That's an excellent, substantive post, w.c. -- should be required reading for all adult Christians.
That's pretty much how Michael Washburn understands K in his book, "The Ego and the Dynamic Ground." One does need to repress in order to fabricate an acceptable ego structure.
I would say, here, that, at least on an "official" level, Catholicism has a highly nuanced process of discernment, at least with regard to cases where exorcisms are being considered.
I think, too, there's a deep understanding of human nature and its requirements for healing to be found in those traditions dating back to the desert fathers/mothers, and the later spiritual directors, confessors and others who cared for souls. There really is a healing of the psyche going on, too, in dark night transition periods.
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The link below is interesting in that a psychiatrist reports some successes using exorcisms as part of his healing practice. Yes, yes, I know that introduces more complications to the discussion, but I've often wondered whether the alienated/repressed parts of our psyche don't provide "hooks" of sorts for fallen spirits to work their mischief.
Thanks for the question w.c.
I'll try to answer as best as I can but the truth is that I'm not sure myself. Let me explain:
All of my major encounters with evil have been during times of drug use. This makes it extremely difficult to analyse what actually happened. While it would be easy to simply write the experiences off as drug induced it is equally possible that the drugs simply opened me up to encounter with the spirit realm.
Let me describe a few of the experiences and please feel free to highlight anything that may appear obvious to you regarding the situations.
As a brief background, I was born in a nominal protestant home. We attended sunday school from very young but my parents didn't attend church and Christianity was not discussed much at home besides perhaps saying grace at family gatherings and a little more emphasis during Christmas. At age 15/16 I began to doubt my Christian upbringing and began abusing drugs. I very quickly merged my drug use with my spiritual search and began to believe that drugs were the key to encountering the divine.
1) After smoking marijuana in a field near my home I got up and started walking home. Suddenly a voice or voices in my mind began cursing God, the Church, Pastors and Christianity. The more I tried to stop the voices the louder they became. I started singing songs from Sunday School and this quieted the voices but as soon as I stopped singing the voices would return. I continued to sing for a very long time and eventually the voices stopped.
2) I had a significant spiritual experience one night (also under the influence of marijuana and ephedrene) in which I felt the presence of God and a inner voice that shared many revelations with me regarding myself and my mission - At one stage I felt torn apart and I felt as though I were experiencing the scripture describing Michael and Satan fighting over the soul of Moses. When I looked into a mirror my face was deformed and ugly, I closed my eyes and opened them to an even uglier face and then a third time again. After this my face was again normal. The experience ended well with a command to love and preach the gospel of pantheism and love. After that I often felt this mystical connection with God in everything and would preach to everyone who would listen.
After a time I felt this presence ask me to commit completely to it and "sell my soul" to the truth I was preaching and experiencing (this experiencing was combined with a degree of power through telepathy and other powers). But at the same time I had started seeing evil during times of intoxication (distorted faces, goat legs on people etc.) and had begun doubting my message and experience.
One night the voice (never audible - always inner-voice) came particularly powerfully and demanded a choice. I was on the verge of saying yes when i experienced a vision of a Hindu God manifesting through some of my friends. I suddenly became convinced of the evil of my experiences and once I rejected them I came under severe attack by the inner-voice accompanied by various evil visions. The attack continued for 24 hours and only after I had attended church the following day and talked to a pastor did it slowely begin to end (Though it took many months for all effects to cease).
3) I stopped using drugs for many years and then had a relapse about a year ago. At first it seemed okay but within a week or two the inner-voice returned. I smoked some marijuana and immediately felt bonded to Satan. I heard an inner-voice condemning me to hell and had to pray without ceasing in order to still the voice. If my focus slipped the voice would again begin raging and condemning And I had to cling to God's grace and forgiveness in order to find peace. This was the last of these major experiences.
