A photo I took from inside the Lemp Mansion in St. Louis, Missouri.
I’ve done a pretty good job of avoiding the subject of demons or demonic possession on this blog. This isn’t due to being afraid of the topic or needing to leave the closet light on when I talk about it, but because the BS-o-meter tends to immediately start flashing in my head when the topic is brought up. It’s not something I do on purpose, and it’s not that I’m trying to be a jerk, it just doesn’t resonate with me, I guess. I’ve always done my best to not offend anyone in discussions about their beliefs, or when people recount their demonic experiences. As Jim Harold famously says, “I keep an open mind, but not so open that my brains fall out.” Most of the time I just listen and try to see the activity as simply paranormal, just like any other experience that may or may not be explainable, rather than attach a demonic name or entity to it.
I admit it!
But I think I need to finally come clean and admit that I have issues believing in the concept. Oh I know what some of you will use to argue already. Light can’t exist without darkness. A belief in angels requires a belief in demons. Those arguments sound nice, but they don’t settle anything for me, and to be fair, I have the same issues wrapping my head around angels sometimes too, with their names and their color coded wings. For a while last year I was involved in a few phone conversations with a popular television production company about the possibility of being involved in a pilot about angels and investigating whether or not they really existed. I’m not sure where the project ended up going, but many of the personalities they were interested in just had a knowing that angels existed, and that’s not what they were looking for. They wanted someone who needed the proof. It was exciting to be approached, but I’m not sure the topic of angels would have been enough to keep me focused or serious for a whole series. One thing is for sure, though. I’d have to see some evidence before I could confidently say I believed in angels. Now ask me if I believe in spirit guides. (Well… I can’t wait all night for you to ask, but just know the answer is YES. My regular readers already knew this.)
Oh I believe in evil, in a sense that there are bad people, good people, and a whole spectrum of people in between. Those same people may just end up being either the innocent ghost or the trouble-making poltergeist in a haunted house. Many people believe, as I do, that we’re placed here on earth, maybe more than once, to learn lessons and allow our souls to grow spiritually. Perhaps these “bad people” are here to be a part of those lessons, and maybe their struggle with being bad has something to do with their own lesson. But believing in an inhuman demonic entity, or the devil himself, is something that I admittedly struggle to take seriously. Some popular paranormal television shows haven’t helped my opinion, either. Often those suddenly possessed investigators or home owners seem to look like they’re simply starving for attention, and oh look, there just happens to be a camera rolling! The spotlight is on me! I don’t mean to be flip, but that’s how it appears. I have absolutely no doubt that spirit can make use of our energy, or manipulate the world around us, and I believe in some cases a person with a gift can be used as a channel for spirit. But sometimes I wonder if people confuse being mentally unstable, or just plain drama, with demon possession.
This post was originally intended to be a book review, but like it or not, I’ve always had a policy about not mentioning a book by name if I don’t have many good things to say about it. Therefore, I’ll be somewhat cryptic in talking about it, and I hope that isn’t seen as poor taste. I’m far from being qualified to be an English teacher, but if I have the urge to take out a red pen to correct grammar and spelling in every chapter of your book, you simply didn’t try very hard to edit it, and so that certainly means I’m going to have a hard time taking you seriously or trusting your qualifications. The book contains story after story of what is supposed to be taken from actual case files of demonic activity, but they just sounded like good fictional storytelling to me… and I’m not big on reading fiction. I simply don’t believe much of those events happened. And people shouldn’t be led to believe that a simple creek, a rap on the wall in response to a question, or an occasional shadow is a reason to convert to Catholicism, get a crucifix for every room, or look for an exorcist.
If you know me, you know that I can’t NOT finish a book, even if I’m not enjoying it. I take pride in finishing the last word and shelving it ceremoniously. But for the first time in years, I considered not finishing this one. I felt a little silly spending the time on it. It took me forever, but I finished it, sighed, and moved on to the next book on my “to be read” shelf.
Like some things I’ve brought up in this blog, I might change my mind about all of this in a year or two, or maybe even next week! If I’m suddenly involved in an investigation where I have pea soup spat by someone walking across the ceiling while cursing me in 12 different languages, you’ll be the first to hear from me. Until then, this is where I am with it all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not out in search of evil. I’ve always preferred pleasant spirits “from the light”, but until I’ve experienced it, I refuse to make it something dramatic to fear.
Now it’s your turn to tell me why I’m right or wrong.
I know that many of my readers will disagree with me on this. As I say to my students, “you’ll still like me, right?”
As a counter to probably every opinion I just gave here, you may be interested in checking out the ongoing Hidden Astral World series from Gary Leigh’s Psychic Empaths blog, where he quite literally introduces you to Omen, who he claims is a demonic entity. Gary is a loyal reader of the Big Séance and I have a lot of respect for him, so I hope he chooses to still like me after this post. He’s writing about fascinating stuff. I’m just not sure where I am with it all or how to respond. Go check it out!
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