Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Kallikantzaroi: The Christmas Goblins of Greece

The kallikantzaros (Greek: Καλλικάντζαρος; Bulgarian: караконджул; pl. kallikantzaroi) is a malevolent goblin in Southeastern European and Anatolian folklore. Stories about the kallikantzaros or its equivalents can be found in Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia and Turkey. Kallikantzaroi are believed to dwell underground but come to the surface during the twelve days of Christmas, from 25 December to 6 January (from the winter solstice for a fortnight during which time the sun ceases its seasonal movement).

Monday, December 21, 2015

Four Reasons the Star of Bethlehem Was Supernatural

The silver Star marks the exact spot, according to tradition, where Christ was born in Bethlehem.
By St. John Chrysostom

For if you can learn what the star was, and of what kind, and whether it were one of the common stars, or new and unlike the rest, and whether it was a star by nature or a star in appearance only, we shall easily know the other things also. Whence then will these points be manifest? From the very things that are written. Thus, that this star was not of the common sort, or rather not a star at all, as it seems at least to me, but some invisible power transformed into this appearance, is in the first place evident from its very course. For there is not any star that moves by this way, but whether it be the sun you mention, or the moon, or all the other stars, we see them going from east to west; but this was wafted from north to south; for so is Palestine situated with respect to Persia.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

G.K. Chesterton's Defense of the Sensational Novel

By G.K. Chesterton

My own taste in novel reading is one which I am prepared in a rather especial manner, not only to declare, but to defend. My taste is for the sensational novel, the detective story, the story about death, robbery and secret societies; a taste which I share in common with the bulk at least of the male population of this world. There was a time in my own melodramatic boyhood when I became quite fastidious in this respect. I would look at the first chapter of any new novel as a final test of its merits. If there was a murdered man under the sofa in the first chapter, I read the story. If there was no murdered man under the sofa in the first chapter, I dismissed the story as tea-table twaddle, which it often really was. But we all lose a little of that fine edge of austerity and idealism which sharpened our spiritual standard in our youth. I have come to compromise with the tea-table and to be less insistent about the sofa. As long as a corpse or two turns up in the second, the third, nay even the fourth or fifth chapter, I make allowance for human weakness, and I ask no more. But a novel without any death in it is still to me a novel without any life in it. I admit that the very best of the tea-table novels are great art--for instance, Emma or Northanger Abbey. Sheer elemental genius can make a work of art out of anything. Michelangelo might make a statue out of mud, and Jane Austen could make a novel out of tea--that much more contemptible substance. But on the whole I think that a tale about one man killing another man is more likely to have something in it than a tale in which, all the characters are talking trivialities without any of that instant and silent presence of death which is one of the strong spiritual bonds of all mankind. I still prefer the novel in which one person does another person to death to the novel in which all the persons are feebly (and vainly) trying to get the others to come to life.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Saint Paisios the Athonite and the Demonized Woman

The Second Journey of Saint Paisios to Pomakochoria

In May of 1989 he made a second - this time bigger - journey to Pomakochoria in Thrace. He was brought by car by a young man he knew and, when they arrived, they took with them two Pomaks who had become Christians and would frequently visit the Elder.

After asking for the blessing of the Metropolitan, they began their journey. The goodness of Father Paisios "spoke" to the hearts of those simple people. And, because they heard his godfather was a Saint and that in his homeland, in Farasa, he performed many miracles even for Muslims, everyone wanted to see him and invite him to their homes. Those who were from other villages also begged him to visit theirs. In each house he entered all the neighbors gathered - thirty Muslims in one place, fifty Muslims in another - to hear something from his lips. He said something like: "God loves us all. You also are children of God. A Muslim who becomes a Christian can be saved much easier than one who has been a Christian since a child, because the Muslim who does not know anything enters Orthodoxy and learns everything from the beginning, and becomes better. You, if you confess Christ, will be in a better position than us, because we know everything and unfortunately do not apply them." As he walked through the streets of the villages, the people gathered around him, and he looked at them with visceral eyes, handing out sweets to the children and conversing with everyone.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Confession of a Demoniac After the Canonization of St. Porphyrios

By Fr. Ignatios Kazakos

Two years ago, after the canonization and listing among the saints of Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyva, a Divine Liturgy took place at Awful Golgotha, at the Most Sacred Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem.

