Believe not every spirit : possession, mysticism, & by Moshe Sluhovsky

By Moshe Sluhovsky

From 1400 via 1700, the variety of experiences of demonic possessions between ecu girls used to be terribly excessive. through the similar interval, a brand new kind of mysticism—popular with women—emerged that enormously affected the chance of ownership and, therefore, the perform of exorcism. Many feared that during moments of rapture, ladies, who had surrendered their souls to divine love, weren't experiencing the paintings of angels, yet particularly the ravages of demons in hide. So how then, asks Moshe Sluhovsky, have been practitioners of exorcism to differentiate demonic from divine possessions?

Drawing on unexplored debts of mystical colleges and non secular options, stories of the possessed, and exorcism manuals, Believe no longer each Spirit examines how early sleek Europeans handled this predicament. the non-public reviews of practitioners, Sluhovsky exhibits, trumped theological wisdom. anxious that this might bring about a rejection of Catholic rituals, the church reshaped the which means and practices of exorcism, reworking this therapeutic ceremony right into a technique of non secular interrogation. In its efforts to differentiate among strong and evil, the church constructed very important new explanatory frameworks for the kinfolk among physique and soul, interiority and exteriority, and the normal and supernatural.

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Extra resources for Believe not every spirit : possession, mysticism, & discernment in early modern Catholicism

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Hildegard’s mystical visions were authenticated, but in the process the configuration of diabolic possession was expanded. Some possessions were now “spiritualized,” meaning that the possessing spirit could now reside, or at least look as if it were residing, in the soul itself. This new understanding, and the fears and anxieties that created it, gained momentum during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and became even more widespread in the early modern period, when new forms of spirituality (to be discussed in chapter 4) spread from monasteries and convents to city squares, and when a growing number of laywomen claimed divine interactions.

Is there really a substantial difference between this admission and the sermons demons sometime give in praise of the Real Presence? This being said, we should not be led astray by early modern pamphleteers, propagandists, and controversists. It is worth repeating that the large majority of early modern cases of possession and exorcism did not merit even a transcript, not to mention a printed record. Like the cases of Marie of Lille and Matthiess of Merl, they were, at most, included as short entries in parochial registries or in Books of Miracles in provincial shrines.

Widening the repertory of possession states, however, 30 r chapter one never eliminated the connection between “physical” affliction and possession. In this traditional paradigm, a person who showed clear physiological signs of illness could be found to be possessed by demons. Now, a woman who did not exhibit any somatic signs of affliction could still be considered possessed, and therefore in need of the curing rite of exorcism, as the following example demonstrates. Caterina Paluzzi (1573–1645) was a lay mystic and a prot´eg´ee of both Filippo Neri and Federico Borromeo, two of the most prominent Italian theologians of the sixteenth century.

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