madness, true madness, seems still as though it was a grip from outside more than an internal malady.

Far as we have come, our knowledge is still a small homestead on the vast landscape of our ignorance.
David Wolpe is the rabbi of Sinai Temple. You can follow his teachings at https://www.facebook.com/RabbiWolpe?_rdr=p.

Source:

http://www.jewishjournal.com/cover_story/article/dybbuks_demons_and_exorcism_in_judaism_20120627/

 

Feb 13

Mananiti or Aniti

Courtesy of:  www.guampedia.com

mani

First people

Taotaomo’na, (Taotaomona) the people of before, refers to ancestral spirits that inhabited the earth along with the living. Ancient Chamorros believed the world around them was full of spirits who provided both daily protection and assistance in their tasks, but also created dangers and problems. Guma’ siha (houses) were built, families were raised and tinanom siha (crops) were harvested and planted through harmonious cooperation between Chamorros and the anti (spirits) of their ancestors.

The connection between Chamorros and these spirits has changed over time, primarily due to cultural changes that came about from Spanish colonization and Christianization. Slowly over time, these spirits have changed from the ante of ancestors to the wily ghosts, devils and demons that play tricks or cause harm to Chamorros today.

Taotaomo’na can be defined in three different ways, each definition depending upon the amount of familiarity or distance between these spirits and living Chamorros. I will give a brief synopsis of the first two types but for the purposes of this article we will focus on the third type which is how Chamorros today view Taotaomo’na.

Our elders and family
Taotaomo’na as i mañainå-ta yan familiå-ta
Taotaomo’na is therefore a term which could refer in general to all the spirits of Chamorro ancestors, to all of those who have come before. In this definition, these spirits played a huge role in the daily life of Chamorros offering assistance and protection with all sorts of daily tasks. These spirits were treated as members of the family and were referred to be name or through terms of endearment. Given this intimate arrangement, these sorts of taotaomo’na were thought to dwell on thetåno’ (land) of their descendants or thought to inhabit ancestral skulls or maranan uchan which Chamorros kept in baskets in the rafters of their guma’saga’(homes).

Those who came before
Taotaomo’na as i manmofo’nå-ta
Taotaomo’na also refers to the ante of ancestors whom Chamorros could no longer connect themselves to through genealogy. These were remote spirits, which could not be easily counted upon for help as if members of a clan, but instead had to communicated with primarily through intermediaries such as makanas. Makanaswere “spirits counselors” or “medicine men” who could be bartered with or compensated to seek the counsel or assistance of spirits. Makanas would beseech the dead on behalf of the living to bring stunning victories in battle, good luck in harvesting or fishing. If things were amiss in a family, and nothing but tragedy was befalling them, they could enlist the aid of a makana to find out from thetaotaomo’na what offense they had made or sins they had committed to deserve this treatment or why their ancestral spirits had abandoned them. A makana could also be enlisted in order to turn spirits against a rival or enemy clan.

Those who are evil and cruel
Taotaomo’na as i mantailayi (manailayi) yan manmala
Lastly, in the definition which matches closely to the way Chamorros think of them today, taotaomo’na are mananiti or aniti, pesky, troublesome and sometimes evil spirits. This definition is heavily influenced by Spanish Catholicism and does not view taotaomo’na as the spirits of Chamorro ancestors, except perhaps as pagan, evil spirits of their ancient uncivilized past. In this version taotaomo’na are not gracious, giving or helpful, but are instead notorious for hurting people and playing tricks on the living. These taotaomo’na are not to be trusted at all, but rather feared.

mani2Duendes, a Spanish word, are one such type of taotaomo’na. They are small, dwarf-like people, who go naked or wear clothes made of hagon siha (leaves). They are most well known for luring unsuspecting children into the halom tano’ (jungle) by taking the shape of a chichirika (a red fantailed bird), singing songs to them, or by offering them gifts or treats. Once captured a child would be shrunk down to such a small size that those looking for them would easily step over them or walk right by them completely unawares. When a child is eventually found they usually suffer fromchetnot manman, meaning they will stare into space with a blank and empty look. To fix this, they will have to be taken to a suruhånu or a pale’ (priest).

Taotaomo’na would often haunt or be associated with certain areas or objects, such as the halom tano’, latte sites, and trongkon nunu (banyan trees). Those who entered these spaces without proper permission, or who behaved tai respetu (without respect) once in them would be subject to the anger and tricks of the spirits who called that area home.

In some instances a violent and tragic death will forever link a spirit to the site of its death.

These sorts of taotaomo’na are able to take different human, animal and material forms when they interact with the living. They can appear as binådu (deer), ayuyu(coconut crabs), ga’lågu (dogs), and even paluma (birds). One famous taotaomo’na is the Utak or Itak which is a large white-tailed bird with a shrill call, which is heard throughout the village each time an unmarried girl becomes mapotge’ (pregnant).

Taotaomo’na also appeared as human or in close human form, sometimes taking the appearance of familiar people such as relatives, but other times appearing tai ulu’(without head) or tai mata’ (without face). They sometimes have an alluring smell akin to fadang (frederico palm) or lime or ilangilang (a fragrant tree). Other times the smell can be repulsive like basula (trash) or take’ (feces). When speaking it can appear as ngokngok or incomprehensible speech, or even hissing or the sound of branches being snapped and rubbed together. In other instances their speech is simply older and archaic Chamorro.

Taotaomo’na have the ability to cause the living to become terribly ill. They do so byde’on (pinching), akka’ (biting) or pacha’ (touching). If a taotaomo’na wishes to make you ill it can make you become feverishly sick (chetnot maipe’), turn you into a zombie and put you into a deep trance (chetnot manman) or cause parts of your body to swell up. When a person has been touched by a taotaomo’na with the intent that they become ill, finger, nail or teeth marks may appear on a person’s body, in colors such as yellow, brown or purple. Some taotaomo’na have control over wind, rain, lighting and thunder. These are called lamlamtaotao and can shape and change the weather to incite fear in the living.

As this definition of taotaomo’na is something to be feared and resisted, Chamorros have compiled lists of how to repel these spirits and keep them away because they cannot stand to come into contact with them. Some colors are said to repeltaotaomo’na while others are said to attract them, but this depends primarily on the particular affinities of the spirits involved. Salt is thought to weaken taotaomo’na, which is one reason why they are found primarily inland in the halom tano’ (jungle) and not along the coast near i tasi (the sea).
In the early twentieth century, a Chamorro man who was gaitaotao and unbeatable in wrestling, was supposedly vanquished after his opponent sprinkled salt around the ring before their match. Money, sacred religious objects and even the guma’ yu’us(church) itself are thought to be objects or places which taotaomo’na cannot touch or stand to be near.

www.guampedia.com/taotaomona-taotaomona

Feb 13

Athiesm

Courtesy of:  http://www.revrob.com/

Atheist_symbolFor as long as there have been atheists there have been theists who have tried to claim that atheism is faith, that it takes more faith to not believe in gods than it does to believe in them.

These same antagonists further like to paint atheists as being silly for also believing in things like demons and ghosts.

Unfortunately, some atheists and atheist groups support this misnomer by narrowly defining atheism as only the lack of belief in deities. In reality it is more than that, as the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia points out;

[Atheism is a] critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or divine beings.

Denying the existence of deities is to also deny the existence of all that which can only exist as the result of a deity.

Let’s take ghosts for instance, which are spirits.

Spirits fall under the realm of animism, which is “the worldview that non-human entities (animals, plants, and inanimate objects or phenomena) possess a spiritual essence. Specifically, animism is used in the anthropology of religion as a term for the belief system or cosmology of some indigenous tribal peoples, especially prior to the development and/or infiltration of colonialism and organized religion.”

Anthropologists believe that animism represents the earliest beginnings of the evolution of religion on Earth, and that it probably originated before homo sapiens. Animism may not be an organized religion with a pantheon of gods, but it is still part of an informal egonovist religious belief system that exists today. Because it is religion, faith, and theism, the belief in spirits and horoscopes cannot be congruent with atheism.

As to demons, devils, and angels, they all are forms of deities.

Demons comes from Greek mythology and are later used in Abrahamic religions; in both instances they represent a type of god or demigod. They possess supernatural powers bestowed upon them by a deity. In fact, in the Hebrew Bible sacrifices were offered to powerful demons. In Christianity demons are literally angels.

Devils only exist in dualistic theology where they are in fact a deity that is as powerful as, and is the antithesis to, the creator god.

Angels come from Zoroastrianism where they are a manifestation of God. In Judaism they are literally an aspect of God, and in Christianity they evolved into messengers of God.

In all cases, in order to accept the existence of demons, devils, or angels, one must first accept the premise that at least one deity exists.

Those who seek to intellectually weaken atheism by grouping them in with animists and astrologers and pantheists by claiming that atheists believe in spirits need to be corrected; moreover atheists need to have a stake in the term “atheism,” take ownership and not allow it to include people who are religious, even though their religion does not include a creator deity. Atheism is not only a rejection of deities, it is an outright rejection of theism and metaphysical, faith based beliefs.

Source:

http://www.revrob.com/main-menu/261-no-atheists-do-not-believe-in-ghosts-demons-heaven-angels-or-devils

Feb 13

Shinto Demons

Courtesy of: http://mentalfloss.com/

ke11. Kiyohime

Kiyohime was a young woman scorned by her lover, a monk named Anchin, who grew cold and lost interest in her. Realizing he had left her, Kiyohime followed him to a river and transformed into a serpent while swimming after his boat. Terrified by her monstrous form, Anchin sought refuge in a temple, where monks hid him beneath a bell. Not to be evaded, Kiyohime found him by his scent, coiled around the bell, and banged loudly on it with her tail. She then breathed fire onto the bell, melting it and killing Anchin.

 

ke32. Yuki-onna (Snow woman)

There are many variations of this popular Japanese tale. Yuki-onna is usually described as having white skin, a white kimono, and long black hair. She appears in snowfall and glides without feet over the snow like a ghost. She feeds on human essence, and her killing method of choice is to blow on her victims to freeze them to death and then suck out their souls through their mouths.

 

 

3. Shuten Dōji

Shuten Dōji is described as more than 50 feet tall with a red body, five horns, and 15 eyes. There’s no need to fear this demon, though. In a legend from the medieval period, warriors Raikō and Hōshō infiltrated Shuten Dōji’s lair disguised as yamabushi (mountain priests) to free some kidnapped women. The oni greeted them with a banquet of human flesh and blood, and the disguised warriors offered Shuten Dōji drugged sake. After the demon passed out, the warriors cut off his head, killed the other oni, and freed the prisoners.

ke74. Yamauba (Mountain ogress)

Also originating in the medieval period, yamauba are generally considered to be old women who were marginalized by society and forced to live in the mountains—who also have a penchant for eating human flesh. Among many tales, there is one of a yamauba who offers shelter to a young woman about to give birth while secretly planning to eat her baby, and another of a yamauba who goes to village homes to eat children while their mothers are away. But they’re not picky; they’ll eat anyone who passes by. Yamabuas also have mouths under their hair.

5. Uji no hashihime (Woman at Uji Bridge)

In another tale of a woman scorned, Uji no hashihime prayed to a deity to turn her into an oni so she could kill her husband, the woman he fell in love with, and all of their relatives. To accomplish this, she bathed in the Uji River for 21 days, divided her hair into five horns, painted her body red with vermilion, and went on a legendary killing spree. Besides her intended victims, anyone who saw her instantly died of fear.

ke46. Tengu

Tengu are impish mountain goblins that play tricks on people, featured in countless folktales and considered purely evil until about the 14th century. They were originally depicted as birdlike, with wings and beaks, though now the beak is often replaced with a comically large nose. They are known to lead people away from Buddhism, tie priests to tall trees and towers, start fires in temples, and kidnap children. Many legends say the tengu were hypocritical priests who must now live the rest of their lives as mountain goblins as punishment. Locals made offerings to the tengu to avoid their mischief, and there are still festivals in Japan dedicated to them today.

7. Oiwa

A revenge story made popular by the famous kabuki drama Yotsuya kaidan, Oiwa was married to a rōnin (masterless samurai) named Iemon; he wanted to marry a rich local’s daughter who had fallen in love with him, and, in order to end their marriage, Oiwa was sent a poisoned medicine. Though the poison failed to kill her, she became horribly disfigured, causing her hair to fall out and her left eye to droop. Upon learning of her disfigurement and betrayal, she accidentally killed herself on a sword. Her ghostly, deformed face appeared everywhere to haunt Iemon. It even appeared in place of his new bride’s face, which caused Iemon to accidentally behead her. Oiwa’s spirit followed him relentlessly to the point where he welcomed death.

ke28. Demon at Agi Bridge

This story begins as so many horror stories do: With an overly-confident man who boasted to his friends that he didn’t fear to cross Agi Bridge or the demon rumored to reside there. As oni are known for their ability to shape-shift, the demon at Agi Bridge appeared to the man as an abandoned woman. As soon as she caught the young man’s eye, she transformed back into a 9 foot green-skinned monster and chased after him. Unable to catch the man, the demon later changed into the form of the man’s brother and knocked on his door late at night. The demon was let into the house and, after a struggle, bit off the man’s head, held it up and danced with it before his family, and then vanished.

9. Kuchisake-onna (Slit-mouthed woman)

In an urban legend from 1979 that swept through Japan, Kuchisake-onna wears a surgical mask and asks children if they think she is beautiful. If they say yes, she takes off the mask to reveal her mouth slit from ear to ear and asks the question again. The only way to escape is to give a noncommittal answer, such as “you look OK.” Barring that, you can distract her with certain Japanese candies. But if the children say yes again, she will cut their mouths to make them look like her.

ke510. Aka Manto (Red Cloak)

With a demon for just about everything, why shouldn’t the Japanese have a few for their bathrooms? Aka Manto, one of the more popular demons, hides in women’s bathrooms. In one version of the story, Aka Manto asks women if they would like a red cloak or a blue cloak. If the woman answers “red,” Aka Manto tears the flesh from her back to make it appear she is wearing a red cloak. If she answers “blue,” then he strangles her to death. Unfortunately, if you encounter Aka Manto, there may be no escaping: Some versions of the story say if you don’t answer or if you pick a different color, he will immediately drag you to hell.

Source:

http://mentalfloss.com/article/59737/10-horrifying-demons-and-spirits-japanese-folklore

Feb 13

Bahai Faith

Courtesy of:  http://www.truebahai.com/

bend

Baha’i teachings on evil: it comes from our selves!

The spiritual teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and `Abdu’l-Bahá reveal the glorious Truth that evil does not exist. In the present environment of terrorism and war, the proper understanding and realization of the Baha’i teachings about evil, Satan, and hell, has the potential to liberate us from fear and create a joyful experience of life as being wholly Good.

Thank thou God for that by reason of which the breath of God hath awakened thee and the spirit of God hath quickened thee and raised thee from among the dead with a joyful spirit of life. (`Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of `Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 120)

According to the divine philosophy set forth by `Abdu’l-Bahá, the universe is made of three worlds of God: the World of God, the Kingdom, and Creation. The World of God is the Unknowable Realm of Divinity. The Kingdom is the heavenly spiritual world. The world of Creation is the material word we live in. Our material world imperfectly expresses the names and attributes of God, but that imperfection is by appearance only. Humanity has the capacity to reflect the names and attributes of God by turning towards the Holy Spirit (in the Person of the Manifestation of God). However, because we have animal bodies, we are limited in our capacity to express the names and attributes of God. To the extent that we fail to embody godly attributes and instead display animal traits, then evil appears in us. But it exists by appearance only, and not of reality. God did not create evil, and therefore it does not exist. God created our souls and that creation is perfect. We are created in His image. However, when we identify with our animal bodies, we forget our true selves, and we succumb to evil.