Pilgrims from Greece were present. In the group was a demon possessed woman from Attica, but she stood quietly, praying.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Dostoevsky and Spiritualism

By Thomas E. Berry, University of Maryland

From the reign of Catherine the Great to the Revolution of 1917, Russian society and literature were affected by the relationship between Western spiritualism with its seances and mediums and an ancient folk tradition with its superstitions and fancifulness. The common Russian belief in spirits, combined with the Western occult science, brought charlatans into the highest court circles throughout the last hundred and fifty years of the Romanov's rule. Cagliostro drew the attention of Catherine II; the Baroness Krudener instructed Alexander I; D.D. Home had the patronage of Alexander II; and Rasputin and Dr. Philippe had a close relationship with Nicholas II. The Czars were the inheritors of two strong social forces: a folk tradition based on the mystical and the miraculous dating back hundreds of years and a fervent search for historical and spiritual meaning among the Russian intelligentsia. Only Nicholas I failed to understand the popularity of spiritualism in Russia and his jack of interest separated him from the mainstream of Russian life. Most Russian monarchs were greatly influenced by the spread of spiritualistic forces. It was as if folk superstitions and Western spiritualism were destined to blend together and contribute to the fall of the Russian Empire.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Abba Pachomios and the Phantom

And it came to pass once when Abba [Pachomios], and Theodore whom he loved, were walking through the monastery by night, that they saw suddenly a great phantom, which was full of the deepest deceit; now that which appeared was in the form of a woman, and its beauty was of so indescribable a character that no man was able to tell the beauty, or the form, or the appearance, which belonged to that phantom, and even Theodore, who looked at that phantom, was exceedingly perturbed, and his face changed color. And when the blessed man saw that he was afraid, he said unto him, “Be of good cheer in the Lord, O Theodore, and fear not,” and the holy man, having said these things unto him, commanded him to pray with him, that the phantom which was striking wonder into them might be driven away. And as they were praying the phantom came nearer and nearer and took a solid form, and when it, and the company of devils which ran before it, drew nigh, for their prayer did not drive it back, it came forward and said unto them, “Why do you labor in vain? You are unable at this present to do anything whatsoever against me, for I have received authority from God, Who sustains the universe, to tempt whomsoever I please; and I have abundance of time in which to do this, for this I have asked from God.”

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

How to Talk to Children about Demons, Hell and Death

By Nun Magdalene

It is a serious educational mistake to talk to young children in detail about demons, because if a child hears once how they are, it is impossible to not stop imagining them.

Adults may be warned of the danger they risk by allowing images of demons invade their minds, but a young child, even if they are warned, can't easily stop thinking about something that torments them, and this can result in a dangerous state of mind or, at least, to suffer from nightmares. When young children ask about the devil or the existence of evil spirits, it is preferable not to make a thorough analysis, but to say that you should not give them more attention than they have in dreams or something similar. Generally we should turn the minds of children to Christ, the saints and the angels.

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. Let me explain what I mean - 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.

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

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.'

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Halloween Resource Page


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


“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


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.


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.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Exorcism of a Greek-American Immigrant

Elder Ignatios the Confessor (+ 1927)

By Archimandrite Cherubim Karambelas

It is a sad thing that many Greeks outside their country fall victim through carelessness to anti-Christian ideas and heresies, losing the priceless treasure of the Orthodox faith. This happened to a man named Angelis Kioussis.

He had set out from the Lion of Thebes, his fatherland, for distant America, hoping for a good career. As he was clever and enterprising, he not only managed to succeed professionally but he even became very rich.

At the age of forty he wanted something novel to play with. Blinded by his wealth and darkened by arrogance, he became entangled in the nets of a satanic sect. His soul was so poisoned that he forswore Christianity in a solemn ceremony, and defiled the icons of Christ and the Theotokos. Others had performed this wicked deed, and nothing had happened to them.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Scientific Evidence Proves Why Healers See the 'Aura' of People

May 4, 2012

Researchers in Spain have found that many of the individuals claiming to see the aura of people –traditionally called "healers" or "quacks"– actually present the neuropsychological phenomenon known as "synesthesia" (specifically, "emotional synesthesia"). This might be a scientific explanation of their alleged "virtue". In synesthetes, the brain regions responsible for the processing of each type of sensory stimuli are intensely interconnected. This way, synesthetes can see or taste a sound, feel a taste, or associate people with a particular color.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

How Are We To Understand the Casting of Lots in Scripture?

