Updated June 1, 2003
The therapist asked his client to describe the scene that seemed to repeat itself over and over in his mind.
“It’s a trail. In Vietnam. It goes down the hill and then curves around to the left. There’s a hill on the left and some kind of embankment on the right. I’m with five guys and there’s lots of noise.”
“What kind of noise?”
“Guns. M-16’s. And helicopters. Hughies, I think.”
“What happens next?”
“We’re going down this road, and I’ve got this feeling somebody’s going to get hurt. Maybe Jim. He’s point man. I was supposed to be, but Jim’s my best friend. He took point."
“Your friend’s going to take point?”
“Yeah. But they’re all my friends. We’ve been together a long time. Six or seven months. Anyway, we start down the trail and.... Suddenly everything’s coming apart. Mines are blowing! Everybody’s blown to pieces! Jim’s right side blown away!"
“You see it?”
“I see it. I’m the medic and I grab all the morphine I can find and I’m just crawling around because I’ve got shrapnel in my hand, too, and I crawl (sob) around and I’m trying to help them and they’re screaming. I’m trying to hold their bodies together. They’re screaming. The VC opens up and they mow the rest of us down. Oh God! I shouldn’t sent Jim out there!”
“Wayne, there was nothing you could do.”
“I should have been the one. I should have been the one. I grabbed him, and I’m crawling up the side of the hill. I’m dragging him, we’re gonna get out, we’re gonna get out of there, somehow. Got to the top, this hill...”
“Who are you dragging up?”
“Jim, what’s left of him.”
“Is he still alive?”
“Okay. You get to the top of the hill.”
“I get to the top of the hill. There’s a helicopter; he’s coming down. The door’s opening, and I.... I don’t have much strength left. It’s just about all I can do. The CO’s there. He’s yelling at me, ‘What happened, Wayne, what happened?’ I don’t give a damn. I pick what’s left of Jim up and put it in the helicopter. He’s bleeding. There’s not much left of him. He’s dying. He’s dead."
“Jim’s dead now, isn’t he. You gave him morphine?”
“You eased his pain in the last minutes, didn’t you.”
“The CO’s screaming at me. He’s asking me what happened. He thinks it’s my fault.”
“He thinks it’s your fault?”
“Yeah. Smashed him right in the mouth.”
“Good. What happens next?”
“Blacked out I guess. Next I knew I was in the hospital. They said I’d been there for three weeks.”
“Do you remember anything during that time?”
“Sometimes. Like seeing my body from overhead. I wanted to help.”
“You wanted to help?"
“Yeah. Give him strength. So I went in.”
“Give who strength? Who went in?”
“Me. Jim. Wayne was my buddy. I figured I could help him. All of us did. So we went in."
“You went into Wayne?”
“You said, ‘all of us’.”
“All four of us. Tom, Jeff, Sammy. All of us.”
“Who am I talking to?”
“Is Tom or Jeff or Sammy there with you now.”
“Yeah. You want to talk to them?”
“Not yet. Jim, you were point man that day, weren’t you?”
“It was pretty awful. Everybody was real tired. It was real hot. We got packed up, going down the road. We knew there might be mines, but we figured what the hell. Anything was better than where we were at. I just went on down, truckin’ it down the road. All of sudden, man, there was a big ol’ explosion. I didn’t feel anything at first. Everybody else was yelling and I turned around and I wasn’t all there. I started screaming. I couldn’t help it. Oh, God, it hurt!”
“My whole right side’s gone. Wayne comes barreling down the hill. Trying to help everybody. He was everywhere at once. And the road kept blowing up.”
“The other guys..."
“He was trying to get to me. He was yelling, ‘I’ll be there in a minute, Jim, I’m coming. I’m coming. But it was too late. I knew I was... I was gone. I was gone. The last thing I saw was his face. He was crying.”
“He drug you up the hill, in the helicopter.”
“I was dead; he just didn’t know.”
“Were you watching him, drag you up?”
“Were you in your own body?”
“Were you in pain?”
“No. The hurt was all gone.”
“What happened next?”
“Well, I was , what was left of me, laying on the floor of the heelie, it was really a mess. The CO was laying in my blood. (laughter) The heelie went up and they landed. It was quite a ways from the base camp, about four clicks.”
“What about the other guys on the road?”
“Well, they were, it was pretty ugly, man. They were just smashed everywhere. They’d have to look around trying to pick these guys up. They blew ‘em everywhere.”
“And you’re still in the heelie watching all this happen?”
“Yeah. We were just like up on the ceiling or.... weird!”
“Yeah. Tom and Jeff and Sammy.”
“And then what happened?”
“At base they take what’s left of my carcass, it’s pretty awful looking, and they just stick it in a bag. They take Wayne up to the hospital and I followed him.”
“You followed Wayne?”
“Not your body, but Wayne?”
“Yeah. I was afraid. I didn’t know what was gonna happen to him. I couldn’t just let him think that it was his fault. It’s not his fault.”
“He thinks it is.”
