« PreviousContinue »
PYTHONIC AND DEMONIAC POSSESSIONS IN INDIA AND JUDEA.
In a former number* we laid before the same classes, at different stages, our readers, the theory of demoniac in opposite lights: the demoniac, frepossession prevalent among the Hin. quently brightening into the divinedoos, and pointed out the resemblance and the divine, detected by some Ithuriel which its actual phenomena present to touch, or, by the test of time alone, a class of symptoms, that, throughout casting off the counterfeit garment of Europe, in the present age, are re- light, in which they had exacted homgarded as manifestations of physical age, and standing forth confessed, disease; as varieties of lunacy or ma- angels of darkness-demoniac tabernia; forms of epilepsy, hysteria, chorea; nacles ; finding this essential identity or anomalous consequences of nervous of phenomena amidst two opposite derangement, or functional irregula- modes of moral judgment, and these two rity. We next noticed the kindred, moral judgments themselves often meltthough in theory the antagonist, state ing into each other, we ventured to of divine possession, known by the propose a theory, which would explain name of uvusuru, the season of divine the difficulty, and account for the convisitation; or, still more popularly, fusion ; and, ascending beyond the by that of Waren, the living, moving, present dual form of possession to the wind, pneuma, or afflatus of deity; and, unity of the original idea, suggestfinding in the practical exemplifica- ed the mode in, and the causes from tions of the latter, that, though there which, the first notion of possession by exists some difference in the accompa- deity, at a time when all deity was nying circumstances, and in the sup- synonymous with malignant, supernaposed causes, immediate or remote, tural power, became, in man's onward and a very great difference in the
progress, modified, and divided into moral medium through which the the two opposing notions, of a possespossessed and the spectators behold sion, evil and demoniac, and a possession, the occurrence, and the consequent benignant and divine. language which they hold regarding it, That theory, it must be remember. the radical phenomena in the person, ed, is intended to account philosophi. and the consciousness of the individual cally for the existence, among pagan supposed to be divinely possessed- nations, of the notion of a dual pos. cases of clear imposture, or mere session, in connexion with certain self-excitement, and self.delusion, ex- physical and psychological phenomena; cepted-present no essential difference, which duality in the notion, is obviousthough often less intense in degree, ly false: for all Christians, at least, and less painful in character, from will deny the possibility of the alleged those exhibited in demoniac possession; possession of the Hindoos by Devee or being still, apparently, identical or Shivu being, in truth, a genuine dianalogous with what we encounter in vine possession ; and will, therefore, some of the varieties of phrenetic, con- agree with us, that both possessions vulsive, or nervous disease; a few of are intrinsically of the same radical the higher and more rare examples, af- character, whatever that character fording a parallel to what has been may be: which duality, therefore, observed in cases of theomania and mes. being false, not being dependent on, meric exaltation, whatever the real or proceeding from two really antagonature of these conditions be ; finding, nist powers, and not being, on the moreover, that the same possessions other band, attributable, at least in are viewed by different classes, and by the antagonism of its character and
Vide DUBLIN UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE for March—" Theory and Phenomena of Possession among the Hindoos."
operations, to a single demoniac in- divine possession_also, an epileptic fluence, for this were to array Satan asserting, that he was possessed by against Satan-must be sought for in seven divine powers at once, and propurely natural and philosophical ceeding to enumerate them, as Girja causes-in the history of the human Baee, &c., ; all varieties, be it obsery. mind—in the appearance of certain ed, of the ever-recurring Hecate Denatural phenomena—and in the im- vee-- who could hear this, as we with pression which, at certain periods of our own ears have heard it, and not man's advancement, these latter pre- recall the demon whose name sent to the former, as evidence or in- “ Legion," or fail to remember that dicia of the spiritual world. So far passage in Mark xvi. 9._" Mary Magonly, to afford some solution for this dalene, out of whom he had cast seven mysterious duality of possession among devils." pagan nations, this curious distinction On the other hand, no person hava between the demoniac and the divine, ing any extended medical experience, among those to whom the true divine or even a moderate acquaintance with was unknown, and all whose worshipped medical works, can fail to recognise in Numina, if they had any spiritual ex- the main features of these Hindoo istence at all, we must regard as alike possessions, as well as in those of the demoniac; philosophical reasoning is Gospels, the common symptoms of luadmissible, nay, is absolutely neces- nacy, epilepsy, and other forms of sary: and so far it does not in any way disease, above mentioned. trench on the religious question, i. e., This resemblance, indeed, which is so on the real nature of these possessions, strong as to have been recognised now stripped of their false duality, and where the disease is witnessed, as in reduced to one category. But the re- Europe, simply as disease, and without ligious question is not far off; nay, it supernatural associations, or clothing was this which originated, and lent its of any sort, is doubly striking when main interest to the whole inquiry, beheld, as among the Hindoos, arrayed and it must, eventually, be encountered. in a spiritual drapery, and language in For in truth, it is, in the first place, dif- many points so analogous to that which ficult to witness, or be cognisant of the the Gospels shew us was prevalent facts which occur in the possessions of among the Jews.