I agree that it is very possible that it could all have been in my own mind accompanied by spiritual powers awakened by drugs/kundalini. But it could also be that my encounter with drugs opened my up to evil spirits and they used my drug induced mind to attack me during my vulnerability. What do you think w.c., others?This message has been edited. Last edited by: Jacques,
What a horror you've lived through! So happy to know you've come under the Father's protection now. May Lord Jesus protect your family and guide you to be the kind of father and leader you're called to be.
About the drug induced vulnerability to evil, yes, I think that is a reasonable conclusion to draw. If I had a chance to sit down and talk with you further, I'd ask more questions, of course, to maybe help determine other factors. But off hand, I'd say it's certainly possible.
In fact, there is some evidence to support the drug-evil spirits connection. Have you ever heard of Father John Carapi? Not sure of the spelling. He's a convert to the Lord after years of big-money, sex and drug corrupted lifestyle. He reports being on the shipping docks where drug-lords prayed satantic verses over the drug shipments coming in. Just think of the evil intent of those who grow/make/distribute drugs. What demonic force is operating in them besides psychological greed/sociopathy that compels them to promote the destruction of so many lives through addiction?
I also recall a psychic write about how he was standing outside of bar one night and was able to see entities waiting to enter into the bodies of drunk men as they exited the building--apparently easy prey for inhabitation in their intoxicated states.
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Jacques:
...Therefore it is hard for me to go along with an understanding that evil will always manifest as evil and be turned off by love. This power could appear all-loving and give ecstatic bliss but at its' heart it was evil.
w.c. has acknowledge that in theory evil can manifest as an "angel of light," but I join you in calling into question his criteria for determining whether it is the evil of a repressed and split-off part of one's psyche or an external evil. w.c. is suggesting (if I understand correctly)that real external evil does not respond to love whereas the wounded, split off parts do. It's this 'respond to love' bit that is tricky.
There can be many different kinds of love, right?
One can be blissfully 'in love' with a goddess, bow to her 50 times per day, enjoy her sexual intercourse at will, have a love-feast of sorts with her and all of this will certainly not repel her! Those who have genuinely encountered the love-sex bestowing 'form' of Kali will attest to this--if they dare talk about it!! But this kind of love is more of an addiction or a seduction and not how we're called to give love to one another.
So, your point is well-taken here Jacques.
Yes, this is exactly the type of thing written about by those authors I listed on page 1. Their conversion stories have these themes running through them.
Thanks for your sharing here, Stephen.
I just watched a video interview of the two women who head up the Sozo Ministry at Bethel Church. The leader, a memeber of the International Society of Deliverance Ministries, shared that they all recognize the need to deal with the origins of the woundedness in conjuction with whatever demonic force is cast away. Still, they talk about their interventions in simplistic ways, but they're certainly aware of the crucial issue of psychological woundedness vs. the demonic.
My concern with prayer recipients in this kind of ministry is that they are often so eager to please you that they may need to suppress their symptoms and may not honestly report about the results of your praying. In many cases, though, one can see and/or hear the demon leaving rather riotously.
I think perhaps we could move this section of the discussion to the deliverance thread...
Point taken, w.c.
On the other hand it could be argued that finding God is more about revelation than jumping through hoops or working out terms and conditions. Accepting the singularity of the encounter then is perhaps not so difficult.
For myself, the difficulty becomes one of gender. In my own unbringing, God was very masculine. All three persons of the Trinity were male and there was little room for feminine aspects due to this apprehension about the goddess idea. Now, as a single man, whose relational life is fulfilled in every aspect save an intimate female relationship, I look for God to fill that gap because, for other reasons, finding a wife doesn't seem a desirable option at the moment. But even for married people, why shouldn't God play the role, or fulfil the role, of a husband or wife? As a masculine figure it doesn't quite work for most men because such an intimacy has to be erotic, if not explicitly sexual. If the whole basis of our spirituality is relational, then why shouldn't God fill that most personal and essential role?
