Monday, September 7, 2015

The Origin and Cause of Demoniac and Poltergeist Activity

Other than the Near Death Experience, where people have reported a wonderful world of light at the end of the tunnel after having been declared clinically dead, there is perhaps no better evidence of the afterlife than paranormal poltergeist phenomenon.  Although most scientists think this belongs among the superstitious beliefs of the medieval age, there have been modern studies of this phenomenon.  The Catholic Church is among the few churches that still have exorcists that are called upon.  Among those assisting the Catholic Church in this phenomenon were paranormal researchers Ed and Lorraine Warren, who would often be called upon to investigate before bringing in a priest for exorcism.  Poltergeists or spirits show a range of personality, from the helpful guides that spout off their own teaching, to the playful trickster, to a lost spirit trapped in limbo, all the way to the hostile demonic sort that shows venomous hatred toward the living.

In the time of Jesus, he encountered and healed many demoniacs.  Some evil spirits recognized Jesus for who he was and were in utter terror of him.  Back then, the phenomenon was more common, for at that time hell had begun to rise and gain power over heaven.  This was countered by the incarnation, whereby God could directly fight against them through temptations in His human.  Here is just one account from the gospels:
When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs.When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.”For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.)Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him.And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss.Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission.Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.  (Luke 8:27-33)
The work of paranormal researchers Ed and Lorraine Warren have been the subject of a number of books, and among them are The Demonologist and The Devil in Connecticut, the first of which gives some very useful information on their patterns of behaviour.  They belong to the Catholic Church, and had done this for over 50 years (Ed Warren passed away in 2006).  They were actually involved in the Amtyville Horror case, which was made into a movie in 1977.  Here is an excerpt of an interview with Ed and Lorraine Warren where they discuss the phenomenon itself:

Among the phenomenon of poltergeist activity, Ed Warren mentions an unnatural cold despite attempts to heat the house, footsteps, whisperings, apparitions - but one in particular is telepathic projection of images.  People may see blood on the wall, but when one goes to touch it, nothing would be there.  This is because the spirit would project this image directly into the mind, bypassing the external senses.  I mention this, as Jesus directly experienced these horrific images as masses of evil spirits tried to break him in the Garden of Gethsamane by doing just this, among other things - see The Last Temptations of Jesus: the accounts of Swedenborg and Emmerich.

These kinds of assaults are known as "spiritual temptations" in the works of Emanuel Swedenborg, but they are no longer common at this day due to lack of faith:
"But spiritual temptations are little known at this day. Nor are they permitted to such a degree as formerly, because man is not in real faith, and would therefore be overcome. In place of these temptations there are others, such as misfortunes, griefs, and anxieties, arising from natural and bodily causes, and also sicknesses and diseases of the body; which in a measure subdue and break up the life of a man's sensuous pleasures and lusts, and determine and elevate his thoughts to interior and religious subjects. But these are not spiritual temptations, which are experienced by those only who have received from the Lord a conscience of truth and good. Conscience is itself the plane of temptations, wherein they operate." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 762)
Among the more amazing things these poltergeists can do, is move and levitate objects.  Here is one video where Ed Warren caught some of their activity on tape:

I can show others, but they are of a more negative nature.  The above activity is mild compared to others.

More recently, a particularly bad case of poltergeist activity was made into a movie, The Conjuring (2013).  This involved the Perron family in Rhode Island, in the 1970s.  This was documented in the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren, as well as the eldest daughter Andrea Perron who has written a multi-volume work entitled House of Darkness, House of Light.  The movie The Conjuring is scary enough, but according to Andrea Perron it was "toned down several notches" in order to make it more acceptable to the public audience. There were multiple family members involved, who kept quite about it for over 30 years.  Some of them describe the experience in this short clip:

They identified the main evil spirit as one Bathsheba Sherman, who had lived and died in the house in the 19th century and had been accused of murdering an infant child in her care. This evil spirit coveted - rather lusted after - Roger Perron, and thus directed its full hatred against the mother of the house, Carolyn Perron.  This is a particularly important detail which I will come back to later.