In creation there is no evil; all is good. Certain qualities and natures innate in some men and apparently blameworthy are not so in reality. For example, from the beginning of his life you can see in a nursing child the signs of desire, of anger, and of temper. Then, it may be said, good and evil are innate in the reality of man, and this is contrary to the pure goodness of nature and creation. The answer to this is that desire, which is to ask for something more, is a praiseworthy quality provided that it is used suitably. So, if a man has the desire to acquire science and knowledge, or to become compassionate, generous, and just, it is most praiseworthy. If he exercises his anger and wrath against the bloodthirsty tyrants who are like ferocious beasts, it is very praiseworthy; but if he does not use these qualities in a right way, they are blameworthy.

Then it is evident that in creation and nature evil does not exist at all; but when the natural qualities of man are used in an unlawful way, they are blameworthy. So, if a rich and generous person gives a sum of money to a poor man for his own necessities, and if the poor man spends that sum of money on unlawful things, that will be blameworthy. It is the same with all the natural qualities of man, which constitute the capital of life; if they be used and displayed in an unlawful way, they become blameworthy. Therefore it is clear that creation is purely good. (`Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’i World Faith, p. 320)

There exists only the appearance of evil in the material realm. This is necessarily so, because the material world is the shadow of the Kingdom; its existence is merely the reflection of the Kingdom in matter.
Know thou that the Kingdom is the real world, and this nether place is only its shadow stretching out. A shadow hath no life of its own; its existence is only a fantasy, and nothing more; it is but images reflected in water, and seeming as pictures to the eye. (`Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 178)

Thus the Light shines in dark places. The Light exists in Itself, while darkness is merely the absence of Light. In human terms, Satan is the symbol for the lower animal nature of mankind. Satan represents the absence of God. Of course, God is Omnipresent, and therefore there cannot be absence of God. Thus, while satanic evil appears to exist, where God is not seen, satanic evil can not and does not really exist. No thing has true existence unless God created it. God is All-Good. He did not create evil.

The reality underlying this is that the evil spirit, Satan or whatever is interpreted as evil, refers to the lower nature of man. This basic nature is symbolized in various ways. In man there are two expressions; One is the expression of nature, the other the expression of the spiritual realm. The world of nature is defective. Look at it clearly, casting aside all superstition and imagination… God has never created an evil spirit; all such ideas and nomenclature are symbols expressing the mere human or earthly nature of man. It is an essential condition of the soil of earth thorns, weeds and fruitless trees may grow from it. Relatively speaking, this is evil: it is simply the lower state and basic product of nature. (`Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 294-295)

So if God did not create evil, why does it appear? The inescapable and horrible consequence of the teaching that God did not create evil, is that the seeming appearance of evil must have been created by humanity itself. We, ourselves, have created evil.

Every good thing is of God, and every evil thing is from yourselves. Will ye not comprehend? (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 149)

Source:

http://www.truebahai.com/2009/12/bahai-teachings-on-evil-it-comes-from-our-selves.html

Feb 13

Yenaldooshi

Courtesy of:  www.deliriumsrealm.com

yendIn Navajo mythology, skin-walkers, also known as Yenaldooshi, are witches who wear coyote skins and travel at night. They appear naked, wearing only masks and jewelry, and tend to live in caves, storing recognizable human heads on shelves.

Yenaldooshi gain power by killing a close relative, sometimes even a sibling. They are known to desecrate sand paintings by urinating, spitting, and defecating on them. They also practice cannibalism and necrophilia. Yenaldooshi are also said to be able to create a pollen from ground human infant bones that when sprinkled on sleeping Navajo families, causes sickness, social problems, and death.

Yenaldooshi are often detected by the presence of strange noises, barking dogs, or dirt falling from the hogan ceiling (as they try to sprinkle their pollen on unsuspecting families). They can be shot or caught. If they are not caught, a singer (hataalii) or medicine person can protect the family.

Coyotes were known to weaken a hunter by throwing their skin on him. By doing so, the Coyote takes on the appearance of the hunter. Coyotes do this out of desire to sleep with the hunter’s wife. During the time while the Coyote lives with the hunter’s wife, the hunter is immobilized in the position of a sleeping coyote. The wife will eventually realize the Coyote is not her husband because the Coyote is lazy and over time, the house comes to smell of Coyote urine.

Source:  http://www.deliriumsrealm.com/yenaldooshi/

Feb 11

Zoroastrianism

Ashley Ann Lewis

Ashley Ann Lewis

Director / Dept Chair Occult at National Paranormal Society
Ashley became interested in the paranormal at a young age, but at that young age she did not have much understanding in it at all. I wasn’t until 2010 that she really became interested. Thanks to a Resolve carpet cleaning can that flew across the room, Ashley among three others who witness what happen that night, they pulled a team together. Ashley is a heavy researcher and though she may find the answer to what she is searching for she’ll search even harder. She’s overly determined and takes her part in the paranormal field very seriously. Between working hard and spending every dime she had she became a found of a paranormal team that is based out of Historic Louisiana and was honored to take on a position as a Representative with The National Paranormal Society. There is still so much she does not understand which drives her to work even harder and to further educate herself on everything.
Ashley Ann Lewis

Latest posts by Ashley Ann Lewis (see all)

Courtesy of:  http://www.themystica.com

11013289_10206068802457191_5171439026712056704_nZoroastrianism, according to tradition, was founded by Zoroaster after he received a vision in which he was introduced to Ahura Mazda, and told of the great God and his adversary. He saw other radiant figures too, but could not see his shadow on the ground, a sign which convince Zoroaster his vision was authentic. This was the first of several visions in which Ahura Mazda conversed with him. The vision is alluded to in the Cathas (Y 43) and briefly described in the Pahlavi work (Zadspram XX-XXI). It was the knowledge gained from these visions which caused Zoroaster to designate Ahura Mazda as master of asha, order, righteousness, and justice; proclaiming him to be the one uncreated God, existing eternally, and Creator of all else that is good including all other beneficent divinities.

However, experience of the harsh realities of the world convinced Zoroaster that Ahura Mazda did not exist alone; and in a vision, he saw the Adversary, the Hostile Spirit, Angra Mainya, or Ahriman, who was equally uncreated, ignorant and wholly malign. Zoroaster saw in his prophetic eye the origin of these two Spirits; they were twin, primal spirits, destined to be in constant conflict; of the two, the worst Spirit had chosen to do the worst things while the good Spirit had chosen righteousness. They were the twin antagonists in thought, word and act, the good and the bad. When these Spirits first encountered they created life and not-life; and at the end the worst existence shall befall the followers of falsehood (drug) while the best dwelling is for those choosing righteousness (asha). It is speculated by some Iraniologists that the prophetic vision of these twin spirits might have been influenced by Zervanism, the religion of the Magi. Evidence of this is the mentioning of the “twin-spirits” in the Gathas. However, in the Zervanite theogony Ahura Mazda and Ahriman were associated with Light and Darkness, and were the twin sons of Zurvan, god of Infinite Time (Settegast 216).

terIn order to fully comprehend Zoroaster’s twin-spirit cosmogony one must perceive that the prophet’s veneration of Ahura Mazda was based upon tradition. Mazda, the oldest of the three Ahuras or guardians of asha, had been previously worshipped as the greatest of the three. However, Zoroaster independently and drastically abandoned this former teaching by making Ahura Mazda an uncreated God and Creator; and, as previously stated, experience of the harsh realities of the world convinced Zoroaster that Ahura Mazda did not solely exist, another divinity existed; this was Angra Mainya, the bad or evil Spirit. Here was the dualism; the beliefs were absolute, each spirit acted according to his nature; the good chose good, and the bad chose bad. No room way made or allowed for the belief that both good and bad could come from the same spirit; such a belief never occurred or would it have been tolerated. The reason was that Zoroaster believed like the two primal Spirits, each human would have to make the identical choice between good and evil.

Such an exercise of choice changed the inherent antagonism between the two Spirits into an active one that was expressed by the decision made by Ahura Mazda, in the creation and counter-creation, or the creation of life and not-life; that is death. Zoroaster believed that Ahura Mazda, through his wisdom, knew if he became Creator and fashioned the world, then the Hostile Spirit would attack it because it was good, and it would become a battleground for the two forces, but in the end he, God, would win the great struggle there and be able to destroy evil, and establish a universe which would be wholly good forever.

It should be noted that Zoroaster’s belief seemed based on a Persian myth of Zurvan (Time) (see Time and the Zurvan myth). From the myth Zoroaster appears to have assumed that the combative forces of good and evil always existed since since they were born in time. He further teaches that they would continue their struggle within the created world and finally good would conquer evil.

His teaching about Ahura Mazda was new; but it was based on the former cosmogony which gave basis for Zoroaster’s thought. Thus, the first act that Zoroaster envisioned Ahura Mazda performing was the evoking, through his Holy Spirit, Spenta Mainyu, of six lesser divinities, the radiant Beings which Zoroaster saw in his first vision. These six divinities form a heptad with Ahura Mazda, and proceeded with him to fashion the seven creations which compose the world. The evocation of the six is variously described in the works of Zoroastrian, but always in manners which suggest the essential unity of beneficent divinity. Ahura Mazda is either described as the “father,” or to have “mingled” himself with them, and in one Pahlavi text his creation of them is compared with the lighting of a torch from s torch.

ter3Ahura Mazda, also referred to as Lord of Wisdom, is believed to be head of the divine heptad. The descriptions of the other six divinities often do not correspond to their sequential creations. Armati, as guardian of the enduring, fertile earth, and mother of all things, was the protectress of women. The other deities and their attributes are: Vohu Manah, Good Thought; Asha Vahishta, Right Order; Khsathra Vairya, Sovereign Power; Haurvatat, Immortality; and Ameretat, Wholeness or Integrity. Each worshipper could partitions the deities collectively or individually. Gradually each deity was believed to be the protector of each particular aspect of creation they were given other attributes by individuals who prayed to them; for example, Haurvatat water, and Ameretat plants; and many speculate this was the reason for Zoroastrianism becoming firmly established.

With these teachings Zoroaster began his process of separating the gods. He taught these six great Beings, who were in fact the beneficent deities of the pagan Iranian pantheon. They were, according to Zoroastrian doctrine, were direct or indirect emanations of Ahura Mazda, strived under him, performing their various duties, to promote good and defeat evil. Collectively in Zoroastrianism they are known as Yazatas, “Beings worthy of worship,” or Amesha Spentas, “Holy Immortals.” Although the latter term never in the Gathas, it is thought that Zoroaster coined it to distinguished these entities revealed to him as beneficent from the generality of the pagan gods, who were evoked as “All of the Immortals” in the Vedas; because he vigorously rejected the worship of the warlike, amoral Daevas, particularly Indra and his companions, whom he considered as being of “a race of evil purpose” (Yasna 32.3). “The Daevas chose not rightly, because the Deceiver came upon them as they consulted, so that they chose the worst purpose. Then together they betook themselves to Wrath, through whom they afflicted the life of man” (Y 30.6).

Here Zoroaster was describing the Daevas as false gods, who like Angra Mainyu, were wicked by both nature and choice, and were not to be worshipped because they represented conflict among men, luring them through their greed of offerings to bloodshed and destructive strife. A religious system which Zoroaster was instigating envisioned not only a new spiritual attitude but a cultural one as well. He not only intended to eliminate the worship of warrior gods, but the warrior too. Many Iraniologists think possibly this was the most difficult transformation the prophet attempted to make upon his society. The god Indra, the image of the ideal warrior who was pictured in the Rg Veda as being arrogant, strife-provoking, drunk on songs and soma but bountiful to his followers, from whom he demanded abundant offerings, was vivid in the minds of the people; he also was important to this warring culture. Here, a priest and prophet was trying to eliminate a powerful god; this must have caused quite a stir. Indra was not mentioned in the Gathas, but demonized as a Daeva in the Younger Avesta. His counterpart Mithra, in his warrior aspect, also is not named in the Gathas, but had a very old Yast dedicated to him, which indicates he was probably honored before Zoroaster’s time. It is recognized that Zoroaster’s objection to the natural cults of the time was because of their excessive worship of the divinities, perhaps this is the reason that Indra and Mithra was omitted from the Gathas.

Zoroaster proved that he was not just concerned with the divinities, but also with the people and the earth. His aim was to secure both the material and spiritual welfare of the “Good Creation,” to renew and preserve the sanctity of the world to restore it to a state of perfection. This hope is uttered in the prayer “May we be those who will renew this existence” (Y 30.9).

Such renovation was to occur through husbandry. Although ancient Iranian kings are claimed to have invented husbandry, Zoroaster is said to be the first to embed it into a religious system. Soil cultivation became a kind of worship to his followers, “He who cultivates corn [grain] cultivates righteousness” (Vendidad 3.1).

The previous description is of the second time in cosmic history as Zoroaster envisioned it. To him, cosmic history was divided or spaced within three times or eras. In the first time era “Creation” Ahura Mazda brought all things in a disembodied state, called in Pahlavi, “menog,” or “spiritual immaterial.” To this he added the “material” or “getig” existence, which was better because it possessed perfection that the menog state did not have. The getig state was of solid and sentient form which completed the two states that constituted the act of Creation, called in the Pahlavi “Bundahishn.” The completion of the getig state signaled the start of Angra Mainyu’s evil attack. According to the myth in Pahlavi works, he broke in violently through the lower bowl of the stone sky, thus ruining its perfection. Then he plunged upward through the water, turning much of it in salt, and attacked the earth, creating deserts. There he withered the plant, and slew the uniquely-created Bull and the first man. Finally he fell upon the seventh creation, fire, and sullied it with smoke, so that he had physically blighted all the good creation.

After this all the divine beings rekindled their forces, and the second time era occurred. In this era called the “Mixture” everything is no longer perfect as it was in the era of Creation; the assault of Angra Mainyu destroyed that perfection which could not be restored. The beneficent divinities renewed each thing as best as they could: the plant was ground up and spread over the world by cloud and rain, and sprang forth covering the earth; the seeds of Bull and Man were purified and multiplied everywhere; and where the shameful endeavor of Angra Mainyu had brought decay and death into the perfect and static world of Ahura Mazda, the Amesha Spentas, through their holy power, were able to turn his malicious acts to benefit, and knew such must be the endeavor of all good creation.

But during the Mixture Angra Mainyu, according to Zoroaster, will continue his attack along with the Daevas to destroy the world which the Mesha Spentas in cooperation with mankind are attempting to rebuild. There are three essential differences between the world of the Creation and the second world of the Mixture: first, the second world is not perfect, the original perfection could not be restored because all of the illness and evil which Angra Mainyu bestowed upon it remained; second, the Spentas restored as much of Ahura Mazda’s perfection as they could to the world; third, and they did it with the help of the people.

This final difference is a key point in Zoroastrianism; in recognizing that Angra Mainyu was still attempting to corrupt the world, Zoroaster saw that it would require the efforts of both the beneficent divinities and mankind to restore it. And, since man himself was under attack he needed the help of these divinities; therefore, it was necessary for man to steadfastly venerate the divinities to keep them in his heart so there would be no room for vice or weakness. This meant venerating all of the Yazatas, which included Ahura Mazda, the six Spentas, and the lesser Ahuras, such as the Sun and the Moon, which contributed to keeping the world strong and in accordance, with asha. Zoroaster took the vision of cosmic history a step further than it had been; the previous concept was that once the process of life was started, it was expected to continue forever, if men and the gods each bore their part; but, Zoroaster added new significance to this co-operation between the divinities and the worshippers by saying it would not just preserve the world as it is, but it would reach the ultimate goal of restoring perfection. Man was given a new dignity, he became allied with God, and together they would work toward the defeat of evil which they both sought.