“You heard him a few minutes ago?”
“Oh, yeah. I’ve been hearing him right regular for the last ten years.”
“When did you enter Wayne?”
“When he was in the hospital. He’s out. They’re keeping him out. All he was doing was just screaming anyway. He’s not making a lot of sense. They tried sending a shrink in there to talk to him, but he won’t talk about it. He won’t talk about it at all. It’s gonna be OK though. Me and the guys are gonna help.”
“All four of you go in?”
“Yeah. Been there ever since.”
This incredible dialogue is taken from the actual transcript between a therapist and his client. The implication is that a Vietnam veteran named Wayne, brought four of his dead buddies back to the States with him. All four were earthbound entities.
Missing the White Light
Unbelievable? Then consider what would happen if a dying person failed to see or decided to avoid the white light we described in the near-death experiences? If a soul does not “go into the light” and thereby departs this earth upon death or sometime after death, where does the entity go? Hell? Earth? Purgatory? Some intermediate place?
Evidence is accumulating which suggests that many entities have gone on some rather severe detours on their way to heaven. One obvious possibility is the route supposedly taken by suicides -- a detour we discussed in detail in Chapter VII -- but this is by no means the only possibility. Many people who have studied the subject have become convinced that entities can miss or avoid the white light, circle back and become “earthbound”. According to some researchers, they may become ghosts and be responsible for haunting and the like, or may in fact attach themselves to other living souls in what is referred to as possession.
Why would they miss the white light? Perhaps the entity was scared to death of it. For example, someone killed trying to escape from a concentration camp at night, might associate the white light with the spotlight that illuminated them and thus indirectly caused their death. The entity may have been frightened of the deceased friends and relatives they saw coming for them, or the entity may have refused to travel toward the bardo for any number of other reasons. If the person was killed abruptly on the battlefield or in a car accident, he might be too shocked or dazed to even realize that he had died. Other emotions, such as concern for a wounded buddy, might distract a soldier from leaving, and in fact, motivate him to stay around.
We cannot ignore the possibility that a recently departed soul might see the light and run the other way. There is some evidence that suggests there may be souls which have been effectively running for years (if not centuries). Others may have committed such horrors in their lifetime that the possibility of judgment day’s imminent arrival may have justifiably prompted a flight response. These people may in fact already have found their own personal hell or purgatory.
It also seems reasonable that, if such entities are indeed earthbound, they may from time to time interact with the living in a variety of ways. Such interactions can be grouped into two basic categories depending upon the attachment of the deceased to living beings. The first category consists of ghosts, spirits and poltergeist activities, while the second category is labeled possession. Before we discuss these two categories, we should clarify one important point.
It should be made clear this discussion of earthbound entities does not include temporary visits from those already in the white light. For example, many people have felt a comforting presence after the death of a loved one. These people have sensed something that seems to be telling them not to worry and that the deceased is very happy and content; sort of a love-gram from the next stop (but without the traditional note of “Wish you were here”).
There exists a multitude of reports where an already dead person has effectively said goodbye to loved ones, after their death -- and it is important not to assume that such farewells in any way imply that the departed soul is earthbound. In fact they are clearly not “bound” to earth, but have considerable freedom of movement.
Ghosts and Spirits
Incorporated in virtually all of world’s cultures throughout history is an awareness or insistence on the presence of beings or spirits that have no apparent reality in a material setting. These beings from an unseen realm have included deities, angels, demons, archangels, agents of evil, divas of the plant and animal kingdom, gods, demigods, healing spirits, and a vast menagerie of others, including the spirits of ordinary persons who have died.
But despite the persistence of beliefs in spirits, ghosts and poltergeists, and all the stories that have been collected and told, modern Western convictions about what constitutes reality invariably challenges these beliefs. The idea of the dead appearing among the living just doesn’t seem possible to the mind enveloped in and committed to scientific thinking.
Imaginings of the Mind?
Modern psychiatry, for example, has tried to explain away ghosts and the like as the manifestations of assorted unconscious wishes, patchwork imaginings, and unresolved guilt. Certainly such a view is rational, and in many cases is probably precisely the case. There seems little doubt the mind is capable of a great many wondrous things. Dr. Ralph B. Allison, while accepting the very real possibility of spirits and the like, has noted that the human mind is capable of most anything. The only limitation seems to be our perception of what is or isn’t possible. There is little disagreement with the belief the mind is truly capable of astounding feats, given the motivation to do so.
An example of the mind’s capabilities in this regard has been demonstrated by an experiment conducted in the 1970s by eight members of the Toronto Society for Psychical Research. As reported in the Reader’s Digest book, Into the Unknown, these people proceeded to invent a nonexistent figure from the past, and then actively concentrated in making the purely fictitious ghost manifest itself. After several months, the ghost, named Philip, made his presence known by knocks on a table. Because the group clearly understood there was no “spirit” behind the communications, they knew the messages were coming from the group’s subconscious. In fact, knocks of the table seemed to be related or even activated by the knowledge, thoughts, wills, moods, and powers of concentration of each member of the group.