In the movie The Conjuring, Ed and Lorraine Warren are played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga:

One can see a good lineup between the actors and the people who witnessed it here: The Conjuring True Story - History vs. Hollywood.  The actress Vera Farmiga grew up as a Catholic and became a nondenominational Christian.  Even more strange, when Vera Farmiga decided to take on the role in this film she experienced poltergeist activity herself.  Here is an interview with Lorraine Warren and Vera Farmiga:

Needless to say, going through such an experience is a harrowing one.  Andrea Perron describes it in that way, and yet she also had a positive outcome out of it - she realized there is life after death, and there is no need to fear death.  And not all the spirits were bad.  The phenomenon is not so well known, but it just so happens to be described among the waking visions of Emanuel Swedenborg.  And much of what Swedenborg says coincides with the many experiences and research of Ed and Lorraine Warren, as mainly described in the work The Demonologist.

When one understand this as a spiritual phenomenon, one can learn how to spiritually defend against it.  So below, lets cover some of the main points of poltergeists and demoniac activity, as explained in The Demonologist and compare that with revelations given to Emanuel Swedenborg on this topic.


Most commonly, poltergeist activity occurs when the former occupant of a place has committed a heinous crime, such as murder, or committed suicide.  However, as described in The Demonologist, other poltergeist activity has been initiated by the people themselves.  This typically occurs when a member of the family attempts to make contact with the dead through occult means.  Opening the door to the spirit world in this way can be rather dangerous.  In ancient times it was more common for people to commune with spirits, but today it is generally not permitted on account of evil:
"it is granted to no one to speak as a spirit and angel with angels and spirits, unless he is such that he can be consociated with them as to faith and love; and he cannot be consociated unless he has faith in the Lord and love to the Lord, since a man is conjoined by faith in Him, and therefore by truths of doctrine and by love to Him, and when he is conjoined to Him he is secure against any assault of evil spirits who are from hell." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 9438.2)
Swedenborg gives particular warning also about lower order spirits, who are very clever and will lie their way into an invitation.  As the Jews were not spiritual in nature at the time of Moses, direct interaction with spirits was strictly forbidden.  In the case of Swedenborg, he was allowed to interact with angels and spirits in the spiritual realms in order for people to know there is life after death, but all teachings he received direct from the Lord alone.


Not all spirits are bad, some are actually good, and others quite angelic.  Most of scripture has come to us from the dictation of angels.  There is actually a simple test to identify if a spirit is demonic or not: one only has to mention the name Jesus Christ.  Mentioning the name of Jesus can provoke an evil spirit into anger or retreat - as one of the videos from Ed Warren shows rather well.  Exorcists can confirm this, in fact, evil spirits cannot even mention the name of Jesus.  Why is this?  Swedenborg explains the hidden reason behind this:
"In the spiritual world it is not allowed any one to speak but as he thinks, otherwise he is openly heard as a hypocrite; and that therefore in hell no one can name Jesus, because Jesus signifies salvation." (Apocalypse Revealed, index V)
"In the spiritual world, where all are obliged to speak as they think, no one can even name Jesus but one who has lived in the world as a Christian; and this is from His Divine Providence, lest His Name should be profaned." (Divine Providence, n. 262)
In one particular case investigated by Ed and Lorraine Warren, the evil spirits attempted to convince a child to pray to them rather than Jesus.  The reason for this is Jesus is a threat to them: for not only in his life did he conquer all of hell, but continues to fight against hell with those who simply trust him and ask him to do so.


One thing that surprises many who encounter a poltergeist, or a demoniac possession: the spirits know your thoughts and can pick them up.  This catches many off guard.  A minister once told me he was performing an exorcism with another minister; the evil spirits possession the person then began to spout off a particular sexual sin of this other minister.  This, needless to say, took him by complete surprise.  He had not confessed or addressed this particular area of his life. Evil spirits can, and will, bring up private events in order to tear a person down.  There is a simple defense against this: simply confess one's sins to the Lord, and repent.  One cannot approach a poltergeist phenomenon without addressing one's sins.

