take control of a human body via supernatural means
|“|| Cotton Mather: Have you ever done things or thought things that didn't feel like it was you doing them? |
Little John: It's hard to describe. Sometimes, it seems like I'm very, very small and hidden in a very dark place.
— in On Earth as in Hell
Possession is a term for the belief that witches, demons or spirits can take control of a human body. Possession can be countered with a ritual of exorcism, which evicts the demons from the human host.
|“||I won't leave you. I can't. You need me. When you resist me, when you point at a demon that only you can see, what do they do? They shave your locks. They weep for your wretched soul. Without me, you are but a girl, weak and ordinary. But with me inside you, you are... Omnipotent. Hush, now. Give them no cause to pity you. Give them only reason to fear you. Open, girl. Open your mouth. Yes. Just like that. He has chosen you to be his vessel on earth. There is no greater honor than to be in his service.||”|
— Mary subjugates Mercy with demonic possession
The concept of spirit possession exists in many religions and spiritual beliefs, including Christianity, Witchcraft and Shamanism. Depending on the cultural context in which it is found, possession may be considered voluntary or involuntary and may be considered to have beneficial or detrimental effects to the host. Within possession cults, the belief that one is possessed by spirits is more common among women than men. The victim of these possessions is often called vessel or host and more often suffer excruciating torments constantly, as shown by Mercy Lewis, who according to the testimony of Rev. Cotton Mather, had the body covered with countless wounds including some impossibly self-inflicted.
It's the spirit possession of an individual by a malevolent preternatural being, commonly known as a demon. Descriptions of demonic possessions often include erased memories or personalities, convulsions and fainting as if one were dying and also speaking ancient unknowable tongue. A minor demon possession is that of the familiars that witches put in people to control them, while the most dangerous and violent is the Devil who possesses a human body, as happened to John Sibley, when the Devil eventually took full control of his body, inhabiting it as his personal human body.
Shamans believe that the Great Spirit can bestow mystical and magical powers to people through special rituals belonging to shamanic traditions, and that share some similarities with demonic possession through familiars used by witches on their victims; these similarities are the inclusion of animals in the body of the chosen vessel, bloodletting and engravings, ritual sex.
- Main article: Puppetry
Mercy Lewis has shown that it is possible to project astrally and get inside a person to make them do whatever the witch want, as if they were puppets manipulated by a puppeteer. This ability, not entirely clear and detailed, is conventionally referred to as "Puppetry" and is an advanced power of witches. Countess Von Marburg was capable of taking another person body through consuming the victim's blood in order to create a magical link allowing her spirit to possesses Mary Sibley's body and transfer Mary's soul into her original body, The Relic.
- Mary Sibley was an expert at manipulating people through the aid of demonic familiar. She was able to subdue her husband George Sibley causing a magical paralysis due to demonic toad inserted into his stomach. She was able to take control over Mercy Lewis in a similar way, using an devilish black serpent for subjecting the Reverend's daughter to her will. Unlike George Sibley, however, Mercy showed different symptoms similar to schizophrenia attacks.
- Mercy Lewis under the tutelage of her teacher Mary Sibley was able to take possession of Mrs Trask's body while projecting her spirit out of her body via witchcraft. Mercy immediately showed a mastery of such skills despite Mrs Trask tried to oppose her. Mercy became further skilled in the use of possession, creating henchmen subservient to her wishes by means of her demonic familiars under the guise of birds.
- Anne Hale, one of the most powerful witches of Salem, was able to subdue her husband Cotton Mather through the use of her demonic rat, Brown Jenkins.
- The shaman created a mystical bond between John Alden and the Great Spirit, strengthening the physical and spiritual qualities of the captain at a high price.
- The Dark Lord took possession of the young John Sibley's body by means of a dangerous and complex ritual known as "Consecration, creating an almost unbreakable bond between the Fallen Angel and the vessel, a term indicating human host.
- Countess Von Marburg, lightly tracing the idea of the link between the vessel and the Devil took possession of Mary Sibley's body by means an exchange of blood that caused the transfer of their spirits in the body of the other.
- The satanic possession is one of the pivotal plots of the second half of the second season, although the possession by familiars is present from the very first episode of the first season.
- Exorcism rituals have been practiced in both the first and second season.
- According to Reverend Cotton Mather in On Earth as in Hell, a person possessed by a demon is not able to recite the Holy Scriptures or common Christian prayers like the Our Father.
- People who are possessed are, however, able to speak unknown ancient languages, which often are demonic corruptions of ancient languages such as Aramaic, Coptic or Greek, or a combination thereof.
- A possessed person is able to inhuman movements, such as rotate its head 180 degrees completely, throwing up clouds of insects or have a high resistance to physical pain, because the demon does not feel pain (but the host does), as shown in episodes Til Death Do Us Part and On Earth as in Hell.
- ↑ In Til Death Do us Part writer's wrap, Adam Simon specified that what is shown in the field of possession faithfully reproduces the confessions and widespread belief at the time on the demons, witchcraft and demonic possession; it is therefore neither a tribute nor a copy of the famous film The Exorcist (1973).