* the Hindoos, without being convinced, The question will then arise, were that the cases belong precisely to the the cases of demoniac possession resame class as those of the demoniacs of corded in the Gospel, simply cases of the Gospel - Hindoo associations physical disease, such as now met with merely superseding Jewish or Chaldean. commonly among Christians_rightly, Who, for example, hearing a man, sub- indeed, viewed as evidence of the ject to epileptic fits, declare that, as he power of Satan, not according to the was passing along an estuary, a jhupaté Jewish popular notion; but in that, or devil-blast, entered him, and that profounder sense, in which he is prothis devil (who by the way, conformably nounced a murderer from the be. to the theory of demons laid down in ginning: the author of death, who our former paper, was described as the hath the power of death-rightly, spirit of a wicked Mussulman deceased) therefore, selected to afford by their would often throw him into the fire, cure, triumphant evidence of the or drive him into the sea, to which power and mission of Him, who came “ipsissima verba” we can attest from to destroy the works of the devil; our own knowledge - could fail to and who, in every exertion of His direcall the demoniac mentioned in Matt. vine and beneficent power, whether it xvii. and Mark ix. : or, who could were the cure of the paralytic, or the listen to one, subject to the supposed cleansing of the lepers, or the raising
An American missionary, who has laboured for many years in Western India, and enjoyed peculiar opportunities of seeing what passes among the common people, once remarked to us, speaking upon the scenes which take place at the exorcist shrine of Kanoba, “Since I have lived and seen what passes daily among the Hindoos, I have begun to take quite a new view of the demoniacs mentioned in the Gospel."
of the dead, or the restoring of God's through dry places, seeking rest, and defaced image on the heart of the re
Then he saith, I will pentant sinner, who bathed His feet return unto my house from whence I with her tears, “rebuked the devil," came out; and when he is come, he and drave him out of his usurped pos- findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. session, no less than in the restoration Then goeth he, and taketh with him. of the demoniacs?
self seven other spirits more wicked Such is, indeed, the view which than himself, and they enter in and several commentators have taken ; dwell there : and the last state of that Dr. Clarke, Newcome, and Hammond, man is worse than the first. Even so among the rest. Dr. Clarke, for ex
shall it be also unto this wicked geneample, noticing the man with the un- ration,”-was this passage, which can. clean spirit, whose name was Legion,
not be accounted for on the foregoing thus speaks :
principle, as it was addressed, not to “ In the account of the cure per
a demoniac, but to our Lord's auditors, formed by our Saviour on a maniac,
and which, at the first reading at least, in the country of the Gadarenes,
seems so difficult to understand on any these tombs are particularly alluded
other hypothesis than that of the reality to."
of demoniac possession in the popular Newcome, in allusion to the deaf sense, was this only an inculcation of a and dumb spirit mentioned in Mark profound and universal moral truth “ He was an epileptic at the
in the manner most ready of apprelunar period;" and Hammond observes,
hension to his hearers_through the “ The young man's disease was the
medium of ideas which were current falling sickness ;" and that “ we have among them, and which he made subhere a clear description of epilepsy."
servient to this purpose: these ideas But further, if this be so, was the
themselves being, perhaps, the mythic language which our Lord made use of
or personalized form of a deep and on some of these occasions, merely a
mournful verity—the causality and inmerciful condescension to the weak
fluence of the fallen angel in all the ness of His hearers, both patients and
sufferings of man? We find, indeed, spectators ? — were such phrases as
that this passage has been viewed by si Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge
Gilpin and Newcome, as referring, in thee, come out of him, and enter no
the language current among the Jews, more into him" (Mark ix. 25); or,
to the observations made upon relapsed again, the query to the demoniac, in
maniacs, and drawing a parallel bethe county of the Gadarenes, “ What
tween their case and the condition of is thy name?" (Mark v. 9); and our
those who, morally healed and enLord's granting of the request to en.
lightened for a time, relapsed again ter into the swine, in the word “Go”.