This perfection occurs in the third time or era, called “Separation.” According to teaching even souls in Paradise do not experience perfect bliss during Mixture; complete happiness can only come again at Frashegird. Death was a general affliction for all humanity, Zoroaster taught; it forces individual souls to depart the getig world and return temporary to a deficient menlog state. When each soul departs it is judged on what it has done in its life during the Mixture to promote the cause of goodness. Both men and women as well as servants and masters could hope to achieve Paradise, for the physical barrier of the pagan days, the “Bridge of the Separator,” becomes a place of moral judgment. Here each soul must depend, not on power or wealth of offerings in the life it has left behind, but on its own ethical achievements. Here Mithra presides over the tribunal, flanked by Sraosh and Rashnu, who hold the scales of justice. In these are weighed the thoughts, words, and deeds of each soul, the good on one side and the bad on the other. If the good acts are heavier, then the soul is judged worthy of Paradise; and is lead by a maiden, the personification of its own conscience daena, across the broad bridge and up on high. But, when the scales sink on the bad side, the bridge contracts to the width of a blade-edge, and a horrid hag meeting the souls as it tries to cross, sieges it in her arms and plunges with it down into hell, “the dwelling place of the Worst Purpose (Y 12.13), where the wicked endure “a long age of misery, of darkness, ill food, and the crying of woe” (Y 31.20). This concept of hell, a place of torment presided over by Angra Mainyu, appears to have been Zoroaster’s own idea, shaped by his personal deep sense of a need for justice. Although a few souls “whose false (things) and what are just balance” (Y 35.1) go to the “Place of the Mixed Ones,” Misvan Gatu, where, as in the old underworld kingdom of the dead, they lead a grey existence lacking both joy and sorrow.

Zoroaster taught that there was to be a Last Judgment. The pagan Iranians like the Vedic Indians held that in Paradise each soul was reunited with the body to live a sentiment, happy life; but according to Zoroaster the blessed had to wait until the culmination of the Frashegird and the “future body” (Pahlavi “yan i pasen”), when the earth will give up the bones of the dead (Y 30.7). The Last Judgment will follow this general resurrection, which divides the righteous from the wicked, including those living until that time and those previously judged. Following this final judgment certain divinities will melt all the metal in the mountains; and this will flow in a glowing river over the earth. And all mankind must pass through this river, and as described in a Pahlavi text, “for him who is righteous it will seem like warm milk, and for him who is wicked, it will seem as if he is walking in the flesh through molten metal” (GBd 36.18-19). This was Zoroaster’s vision, based on his original teaching that strict justice should prevail, just as at each individual judgment on earth by fiery ordeal, so too at this general judgment the wicked should experience a second death and perish from the face of the earth. Further, according to teaching, the Daevas and legions of darkness have already been annihilated in the last great battle with the Yazatas; and the river of metal will flow into hell, slaying Angra Mainyu and burning the last vintage of wickedness in the universe.

Zoroaster initially instituted a religious eschatology, or the belief in the end of the world. This is seen in relation to the figure of Saoshyant, a World Savior. This savior emerged during the dark years of the religion prompted, according to Gathnic passages, by Zoroaster’s fear of an imminent end of the world which caused him to envision Ahura Mazda sending “a man who is better than a good man” (Y 43.3), the Saoshyant, literally meaning “one who bring benefit,” who will possess revealed truth and will lead humanity in the final battle against evil. It is speculated that the prophet reasoned that he would not lived to see the age of Frasho-kereti. His followers ardently clung to this expectation, coming to believe that Saoshyant would come from the prophet’s own seed, miraculously preserved in the depths of a lake (identified as Lake Kasaoya). When the end of time approaches, it is said, a virgin will bathe in this lake and become with child by the prophet, and she will in due course bear a son, named Astvat-ereta, “He who embodies righteousness” (after Zoroaster’s own words: “My righteousness embodied” Y 43.16).

Even though the Saoshyant was miraculously conceived he was to be born of natural parents since this was compatible with Zoroaster’s teachings that man would participate in the defeat of evil. Later Saoshyant was pluralized to Saoshyans to include religious and other leaders. In the Avesta this detailed is given: “When Astvat-ereta comes from the Lake Kasaoya, messenger of Ahura Mazda…the he will drive the Drug out from the world of Asha” (Boyce 42).

Following this time Ahura Mazda and the Amesha Spentas will solemnized a last, spiritual yasna, offering the last sacrifice (after which death will be no more), and making a preparation of the mystical “white haoma,” which will confer immortality on the resurrected bodies of all the blessed, who will partake of it. Thereafter, men shall be like the Immortals themselves in thought, word, and deed; unaging, free from illness, without corruption, and forever joyful in the kingdom of God on the earth. The blessed have now entered the era of the “Separation,” according to Zoroaster, which is not like the remote insubstantial Paradise, but the renewal of the perfect Creation.

Almost three-fourth of the Zoroastrianism literature in presumed lost. The remaining literature consists of the Gathas, seventeen hymns attributed to Zoroaster himself and frequently addressed directly to Ahura Mazda; a group of Yasts, songs that praise archaic divinities usually associated with a particular aspect of nature; and the Vendidad, mainly a collection of religious and more precepts and purifications. The Avesta, material memorized and transferred orally for generations, was not written down until the Sassanian period, the third to seventh centuries AD. Because the words were believed to have effective power, their verbatim preservation was considered essential; therefore, they survive relatively uncorrupted in a dead church language that poses innumerable translation problems. The Yasts and Vendidad are said to compose the Younger Avesta.

The literature appears to designate the period and condition of the church. The Gathas, the most ancient, describe Zoroaster’s followers often as depressed and endangered. Zoroaster’s denunciations of the former gods and old ways, his economic imperative to settle and farm the land, apparently were not too well received by some nomadic peoples; traces of bloody conflicts have been found in Gathic hymns. The Vendidad tells of a different time, the danger has passed, the church has been established, and the composition is of sacrifices, recitations, and purifications that require minute observance to be enacted under priestly surveillance.

Some Iraniologists also believe the literature helps to somewhat date the origins of Zoroastrianism. It is believed that the seniority of the Gathas should not detract from the antiquity of the Younger Avesta itself. The Fravadrin Yast, for example, contains references to Iranian peoples who were apparently not known to the earliest Achaemenid records of the sixth century BC. And with the one exception of “Ragha,” believed to be the ancient Rayy near Tehran, no allusion is made to any known Iranian city or village. Moreover, the practices described in sections of the Younger Avesta are only those of agriculturalists and herdsmen. Stone mortars, pestles, and the ritual flint knife were implements associated with the Neolithic times, were still being used, and bows and arrows were often flint-tipped. Events described in the Younger Avesta appear to possibly have occurred as often in the Stone Age as in the Bronze (Settegast 213-214).

Observances Zoroaster instructed his followers to pray in the presence of fire. Fire was a symbol of order and justice. An earthly fire can represent fire, by the Sun, or by the Moon. Zoroastrians must pray five times every 24 hours – sunrise, noon, sunset, midnight and dawn. They pray standing while untying and tying a sacred cord tied around their waist. There are seven communal festivals. The most important is No Ruz or Navroz – the Parsi New Year new day observed at the spring of Equinox. People took special care about the purity of fire, water and earth. They disposed of the dead by exposing the corpses in barren places or on stone towers, called Towers of Silence, where they are eaten by vultures. Zoroastrians practice a number of rites for regaining lost purity. Prayers are regularly preceded by ritual ablutions. The community is divided into lay people and priests. Boys begin to study the sacred text at the age of seven years. Some priests tend the sacred fire kept burning in the temples (see Temple fire).

The practice of leaving the dead exposed for vouchers to scavenge again suggests the possible association with the Magi, for Strabo (XV. 3. xx) noted “the Magi are not buried, but the birds are allowed to devour them.” As previously mentioned Zervanism, which also spoke of the “twin-spirits,” was the religion of the Magi. Many believe Zervanism is older than Zoroastrianism; therefore, it is speculated that either Zoroaster was or became a Magi, or the Magi were in want of reform and joined the latter religion which resulted in a combination of the two (Settegast 216).

The rise of Islam throughout the Iranian area brought the Zoroastrian imperial history to an end in the seventh century AD. Muslim forces defeated the mighty Sasarian army in 642. It became evident that a total conquest was desired; the last Zoroastrian king, Yazdegird III, was killed by one of own people in 652. After the initial conquest Islamic rule began to gradually settle over the region; actually most citizens benefited since taxes were lower than those imposed by the Magi and monarchs. But the initial attraction of the new Muslim leaders and their religion did not last long; soon taxes increased and there arose intolerance for those clinging to Zoroastrianism. Many migrated to seek new homes in India where they became known as the Parsis, or the people from Persia. The remaining Iranian Zoroastrians were defeated two more times by the Seljuk Turks in the 11th century followed by the Mughals; both conquers were converted to Islam, but this did little to compensate the Zoroastrians for the terrible slaughter which they suffered. During turbulent times many Zoroastrians converted, but it is remarkable how many stayed true to their ancestral religion.

During the 20th century the conditions improved whenever the empowered government was favorable to the Zoroastrians. This trend began before 1900 with the removal of the jizya in 1882; the grinding labor which they endeared was stopped, and medical and educational facilities were provided for the oppressed people. In 1909 all minorities were represented in the government. Physical conditions again improved, the Zoroastrians were seen as part of the ancient Iranian history; they began reconsidering returning to their homeland. Under a second Pahlavi monarch who publicly proclaimed the pre-Islamic history and culture, and a Zoroastrian deputy prime minister, the people faired better and gained positions in both the armed forces and the professions. With increased opportunities in Tehran many Zoroastrians returned to the metropolis from their desert retreats. However, when the Islamic Republic took power in 1979 many Zoroastrians feared for their future and a few retreated to their homes while a greater number migrated to Australia, Canada, and the United States to loin the Parsi diaspora. Those staying in the homeland did not suffer the feared persecution but they experienced inequalities in the law, not being equal to Muslims, and decreased opportunities in education and the professions. By unconfirmed population figures there appears to have been an increase in the religion’s membership.

Source:  http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/z/zoroastrianism.html

Feb 11

Confucianism Part 5

confZhou Dunyi ingeniously articulated the relationship between the “great transformation” of the cosmos and the moral development of human beings. In his metaphysics, humanity, as the recipient of the highest excellence from heaven, is itself a centre of cosmic creativity. He developed this all-embracing humanism by a thought-provoking interpretation of the Daoist diagram of Taiji (“Great Ultimate”). Shao Yong elaborated on the metaphysical basis of human affairs, insisting that a disinterested numerological mode of analysis is most appropriate for understanding the “supreme principles governing the world.” Zhang Zai, on the other hand, focused on the omnipresence of qi (“vital energy”). He also advocated the oneness of li (“principle”; comparable to the idea of Natural Law) and the multiplicity of its manifestations, which is created as the principle expresses itself through the “vital energy.” As an article of faith he pronounced in the “Western Inscription”: “Heaven is my father and Earth is my mother, and even such a small being as I finds a central abode in their midst. Therefore that which fills the cosmos I regard as my body and that which directs the cosmos I consider as my nature. All people are my brothers and sisters, and all things are my companions.”

This theme of mutuality between heaven and human beings, consanguinity between man and man, and harmony between man and nature was brought to fruition in Cheng Hao’s definition of humanity as “forming one body with all things.” To him the presence of tianli (“heavenly principle”) in all things as well as in human nature enables the human mind to purify itself in a spirit of reverence. Cheng Yi, following his brother’s lead, formulated the famous dictum, “self-cultivation requires reverence; the extension of knowledge consists in the investigation of things.” By making special reference to gewu (“investigation of things”), he raised doubts about the appropriateness of focusing exclusively on the illumination of the mind in self-cultivation, as his brother seems to have done. The learning of the mind as advocated by Cheng Hao and the learning of the principle as advocated by Cheng Yi became two distinct modes of thought in Song Confucianism.

Zhu Xi, clearly following Cheng Yi’s School of Principle and implicitly rejecting Cheng Hao’s School of Mind, developed a method of interpreting and transmitting the Confucian Way that for centuries defined Confucianism not only for the Chinese but for the Koreans and the Japanese as well. If, as quite a few scholars have advocated, Confucianism represents a distinct form of East Asian spirituality, it is the Confucianism shaped by Zhu Xi. Zhu Xi virtually reconstituted the Confucian tradition, giving it new structure, new texture, and new meaning. He was more than a synthesizer; through conscientious appropriation and systematic interpretation he gave rise to a new Confucianism, known as neo-Confucianism in the West but often referred to as lixue (“Learning of the Principle”) in modern China.

The “Doctrine of the Mean” and the “Great Learning,” two chapters in the Liji, had become independent treatises and, together with the Analects and Mencius, had been included in the core curriculum of Confucian education for centuries before Zhu Xi’s birth. But by putting them into a particular sequence, the “Great Learning,” the Analects, Mencius, and the “Doctrine of the Mean,” synthesizing their commentaries, interpreting them as a coherent humanistic vision, and calling them the Four Books (Sishu), Zhu Xi fundamentally restructured the Confucian scriptural tradition. The Four Books, placed above the Five Classics, became the central texts for both primary education and civil service examinations in traditional China from the 14th century. Thus they have exerted far greater influence on Chinese life and thought in the past 600 years than any other work.

As an interpreter and transmitter of the Confucian Way, Zhu Xi identified which early Song masters belonged to the lineage of Confucius and Mencius. His judgment, later widely accepted by governments in East Asia, was based principally on philosophical insight. Zhou Dunyi, Zhang Zai, and the Cheng brothers, the select four, were Zhu Xi’s cultural heroes. Shao Yong and Sima Guang were originally on his list, but Zhu Xi apparently changed his mind, perhaps because of Shao’s excessive metaphysical speculation and Sima’s obsession with historical facts.

Up until Zhu Xi’s time the Confucian thinking of the Song masters was characterized by a few fruitfully ambiguous concepts, notably the Great Ultimate, principle, vital energy, nature, mind, and humanity. Zhu Xi defined the process of the investigation of things as a rigorous discipline of the mind to probe the principle in things. He recommended a twofold method of study: to cultivate a sense of reverence and to pursue knowledge. This combination of morality and wisdom made his pedagogy an inclusive approach to humanist education. Reading, sitting quietly, ritual practice, physical exercise, calligraphy, arithmetic, and empirical observation all had a place in his pedagogical program. Zhu Xi reestablished the White Deer Grotto in present Jiangxi province as an academy. It became the intellectual centre of his age and provided an instructional model for all schools in East Asia for generations to come.

Zhu Xi was considered the preeminent Confucian scholar in Song China, but his interpretation of the Confucian Way was seriously challenged by his contemporary, Lu Jiuyuan (Lu Xiangshan, 1139–93). Claiming that he appropriated the true wisdom of Confucian teaching by reading Mencius, Lu criticized Zhu Xi’s theory of the investigation of things as fragmented and ineffective empiricism. Instead he advocated a return to Mencian moral idealism by insisting that establishing the “great body” (i.e., heaven-endowed nobility) is the primary precondition for self-realization. To him the learning of the mind as a quest for self-knowledge provided the basis upon which the investigation of things assumed its proper significance. Lu’s confrontation with Zhu Xi in the famous meeting at the Goose Lake Temple in 1175 further convinced him that Confucianism as Zhu Xi had shaped it was not Mencian. Although Lu’s challenge remained a minority position for some time, his learning of the mind later became a major intellectual force in Ming China (1368–1644) and Tokugawa Japan (1603–1867).

Confucian learning in Jin, Yuan, and Ming
For about 150 years, from the time the Song court moved its capital to the South and reestablished itself there in 1127, North China was ruled by three conquest dynasties, the Liao (907–1125), Xi Xia (1038–1227), and Jin (1115–1234). Although the bureaucracies and political cultures of both Liao and Xi Xia were under Confucian influence, no discernible intellectual developments helped to further the Confucian tradition there. In the Jurchen Jin dynasty, however, despite the paucity of information about the Confucian renaissance in the Southern Song, the Jin scholar-officials continued the classical, artistic, literary, and historiographic traditions of the North and developed a richly textured cultural form of their own. Zhao Bingwen’s (1159–1232) combination of literary talent and moral concerns and Wang Roxu’s (1174–1243) scholarship in Classics and history, as depicted in Yuan Haowen’s (1190–1257) biographical sketches and preserved in their collected works, compared well with the high standards set by their counterparts in the South.