I take Shasha's warnings about the sexual bliss and intimacy offered by false gods very
seriously. But still I am left with a gap in my relational life (and I would consider all earthly relationships to be a ((clouded)) mirror of our relationship with the divine), a gap which I have to believe God can fill. This necessitates seeing God as feminine, erotic and, perhaps even sexual.
I have to say that woundedness, for the most part, hasn't been at the forefront of my own spiritual growth or awareness. I'm certainly conscious of weakness and fragility and vulnerability, but the battle with evil seems like a separate thing from any woundedness. I was blessed with loving parents and have found that the stability and bonding of my childhood has given strength to combat evil to some degree. Not to say of course that the false self doesn't manifest, but I think I've pretty much been aware of that since childhood. So then, Jacques' question about the nature of his own experiences don't have to be explained with reference to woundednes. To me, it seems a natural thing that evil presence is potentially part of any expansion of consciousness, with or without drugs.This message has been edited. Last edited by: samson,
I'll respond more at length later. But I can relate to much of what you say. And I guess we've been over this several times in various ways over the years. Good to revisit those themes, though.
I agree that much of what the Philokalia refers to as demonic, is actually the passions.
For me, however, there is no mistaking evil when it manifests itself for what it is. It has its own vibrational energy, a shape, a form that differs so much from woundedness, which, when I have noted it, has been more like a tender pain. And, as I've said, the body has its own way of registering evil - certain sensations, tugs, twitches, which are quite distinct from the bodily sensations of inner wounds.
The energetic connectednes of creatures, how our nervous systems register presence, the emotion or atmosphere of a room, the anger or outright psychic attack of another person, all relate to this sensing of evil in that the subtle body develops sensitivity and quite often attaches itself via energy chords to another person/being, energy chords which are like magnetic loops within the aura and from which psychic attack can be launched. A great deal of evil too happens at the level of the third eye, so that there is a psychic awareness or pressure in the forehead which picks up on any "intruders". I've frequently had the sense of my third eye opening and some shape or form, human or otherwise, looming into it with a nasty intent. Quite honestly, this and energy chording have been a predominant feature of my own kundalini awakening and are often blocks to prayer in that the body senses a resistance, a tension, even a mental process, which is initiated at an energetic, outwardly connected level, rather than an inner psychological one.
I have no doubt that what you discern and discuss here, w.c., is quite normal, and that both types of experience - the inner and the outer - are part of the spiritual life and that the difficulty is in discerning which is which.
from w.c.: My bias regarding evil is simply that, until one can really sense inside the body, and touch wounds, which we all have, with awareness, and listen and let them unfold, it is likely we are projecting these shadows as evil.
That's my bias as well. And I do think Catholicism has, traditionally, held a nuanced position on this:
That all resonates with the "resistance to loving awareness" you've mentioned above.
That said, I still think it's not necessarily an either/or proposition . . . that some of these alienated/repressed aspects of our being can be exploited by demons, who parasitize our energy field for vicarious experience. They might even contribute strong resistance to loving awareness. There is much mystery about all this! For myself, I do not hesitate to call on the power of Christ to banish any such demons as might be hanging around. It's not a bad idea to pray the Chaplet of St. Michael from time to time. Can't hurt anything, right?
Looks like we're all in agreement here about some evil being repressed parts of our psyche and that it could be a combination of both inner and outer forces. As Phil pointed out, it's a matter that requires discernment.
My take is that once you're resolutely converted to Christ, the challenge to be discerning increases if you've encountered energies that offer promises of love, enlightenment, spiritual progress, and these energies must be completely disavowed at all costs. All unholy attachments or alliances must be consciously and sometimes repeatedly severed where one is vulnerable to old habits. Here, unholy assumes it's not about repressed, unsavory or fantasied impulses or introjects.
Yes, Grace will follow you if you zig-zag around, but God won't remove (all) your free will choices to more deeply pursue His love. And this means, I think, that we must differentiate His transforming love from forces that pull away from Him, forces that offer power, ecstacies that feel like love, and special knowledge.