into guilt and unbelief. Gilpin writes (Matt. viii. 32) -- was this language,
thus upon it:-" The Jews, too, as this apparent sanctioning of the ideas
Grotius says, were of opinion, that of possession, entertained by the de
dæmons delighted in desert and solitary moniacs themselves, and by their
places. This might be grounded on
observation. Madmen were driven from friends, only such a wise and merciful indulgence towards, and falling in with
society, and are spoken of in the New the predominant ideas of the maniac,
Testament as ' living among the tombs" as was, if not from the very nature of
-and they who laboured under the the disease, necessary, at least the
power of melancholy would naturally ·most direct and efficacious method, to
resort to unfrequented parts of the
country. The best interpretation, I obtain, without violence or pain to the sufferer, the command over his spirit,
think, of this passage is, that the Jews, and to effect his cure; analogous to
who were once the people of God, and
had had the evil spirits, as it were, that humouring of the prevalent illu
driven out of them by the law of Mosion, which the ablest and most hu
ses, had now become more impenitent mane managers of lunatics invariably
and more hardened than the Gentiles employ at the present day?
themselves.” Newcome, on the same And again, was that remarkable
passage, says :-“ Our Lord may be passage of our Lord's, which occurs in
supposed to say, in verses 43, 44, 45, Matt. xii. 43:4" When the unclean in terms adapted to the popular superspirit is gone out of a man, he walketh
stitions, that, as the disease of maniacs often increased in violence after a tem- and of both to the mesmeric seances of porary recovery, so the Jews would go modern Europe, we shall hereafter on to higher degress of wickedness." have occasion to point out. The ex
With regard to the difficulty in the istence of such exorcisers in Judea, language used by the possessed them- under the name of Perierchomenoi, or selves, such as the giving to themselves circumambulators, including in their of specific names the prayer for per- number sons of the chief-priest Sceva, mission, if cast out, to go into the is proved from the passage in the Acts, swine—the prayer not to be torment- xix. 13, 14, to which we referred in ed_our readers will be surprised to our former paper : and it is probable learn that every one of these peculiari- that the exorcists mentioned in Mark, ties is to be found in the Hindoo de. ix. 38, and Luke, ix. 49, were of the moniac possessions, excepting, it must same class, though they now began to be admitted, the phrase “ before the make use of the name of Jesus, deem. time,” which has no parallel in Hindoo ing it more efficacious than those of traditions or belief. The petitions not Abraham, Isaac, Solomon, &c., which to be tormented, and to be allowed to they had before employed. It is clear, go elsewhere if cast out, are commonly too, from the question put by our addressed by the possessed to the Lord, “By whom do your children Bhuktus, or Hindoo exorcists, who, cast them out ?” that these Jewish exby virtue of a divine possession in orcists, who had no connexion with themselves, expel the devils from others. him, were, at least sometimes, successThe petition not to torment them, re- ful in their attempts; and we know fers, in their case, to the threats made from Josephus (vide Antiqu. viii. 2, 5). by the exorcist, who, in commanding that such a system of exorcism pra the devil to go out, threatens, if he re- vailed among the Jews, even from the fuse, to torment him, to twist him, to time of Solomon, to whom it is said burn him, &c., by his thaumatur- to have been communicated by God gic power ; and sometimes, in fulfil- for the general benefit of mankind. ment of this threat, he throws a little They employed, we are told, for this powder or ashes upon him, with a stern purpose, certain forms of incantation and commanding air, and the possessed and exorcism, assisted and recomshrieks out, as if actually burnt and mended by previous ceremonies. Jotortured. Now this forcible expulsion sephus adds, that this method of exfrom the body of the possessed—this pulsion, handed down from Solomon, command exercised over the system was frequently practised with success against the will—this, perhaps for the in his own time, and relates a particumoment agonizing crisis, which may lar instance of such expulsion, exhibit. be necessary to restore him to his sane ed in the presence of the Emperor and healthy state—is what the Hindoo Vespasian. Now, from the prelimidemoniac dreads. Is there not some- nary questions and forms which our thing of the same seen in the Gada- Lord employed, in his healing of the rene demoniac, who, as described in demoniacs, it seems very probable that Mark, v. 7, 8, cried with a loud voice, in this, as in the case of using clay and and said to our Lord—“ I adjure thee, spittle to the blind and the deaf, he by God, that thou torment me not. was pleased to employ some of the For, he said unto him, Come out of formula of these very schools-not inthe man, thou unclean spirit.” This, deed as efficient means of operationthen, this forcible, and perhaps pain- except in so far as these might happen ful, expulsion, was apparently the tor- to be really efficacious (however myment which he deprecated. Indeed, thically disguised) for the managewe are thoroughly