Swedenborg confirms that in the spiritual world, everyone's thoughts are out in the open public, and this was initially upsetting even to Swedenborg:
"How difficult it is for man to believe that spirits know his thoughts, was made evident to me by this. Before I spoke with spirits, it happened that a certain spirit addressed me a few words on the subject of my thoughts. I was then amazed that a spirit should know what I was thinking about, because I supposed that such things were hidden and known to God alone. Afterward, when I began to speak with spirits, I was indignant that I could not think anything but what they knew, and because this might be troublesome to me. But after some days it became habitual and familiar to me. At length it was also known that spirits not only perceive all things of man's thought and will, but even many more things than the man himself; and that the angels perceive still more, namely, intentions and ends, from the first through the middle to the last; and that the Lord knows not only the quality of the whole man, but also what his quality will be to eternity. Thus it may be evident that nothing at all is hidden, but that what man inwardly thinks and devises is open to view in the other life, as in clear day." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 6214)

In case after case, poltergeists enjoy having their activity at night while people sleep, or at least attempt to sleep after they have wakened them.  Swedenborg confirms this is one of the enjoyments of evil spirits:
"Evil spirits most vehemently desire and burn to infest and attack man when he is sleeping, but man is then especially guarded by the Lord, for love does not sleep. The spirits who infest are miserably punished." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1983)

Once a hostile evil spirit is invited in, or has infested a house, it typically chooses one or more targets to psychologically wear them down. They will also employ tactics to cause fear.  But the adage is true: there is nothing to fear but the fear itself.  There is a method to the madness: by wearing down a person psychologically, they seek to gain possession of the person.  The mind, unable to deal with the stress, retreats and the evil spirit takes over.  In the case of The Conjuring, the target was the mother of the household. This is now known as "demoniac possession," but Swedenborg calls it something different - he uses the word "obsession" to describe this phenomenon:
"They [the evil spirits] study nothing more than to destroy the conscience; and when this is destroyed they get possession of men's interiors, and even obsess them, although the man does not know this. At this day there are not external obsessions as formerly, but there are internal, by spirits of this class. They who have no conscience are thus obsessed." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1983)
By "external obsessions" Swedenborg is talking about demoniac possession, which is not so common. What is more common now are internal conflicts and temptations, which people keep hidden from others.  Evil spirits will attack that which one loves, or what one regards as good, and destroy it, thus destroying the person:
"Those pernicious spirits try especially to loose all internal bonds, which are affections for what is good and true and for what is just and right, fear of the Divine law, and a sense of shame in doing harm to society and to one's country; and when these internal bonds are loosed, man is obsessed by such spirits." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 4793.4)
A poltergeist manifestation can be a very dark period of one's life for those who have experienced it.  It is similar to the state of temptation, which is another kind of attack by evil spirits.  Again, evil spirits will try to attack what one loves, and what one regards as good, and this through a very perverted form of false reasoning:
"As few know how it is with temptations, it may here be briefly explained. Evil spirits never contend against other things than those which man loves; the more ardently he loves them, the more fiercely do they contend. They are evil genii that contend against whatever is of affection for good, and evil spirits that contend against whatever is of affection for truth. As soon as they notice even the smallest thing which a man loves, or perceive as it were by scent what is delightful and dear to him, they forthwith assault this, and endeavor to destroy it, and thus the whole man; for man's life consists in his loves. Nothing is more delightful to them than to destroy a man thus; nor do they desist, even to eternity, unless they are driven away by the Lord. They who are malignant and crafty, insinuate themselves into man's very loves by flattering them, and thus lead the man in among themselves; and presently, when they have led him in, they attempt to destroy his loves, and so to kill the man; and this in a thousand ways that cannot be comprehended.
"Nor do they contend simply by reasoning against things good and true; such combats are of no account; for if vanquished a thousand times they still persist; since reasonings against good and truth can never be wanting. But they pervert what is good and true, and inflame with a certain fire of desire and persuasion, so that the man does not know otherwise than that he is in similar desire and persuasion. They enkindle it at the same time with the enjoyment that they catch from the man's enjoyment from some other source, and thus they infect and infest most deceitfully; and this they do with such skill, by leading him on from one thing to another, that if the Lord did not bring help, the man would never know but that he is in such desire.
"They act in like manner against the affections of truth that make the conscience. As soon as they perceive any thing of conscience, of whatever kind, from the falsities and failings in the man they form to themselves an affection; and by means of this they overshadow the light of the truth, and so pervert it; or they induce anxiety and torture him. They also hold the thought persistently in one thing, and thus fill it with fantasies; and at the same time they then clandestinely enwrap the desires with the fantasies; besides innumerable other arts, which can not be described at all to the apprehension. These are a few of the means, and only the most general, by which they can make their way to man's conscience; for this, above all else, they find the greatest delight in destroying." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1820.2-4)

