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Friday, December 29, 2017

Saint Markellos of the Unsleeping Ones and the Demon Possessed


Saint Markellos was from Apamea in Syria. He was the abbot of the Monastery of the Unsleeping Ones in Constantinople for approximately forty years. He was clairvoyant, a healer and great wonderworker. He spoke with angels and easily defeated demons and drove them out. This holy and glorious man entered into rest in the year 485.

The grace and power of God was made manifest through the Saint in many instances. Below we shall give an account of two instances in which he liberated the demon possessed by divine grace.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Saint Juliana and Her Authority Over the Devil


By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Whoever climbs to the Kingdom of Christ must encounter obstacles, and these obstacles are numerous and varied. Especially dangerous are the evils of the demons. Therefore, every man zealous for the spiritual life must be especially cautious and not accept every shining vision from the other world as a divine revelation. That even the devil is able to appear as an angel of light is shown in the life of the Holy Martyr Juliana (Dec. 21).

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Witches' Days of Winter in Slovakia - November 25 to December 13


The time between the feast of Saint Katherine (November 25) and Saint Lucy (December 13) used to be called Witches’ Days in Slovakia, as women who could tell the fortunes of people were perceived as witches (bosorkas or strigas in Slovak, a male using magic was strigôň).

The first day was the feast of Saint Katherine, when people defended against evil with garlic. Garlic was eaten, used for smearing on doors, door-handles, locks, and latches. Women were strictly forbidden to do any work on this day, especially spinning and sewing, so that their fingers would not fester during summer works. A superstition said that if the first person to enter a house on Saint Katherine's was a woman, dishes will be smashed in it for the whole year to come. Young single men made rounds in the village in female clothing and in masks. Tools from a house where maidens were living were stolen and secretly removed and hidden.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Saint Savvas the Sanctified in Demon Haunted Kastellion


There was a mountain called Kastellion about twenty stadia from the Lavra of Saint Savvas. No one dared set foot in that rugged and remote territory, for it was the haunt of countless demons. Nevertheless, Saint Savvas placed his hope in the Lord and sprinkled the entire area with oil from the lamp of the Holy Cross, and there he dwelt for the Great and Holy Fast.

Now from the outset, he encountered fierce warfare from the demons, to the point that he wished to leave, not being able to bear the fearful disturbances that they caused. But the all-good Lord, Who of old strengthened the Great Abba Anthony of Egypt, also encouraged Savvas to be patient and to persevere to the end. In fact, Savvas did pursue his struggles there, greatly strengthened by the aid of the Lord, wherein he became so terrifying to the demons that he overcame, that they fled at the very sight of him. Wherefore, the righteous one was glad and continued his sojourn there in prayer until the end of the Fast.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Feast of Saint Andrew in Romania - Night of the Vampires


Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Romania, is seen by Romanians as the Apostle who Christianized the lands north of the Danube, and according to tradition it is said he spent twenty years evangelizing the pagans of this area. There are many traditions without religious meaning connected to the feast day of Saint Andrew on November 30th, some of them having their origin in the Roman celebrations of Saturn. The Dacian New Year took place from the 14th of November until the 7th of December and this was the interval when time began its course.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Christian History of the Gargoyle

Gargoyles and Saints of Siena Cathedral

In architecture, a gargoyle is a carved or formed grotesque with a spout designed to convey water from a roof and away from the side of a building, thereby preventing rainwater from running down masonry walls and eroding the mortar between. Architects often used multiple gargoyles on buildings to divide the flow of rainwater off the roof to minimize the potential damage from a rainstorm. A trough is cut in the back of the gargoyle and rainwater typically exits through the open mouth. Gargoyles are usually an elongated fantastical animal because the length of the gargoyle determines how far water is directed from the wall. When Gothic flying buttresses were used, aqueducts were sometimes cut into the buttress to divert water over the aisle walls.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

How A Certain Monk Was Restored From Excommunication After His Death


By John Moschos

(The Spiritual Meadow, Ch. 192)

The Story of a Certain Monk of the Monastery of the Divine Pope Gregory (590-604), How He Was Restored From Excommunication After His Death.

A holy presbyter from Rome called Peter told us a story about the most blessed Gregory, Bishop of that city. During his time of being Pontifex Maximus, he greatly edified a monastery of men by giving them a rule that they should not possess any money, not even a single obolus. Now, one of the brothers of the monastery made a request to his brother living in the world.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A Case of Vampirism in the Lives of the Saints?


