First a disclaimer – I am not a mental health professional. I am not giving mental health advice. I’m a witch relating personal thoughts and experiences. Take what I say as nothing more than that.
Over the last few months I’ve had several people come to me with concerns that someone they cared about might be possessed. At first I assumed these people were...well...overly concerned. After all, possession is absurdly rare. It’s far more likely that someone’s mood swings or changing personality are due to a mid-life crisis or simple growth than some kind of malevolent outside force. Consequently, when I investigated further I was surprised to find that these folks seemed to be dealing with honest to gods actually cases of possession. That’s what I get for scoffing. I will admit right up front that cases of possession or oppression scare me. More than any other magickal malady, possession and oppression cases have the potential to go very, very badly.
Possession and Oppression occur when an intelligent malevolent entity decides it’s going to make someone’s life hell. The entity will single out a particular person and systematically harass him until he can no longer function normally. At that point the person is Oppressed. Now, just because someone is experiencing paranormal phenomena that he or she finds upsetting does not mean that person is Oppressed. The big difference between a malevolent haunting and Oppression is the focus. Hauntings generally affect anyone who comes within the sphere of the haunting. Oppression is specifically focused on one individual. If several people are feeling the effects, then you are not dealing with Oppression. In a haunting everyone (or at least everyone with sensitivity to the paranormal) will feel the cold chill, hear the disembodied voices, etc. In a case of Oppression only the target will feel the chill or hear the voices. Therein lies the primary difficulty – if only one person is affected how do you know that the person is genuinely suffering from Oppression or if they’re just hallucinating?
In my experience the only way to tell if someone is Oppressed verses dealing with a mental issue is to have that person examined by someone who can see psychic energies. To someone with the sight, an Oppressed person will appear draped in foreign energy and that foreign energy will look awful (dark, splotchy, cracked, etc.) – and it will feel even worse. That foreign energy will appear very distinct from the person’s native energies, and the native energies will probably appear pale and weak. Even then, there are some mental illnesses (particularly schizophrenia) that can give someone very similar energies. An experienced practitioner should be able to feel the difference in the energies by their intensities and the level of malevolence present. However, even the most experienced practitioner can misdiagnose this. It is for this reason that I always recommend that anyone who thinks they might be Oppressed seek professional mental care. Even if your root problem is that a demon is trying to eat you, a good psychologist can probably do you some good (just be careful what you say – we wouldn’t want anyone getting committed unnecessarily), and in the more likely event that you’ve got a chemical imbalance it will do you a lot of good.
Oppression can sometimes lead to Possession. In my opinion Possession is just about the most unsettling thing that can happen to a person – and I can personally attest that it is highly disturbing to witness. Possession is when a foreign entity actually takes over someone’s body and controls his or her actions. I’ve seen someone whose demeanour, speech patterns, aura, and even eye color changed during Possession. Sometimes Possession occurs after a long period of Oppression that wears down the natural defences; other times it happens seemingly out of the blue. In all the episodes of Possession that I’ve seen, some kind of traumatic event that severely compromised someone’s sense of self and all his mental defences precipitated the Possession. I’ve never seen someone with a normal, healthy mind and aura become Possessed (at least not involuntarily – voluntary possession by deity is a whole different issue). I’ve also never seen someone become Possessed as a result of dabbling in the occult.
Like Oppression, Possession can look a lot like mental illness. Illnesses such as multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia look damned similar to Possession. People can have radical mood swings, fugue states, personality changes, etc., while suffering from Possession and the similar mental illnesses. As with Oppression, those who think they might be Possessed should seek out a mental health professional, and for the same reasons. Like with Oppression, the only way I’ve found to tell the difference between Possession and mental illness is viewing/feeling the energies involved and that isn’t foolproof.
All that being said - what do you do if you think you or someone you love is Oppressed or Possessed? As I’ve mentioned, the first thing you do is seek the aid of a mental health professional. If someone is genuinely ill and they are left untreated or their delusions fed it can cause serious problems. If someone is genuinely suffering from Oppression or Possession they are probably being severely traumatized and could greatly benefit from counselling - I’ve seen a case of Oppression lead the target to a serious anxiety disorder. Magickally, Possession and Oppression are nothing to mess around with. Best case scenario you are dealing with a malevolent entity and deep seated emotional trauma. Worst case scenario you are dealing with a malevolent entity powerful enough to destroy someone’s mind. Only experts in energy work and dealing with malevolent entities should attempt to deal with serious Possession.
For most cases of mild Oppression or the very first seeds of Possession, a thorough and powerful cleansing should rid a person of the negative outside influence. However, it will not address the crack in that person’s energies that allowed the negative entity to take hold in the first place. That requires a full mental/emotional magickal healing – something I really can’t help you with. (I seriously can’t do healing work of any kind, it all goes pear shaped.) If personal cleansings are insufficient, then it’s time to move up to a hex-breaking ritual. Hex breakings (such as those I outline in my book) are designed to sever ties between the target and outside energies, rebuild the person’s own energies, and ward against future intrusions. In my experience Hex breakings are quite effective against most forms of Oppression and mild Possession.
What if it’s not mild Possession? What if you’re dealing with something powerful, insidious, and long standing? Well, that’s when all amateurs leave the building and call in a professional. The only way to deal with serious Possession is to flat out battle the entity doing the possessing. If you’re religious you call in the appropriate clergy person, if not find yourself a local witch of good repute and let her work. If you’re me then you suit up, grab your kit, and gird yourself. On the one occasion I have personally gone to bat against serious Possession I gathered up my strongest friends, we all called in our patron deities, we all called in every outstanding metaphysical favour we were owed, we gathered every iota of banishing energy we could lay our auras on until we were bursting with it, threw everything we had at the entity and wounded it enough to make it leave our friend alone. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever had to deal with.
If you think you or someone you care about it Possessed or Oppressed start with a thorough cleansing, then move to a strong hex breaking. If that doesn’t work, get help.