possession' is held by many belief systems to be the
Spirit possession|control of an individual by a demon|malevolent
preternatural being. Descriptions of demonic possessions
often include erased memories or personalities, convulsions,
“fits” and fainting as if one were dying. Other descriptions
include access to hidden knowledge (gnosis) and foreign
languages (glossolalia), drastic changes in vocal intonation
and facial structure, the sudden appearance of injuries
(scratches, bite marks) or lesions, and superhuman strength.
Unlike in mediumship|channeling, the subject has no
control over the possessing entity and so it will persist
until forced to leave the victim, usually through a
form of exorcism.
and religions contain some concept of demonic possession,
but the details vary considerably. The oldest references
to demonic possession are from the Sumerians, who believed
that all diseases of the body and mind were caused by
"sickness demons" called ''gidim'' or ''gid-dim''.The
priests who practiced exorcisms in these nations were
called ''ashipu'' (sorcerer) as opposed to an ''asu''
(physician) who applied bandages and salves. Clay tablet|tablets
contain prayers to certain gods asking for protection
from demons, while others ask the gods to expel the
demons that have invaded their bodies.
cultures also believe in demon possession and [shamans
perform exorcisms. In these cultures, diseases are often
attributed to the presence of a vengeful spiritual being|spirit
(or loosely termed demon) in the body of the patient.
These spirits are more often the spectres of animals
or people wronged by the bearer, the exorcism rites
usually consisting of respectful offerings or sacrificial
holds that possession derives from the Devil, i.e. Satan
or one of his lessor demons. In many Christian belief
systems, Satan and his demons are actually fallen angels