By John Sanidopoulos

The English author and clergyman Montague Summers published a heavily researched book on vampires in 1928 titled The Vampire, His Kith and Kin. In the second chapter he goes into some detail about the history of excommunication, and the belief of many, especially among simple-minded Orthodox Christians, how this contributes to a curse especially seen after death that results in the folkloric belief in vampirism, where the body of the excommunicated deceased may show signs of foul incorruption and an undead state. The activities of these vampire-like beings, known among the Greeks as vrykolakas, are said to nearly always be harmful, verging from merely leaving their grave and "roaming about", through engaging in poltergeist-like activity, and up to causing epidemics in the community. Among other things, the creature is believed to knock on the doors of houses and call out the name of the residents. If it gets no reply the first time, it will pass without causing any harm. If someone does answer the door, he or she will die a few days later and become another vrykolakas. For this reason, there is a superstition present in certain Greek villages that one should not answer a door until the second knock. Legends also say that the vrykolakas crushes or suffocates the sleeping by sitting on them, much like a mara or incubus (cf. sleep paralysis) — as does a vampire in Bulgarian folklore.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween as a Mockery of the Devil


By John Sanidopoulos

"The devil was bound by the Lord as a sparrow, that we should mock him. And with him are placed his companions the demons, like serpents and scorpions to be trodden underfoot by us Christians."

- St. Anthony the Great

It has often been said by certain Christians that Halloween is a Satanic holiday, a day of homage to the devil. This is a regrettable notion, since Halloween in fact is the exact opposite. But how did such thinking come to be?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Being a Kind and Generous Representative of Your Household on Halloween


By Lori Clanton

I’ve noticed a Halloween trend. Some families and kids are traveling outside their own neighborhoods to go trick-or-treating. This means that some neighborhoods get more than their share of costumed visitors, and other neighborhoods get just a few. While some have grumbled about this pattern, I propose we embrace this opportunity to do something remarkable on Halloween – reach out in an outpouring of hospitality to both our neighbors and strangers.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

How Candy and Halloween Became Best Friends


The origins of trick-or-treating, a relatively recent phenomenon.

By Samira Kawash
October 21, 2010

Wherever you turn this October, candy beckons. Americans will spend an estimated $2 billion on candy during the Halloween season this year, and here's a fun fact from the California Milk Processors Board: "an average Jack-O-Lantern bucket carries about 250 pieces of candy amounting about 9,000 calories and about three pounds of sugar."

Saturday, October 28, 2017

21 Horror Movies That May Interest Orthodox Christians


Orthodox Christianity is often talked about as being mystical and strange, which lends itself well in the horror genre. Greek and Slavic folklore also provide for it unique creatures and frightening tales. Most do not realize how many Orthodox themes or items of interest uniquely to an Orthodox audience are shown in horror films, which is why I compiled a list of some of my favorites below. Most of these can be found and streamed online (feel free to contact me if you can't locate them). If you are a horror movie fan, I recommend them all. If you don't like horror movies, I recommend none. View at your own discretion.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Experiences With Greek Vampires (An Account from 1899)


JOHN ROBERT SITLINGTON STERRETT (1851-1914) was an American archaeologist, a Classical scholar, and a professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He traveled extensively throughout Greece, Turkey, and the Near East (including the famed 1907-08 Cornell Expedition to Asia Minor and the Assyro-Babylonian Orient) to explore Classical history. He also made some pioneering efforts in Hittite studies. On one of his travels to Greece, Sterrett came across the folk belief in vampires, which he, following other authorities, saw as a degraded echo of Classical mythology. In August 1899, he published the following account of his experiences with Greek vampires in The Nation.

By J. R. S. Sterrett

Amherst, August, 1899

Some years ago the writer, accompanied by a friend, was travelling on foot in Greece. One day, after sunset, we reached an isolated farmhouse, situated on the edge of what was then the great Copaic morass, immediately north of Orchomenus. We had been tramping through Greece for seven weeks; we were very footsore, and a long walk had made us unusually tired and hungry on that particular day. As we approached the house, we were greeted by the barking of a huge, and apparently very savage, dog, who made frantic efforts to break his chain in order to gratify his burning curiosity In regard to the two forlorn travellers. Had we known what was to follow, the dog would have inspired us with more respect, but we had seen many Grecian curs masquerading as lions, though at heart they were as cowardly as hares. So, trusting to knowledge born of experience with other dogs, we scarcely deigned to notice the vigorous protests of this savage beast. Arrived at the door of the farmhouse, we knocked once and again. Apparently the house had no Inmate. But after a time the door opened cautiously, and a burly Albanian peasant appeared in the doorway extending towards us a pair of tongs in which was held a live coal of fire. The extraordinary performance rendered us for the moment speechless with astonishment. The peasant, pale and apparently quivering with terror, stood but for a moment holding the coal of fire towards us. Then, without having uttered one word, be hastily closed the door in our faces and bolted it with care.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Heretics as Vampires and Demons in Russia


Title: "Heretics as Vampires and Demons in Russia"

Author: Felix J. Oinas

Source: The Slavic and East European Journal, Vol. 22, No. 4, (Winter, 1978), pp. 433-441

Published by: American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages

In English, heretic (Greek hairetikos "able to choose") means "a person who professes any heresy; especially, a church member who holds beliefs opposed to the official church doctrines."' The meaning of the word eretik, "heretic" in Russian is basically the same: "the follower of heresy, a person who deviates from the dogmas of the predominating church." The question regarding the Old Believers is not clear: some do and others do not include them as heretics.2 Primarily in the Russian north, "heretics "have developed into a heterogeneous group of sorcerers, witches, and vampires called eretik, eretnik, eretica, eretnica, erestun, and others. Zelenin includes heretics (eretnik) among sorcerers (Zauberer) and remarks that they do not belong to evil forces and do not have tails.3

