Human Spirit and Lucifer
In the history of Exorcism there is constant reference to evil
spirits: to Satan (or Lucifer) as the head or chief of those
spirits, and to an entire world of being inhabited by such spirits.
In the preceding five exorcisms, that world inhabited by evil
spirits is most often described as “the Kingdom.” Christianity would
be unintelligible if we were to omit or deny belief in that world of
evil spirits. In the New Testament and in Christian tradition
salvation by Jesus is presented as a victory over an opposing and
baleful intelligence belonging to a bodiless being. It is never
simply and primitively the subduing of blind material forces. Nor is
it merely the setting up of ethical examples and moral rules. And
the “Kingdom of God” is always juxtaposed to the “Kingdom of Evil”
or of Satan.
We cannot speak in any ordinary sense of the “history” of these
spirits. For their existence did not begin with and is not confined
to the space-time continuum in which history’s events must take
place. Yet it is clear from tradition that the entire existence and
fate of these spirits lies in a very intimate and intricate
relationship to the human universe we inhabit.
Tradition speaks of a primordial sin of rebellion against God by
some of the spirits, and led by one particular spirit symbolically
named Lucifer (“the Son of the Dawn,” to indicate supreme qualities)
or Satan (to indicate a function as chief adversary of God). From
the sparse items of information in the Bible, from stray remarks
made by Jesus himself during his lifetime, and from continuous
traditional Christianity, the general “history” of these spirits and
their relationship to Jesus and to our world would seem to be the
God’s decision to create intelligent beings-spirits and humans, free
to love him and free to reject him-was intimately linked with his
decision to become a human being.
But in speaking of that decision of God, we have to make a
distinction between the way we Understand and talk about it and how
God made and implements it.
Our understanding of and speech about this decision is a
step-by-step process. First, creation of spirits. Then, their
rebellion. Then, the creation of mankind. Then, mankind’s revolt.
Then, the conception and birth of Jesus. Then, the sacrifice and
resurrection of Jesus and the consequent salvation of mankind. Then,
the life of men and women beset by those spirits who revolted. We
have to think in this way. But that is our limitation.
For God there was and is no step-by-step process. He did not, as it
were, first decide to create the spirits, then, as an afterthought,
to create humans, and then, on further reflection, to become a man.
Creation did not proceed like Topsy. It was one decision englobing
spirits, humans, and God-made-man. And it was a decision not made at
any given point in time but in eternity. God was never without
This means that his decision was integral in cause and effect from
the start. His view
of what everybody would do at any given moment was identical with
his view of what
everybody did, does, and will do until the end of all time and
space. That view was
complete always. And every detail of the decision was taken
integrally and wholly
from eternity in view of every possible human action and reaction
The centerpiece of that decision was God’s own choice to become a
man. Just as his own divinity was, to speak in a human fashion,
turned in this one definite direction, so all the “pieces” of God’s
decision- spirits included-were created and ordained in this
direction. God was to enter into an intimate relationship with
matter-place, time, objects, humans.
So also his creatures, the spirits, were made by him and ordained by
him to be in an
intimate relationship with matter-place, time, objects, humans. The
personal interest of these spirits, their very being, in its deepest
ramifications were and will remain forever intimately focused on
this human universe,
on all this universe contains, and-above all-on Jesus as the source
of that universe’s meaning.
Christian tradition thus assigns to these spirits the role of
intermediaries. They were and are bodiless-like God. They were and
are creatures-like humans. In the piecemeal working out of God’s
overall decision through time and space, and in the individual minds
and hearts of billions of human beings surrounded by material
things, the spirits were given functions at which we can only guess.
These functions were related to the human universe and to God’s
decision to become a member of that universe.
At this point of our understanding about spirit, we are somewhat
helped by side-comments of Jesus. He spoke once or twice rather
mysteriously but quite succinctly about the important personage
among those created spirits who revolted, Lucifer.
Rebutting those who harassed him on the streets of Jerusalem and who
reviled him as an evil man, Jesus said fiercely: “You belong to your
father, Satan. And you are eager to gratify the appetites which are
your father’s. He, from the beginning, was a murderer. And, as for
truth, he has never taken his stand on it. When he utters falsehood,
he is only doing what is natural to him. He is all false. And it was
he who gave birth to falsehood [emphasis mine].”