Although demoniac possession is rare today, it was one of the reasons Jesus came - to save the human race from such a fate.  For back then it was increasing, until he put it to an end by conquering all of hell in His human.  Demoniac possession (or "obsession" as Swedenborg terms it) is when one can only think from the thought of the spirit that has gained possession:
"They said also that if spirits were permitted to use the exterior memory, the human race would perish; for every man is governed by the Lord through angels and spirits; and that if spirits should flow into man from the exterior memory, he could not think from his own memory, but only from that of the spirit; thus man would come to be no longer in the enjoyment of his own life and his own freedom, but would be obsessed; and they added that the obsessions of former times were nothing else; besides other reasons."  (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2477.2)
Although this cannot be proven, the angels had told Swedenborg that if Jesus had not come, there would be no human alive on this earth.  If not this, something changed in the timeline of human history to effect the salvation of the human race.


It is a simple spiritual law of order, that those who place their trust in Jesus, and live a good life according to the commandments, are protected from evil.  It is the nature of Divine good itself to afford protection from evil; this is salvation.  A sphere of light surrounds those who are in good, and this repels evil spirits.  This protects one from demoniac possession (or "obsession"):
"Such obsessions cannot be avoided, unless man is in affection for good, and hence in faith in the Lord." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 4793.4)
It is the Lord Himself who protects each person from the influence of evil spirits:
"That hell by its spirits continually injects evil and falsity, and that these pervert and extinguish truths and goods, and that the Lord by angels continually averts, removes, mitigates, and moderates these injections, has been made so familiar to me by the almost continual experience of many years, that I cannot even think of any doubt concerning it. But in order that the angels may be able to avert the influxes from hell, there must be truths of faith joined to good of life with man, into which they may flow. These must be a plane into which they may operate." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 6213)
From the gospels, Jesus mentions the practice of prayer and fasting as a means of exorcism for the particularly strong evil spirits (Mark 9:14-29).


In his waking visions Swedenborg was shown that all demons, spirits and angels lived a former human life: they were all from the human race.  Here is one thing I found very odd: Swedenborg states that the demons who desire most to possess man are those who formerly lived in adultery, or were in the enjoyment of adultery:
"There are very many spirits at this day who are desirous not only to flow into man's thoughts and affections, but also into his speech and acts, thus even into the things of his body, when yet the things of the body are exempt from the particular influx of spirits and angels and are governed by general influx. In other words, when what is thought is determined into speech, and what is willed is determined into acts, the determination and transition into the body is according to order and is not governed by any spirits in particular; for to flow into man's bodily parts is to possess him. The spirits who will and intend this, are those who in the life of the body had been adulterers, that is, who had perceived delight in adulteries and persuaded themselves that they were lawful, and also those who had been cruel. The reason is that both the former and the latter are corporeal and sensual above all others, and have rejected from themselves all thought concerning heaven, by attributing all things to nature and nothing to the Divine. Thus they have closed up interior things to themselves and have opened external things; and because in the world they were solely in the love of these, therefore in the other life they are in the desire of returning into them through man by possessing him." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 5990.1-2)
In his waking visions, Swedenborg saw that not only do adulterers desire most to gain possession of men, but that most of them were originating from the western so-called Christian world:
"They who are eaten up with adulteries wish to get possession of men more than others do in the other life, and thus through them to return into the world; but they are kept back in hell by the Lord, lest they should come among the spirits who are with men. The most who are such are from the Christian world; rarely from elsewhere." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2752)
The interesting thing about the case of The Conjuring, is that the primary evil spirit was female, whom Andrea Perron described as "lusting" after her own father.  Swedenborg describes this particular kind of evil female spirit in particular:
[The female sirens are those] who in the life of the body studied to allure male companions to themselves by interior artifices; insinuating themselves by means of outward things, captivating the mind in every possible way, entering into each one's affections and enjoyments; but with an evil end, especially that of having absolute power. ...They study nothing more than to destroy the conscience; and when this is destroyed they get possession of men's interiors, and even obsess them, although the man does not know this. (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1983)
Thus there may be some truth in the medieval legends of the succubus or incubus: this is the kind of behavior that often shows up in poltergeist activity.