Monday, October 23, 2017

A Modern Greek Vampire Tale


Greeks believed that a human could become a Vrykolakas after death by having lived an ungodly life, being buried on unconsecrated ground, being excommunicated or by having eaten the meat of a lamb that had been injured or killed by a wolf. Some Greek legends insinuate that even a werewolf could become one of the Vrykolakas upon it’s death. Individuals that had red hair and grey eyes were suspected of having been one of the undead, which is intriguing as other ancient vampire lore states that any vampire with red hair was a direct descendant of Judas Iscariot’s cursed blood line.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Vampire of the Greek Island of Lesvos

Rusted iron spikes pierce the neck, pelvis, and ankle of this skeleton, found in a Turkish cemetery on the Greek island of Lesbos (Hector Williams)

Eight-inch iron spikes nail down the identification of a 19th-century vampire burial near Mytilene.

By Hector Williams

The well-preserved skeleton of a middle-aged man, nailed to his coffin with eight-inch iron spikes, has been found in a 19th-century Turkish cemetery near the north harbor of Mytilene, the principal city of the Greek island of Lesbos (or Lesvos). Researchers from the University of British Columbia and the Tenth Ephoreia of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities discovered the skeleton in a stone-lined crypt hollowed out of an ancient city wall. They had been excavating on a government owned plot in a study of Mytilenean archaeology. The man had been nailed through his neck, pelvis, and ankle. According to 18th- and 19th-century travelers, suspected vampires were nailed to their caskets to keep them from rising from the dead. That a Moslem would be buried this way is of particular interest since such burials were predominantly a Christian practice.

Source: This newsbrief first appeared in ARCHAEOLOGY, March/April 1994, p. 22.

BannerFans.com

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Vampires of Santorini


By Camilla Howe

What pops into your mind when you think of Santorini? Is it images of wild volcanic scenery, magical sunsets, dark sandy beaches and pretty whitewashed houses with blue domed roofs? Or endless sunshine, laid-back tavernas, quaffable red wine and fashionable nightlife? If so, you're not wrong; the southern Cycladic island has all this in spades. But there's a darker underbelly to the Greek paradise that few people are aware of.

Forget Transylvania, with its infamous, blood-thirsty Count Dracula. It's Santorini that's thought to be the place in the world most inhabited by vampires. But why Santorini? Greek legend has it that suspected vampire corpses were rowed across to islands for burial, as these spooky ghouls were supposedly unable to cross sea water. Santorini and neighbouring islets Thirassia and Kameni are believed to house many of them, basically acting as mass dumping grounds for the undead.

The undeniably beautiful landscape can certainly appear a little sinister on occasion.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Halloween and the Aesthetic of Evil


By G. Shane Morris

A while back, my friend Steven Wedgeworth wrote an outstanding essay over at The Calvinist International on the origins of Halloween. It’s an annual must-read. The gist is that Halloween is not some ancient pagan festival or even Christian subversion of demonic shenanigans (as a lot of Christian writers have claimed over the years). The truth is far more boring. Halloween as we know it is really little more than a 20th century invention designed to sell stuff.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Religion in Gothic Literature


By Wendy Fall, Marquette University

Christianity and the idea of religion in general is explored in the Gothic through its presences and absences. Sometimes in the Gothic, religion is evaluated in terms of its relative deviation from rationality, which was a valued attribute for the new definitions of the proper English person. Methodists, for example, who were too passionate and exhibited too much fervor in their religious ecstasies, therefore Methodism wasn't good for the proper English person. The Gothic also explored religion in terms of history, critiquing the reasoning for the crusades, inflating the horrors of the inquisition in service of anti-Catholic rhetoric, comparing the strength of Christian piety to demonic temptation, and questioning the role of religion in education.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Origin of Evil and the Evil-Doer


THE ORIGIN OF EVIL

At the dawn of creation, before God made the visible world, but after the creation of the angels, there was a great catastrophe, of which we have knowledge only by its consequences. A group of angels opposed itself to God and fell away from Him, thereby becoming enemies of all that was good and holy. At the head of this rebellion stood Lucifer, whose very name (literally meaning 'light-bearing') indicates that originally he was good. By his own will he changed from his natural state into one which was unnatural; he opposed himself to God and fell away from good into evil. Lucifer, also called the devil (Greek diabolos - 'divider', 'separator', 'slanderer'), belonged to one of the highest ranks in the angelic hierarchy. Together with him other angels also defected, as the Book of Revelation tells us metaphorically: 'And a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch... and a third of the stars was struck, so that a third of their light was darkened' (Rev.8:10, 12). Some commentators therefore say that along with the morning star a third of the angels fell away.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Movie: "The Crucifixion" (2017)


Inspired by the true story of a Romanian Orthodox nun who was killed after an exorcism gone wrong in 2005, the movie The Crucifixion has been released, even though a critically acclaimed film was already made in 2012 called Beyond the Hills.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Towards a Theology of Gore


By Daniel Otto Jack Petersen

Fake blood dripping from mouths and fake blades protruding from faux wounds on Halloween. It's as much a part of the ludic pageantry as monsters and webs and gravestones and the rest. What do we make of the gory, bloody element of this holiday?