When the Mongols reunited China in 1279, the intellectual dynamism of the South profoundly affected the northern style of scholarship. Although the harsh treatment of scholars by the conquest Yuan (Mongol) dynasty (1206–1368) seriously damaged the well-being of the scholarly community, outstanding Confucian thinkers nevertheless emerged throughout the period. Some opted to purify themselves so that they could repossess the Way for the future; some decided to become engaged in politics to put their teaching into practice.

Xu Heng (1209–81) took a practical approach. Appointed by Kublai, the Great Khan in Marco Polo’s Description of the World, as the president of the Imperial Academy and respected as the leading scholar in the court, Xu conscientiously introduced Zhu Xi’s teaching to the Mongols. He assumed personal responsibility for educating the sons of the Mongol nobility to become qualified teachers of Confucian Classics. His erudition and skills in medicine, legal affairs, irrigation, military science, arithmetic, and astronomy enabled him to be an informed adviser to the conquest dynasty. He set the tone for the eventual success of the Confucianization of Yuan bureaucracy. In fact, it was the Yuan court that first officially adopted the Four Books as the basis of the civil service examination, a practice that was to be observed until 1905. Thanks to Xu Heng, Zhu Xi’s teaching prevailed in the Mongol period, but it was significantly simplified.

The hermit-scholar Liu Yin (1249–93), on the other hand, allegedly refused Kublai Khan’s summons in order to maintain the dignity of the Confucian Way. To him education was for self-realization. Loyal to the Jin culture in which he was reared and faithful to the Confucian Way that he had learned from the Song masters, Liu Yin rigorously applied philological methods to classical studies and strongly advocated the importance of history. Although true to Zhu Xi’s spirit, by taking seriously the idea of the investigation of things, he put a great deal of emphasis on the learning of the mind. Liu Yin’s contemporary, Wu Zheng (1249–1333), further developed the learning of the mind. He fully acknowledged the contribution of Lu Jiuyuan to the Confucian tradition, even though as an admirer of Xu Heng he considered himself a follower of Zhu Xi. Wu assigned himself the challenging task of harmonizing the difference between Zhu and Lu. As a result, he reoriented Zhu’s balanced approach to morality and wisdom to accommodate Lu’s existential concern for self-knowledge. This prepared the way for the revival of Lu’s learning of the mind in the Ming (1368–1644).

The thought of the first outstanding Ming Confucian scholar, Xue Xuan (1389–1464), already revealed the turn toward moral subjectivity. Although a devoted follower of Zhu Xi, Xue’s Records of Reading clearly shows that he considered the cultivation of “mind and nature” to be particularly important. Two other early Ming scholars, Wu Yubi (1391–1469) and Chen Xianzhang (1428–1500), helped to define Confucian education for those who studied the Classics not simply in preparation for examinations but as learning of the “body and mind.” They cleared the way for Wang Yangming (1472–1529), the most influential Confucian thinker after Zhu Xi.

As a critique of excessive attention to philological details characteristic of Zhu Xi’s followers, Wang Yangming allied himself with Lu Jiuyuan’s learning of the mind. He advocated the precept of uniting thought and action. By focusing on the transformative power of the will, he inspired a generation of Confucian students to return to the moral idealism of Mencius. His own personal example of combining teaching with bureaucratic routine, administrative responsibility, and leadership in military campaigns demonstrated that he was a man of deeds.

Despite his competence in practical affairs, Wang’s primary concern was moral education, which he felt had to be grounded in the “original substance” of the mind. This he later identified as liangzhi (“good conscience”), by which he meant innate knowledge or a primordial existential awareness possessed by every human being. He further suggested that good conscience as the heavenly principle is inherent in all beings from the highest spiritual forms to grass, wood, bricks, and stone. Because the universe consists of vital energy informed by good conscience, it is a dynamic process rather than a static structure. Human beings can learn to regard heaven and earth and the myriad things as one body by extending their good conscience to embrace an ever-expanding network of relationships.

Wang Yangming’s dynamic idealism, as Wing-tsit Chan, the late dean of Chinese philosophy in North America, characterized it, set the Confucian agenda for several generations in China. His followers, such as the communitarian Wang Ji (1498–1583), who devoted his long life to building a community of the like-minded, and the radical individualist Li Zhi (1527–1602), who proposed to reduce all human relationships to friendship, broadened Confucianism to accommodate a variety of lifestyles.

Among Wang’s critics, Liu Zongzhou (1578–1645) was perhaps the most brilliant. His Human Schemata (Renpu) offered a rigorous phenomenological description of human mistakes as a corrective to Wang Yangming’s moral optimism. Liu’s student Huang Zongxi (1610–95) compiled a comprehensive biographical history of Ming Confucians based on Liu’s writings. One of Huang’s contemporaries, Gu Yanwu (1613–82), was also a critic of Wang Yangming. He excelled in his studies of political institutions, ancient phonology, and classical philology. While Gu was well-known in his time and honoured as the patron saint of “evidential learning” in the 18th century, his contemporary Wang Fuzhi (1619–92) was discovered 200 years later as one of the most sophisticated original minds in the history of Confucian thought. His extensive writings on metaphysics, history, and the Classics made him a thorough critic of Wang Yangming and his followers.

The age of Confucianism: Chosŏn-dynasty Korea, Tokugawa Japan, and Qing China
Among all the dynasties, Chinese and foreign, the long-lived Chosŏn (Joseon; also called Yi) in Korea (1392–1910) was undoubtedly the most thoroughly Confucianized. Since the 15th century, when the aristocracy (yangban) defined itself as the carrier of Confucian values, the penetration of court politics and elite culture by Confucianism was unprecedented. Even today, as manifested in political behaviour, legal practice, ancestral veneration, genealogy, village schools, and student activism, the vitality of the Confucian tradition is widely felt in South Korea.

Yi T’oegye (1501–70), the single most important Korean Confucian, helped shape the character of Chosŏn Confucianism through his creative interpretation of Zhu Xi’s teaching. Critically aware of the philosophical turn engineered by Wang Yangming, T’oegye transmitted the Zhu Xi legacy as a response to the advocates of the learning of the mind. As a result, he made Chosŏn Confucianism at least as much a true heir to Song learning as Ming Confucianism was. Indeed, his Discourse on the Ten Sagely Diagrams, an aid for educating the king, offered a depiction of all the major concepts in Song learning. His exchange of letters with Ki Taesŭng (1527–72) in the famous Four-Seven debate, which discussed the relationship between Mencius’ four basic human feelings—commiseration, shame, modesty, and right and wrong—and seven emotions, such as anger and joy, raised the level of Confucian dialogue to a new height of intellectual sophistication.

In addition, Yi Yulgok’s (1536–84) challenge to T’oegye’s re-presentation of Zhu Xi’s Confucianism, from the perspective of Zhu’s thought itself, significantly enriched the repertoire of the learning of the principle. The leadership of the central government, supported by the numerous academies set up by aristocratic families and by institutions such as the community compact system and the village schools, made the learning of the principle not only a political ideology but also a common creed in Korea.

In Japan, Zhu Xi’s teaching, as interpreted by T’oegye, was introduced to Yamazaki Ansai (1618–82). A distinctive feature of Yamazaki’s thought was his recasting of native Shintōism in Confucian terminology. The diversity and vitality of Japanese Confucianism was further evident in the appropriation of Wang Yangming’s dynamic idealism by the samurai-scholars, notably Kumazawa Banzan (1619–91). It is, however, in Ogyū Sorai’s (1666–1728) determination to rediscover the original basis of Confucian teaching by returning to its pre-Confucian sources that a true exemplification of the independent-mindedness of Japanese Confucians is found. Indeed, Sorai’s brand of ancient learning with its particular emphasis on philological exactitude foreshadowed a similar scholarly movement in China by at least a generation. Although Tokugawa Japan was never as Confucianized as Chosŏn Korea, virtually every educated person in Japanese society was exposed to the Four Books by the end of the 17th century.

The Confucianization of Chinese society reached its apex during the Qing (1644–1911/12), when China was again ruled by a conquest (Manchu) dynasty. The Qing emperors outshone their counterparts in the Ming in presenting themselves as exemplars of Confucian kingship. They transformed Confucian teaching into a political ideology, indeed a mechanism of control. Jealously guarding their imperial prerogatives as the ultimate interpreters of Confucian truth, they undermined the freedom of scholars to transmit the Confucian Way by imposing harsh measures, such as literary inquisition. It was Gu Yanwu’s classical scholarship rather than his insights on political reform that inspired the 18th-century evidential scholars. Dai Zhen, the most philosophically minded philologist among them, couched his brilliant critique of Song learning in his commentary on “The Meanings of Terms in the Book of Mencius.” Dai Zhen was one of the scholars appointed by the Qianlong emperor in 1773 to compile an imperial manuscript library. This massive scholarly attempt, The Complete Library of the Four Treasures, is symbolic of the grandiose intent of the Manchu court to give an account of all the important works of the four branches of learning—the Classics, history, philosophy, and literature—in Confucian culture. The project comprised more than 36,000 volumes with comments on about 10,230 titles, employed as many as 15,000 copyists, and took 20 years to complete. The Qianlong emperor and the scholars around him may have expressed their cultural heritage in a definitive form, but the Confucian tradition was yet to encounter its most serious threat.

Modern transformation
At the time of the first Opium War (1839–42) East Asian societies had been Confucianized for centuries. The continuous growth of Mahayana Buddhism throughout Asia and the presence of Daoism in China, shamanism in Korea, and Shintōism in Japan did not undermine the power of Confucianism in government, education, family rituals, and social ethics. In fact, Buddhist monks were often messengers of Confucian values, and the coexistence of Confucianism with Daoism, shamanism, and Shintōism actually characterized the syncretic East Asian religious life. The impact of the West, however, so fundamentally challenged the Confucian roots in East Asia that for some time it was widely debated whether or not Confucianism could remain a viable tradition in modern times.

Beginning in the 19th century, Chinese intellectuals’ faith in the ability of Confucian culture to withstand the impact of the West became gradually eroded. This loss of faith may be perceived in Lin Zexu’s (1785–1850) moral indignation against the British, followed by Zeng Guofan’s (1811–72) pragmatic acceptance of the superiority of Western technology, Kang Youwei’s (1858–1927) sweeping recommendation for political reform, and Zhang Zhidong’s (1837–1909) desperate, eclectic attempt to save the essence of Confucian learning, which, however, eventually led to the anti-Confucian iconoclasm of the so-called May Fourth Movement in 1919. The triumph of Marxism-Leninism as the official ideology of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 relegated Confucian rhetoric to the background. The modern Chinese intelligentsia, however, maintained unacknowledged, sometimes unconscious, continuities with the Confucian tradition at every level of life—behaviour, attitude, belief, and commitment. Indeed, Confucianism remains an integral part of the psycho-cultural construct of the contemporary Chinese intellectual as well as of the Chinese farmer.

The emergence of Japan and other newly industrialized Asian countries (e.g., South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore) as the most dynamic region of economic development since World War II has generated much scholarly interest. Labeled the “Sinitic World in Perspective,” “The Second Case of Industrial Capitalism,” the “Eastasia Edge,” or “the Challenge of the Post-Confucian States,” this phenomenon has raised questions about how the typical East Asian institutions, still suffused with Confucian values—such as a paternalistic government, an educational system based on competitive examinations, the family with emphasis on loyalty and cooperation, and local organizations informed by consensus—have adapted themselves to the imperatives of modernization.

Some of the most creative and influential intellectuals in contemporary China have continued to think from Confucian roots. Xiong Shili’s ontological reflection, Liang Shuming’s cultural analysis, Feng Youlan’s reconstruction of the learning of the principle, He Lin’s new interpretation of the learning of the mind, Tang Junyi’s philosophy of culture, Xu Fuguan’s social criticism, and Mou Zongsan’s moral metaphysics are noteworthy examples. Although some of the most articulate intellectuals in the People’s Republic of China criticize their Confucian heritage as the embodiment of authoritarianism, bureaucratism, nepotism, conservatism, and male chauvinism, others in China, Taiwan, Singapore, and North America have imaginatively established the relevance of Confucian humanism to China’s modernization. The revival of Confucian studies in South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore has been under way for more than a generation, though Confucian scholarship in Japan remains unrivaled. Confucian thinkers in the West, inspired by religious pluralism and liberal democratic ideas, have begun to explore the possibility of a third epoch of Confucian humanism. They uphold that its modern transformation, as a creative response to the challenge of the West, is a continuation of its classical formulation and its medieval elaboration. Scholars in mainland China have also begun to explore the possibility of a fruitful interaction between Confucian humanism and democratic liberalism in a socialist context.

 

 

Feb 11

Confucianism Part 4

06_SYM_ConfucianAs a result Confucian Classics became the core curriculum for all levels of education. In 136 bce Wudi set up at court five Erudites of the Five Classics (see below The Five Classics) and in 124 bce assigned 50 official students to study with them, thus creating a de facto imperial university. By 50 bce enrollment at the university had grown to an impressive 3,000, and by 1 ce a hundred students a year were entering government service through the examinations administered by the state. In short, those with a Confucian education began to staff the bureaucracy. In the year 58 all government schools were required to make sacrifices to Confucius, and in 175 the court had the approved version of the Classics, which had been determined by scholarly conferences and research groups under imperial auspices for several decades, carved on large stone tablets. (These stelae, which were erected at the capital, are today well preserved in the museum of Xi’an.) This act of committing to permanence and to public display the content of the sacred scriptures symbolized the completion of the formation of the classical Confucian tradition.

The compilation of the Wujing (The Five Classics) was a concrete manifestation of the coming of age of the Confucian tradition. The inclusion of both pre-Confucian texts, the Shujing (“Classic of History”) and the Shijing (“Classic of Poetry”), and contemporary Qin-Han material, such as certain portions of the Liji (“Record of Rites”), suggests that the spirit behind the establishment of the core curriculum for Confucian education was ecumenical. The Five Classics can be described in terms of five visions: metaphysical, political, poetic, social, and historical.
The metaphysical vision, expressed in the Yijing (“Classic of Changes”), combines divinatory art with numerological technique and ethical insight. According to the philosophy of change, the cosmos is a great transformation occasioned by the constant interaction of two complementary as well as conflicting vital energies, yin and yang. The world, which emerges out of this ongoing transformation, exhibits both organismic unity and dynamism. The exemplary person, inspired by the harmony and creativity of the cosmos, must emulate this pattern by aiming to realize the highest ideal of “unity of man and heaven” (tianrenheyi) through ceaseless self-exertion.

The political vision, contained in the Shujing, presents kingship in terms of the ethical foundation for a humane government. The legendary Three Emperors (Yao, Shun, and Yu) all ruled by virtue. Their sagacity, xiao (filial piety), and dedication to work enabled them to create a political culture based on responsibility and trust. Their exemplary lives taught and encouraged the people to enter into a covenant with them so that social harmony could be achieved without punishment or coercion. Even in the Three Dynasties (Xia, Shang, and Zhou) moral authority, as expressed through ritual, was sufficient to maintain political order. The human continuum, from the undifferentiated masses to the enlightened people, the nobility, and the sage-king, formed an organic unity as an integral part of the great cosmic transformation. Politics means moral persuasion, and the purpose of the government is not only to provide food and maintain order but also to educate.

The poetic vision, contained in the Shijing, underscores the Confucian valuation of common human feelings. The majority of verses give voice to emotions and sentiments of communities and persons from all levels of society expressed on a variety of occasions. The basic theme of this poetic world is mutual responsiveness. The tone as a whole is honest rather than earnest and evocative rather than expressive.