Huh? I didn't read the "celestial Choir or Powers/ Principalities..." in that prayer as meaning the "powers and principalities of wickedness" that Paul refers to in Eph. 6.
What do others think? Phil?
While you wait for others to reply . . . .
Here's the passage I had in mind, from Colossians 1:15-20:
"He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in hm all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities - all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross."
When I read that beautiful passage, along with the one you mention in Ephesians 6, it is fairly clear to me that the majority of the denizens of the heavenly realm aren't hostile to God, or in rebellion. Certainly those that are fallen are in far worse shape, being so powerful in the first place, than we fallen mortal humans are. To be immortal and fallen is severe indeed, it seems; those are to be avoided, and can disguise themselves, but only thinly, being averse to real love and the name of Jesus. But as I suggested earlier, wouldn't many, if not most, of these denizens praise their own Source?
I don't think we have to figure it out, really, as Christ takes care of it all in His own way. But as Christians who respect other traditions, there has to be some room left in our imaginations, or in mine at least, for what I don't know about God's grace. And these heavenly realms, as I glean from being with people who die, are mostly genuinely loving. Even an account of a man who attempted to take his own life (I forget the title) called upon the name of Jesus and was saved from those horrible demons who were drawn to his suicidal depression.
It may be that once those supernatural beings choose to rebel, they're stuck until the end of times. Not sure, but the idea would be that without a past, present or future, their choice, being so powerful, and where the Eternal and present moment are the same, would leave them without recourse. But this is a mystery, of course, as a choice was made to rebel in the first place among those who hadn't "yet" fallen.
And my contacts with my deceased grandparents and mother do suggest continuing choice in some form or power.
And I do know something of what you refer to as the bliss of your New Age/Hindu days, and it isn't the same as God's grace in Christ for me either; it was, as Phil said earlier on, more enlightenment oriented than surrender to Him who purifies us.This message has been edited. Last edited by: w.c.,
That all makes sense, w.c. Paul seems to use his terminology about principalities and powers very broadly, at times -- like in reference to the spiritual realm of the creation. At other times, he's clearly referring to evil forces. E.g. Eph. 6: 12
Then there are those like in Romans 8:
So it seems that one must take into account the context of his usage, which is very different in each of these passages, with different emphases and meanings.
Thank you w.c. and Phil for addressing my question here and supplying me with those wonderful scriptures.
This issue can certainly can seem contradictory or at least a paradox. So it goes with deep spiritual mysteries. I guess that at some level, we are called to battle against the "powers," and at another level of our being, we are beyond all those threats and dangers.
I must say, I really enjoy your gifts of wisdom and teaching and feel so blessed to be in your (on-line) company.
Yes, this is a good place to explore together, and I appreciate your contributions as well, Shasha. We have a good core bunch for a variety of topics with good contrasts to offer. We are blessed.
I agree about projection and real evil as not clearly discerned in Catholic spirituality. First, I didn't believe in the devil, and then I just thought he'll never take interest of me. And when I started to face his attacks, I had a great problem - one part of me seemed to think it may be some part of my psyche. Yet after few encounters I feel that (at least in my experience) evil and my dark side are so different that I can tell them quite easily apart.
Evil is so cold, pure hatred... I didn't notice much anger or aggresion in my encounters with the Enemy. Maybe because angels don't have feelings - they have pure intentions - so the Enemy is not angry (anger is by the way a healthy human reaction, as you know), he just wants to destroy and harm.
When the Evil one is present I always feel a certain kind of cold horror or fear which has a different "taste" from other kinds of fear or anxiety I'm familiar with. Recently, I'm more sensitive to his presence - like when I'm visiting some websites, e.g., I can feel this strange fear and I take it as a sign that sth's going on, possibly. Maybe this is a good fruit of knowing the Evil one. That you can defend better yourself and others?
