A Short History of Demons, Exorcism, And Possessed Women

Since last’s week accusation by Alex Jones that Hillary Clinton and President Obama were demons that smelled of sulfur, I had begun to think about the role of demons, exorcism, and demoniacs in early Christian texts. Over on the Forbes blog, I discuss how the subject of demons has a rich past in the religion, but it must be said that from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages, accusations of demon possession have often shown gender bias. That is to say that women are frequently cast as more susceptible to possession than men of power are–particularly in the demon possessions mentioned in the 13th century. Moreover, male priests and saints are often then relied upon to cast the demons out. As this post explores, accusing Hillary Clinton of being a demon is not simply an outlandish thing to do, it carries serious and long-held misogynist undertones.

Please note that this story contains a number of images from the Public Domain made freely accessible by the British Library Manuscripts Library. The British Library is, after all, probably the best and safest place to find demons.

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Image via the British Library: “Dante and Virgil observing Satan swallowing his victims, with figures of those who betrayed their benefactors, such as Brutus and Judas Iscariot, frozen in ice below, from Canto 34 of the Inferno” (illustration from 1370)

4 thoughts on “A Short History of Demons, Exorcism, And Possessed Women

  1. arnoldnuremberg

    As an “Old European”, while following and discussing the candidates and their campaigns, I am not really involved into the daily voices in the U.S. presidential election campaign. This one is quite astonishing. I like the remark about the British Library.

    Reply
  2. Princess

    I have a Masters of Divinity concentrating in New Testament and Church History and now getting another Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies , I say this because I am interested in women and the idea of demon possession, hence this post helps me

    Reply

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