The social vision, contained in the Liji, shows society not as an adversarial system based on contractual relationships but as a community of trust with emphasis on communication. Society organized by the four functional occupations—the scholar, farmer, artisan, and merchant—is, in the true sense of the word, a cooperation. As a contributing member of the cooperation each person is obligated to recognize the existence of others and to serve the public good. It is the king’s duty to act kingly and the father’s duty to act fatherly. If the king or father fails to behave properly, he cannot expect his minister or son to act in accordance with ritual. It is in this sense that a chapter in the Liji entitled the “Great Learning” specifies, “From the son of heaven to the commoner, all must regard self-cultivation as the root.” This pervasive consciousness of duty features prominently in all Confucian literature on ritual.

The historical vision, presented in the Chunqiu (“Spring and Autumn Annals”), emphasizes the significance of collective memory for communal self-identification. Historical consciousness is a defining characteristic of Confucian thought. By defining himself as a lover of antiquity and a transmitter of its values, Confucius made it explicit that a sense of history is not only desirable but is necessary for self-knowledge. Confucius’ emphasis on the importance of history was in a way his reappropriation of the ancient Sinitic wisdom that reanimating the old is the best way to attain the new. Confucius may not have been the author of the Chunqiu, but it seems likely that he applied moral judgment to political events in China proper from the 8th to the 5th century bce. In this unprecedented procedure he assumed a godlike role in evaluating politics by assigning ultimate historical praise and blame to the most powerful and influential political actors of the period. Not only did this practice inspire the innovative style of the grand historian Sima Qian (c. 145–c. 87 bce) but it was also widely employed by others writing dynastic histories in imperial China.

Dong Zhongshu:The Confucian visionary
Like Sima Qian, Dong Zhongshu (c. 179–c. 104 bce) also took the Chunqiu absolutely seriously. His own work, Chunqiufanlu (“Luxuriant Gems of the Spring and Autumn Annals”), however, is far from being a book of historical judgment. It is a metaphysical treatise in the spirit of the Yijing. A man extraordinarily dedicated to learning (he is said to have been so absorbed in his studies that for three years he did not even glance at the garden in front of him) and strongly committed to moral idealism (one of his often-quoted dicta is “rectifying rightness without scheming for profit; enlightening his Way without calculating efficaciousness”), Dong was instrumental in developing a characteristically Han interpretation of Confucianism.

Despite Wudi’s pronouncement that Confucianism alone would receive imperial sponsorship, Daoists, yin-yang cosmologists, Legalists, shamanists, practitioners of seances, healers, magicians, geomancers, and others all contributed to the cosmological thinking of the Han cultural elite. Indeed, Dong himself was a beneficiary of this intellectual syncretism, for he freely tapped the spiritual resources of his time in formulating his own worldview: that human actions have cosmic consequences.

Dong’s inquiries on the meaning of the five agents (metal, wood, water, fire, and earth), the correspondence of human beings and the numerical categories of heaven, and the sympathetic activation of things of the same kind, as well as his studies of cardinal Confucian values such as humanity, rightness, ritual, wisdom, and trustworthiness, enabled him to develop an elaborate worldview integrating Confucian ethics with naturalistic cosmology. What Dong accomplished was not merely a theological justification for the emperor as the “son of heaven”; rather, his theory of mutual responsiveness between heaven and humanity provided the Confucian scholars with a higher law by which to judge the conduct of the ruler.

Despite Dong’s immense popularity, his worldview was not universally accepted by Han Confucian scholars. A reaction in favour of a more rational and moralistic approach to the Confucian Classics, known as the “Old Text” school, had already set in before the fall of the Western Han. Yang Xiong (c. 53 bce–18 ce) in the Fayan (“Model Sayings”), a collection of moralistic aphorisms in the style of the Analects, and the Taixuanjing (“Classic of the Supremely Profound Principle”), a cosmological speculation in the style of the Yijing, presented an alternative worldview. This school, claiming its own recensions of authentic classical texts allegedly rediscovered during the Han period and written in an “old” script before the Qin unification, was widely accepted in the Eastern Han (25–220 ce). As the institutions of the Erudites and the Imperial University expanded in the Eastern Han, the study of the Classics became more refined and elaborate. Confucian scholasticism, however, like its counterparts in Talmudic and biblical studies, became too professionalized to remain a vital intellectual force.

Yet Confucian ethics exerted great influence on government, schools, and society at large. Toward the end of the Han as many as 30,000 students attended the Imperial University. All public schools throughout the land offered regular sacrifices to Confucius, and he virtually became the patron saint of education. Many Confucian temples were also built. The imperial courts continued to honour Confucius from age to age; a Confucian temple eventually stood in every one of the 2,000 counties. As a result, the teacher, together with heaven, earth, the emperor, and parents, became one of the most respected authorities in traditional China.

Confucian ethics in the Daoist and Buddhist context
Incompetent rulership, faction-ridden bureaucracy, a mismanaged tax structure, and domination by eunuchs toward the end of the Eastern Han first prompted widespread protests by the Imperial University students. The high-handed policy of the court to imprison and kill thousands of them and their official sympathizers in 169 ce may have put a temporary stop to the intellectual revolt, but the downward economic spiral made the life of the peasantry unbearable. The peasant rebellion led by Confucian scholars as well as Daoist religious leaders of faith-healing sects, combined with open insurrections of the military, brought down the Han dynasty and thus put an end to the first Chinese empire. As the imperial Han system disintegrated, barbarians invaded from the north. The plains of northern China were fought over, despoiled, and controlled by rival groups, and a succession of states was established in the south. This period of disunity, from the early 3rd to the late 6th century, marked the decline of Confucianism, the upsurge of neo-Daoism, and the spread of Buddhism.

The prominence of Daoism and Buddhism among the cultural elite and the populace in general, however, did not mean that the Confucian tradition had disappeared. In fact, Confucian ethics was by then virtually inseparable from the moral fabric of Chinese society. Confucius continued to be universally honoured as the paradigmatic sage. The outstanding Daoist thinker Wang Bi (226–249) argued that Confucius, by not speculating on the nature of the dao, had an experiential understanding of it superior to Laozi’s. The Confucian Classics remained the foundation of all literate culture, and sophisticated commentaries were produced throughout the age. Confucian values continued to dominate in such political institutions as the central bureaucracy, the recruitment of officials, and local governance. The political forms of life also were distinctively Confucian. When a barbarian state adopted a sinicization policy, notably the case of the Northern Wei (386–534/535), it was by and large Confucian in character. In the south systematic attempts were made to strengthen family ties by establishing clan rules, genealogical trees, and ancestral rituals based on Confucian ethics.

The reunification of China by the Sui (581–618) and the restoration of lasting peace and prosperity by the Tang (618–907) gave a powerful stimulus to the revival of Confucian learning. The publication of a definitive, official edition of the Wujing with elaborate commentaries and subcommentaries and the implementation of Confucian rituals at all levels of governmental practice, including the compilation of the famous Tang legal code, were two outstanding examples of Confucianism in practice. An examination system was established based on literary competence. This system made the mastery of Confucian Classics a prerequisite for political success and was, therefore, perhaps the single most important institutional innovation in defining elite culture in Confucian terms.

The Tang dynasty, nevertheless, was dominated by Buddhism and, to a lesser degree, by Daoism. The philosophical originality of the dynasty was mainly represented by monk-scholars such as Jizang (549–623), Xuanzang (602–664), and Zhiyi (538–597). An unintended consequence in the development of Confucian thought in this context was the prominent rise of the metaphysically significant Confucian texts, notably Zhongyong (“Doctrine of the Mean”) and Yizhuan (“The Great Commentary of the Classic of Changes”), which appealed to some Buddhist and Daoist thinkers. A sign of a possible Confucian turn in the Tang was Li Ao’s (d. c. 844) essay on “Returning to Nature” that foreshadowed features of Song (960–1279) Confucian thought. The most influential precursor of a Confucian revival, however, was Han Yu (768–824). He attacked Buddhism from the perspectives of social ethics and cultural identity and provoked interest in the question of what actually constitutes the Confucian Way. The issue of Daotong, the transmission of the Way or the authentic method to repossess the Way, has stimulated much discussion in the Confucian tradition since the 11th century.

The Confucian revival
The Buddhist conquest of China and the Chinese transformation of Buddhism, a process entailing the introduction, domestication, growth, and appropriation of a distinctly Indian form of spirituality, lasted for at least six centuries. Since Buddhist ideas were introduced to China via Daoist categories and since the development of the Daoist religion benefited from having Buddhist institutions and practices as models, the spiritual dynamics in medieval China were characterized by Buddhist and Daoist values. The reemergence of Confucianism as the leading intellectual force thus involved both a creative response to the Buddhist and Daoist challenge and an imaginative reappropriation of classical Confucian insights. Furthermore, after the collapse of the Tang dynasty, the grave threats to the survival of Chinese culture from the Khitan, the Jurchen (Jin), and later the Mongols prompted the literati to protect their common heritage by deepening their communal critical self-awareness. To enrich their personal knowledge as well as to preserve China as a civilization-state, they explored the symbolic and spiritual resources that made Confucianism a living tradition.

The Song masters
The Song dynasty (960–1279) was militarily weak and much smaller than the Tang, but its cultural splendour and economic prosperity were unprecedented in Chinese, if not human, history. The Song’s commercial revolution produced flourishing markets, densely populated urban centres, elaborate communication networks, theatrical performances, literary groups, and popular religions—developments that tended to remain unchanged into the 19th century. Technological advances in agriculture, textiles, lacquer, porcelain, printing, maritime trade, and weaponry demonstrated that China excelled in the fine arts as well as in the sciences. The decline of the aristocracy, the widespread availability of printed books, the democratization of education, and the full implementation of the examination system produced a new social class, the gentry, noted for its literary proficiency, social consciousness, and political participation. The outstanding members of this class, such as the classicists Hu Yuan (993–1059) and Sun Fu (992–1057), the reformers Fan Zhongyan (989–1052) and Wang Anshi (1021–86), the writer-officials Ouyang Xiu (1007–72) and Su Shi (pen name of Su Dongpo; 1037–1101), and the statesman-historian Sima Guang (1019–86), contributed to the revival of Confucianism in education, politics, literature, and history and collectively to the development of a scholarly official style, a way of life informed by Confucian ethics.

The Confucian revival, understood in traditional historiography as the establishment of the lineage of Daoxue (“Learning of the Way”), nevertheless can be traced through a line of neo-Confucian thinkers from Zhou Dunyi (1017–73) by way of Shao Yong (1011–77), Zhang Zai (1020–77), the brothers Cheng Hao (1032–85) and Cheng Yi (1033–1107), and the great synthesizer Zhu Xi (1130–1200). These men developed a comprehensive humanist vision in which cultivation of the self was integrated with social ethics and moral metaphysics. In the eyes of the Song literati this new philosophy faithfully restored the classical Confucian insights and successfully applied them to the concerns of their own age.

Feb 11

Confucianism Part 3

06_SYM_ConfucianFormation of the classical Confucian tradition

According to Hanfeizi (d. 233 bce), shortly after Confucius’ death his followers split into eight distinct schools, all claiming to be the legitimate heir to the Confucian legacy. Presumably each school was associated with or inspired by one or more of Confucius’ disciples. Yet the Confucians did not exert much influence in the 5th century bce. Although the reverent Yan Yuan (or Yan Hui), the faithful Zengzi, the talented Zigong, the erudite Zixia, and others may have generated a great deal of enthusiasm among the second generation of Confucius’ students, it was not at all clear at the time that the Confucian tradition was to emerge as the most powerful one in Chinese history.

Mencius (c. 371–c. 289 bce) complained that the world of thought in the early Warring States period (475–221 bce) was dominated by the collectivism of Mozi and the individualism of Yang Zhu (440–c. 360 bce). The historical situation a century after Confucius’ death clearly shows that the Confucian attempt to moralize politics was not working; the disintegration of the Zhou feudal ritual system and the rise of powerful hegemonic states reveal that wealth and power spoke the loudest. The hermits (the early Daoists), who left the world to create a sanctuary in nature in order to lead a contemplative life, and the realists (proto-Legalists), who played the dangerous game of assisting ambitious kings to gain wealth and power so that they could influence the political process, were actually determining the intellectual agenda. The Confucians refused to be identified with the interests of the ruling minority because their social consciousness impelled them to serve as the conscience of the people. They were in a dilemma. Although they wanted to be actively involved in politics, they could not accept the status quo as the legitimate arena in which to exercise authority and power. In short, they were in the world but not of it; they could not leave the world, nor could they effectively change it.

Mencius: The paradigmatic Confucian intellectual
Mencius is known as the self-styled transmitter of the Confucian Way. Educated first by his mother and then allegedly by a student of Confucius’ grandson, Mencius brilliantly performed his role as a social critic, a moral philosopher, and a political activist. He argued that cultivating a class of scholar-officials who would not be directly involved in agriculture, industry, and commerce was vital to the well-being of the state. In his sophisticated argument against the physiocrats (those who advocated the supremacy of agriculture), he intelligently employed the idea of the division of labour to defend those who labour with their minds, observing that service is as important as productivity. To him Confucians served the vital interests of the state as scholars not by becoming bureaucratic functionaries but by assuming the responsibility of teaching the ruling minority humane government (renzheng) and the kingly way (wangdao). In dealing with feudal lords, Mencius conducted himself not merely as a political adviser but also as a teacher of kings. Mencius made it explicit that a true person cannot be corrupted by wealth, subdued by power, or affected by poverty.

To articulate the relationship between Confucian moral idealism and the concrete social and political realities of his time, Mencius began by exposing as impractical the prevailing ideologies of Mozi’s collectivism and Yang Zhu’s individualism. Mozi’s collectivism rested on the advocacy of loving everyone. Mencius contended, however, that the result of the Mohist admonition to treat a stranger as intimately as one’s own father would be to treat one’s own father as indifferently as one would treat a stranger. Yang Zhu, on the other hand, advocated the primacy of the self. Mencius contended, however, that excessive attention to self-interest would lead to political disorder. Indeed, in Mohist collectivism fatherhood becomes a meaningless concept, and so does kingship in Yang Zhu’s individualism.

Mencius’ strategy for social reform was to change the language of profit, self-interest, wealth, and power by making it part of a moral discourse, with emphasis on rightness, public-spiritedness, welfare, and influence. Mencius, however, was not arguing against profit. Rather, he instructed the feudal lords to look beyond the narrow horizon of their palaces and to cultivate a common bond with their ministers, officers, clerks, and the seemingly undifferentiated masses. Only then, Mencius contended, would they be able to preserve their profit, self-interest, wealth, and power. He encouraged them to extend their benevolence and warned them that this was crucial for the protection of their families.

Mencius’ appeal to the common bond among all people as a mechanism of government was predicated on his strong “populist” sense that the people are more important than the state and the state more important than the king and that the ruler who does not act in accordance with the kingly way is unfit to rule. Mencius insisted that an unfit ruler should be criticized, rehabilitated, or, as the last resort, deposed. Since “heaven sees as the people see; heaven hears as the people hear,” revolution, or literally the change of the mandate (geming), in severe cases is not only justifiable but is a moral imperative.

Mencius’ “populist” conception of politics was predicated on his philosophical vision that human beings can perfect themselves through effort and that human nature (xing) is good. While he acknowledged the role of biological and environmental factors in shaping the human condition, he insisted that human beings become moral by willing to be so. According to Mencius, willing entails the transformative moral act insofar as the propensity of humans to be good is activated whenever they decide to bring it to their conscious attention.

