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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Seeing is Believing: A Halloween Reflection

The Joshua Ward House in Salem, Massachusetts

By John Sanidopoulos

A few people have asked me, "John, as a knowledgeable and pious Orthodox Christian who has a positive view of Halloween, how do you celebrate the holiday? You wrote down what you wouldn't do, but never explained what you actually do." Well, the simple answer is that Halloween for me is just like any other day, pretty much, not because I avoid Halloween, but for me Halloween is a daily experience throughout the year, it just happens to be a little more intensified in the autumn months of September through November. So for me, October 31st may be Halloween, but every other day is Halloweenish, because I will involve myself with something on other days that your average person will consider only a theme for Halloween.

I understand that such an answer will confuse most people, while few others will feel me to be one of their kindred spirits. I'm not going to explain at this time what I mean when I say that Halloween is a daily experience, nor should you speculate, because that's not what this reflection is about, but I will say that by the time Halloween comes around, I sort of just sit back and relax and watch everyone else experience a little bit of what I daily experience, and I experience the day through others. Then I'll go home and watch some horror movies and Halloween specials while eating some candy, since I don't eat candy everyday. That is my typical Halloween.

Friday, October 30, 2015

A Ghostly Encounter In Greece (video)


As a young girl in Greece, Georgia Triantafillou saw a horrifying spectre. She recounts her exhilarating drama of a supernatural encounter through interview, re-enactment and archival photography.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Defense of Skeletons


In his 1902 book titled The Defendant, G.K. Chesterton defends a bunch of apparently nonsensical things that are often viewed differently by others, with his characteristic humorous wit mixed with deep yet commonsensical thought. In chapter three he undertakes a defense of skeletons, which is an appropriate contemplation for Halloween.

By Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Some little time ago I stood among immemorial English trees that seemed to take hold upon the stars like a brood of Ygdrasils. As I walked among these living pillars I became gradually aware that the rustics who lived and died in their shadow adopted a very curious conversational tone. They seemed to be constantly apologizing for the trees, as if they were a very poor show. After elaborate investigation, I discovered that their gloomy and penitent tone was traceable to the fact that it was winter and all the trees were bare. I assured them that I did not resent the fact that it was winter, that I knew the thing had happened before, and that no forethought on their part could have averted this blow of destiny. But I could not in any way reconcile them to the fact that it was winter. There was evidently a general feeling that I had caught the trees in a kind of disgraceful deshabille, and that they ought not to be seen until, like the first human sinners, they had covered themselves with leaves. So it is quite clear that, while very few people appear to know anything of how trees look in winter, the actual foresters know less than anyone. So far from the line of the tree when it is bare appearing harsh and severe, it is luxuriantly indefinable to an unusual degree; the fringe of the forest melts away like a vignette. The tops of two or three high trees when they are leafless are so soft that they seem like the gigantic brooms of that fabulous lady who was sweeping the cobwebs off the sky. The outline of a leafy forest is in comparison hard, gross and blotchy; the clouds of night do not more certainly obscure the moon than those green and monstrous clouds obscure the tree; the actual sight of the little wood, with its gray and silver sea of life, is entirely a winter vision. So dim and delicate is the heart of the winter woods, a kind of glittering gloaming, that a figure stepping towards us in the chequered twilight seems as if he were breaking through unfathomable depths of spiders' webs.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Truth About Witches and Witch-Hunters


Halloween is a good time to start debunking some of the myths about witchcraft.

Julian Goodare
30 October 2010
The Guardian

Witchcraft attracts attention, especially at this time of year; everyone "knows" something about it. As a historian, I'm interested to see my subject, the past, being put to all kinds of uses in the present. Here are some ideas about witch-hunting that are distinctly dodgy.

It's sometimes suggested that witch-hunting was a more or less conscious male device for repressing women. In fact, although there is a relationship between women and witch-hunting, it's a complex one. Witch-hunters didn't target women as such, they targeted witches – and about 25% of witches were men. Witch-hunting certainly functioned as an encouragement to conform to patriarchal values, but witch-hunting wasn't a cynical male conspiracy.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Shining Light Into the Darkness of Horror Tales


Sacramental Horror Stories: Shining Light Into the Darkness of the Human Heart

Rev. Jonathan Weyer (Author, 'The Faithful')
March 3, 2011

As a kid growing up in Southern Indiana, I wasn't allowed to watch horror movies, like Friday the 13th or Halloween. Having kids myself, I now completely understand why I wasn't allowed. The last thing I want to deal with in the middle of the night is a screaming 7-year-old scared by something he saw on TV.

Still, I loved to be scared so I snuck in real ghost stories while staying at my grandma's house during the summer. I shivered into the night as I read story after story about ghosts. I loved it. The love of being scared has followed me into my adulthood. Many Christians find it it odd that I have an interest in scary things. They are completely weirded out when they find out I have written and just published a horror novel.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Vampires and Religion in Popular Culture


Vastly different worlds share similar symbolism.

JoAnne Viviano
October 28, 2012

Walk into Jess Peacock’s home, and you’ll think he’s ready to throw one heck of a Halloween party.