On the lips of a Jew of that period, the term “murderer” did not
have the legalistic meaning we have attached to it. The word had
more the connotation of our “blasphemy” or “desecration.”
The second aspect of Lucifer’s rebellion, Jesus adds, was one of
falsehood. Again, on the lips of Jesus, this word referred not so
much to lying by words, to fibbing, as to what we call “pretense,”
“deception,” “false claims.”
The emphasis of Jesus is quite clear. Lucifer was and is the
originator of all blasphemy and deception in the universe of spirit
which God had created-to the point that all those who practice
deception and who commit the ultimate blasphemy are merely
reproducing Lucifer’s appetites for falsehood and blasphemy. In some
mysterious way they share in and augment Lucifer’s falsehood and
blasphemy. “You belong to your father, Satan.”
Jesus adds a few more details. “From the beginning” seems to
indicate that the rebellion was instantaneous with the creation of
Lucifer’s intelligence. There never was a fraction of his existence
when Lucifer opted for God. Furthermore, Lucifer is “all false.” It
is “natural” for him to deceive and blaspheme. These are stark and
simply effective terms used by Jesus to describe total evil. Not
merely a totally evil being, but a being who is the source of all
evil in the world of mankind.
From these few details we can only guess at the nature of Lucifer’s
rebellion in which he was joined by unnumbered other spirits. It
involved blasphemy and deception. It concerned Jesus as God and as
the savior of mankind; and it concerned men and women as
participants in the fullness of Jesus’ humanness.
Did Lucifer falsely claim to be higher, more noble than the man
Jesus? And, in doing so, did he blaspheme by claiming that he,
Lucifer, a bodiless spirit, the supremest angel, should be regarded
as higher than Jesus, who, like all humans, was part spirit, part
matter? He, an angel, worship a mewling baby at Bethlehem and a
bleeding half-animal groaning in death throes on Calvary?
Or did Lucifer revolt because he and the other angels were destined
to help elevate human beings beyond the merely material and human,
beyond even the status of the angels, right to the status of sharing
Or did Lucifer reject God’s decision integrally? That is to say: did
he reject God’s
decision to ordain and relate everything-God’s own being and the
spirits God created-to a human universe? And, if so, was this because Lucifer rejected
the prime trait of
that decision, a universe of beings-humans-who would need
compassion, and mercy and help and sustainment? The spirits were to
be servants of that compassion and instruments of that help to an
unmerited glory for those creatures.
Or did Lucifer, with angelic intelligence, foresee a destiny of
human beings yet hidden from our human eyes-that after eons of
development, when outer space is colonized in billions of galaxies,
mankind will progress and evolve in spirit to a status we now know
nothing of, and in which men and women will enjoy a freedom from
matter but still be able to enjoy the beauty of this material world?
Jealousy? Ambition? Pride? Scorn? We can only surmise.
Whatever Lucifer did, he blasphemed against God’s unique divinity,
and he made false claims. Punishment was immediate. Jesus, in an
overt reference to his personal memories of this revolt, spoke of
that one quick, terrible moment of degradation and punishment of
Lucifer and of those spirits who followed his lead. Jesus said: “I
saw Lucifer falling like lightning from heaven.” Again, in the style
of Jesus, we have a stark evocation of the sudden flash of Lucifer’s
brilliant intelligence in the clean skies of creation’s dawn; then
the moment-long glare of Lucifer’s claimed glory; and, finally, the
immediate humiliation of utter defeat and rejection by God, as
Lucifer plummeted from the clarity and brightness of love and
changeless beauty down past the rim of happiness into the pit of
eternal exile from all good and all holiness.
In this revolt and punishment, the natural orientation of Lucifer
and of those spirits who were part of his rebellion remained. They
were by their very essence in intimate relation with the human
universe. They were powerless to free themselves of it. Their powers
of will and intelligence remained. Only now, those wills and
intelligences were twisted by revolt and their unchangeable state as
the condemned ones. Their love for God, for Jesus, and therefore for
mankind became hate. Their need to move in a human universe and to
be in relationship with matter remained; but it now became a need to
disrupt, to soil, to destroy, to make ugly, to deform.
Their knowledge of truth became solely the means for an exercise in
distorting the truth. Their reverence became mockery and contempt.