Mencius taught that all people have the spiritual resources to deepen their self-awareness and strengthen their bonds with others. Biologic and environmental constraints notwithstanding, people always have the freedom and the ability to refine and enlarge their heaven-endowed nobility (their “great body”). The possibility of continuously refining and enlarging the self is vividly illustrated in Mencius’ description of degrees of excellence:

Those who are admirable are called good (shan). Those who are sincere are called true (xin). Those who are totally genuine are called beautiful (mei). Those who radiate this genuineness are called great (da). Those whose greatness transforms are called sagely (sheng). Those whose sageliness is unfathomable are called spiritual (shen). (VIIB:25)

Furthermore, Mencius asserted that if people fully realize the potential of their hearts, they will understand their nature; by understanding their nature, they will know heaven. Learning to be fully human, in this Mencian perspective, entails the cultivation of human sensitivity to embody the whole cosmos as one’s lived experience:

All myriad things are here in me. There is no greater joy for me than to find, on self-examination, that I am true to myself. Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to humanity. (VIIA:4)

Xunzi: The transmitter of Confucian scholarship
If Mencius brought Confucian moral idealism to fruition, Xunzi (c. 300–c. 230 bce) conscientiously transformed Confucianism into a realistic and systematic inquiry on the human condition, with special reference to ritual and authority. Widely acknowledged as the most eminent of the notable scholars who congregated in Jixia, the capital of the wealthy and powerful Qi state in the mid-3rd century bce, Xunzi distinguished himself in erudition and by the quality of his argumentation. His critique of the so-called 12 philosophers gave an overview of the intellectual life of his time. His penetrating insight into the limitations of virtually all the major currents of thought propounded by his fellow thinkers helped to establish the Confucian school as a dominant political and social force. His principal adversary, however, was Mencius, and he vigorously attacked Mencius’ view that human nature is good as naive moral optimism.

True to the Confucian and, for that matter, Mencian spirit, Xunzi underscored the centrality of self-cultivation. He defined the process of Confucian education, from exemplary person (junzi) to sage, as a ceaseless endeavour to accumulate knowledge, skills, insight, and wisdom. In contrast to Mencius, Xunzi stressed that human nature is evil. Because he saw human beings as prone by nature to pursue the gratification of their passions, he firmly believed in the need for clearly articulated social constraints. Without constraints, social solidarity, the precondition for human well-being, would be undermined. The most serious flaw he perceived in the Mencian commitment to the goodness of human nature was the practical consequence of neglecting the necessity of ritual and authority for the well-being of society. For Xunzi, as for Confucius before him, becoming moral is hard work.

Xunzi singled out the cognitive function of the heart-and-mind (xin), or human rationality, as the basis for morality. People become moral by voluntarily harnessing their desires and passions to act in accordance with society’s norms. Although this is alien to human nature, it is perceived by the heart-and-mind as necessary for both survival and well-being. It is the construction of the moral mind as a human artifact, as a “second nature.” Like Mencius, Xunzi believed in the perfectibility of all human beings through self-cultivation, in humanity and rightness as cardinal virtues, in humane government as the kingly way, in social harmony, and in education. But his view of how these could actually be achieved was diametrically opposed to that of Mencius. The Confucian project, as shaped by Xunzi, defines learning as socialization. The authority of ancient sages and worthies, the classical tradition, conventional norms, teachers, governmental rules and regulations, and political officers are all important for this process. A cultured person is by definition a fully socialized member of the human community, who has successfully sublimated his instinctual demands for the public good.

Xunzi’s tough-minded stance on law, order, authority, and ritual seems precariously close to that of the Legalists, whose policy of social conformism was designed exclusively for the benefit of the ruler. His insistence on objective standards of behaviour may have ideologically contributed to the rise of authoritarianism, which resulted in the dictatorship of the Qin (221–207 bce). As a matter of fact, two of the most influential Legalists, the theoretician Hanfeizi from the state of Han and the Qin minister Li Si (c. 280–208 bce), were his pupils. Yet Xunzi was instrumental in the continuation of Confucianism as a scholarly enterprise. His naturalistic interpretation of heaven, his sophisticated understanding of culture, his insightful observations on the epistemological aspect of the mind and social function of language, his emphasis on moral reasoning and the art of argumentation, his belief in progress, and his interest in political institutions so significantly enriched the Confucian heritage that he was revered by the Confucians as the paradigmatic scholar for more than three centuries.
The Confucianization of politics

The short-lived dictatorship of the Qin marked a brief triumph of Legalism. In the early years of the Western Han (206 bce–25 ce), however, the Legalist practice of absolute power of the emperor, complete subjugation of the peripheral states to the central government, total uniformity of thought, and ruthless enforcement of law were replaced by the Daoist practice of reconciliation and noninterference. This practice is commonly known in history as the Huang-Lao method, referring to the art of rulership attributed to the Yellow Emperor (Huangdi) and the mysterious founder of Daoism, Laozi. Although a few Confucian thinkers, such as Lu Jia and Jia Yi, made important policy recommendations, Confucianism before the emergence of Dong Zhongshu (c. 179–c. 104 bce) was not particularly influential. Nonetheless, the gradual Confucianization of Han politics began soon after the founding of the dynasty.

By the reign of Wudi (the Martial Emperor, 141–87 bce), who inherited the task of consolidating power in the central Han court, Confucianism was deeply entrenched in the central bureaucracy. It was manifest in such practices as the clear separation of the court and the government, often under the leadership of a scholarly prime minister, the process of recruiting officials through the dual mechanism of recommendation and selection, the family-centred social structure, the agriculture-based economy, and the educational network. Confucian ideas were also firmly established in the legal system as ritual became increasingly important in governing behaviour, defining social relationships, and adjudicating civil disputes. Yet it was not until the prime minister Gungsun Hong (d. 121 bce) had persuaded Wudi to announce formally that the ru school alone would receive state sponsorship that Confucianism became an officially recognized imperial ideology and state.

Feb 11

Confucianism Part 2

06_SYM_ConfucianPartly because of the vitality of the feudal ritual system and partly because of the strength of the royal household itself, the Zhou kings were able to control their kingdom for several centuries. In 771 bce, however, they were forced to move their capital eastward to present-day Luoyang to avoid barbarian attacks from Central Asia. Real power thereafter passed into the hands of feudal lords. Since the surviving line of the Zhou kings continued to be recognized in name, they still managed to exercise some measure of symbolic control. By Confucius’ time, however, the feudal ritual system had been so fundamentally undermined that the political crises also precipitated a profound sense of moral decline: the centre of symbolic control could no longer hold the kingdom, which had devolved from centuries of civil war into 14 feudal states.

Confucius’ response was to address himself to the issue of learning to be human. In so doing he attempted to redefine and revitalize the institutions that for centuries had been vital to political stability and social order: the family, the school, the local community, the state, and the kingdom. Confucius did not accept the status quo, which held that wealth and power spoke the loudest. He felt that virtue, both as a personal quality and as a requirement for leadership, was essential for individual dignity, communal solidarity, and political order.

The Analects as the embodiment of Confucian ideas
The Lunyu (Analects), the most revered sacred scripture in the Confucian tradition, was probably compiled by the succeeding generations of Confucius’ disciples. Based primarily on the Master’s sayings, preserved in both oral and written transmissions, it captures the Confucian spirit in form and content in the same way that the Platonic dialogues embody Socratic pedagogy.

The Analects has often been viewed by the critical modern reader as a collection of unrelated reflections randomly put together. This impression may have resulted from the unfortunate perception of Confucius as a mere commonsense moralizer who gave practical advice to students in everyday situations. If readers approach the Analects as a communal memory, a literary device on the part of those who considered themselves beneficiaries of the Confucian Way to continue the Master’s memory and to transmit his form of life as a living tradition, they come close to why it has been so revered in China for centuries. Interchanges with various historical figures and his disciples are used to show Confucius in thought and action, not as an isolated individual but as the centre of relationships. Actually the sayings of the Analects reveal Confucius’ personality—his ambitions, his fears, his joys, his commitments, and above all his self-knowledge.

The purpose, then, in compiling these distilled statements centring on Confucius seems not to have been to present an argument or to record an event but to offer an invitation to readers to take part in an ongoing conversation. Through the Analects Confucians for centuries learned to reenact the awe-inspiring ritual of participating in a conversation with Confucius.

One of Confucius’ most significant personal descriptions is the short autobiographical account of his spiritual development found in the Analects:

At 15 I set my heart on learning; at 30 I firmly took my stand; at 40 I had no delusions; at 50 I knew the mandate of heaven; at 60 my ear was attuned; at 70 I followed my heart’s desire without overstepping the boundaries. (2:4)

Confucius’ life as a student and teacher exemplified his idea that education was a ceaseless process of self-realization. When one of his students reportedly had difficulty describing him, Confucius came to his aid:

Why did you not simply say something to this effect: he is the sort of man who forgets to eat when he engages himself in vigorous pursuit of learning, who is so full of joy that he forgets his worries, and who does not notice that old age is coming on? (7:18)

Confucius was deeply concerned that the culture (wen) he cherished was not being transmitted and that the learning (xue) he propounded was not being taught. His strong sense of mission, however, never interfered with his ability to remember what had been imparted to him, to learn without flagging, and to teach without growing weary. What he demanded of himself was strenuous:

It is these things that cause me concern: failure to cultivate virtue, failure to go deeply into what I have learned, inability to move up to what I have heard to be right, and inability to reform myself when I have defects. (7:3)

What he demanded of his students was the willingness to learn: “I do not enlighten anyone who is not eager to learn, nor encourage anyone who is not anxious to put his ideas into words (7:8).

The community that Confucius created was a scholarly fellowship of like-minded men of different ages and different backgrounds from different states. They were attracted to Confucius because they shared his vision and to varying degrees took part in his mission to bring moral order to an increasingly fragmented world. This mission was difficult and even dangerous. Confucius himself suffered from joblessness, homelessness, starvation, and occasionally life-threatening violence. Yet his faith in the survivability of the culture that he cherished and the workability of the approach to teaching that he propounded was so steadfast that he convinced his followers as well as himself that heaven was on their side. When Confucius’ life was threatened in Kuang, he said:

Since the death of King Wen [founder of the Zhou dynasty] does not the mission of culture (wen) rest here in me? If heaven intends this culture to be destroyed, those who come after me will not be able to have any part of it. If heaven does not intend this culture to be destroyed, then what can the men of Kuang do to me? (9:5)

This expression of self-confidence informed by a powerful sense of mission may give the impression that there was presumptuousness in Confucius’ self-image. Confucius, however, made it explicit that he was far from attaining sagehood and that all he really excelled in was “love of learning” (5:27). To him, learning not only broadened his knowledge and deepened his self-awareness but also defined who he was. He frankly admitted that he was not born endowed with knowledge, nor did he belong to the class of men who could transform society without knowledge. Rather, he reported that he used his ears widely and followed what was good in what he had heard and used his eyes widely and retained in his mind what he had seen. His learning constituted “a lower level of knowledge” (7:27), a practical level that was presumably accessible to the majority of human beings. In this sense Confucius was neither a prophet with privileged access to the divine nor a philosopher who had already seen the truth but a teacher of humanity who was also an advanced fellow traveler on the way to self-realization.

As a teacher of humanity Confucius stated his ambition in terms of concern for human beings: “To bring comfort to the old, to have trust in friends, and to cherish the young” (5:25). Confucius’ vision of the way to develop a moral community began with a holistic reflection on the human condition. Instead of dwelling on abstract speculations such as man’s condition in the state of nature, Confucius sought to understand the actual situation of a given time and to use that as his point of departure. His aim was to restore trust in government and to transform society into a flourishing moral community by cultivating a sense of humanity in politics and society. To achieve that aim, the creation of a scholarly community, the fellowship of junzi (exemplary persons), was essential. In the words of Confucius’ disciple Zengzi, exemplary persons

must be broad-minded and resolute, for their burden is heavy and their road is long. They take humanity as their burden. Is that not heavy? Only with death does their road come to an end. Is that not long? (8:7)

The fellowship of junzi as moral vanguards of society, however, did not seek to establish a radically different order. Its mission was to redefine and revitalize those institutions that for centuries were believed to have maintained social solidarity and enabled people to live in harmony and prosperity. An obvious example of such an institution was the family.

It is related in the Analects that Confucius, when asked why he did not take part in government, responded by citing a passage from the ancient Shujing (“Classic of History”), “Simply by being a good son and friendly to his brothers a man can exert an influence upon government!” to show that what a person does in the confines of his home is politically significant (2:21). This maxim is based on the Confucian conviction that cultivation of the self is the root of social order and that social order is the basis for political stability and enduring peace.
The assertion that family ethics is politically efficacious must be seen in the context of the Confucian conception of politics as “rectification” (zheng). Rulers should begin by rectifying their own conduct; that is, they are to be examples who govern by moral leadership and exemplary teaching rather than by force. Government’s responsibility is not only to provide food and security but also to educate the people. Law and punishment are the minimum requirements for order; the higher goal of social harmony, however, can only be attained by virtue expressed through ritual performance. To perform rituals, then, is to take part in a communal act to promote mutual understanding.

One of the fundamental Confucian values that ensures the integrity of ritual performance is xiao (filial piety). Indeed, Confucius saw filial piety as the first step toward moral excellence, which he believed lay in the attainment of the cardinal virtue, ren (humanity). To learn to embody the family in the mind and heart is to become able to move beyond self-centredness or, to borrow from modern psychology, to transform the enclosed private ego into an open self. Filial piety, however, does not demand unconditional submissiveness to parental authority but recognition of and reverence for the source of life. The purpose of filial piety, as the ancient Greeks expressed it, is to enable both parent and child to flourish. Confucians see it as an essential way of learning to be human.

Confucians, moreover, are fond of applying the family metaphor to the community, the country, and the cosmos. They prefer to address the emperor as the son of heaven (tianzi), the king as ruler-father, and the magistrate as the “father-mother official” because to them the family-centred nomenclature implies a political vision. When Confucius said that taking care of family affairs is itself active participation in politics, he had already made it clear that family ethics is not merely a private concern; the public good is realized by and through it.
Confucius defined the process of becoming human as being able to “discipline yourself and return to ritual” (12:1). The dual focus on the transformation of the self (Confucius is said to have freed himself from four things: “opinionatedness, dogmatism, obstinacy, and egoism” [9:4]) and on social participation enabled Confucius to be loyal (zhong) to himself and considerate (shu) of others (4:15). It is easy to understand why the Confucian “golden rule” is “Do not do unto others what you would not want others to do unto you!” (15:23). Confucius’ legacy, laden with profound ethical implications, is captured by his “plain and real” appreciation that learning to be human is a communal enterprise:

Persons of humanity, in wishing to establish themselves, also establish others, and in wishing to enlarge themselves, also enlarge others. The ability to take as analogy what is near at hand can be called the method of humanity. (6:30)

Feb 11

Confucianism Part 1

Courtesy of: http://www.britannica.com

06_SYM_ConfucianConfucianism the way of life propagated by Confucius in the 6th–5th century bce and followed by the Chinese people for more than two millennia. Although transformed over time, it is still the substance of learning, the source of values, and the social code of the Chinese. Its influence has also extended to other countries, particularly Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.

Confucianism, a Western term that has no counterpart in Chinese, is a worldview, a social ethic, a political ideology, a scholarly tradition, and a way of life. Sometimes viewed as a philosophy and sometimes as a religion, Confucianism may be understood as an all-encompassing way of thinking and living that entails ancestor reverence and a profound human-centred religiousness. East Asians may profess themselves to be Shintōists, Daoists, Buddhists, Muslims, or Christians, but, by announcing their religious affiliations, seldom do they cease to be Confucians.

Although often grouped with the major historical religions, Confucianism differs from them by not being an organized religion. Nonetheless, it spread to other East Asian countries under the influence of Chinese literate culture and has exerted a profound influence on spiritual and political life. Both the theory and practice of Confucianism have indelibly marked the patterns of government, society, education, and family of East Asia. Although it is an exaggeration to characterize traditional Chinese life and culture as Confucian, Confucian ethical values have for well over 2,000 years served as the source of inspiration as well as the court of appeal for human interaction between individuals, communities, and nations in the Sinitic world.