Dolls in coffins bookend other creatures on the mantel, a crematorium sign is on one wall, prop skulls and gargoyles lurk about, and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter watches from a movie poster.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Vlad the Impaler as Romanians See Him


For a short yet concise treatment on how the historical figure Vlad Tepes, popularly known as Vlad the Impaler, who served as an inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula, has been viewed and is still viewed by his native Romanians, see the following article by Elizabeth Miller:


Among the things she writes, is the following:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

St. Artemios and the Exorcism of the Black Crow


In the seventh century an Anonymous author compiled a number of miracles of Saint Artemios the Great Martyr (Oct. 20), whose healing activities were predominantly centered in the Church of Saint John the Forerunner in Constantinople and who "specializes" in healing hernias and diseases affecting the genitals of mostly male patients. Below is one example of many:

A certain sailor for many years had problems with his testicles and approached the holy Martyr. His name was Isidore and he was about 53 years old. But he was unaware that he was being agitated by an evil spirit.

Now in the aisle of the church at the left, the Saint is accustomed to make his rounds as if he were a Chief Physician in charge of a hospital, just as many have often been convinced by experience, and to be sure one night the Saint in full view approached the man, while many of those awaiting the cure looked on, at the very place where the possessed man was lying down. Then the Saint stood over him, as we were saying, with an invisible force. Isidore arose from his bed and ran toward the image, and holding up his outstretched hands, he hung suspended as though his hands were tied to chains, hovering one cubit above the floor, and yelling loudly, so that all were astonished by the sight and were cowed by fear.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Haunted Monastic Cell Of A Heretic

Evagrius Ponticus
By St. John Moschos

Abba John the Cilician told us that while he was staying at the ninth mile-post from Alexandria, an Egyptian monk visited them. He said:

"A brother from foreign parts came to the Lavra of the Cells and wanted to stay there. He prostrated himself before the priest and requested that he might stay the night in the cell of Evagrius*. The priest told him that he could not stay there.

The brother said: 'If I may not stay there, I will go away.'

The priest said to him: 'My child, the fact of the matter is that a cruel demon inhabits that place. It led Evagrius astray, alienating him from the true faith, and it filled his mind with abominable teachings.'

The brother persisted, saying: 'If I am to remain here, that is where I am going to stay.'

Then the priest said: 'May it be on your own head. Go and stay there.'

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

“White” Magic: Its Effect On People


By Archimandrite Vasilios Bakoyiannis

It’s called “white” because it’s said to only do good. This is a gross error. How is it possible for the homicidal i.e., murdering devil ever to do anything good?

How Does Magic Happen?

The Materials

Priests of Christ, through their priesthood, bless water and sanctify it. When we drink this sanctified water, we drink the blessing, namely, the grace of God which is indwelling in the water, that is, in the matter. In other words, the grace of God, His blessing, is also transferred through matter.

Something analogous also happens on the side of the devil. His “priests” (magicians), “bless” matter when they do “magic.” It’s through this matter that satanic energy is passed to people.

These materials are used for magic:

• nails, needles, soap, egg, oil and figurines.
• bat or snake bones.
• soil from graves or skulls.
• human or animal blood.
• women’s soiled sanitary equipment.
• Holy Communion.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Weapons Against Satanic Influence


By Archimandrite Vasilios Bakoyiannis

The Cross, Relics, Prayer and Fasting

The Cross

In Thrace, Greece, Christians and Muslims live together in harmony.

There was once a good, well-intentioned shepherd who was a Muslim, and, on comparing the religion of Muhammad with Christianity, came to the conclusion that Christianity was much better than Islam. His interest in Christ increased all the time. He began to talk, to study, to ask about Christianity. Then he decided to renounce Islam and become a Christian. His father learned about it and did his best to change the young man’s mind. He was unable to do so, though, because his son was convinced. In the end, the father had recourse to an occultist. “I want you to stop my son from thinking about Christ,” he told him. The sorcerer, certain of his success, set to work.

The first time he failed, so he tried again. He failed again. Third attempt, third failure. Then he realized what was wrong. He called the father and told him directly, “If you want the magic to work, tell your son to get rid of those bits of wood he wears round his neck!”

What was it? The young Muslim had seen that Christians wear a cross round their necks, and so he did the same. He took two bits of wood, made them into the form of a cross and wore them around his neck. And thanks to the cross, which the devil fears, the magic didn’t work. Remember, when the demons heard Arthur the missionary talking about Golgotha, where the Lord was crucified, they became furious and told him to stop.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Another Weapon Against the Devil : Exorcism


By Archimandrite Vasilios Bakoyiannis

What a Tibetan Occultist Saw

In 1970, an occultist from Tibet visited Athens. As he was walking along the street, he saw, by divine dispensation, devils who had attached themselves to people.

There was a devil on the neck, another on the ears, another on the nose, another on the mouth and so on. But the occultist also saw something that set him thinking, namely, that the devils were unable to approach priests. They went all around them, circling to find an opening, but were unable to do so.

“Who are these people with beards and black clothing?” the occultist asked a passerby.

