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Down the Rabbit Hole
Paul Kiritsis, PsyD Clinical Psychology, DPhil., MA (History)


The Magus of Strovolos and his Miraculous Healings (Part Two)

Paul Kiritsis - Saturday, November 23, 2013

Mind and body form a single synergistic unit; hence it should come as no surprise that Daskalos’s successes also extended to the psychological ontology. In truth he would frequently refer to himself as a psychotherapist. In the second chapter of the Magus of Strovolos, we learn that a twenty-six year old demure Jewish girl named Hadas suffering from a harrowing psychological problem once sought his counsel. The reader acquires just enough anecdotal information within the first couple of pages to extrapolate that this may be a case of entity possession. Daskalos inaugurates the session through the validation of his supernatural process; he points out to the visiting triumvirate of mother, aunt, and anguished daughter (Hadas) that the latter is wearing an apotropaic: “You have a talisman on you, right at the heart. It is a six-pointed star.”[1] Without a doubt this is a decisive factor in convincing them that he is not a charlatan after their hard-earned money. Daskalos then asks that she close her eyes and scours her multifaceted mental hardware, intent on isolating the exact nature of her problem. After a brief moment he backtracks and informs, “If you want me to help you must tell me whether you genuinely believe in God or not,” to which the earnest response of, “I do, I do” is given. Evident here, once again, is the critical role fundamental belief plays in therapeutic efficacy and outcomes.   

The verdict itself, given in such an authoritarian manner, is rather alarming. He regretfully enlightens that the psychic phenomena in question have their origin in the afterlife activities of two nefarious Nazis, a husband and a wife, who perished during the bombardment of Hamburg by the Allies. Fuelled by a lifetime’s worth of hatred and animosity, the couple sustained intrepid and intransigent assaults against the Jewish people in the psychic world by infecting the living auras of their descendants. They had contributed to the incarceration of four Jewish women in mental institutions; more recently, they had encountered Hadas’s psychoneotic body when her vibrational frequency was low and had succeeded in possessing her solar plexus and genital region. According to Daskalos, these otherworldly singularities were at the root of sentiments she described such as feeling like her soul was being taken away and that her body was dead, metaphysically-flavoured phenomena which were nearly always accompanied by localized somatic discomfort.

In the end Daskalos ascertained that the most effective course of action to be an exorcism in the cabbalistic tradition. Conducting the ritual in such a culturally sensitive manner was conscientious and intelligent on the facilitator’s part, for it removed any superficial cultural barriers and allowed tho women present to participate with full emotional understanding. Everybody there, including Markides, observed with solemn fascination as Daskalos resorted to inscribed symbols, prayers, and other incantations in an effort to extricate the diabolical entities. Markides himself could not dismiss the feeling that something uncanny was coming-to-be. At one point Daskalos appeared to be affecting a candle via mentation and various gesticulations; instead of burning steadily it would waver about from right and left, taper upwards, and emanate black smoke. The strangeness of the endeavour is augmented when Daskalos proceeds to feed a piece of paper emblazoned with an intricate symbol, several six-pointed stars, to the flame before asking Hadas to snuff out the candle and ingest some ‘magnetized’ water. Finally, he concludes with an authoritative declaration: “You have nothing to worry about from now on. They can no longer harm you or anyone else. Both of them are now gone to a place where they can rest in peace until they can come to their senses. You may still feel heavy in the head but do not worry. These are the aftereffects that will gradually go away. But they can never again take possession of your aura. They may try to affect you telepathically but they cannot take possession of you. If you feel them near you, just say the prayer you have been saying here and concentrate on the flame of the white candle. They moment you do that they will be scared and go away.”[2]    

A week after the exorcism Daskalos received news that the hallmarks of possession had ceased once and for all. Taking into account certain autobiographical details one would have to be rather inane and ignorant to attribute the full brunt of the curative agency to suggestion alone. If the expository conversation between Hadas and Markides afterwards was indeed an authentic one, then a conscious manipulation of sorts definitely had something to do with it. Through this chance encounter we learn that the saga first reared its ugly head about four years ago, a time when her mother was on a sojourn in Romania. One evening after a heated argument with her boyfriend, Hadas became acutely forlorn and distressed. It was then that the metaphysical phenomenon unfolded; something entered through her head, disrupting the mechanics of her own being. Physicians were inept at shedding light on the mystery. Most simply attempted to unburden themselves of compunction by sugar-coating her diabolical voices with narcotics.

Eventually, she mustered up enough courage to consult a rabbi. The rabbi subsequently informed that she should engage in rigorous prayer, since something like a demon had possessed her. Furthermore there would be a period of forty days in which she would endure somatic and psychic illness, followed by a convulsive expulsion of phlegm and a return to vibrant health. The first prophecy eventuated, however the second seems to have fallen on deaf ears. To Hadas’s dismay her pathology worsened exponentially; something entered through her legs, then her stomach. At that point the voices materialized out of nowhere–sharp, taunting whispers that came from a space beyond her ego-self. They told her that they would torture her; they would drive her to the brink of insanity; and they would imprison her in their ‘world’ and marry her off to a tall man with a moustache. The harassment continued to escalate and impelled further visits to a psychiatrist who could offer nothing more than an affirmation to the effect of, “There’s nothing wrong except in your mind.” After that she was restrained in an institution for the insane. Hadas’s saving grace was her aunt; as a resident of Cyprus she had heard of Daskalos and initiated the requisite proceedings for a scheduled meeting between the two.