The thought of Confucius
The story of Confucianism does not begin with Confucius. Nor was Confucius the founder of Confucianism in the sense that Buddha was the founder of Buddhism and Christ the founder of Christianity. Rather Confucius considered himself a transmitter who consciously tried to reanimate the old in order to attain the new. He proposed revitalizing the meaning of the past by advocating a ritualized life. Confucius’ love of antiquity was motivated by his strong desire to understand why certain life forms and institutions, such as reverence for ancestors, human-centred religious practices, and mourning ceremonies, had survived for centuries. His journey into the past was a search for roots, which he perceived as grounded in humanity’s deepest needs for belonging and communicating. He had faith in the cumulative power of culture. The fact that traditional ways had lost vitality did not, for him, diminish their potential for regeneration in the future. In fact, Confucius’ sense of history was so strong that he saw himself as a conservationist responsible for the continuity of the cultural values and the social norms that had worked so well for the idealized civilization of the Western Zhou dynasty.

The historical context
The scholarly tradition envisioned by Confucius can be traced to the sage-kings of antiquity. Although the earliest dynasty confirmed by archaeology is the Shang dynasty (18th–12th century bce), the historical period that Confucius claimed as relevant was much earlier. Confucius may have initiated a cultural process known in the West as Confucianism, but he and those who followed him considered themselves part of a tradition, later identified by Chinese historians as the rujia, “scholarly tradition,” that had its origins two millennia previously, when the legendary sages Yao and Shun created a civilized world through moral persuasion.

Confucius’ hero was Zhougong, or the Duke of Zhou (d. 1094 bce), who was said to have helped consolidate, expand, and refine the “feudal” ritual system. This elaborate system of mutual dependence was based on blood ties, marriage alliances, and old covenants as well as on newly negotiated contracts. The appeal to cultural values and social norms for the maintenance of interstate as well as domestic order was predicated on a shared political vision, namely, that authority lies in universal kingship, heavily invested with ethical and religious power by the “mandate of heaven” (tianming), and that social solidarity is achieved not by legal constraint but by ritual observance. Its implementation enabled the Western Zhou dynasty to survive in relative peace and prosperity for more than five centuries.

Inspired by the statesmanship of Zhougong, Confucius harboured a lifelong dream to be in a position to emulate the duke by putting into practice the political ideas that he had learned from the ancient sages and worthies. Although Confucius never realized his political dream, his conception of politics as moral persuasion became more and more influential.

The concept of “heaven” (tian), unique in Zhou cosmology, was compatible with that of the Lord on High (Shangdi) in the Shang dynasty. Lord on High may have referred to the ancestral progenitor of the Shang royal lineage, but heaven to the Zhou kings, although also ancestral, was a more generalized anthropomorphic god. The Zhou belief in the mandate of heaven (the functional equivalent of the will of the Lord on High) differed from the divine right of kings in that there was no guarantee that the descendants of the Zhou royal house would be entrusted with kingship, for, as written in the Shujing (“Classic of History”), “heaven sees as the people see [and] hears as the people hear”; thus the virtues of the kings were essential for the maintenance of their power and authority. This emphasis on benevolent rulership, expressed in numerous bronze inscriptions, was both a reaction to the collapse of the Shang dynasty and an affirmation of a deep-rooted worldview.

Source:

http://www.britannica.com/topic/Confucianism

Feb 09

Islam and the Jinn

Ashley Ann Lewis

Ashley Ann Lewis

Director / Dept Chair Occult at National Paranormal Society
Ashley became interested in the paranormal at a young age, but at that young age she did not have much understanding in it at all. I wasn’t until 2010 that she really became interested. Thanks to a Resolve carpet cleaning can that flew across the room, Ashley among three others who witness what happen that night, they pulled a team together. Ashley is a heavy researcher and though she may find the answer to what she is searching for she’ll search even harder. She’s overly determined and takes her part in the paranormal field very seriously. Between working hard and spending every dime she had she became a found of a paranormal team that is based out of Historic Louisiana and was honored to take on a position as a Representative with The National Paranormal Society. There is still so much she does not understand which drives her to work even harder and to further educate herself on everything.
Ashley Ann Lewis

Latest posts by Ashley Ann Lewis (see all)

Courtesy of:  http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org and http://www.islamreligion.com

Screenshot_10Islam recognizes the existence of the jinn. Jinns are not the genies of modern lore, and they are not all evil, as demons are described in Christianity, but are seen as creatures that co-exist with humans. Angels cannot be demons according to Islamic beliefs because they have no free will to disobey Allah (God). According to Islamic, belief jinn live in communities much like humans, and unlike angels have the ability to choose between good or evil.

In Islam, the evil jinns are referred to as the shayātīn, or devils, and Iblis (Satan) is their chief. Iblis was the first Jinn. According to Islam, the jinn are made of smokeless flame of fire (and humankind is made of clay.) According to the Qur’an, Iblis was once a pious servant of God (but not an angel), but when God created Adam from clay, Iblis became very jealous, arrogant, and disobeyed Allah (God). When Allah (God) commanded the angels to bow down before humans, Iblis, who held the position of an angel, refused.

Adam was the first man, and man was the greatest creation of God. Iblis could not stand this, and refused to acknowledge a creature made of “dirt” (man). God condemned Iblis to be punished after death eternally in the hellfire. God, thus, had created hell.

Iblis asked God if he may live to the last day and have the ability to mislead mankind and jinns, God said that Iblis may only mislead those whom God lets him. God then turned Iblis’ countenance into horridness and condemned him to only have powers of trickery.

Adam and Eve (Hawwa in Arabic) were both together misled by Iblis into eating the forbidden fruit, and consequently fell from the garden of Eden to Earth.
http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/demon

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Throughout history man has always had a deep attraction for the supernatural and the unseen. The existence of a world parallel to our own has always fascinated people. This world is commonly referred to as the spirit world, and almost every set of people have some concept of one. With some people, these spirits are no more then the souls of dead people- or ghosts. With others, spirits are either the forces of good or the forces of evil – both battling against one another to gain influence over humanity. However, both of these explanations are more in tune with folk tales and fantasy. The true explanation of such a world comes from Islam. Like every other way, Islam also claims to explain this realm of the unseen. It is from this realm that Islam explains to us about the world of the Jinn. The Islamic explanation of the Jinn provides us with so many answers to modem day mysteries. Without the knowledge of this world, the Muslims would become like the non-Muslims and be running around looking for any old answer to come their way. So, who or what are the Jinn?

Existence

The Jinn are beings created with free will, living on earth in a world parallel to mankind. The Arabic word Jinn is from the verb ‘Janna’ which means to hide or conceal. Thus, they are physically invisible from man as their description suggests. This invisibility is one of the reasons why some people have denied their existence. However, (as will be seen) the affect which the world of the Jinn has upon our world, is enough to refute this modern denial of one of God’s creation. The origins of the Jinn can be traced from the Quran and the Sunnah. God says:

“Indeed We created man from dried clay of black smooth mud. And We created the Jinn before that from the smokeless flame of fire” (Quran 15:26-27)

Thus the Jinn were created before man. As for their physical origin, then the Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, has confirmed the above verse when he said:

“The Angels were created from light and the Jinn from smokeless fire.” (Saheeh Muslim)

It is this description of the Jinn which tells us so much about them. Because they were created from fire, their nature has generally been fiery and thus their relationship with man has been built upon this. Like humans, they too are required to worship God and follow Islam. Their purpose in life is exactly the same as ours, as God says:

“I did not create the Jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Quran 51:56)

Jinns can thus be Muslims or non-Muslims. However, due to their fiery nature the majority of them are non-Muslims. All these non-Muslim Jinns form a part of the army of the most famous Jinn, Satan[1]. Consequently, these disbelieving Jinns are also called devils. Jinns also become Muslims, as they did in the time of the Prophet when a group of them were amazed by the recitation of the Quran. God orders the Prophet to tell the people of this event:

“Say (O’ Muhammed): It has been revealed to me that a group of Jinn listened and said; ‘Indeed we have heard a marvelous Quran. It guides unto righteousness so we have believed in it, and we will never make partners with our lord’.”(Quran 72:1-2)

In many aspects of their world, the Jinn are very similar to us. They eat and drink, they marry, have children and they die. The life span however, is far greater then ours. Like us, they will also be subject to a Final Reckoning by God the Most High. They will be present with mankind on the Day of Judgment and will either go to Paradise or Hell.

Abilities

That which clearly distinguishes the Jinn from mankind, are their powers and abilities. God has given them these powers as a test for them. If they oppress others with them, then they will be held accountable. By knowing of their powers, we can often make sense of much of the mysteries which go on around us. One of the powers of the Jinn, is that they are able to take on any physical form they like. Thus, they can appear as humans, animals trees and anything else. Thousands of people have sighted strange looking creatures all over the world – and it seems more plausible all the sightings of such creatures may have been Jinns parading in different forms.

The ability to possess and take over the minds and bodies of other creatures is also a power which the Jinn have utilized greatly over the centuries. This however, is something which has been prohibited to them as it is a great oppression to possess another being. Human possession is something which has always brought about great attention. But the true knowledge of this subject is rare. Over the last 3 decades the subject of possession has become very commercialized. During the 70’s, films such as The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby were used to educate people about possession. However, because such institutions (the film industry) were heavily influenced by Christianity, knowledge of the subject was non-existent. Rather then educate people about Jinn possession, films such as The Exorcist just tended to scare the living daylights out of us!

Only through Islam can we understand such a phenomena. We know as Muslims, that Jinns possess people for many reasons. Sometimes it is because the Jinn or its family has been hurt accidentally. It could be because the Jinn has fallen in love with the person. However, most of the time possession occurs because the Jinn is simply malicious and wicked. For this reason we have been commanded to recite the Quran frequently in our houses as the Prophet said:

“Indeed, Satan flees from the house in which Surah Al-Baqarah (the 2nd chapter of the Quran) is recited.” (Al-Tirmidhi)

If a person does become possessed, then the name of God has to be used in expelling the Jinn. If we look at the practice of the Prophet and his companions, we find many invocations to exorcise the Jinn. All of them invoke God to help the possessed person. How contrary this is to many modern-day exorcists. Many exorcists, often invoke the names of others besides God to exorcise the Jinn. When the Jinn does leave, these people believe that their way was successful. However, this is a ploy of the Jinn, as it knows that if it obeys the exorcist, then it has succeeded in making him worship others besides God. The Jinn often returns when the exorcist leaves, as it knows that nothing except the words of God can stop it from oppressing others.

It is not only humans which are possessed, but also animals, trees and other objects. By doing this, the evil Jinn hope to make people worship others besides God. The possession of idols is one way to do this. Not so long ago the world-wide phenomenon of Hindu idols drinking milk, shocked the world. From Bombay to London, Delhi to California, countless idols were lapping up milk. Ganesh the elephant god, Hanuman the monkey god and even Shiva lingam, the male private organ (!), all seemed to guzzle down the milk as if there was no tomorrow! Unfortunately people were taken in by this and many flocked to feed the Hindu gods. This feat was undoubtedly done by the Jinn as a classic attempt to make people worship false gods.
Occult Activities of the Jinn

Through their powers of flying and invisibility, the Jinn are the chief component in occult activities. Voodoo, Black magic, Poltergeists, Witchcraft and Mediums can all be explained through the world of the Jinn. Likewise, so can the illusions and feats of magicians. Because the Jinn can traverse huge distances over a matter of seconds, their value to magicians is great. In return for helping them in their magic, the Jinns often ask the magicians to worship them and Satan. Thus the magicians take the Jinn and Satan as lords besides God. In our day, some of the feats performed by magicians and entertainers are without doubt from the assistance of the Jinn. Making the Statue of Liberty disappear, flying across the Grand Canyon and retrieving a ship from the Bermuda Triangle, have all been done by the Jewish magician David Copperfield. There is NO way that a man could do such things without the assistance of the Jinn. It would not be surprising therefore, if David Copperfield had sold his soul to Satan himself.

One of the most frequent activities associated with the Jinn, is fortune telling. Before the advent of the Prophet Muhammad, fortune-tellers and soothsayers were wide spread. These people would use their associates from the Jinn to find out about the future. The Jinns would go to the lowest heaven and listen to the Angels conversing amongst themselves about events of the Future which they heard from God. The Jinns would then inform the fortune-tellers. This is why before the time of the Prophet many fortune-tellers were very accurate in their predictions. However, upon the Prophet’s arrival the heavens were guarded intensely by the Angels, and any Jinn who tried to listen was attacked by meteors (shooting stars):

“And We have guarded it (the heavens) from every accursed devil, except one who is able to snatch a hearing and he is pursued by a brightly burning flame.” (Quran 15:17-18)

The Prophet also said: “They (the Jinn) would pass the information back down until it reaches the lips of a magician or forrtune-teller Sometimes a meteor would overtake them before they could pass it on. If they passed it on before being struck, they would add to it a hundred lies” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari). Thus, it is clear from this as to how fortune-tellers get predictions of the future sometimes right. It is also evident as to why they get so many wrong. Men like Nostradamus are an example, as some of his predictions of the future were correct whilst many were completely wrong. Unfortunately, the amount of fortune telling which occurs amongst the Muslims is also increasing. By visiting Muslim lands such as Morocco, one is able to see as to how much inter Jinn-fortune-teller activity there really is. If you look up at the sky on a clear night in Morocco, you will see the heavens ablaze with shooting stars! A clear display of the devils being chased away from the heavens.

Fortune-tellers also operate through the Qareen. The Qareen is the Jinn companion which is assigned to every human being. It is this Jinn which whispers to our base desires and constantly tries to divert us from righteousness. The Prophet said: “Every one of you has been assigned a companion from the Jinn. The companions asked: Even you O’ Messenger of God? And the Prophet replied: Even me, except that God has helped me against him and he has become a Muslim. Now he only tells me to do good” (Saheeh Muslim). Because the Qareen is with a person all his life, it knows all that has happened to the person from the cradle to the grave. By making contact with the Qareen, the fortune-teller is thus able to make out that it is he who knows about the person. He looks in his crystal ball or the palm of a person and proceeds to amaze him with knowledge which no one else knows. The severity of going to a fortune-teller is such that the Prophet said: “The prayer of one who approaches a fortune-teller and asks him about anything, will not be accepted for forty days or nights” (Saheeh Muslim) and: “Whosoever approaches a fortune-teller and believes in what he says, has disbelieved in what was revealed to Muhammed.”

The effects of the Jinn are not just limited to fortune-tellers. Other activities such as oujia boards and seances, which are used to contact the dead, are manipulated by the Jinn. ‘Are you there Charlie? Speak to us Charlie!!’ are the sort of words spoken by anxious relatives (names are obviously different!) seeking to make contact with their loved ones. And it is when the Jinn starts to talk and communicate as ‘Charlie’, that the people are truly fooled.

One of the biggest manipulations of the Jinn is through visions. Through these visions the Jinns are more likely to lead people away from the worship of God then any other way. When a person sees a vision in front of his eyes it is something which is very hard to explain away. Only by having knowledge of the world of the Jinn and conviction in God, can a person fight such a trial. The countless numbers of visions of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary over the centuries has been a popular choice for the devils. It almost seems as if leading Christians astray is the most easiest trick for the Jinns! Not only are Christians fooled by these visions, but often the Jinns possess and begin to talk from their voices. To the Christians this is known as the tongues of the Angels and thus a proof for their faith. However, the amount of unintelligible nonsense and rubbish which is heard is a clear proof that this is in fact the tongues of the devils! For other people, visions of their parents or relatives are commonplace. By taking on the form of peoples parents, the Jinns can convince people that the souls of dead people still mix with the people of the earth. This is why so many people believe in ghosts.

The onslaught of satanic visions has also hit the Muslims. Many Muslims claim to have seen visions of the Prophet Muhammed and even God! By doing this, Satan is able to lead astray the weak Muslims. Through such visions, Muslims are often told that the commands of Islam are not applicable to them. The Jinns tell them that Prayer, Fasting, Hajj etc. are not obligatory for them. It is a great deception and unfortunately one which has been very effective. The extent of satanic visions still continues to this day. The recent death of Diana Princess of Wales sparked off great love and adoration for this woman. In fact the grief of the British people was such, that it was as if Diana was something divine. No sooner had the mourning of Diana reached its peak, that visions of her were already being seen at Hampton Court Palace! If these visions did occur, the desire of Satan and his army of Jinn to capitalise on this event, was evident. Such visions are clear attempts by Satan to lead mankind away from the path of God.