Their lovely desires became gross threats. All their light became a
confusing darkness. And their primordial destiny to be the helpers
of Jesus became a living and baleful hate of him, of his love, of
his salvation, and of those who belong to him.
They were, in other words, conditioned through and through by the
diabolic “twist,” that peculiar upside-down, disjointed, askew
existence, covered in deception and falsity, which we always detect
in the morally evil person, in the war-filled world of a Michael
Strong, and in the frightful topsy-turvy world of every possessed
The nearest we can come to gauging the degree of Lucifer’s ugliness
is in the overtones of the totally insane who laugh all day
uproariously at their own dreadful aberrations-their spasmic
violence, their treasured filth, their self-mutilation. We pity them
as out of control, as beside themselves, as unconscious of their
tragedy. But in them and in every grin of our own Schadenfreude we
can detect an echo of Lucifer’s very own accents, his signature,
that uproarious burst of reasonless laughter mocking his own
self-delusive and deliberately chosen state of absolute hate.
“Good” and “evil” as applied only to human beings, therefore, must
bring us into direct, daily, practical relationship with the
influence of Jesus and the influence of Lucifer. Furthermore, “good”
and “evil” as applied only to human beings must bring us into direct
recognition of our own individual wills. For whatever the
invitations offered by Jesus, whatever the blandishments offered by
Lucifer, we each make our choices, even as Jesus, even as Lucifer.
Much of what we know from our direct experience with evil spirits
dovetails with what we would expect, based upon what we know or can
glean of their origin.
The most notable and, for many modern minds, contradictory aspect of
such spirits is that each spirit seems to be a personal and
intelligent being, but that it has no physical existence. It is
bodiless. This is a constant and primary datum of Christian belief
about such spirits and is borne out by evidence from exorcisms.
In modern psychology the terms “personality” and “person” have been
tied to psychophysical consciousness. “Personality” is taken to be a
complex of psychophysical acts-emoting, willing, desiring, thinking,
imagining, remembering-and the exterior actions that are motivated
or colored by such “internal” acts. All of them can be quantified. A
“person” is somebody with a more or less consistent and definable
complex of such acts and actions.
Thus, a “person” of unbalanced “personality” is one in whom that
complex of acts and actions lacks the ordinarily observed and
socially acceptable type, tension, and frequency. Of course, there
is no room in our minds for any consideration of bodiless personal
spirits if we accept this modern terminology as correct and
all-inclusive. For “person” and “personality,” in this terminology,
are material, fractionated, dimensional, measurable, and finally
The classical Christian thought and belief about “person” and
“personality” is very different. And it echoes the natural
persuasion of most men and women.
“Person” in Christian thought is a spirit. As a spirit, it is
imperishable and indestructible. It can will and think. It is freely
responsible for what it thinks and wills and does. And it is capable
of self-awareness. In Christian thought, “personality” is another
word for the total individuality of the person. The diminution or
reduction of this internal and self-aware center of responsibility
of the self to a tidy bundle of arbitrary divisions-something called
“thinking” and something called “willing” and something else called
“acting,” etc. etc.-is itself insanity. For these concepts of
“person” and “personality” are applied to God and to bodiless
spirits as well as to humans.
In our human condition the individual and personal spirit is
destined to exercise its willing and thinking and all its power by
means of psychophysical activity, rarely by passing that
The evil spirits in question are not personal in that sense. Being
bodiless, their individual identities do not depend on a bodily
identity. Christian teaching is that they think, will, act, and are
self-aware and exercise their power purely, simply, and directly
without the use of the psychophysical.
Experiences with evil spirits in exorcisms bear this out. In
virtually every exorcism, at a crucial point, the possessing spirit
will refer to itself interchangeably as “I” and “we,” and as easily
refer to “my” and “our.” “I’m taking him.” “We are as strong as
death.” “Fool! We’re all the same.” “There’s only one of us.” All
this was hurled at Michael Strong by the one spirit at Puh Chi in
Nanking-“I,” “me,” “all,” “one,” “us.” Individuality in any human or
even remotely bodily sense is not operative here.
The fact that the spirits described in the exorcisms of this book
finally responded to names (“Girl-Fixer,” “Smiler,” “Tortoise,”
etc.) is no indication of separate identity.
