Arvid did not feel much better from reading The Vileness of Sorcery. The author, one Pastor Solitario, seemed to fully believe that sorcery existed and that the world was teeming with evil spirits just waiting to help people do supernatural things. Of course, religious people almost had to believe in magic, since prayer was for all practical purposes just that. But Arvid was not so sure. He remembered praying that his visits in the cake box would not be discovered, but the effect was far from reliable. Sometimes he was found out, sometimes not. After that, his prayers had been few and far between, at least when alone. He still said grace if his parents were around, but that was pretty much it.
But now suddenly he was assured that magic was real, and from two very different sources: A dream that returned every night, and a book brought to him by the religious robber-baron Paulus, the preacher who married Arvid's favorite big sister. The two sources seemed an unlikely alliance: Paulus would presumably had performed a full exorcism ritual on Arvid if he knew about those dreams; and yet he himself took orders from a dream.
Anyway, the book was not exactly balanced in its view of all things magickal. Anything from Tarot cards to spiritism was laid at the feet of the evil spirits, who presumably were everywhere. And don't believe that these spirits would help you out for nothing. They claimed their price by sinking their talons into your immortal soul. The sorcerer would necessarily slide into a cesspool of sin, depravity and madness.
Madness again! Arvid stiffened on seeing the word. It seemed to glare balefully at him, as if the patterns of ink on paper somehow was alive and had the power to look back at its reader. It drew his eyes away from all other text on the page, like a horrible road kill. He had to turn the page for it to stop distracting him.
It did not get better. From here on, the book went on to explain how possession by evil spirit was not a thing of the remote past, but the stuff that fills our psychiatric wards.
"Today, after Satan's powerful works on our world, nobody mentions possession any longer. Instead the possessed are said to be suffering from various illnesses: Mania, paranoia, depression and above all schizophrenia. Rather than casting the unclean spirits out, the doctors keep these poor people sedated and hidden away, and do not allow true believers to approach them. But every now and again one of these 'patients' will get away, and maim or kill innocent women and children, set fire to houses, or end their own lives in the most gruesome way. From their fruits ye may know them: If this is not the work of evil spirits, what then is?"
"But how did these unlucky people become possessed? The answer is that usually they brought it on themselves. If you ask their old friends and relatives, you will find that they often dabbled in various forms of magic. Many young boys and even girls take part in so called 'Role Playing Games', believing that it is just a game like checkers or crosswords. Instead, they are lured to pretend that they are sorcerers living in a word filled with demons, monsters and all manner of deadly dangers. The more they let their mind dwell in this horrible thinking, the more power the evil spirits get over them. Eventually, they are no longer able to discern reality from fantasy, and they start to believe that people around them are monsters who must be killed."
The books went on to detail other ways in which people could be possessed by evil spirits: Spiritism, of course, which often begins with seeming harmless fun like ouija boards or tarot cards. In fact, any card game could be the beginning of a possession: The evil spirits got people hooked on childish games, and then graduated to betting, fortune telling and other forms of evil.
Obviously you had to be real careful if you didn't want to be possessed, for the evil spirits lurked everywhere. It seemed to Arvid that they were like mosquitos on a late summer evening, hovering just at the edge of your vision everywhere, ready to land on any piece of unprotected skin.
And then there was the final blow. Even those who had not touched a playing card in their life, much less a spellbook, might still have themselves to thank for their possession. Because, if you looked into their past, you would "almost invariably find that they had been beholden to impurity of thought and hand".
"The saints of old knew well that there are evil spirits of fornication, which could take the form of a female, named Succubus, or a male, named Incubus. These spirits would often manifest before the saints in order to draw their thoughts and minds away from the path of holiness, but the saints were steadfast in their faith and overcame the evil spirits through prayer and the Holy Word. But where the holy ones fought for their very life to escape, many a youth has foolishly summoned these very demons in their mind, to come keep them company in their disgusting works of self defilement. Often the spirits will first come to them in dreams, but later the impure youth will learn to summon them while awake. Drawing all strenght and health from their victims, the spirits then leave them weakened and ashamed, unable to pray or seek God's word or sacraments. Thus they are set on the path to madness, possession and Hell itself."
Quickly Arvid closed the book, rose and went to take a shower. He suddenly felt unclean all over, and there was this vague itching sensation, as if dirty flies had just been crawling all over him. He remained in the shower for a long time, but made sure not to touch any parts that he should not. After this he felt better, but he did not go near the book again for the rest of the day.
Table of contents