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 following.

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 decision.

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 and result.

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 destiny, powers, personal interest of these spirits, their very being, in its deepest instincts and 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 God’s life?

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 human being.

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. We choose.

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 perishable.

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 quantifiable arena.

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 pressed Ponto’s “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, Magnum, Gross, 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 Ponto.

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 accept the 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 will.”

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 exorcist.

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 place.

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 impress them.

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 of “powers,” “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 sense.

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 potentially.

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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