They are names assumed apparently in view of the means or the
strategy used by the
spirit as it possessed the person in question. When Father Mark
“superior” for its name, the response was “We are all of the
Kingdom.” “No man can
know the name.” When Mark insisted, the spirit replied: “Multus,
Grosser, Grossest. Several times. Seventy-seven legions.” The names
they give are
clearly ad hoc names and, for all we know, may change for the same
spirit in relation to different victims. What the exorcist is after
in pushing for such names is not personal identity, but a name the
spirit will respond to. “In Jesus’ name, what name will you obey?”
was Mark’s crucial question in this regard.
Nevertheless, the behavior of spirits, in endless variations, in
exorcism after exorcism, does suggest some coagulating common
identity of a kind that leaves evil spirits distinct in their
personalities while unified and, indeed, one in their
responsibilities and intentions.
Somehow closely linked to this identity of spirits and contributing
to it is the obvious gradation of intelligence that one observes in
different possessing spirits. Jamsie’s “familiar,” Uncle Ponto, for
example, was clearly of a lesser intelligence than Tortoise, who
possessed Carl, or then Smiler who held Marianne captive. Ponto’s
gimmicks never went beyond the grotesquely comic. He never showed
the subtlety of Smiler or the sophistication of Tortoise. Each of
these used clever arguments and intricate games to further their
purposes and in general displayed a penetration of mind absent in
Yet, while Ponto was deferential in the extreme in front of his
“superiors,” Girl-Fixer, who possessed Richard/Rita, and Mr. Natch,
who possessed the two priests, David and Yves, also showed a marked
deference to “superiors.”
At one point in the exorcism of Marianne, when Smiler was losing the
battle, Father Peter began to feel the change in level of
intelligence of his enemy, as “another” (to use our human
terminology of separateness) spirit came to Smiler’s aid in the
final attack on Peter. Father Gerald felt the opposite in his
exorcism of Richard/Rita. As it became clearer that Gerald was going
to be successful and that the end of the battle was near, Gerald
felt that some strand of evil had faded and that he was suddenly
dealing with a lesser intelligence.
In this most intimate of all confrontations, with mind pitted
directly against mind, will against will, a sudden shift in the
intelligence of one’s adversary is unmistakable-more so than in a
confrontation so unsubtle that words are needed.
This difference of spirits from one another on the basis of
intelligence seems to
culminate in the servile, almost wooden allegiance of all to “the
Lord of All
Knowledge,” as Tortoise called him. “Those who accepted, those who
Claimant, have his will,” Uncle Ponto’s superior, Multus, told
Father Mark. “Only the
will. The will of the Kingdom. The will of the will of the will of
the will of the
This servility and allegiance to Lucifer among evil spirits is
matched in constancy and overshadowed in intensity only by their
craven fear of and hatred for Jesus, freely and undisguisedly
displayed at any mention of his name or at the sight of objects and
people associated with Jesus.
A possessing spirit of whatever skill and intelligence will
pronounce the name of its leader repeatedly, and the sense one has
is of obedience, fear, and recognition of a superiority that will
not be questioned. But no evil spirit seems able to bring itself to
pronounce the name of Jesus. “The Other,” he will be called, or “The
Latter,” or “That Person,” or “The Unmentionable,” or any of a whole
dark litany of such names.
Nor will an evil spirit hear the name of Jesus without protesting.
Knowledge of this fact can be a principal weapon for the exorcist,
for the evil spirit will often be forced to answer questions or tell
its “name” out of an obvious desire not to have to hear again the
phrase of total faith, “In the name of Jesus,” from the lips of the
The curious quality of unity, almost a coagulation, which one
sometimes feels can be glimpsed in these areas of personality and
intelligence of evil spirits, also gives us an interesting
perspective on another constant among spirits-their attachment to
Again, it is clear from experience that possessing spirits are
intent on finding a “home” (as Ponto put it simplistically) in the
possessed person. But it is not a question of one lonely and
homeless spirit. For the possessing spirit, the “home” or person
belongs to all the “family” of that spirit-the coagulated mob of
evil spirits, headed and governed by the shadowy leader, “The
Claimant.” It is a macabre version of “Mi casa, su casa”
hospitality, and was mirrored long ago on the lips of Jesus when he
told of “the unclean spirit which has possessed a man and then goes
out of him, walks about the desert looking for a resting place, and
finds none; and it says: ‘I will go back to my own dwelling from
which I came out.’ And it comes back . . . and brings in seven more
other spirits more wicked than itself to bear it company; and
together they enter in and settle down there.” Seven is the biblical
formula for any multitude.