convinced that there ment or cure of madness or diseaseexisted among the Jews, schools of ex- but from that benevolent condescenorcism, exactly corresponding, with sion to the weakness of his brethren, some of those now in India, exactly cor- which characterized the whole of his responding with those once existing in divine mission. Egypt as temples of Kanobos, accord- With regard, in particular, to our ing to the hints which we find in Van Lord's asking the possessed his name, Dale and Jablonski ; the close resem- and receiving for answer “My name is blance of which temples of the Egyp- legion," we must observe, that such tian Kanobos to the Mhuts or shrines question and reply form a part, and of the Hindoo exorcist-power Kanoba, generally the commencement of the process of exorcism, at almost every the herd of swine"-it is not until exorcist shrine in India. And it is a then that our Lord, humouring, must curious fact, that, if the possessed be a we not say it, the idea which possessed Mahomedan, he generally gives a Ma- the maniac, uses the plural number, homedan demoniac name in reply; if and says-—“Go (ye) vrayır.”—Matt. a Hindoo, a Hindoo mythological name; vii. 32. As to any proof of a real and, as with us, black is the diabolical plurality in the daimons, from the precolour, and Moors and negroes are as- cipitate flight of the swine down the sociated in our minds with magicians, steep, we know that a single man, and evil spirits ; and magic is black; rushing on a sudden, and with violent and the devil himself is supposed to action, towards a flock of sheep, will dwell familiarly with his servants, in send them all running in terror in one the shape of a black dog—so in the direction ; and this is the explanation lower and more popular demonology of which has, in fact, been adopted by the Hindoos—a lesser mythology in more than one commentator, regarding itself—we encounter one devil classed the destruction of the swine. as the spirit of a deceased Moosoolman; The conclusion which we would another as the spirit of a deceased draw from the foregoing observations “ Firingee,” or Portuguese Christian- is, that the name given by any of these the latter distinguished, when visible, parties is of no weight whatever as an by wearing a hat. The trials for witch- argument, either pro or con, as regards craft throughout Europe exhibit a the true character of these anomalous somewhat similar peculiarity-the pos- seizures and conditions; since we see, sessed give replies, harmonizing, in in different systems, the parties always general, with Christian ideas on pos- follow the old and habitual associasession and demonology, but singularly tions of the respective countries, creeds, varied by notions and traditions purely and popular beliefs, in which they were local. This fact, that each demoniac brought up. The Jewish demoniacuses names to which he is accustomed the Hindoo in Waren—the Christian from previous associations, leads us to witch-the modern mesmeric patientsuppose it probable that “LEGION" all speak in their second personality, was a name well known to the popular according to what they have heard or Syrian demonology, applied, perhaps, read before. The names or accounts, to those who seemed, from the violence therefore, which they give, cannot be of their actions, possessed by many de- held to be the true names or accounts vils. The demoniac himself says, in of their several states. This position, Mark, ν. 9, λεγεών ονομα μου, Legion is however, though it will prevent us name to me," not to us. And, v. 7- from receiving any demoniac utterance “I adjure thee by God that thou tor- as decisive evidence of the reality of ment ME not”-uh us faranons—and so, possession, leaves us in the same state also, we read in Luke, viii. 28. In of doubt as before, and will not warMatt. viii. 29, indeed, it is “to tor- rant our drawing the conclusion that ment us," but here there are two de- there are not such possessions; for the moniacs speaking, as stated in the possession may be real, though the verse immediately preceding. What name and the account given of it be is still more remarkable, our Lord him. false. It is certainly, on the one hand, self, in v. 8, addresses the spirit in the a strong presumption against any of singular number—“Come out of the these utterances proceeding from real man (thou) unclean spirit” [Egsals to devils, that they should all speak so πνευμα το ακάθαρτον εκ του ανθρώπου]; and differentlyin different times and places, it is not until after the demoniac bad and so exactly reflect back the associasaid (Mark, v. 9) “My name is Le- tions of the party; but, on the other, gion (or Legion is name to me) for we if Satun have power to send his angels are many,” and after “he [the man] into men, and if he act upon a consis. besought him much that he would not tent principle, it would consort with send them (the devils) away out of the this principle to assume, chameleon. country" (v. 10)—or, as it is expressed like, the particular shade of falsehood in v. 12_"all the devils besought him, which may happen to prevail in each saying, send us into the swine; or, as time and place, and give it strength; Matthew relates it, viii. 31-"So the so that the spirit which would speak in devils besought him, saying, If thou the Greek Pythoness as Apollo, in the cast us out, suffer us to go away into Mahomedan as Sultan Mahomed, in