By John Sanidopoulos

"The lots are cast into the lap, but they are disposed of by the Lord" (Prov. 16:33).

St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite writes: "Some believe that by lots and raffles is meant that the divine Apostles followed what is irrational and according to chance, as those people who are of the flesh and worldly. This is not acceptable to the divine Dionysius the Areopagite. Rather he says that by lots is meant divine words, a divine gift, which revealed to the choir of Apostles what has been chosen by God. He says: 'Now concerning the divine lot, which fell as a divine decree upon Matthias, others have expressed another view, not clearly, as I think, but I will express my own sentiment. For it seems to me that by lot is meant a certain thearchic gift, pointing out to that Hierarchical Choir him who was designated by the divine election; more particularly, because the divine Hierarch must not perform the sacerdotal acts of his own motion, but, under God, moving him to do them as prescribed by the Hierarchy and Heaven' (Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, Ch. 5). Clement Canonicus says about lots: 'It was common to regard lots as superstitious, when they were used without divine command or calling. When God therefore appointed their use, then lots were used in obedience to God. In other circumstances, we tempt Him.' Apolinarius interprets the text, 'But the land shall be divided by lot' (Numb. 26:55), saying: 'Nothing happens by lot, but by the will of God.' The sacred Theophylact interprets the passage from Jonah, 'Then the crew cast lots' (Jon. 1:7), as follows: 'Do not think that he was chosen by lot, but God had elected him through it.'"

Friday, September 4, 2015

Was the Resurrected Jesus a Zombie?

It has become quite common, and a bit overstated, these days to refer to the post-resurrected Jesus as "Zombie Jesus", thinking that there is a comparison between the features of the risen Jesus with that of Zombies as depicted in popular culture, both said to rise from the dead. Usually such comparisons are not based on any compelling intellectual arguments, but it is worth examining nonetheless. Does the resurrected Jesus display Zombie-like characteristics to warrant such a comparison? The folks at examined both features and characteristics in a neutral fashion to give us the answer. After an analysis of the resurrected Jesus as described in the Gospels and the traditional pop culture Zombie depicted by George Romero (of Night of the Living Dead fame), here is what they found:

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

St. Kosmas the Aitolos on the Devil

By St. Kosmas the Aitolos

And so, my brethren, the first order of angels of which we spoke earlier fell because of pride and sought to be glorified equally with God. From a luminous and most brilliant being, the angel became the darkest devil and the enemy of people. He is in hell where he burns forever. When we hear the word devil, it is he who was once the first among angels; it is he who moves people to pride, to murder, to theft; it is he who enters into a dead person, causing him to appear living, and we call him a vrykolakas. It is he who enters a living person who takes on the image of Christ, of the Panagia, or some Saint, and running up and down like a person possessed, says he performs miracles. It is the devil who enters into a person and causes him to become an epileptic and demoniac. But may God be glorified, for he's given us three weapons with which to fight him.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Cosmic Horror vs. Sacred Terror: Finding Meaning in Modern Horror

H.P. Lovecraft (left) and Arthur Machen

By Jonathan Ryan

Why is there so much hopeless despair in modern horror? Part of the answer can be found in H.P. Lovecraft's writings and his concept of "cosmic horror." He explains his view of the end of the world: "The human race will disappear. Other races of beings will appear and disappear in turn. The sky will become icy and void, pierced by the feeble light of half-dead stars. Everything will disappear. And what human beings do is just as free of sense as the free motion of elementary particles. Good, evil, morality, feelings? Pure 'Victorian fictions.' Only egotism exists."

