For the past year or so I’ve been obsessed with the study of ecstatic religion and the phenomenon of spirit possession in antiquity and beyond. If I had to give a reason for my unwavering interest, it’d probably be two-fold: (1) ecstasy – a type of altered state of consciousness – is present in practically every religion, and (2) historical accounts of spirit induced behavior and exorcism are arguably the most captivating and obscene readings in existence.
It is this last point which I wish to demonstrate in this Halloween post – which probably shouldn’t even be called such since the stories below aren’t even scary. They’re mostly just plain “what the f***.” Though I suppose much of what you’ll encounter, like a description of Satan’s genitalia, is scary in the disturbing sense. But I’ll leave that up to you to decide.
So without further ado, here are just some of the many horrific accounts of spirit possession and obscene behavior I’ve come across in my exhaustive study. Note that these come straight from the secondary sources referenced below.
WARNING: THESE ARE NOT YOUR AVERAGE HALLOWEEN STORIES. IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED GO READ SCARY STORIES BY ALVIN SCHWARTZ; THEY ARE FUN AND NOSTALGIC AND DO NOT INVOLVE SEX, GENITALIA, BODILY FLUIDS, OR INFANT-CANNIBALISM. ACCOMPANIED ARTWORK IS ALSO NSFW.
If you’d like to be fed other interesting nuggets on ecstatic religion and view an organized display of the books I used for research, check out my tumblr page Belly Talkers
Since this post is a tad long and exhaustive scrolling can lead to carpal tunnel, feel free to jump to its following segments.
- Problems with the Gospels as Historical Accounts
- The Historical Validity of the Empty Tomb
- The Evolution of the Risen Jesus in Textual Tradition
- What Did the First Disciples Believe?
- Jesus as the Exalted Son of God by his Resurrection
- The Son of God in Historical Context
—Deleted Scenes: The Gospel of Peter’s account of Jesus emerging from the tomb
—Sources and Further Reading
Problems With the Gospels as Historical Accounts
When I was a young tike my mom would occasionally put on for me the imperative cartoon for cool Catholics growing up in the 90s: Animated Stories from the New Testament on VHS. All I really recall learning from these tapes was that Jesus was an important man who was white, soft spoken, could perform magic tricks, and had women begging at feet. I’m happy to report that my understanding of the historical Jesus has grown with my height since then, eventually forcing me to accept the fact that these stories about him aren’t as simplistic and straightforward as many believers continue to claim. It wasn’t long ago I rediscovered the episodes of the cartoon online, finding it quite interesting how the writers attempted to weave together the gospels to construct a single, consistent account of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Granted, if you were to quickly read through the gospels one by one, your memory would probably do the exact same thing, like a puzzle: remembering the story of Jesus as a single unit after having pieced together the different accounts – all while having payed little attention to pieces which turned out to be doublets or don’t fit together smoothly.