Right when I started trying to write my own take on a zombie tale, I was immediately confronted with the need for a theology of gore. I wondered for a moment what the Bible could possibly have to say on grotesque and gruesome material like this. It was only for a moment. Immediately my mind was flooded with the copious amounts of gore that splatter the pages of Scripture: Jael and her famous tent peg assassination, Ehud and his famous surprise disembowelment of an obese king, that messed up Levite that dismembered his raped and murdered concubine and sent the pieces of her body all round the country, dogs eating up the body of wicked Queen Jezebel except for the feet and hands and skull, people in a besieged city fighting over whose baby to eat next, and just generally the beheadings and hangings and spears and swords and arrows thrusting people through, blood and guts a spilling.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Haunting Theology: How the Gothic Mode Can Speak to Christians

John Martin, The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

By Geoffrey Reiter

Tis the season for monsters, mad scientists, and dark and stormy nights. The history of horror and its association with All Hallows’ Eve is a fascinating topic in itself, but one of the most pertinent branches to this spooky old tree is the strand of fiction we now call the Gothic. More than just a moniker for black-garbed teenagers, the Gothic is an enduring strand woven throughout literature, art, and film over the past two and a half centuries. And despite a reputation (not wholly unearned) for being too bleak for innocent evangelical eyes, the Gothic often brings out some valuable points that remain relevant to Christians, whether we like to face them or not.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Confession of Saint Cyprian of Antioch


1. All you who take offence at the mysteries of Christ, take a look at my tears, and take notice of the power of all that is contained in them. All you who delight in the customs that come from demons, learn from me the vanity of the mockeries in them. For neither will any of you be able to be more god-fearing than I was formerly, nor be able to examine the things concerning the so-called gods more than I, nor be able to attain more energy from them. I am Cyprian, who from tender talons was dedicated to Apollo as a valuable gift and still as a child was initiated into the dramaturgy of the dragon. I was not yet seven years old when I entered the mysteries of Mithras, and seeing how I was an Athenian foreigner I was quickly made a citizen by my parents; when I was still ten years old, I carried the torch for Demeter and submitted to the white sorrow of Kore, and I served the serpent of Pallas on the Acropolis as I was promoted to temple servant. Then I arrived on Mount Olympus, the dwelling place, as they say, of the gods, and I was initiated into the communion of sound and the recounting of noises. I saw there trees that produce visions and herbs appearing to operate by divine intervention. I saw there the successions of seasons as the winds changed and the diversity of days brought about by certain opposing energies. I saw there bands of demons chanting, and others making war, and others lying in ambush, deceiving, and confounding, and I beheld there the phalanx of every god and goddess as I waited for forty days in that place from which, from kingdoms so to speak, they send out the winds to activate each of them on the earth and among all nations.

Read the entire text here.


Friday, September 22, 2017

11 Poems About Autumn


Ode To Autumn

By John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimmed their clammy cell.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

What Great Fish Swallowed Jonah?


Both the Hebrew and the Greek versions of the Book of Jonah do not specifically say Jonah was swallowed by a whale, but that he was swallowed by a ketos, which in Greek means "great or large aquatic animal". This could mean either a whale, a shark, a sea monster, or even some sea creature specifically created by God to serve His purpose. Whole animals as large or larger than a man have been found in the stomachs of the sperm whale, the whale shark and the white shark. St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite explains in his Synaxaristes the possibilities of what the ketos described in the Book of Jonah could be:

Monday, September 18, 2017

Marilyn Manson Warns Against Black Magic


Marilyn Manson was featured on "Celebrity Ghost Stories" a few days prior to Halloween in 2010. He tells an interesting story of an occult ritual which he participated in when he was in High School and lived in Canton, Ohio. He concludes his story with a warning to those who venture to do something similar.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Saint Who Bound A Demon and Rode It Like a Horse

St. John of Novgorod (Feast Day - September 7)

By St. Dimitri of Rostov

Once, at midnight, as [Archbishop John of Novgorod] stood as usual in his cell at prayer, a demon appeared, hoping to frighten him by his presence. He entered the washbasin which was in the Saint's cell and began to stir up the water. The Saint, realizing that this was the work of a demon, approached the vessel, signed it with a Cross, and with an oath forbade the demon in the washbasin to depart for many hours. Unable to bear the burning he suffered through the power of the Cross, the demon began to cry out like a man, "O woe is me! For I am being burned and am unable to endure; release me quickly, O Saint of God!"

Sunday, August 27, 2017

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.

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Confession of Barba-Theodoros the Unconfessed


Barba-Theodoros* lived in the village of Xeromeros in Aetolia-Acarnania. He was around 52 years old and never went to confession. Yet he would go to church and had a good intention.

