That time of year is coming again, so bring on the creepiness! First topic: Demonic Possession.
Whoa there, this is not going to be a Satanic post. I’m not going to talk about sacrificing goats or promising your first-born child or selling your soul for whichever power would make your life easier. What I will talk about though is how they scare the crap out of me.
So here we go. Gahh, even writing this post gives me the creeps. First of all, I love horror movies. Honestly, I would much rather watch a good horror flick than anything else, and the longer the impact, the better. But demon movies? I’ll watch simply because I can’t resist, but they occupy a special category in my psyche called things-that-make-me-shit-my-pants.
And the ironic part? I’m an atheist, so the fact that they scare me so much seems ridiculous, right? But for me, that just puts the paranormal in a peculiar place in my life. I may not have a religion, but that doesn’t have any baring on ghosts and boogeymen and *gasp* demons.
So after years of being scared of these movies, I wanted to find out why these things scare me so much. Aside from the obvious visual effects, why is it that a demon movie keeps me awake at night? What is it about them that has me terrified to fetch soup from my cold cellar and to sleep in my house alone?
Control. I think it’s all about control.
Let me explain:
For your basic ghost story, the solutions seem simple enough. If I found my house haunted by a vengeful spirit who was treated terribly in life, I would move. If I stumbled upon a cursed doll or video tape or mirror, I would be giving that thing away (for Christmas, if necessary. No take-back-sies). But if I found my body occupied by some supernatural being that caused me to speak in tongues, levitate, and thrash around? Well, I don’t know what I’d do.
But that got me thinking. In the modern day, a person is in a constant struggle to maintain control their life. We find ourselves losing control of what we buy and how we buy it. We find ourselves losing control of what our governments say and do. We find ourselves losing control of our own livelihoods and career aspirations, especially in an economy as rough as this one. In fact, there are times when I’ve found myself feeling like I have little control over my day-to-day life.
And this relates to demonic possession? Well, assuming it could happen (and I don’t really think it could, but let’s pretend), I would have no control of my words, my actions or even my thoughts. I would quite literally be out of control. No one could stop me, except potentially a priest, and even then, I’ve watched enough movies to know that doesn’t always work.
I think demons scare me so much because they would strip away my self-determination — they would take over my body and do what they want with it. And I think this resonates through historic depictions too. In ancient times, demons would possess people and make them do terrible things, or so accounts say.
To me, demons symbolize the ultimate loss of control and that’s terrifying.