So what should an individual of the twenty-first century take from all this talk on exorcisms, discarnate entities, and witch-doctors? Would capitulating to such ideas be synonymous with a return to the magical thinking of our primitive ancestors, a devolutionary move on our part? Who in their right minds would still believe in spirit possession when there are now accurate diagnostic criteria for mental illnesses (psychopathology) much better able to explicate anomalous symptoms such as those experienced by Hadas? For Daskalos’s banter on the spiritual possession of certain body parts to suspend disbelief we would have to forget that the Age of Enlightenment ever happened and return to medieval times, right? Surprisingly, the answer to that question is a resounding ‘no’. One need only look to the hallucinations of alcoholics, chronic schizophrenics, and the cerebrally-impaired in existing mental asylums to understand that the inner mental processes are rather stringent and resistant to change.

Working with the mentally ill at Mendocino State Hospital in California for some seventeen years, the clinical psychologist Wilson Van Dusen conducted a comprehensive phenomenological investigation into the nature of his patients’ hallucinations. The trail of dehumanizing experiences described in two articles, one published in the New Philosophy 70 (1967) under the title of “The Presence of Spirits in Madness” and the other in Psychedelic Review 11 (1971) under “Hallucinations as the World of Spirits”, make the descent into Dante’s Purgatory seem like a weekend self-development retreat at the Grampians. The auditory hallucinations, experienced as ‘voices’, would all too often utilize the mental contents entering consciousness as ammunition against the patient’s own ego-self. They would denigrate, taunt, humiliate, threaten, verbalize blatant lies, and in some cases doggedly persist in self-awareness until they had succeeded in possessing an eye, ear, arm, the genital region, or some other body part.

Van Dusen also reports that attempts at blighting out these ‘lower-order’ voices with spiritual and religions practices like prayer and meditation; by acquiescing to their ludicrous demands; and by ignoring them outright proved futile. The voices neither faded out nor disappeared. Sounding familiar? Through an administration of the Rorschach Ink Blot Test to both his hallucinating patients and their ‘voices’ he ascertained that the mental and sensory experience of the latter did not transcend the neuropsychic simulations and limitations of the former. The voices could neither reason sequentially nor think abstractly. After seventeen years of phenomenological charting of the inner world through hallucinations, Van Dusen came to the conclusion that ‘lower-order’ voices are a conscious reflection of painful life failures and unrealized potentialities that would, in normative and ‘non-pathological’ circumstances, remain latent in the unconscious. Further, the thoughts and feelings usually experienced as one’s own self or mind are erroneously identified as ‘other’ or ‘alien’ and acquire a life of their own when there is a complete disintegration of the individual’s personal centre, his or her I-amness, as well as an alienation from his or her true Self. We see this internal mechanism at work in chronic schizophrenia and severe forms of dissociation. The unconscious and the hierarchical world of disembodied entities, Van Dusen says, are in reality one and the same phenomenon. Entities are in a way real; it’s just that they’re normally unconscious.    

Despite its very esoteric underpinnings, Daskalos’s conception is strikingly similar to that of Van Dusen’s: “The schizophrenic enters the psychic realm unprepared and involuntarily. Sometimes they create the voices themselves. A person will hear voices the moment he opens the gates of the centres of the material and the etheric brain. The voices that the mad person hears are real. The fact that you and others do not hear them does not mean that they are auditory hallucinations. If you coordinate with such a person, you will hear the same voices.”[3] Daskalos’s comprehends voices as acoustic neurosimulations of vibrations coming from the psychic and noetic worlds (as opposed to the ‘external’ world) that are usually salient but become audible when we vibrate lowly. Here, we could equate the creation of voices as the contents of the personal unconscious and the reception of foreign ‘elementals’ from the psychoneotic plane as an incursion from the collective unconscious. It’s simply a different way of comprehending an unshakable inner process or law which, to all intents and purposes, is grasped by the human intellect through cultural world-simulation whilst remaining an intangible “nonphysical” aspect of the cosmos outside our own nervous systems, an objective ‘form’ unto itself.  

In light of this revelation, we must not adhere to an either/or logic when assessing which world, the primitive, animistic one birthed by transcendental monism or the modern-day one extrapolated by empiricism and materialistic monism, is a more accurate psychoneural reflection of cosmic truth. We are all confined to experiences wrought by the neurological world-simulators that are our minds and bodies; hence each and every one of us, irrespective of our epoch, our evolutionary development, or our designation as layperson, intellectual, or genius, will only ever encounter the cosmic truth in part. Without dishonouring or disregarding this fact, I would be apropos in concluding that Daskalos, the great Cypriot magus, probably encountered a proportional slice of the cosmic truth than most of us semi-hypnotized mortals will not fathom during the course of our entire lifetimes. How else would he have achieved such miraculous feats as the dematerialization of cancerous tumours, the elongation of atrophied limbs, the complete alleviation of mental problems deemed hopeless or psychosomatic by conventional psychiatrists, and the voluntary expression of “psi” phenomena?

Some food for thought…

[1] Kyriacos Markides, The Magus of Strovolos (London, United Kingdom: Penguin Books, 1985), pp. 13.

[2] Kyriacos Markides, The Magus of Strovolos (London, United Kingdom: Penguin Books, 1985), pp. 16-17.

[3] Kyriacos Markides, Homage to the Sun (London, United Kingdom: Penguin Books, 1987), pp. 26-27.

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