Once, when he was in the town of Astako for a business matter, he went to the Sacred Church of Saint Nicholas, where he found the parish priest Fr. Hierotheos, who was also a Spiritual Father, and he confessed. He made a formal confession, but he did not confess his heavy sins. Fr. Hierotheos, in order to support his repentance, recommended that he visit the Sacred Monastery of Saint Gerasimos in Kefallonia which celebrates in the summer on the 16th of August.

Friday, August 4, 2017

A Miracle On An American Highway



I found the first story in this video pretty moving and amazing the first time I saw it on TV, so I thought I would share it. The entire story is told by first-hand accounts. Make of it what you wish. The second story is pretty interesting as well.

Monday, July 24, 2017

"Night of the Living Dead": Horror Movie as Social Commentary


By Greg Salvatore

First, we see a car making its way up a road. Barbra (Judith O’Dea) and her brother, Johnny (uncredited, played by Russell Streiner) are driving to a cemetery in rural Pennsylvania in order to lay a memorial and flowers at the headstone of their grandfather. As they get out of the car, the radio mysteriously turns on, then turns off. In the distance, Johnny sees a man approaching them. He seems to be moving strangely.

And so begins George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, which came out the same year as 2001: A Space Odyssey. While it was not the first zombie movie ever made, it defined the genre for years to come, and it did so by injecting social commentary into the horror movie format.

Monday, July 17, 2017

How Saint Marina (Margaret) Became a Patron Saint of Pregnant Women and Childbirth


Saint Marina is known as Saint Margaret in the West. Whereas Saint Marina has always been highly esteemed and enjoyed wide popularity among Orthodox Christians of the East, in the West it was not always so. Her Acts were declared apocryphal by Pope Gelasius I in 494, but devotion to her revived in the West with the Crusades. Margaret is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, and thus one of the saints who is said to have spoken to Joan of Arc, thus increasing her veneration among the people. According to the Roman Martyrology she is celebrated on July 20, as opposed to July 17 in the East. Pope Paul VI in 1969 removed her from the list of saints because of what was considered the entirely fabulous character of the stories told of her and thus disputing her historical existence.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Saint Athanasios the Athonite and the Demon Possessed Monk


A certain monk, a worker of bronze, named Matthew, was possessed by a very fierce demon. Nonetheless, Saint Athanasios welcomed Matthew at the Great Lavra, as though he were his own child. The holy man then commanded one of the brethren to take Matthew into his cell and to minister unto him diligently. The appointed brother received Matthew with joy; but, afterwards, he shrank away from him on account of the savagery of the demon. Thus, he returned Matthew to the elder. This happened with two other monks also.

Monday, June 26, 2017

How To Distinguish Between Good and Evil (St. Gregory of Sinai)


By St. Gregory of Sinai

(On Prayer: Seven Texts)

Question: What should we do when the devil transforms himself into an angel of light (cf 2 Cor. 11:14) and tries to seduce us?

Answer: You need great discrimination in order to distinguish between good and evil. So do not readily or lightly put your trust in appearances, but weigh things well, and after testing everything carefully cleave to what is good and reject what is evil (cf. 1 Thess. 5:21-2). You must test and discriminate before you give credence to anything. You must also be aware that the effects of grace are self-evident, and that even if the devil does transform himself he cannot produce these effects: he cannot induce you to be gentle, or forbearing, or humble, or joyful, or serene, or stable in your thoughts; he cannot make you hate what is worldly, or cut off sensual indulgence and the working of the passions, as grace does. He produces vanity, haughtiness, cowardice and every kind of evil. Thus you can tell from its effects whether the light shining in your soul is from God or from Satan. The lettuce is similar in appearance to the endive, and vinegar, to wine; but when you taste them the palate discerns and recognizes the differences between each. In the same way the soul, if it possesses the power of discrimination, can distinguish with its noetic sense between the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the illusions of Satan. 

From The Philokalia, vol. 4, p. 286.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Birth of John the Baptist and the Summer Solstice


By John Sanidopoulos

The summer solstice occurs some time between June 20 and June 22. As seen from a geographic pole, the sun reaches its highest altitude of the year on the summer solstice. Therefore the summer solstice is the longest day of the year, and in turn the shortest night.

On the day after the summer solstice daylight begins to slowly decrease, while nighttime slowly increases. This happens until the fall equinox which occurs some time between September 21 and September 24, when the sun directly shines on the equator and the length of day and night is nearly equal.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Theosophy


By Fr. Alexey Young

According to J.K. Baalen, 'Theosophy, or Divine Wisdom, is the apostate child of Spiritism mixed with Buddhism. It is far more complicated and more intricate than Spiritism; at the same time its world and life view is more complete and fascinating" (The Chaos of Cults).

The founder of Theosophy was Helena Petrovna Blavatskaya, known to her followers as Madame Blavatsky, or simply "H.P.B." Born in Russia in 1848, she was the daughter of noble parents, granddaughter of a princess and, through the Dolgoruky family, a descendant of the 12th century saint, Michael of Chernigov.

