As an amateur magician/mentalist with a keen interest in Victorian seancés, ghost stories and mediums, I have come upon some questions.
I know most of the basic methods behind e.g. psychic readings, table levitation, pendulums, dowsing, Ouija boards etc. employed by fake mediums and psychics, most notably in Victorian England.
Knowing a great deal of the tricks of the trade, one invariably will come to ask, whether these things are always trickery (either quite mundane methods as with table leviation, or more interesting psychological factors such as ideomotor movement)
I seem to have read somewhere, that St. Augustine believed, that demons have no power whatsoever in relation to material things, but only in relation to the human spirit (that is: demon possessions are real, but “manifestations” are either conjuring tricks or psychological tricks. That is also the view that I tend to, since, as mentioned, I know numerous ways to effect these phenomena through trickery.
On the other hand Thomas Aquinas allegedly believed that demons are able to influence the physical world. I am usually very fond of Aquinas, but on this topic, he seems to fall into what I would tend to call superstition. But I am not decided yet, and would appreciate a fuller explanation of his position.
In other words, if someone could expand a bit on the views of these two holy men, and perhaps update me as to what the Church teaches about these things today, I would be very thankful. If you could comment about exorcism as well, that would be very nice.
I realize, that a too keen interest in demonology is not a healthy thing, but this very general question, I do not feel falls into that category. Also, my interest in these things are very much from a magicians point of view… if genuine mediumship exists and was practiced in Victorian England, it would fall outside my field of interest. But it might have a bearing on how (or whether) I might perform a demonstration of “Victorian spookiness”
So in short: Do demons hold power to manipulate the physical world or not?
All thoughts are very much appreciated