An Anthropological Study of the European Witch-Hunts- Second Printing
Demonic Possession, Witchcraft, Deception, and Disease 155
Chapter Six Demonic Possession, Witchcraft, Deception, and Disease The belief that spirits can enter a human body is found cross- culturally, and among many societies spirit possession is seen as a legitimate means of contacting the supernatural world.1 In Europe during the medieval and early modern period, however, possession was believed to be caused by evil or unclean spirits. 2 According to one theologian: "The torment of possession is the greatest that man can suffer-the longest, for the demon never tires; the cause is invisible; the most-dangerous, for it leads to the irreparable ruin of the soul and body."3 Hence, whenever cases of possession arose, experts were called in to oust or exorcise the intruding spirits. In Christianity, the idea of possession by demons is based on The New Testament and the miracles performed by Jesus. Mark 5:2-13 relates the following: And when he Uesus] was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit ... [who] said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. For he said unto him, Come out of that man, thou unclean spirit. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: For we are many. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country. Now there was there neigh unto the...
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