Science Saturday

Beelzebub’s Booming Business in Britain. Contrary to what researchers had assumed about devil possession in the Middle Ages, a new theory asserts that England was blissfully non-bedeviled until William the Conquerer ruined everything. Conventional wisdom held that satanic possessions were widespread throughout Western Europe, including the British Isles, during medieval times. In a National Geographic story, Peter Dendle, an English professor at Pennsylvania State University, said, “As an imported and learned series of behaviors, demon possession did not seem to ‘take’ in England, for the most part, prior to the Norman Conquest.”

And then what happened? Why, a veritable cottage industry flourished. According to National Geographic:

Christina Lee of the University of Nottingham in England says saintly relics that supposedly had healing properties were increasingly advertised by monasteries and churches as cures for the possessed or the mad.

“There were churches vying to have the most powerful saint, while monasteries had hospitals attached to them,” Lee said. “They saw themselves as doctors of the soul.”

And the cures came at a price: donations to the church. Dendle says that there has been another upswing in demon possessions in the last 30 years, particularly in Pentecostal churches. “It’s currently a growth industry in America and England as well as throughout the developing world.”

Cryptotastic. Break this code and you’ll have my enduring love and respect:


For more information, go here. Hint: I have it on good advice that it does not translate into NOVAscienceNOW.


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