But I think the problem is that very often he uses our wounds and our psychological problems, in a way that there is simultaneously (1) our story and (2) his evil intent. Then it's hard to discern, but I usually see that there are both sides then.
For example, one night I was at the movies with my girlfriend, and suddenly I felt very weird. My reason was clouded, I felt a bit paranoid (which is not my thing) - it seemed to me that the world is strange and hostile, and that my girlfriend is hostile to me. I was easily irritated and I interpreted all she said as an attack. I thought it was just me, because at the time I had emotionally hard time. So we got into the car, I felt really bad, but I also felt that I want to make up with her, not to fight, because I love her very much. At this moment I heard a thought in my mind: "You don't love her. She doesn't love you". This was the Enemy's mistake, because in a moment I became sober: I knew this didn't come from me. I could be very angry at her, but I have no doubts about loving her or her loving me. This thought really seemed "from outside", and he pushed to far with this - I saw through his game. But to that point he only used my own problems and wounds to increase the conflict between us. But it seemed like he doesn't understand love at all.
And after I've figured out his game, he attacked me openly. He no longer hid behind emotions and emotional woundedness. I felt cold horror, driving back home, and I felt I'm going crazy. I had thoughts like "I'm mentally ill, I'm going crazy, I'm psychotic..." - it's one of his "favourite" ways to scare me. I couldn't pray to Michael Archangel, but I was able to say Hail Mary, because it's sth you just don't forget, do you? But until I came home I was being attacked. I was afraid I wouldn't manage to get safely home, the fear was so overwhelming. There was even a car which almost ran into me - I suppose it was the devils trick to - but I was probably protected at the moment.
This experience taught me that the Evil one can hide behind our wounds and problems (like problems in relationships), and then we are not sure if it's just us, or sth else. But sometimes he can also openly attack, at least in my case, since he's revealed himself to me and start to fight with me.
Thank you, Phil, for the Michael's chaplet. I didn't know about this. I usually use the "small exorcism", a short prayer to St. Michael and Hail Mary which proves to be a very powerful weapon, and of course - the name of Jesus, as W.C. dream accounts for.
I don't remember if I'd shared this here, but once I called upon St. Michael and he appeared to me in a fiery form with a sword aflame and dispelled the Evil one. But most of the times, when the external assistance comes to me, it's Virgin Mary who scares Satan and the demons very much.
One of my concerns here has been about discerning evil in its outward manifestation, rather than inwardly, where we can only deal with things, evil or otherwise, with stillness, prayer, and detachment. So what forms then does evil take practically, in what guises does it manifest in the context of healing, reading, preaching? Can it infiltrate the church through certain charismatic phenomena or mystical/visionary experience. For starters I think the Eucharist as a central feature of worship is solid ground in defence of this potential infiltration. (Please see 1 Timothy 4:1 for warning of this - "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons." I'm well aware the verse has been used and abused through the years to accuse and condemn any new idea/doctrine, but that doesn't negate its importance.)
I don't want to be alarmist, it's not a regular thing and the Holy Spirit sets a veil over Christ's church for sure. But some things do concern me, especially as I say in neo-pentecostalism, where I see parallels with mediumistic/psychic/shamanic activity.
That's quite an experience you share, Mt, and I think your point about being able to discern a different "feel" to diabolical evil is a good one. This does require considerable spiritual maturity, however, as repressed material can also seem quite alien and even frightening, especially if it includes anxiety and resentment. But, still, there is indeed a difference, and the point that keeps coming up again and again pertains to how these "forces" respond to love.
"You don't love her. She doesn't love you"
That in itself doesn't indicate diabolical presence to me, as every couple has such doubts from time to time. We all have enough self-doubt and low self-esteem to doubt that another could find us lovable, and we can always wonder about our motives with regard to another. So it's that "something else" you describe that's the telling difference.
Maybe that helps to shed some light on your inquiry, Stephen, although I'm not sure I understand what you mean about "external manifestation." I think it would be very difficult to say that some "thing" or action is evil per se. The "guise" you're speaking of seems more a matter of deceptiveness, and it's difficult to spell out just how that's recognized. I don't know that we can come up with external-based standards, but maybe I'm not fully understanding your points.
