Despite what certain paranormal reality shows may suggest, the spirit world is in fact extremely dangerous. In the Bell Witch case the entity involved administered poison to a resident of the home ultimately killing them. In the famous exorcism of Analese Michele (inspiration for “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”) the girl eventually died from malnutrition and other complications brought about during the exorcism. Beyond these examples, investigators have regularly reported being bitten, scratched, punched, and even burned by unseen forces inside of homes. Many web sites offer a variety of solutions to these problems, and unfortunately much of it is misleading and downright dangerous.
To begin understanding how to properly protect against spiritual forces it’s important to understand the risks. Broadly they can be divided into psychological, spiritual and physical risks. Physically spirits can and do injure people in a variety of ways which honestly should be obvious after even a few moments of logical thought on the subject. A spirit that is capable of lifting an object is capable of throwing that object at a person, moving it so a person trips or simply dropping it on that person’s head. For that matter the spirit can simply move the person directly, punch them or otherwise affect them without moving a separate object. To give an idea of power in one well documented case in South Jersey an entity managed to levitate a couch with two grown men still sitting on it.
Beyond the physical threats, lie the more serious mental ones. For one thing, demons actively seek to terrorize their victims. They will speak horrific threats to someone when only they are around to hear it, make terrifying sounds like animals fighting each other and in general do everything in their considerable power to terrorize their victims. Worse the more afraid a person gets the worse the activity will get. In especially advanced cases spirits will single specific people out and actively seek to manipulate them into acts of violence.
The last danger is a spiritual one. Demonic possession while still rare is steadily rising. Simply put this means a spirit is constantly inside a person’s body able to manipulate and even control their actions. Links between occultism and mental illness have been documented for over a century now (famed debunker of mediums Harry Houdini commented on a link between mental illness and spiritualism in his book “A Magician Among the Spirits” for example). While most cases of mental illness are not in any way related to demonic possession, some cases of demonic possession are mistaken for mental illness just as some mental illnesses are mistaken for demonic possession.
Now that the dangers have been considered it’s time to consider methods of protection. These apply equally to investigators of paranormal phenomenon and average people afraid of coming under demonic attack. Now most web sites and books covering the subject have a variety of suggestions from smudging rituals to prayers to Saint Michael. The obvious question is do they work? The answer is in truth that it depends on the person trying to use them. Demons and devils hate all things associated with the divine whatever religion they are rooted in and all such spirits will react to their presence. Now that reaction can take two forms. The first is that they react with fear and try to avoid the object, and the second is anger and increased violence. What separates the two reactions is solely the faith of the person using the object in question.
A devout Roman Catholic should not rely on smudging rituals to protect themselves from demonic attack. By the same token a Wiccan should not rely on the crucifix or holy water to protect them. Instead people should rely on symbols their personal religious beliefs associate with the divine. For example Catholics should rely on holy water and the cross while a Jewish person should consider putting a mezuzah at the doors of their home, and a Wiccan would rely upon the pentacle. Take a shaker of table salt and that’s all it really is, salt. Take salt that has been properly blessed by a priest and it carries the strength of that priest’s faith through that faith the power of the divine. Add to it a person’s own personal faith and it becomes a weapon that demonic spirits will hate and fear. Beyond this there are specific things people can do that will help with protection. Most important of all is the sort of person they are. Happy, positive people who try to make the world a better place do not, usually, wind up plagued by demonic phenomenon. Demons draw power from hatred, fear and human suffering and grow weaker in the presence of the positive. Addictions go along with this as well as the use of mind altering substances can leave a person vulnerable to demonic attack.
Eliminating occult influences in a person’s life is another important aspect of protection as well. Both Ed Warren of the New England Society for Psychic Research and Lou Gentile of Delaware Valley Demonology Research for example reported that most of the cases of demonic attack they were called on could be traced to the person using an Ouija board. As obvious as it sounds as well the use of black magic, active participation in satanic rituals, or association with people who do so are all common causes of problems. In general any occult activity that actively calls upon spirits can be risky especially when done by people who are inexperienced and unaware of the risks involved. This also is true of investigating paranormal occurrences.
Beyond the general advice it’s important to realize demonic activity is fairly rare. If a person hears strange noises in their house, or thinks a friend is possessed its likely there is a more mundane explanation. It’s important to be aware that these dangers exist but seeing them behind every corner is unhealthy and eventually will lead to fear and paranoia without any reasonable source. Along these lines it’s also worth while to cite the late, Philadelphia based, demonologist Lou Gentile’s observation that if a person feels fear and discomfort in part of their house they should simply avoid that area instead of clamoring for an exorcism. If it makes a person feel more comfortable they should consider a house blessing from a priest of their own faith or one they find compatible but otherwise not worry about the situation unless something more overt occurs.