“They are the priests of our Church, etc.” explained the other.

“And if you want to see a lot of them, and good ones at that, go to the Holy Mountain.”

He went to the Holy Mountain, where the monks directed him to Father Paisios (+ 1994). As a result, the occultist became aware of certain things. He repented. He was baptized . He became a Christian and took the name Theodore.

Why couldn’t the devil attach himself to priests? Because they belong to Christ’s priesthood. And through this office, they perform sacraments, which, as we shall see, cause the devil to tremble.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Ways Of Inviting and Repelling Demonic Influence


By Archimandrite Vasilios Bakoyiannis

An Invitation to the Devil

When you want to invite an acquaintance of yours to a wedding, a baptism and so on, you send them an invitation. The invitation is a way of showing that you want this particular person to be present. Invitations are also sent to the devil.

Games, Charms and Jewellery

“Good-luck Charms”

There are “specialists” who make good luck charms with invocations to the devil. Unsuspecting people then wear these and, in ignorance, invite the devil into their souls.

To the same category belong bats’ bones, horseshoes, the pentagram and so on.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Demonic Possession or Mental Illness?


By Archimandrite Vasilios Bakoyiannis

The Common Symptoms

It is certainly possible for a person who is mentally ill or suffers from nerves to display the same symptoms as someone who is possessed. For example: The possessed person might not want to say “Lord have mercy” or to go to church, to confess or to take communion. (An unbeliever might also refuse to do these things, but that doesn’t mean that the unbeliever is possessed).

It is possible, according to psychiatrists, that someone who is mentally ill, faced with the Honorable Cross or the relics of saints, or in attendance at the Divine Liturgy, might shout “I’m burning, I’m burning,” without that meaning that they are possessed. We know of such cases. Any sins which they might have committed, the psychiatrists go on to say, in conjunction with their stricken conscience, would suffice to make the sufferer feel as if he or she were burning when brought face to face with the sacred objects of our Faith.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

On Wonderworkers, Spiritualism, Telepathy and Demonic Possession



By Archimandrite Vasilios Bakoyiannis

Wonderworkers

“If a prophet rises among you....”

The Lord said if a prophet (i.e., charlatan) performs signs and wonders, don’t get excited about it (like little children). Don’t get carried away like a leaf in the wind. Don’t believe in other gods. Stay true to the Lord.

The Lord is testing you to see if you love Him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Monday, October 5, 2015

On Astrology, Fortune-Tellers and Mediums


By Archimandrite Vasilios Bakoyiannis

ASTROLOGY

This can be divided into two categories: a) The Zodiac: this has to do with the month in which we are born and b) Horoscopes: these are our everyday almanacs that depend on the position of the stars.

The Zodiac

Description: There are twelve signs (one for each month). They are called Libra, Scorpio, Aries and so on. People who concern themselves with these believe that: depending on the month in which you were born, you will belong to a certain zodiac sign. And depending on the sign you belong to, you’ll have the particular character that goes with it. In other words, what you are doesn’t depend on you but on your zodiac sign. The influence of each sign begins on the 21st of each month and runs through to the 20th of the following month. Scorpio, for example, belongs to November. Its “reign” begins on October 21st and ends on November 20th. So if you were born during that period (even at one minute past twelve on the morning of October 21st), then you’ll have the character associated with Scorpio, the main feature of which is treachery! Naturally, it’s hardly your fault that you’re like this. You’re the victim! Your sign is to blame, the moment of your birth. If only your mother had gone into labor a bit earlier and you would have been born at one minute before 12 on October 20th, and you would have been a Libra. Then you would have been different as a person and had a different character. You would have been straightforward and kind, all because of your good zodiac sign.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Occult and Saints Cyprian and Justina

Sts. Cyprian and Justina (Feast Day - October 2)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

On October 2nd the Church celebrates the memory of the Hieromartyr Cyprian and the Virgin-martyr Justina. Cyprian was a magician, a persecutor of Christians and a servant of demons. "A healer by means of demons and a most bitter persecutor of Christ" (St. Gregory the Theologian). However he did not do this work consciously, but out of ignorance, because he thought there was no higher power than that of the devil. When he later realized, due to an incident we will narrate below, that Christ is more powerful and has defeated and shamed the devil, then he burned his books of magic, was baptized, and then ordained from Deacon to Priest and finally a Bishop. Furthermore, he was made worthy to spill his blood for Christ and be called a Hieromartyr. From a servant of darkness and falsehood he became a preacher of the Light and "a great struggler for the truth".

Thursday, October 1, 2015

On Dreams, Superstitions and the Evil Eye



By Archimandrite Vasilios Bakoyiannis

A Greek proverb says “The devil has lots of legs.” He can walk many paths, some of them very torturous. So he is perfectly capable of trapping you at any time.

Mediums, the occult, astrology and so on, are paths that the devil treads. Just how and why, we will have a look at now.

DREAMS

Should we believe in dreams? If you have a dream that suggests something bad is going to happen to you, should you take it seriously or not pay any attention to it? There are human, diabolical and God-sent dreams. The only ones that are valid are those sent by God.


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