Lovecraft injected this worldview into all of his stories. Lovecraft fans discuss the "Cthulhu mythos," based on one of his short stories, The Call of Cthulhu. A malevolent entity, Cthulhu becomes a stand-in for all the monsters or aliens of the Lovecraft universe. He drives home his committed atheist worldview through his "old ones"—alien "gods" from other worlds who either do not care about ours or actively seek our destruction. Cosmic horror is what happens when the characters in Lovecraft's stories face this reality and react in utter despair at the futility of doing anything about it.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Prayer for Intercession Against One's Inner Darkness

My most holy Lady Theotokos, by thy holy and all-effective prayers drive from me thine unworthy servant all despondency, indecision, folly, carelessness, and all impure, evil and blasphemous thoughts, from my wretched heart and my darkened mind. And quench the flame of my passions, for I am poor and wretched, and deliver me from many cruel memories and deeds, and free me from all their bad effects; for blessed art thou by all generations, and glorified is thy most honorable name unto the ages. Amen.

See also: Prayer Rule Against Evil Thoughts

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Miraculous Holy Spring of Saint Myron and the Dragon

Holy Spring of St. Myron

From August 7th through the 8th every year thousands of pilgrims from all over Crete descend on the town of Agiou Myrona to celebrate the memory of their patron saint, Saint Myron the Wonderworker, who was Bishop of Crete in the fourth century. There they enter the church dedicated in his honor, they light a candle, venerate his recently discovered relics, and kiss his holy icon. Besides these things, they also go to the spring of St. Myron, located beneath his tomb, to drink from its miraculous waters.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Elder Nikolai Gurianov and the Demon Possessed Woman (videos)

Below is a video showing Elder Nikolai Gurianov blessing people while a demon possessed woman named Nadezhda is yelling. The demon calls Elder Nikolai "Kol'ka" which is a disrespectful form of his short name "Kol'ya". Apparently he had blessed this woman to go to the churches of Russia and confess the power of Orthodoxy.

In the first video she yells: ""I hate you, Orthodox. Orthodoxy is the most disgusting religion. All other religions will go to hell... We like when you cross yourself in a wrong way... You all think that Nad'ka (disrespectful form of "Nadezhda", which means "Faith" by the way) is crazy. But she is not. If any of you will offend her, you will answer before God for this. She is blessed. She is blessed and got a blessing to go to the churches to make you wiser... The whole country soon will know her... She (Nadezhda) will pray for those who drink and they will stop being alcoholics, those who she will sign with the cross will be healed..." and then at the 2:09 mark of the video she continues: "She was blessed for this, by this Kol'ka, who I hate!"

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Saint Irene Chrysovalantou's Power Over Demons

The following two stories come from the Life of Saint Irene Chrysovalantou, who is celebrated on July 28th.