This unique experiment is, of course, as subject to fraud and misrepresentation (not to mention confusion) as any of the many demonstrations of the actual reality of a spirit. Nevertheless, if true, it does point to the amazing powers of the mind -- people can in fact create their own reality. Even if the human mind is capable of conjuring up its own ghosts, does this fact eliminate the possibility of ghosts existing independently of the perceptions of living human beings? Of course not. With the proliferation of allegedly true ghost stories, the possibility of ghostly realities may not be that improbable.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, for one, believed his home was haunted by ghosts, one of which Hawthorne believed to be the Reverend Dr. Harris, an elderly clergyman who had shared a reading room with Hawthorne at the Boston Athenaeum. What was Hawthorne’s possible motivation for this relatively casual acquaintance appearing in Hawthorne’s life? Nothing obvious, and reasons to account for this tale may in fact become more esoteric than the acceptance of the tale as true. On the other hand, one woman reported seeing a gray-and-black-striped cat reappear at her doorstep, thinner and dripping with water, after the woman had decided to put the sick cat out of its misery by drowning it. Did the woman’s guilt cause the appearance of the cat that no one else was able to see? Quite possibly. But not necessarily. As the editors of Into the Unknown viewed it; apparitions may exist only in the mind, or in fact the universe may be considerably more cluttered than we have heretobefore perceived or imagined.
But if we can see or sense phantoms, why not be able to talk to them? Some have claimed to do precisely that. Robert Leichtman, an internist, is just such a man. Dr. Leitchman considers himself to be a medium, and has documented much of his work in communicating with the spirit world. The good doctor thinks of mediumship as some discarnate human or non-physical intelligence assuming some degree of control over an incarnated body in order to communicate, hopefully something useful and meaningful, and/or to transmit some form of healing energies. Dr. Leitchman notes that mediumship may include varying degrees of trance, depending upon the process and quality of the medium. He also specifically notes that mediumship is not to be confused with the phenomenon of possession, inasmuch as mediumship involves the deliberate cooperation of the medium, and is intended to produce a constructive result.
Dr. Carl Wickland, in his book, Thirty Years Among the Dead, describes the activities of his wife, who as a medium worked with literally hundreds of deceased persons communicating from the other side of the grave. These entities were often “attached” to another person. Dr. Wickland’s method consisted of assembling a group of people, a “concentration circle,” and the application of static electricity to the head and spine of the afflicted person, while Mrs. Wickland was in a trance. The entity would then incorporate into Mrs. Wickland (who presumably was not getting a charge out of her husband’s apparatus). The voice from Mrs. Wickland would often complain about the “fire” running up its back, and would express considerable annoyance at being disturbed.
Dr. Wickland would then use the opportunity to strike up a conversation with the discarnate being. In the process Wickland would convince the entity (who often turned out to be someone identifiable) that s/he was in fact dead. Ignoring complaints from the being concerning the host’s lack of hospitality, Dr. Wickland would gradually convince the entity of the desirability of “going into the white light”. In most cases Dr. Wickland obtained the help of spirit guides, usually former loved ones of the earthbound entity, to lead the being into the light. Interestingly, many of the beings expressed profound gratitude to Dr. Wickland and his wife, for their guidance.
In those cases, however, when the being stubbornly refused to depart, Dr. Wickland would call for his “Mercy Band”, a group of intelligent spirit guides who would remove the recalcitrant, ignorant earthbound entity to a condition simulating an impenetrable cell, from which there was no escape. Rehabilitation of the spirit could commence in this place, and eventually the being would be taken into the light.
Communicating with the Dead
Regardless of the gratitude of Dr. Wickland’s earthbound entities who finally saw the light, the lot of the medium in the recent past has not been a cakewalk. People communicating with entities other living people do not believe exist, are generally suspect of having mentally left this world themselves. This viewpoint, however, is not a consistent position throughout history.
The Bible contains a host of stories of people who heard voices, saw visions, told the future, and otherwise made inroads on our credulity. These people, who apparently were in contact or communicating with nonphysical entities, were called prophets or sages, or seers. In the early days of the American colonies, people with similar tendencies to tell of incredible things, were called witches and summarily burned at the stake. [My how times change. Obviously prophets were out of fashion in Puritan New England.] Today we simply call many of these people crazy and let it go at that.
We should at this juncture point out that it is preferable to distinguish between two different aspects of mediumship. In Chapter XIV we will discuss channeling, an alternate form of mediumship, whereby the nonphysical entity is presumably not earthbound, but is instead communicating from a higher plane (heaven or the equivalent). This is the stuff prophets are made of. For our purposes in this chapter, however, we have considered a medium to be someone communicating with an earthbound entity only -- and ostensibly a discarnate soul with all the characteristics of a ghost or “spirit”).
The difficulty of establishing credible proof for a medium communicating with the dead is difficult. Even the Great Houdini, who had gone to some trouble during his life to set up a means of checking the validity of communications between the living and dead, was never able to establish through his surviving widow evidence in support of such ideas. In more recent times, Dr. Leichtman has noted that the vast majority of communications through mediums falls into the categories of garbled, inconsequential, useless, mischievous, false, and harmful.