In her youth she rejected Orthodox Christianity and, in fact, proclaimed "a venomous hatred of Christianity" throughout her whole life (Marion Meade, Madame Blavatsky: The Woman Behind the Myth).

Monday, June 12, 2017

Saint Peter the Athonite and the Demons

St. Peter the Athonite (Feast Day - June 12)

The icon above depicts an episode from the life of St. Peter the Athonite, the first ascetic of Mount Athos. It shows the devil as an angel of light appearing to St. Peter in order to pursuade him away from the monastic path he endured bravely. The first biography of St. Peter was written by St. Gregory Palamas, who relates the story behind this icon. This is a lesson which teaches us the great virtue of humility and obedience in withstanding demonic attacks and deception.

The Most Holy Mother of God appeared in a dream to Saint Peter and indicated the place where he should live till the very end of his days – Holy Mount Athos. When the ship sailed alongside Athos, it then halted of its own accord. Saint Peter realized that this was the place he had to go, and so he went ashore. This was in the year 681. The Monk Peter then dwelt in the desolate places of the Holy Mountain, not seeing another person for 53 years. His clothing had tattered, but his hair and beard had grown out and covered his body in place of clothes.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How Should We Understand the Visions of Aerial Toll Houses?


By John Sanidopoulos

In modern times a teaching has arisen and become popular among Orthodox Christians regarding what is known as the Aerial or Celestial Toll Houses. It is based on numerous references to ecclesiastical fathers and writers from the early days of the Church to the present. It was especially developed after the tenth century in Slavic circles, while hardly ever mentioned in any detail by Greek writers. Taken literally, it refers to the idea that upon death the soul of an individual is escorted by angels through the celestial atmosphere, and it goes through a number of tolls or customs where demons accuse the soul of particular sins they committed in life. The escorting angel tries to defend the soul as much as possible, but if a soul is found to be guilty of a particular sin, then with the evidence mounted against the soul the demon takes it and drags it to Hades. This is a foretaste of the Final Judgment, when these condemned souls will be united with their bodies in the general resurrection and cast into the eternal lake of fire with Satan and his demons.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A Suffering Woman Who Visited A Psychic: An Astonishing Correspondence


A few weeks ago (in 2009) I received an email asking for further information regarding my post on Saint Xenia the Martyr of Kalamata. The post is here and the question with my answer can be found below in the comments (these have since been turned off). Following my reply this lady was kind enough to respond back giving me background information behind the purpose of her question. I thought it was interesting enough to share in a separate post along with my brief reply for edification purposes.


John

Thank you for your prompt response and the information. My family is from Kalamata and I speak the language very well, so will have no trouble in communicating with the nuns…. Yes I am referring to St Xenia Martyr of Kalamata…

I have been dealing with breast “c” (don’t like using that word)… And a chain of circumstances lead me to believe that it had something to do with healing a previous life… I consulted a friend who is a spiritual light worker who does past life work, and asked her to look at what issue from a past life related to this life… since I had also divorced my husband I was curious to know what relevance it had too… That was not a priority, but if it showed up on anything then so be it.

In short…this lady told me that in a past life my name was Xenia and my ex-husband came up and he was Domentianos. He couldn’t have me so he incarcerated and tortured me by burning my breasts etc, and eventually killing me. I was a real believer of the Lord. I died at age 27/28… It was in the 1400's and Argos came up....

Somehow my ex-husband carries Domentianos energy and I Xenia’s.

This was 6 months ago, and felt, that if I ever went to Greece I will look it up… 2 weeks ago out of the blue, in the presence of this lady I felt compelled to google the name Domentianos. A few things came up, but after googling Domentianos & Xenia, to my amazement saw the exact story documented and sent shivers up my spine…. There in writing was the exact description of the torture she described to me. I feel a strong sense to connect with her and need to track down anything I can....

I will keep you posted, and please should any more information cross your path, please inform me. It will be greatly appreciated.

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Vicki:

Thanks for letting me know the circumstances relating to your inquiry and I'm sorry to hear about your illness. May the Lord grant you healing according to His will.

One thing I wanted to point out to you however concerns the information you received from your friend. I don't know what circumstances led you to believe that your illness had something to do with a previous life, but I can assure you that such thoughts are a temptation to distract you away from the heart of the issue. I assume you are an Orthodox Christian, and if so you need to know that the Church rejects such theories that speak of a pre-existence of the soul and reincarnation. By consulting a New Age psychic or medium you are only doing yourself a disservice and inviting greater harm into your life, which I'm sure is something you don't want on top of everything you are dealing with. Obviously she told you things that seem to fit nicely into a tight package that can be confirmed through a Google search, but for someone trained to spot such hoaxes like I am they are very unimpressive. I'm not necessarily saying she is purposely deceiving you, but I truly believe that there is a demonic element in her advice to you that is in essence very deceptive.