St. Irene Casts The Demons Out Of A Nun Under A Spell

A noble and beautiful woman from Cappadocia, the home-city of St. Irene, was engaged to a certain man. Later on, however, she thought better of it and decided against marriage. She decided instead to become a nun at the famed monastery of Chrysovalantou. The demon grew jealous, however, and filled her ex-fiancé with tremendous sexual passion. However, the man knew well that he would not be able to enter the monastery. Instead, he hired a powerful magician, a most able servant of the devil to whom he gave him a large amount of money for the deliverance of the woman he wanted as his wife. The magician wrought his evil art in Cappadocia and the woman in the monastery went completely out of her mind. She began to run around the convent screaming and crying out the name of her ex-fiancé and swearing that if they did not open the doors of the convent she would suffocate.* Our venerable mother heard the up-rise and cried, "Woe to me the wretched one, if by the carelessness of the shepherds the wolves snatch the sheep away. However, in vain do you labor, O sly devil, because Christ will not allow you to swallow my lamb." She then called the sisterhood together and instructed them to guard themselves against the snares of the demons and she ordered them all to fast for the entire week while praying to God and each one of them to make a thousand prostrations a day with tears for this sister of theirs who was undergoing temptation. Our venerable mother prayed in her cell daily for this sister and on the third day, she saw St Basil the Great in front of her and he said to her, "Why do you deride us, Irene? We have left our homeland and all the vile and impious acts take place there now. When the sun rises take your sick disciple and bring her to Blachernae and there the mother of our Master Christ who is powerful will make her well." Having said this, St. Basil disappeared. St. Irene took the sick sister along with two other nuns and arriving at the Church of Blachernae, they prayed the entire day with tears in their eyes. At about midnight, St. Irene fell asleep and in her sleep she saw many people dressed in brilliant golden clothes and preparing the roads with the most fragrant flowers and incense. Our venerable mother then asked why so much preparation was taking place. They answered that the Mother of God was coming and warned her to prepare herself that she might be accounted worthy to venerate God's mother. Then the Mother of Life arrived followed by a vast crowd. So much did the face of the Virgin radiate that it was not possible for a mere mortal to gaze upon her. Our Lady having looked at all the ill, assembled in the church, looked at the disciple of St. Irene. Our venerable mother Irene fell at the spotless feet of the Mother of God, full of fear and trembling. The Mother of God then called on St. Basil the Great and asked him what Irene needed. St. Basil explained to the Theotokos exactly what St. Irene's need was. Hearing this the Theotokos said, "Call here, Anastasia!" When St. Anastasia had arrived, the Mother of God said to her, "Go with Basil to Caesarea, and study carefully the situation in order to cure this girl, for to you my Son and God has granted this grace." Venerating the Theotokos, St. Anastasia and St. Basil left in all haste in order to perform the ordained task. Our venerable mother Irene then heard a voice saying. "Go to your convent and she will be made well." On awakening, Irene explained to the sisters what she had seen and they went on their way rejoicing greatly. When they arrived at the convent it was Friday at the time of vespers and all the nuns were gathered at the church. St. Irene explained her vision and then ordered them all to raise their hands and eyes towards heaven and with all their hearts and burning tears to cry out, "Lord have mercy!" After a long time, when the entire floor of the church had become wet from the tears of the sisters, St. Basil and the Great and Anastasia the Martyr appeared floating in the air and the sisters heard them say, "Irene open your arms and receive this, and don't grieve us needlessly again." (St. Irene had been praying before the icon of St. Basil and begged him to free Caesarea from magicians). Stretching out her hands, St. Irene received from the midst of the air a package weighing about three liters and containing a host of charms including strings, hair, and lead, bound together with the names of demons written upon them. It also contained two small idols made of lead, one in the shape of the ex-fiance and the other in the shape of the sick nun, stuck together as if they were committing a sin. The nuns were amazed and remained praying the entire night. They thanked the Theotokos. In the morning, St. Irene sent the sick nun, along with two other nuns to Blachernae. Taking with them the charms, oil and prosphora, they attended the Divine Liturgy. After the liturgy, the priest anointed the sick nun with oil from the vigil lamp and later put the magical charms on live coals. As the charms burned, the nun became well and regained her senses. When the spell of the charms was totally broken, a crying sound came forth from the coals that resembled the squealing of pigs at their slaughter. The nuns returned to the monastery glorifying God that He does such strange and magnificent things and on entering the monastery they told all what had happened.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Seven Demons of Mary Magdalene

By John Sanidopoulos

"Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out" (Luke 8:2).

Based on this passage from the Gospel of Luke, it had been assumed by the medieval Church in the West that Mary Magdalene was to be identified with the sinful woman from Luke 7. The Greek Fathers, however, made no such error in confusing the identities of these women. Hence, Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute, but ill.

In her Greek life, which is kept in the Great Lavra Monastery in Mount Athos and begins with the verse from Proverbs 8:17 ("I love those who love Me, and those who seek Me find Me."), the following is said regarding the seven demons:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Demonology of the Life of St. Symeon the Fool

St. Symeon the Fool for Christ (Feast Day - July 21)

Below are excerpts from the Life of Symeon the Fool by Leontios of Cyprus that concern topics of demonology. To read the entire text, see here.

The Battle Against Temptations

When they had stayed a few days, the Devil, the enemy of our souls, unable to bear the virtue of Christ’s servants, began to war against them: against John concerning his wife, and against Symeon concerning his great love for his mother. When one of them saw himself afflicted, immediately he said to the other, “Get up, brother. Let us pray.” And they prayed the prayer of the monk who prayed, “Grant them, O Lord, in their hearts the words of this prayer.” And immediately the two found that they knew it by heart. And they prayed it all the time in each temptation and in each of their requests to God. For it was the Devil who inflamed them, as the God-bearing Fool related, as he did when they ate meat and wine. And from the beginning, he suggested to them cowardice and despair concerning their asceticism, so that from time to time they sought to return from the desert to the monastery. And in their dreams, and sometimes in a delusion, the polymorphous snake made them see their own families weeping, driven mad, and many other things which it is not possible to narrate, unless someone has had the experience of such temptations. But as soon as they remembered the crowns which they had seen on one another and the teaching and tears of the old man (Nikon), their heart was soothed by them and encouraged, just as with holy oil.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Can Demons Suffer Physical Harm?