On the other hand, accumulating evidence for the existence of earthbound entities may be less difficult. Researchers in several diverse fields have encountered what is apparently earthbound entities in several different contexts. These entities are either in some sort of “intermediate place,” or else attached to living human beings.
The “Intermediate Place”
According to Dr. Raymond Moody, in his book Reflections on Life After Life, many of his subjects reported during their NDE seeing others who appeared trapped in some form of earthbound existence. A consistent thread in their reports was that: 1) the beings seemed unable to surrender their attachment to the physical world (some particular object, person or habit), 2) all of the beings appeared dull (with their consciousness limited in contrast to others), and 3) the beings were in their dismal state, apparently, only long enough for them to solve the problems that seemed to be detaining them there.
One of Dr. Moody’s subjects described the people in some detail. It was noticed, for example, that their heads were bent downward, with sad, depressed looks, as they shuffled about in a manner akin to being on a chain gang. They seemed to have no idea of where they were going, who to follow, or what to look for. There was a crushed, hopeless demeanor; without the idea of ever even raising their heads to see what was happening. The subject also noticed the state they were caught in was neither spiritual nor physical. Any contact with the physical world was limited to just looking downward, trying to understand what had happened or what they were now to do.
The consistent thread of earthbound entities looking downward and thus not seeing the white light will be repeated again and again. Virtually everyone who believes in the possibilities of earthbound spirits, emphasizes the need for a dying person to look up and go into the white light. If you're not sure, look up and head for the white light! No exceptions!
Dr. Moody notes other subjects had seen the same type of phenomenon, and these subjects had noticed some of the earthbound spirits apparently trying unsuccessfully to communicate with people still physically alive. Some appeared to be giving orders to living beings (obviously to no avail), while some seemed to be trying to atone for something they had done.
These reports from people involved in a NDE contains some similarities with a report from a participant in Robert Monroe’s Gateway Program (i.e. the participant is involved in a voluntary OBE). Robert Monroe quotes in his book, Far Journeys, from the participant’s report:
“I stopped and saw many people milling around: They looked like holograms, but conveyed the message of being ‘alive.’ Some ignored me, some moved away, but several approached me with great joy. I sensed the latter felt that they were stranded and thought I was there to guide them back. I asked about the others and was told that some were just exploring, and would return to their bodies when they felt like doing so, while others were waiting for their bodies to die, so they could be free. The ones speaking to me, though, said that they got there inadvertently, and were not able to return on their own.”
Subsequently this same participant wrote:
“1. I don’t believe that it was a dream. As I type this, two weeks after the event took place, I’m still overcome with a feeling of profoundness.
“2. I don’t believe in coincidence. Although the implications are not clear to me, I feel that there is a reason I experienced something I had never consciously thought about before.
“3. Fact: There are people in various institutions who are catatonic or comatose and whom medical science has not been able to reanimate.”
The implications are indeed profound.
Possession is generally not a recognized branch of modern psychology inasmuch as science today likes to think it has progressed beyond witchcraft and spirit possession. The fact that belief in possession and rites of exorcism extend back in time at least to the Babylonians and possibly even earlier does not carry much weight today. Little is made of ancient documentation, such as clay tablets from the palace of Assurbanipal (dating to about 650 BC), wherein is inscribed the desperate appeal of a suffering man who asks his gods how he can rid himself of a tyrannical ghost who seems to possess his body and soul. Science has preferred to ignore such tales, as well as stories from the New Testament describing Christ’s exorcism of sufferers (such as the Gadarene). On the other hand, the New Testament descriptions serve as a basis for the practice of exorcism by established churches.
Much of what we know of earthbound entities from present day efforts comes from exorcisms and depossessions. Such processes are often done as a form of therapy or healing for individuals who are suffering from what science terms dissociative disorders. Such “disorders” can be considered to arise from one of the following conditions:
1. Possession by an idea, an obsession, a compulsion, an involuntary act, or by an addiction to alcohol or drugs.
2. Possession due to the influence of one or more alternate personalities. This can be related to a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation where one personality has absolutely no memory of the other personality’s activities -- or to the condition of multiple personalities, where an individual can revert to a wide variety and number of different personalities.
3. Possession due to a controlling influence that appears to derive from the mind of another living human being. This is essentially witchcraft, voodoo, etc.
4. Possession by a spirit of a once-alive human being.
5. Possession by a spirit that has never had its own life history and identifies itself as an agent of evil.
For the therapist it is essential to consider all five types as the potential source of a patient’s mental or physical problem. In our discussion, however, we will be more interested in types four and five. [Multiple personalities will be discussed in some detail in Chapter XIV.]
Some parapsychology researchers would also include: Thought forms (remember Phillip?), fragmentation (multiples, including possessing entities that are “not all here”), visitors from other planes of existence (and possibly other dimensions!), and extraterrestrials. But the bulk of the evidence is that a possessing entity is a fairly common sort of guy.
