- Religion and Philosophy»
- Paranormal Beliefs & Experiences
One of the most talked about cases of possession in recent times is that of Anneliese Michel. I’m not going to go into the facts of the case too much but it is important because it dismisses many of the myths that are often associated with the possession phenomenon.
Firstly, it clearly tells that possession doesn’t only occur in rural, isolated communities and that it can also happen in modern, contemporary societies and secondly, it also tells us that the Roman Catholic Church does perform exorcisms but it does so very rarely and with a great deal of hesitation - the facts of the case will explain its reluctance.
In this particular case the victim after having displayed outward signs of possession received a lot of medical attention but the medications didn’t seem to have any effect on her and according to most sources she displayed 6 different alternate personalities. Her condition deteriorated with time despite taking the medication that was prescribed and the intervention of the church. To some degree she was like the girl Regan in the movie the exorcist.
The movie, by the way, was based on a novel by William Blatty but what many people don’t realize is that the book itself was based on a true story. The child was a 13-year-old boy who was particularly attached to his aunty, a spiritualist and she introduced him to the Ouija board.
When she died, he tried to contact her through the Ouija board and that’s how the whole thing started. The boy was assigned the pseudonym Roland Doe by the priests who performed the exorcism.
Both cases were well documented because the cases went to trial and there are pages of transcripts that a diligent student can siphon through.
As to denomination of the church that performed the exorcism, it was the Roman Catholic Church or to be more precise the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) who without doubt have a lot of experience in the field particularly because of their work in South America, where cases of possession are more frequent. Exorcisms are a lot more common that a lot of people perceive them to be.
As paranormal researchers, we need to know and to understand as much about the possession phenomenon as possible and to realize that it occurs in most communities and to draw parallels where possible.
We have to establish, if possible, certain rules or guidelines to aid us in our research. To start with we have to have it clear in our heads that possession in most cases, does not occur on its own. There has to be something that has triggered the possession as in the case of Ronald Doe - the Ouija board.
It also tells how dangerous Ouija boards really are. Similarly, another common game, especially among young teenagers, the spirit of the coin, can also produce similar undesirable results – the older the coin, the more potent the spirit that is summoned.
Possession in most cases starts with the victim coming in contact with something that is owned by the dead person and if the person has died an untimely death or an unnatural death for example death by accident or suicide then the lingering spirit has a greater propensity to haunt or possess.
These spirits are extremely restless and in instances of such deaths it is best to find out if the last rites had been performed and if they had been performed in accordance with the dead person’s religion.
If the last rites have not been performed then it is just best to perform the last rites as dictated by custom, tradition, and religion and to try and set the spirit at ease and to prompt it to leave the world of the living and continue with its journey to the hereafter.
What is extremely compelling in the case of Anneliese was the grueling manner in which the exorcism was performed and it ultimately led to her death. The priests were charged with negligent homicide and the cause of death was determined as malnutrition and dehydration.
Paranormal research requires a high degree of self-honesty. If we were to, by chance stumble across cases of what could be actual instances of possession than there is always the possibility that we can’t cure or help the victim and that being the case it is best to leave it to someone who is better at it for example someone schooled in religion.
By all means do the basics well i.e. gather as much information as possible and apply the process of analytical thinking before seeking the aid and assistance of a spiritual medium i.e. priests etc. but remember to draw the line between what can and cannot be done.
© 2016 Kathiresan Ramachanderam and Dyarne Jessica Ward