From an Orthodox Christian perspective, the New Age uses occultic elements to tap into a world of demonic illusions. By telling you that you were Saint Xenia in a previous life she is feeding you with the greatest harm possible to live a proper spiritual life in Christ. A proper spiritual life in Christ requires humility and love, not the arrogance and hate she is trying to feed you. First, there is no pre-existence of souls and no reincarnation as I said, both of which are doctrines that have been condemned not only in Scripture but in all the writings of the Saints throughout the centuries. I know for a fact that the priest to whom Saint Xenia appeared in New York, Fr. George Nassis, would have rejected this doctrine as well. Secondly, for her to tell you that you were a Saint in a previous life tempted by a ruthless tyrant that supposedly was your current husband is probably the most cruel and ruthless thing I have ever heard. I don't know your husband, but do you seriously believe that in a previous life he was a ruthless murderer of thousands of Christians and that this explains your divorce and your illness? Listen, I'm a divorced man myself, but not even I would believe such things about my ex-wife to justify my divorce. The truth of the matter is that people get divorced for either justifiable or non-justifiable reasons that have everything to do with our decisions in this life. By making you a victim of a previous life, your friend is imprisoning you to a fate that you did not choose, thus eliminating your free-will which is a gift of God to humanity. Obviously demons would rather you were a victim of fate than free-will, but no clear thinking Christian would find this acceptable.

Furthermore, people get sick, sometimes for reasons we cannot know. If you choose to be a victim of fate, then I would suggest you do nothing about it and let fate decide what happens to you. If you choose to be liberated and implement your free-will however, then I would advise you to get a more reasonable explanation from your physician. And if you're physician can't help you, then accept it as God's will and seek healing from him through the prayers of Saint Xenia (with the understanding of course that you are not Saint Xenia).

I can go on and on about the bad advice you received from your friend that I truly believe with all my heart was inspired by demons. If you don't believe me, then evaluate the fruit of her advice. She is teaching you to believe in phony doctrines (reincarnation and fate), telling you that you were someone you never were (a Saint well known for her miracles to this day that was martyred in the 4th century for Christ), which in turn elevates your arrogance in a subtle way to the point that you were a persecuted victim and above all a Saint, and falsely justifying your divorce (whether it is justified or not) by inciting you towards greater anger and a sense of cruel victimization on the part of your husband. Let alone the fact that she got her facts wrong, since Saint Xenia lived in the 4th century not in the 15th century as you were told and she has nothing to do with Argos which is further north of Kalamata (though she does celebrate her feast on May 3rd with St. Peter of Argos). Furthermore, its easy to advise someone who is divorced and has breast issues to compare them with a person they can Google on the internet that has similar issues (though not the same by any means).

Forgive me for being so brutally honest as I know you are desperate for answers. I've dealt with many issues like yours in the past and I see the greater harm such advice brings people and I don't want you to be a victim as well. During trying times we all want and seek answers, but there are some places we don't go for answers, among which are psychics and mediums who will always give you answers that are very deceptive and thus distracting. My advice for you is to go to Kalamata and visit the monastery I wrote to you about. Tell the nuns there your story and see what they have to say about it. Don't leave out the details. And the most important thing for you to do meanwhile is, instead of believing that you carry the energy of Saint Xenia, seek her prayers for you and request God's will for your healing from her. Go to your local Orthodox Church also and seek out a priest to confess your sins to as well and seek his advice. I hope you will consider my advice, as it comes from years of experience and much love.

Be well and you are in my prayers. If you have any further questions let me know.

John

Source

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Saint Gregory of Sinai on Delusion


By St. Gregory of Sinai

I wish you to be fully informed about delusion, so that you can guard yourself against it and not do great harm to yourself through ignorance, and lose your soul. For our free will easily veers towards keeping company with the demons, especially when we are inexperienced and still under their sway. Around beginners and those who rely on their own counsel the demons spread the nets of destructive thoughts and images, and open pits into which such people fall; for their city is still in the hands of the workers of iniquity, and in their impetuosity they are easily slain by them. It is not surprising that they are deceived, or lose their wits, or have been and still are deluded, or heed what is contrary to truth, or from inexperience and ignorance say things that should not be said. Often some witless person will speak about truth and will hold forth at length without being aware of what he is saying or in a position to give a correct account of things. In this way he troubles many who hear him and by his inept behavior he brings abuse and ridicule on the heads of hesychasts. It is not in the least strange that beginners should be deceived even after making great efforts, for this has happened to many who have sought God, both now and in the past.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

On Dreams (St. Gregory the Dialogist)


By St. Gregory the Dialogist

(Dialogues, Bk. 4, Chs. 48 & 49)

You must understand that there are six kind of dreams. For sometime they proceed of too much fullness or emptiness of the stomach, sometime by illusion, sometime both by thought and illusion, sometime by revelation, and sometime both by thought and revelation. The two first all by experience know to be true, and the four latter we find mentioned in Holy Scripture.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Fasting as a Weapon in Spiritual Warfare (St. Isaac the Syrian)


By St. Isaac the Syrian

The Savior began the work of our salvation with fasting. In the same way, all those who follow in the footsteps of the Savior build on this foundation the beginning of their endeavor, since fasting is a weapon established by God. Who will escape blame if he neglects this? If the Lawgiver Himself fasts, how can any of those who have to obey the law be exempt from fasting? This is why the human race knew no victory before fasting, and the devil was never defeated by our nature as it is: but this weapon has indeed deprived the devil of strength from the outset. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Prayer, Fasting and Demonic Influence


By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"This kind can come out by nothing, but prayer and fasting" (Mark 9:29).