A survey in Geriatrics Today, for example, indicated two thirds of widowed women had sensed their deceased husbands, and this had occurred even when using drugs to repress hallucinations. According to Anabel Chaplin, in her book, The Bright Light of Death, many children whose parents die while they are very young, may end up with the parent attaching themselves to the child and continuing there while the child goes through its entire life. Robert Monroe, you may recall, notes he has inadvertently entered the wrong body on at least one occasion. (I hope it was a friend.)
Poison Tree is a detailed account of a family in Wyoming who have undergone their own form of tragedy. According to the two children, the father had been severely abusing both of them for years. When authorities appeared to ignore their pleas, the son took matters into his own hands and killed the father from a well planned ambush. A critical factor in the subsequent court case was the discrepancy between the daughter’s testimony and her mother’s concerning the daughter’s insistence that the mother had witnessed on several occasions the father sexually molesting his daughter. Is it possible the dying father attached himself to the mother, and was influencing her testimony in denying the alleged sexual assaults? Can you imagine the legal implications of such a possibility?
Characteristics of Possession
One of the most knowledgeable therapists and researchers in the field of possessing, earthbound entities is William J. Baldwin, Ph.D.. He has described in detail much of what is currently known about the subject:
“Earthbound spirits, that is, the personalities or psyches of people who once lived on earth, are the most prevalent possessing entities to be found. The emotions and feelings connected with a sudden, traumatic death can become the force which binds a spirit to the earth plane. Anger, fear, jealousy, resentment, guilt, remorse, even strong ties of love, can interfere with the normal transition. Confusion and disbelief concerning religion and spirituality can prevent the spirit from moving into the Light. Obsession with food or sex can detain a spirit, and it must attach to someone in order to indulge its needs through the physical sense of a living being. Drug and alcohol habituation exert a powerful hold on a being, even after death, and these appetites can only be satisfied by attaching to a person who already uses the substances, or can be induced to use them.
“A discarnate spirit may attach itself to anyone who is available and open for whatever reason. The choice may be completely random. It may occur because of close physical proximity to a person at the time of the death. Victims of an air crash, or fatal automobile accident can be drawn to a bystander who is deeply compassionate or sympathetic. One who dies in a hospital of a condition with certain symptoms, may be attracted to another patient with similar symptoms.
“In well over half of the cases of spirit attachment I have dealt with, the connection stems from other lifetimes, when both beings inhabited their own physical bodies. They may have been parent and child, brothers or sisters, most often lovers. Jealousy can be a strong link. The early, untimely death, with unexpressed feelings and emotions, guilt over leaving the other alone, the promises and vows to be together forever; all these can truly be the tie that binds.
“The disembodied consciousness seems to attach itself and merge with the consciousness of a living person, exerting full or partial control over the mentality, as well as the physical body. The physical, mental, and emotional conditions that characterized the entity when it was alive, may be imposed on the host. The entity can speak through the voice of the host, often with dramatic changes in tone, timbre, even accent. Dr. Ian Stevenson, of the University of Virginia has studied cases of responsive xenoglossy and has published two books on the subject. A person in an altered state of consciousness can respond logically, intelligently, and reasonably to questions posed by the therapist but in a language which could not possibly be known by the subject.
“Dr. Stevenson suggests this phenomenon indicates the influence of a separate consciousness, or spirit possession. The attached spirits may not cause noticeable symptoms, but they do use the energy of the person. In some cases, the only indication of an attachment is chronic fatigue. However, in cases of very recent attachment, obsession, or possession, personality changes may occur, physical appetites for food, sex, alcohol, and drugs can increase drastically. Personal behavior and attitudes may change quite noticeably. Symptoms of physical ailments may suddenly appear. The voice and even facial features and appearance can change dramatically. A victim of this phenomenon can be totally amnesic about episodes of complete takeover.
“Physical sensations and symptoms, in the absence of a medically sound cause, can indicate an attached entity. These sensations often move about in the body, especially during a session when the client is in a light hypnotic trance. A client may report hearing voices, originating outside themselves or from within, and have no other psychotic symptoms or behavior. Dreams or spontaneous visual images of faces, sometimes grotesque and frightening, may indicate the presence of an entity. Severe stress may cause susceptibility to the influence of an intrusive spirit. Personality changes after surgery or accident, the sudden onset of drug or alcohol usage, inappropriate speech and behavior patterns, may signal the newly formed attachment of a discarnate being.”
Assuming one is possessed by an earthbound entity, is there a means of detaching that entity and sending him or her on their way? Why not? If you can buy possession, depossession should be a piece of cake.