I have given here a very brief introduction to a spiritual phenomenon that is not well studied, and ignored by modern science which always seeks naturalistic explanations for all phenomenon.  However we now have more evidence that this phenomenon exists through documented cases and witnesses.  Moreover, I have received private questions concerning "demonic" or poltergeist phenomenon.  So I felt the need to express what it is, before talking about what it is not.  While exorcists probably understand it more than others, Swedenborg gives much insight on this spiritual phenomenon.

Demoniac possession, and poltergeist phenomenon, are rare.  More common now are internal temptations against one's conscience.  For the thought our minds receive are spiritual in origin - all thoughts either originate from good or evil spirits.  This balance plays out in our psychology in what we call "free will."  For "free will" is particularly human: it is the choice we constantly face between good and evil.


Here is an interesting assessment, from a psychiatric care perspective, of how to deal with evil spirits or psychotic internal voices.  This type of problem is more common now, which Swedenborg calls "internal temptations" (psychosis, schizophrenia) as opposed to "external temptations" (poltergeist and demoniac possession phenomenon):

One interesting thing I found, is these internal negative voices absolutely hate Psalm 23, or the song "Amazing Grace."  One can also call upon one's guardian angels or Jesus to shut them up. Evil spirits constantly try to flood the mind with negative thoughts; and these can be countered or fought against from the truths of the Word.


  1. Hi Doug

    I know many new age movement beliefs come from channeled material, what is your opinion on channelled material like The seth material and the channeled material of Abraham, to me they don’t ring true because their are inconsistencies and many parts don’t make sense unlike Swedenborg,

    Plus they used occult means to communicate as both used Ouiji boards

    1. In "The Demonologist," Ed Warren does warn against Ouiji boards, and had seen cases where an evil spirit made use of it to obtain permission to infest a target.

      As for channeled material most of it is worthless, but it does seem to be coming from a source other than the person who is channeling. There is a passage where Swedenborg seems to describe these kinds of spirits from his unpublished diary:

      "When spirits begin to speak with a person, one must take care not to believe them at all, for almost everything they say, they have made up, and they are lying. If for example they are allowed to tell what heaven is like, and how matters stand in the heavens, they would tell so many lies, with great assurance, that the person would be astounded. Therefore, I was not allowed to give credence to the spirits who were speaking in regard to anything they told. 1748, 20 March.
      For they are very fond of fabricating, and whenever any topic of conversation is raised, they think they know all about it, and express their opinions about it one after the other, as if they knew exactly; and if anyone then listens to them and believes them, then they press on, and in various ways trick and mislead the person.
      Or if they are allowed to tell about things to come, about things unknown in the whole heaven, about anything whatever that a person hopes for, then everything, as it is from themselves, they would say untruthfully. So such persons must take care not to believe them, this being the reason why the condition of speaking with spirits on this planet is most dangerous, unless one has true belief. They bring on such a strong persuasion that it is the Lord Himself speaking and commanding, that the person cannot help but believe, and obey." (Spiritual Experiences, n. 1622)

      So in general the information is worthless and not true. That said, keep in mind that this is the case for the majority of cases involving channeled information. I have not seen a good scientific study on this, it would be interesting if one could determine if the subject was in a trancelike or hypnotic state. I have seen cases, a minority, where this is used as a means of communication from extraterrestrial sources, who have perhaps made use of it as a means of communicating over vast distances. In other cases, a minority, the source may have been a spirit that was good but again one had to use judgment in the information that is given.

      This sort of contact is generally not permitted due to the selfish and evil nature of most people, but for those who have true belief in the Lord, and live by his commandments, such contact is permitted. But like Swedenborg one has to use discernment in the information given.

    2. When you look at what swedenborg knew regarding spirits lying do you find it surprising that people who believe Theosophy, New age , and over beliefs like that could even think that the voices they are hearing / heard could even remotely be good entities rather than lying spirits ?


Comments, questions, corrections and opinions welcome...