I dunno, I guess witnessing some charismatic phenomena has left me sceptical - false prophecy, false healings, which could have been human based but just didn't smell right. A lot of the animal mimicry seems strange to me, kind of shamanistic. And yeah it is a matter of mimicry, decepetion, but also certain psychic, new age practise, like reiki, reports of angel contact which I'm dubious about. Just an all round inability to discern the spirits. That's what I mean by outward manifestations - the deception, demonic copy cats. And the love test is right, the test of sanctity, holiness in a life. The unrighteousness, the immorality at odds with the charismatic claims. It's rife - on Christian TV, in churches and seems like a massive deception to me.
I'll admit most activity in these churches is energy based, but sometimes it feels beyond that.
OK, I see what you're getting at, Stephen, and I agree that some situations are rife with deception and, hence, opportunities for the father of all lies to work mischief. The examples you give do deserve loads of caution. Communities founded around the ministry of a special guru are also dangerous set-ups for all kinds of abuses. The more high-voltage energy flying around, the more likely one can be taken in to interpret this as the working of the Holy Spirit, and, as we know, that's not always the case. "All that glitters is not gold," goes an old saying.
I think we've probably come round full-circle to the main point Shasha was trying to stress in sharing her story.
Spiritual direction has been really useful for me in this discernment.The spiritual director I have had for 7 years had 2 Jesuit directors and did the 30 day intensive Ignatian exercises, and she has helped me sense what is going on when I am in tumult about something, or feel sifted like wheat.It is really good to get her perspective.
Also, what books, what websites? Not everything in your local Borders Christian section is good; just as not everything in your local Borders new age section is bad. Such a glut of language and information - how to discern what's profitable .
For me, the answer to this entails attentiveness to how it's affecting me -- an inner sensitivity. I don't think there's any getting around this. We might have a general sense that certain books, movies, websites, etc. are not good for us, and that's easy to do when the content is explicitly immoral or heretical. But sometimes you come upon a book or movie that you believe to be good and discover it just doesn't work for you. I've been surprised, at times, to discover the converse as well -- something I was sure was unedifying, but turned out to be the opposite. The movie, "The Grand Torino," is a good example of the latter, for me. So were the novels by the atheist, Ayn Rand, which my priest had cautioned me about reading (many years ago) but which I found very helpful in many ways.
I agree with you,w.c.I can't say I have ever had a lot of resistance to inner work, it is part of my culture I guess as an Episcopalian/Quaker type. But it is wonderful to have a spiritual director to discern the movement of Spirit in my life, and to help me separate the psychological I guess from the spiritual.I think all my negative emotions --anger,jealousy,resentment,maliciousness,etc. -- are great fodder for the transformation of my life, however Christ does His work in me.Right now it seems to be this rich combination of Focussing and Pilates,and not much energy for even journaling or talk therapy.But, there is also a sense at times of being attacked spiritually, with no feeling it seems behind it, just attacked for the sake of it, I guess, which I associate with evil intent outside myself.This is not a big deal,to be honest, it is something that goes away with prayer, something to endure.
The great book on discernment of spirits is St. Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises -- he writes a lot about felt sensation.De Caussade's letters to the nuns of the Visitation is really helpful, too, but what is best for me is to talk it over with my director (who is also a therapist).
There are all sorts of books on the Spiritual Exercises, the one I like the best is The Spiritual Exercises Reclaimed by Katherine Dyckman,et al.I think that 16th century Spain had lots of people who would be very much at home in a Pentecostal congregation, and it worried SJOC and STA, in the same way I hear you concerned, Stephen.And I know some holy people who are Pentecostals, fundamentalists, liberal Christians, Buddhists...it is a matter of discernment to know where I am being led, one size certainly doesn't fit all.
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