Depossession can be accomplished, according to Dr. Baldwin and others, through therapy. Dr. Baldwin notes that:
“The spirit helpers and guides always come to meet the soul consciousness after the death of the physical body. Strong feelings and emotions, often accompanying drug related, violent, or untimely deaths, seem to block the connection necessary for the soul to be guided into the Light. Lack of religious beliefs, or strong incorrect thought forms regarding the afterlife, can also prevent contact. The spirit helpers simply can’t be seen. After resolution of the strong emotional feelings, the new awareness of its own condition will allow the entity to see the helpers. Firmly clasping hands with the guides assures that the entity will be securely placed on the path of transition. If, after the release of a discarnate being, the Light is still visible to the client, it may mean there is another entity present. The process is begun again.”
Such “therapy” can be said to have been practiced for centuries. Catholic theology has recognized the reality of people being earthbound for various reasons. The church’s response has been to pray for the deceased, conduct masses for the dead, perform last rites, and include usually the sacrament of reconciliation and communion (which is understood as food for the journey).
For those with a strong earth attachment, this can be good news. Earthbound entities may spend literally hundreds of years in this state of hell. These souls can be helped by prayers and ceremonies, and when the departed reaches the appropriate frame of mind, guides can be beckoned to receive the individual, and together they can make it into the white light.
Anabel Chaplin, in her book, The Bright Light of Death, tells of her efforts to utilize a therapeutic, prayerful session with the possessed individual in order to release an attached entity to the Light. Ms. Chaplin, however, may also, under very special circumstances (e.g. with a spouse’s permission and cooperation), attempt to depossess someone without their conscious knowledge. In both cases, Ms. Chaplin enters into prayer-like and highly creative visualization. She then proceeds to try to convince the attaching entity to vacate the premises and go to the Light. As in most modern depossession therapies, every effort is made to ensure the possessing entity makes it into the Light. In this way the attaching entity does not simply go to some intermediate place and thereafter, possibly attach itself to another victim.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychological disorder stemming from continuing and severe stress such as that encountered in combat, concentration camps, and in relationship to other horrors. Killing, sustained exposure to the possibility of sudden death, and witnessing the violent death of friends can have a lasting, traumatic consequence for a high percentage of survivors. PTSD has been very prevalent among Vietnam War veterans, even several decades after the war. Of the approximate 1,600,000 American soldiers who served in Vietnam, 800,000 have had severe emotional and psychological problems since the war, and 200,000 have been diagnosed as having PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD in Vietnam veterans who have returned to the U. S. include dramatic personality changes, increased levels of drug abuse and criminal activities, continuing nightmares of having died in combat, and a grotesquely high rate of post combat suicides. It has been estimated that the number of casualties from suicides of veterans who returned to the United States now exceeds the number of combat-related casualties! Truly this is one of the most horrifying statistics of that ill-fated war.
In Hendin and Haas’ excellent book, Wounds of War, Vietnam vets describe many of their dreams and nightmares. For example, the authors write that veterans “mourn for friends who have died, but they also mourn for what they have lost themselves, and often perceive themselves as having died in combat.” [emphasis added] One of their patients said that “he recurrently dreamed that he was back in Vietnam and someone would sneak up behind him and cut his throat. Periodically he would be overcome with a desire to end his life and had made several suicide attempts. He had no idea why he sometimes became suicidal....”
Yet another veteran suffering from PTSD had nightmares in which he would see himself in combat fatigues, lying dead in a coffin draped by an American flag, while members of his family, including his wife and sister, would be seated around the coffin, crying. Other therapists, such as J. O. Brende and I. L. McCann, have reported on one veteran who claimed that since his return, something had changed inside of him. “Something was locked up within me.”
Still another veteran was preoccupied with friends who had died in an ambush. He dreamed of them frequently, but when he did, it was as if they were not dead. Another vet had dreams of a similar nature. In the latter’s recurring nightmare, he would be turning over the bodies of soldiers who had been killed, and one of the bodies would turn out to be his own. Invariably the dream image involved finding his own body and sensing that part of him had died in Vietnam.
Hendin and Haas have noted that “this theme has a striking parallel with many Vietnam veterans with post-traumatic stress whose words and lives express a sense that their survival of combat is an illusion and that they have in reality died in the war."
The conclusion seems tantalizingly easy. In some form or another the memories of other personalities who have died still continue to reside in a living person. The possibility is best described by a veteran who continually relived the experience of being shot by a Vietcong woman, felt the impact of the bullets, fell backward, and died.
Hendin and Haas have noted that in many of the episodes where the veteran relived the experience, the vet seemed to “dissociate from his present life. He was absorbed with the death of his friends in combat, Vietnamese civilians, enemy soldiers, and his own sense of having died. After his tour, he wrote [taken from the Wounds of War]:
“Even dead men
Ours and theirs - reside inside,
Rotting in my head.”
Can we interpret the words in this poem in a literal fashion? Do they mean precisely what they say? Are many cases of PTSD but instances of possession? Hendin and Haas, who apparently have not even considered possession as a possibility, describe one veteran’s recurrent nightmare in which the vet “would be shot and killed, but he would be like a spirit outside of his body looking at what happened.” [emphasis added] Do we need further evidence?