Protection from the Jinn

Because the Jinn can see us while we cannot see them, the Prophet Muhammad taught us many ways to protect ourselves from their harm, such as seeking refuge in Allah (God) from the accursed Satan, reciting chapters 113 and 114 of the Holy Quran, and reciting the words taught by God in the Quran: “Say: ‘My Lord! I seek refuge with You from the whisperings (suggestions) of Satan (devils). And I seek refuge with You, my Lord, lest they may attend (or come near) me.’” (Quran 23:97-98)

Saying Bismillah (in the Name of Allah (God)) before entering one’s home, before eating or drinking, and before having intercourse will also keep Satan from entering the house or partaking with a person in his food, drink and sexual activity. Similarly, mentioning the name of Allah before entering the toilet or taking off one’s clothes will prevent the Jinn from seeing a person’s private parts or harming him, as the Prophet said. Strength of faith and religion in general will also prevent the Jinn from harming a person.

Reciting Al-Kursi verse in Arabic (Quran 2:255) provides also a strong protection against the Jinn, as we learned from the story of Abu Hurairah (one of Muhammad’s companions) with a devil.[1]

Also the Prophet Muhammad said: “Do not make your houses like graves, for Satan runs away from a house in which al-Baqarah chapter [chapter 2] is recited.”(Narrated by Saheeh Muslim)

These Arabic verses and prophetic sayings were some examples of how a Muslim would get protection from the Jinn. Islam teaches us how to deal with all of God’s creation – and not just the Jinn. A true Muslim should not fear Satan or the Jinn, because Islam taught us about them and how to get protection from their harm.

The world of the Jinn is one which is both sinister and intriguing. By knowing of this world we can explain many of the mysteries and issues which bother us. By doing this we can avoid the extremes which the people have gone to; nothing being more extreme then worshipping others besides God. By learning the monotheism of God, we defend ourselves from these hidden allies of Satan:

“Indeed he (Satan) and his tribe watch you from a position where you cannot see them.” (Quran 7:27)
http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/669/viewall/

Feb 09

Hindu Asura – Demons and Giants

Courtesy of:  http://www.bellaterreno.com/

hin1

The evil spirits were the Asuras or demons (Suras were the gods) that constantly fought the gods in heaven. Rakshasas were more of a menace to people on earth. Most famous Rakshasa was Ravana, the ten-headed demon king of Lanka, who died in the hands of Rama the God of Death.

Less terrible were the Pisachas, who also roamed the battlefields and burial grounds at night and distressed men. Vetala or the vampire took up its abode in corpses and roamed the charnel grounds.

Finally there were the Pretas and Bhutas, naked spirits of dead people, especially those who died an unnatural death. These were very dangerous to their surviving relatives.

The asuras live in Patala above Naraka (Hell), one of the three Lokas (worlds, dimensions of existence). The Patala loka exists below Bhu(r)loka (which includes Earth where humans live). The asuras are often ugly creatures. Puranas describe many cosmic battles between asuras and devas for supremacy.

in Hindu mythology, the asuras were a class of titans or demons, the enemies of the gods and of men. In the Vedic age the asuras and the devas were both considered classes of gods, but gradually the two groups came to oppose each other.

ASURAS: In Hindu mythology, the Asura are a group of power-seeking deities, sometimes referred to as hin2demons. They were opposed to the devas. Both groups are children of Kashyapa. Mitra, Maya, Varuna and Vritra are the most well known Asuras.

AHIRAVAN: In the Ramayana Ahiravan was a demon who secretly carried away Rama and his brother Lakshmana to the nether-world, and consulted his friends and decided to sacrifice the life of the two divine brothers at the altar of his chosen deity with due ceremony. But Hanuman saved their life by killing Ahiravan and his army.

BRAHMAPARUSH: This bloodthirsty monster took ghoulish delight in completely consuming the people it attacked. Its method of devouring its victims was highly ritualized: the Brahmaparush would begin by drinking the blood through a hole in the skull, following that the brain would be consumed. The feeding ritual would not be complete until the vampire performed a macabre dance while entangled in the intestines of the corpse it had destroyed.

BHUTA (GAYAL): The Hindu Bhūta is a type of evil spirit. It is especially the evil ghost of a man who has died due to execution, accident, or suicide. Generally thought of as a male spirit who had returned from the grave unable to rest as the burial rites had not been correctly carried out on the deceased. This angry spirit would attack members of his family in revenge for their religious malpractice.

BRITASUR (VRUTRASUR): A Brahmin named Brita who became the head of the demons. He turned to violence and began to battle with the devas. Hence, he became known as Britasur. The ‘Asur’ means demon.

hin3CHUREL: These vampires were believed to have once been pregnant women who died during the festival of Divali. The Churel were extremely ugly vampires with sagging breasts, black tongues, thick, rough lips, wild hair and back-to-front feet. They were thought to be bitter and angry due to their untimely death and as a result attacked the families and attractive, young men.

DAITYAS (GIANTS): In Hinduism, the giants are called Daityas. They were a race who fought against the gods because they were jealous of their Deva half-brothers. Some Daityas from Hindu mythology include Kumbhakarna and Hiranyaksha.

DASA: The Dāsa are a tribe identified as the enemies of the Aryan tribes in the Rigveda. The word Dāsa, later acquired derogatory connotations, meaning ‘servant’, implying that they were subordinated by the Aryans.

KALI: This vampiric goddess possessed a terrifying countenance and was said to appear on battlefields during long and bloody wars. Her skin was charred black in tone, her eyes and eyebrows were blood red and she had an extremely long tongue with which she became drunk on the blood of her victims. Represented as a black Medusa, with every characteristic of horror and dread.

KOKA AND VIKOKA: The twin brothers Koka and Vikoka serve as generals under the demon Kali (not the Goddess), overlord of Kali Yuga. These two brothers are supreme demons, great fanatics and adept in the art of war. They are intimately connected, powerful, hard to defeat and are even feared by the Gods. In their battle with Sri Kalki, the 10th and final avatar of Lord Vishnu, the brothers display their mastery over the dark arts by raising themselves from the dead faster than Kalki can kill them.

KUMBAKARNA: Demon Giant.

MAHISASURA (MAHISHA): According to Hindu mythology Durga manifested herself to relieve and protect the gods from the demon ‘Mahisasura’ who had driven them out of heaven and set out to perpetuate his evil dominion there.

MAHORAGAS: Demons shaped like boas or pythons, with large bellies; also called ‘human but not human’. Demons of reptilian personality.

MASANI: Attacks travelers at night as they pass by the burial grounds in which this female vampire hides, sleeping by day in a funeral pyre. The ash from this pyre is what gives this vampire her black-skinned appearance.

NARAKASUR: Another legend talks about the Demon named Narakasur who had managed to acquire such awesome powers that he began to terrorize the three worlds. He was killed and defeated by Lord Krishna. As a symbol of that victory Lord Krishna smeared his forehead with the demon king’s blood. Krishna returned home early morning on the day of Narakachaturdashi. The womenfolk massaged scented oil on his body and gave him a bath to wash away the demon’s blood. Since then the custom of taking an oil bath before sunrise on this day has become a traditional practice especially in Maharashtra and in the South.

PANIS: A class of demons in the Rigveda. The name means “bargainer, miser, niggard”. Especially applied to one who is sparing of sacrificial oblations.

PISACHA (PISHACHA): In religious teachings, a personification of Brahma’s anger at the immortality and vices that had developed in humanity. This grotesque deity took pleasure in the consumption of whole corpses but also had the ability to cure diseases if approached in a respectful manner.

PRETAS:

RAKSHASA: These beautiful female would appear to men and lure them to their death but would also attack babies and pregnant women to drink their blood. There were many legends associated with the Rakshasa (injurer); some believed that if a child were forced to eat human brains then it would become one, others believed that these vampires caused stomach sicknesses in people who had trespassed into their territory and that these fanged creatures lived in trees and could spy on those passing beneath.

VETALA (BETALA): The vetala vamire is an evil spirit in Indian folklore who haunts cemeteries and takes demonic possession of corpses.

VINAYAKAS: In Hindu mythology the Vināyakas were a group of four troublesome demons who created obstacles and difficulties.

YAMA: God of Death.

Source:

http://www.bellaterreno.com/art/a_religion/hindu/hinduismdemon.aspx

Jan 28

Chinese Demons

by Virginia Carraway Stark

c1“Tell me your name, so you are not a nameless ghost after you are slain.” -Ancient Chinese Saying

The Chinese pantheon of spirits has many types of beings that may be classified as ‘demons’ by western terms. This is a cultural error as many of the spirits in Chinese mythology may be mischievous or occasionally evil but are more complex than the concept of a western demon and includes spirits and ghosts as well as fallen celestial beings.

Many ‘demons’ were once animals who have gained magical powers through good or evil works and through Taoism. Animals and other beings practice magic in order to obtain immortality or deification and the result can be good or evil. The range of stories is varied by Western terms: animals, skeletons, rivers, streams, trees, ghosts… nearly anything is capable of taking on supernatural proportions that can be interpreted as demonic.

Although there are many types of beings there is one generic term that translates roughly into ‘evil’ and it is a term applied to many spirits when the person who encounters them doesn’t know how to define them as anything else. Most spirits have genres and classifications.

c2There are the fox spirits who are usually female spirits who are attractive as they are mischievous. They can assume human form and who like to wreck up happy homes. Calling a woman a ‘fox’ is considered an insult equivalent to ‘home wrecker’ in western terms. There is another ‘demon’ that’s name translates essentially into ‘full figured women. The assumption being that at the time food was so scarce and there were so few full figured women that it could only be a creature of evil who could attain such a figure.

Many of the Chinese demons are women as women were often mistrusted and much of the culture was a misogynistic one. Calling a women a demon was an easy way to dispose of an unwanted or opinionated wife.

It wasn’t only women who were targeted as demons. The Chinese had a deep seated belief in zombies as well and believed that curses, sometimes from demons could cause someone to be turned into a ‘slant eyed, stiff limbed being with no thought of their own’. It was said that an emperor’s son was once cursed in this way.

c3Generally there were ‘demons’ everywhere. There were demons in springs that had to be appeased, demons of waterfalls, demons with nine tails, really if there was a place or a purpose there was a demon associated with it. This shows a society of fear. Much of feudal China lived not knowing from one day to the next if they would be raided, if their wives or families would be taken from them, if their crops or homes would be burned and this bred fear into every aspect of life.

In addition to demons, ghosts were often confused with demons. It was believed that warriors who were killed and whose names were unknown would become evil spirits. Any suicide became a hungry ghost that would haunt those who wronged them in life and anyone else they came into contact with. Anyone who died and was forgotten could become lost in the spirit world and become evil, in this way the Chinese idea of demon is much different as Western philosophy tends to dictate that a being is either good or evil.

c4This is a reminder that the spirit realm is a place of the unknown. That our ideas of how things are can in no way be considered definitive or proven. There are many ways of looking at the world and getting caught into the idea of demon=evil is short sighted when the rest of the world sees the concept as more of a kaleidoscope and less of an obvious choice of good versus evil.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yaoguai

http://benmojo.blogspot.ca/…/chinese-demons-monsters-and-ot…

Sep 06

Demonology from a Christian Based Perspective

Alexander LaFountain

Alexander LaFountain

Sr. Director/Demonology Dept Chair at National Paranormal Society
Alexander LaFountain is a Demonologist based out of Texas. He was a member of Ghost Watchers Paranormal Investigations when he lived in Georgia and became a member of the Afterlife Research Team when he relocated to east Texas. He spent the last several years studying demonology and handling demonic based cases. He is also working towards becoming a Catholic Priest in the Independent Catholic Community.
Alexander LaFountain

Latest posts by Alexander LaFountain (see all)

NPS - Demonology

What is demonology and what is the Christian perspective on demons and their activity? Demonology is essentially the study of demons and their activity. Demons are fallen angels that harbor a great hatred for humanity. They have never been human and never will be. They are fallen angels that decided to join Lucifer in his rebellion against God. Lucifer (along with 1/3 of the Heavens Host) was defeated by St. Michael and cast to the earth with all the angels that followed him. They roam the earth seeking souls to ruin and St. Peter warns us to be on guard against them.

They have many abilities and powers that we humans do not have. However through the grace of Jesus Christ we can cast them out. Demons have free will (having been created as angels) and are very old. They are immortal beings that do not die, get sick, or grow old like we humans. However they are limited in that they are not on God’s level. They do not know all things nor are they capable of being everywhere at once like God is. They are created creatures and they can not surpass their Creator no matter how much they wish too.

Demons hate human beings for a few reasons. The first is that they hate us because God loves us. They desire to get back at God and so by leading souls to ruin they feel they are getting their vengeance. Second reason is that we are made in God’s image. Every time they see us, they are reminded of God and what they lost. They hate the image of God and wanted to destroy it, thus they vent this hatred on us since they can’t actually destroy God. Lastly, God’s love for us is unparalleled in all of His creation. God loved humanity so much that He sent His only begotten Son to die for the sins of mankind. God established a new covenant with mankind that freed us from the chains of eternal death and ushered us into everlasting life through Jesus Christ. No other creature can boast of such a thing because God offered this gift to mankind.

Demonologists are people who specialize in helping people in demonic situations. They are usually lay people who deal with infestation, oppression, and report possible possessions to Clergy. They are called by God to this ministry and Demonologist take such callings very seriously. They spend a lot of time studying demons and their activity as well as getting hands on experience by actually getting involved in cases.

Demons ultimately desire to lead souls to ruin. However we have protection through God. We can turn to our Clergy, Demonologist, Deliverance ministries, etc and receive spiritual help in the name of Jesus Christ. Demons may be powerful and immortal beings, but they are not greater then God and through Jesus Christ we can overcome the wiles of the enemy. Demons are masters of deceit and manipulation, they know all our weaknesses but through Jesus Christ we can find the strength to stand against their attacks. This is why it is so important to keep our faith in God strong at all times, as St. Peter cautions us to do.

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8-9)

Nov 25

Abaddon (Apollyon)

Apollyon (top) battling Christian in John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress.

Apollyon (top) battling Christian in John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress.

From Christianity and Judaism, Angel of death, destruction, and the netherworld. The name Abaddon is derived from the Hebrew term for “to destroy” and means “place of destruction.” Apollyon is the Greek name. In MAGIC Abaddon is often equated with SATAN and SAMAEL. His name is evoked in conjuring spells for mali- cious deeds. Abaddon is the prince who rules the seventh hierarchy of DEMONs, the ERINYES, or Furies, who govern powers of evil, discord, war, and devastation. Originally, Abaddon was a place and not an angel or being. In rabbinic writings and the Old Testament, Abad- don is primarily a place of destruction and a name for one of the regions of Gehenna (see HELL). The term occurs six times in the Old Testament. In Proverbs 15:11 and 27:20, it is named with Sheol as a region of the underworld. In Psalm 88:11, Abaddon is associated with the grave and the underworld. In Job 26:6, Abaddon is associated with Sheol. Later, Job 28:22 names Abaddon and Death together, implying personified beings. In REVELATION 9:10, Abaddon is personified as the king of the abyss, the bottomless pit of hell. Revelation also cites the Greek version of the name, Apollyon, prob- ably a reference to Apollo, Greek god of pestilence and destruction.

FURTHER READING: van der Toorn, Karel, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der
Horst, eds. Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1999.

Nov 25

Amon

AamonFALLEN ANGEL and the seventh of the 72 SPIRITS OF SOLOMON. In HELL, Amon is a strong and powerful marquis. He appears first as a wolf, but on a magician’s command, he will take on the shape of a man with a raven’s head and dog’s teeth. He accurately tells about the past and the future. He makes men and women fall in love with each other, and he settles disputes between friends and enemies. He rules over 40 LEGIONs of DEMONs.

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