By John Sanidopoulos

Some have asked how is it that demons or evil spirits can suffer as we do in the body, citing St. Paul who wrote: "For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of this dark age, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12).

Thursday, July 16, 2015

St. John Climacus: On Demons and Dreams

By St. John Climacus

- A dream is a movement of the mind while the body is at rest. A phantasy is an illusion of the eyes when the intellect is asleep. A phantasy is an ecstasy of the mind when the body is awake. A phantasy is the appearance of something which does not exist in reality.

- The reason why we have decided to speak about dreams here is obvious. When we leave our home and relatives for the Lord’s sake, and sell ourselves into exile for the love of God, then the devils try to disturb us with dreams, representing to us that our relatives are either grieving or dying, or are captive for our sake and destitute. But he who believes in dreams is like a person running after his own shadow and trying to catch it.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Beware of Demonic Biblical Exegesis!

St. John of the Ladder (Ladder, "On Expert Discernment", Step 26:152) writes:

"At the beginning of the monastic life some of the unclean demons instruct us in the interpretation of the Divine Scriptures. And they are particularly fond of behaving in this way in the case of vainglorious people and of those who have been educated in secular studies, so that by gradually deceiving them they may lead them into heresy and blasphemy. We can recognize this diabolical theology, or rather, theomachy, by the disturbances and the confused and unholy joy which are felt in the soul during the instruction."

Illustration: a Slavonic-language manuscript of The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Russia, 1560.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Christian Mysteries and Magic

By Dionysios Farasiotis

Having personally experienced both the Christian Mysteries [Sacraments] and magic, I can affirm that there is nothing magical about Holy Communion or the other Mysteries of the Christian Faith. The Mysteries are performed with the power of Christ and require conscious and voluntary participation. In order for Christ to act within the Divine Mysteries, the communicant has to will to participate in the Mystery consciously: he must yearn for it, and he is required to prepare for it with personal struggle. This is why those who nonchalantly approach the Mysteries out of habit experience very little change, if they experience anything at all. When, however, a person manifests his desire for God and his assent to being united with Him by taking pains to repent sincerely, God in turn will approach the genuinely repentant one to the extent and degree that He knows will be beneficial for that person's soul.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Simon Peter and Simon the Magician: A Battle of True and False Miracles

Simon Magus offers to buy the gifts of the Holy Spirit from the Apostle Peter

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

The enemies of Christianity frequently like to cite examples of great miracle-workers among the pagans in order to deceive the gullible, to humiliate the Christian Faith and to elevate paganism, sorcery, soothsaying, Satanism and every other charlatanism. There is no doubt that Satan through his servants also attempted to perform miracles, but all of the miracles of his servants do not emanate out of love for man, compassion and from faith in God, but rather from pride, selfishness, vanity and hatred for mankind.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Critique of the Paranormal Theory of Ghosts in Light of the Church Fathers

By Demetrius 
(Co-Founder of OCPRS Toronto, Canada)

One of the most intriguing questions explored by most paranormal societies is whether or not there is life after death? “Ghosts” are thought to be the souls of the dead, bound to wander the earth. Countless stories and reports of ghosts have provided various circumstances and descriptions assigned to the belief in life after death. Science and philosophy have been used to explore the paranormal phenomenon of “ghosts” in one form or another. During the 18th century, the philosopher and empiricist, David Hume (b.1711 – d.1776), explored the question concerning life after death in one of his essays. A stout skeptic, Hume believed that “Nothing in this world is perpetual, every thing however seemingly firm is in continual flux and change, the world itself gives symptoms of frailty and dissolution.” Hume applied this view against the belief in a soul and life after death. Although far from answering the question surrounding an afterlife, there are other examples which do not dismiss the possibility of an afterlife so easily. The famous psychologist Carl Jung (b.1875 – d.1961) also explored the question concerning life after death. Jung believed that “All of the dreams of people who are facing death indicate that the unconscious, that is, our instinct world, prepares consciousness not for a definite end but for a profound transformation and for a kind of continuation of the life process which, however, is unimaginable to everyday consciousness.” These examples provide a sense of how important philosophy was and continues to be in science. Unfortunately, many paranormal researchers attempt to apply science to their questions with little regard for the philosophical implications. Due to the nature of such a question, the theological considerations are equally important, although less significant in the minds of most paranormal investigators. When religion or spirituality is taken into account by most paranormal investigators it is typically a non-Christian viewpoint.