At the beginning of this chapter, we included material from an actual transcript of a Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD. In the process of the hypnosis, the therapist talked to several entities, including four of the G.I.’s friends, a Klu Klux Klan member (attached to one black G.I.), and a Vietnamese boy. The therapist was told of “several” Viet Cong, a baby, and “several others,” all residing within one living person. By the end of the session, the therapist had sent all possessing entities into the Light. In a subsequent visit to his therapist, the veteran reported that he no longer was having any symptoms of PTSD.
Several other Vietnam veteran PTSD sufferers have found similar relief. The idea that PTSD may be possession in some cases is no doubt incredible. But if depossession therapy works, not using it because it sounds fanciful and nonscientific would constitute nothing short of malpractice. Surely it is time to try any means necessary to “heal the wounds of war.”
It does not appear that all possessions are due to an entity that had a prior life as a human being. In Dr. Baldwin’s words:
“Several types of entities can influence or possess a human being. A strong thought form, such as fear, anger, guilt, resentment, jealousy or revenge, can take on an independent existence of its own, and may interfere with either the one who created it or another person altogether. In this way, voodoo, black magic, witchcraft, or curse can produce very real effects, even without the victim’s knowledge of the attack. A spirit can be conjured into being, literally created, to do the bidding of the one commanding it.
“There have been cases of takeover by a being or beings claiming to be extraterrestrials. A more dangerous form of possession is caused by a spirit which identifies itself as an agent of evil, a demon or devil, with no history of earth life. They profess a total hatred for humans and express their intentions to cause harm, destruction and death whenever and wherever they can. These cases are uncommon. Interestingly, these entities seem to be bound by the religious beliefs of the culture and can be exorcised by a member of the appropriate clergy.”
Demons? Isn’t there a simpler explanation?
In the Reader’s Digest book, Mysteries of the Unexplained, three other possibilities are considered. They include epilepsy, hysteria, and multiple personality. Each of these disorders have medical and psychological symptoms which are similar to those encountered with demonic possession. The book concludes that there were distinguishing characteristics, such as the hatred of religious objects and paranormal phenomena, often observed in demonic possession. Obviously we’re not out of the woods yet.
In psychological terms, the rite of exorcism appears to bring about the equivalent of a mental and emotional catharsis. In such a state, some experts would suggest that buried memories of deeply traumatic events, neurotic conflicts, infantile or adult guilt, compulsive-obsessive notions, may all be subjected to some degree of release. Because these interpretations are not without support, ecclesiastical authorities are extremely careful in seeking to rule out all possible psychological and physiological conditions before proceeding with an exorcism or depossession. Nevertheless, in the 1970s over 600 solemn exorcisms were performed by the Catholic Church on victims of demonic possession. This is equivalent to about one each week!
Catholic seminarians, on their way to the priesthood, also discover the church’s recognition of the reality of possessions. There the would-be priests are introduced to an order of exorcism that is built into the progression of the priesthood. There may be no “official” public recognition, but apparently practical heads have kept the rituals and knowledge available... just in case.
Hanz Holzer, writing in Possession, includes a list of things every exorcist should know. This list of pointers include the nonuse of force, having the exorcist not become a party to the case, strict adherence to the ritual, absolute belief in the ritual, recognition that the victim’s personality and beliefs are not shared by the possessor, and a lack of fear or hesitation on the part of the exorcist.
Holzer’s concern that the act of exorcism might be taken too lightly is echoed by Scott Peck in his book, People of the Lie, The Hope for Healing Human Evil. Peck considered the differences between exorcism and psychotherapy as equivalent to the differences between radical surgery and lancing a boil. Peck also noted that it is essential to use a team of three or more in attempting to conduct an exorcism.
Do Demons Exist?
Are these exorcisms, no matter how solemn, just another form of depossessing a victim from a misguided soul who has not been able to find his way to heaven? Do we have to have demons and evil spirits, or can we content ourselves with run-of-the-mill, rotten-to-the-core, deceased human beings? Surely the human being is capable of carrying it off. Because if the human is not up to the task, the question becomes whether or not it is necessary to have, for real, a being who is the “Devil” or “Satan” or “Lucifer”?
Scott Peck, in his book, described the demonic influence he encountered in an exorcism in which he participated. Dr. Peck was particularly struck by the patient resembling a writhing, vicious snake of great power, ready to bite the team members. The reptilian’s eyes seemed to alternate between a lazy reptilian torpor and active, blazing hatred, whenever it might dart out in attack. Even more extraordinary to Peck was the sense of an ancient heaviness from the eyes, which had caused Peck to feel that there was no hope for the exorcism. From Peck’s viewpoint, he was convinced of being in the presence of something horribly inhuman and alien.
Peck, a psychiatrist, noted he had found nothing which failed to support the Judeo-Christian myth and doctrine about Satan. But at the same time, Peck believed there were real limitations to Satan’s powers. The psychiatrist noted Satan’s only power lay in his power to deceive humans and to act through the human body. Peck also noted Satan’s intelligence was afflicted with two blind spots: One being that Satan could not comprehend the phenomenon of love, and the other being that Satan assumed all humans would naturally want to deceive themselves. Peck also observed extraordinary demonic stupidity occurred occasionally in addition to demonic intelligence.
