Demonic Possession During the Middle Ages

             In Europe during the Middle Ages, being dominated by an evil entity was a terrifying possibility, especially for the pious. Emerging science was overshadowed by the Catholic religious conformity attempting to control social and economic upheavals of burgeoning nations claiming divine right. An intense battle was waged in simply surviving the temptations within the Christian cosmology which impressed a supernatural arena rife with evil onto the mortal plane of earthly life. The immortal soul was in constant jeopardy. The threat extended beyond an individual to the entirety of a kingdom, and so all outsider practices of magic were considered suspicious. Any unexpected event, therefore, could be explained with the understanding that it was caused by some external force. The concept of the other-ness of magic and resulting demonic possession was reinforced with condemnation of any deviant behavior, especially heresy. The historical position of magic and the threat of demonic possession created a social dynamic leading to greater authority of both the Church and nationalism of the State. By examining how magic was viewed, the position of the Church, and descriptions of demonic possession and those it affected, greater awareness of how intrinsic the Church was on the social structure of the Middle Ages may be construed.
             The unexplained supernatural was characterized by magic, and those practicing in magical arts such as divination, casting lots, and especially necromancy were believed to also engage demons for the possession of human bodies. The spirit of evil expressed itself in nature through storms, droughts and other disasters which threatened livestock and crops, thus, the very survival of the community. In medieval times, such events were sometimes viewed as tests like the Old Testament suffering1 that could be harnessed by the devil. Victims of assumed demonic possession, however, would often pinpoint otherness within their communi...

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Demonic Possession During the Middle Ages. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:24, June 17, 2018, from