The immortal soul is perhaps one of the most important underlying subjects spread across paranormal phenomenon today. Naturally, when science and technology are adopted by paranormal investigators, what emerges are paranormal theories attempting to explore and answer the unknown. One such paranormal theory which has become popular is that “ghosts” are made up of energy, specifically an undetermined type of Electromagnetic energy. The technology used by paranormal investigators – EMF meters, Audio Recorders for EVP, etc. – seemingly supports the idea that “ghosts” are electromagnetic in one form or another. The paranormal theory also includes other areas of science in an attempt to validate the electromagnetic nature of  “ghosts.” Many paranormal investigators have turned to Physics, such as the First Law of Thermodynamics in order to broaden the electromagnetic “ghost” theory.

FIRST LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS – Energy can not be created or destroyed but can change, from one form of energy to another.

The premise of the paranormal theory concerning “ghosts” is that the human body contains energy, and following death this energy changes from one state to another – the First Law of Thermodynamics. To support this, additional sciences are included to support the electromagnetic nature of “ghosts.” Among the variety of sciences, which are included, are Bioelectricity and Neuroscience. A brief explanation of these two other fields of science will also help explain the paranormal theory surrounding electromagnetism and “ghosts.” Bioelectricity examines electric potentials produced by living organisms, and this includes the human being. The field of Neuroscience is an interdisciplinary study including biology, chemistry, medicine, psychology, etc. and is the study of the nervous system. Both Bioelectricity and Neuroscience are closely related.

The energy identified to the human body, according to the sciences applied by paranormal investigators, are neurons. Neurons are electrically excitable cells that process and transmit information by electrical and chemical signals. They are at the core of the nervous system. Identified as energy, the First Law of Thermodynamics seems to support the idea that the energy changes from one state to another following death. In other words, the sciences provide an explanation to the paranormal theory of electromagnetism and “ghosts.” The science applied to this paranormal theory is very convincing. Or is it?

There are problems with this paranormal theory explaining the nature of “ghosts.” In order to explore these problems there are certain issues which need to be addressed. Since the underlying theme to such a theory is the exploration of the existence to an afterlife, it becomes necessary to compare what the teachings of the Holy Church Fathers are in such paranormal theories. Why the Church Fathers are justifiably used here to examine the paranormal theory in question is largely due to the fact that the paranormal theory about “ghosts” rests on religious beliefs concerning the soul and an afterlife. The philosophical and theological considerations belonging to the Church Fathers are therefore valid. By comparing the teachings of the Church Fathers to the sciences found in the paranormal theory regarding “ghosts” and their electromagnetic nature, many overlooked realizations will allow people to rethink what they think they know about the afterlife.

If the human body contains energy in the form of neurons, it becomes necessary to explore Neuroscience. For the sake of brevity, this science will only be examined in relation to the paranormal theory about “ghosts.” There are estimates which state that the human brain has billions of neurons. These cells work in a very complex way, transmitting electrical signals for various functions throughout the brain and body – the nervous system. This would suggest that the paranormal theory is describing the human soul as a complex and multi-celled distribution of energy. From St. Gregory Thaumaturgus’ On the Soul there is a description which describes the soul in a very particular way and does not find any similarities with the paranormal theory: “The soul is simple, best of all, by those arguments by which its incorporeality has been demonstrated. For if it is not a body, while every body is compound, and what is composite is made up of parts, and is consequently multiplex, the soul, on the other hand, being incorporeal, is simple; since thus it is both uncompounded and indivisible into parts.” Here, St. Gregory Thaumaturgus describes the soul in a singular nature that is not divisible. He is not alone in such explanations, and Tertullian is another Church Father who explained in his A Treatise on the Soul: “Being thus single, simple, and entire in itself, it is as incapable of being composed and put together from external constituents.” Once again, the singular and indivisible nature of the soul is described. The soul is a simple and singular essence and not something divisible or consisting of billions of cells. Once again, the paranormal theory implies that the human body contains an energy thought to be a soul, and that this energy is ultimately consisting of billions of neurons, each containing their own electrical signal. If these neurons represent the nature of the soul, this means the soul – as energy – is divisible. This conflicts with the teachings of the Holy Church Fathers. On the other hand, the human being is made up of corporeal and incorporeal natures – body and soul. The neurons are cells belonging to the corporeal body and not the soul. Some may argue that the soul acts through the nervous system. This argument, however, ignores the teachings of the Church which believe that the actions of the flesh can stain the soul, and therefore the flesh acts against the soul. In other words, one affects the other thereby revealing that body and soul are not the same thing. Even if paranormal investigators reject this argument since it belongs to the Church, they cannot ignore their own beliefs which identify the circumstances or causes for ghosts and haunted locations. These include physical events affecting the soul, such as the belief that murder victims become restless spirits. In any case, the problems with the paranormal theory concerning “ghosts” and electromagnetism are not limited to Neuroscience.