Dr. Ralph Allison has reported on one case of possession in which the victim heard a voice announcing the victim’s imminent death. The victim was put under hypnosis, wherein a voice came forth, claiming to be Satan. When a local priest was called for consultation, the priest was able to meet Satan, without hypnosis, by reciting certain rituals. After a relatively mild exorcism, the priest expressed the opinion the exorcised entity was not Satan, as known in theology, but he was an evil spirit who was so stupid, he actually thought he was Satan!
I love that story! More than just entertaining, the story points out that evil spirits may think they’re devils and demons, but they can be wrong. It would be only natural for a thoroughly evil but dead human being to attempt to increase his status by claiming to be Satan, or if he were a bit more clever, claim to be only in the second echelon of evil beings (sounds more believable that way). We can probably expect that an evil entity would not hesitate to lie about its nature.
The question of the reality of Satan’s existence is not likely to be answered by depossessions and/or exorcisms. Clearly the question is a bit more profound. For our purposes, let us content ourselves with some notable quotes and opinions:
“Certain tyrannical demons require for their enjoyment some soul still incarnate; being unable to satisfy their passions in any other way, incite to sedition, lust, wars or conquest, and get what they lust for.” - Plutarch
“A sick man pining away is one upon whom an evil spirit has gazed.” - Homer
“Demons are the spirits of wicked men.” - Josephus
“And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand; so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit was departed from him.” - I Samuel 16:23
“And when he had called unto Him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.” - Matthew 10:1
“And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils.” -Mark 1:39
“And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul. So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.” - Acts 19:11-12
“The result of modern ‘enlightenment’ to treat ‘possession’ as a hypothesis to be spoken of as even possible, in spite of the massive human tradition based on concrete experience in its favor, has always seemed to me a curious example of the power of fashion in things scientific. That the demon-theory will have its innings again is to my mind absolutely certain. One has to be ‘scientific’ indeed to be blind and ignorant enough to suspect no such possibility.” - William James (1896)
“It is not at all likely that sane and intelligent spirits are the only ones to exert influence from a transcendental world. If they can act on the living there is no reason why others cannot do so as well. The process in either case would be the same; we should have to possess adequate proof that nature puts more restrictions upon ignorance and evil in the next life than in this in order to establish the certainty that mischievous personalities do not or cannot perform nefarious deeds. In a number of cases, persons whose condition would ordinarily be described as due to hysteria, dual, or multiple personality, dementia praecox, paranoia, or some other form of mental disturbance, showed unmistakable indications of invasion by foreign and discarnate agencies.” - Dr. James Hyslop (1919)
“It is impossible to prove the existence of possessing spirits, if 'prove' is meant to be a kind of mathematical or logical certainty. But that is possible only in relating symbols with stipulated meanings. In matters of fact, law, history, medicine, and life in general we must be satisfied with a preponderance of evidence or conclusive evidence beyond reasonable doubt. On the basis of high probability we often act with moral responsibility and psychological certitude. In matters related to the influence of spirits, we can hope for no higher probability than in other matters of fact and experience.” - Lewis (1976)
If we cannot “prove” the case one way of the other, it still might be useful to remember one thing: If you die, or you think you might be dead, look around for a white light. If you see it, don’t hesitate --
GO FOR IT!!
Are possession and demons necessary to reincarnation theory? They do not appear to be. The possibility of earthbound out-of-body entities attaching themselves to living beings would seem plausible, but would not be a necessary condition for proving reincarnation. The existence of Satan and/or lesser demons would appear to be even less necessary.
At the same time, possessions appear to be a logical extension of the evidence for NDEs and OBEs. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) emphasizes the potential importance of possession, and possession in turn argues for an open-minded approach by modern psychology in treating PTSD. Exorcisms continue to be conducted (there’s nothing like witnessing an actual event in order to become a believer!), and demonic influences appear to be real. The reality of demons would appear to be more involved with good and evil, but it might be observed that the mind of man is capable of some rather extraordinary feats, including perhaps the creation of demons.
It must be noted that reincarnation theory does not dispute the possibilities of possession or demonic influences. In fact, the phenomena of possession and demons merely extends the range of possibilities in which reincarnation theory operates. Having earthbound spirits wandering around in an intermediate place, just makes the transition into the light more “eventful”. It's the old tactic of fearing no evil when one walks "through the valley of the shadow of death."
It is important to remember when you die and go toward the light, you may meet beings from the light sent to guide you along the way. These “light beings” invariably wear white (there seems to be a decided lack of fashion on the other side), and will likely take your hand. If their hands are warm, that’s good. But if not....or if the beings you meet are wearing gray or black, pass them by. The guys in levis and designer jeans are more likely from the “intermediate place,” and these guys you can safely ignore.
Chapter Nine: Out of Body Experiences
Chapter Eleven: Changing Paradigms
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