This is the saving prescription of the greatest Physician of human souls. This is the remedy tried and proved. Another remedy for lunacy, there is not. What kind of sickness is that? That is the presence and dominance of an evil spirit in a man, a dangerous evil spirit who labors to eventually destroy the body and soul of man. The boy whom our Lord freed from an evil spirit; this evil spirit that had hurled him at times in the fire, at times in the water just in order to destroy him.

Friday, February 24, 2017

What is Fortune Telling?


By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

What is fortune telling? There are three kinds of belief, which have their origin in fortune telling: belief in blind chance, belief in things and belief in the almighty power of the spirits of darkness. Through fortune telling, events are prophesied, the power of things differentiated and an oath is sworn to the spirits of darkness.

Not any faith so decisively condemned and rejected fortune telling as did the Christian faith. Not any faith, except Christianity is free and pure of fortune telling. Other faiths are, more or less, fortune telling and some consist only of fortune telling.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Aspects of Demonology in the text “On The Belly-Myther” of Endor by St. Eustathius of Antioch


By Daniel Buda

Abstract

This article tries to identify and analyse the demonological elements contained in the text “On the Belly-Myther” of St. Eustathius of Antioch. St. Eustathius demonology is primarily based on the Bible and is developed mainly as a consequence of his exegesis on 1 Kingdoms 28. Apart from the Bible, Eustathius appeals massively to logic while formulating statements about the demon and his power over human beings, the relationship between demons power in the world and God’s power, the possibility for demons to express the truth etc. St. Eustathius demonology is rather “intellectual” and might be different in its approach from the so-called “monastic demonology” which can be found by St. Athanasius of Alexandria or Evagrius Ponticus.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Saint Leo of Catania and the Sorcerer Heliodoros


By Agapios the Cretan

On the island of Sicily, a diviner and sorcerer, named Heliodoros, wrought signs and marvels by demonic cooperation. His satanic activities and powers surpassed the wickedness of Jannes and Jambres (2 Tim. 3:8) and Simon Magus (Acts 8:9), since he had all diabolical energy working in him. Now he was the son of noble Christian parentage; his mother was the patrician Barbara. All assumed Heliodoros was a Christian. But from his childhood he showed himself to be arrogant, insolent, audacious, rash and proud. In time, he aspired to become prefect of the city [of Catania], not that he might be of service to the people, but rather that he might commit with impunity his shameless misdeeds according to his will and pleasure. It was, however, not the will of God that the unworthy Heliodoros, with his overweening pride, should attain to that high dignity. That vile and perverse man, thereafter, turned his steps in the direction of the occult.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

When St. Parthenios of Lampsakos Invited a Demon to Possess Him

St. Parthenios the Wonderworker (Feast Day - February 7)

Once there came to Bishop Parthenios of Lampsakos a man who was possessed by a most malicious demon, and no one knew of it, not even the possessed one himself. The Saint, however, recognized the demonic possession, because he was inspired and enlightened by God. When that man greeted him, the holy one offered no response but kept silent as if he were mute. The demon was angered at the bishop's conduct. The demon then, with haughtiness and pride, addressed the meek Parthenios in a wrathful tone:

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Fathers of the Church and the Evil Eye


By Matthew W. Dickie

Introduction: The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how difficult even the most highly educated and sophisticated Christians of the late fourth and early fifth centuries found it to rid themselves of the idea that envy lends a malign power to men’s eyes. The idea at issue is that the eyes of envious men are able, unaided, to inflict injury at a distance. This is the belief called the “evil eye” by speakers of English and other modem European languages, though that significantly is not the way in which most men in pagan and Christian antiquity would have referred to it. The difficulty that such fathers of the church as Basil, Jerome, and John Chrysostom had with freeing themselves from the idea is some indication of how deep-seated it must have been in the general population.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Truth About the Nazca Lines of Peru (Documentary)


Expedition Unknown – Secrets of the Nazca – S01E10

Josh Gates heads out to Lima, Peru to investigate the mystery of the Nazca lines. These are the massive drawings that cover the landscape. In many cases the shape is made from a single line that doesn’t cross over itself. Some of the more famous ones depict a hummingbird, a spider and a heron. All totaled there are nearly 100 shapes that represent animals, figures and geometric shapes. These figures are several hundred feet in length, the heron being over 900 feet. How did a culture make the shapes with such precision and what were they made for? Some believe they’re an astronomical calendar that align with the stars. Others believe they were ceremonial. And even some others believe they were left by or perhaps are guide markers for aliens.

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