Returning to the First Law of Thermodynamics, it is understood that energy can not be destroyed or created. If the soul is energy, as hypothesized in the paranormal theory, this would mean the soul is not something created. Again, the Holy Church Fathers offer descriptions about the soul which state something contrary to the paranormal theory. In St. Gregory of Nyssa’s On the Soul and Resurrection, “The soul is an essence created.” Tertullian also expresses this belief about the soul: “The soul originates in the breath of God, it follows that we attribute a beginning to it” (A Treatise on the Soul). Even the Nicene Creed indicates the creation of all things visible and invisible, and this would include the soul. If energy cannot be created, as the First Law of Thermodynamics suggests, this would mean that the human soul is not an energy recognized by science, or especially according to its created nature through God. Of course, the philosophical and theological considerations compared to the paranormal theory of “ghosts” does not resolve the beliefs held by individuals – especially paranormal investigators who gravitate towards many non-Christian beliefs and practices. Despite this, the next set of problems rest with the technology used to support the paranormal theory of “ghosts” and electromagnetism.

EMF (Electromagnetic Field) meters measure various fields of energy depending on the type of meter used. Electromagnetic fields which can be measured by such EMF meters are AC (Alternating Current) and DC (Direct Current). Keeping all the sciences previously explored in mind, a problem presents itself with EMF meters being used to detect “ghosts.” Since EMF meters are used to detect “ghosts” this would ultimately mean that the bioelectric energy contained within the human body changes from one form of energy to another following death. If EMF meters are designed to measure AC or DC electromagnetism, this would suggest that the energy change following death is either AC or DC electromagnetic energy. Why this is problematic is due to other technologies used to detect “ghosts” through different fields of electromagnetism.

The Electromagnetic Spectrum includes Infrared and Ultraviolet radiation and various cameras designed to capture such light energy are also used to support the paranormal theory about “ghosts” and electromagnetism. Infrared lenses and Full Spectrum Cameras are thought to capture the energy of “ghosts.” Comparing the Infrared and Ultraviolet radiation to how EMF meters measure AC or DC electromagnetic fields, Infrared and Ultraviolet energy therefore conflicts with the type of electromagnetic energy “ghosts” are thought to consist of. The various forms of technology used by paranormal societies measure different types of energy that are not consistent with one another. Sometimes these technological inconsistencies are ignored and lead investigators of the paranormal into misconceptions about the scientific theories they are borrowing.

Many paranormal investigators willfully ignore the teachings of the Church Fathers and prefer to blend various scientific theories to their own beliefs borrowed from diverse non-Christian sources: Modern Spiritualism, the New Age, and other occult sciences. After all, the belief that ghosts are the spirits of dead people is mostly explored through religions and spirituality belonging to the non-Christian variety. The philosophical and theological considerations belonging to Christianity are either accepted or rejected. If accepted, this could help people understand and recognize that the current science applied to the field of paranormal phenomenon is misapplied. Instead, what is accepted as “science” within paranormal theories is really pseudo-science that ignores both science and philosophy. Simply borrowing scientific theories and applying them to paranormal phenomenon does not always make paranormal theories valid. What rests at the heart of most paranormal theories are personal beliefs drawn from non-Christian sources of spirituality. The sciences applied to paranormal theories are over-generalized and superficially mask the underlying premise of any such argument involving the belief in an afterlife.