We will always have intense intellectual difficulty understanding
how we can talk of personality or intelligence when there is no
physical brain, or of hearing a voice when there is no throat to
produce that voice, or of seeing a flying plate when there is no
hand to throw it and sustain it in midair. But these are problems
that will be doubly perplexing so long as the modern mind-set holds
sway with its insistence on the materiality of all that exists.
All in all, for example, it is very bothersome that we cannot speak
of these spirits as having gender, sexuality, or individuality like
that of human beings. Individuality alone is a terrible problem for
the computer society. Identity for us is always linked to physical
separateness. If we say there are 217 million Americans, we mean 217
separate and therefore distinct bodies.
But, from all we know, it seems obvious that trying to number or
count spirits on the basis of physical separateness is not going to
get us very far. And our denying that spirits exist because they
literally will not “stand up and be counted” does not seem to
Even when we get past all those difficulties and can begin to think
about the identities of these bodiless creatures, there is another
problem. We tend to think all the bizarre and violent happenings
that occur at exorcisms are somehow the evil spirit. In our
understandable fascination with the screams and the flying objects,
with the smells, the tearing wallpaper, and the banging doors, our
tendency is to mistake those events for the spirit itself. That is a
little like mistaking the baseball for the pitcher.
Better clues to the identity of individual spirits seem to be based
and rooted in the strongest quality we can discern among them: that
curious and undulating hierarchy of intelligence and power of will
that links even the lowest “familiar” to Lucifer himself.
Because of these different powers of intelligence and will among
spirits, their activities are different. They remain unified, as we
said, in their responsibilities and their intentions. They remain
always subordinate to “the will of the will of the will of the will
of the will.” But their activities-the way they go about what they
do-seems directly related to their differing levels of intelligence
and the differing force of their single-focused wills.
In the mere five cases reported in this book such difference in
activity is borne out dramatically; in each case there is a feel for
the subtlety or lack of it, the degree of predatory intelligence
being challenged, and the degree of irresistibility of the will that
struggles in contention with the exorcist.
Paul of Tarsus was referring to this kind of differentiation when he
used the concepts
and terminology of Alexandrine Gnostics and theosophers, and spoke
“principalities,” “thrones,” “dominations,” and again when he used
such biblical terms as “cherubim” and “seraphim.”
All of this information, elaborated by painful experience, detailed
and extended through years of offering themselves as hostage for the
possessed, is of prime interest and value to the exorcists. But the
most important fact about evil spirits is that none of their
faculties or powers is divine. Evil spirits are forever excluded
from God’s life and the vision of God’s truth.
Their knowledge and foresight, then, are based only on what they can
know by their native intelligence. They are not, in effect,
supernatural, but merely preternatural beings.
In traditional usage, “supernatural” means divine: of God. The
supernatural is therefore totally separate from, superior to, and in
no way dependent upon what is created-what is “natural” in that
Only God is supernatural in his very being. He can act with
supernatural power upon all “natural” (that is, created) things and
beings. He can communicate his supernatural life and power to what
is created, thus elevating it. But the distinction always remains
between what is created and what is supernatural.
Supernatural power can affect all that is at the disposal of the
preternatural; but one essential difference between the supernatural
and the world of evil spirits is that supernatural power can bypass
all natural modes of operation. The supernatural can act directly on
spirit. It need not pass via the senses, or through the internal
powers of imagination, mind, and will in order to reach the soul of
a human being.
Only God and those who share in his supernatural power can do this.
Preternatural power is superior to human power in its abilities.
That is, evil spirits, by virtue of preternatural power, are not
bound by laws of physical nature and of matter that govern all our
human exercise of power in the physical and psychic orders. But they
do appear to be bound by other laws of nature (because they, too,
were created) beyond which they cannot exercise any power at all.
We do not know all that preternatural power can effect, but we do
know some of its abilities and some of its limits.
By virtue of preternatural power, evil spirits can manipulate
psychic phenomena and produce psychic states. That is to say,
psychic powers are at their disposal. Psychic powers (telekinesis,
telepathy, astral travel, bilocation, second sight, etc.) do not
themselves become preternatural (any more than that baseball becomes
the pitcher), much less supernatural.
Evil spirits, then, are able to produce fascinating effects in our
human fields of perception and behavior. They may not be and
probably are not responsible for all psychic phenomena, but they
have not only mastery of this sort of behavior but the ability to
pique the human imagination with a wondrous gamut of enticements.
Carl, who almost lost his sanity and his life in his struggle on
this very battlefield, wrote in his letter to his former students
that he had never, in fact, mastered astral travel or bilocation,
“but only their illusion.” And he was aware they were illusion-but
so eager and so fascinated was he that he would not admit that
awareness beyond the faintest far focus of his mind.
The point is that Evil Spirit can titillate and entice us through
our senses and imagination with images of psychic wonders as easily
as images of sex or gold. Whatever will work. But Evil Spirit can
produce nothing in us that was not already there, actually or
God, for example, can “give” us grace, which is not ours of
ourselves. Evil Spirit can only act upon what it finds and only
within the limits of its knowledge.
For instance, preternatural power does not enable evil spirits to
control or interfere directly with the moral behavior of human
beings. They may be able to produce a pile of gold dollars at will
by any of a number of psychic means, but they could not thereby
force a person to accept them. They cannot interfere with our
freedom to choose or reject, because that freedom is granted and
guaranteed by the divine.
The inferiority of the preternatural power of evil spirits compared
to the supernatural power of Jesus is clear and definite in many of
its effects. There is an opaqueness that impedes and even stops Evil
Spirit-its ability to act and its ability to know-everywhere that
Jesus and his supernatural power extend, where the choice has been
for Jesus and where the supernatural reigns, where the supernatural
invests objects, places, and people.
The power of symbols of the supernatural (a crucifix, for example)
to protect good and repel or control evil is such an effect. Objects
used in and closely associated with worship (holy water), exorcists,
any person in a state of supernatural grace (an exorcist’s assistant
who has been absolved of his sins), even houses, countrysides, whole
areas, are protected in their essence from the freewheeling activity
of Evil Spirit. This limitation of the preternatural and so of Evil
Spirit extends to another important sphere as well, for it means
that the reach of knowledge of Evil Spirit is severely limited. An
evil spirit cannot, for example, foresee and therefore forestall the
intent of an exorcist who is acting in the name and with the
authority of Jesus.
When Father Gerald stepped out from behind the protection of Jesus
to confront Girl-Fixer in his own name, he was immediately and
horribly attacked, physically and emotionally. But for all the blood
and pain and horror, that was no victory for Girl-Fixer. The spirit
could not reach Gerald’s mind or his soul. Gerald’s will held firm.
All the efforts of Girl-Fixer had been precisely to affect Gerald’s
mind, his will, and so ultimately his soul-where the spirit had not
the power to reach directly. Girl-Fixer failed; and having failed,
he stood at bay. Richard/Rita was ultimately freed to make his
choice between good and evil.
Evil spirits have the power to know without reasoning, to remember
what is available to their knowledge from eternity, and to use that
knowledge to influence, cajole, frighten, and otherwise affect the
minds and hearts of men and women so that they desert the plan of
God and score another victory of rebellion against good. Their
knowledge concerns every occasion where a choice is made against the
supernatural. When spirits shout the sins of the people present
during an exorcism, they are reaching as far as their natural power
can take them.
Finally, those who are selected for possession may accede to
possession and then quickly recant; or be deeply enmeshed and be
freed only at great pain and risk; or be fully-perfectly-possessed.
It remains completely unclear, however, why one person and not
another is chosen for such direct and single-minded attack.
Ponto said to Jamsie as they drove along a highway near San
Francisco, “All those homes up there . . . there’s no welcome for me
up there in spite of their boozing and bitching and despair.”
But why not? Did that mean that those people too had been “invited,”
as Jamsie had and Carl and Marianne and David and Yves and
Richard/Rita? And had they, whatever their smaller choices for evil,
refused the gross invitation? Is everyone a possible target? Are
only some “selected” for “invitation”? There is no way to be sure.
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