The first thing that grabbed my attention from the Johnathan Siedel’s article , “Possesion and Exorcism in the Magical Texts of the Cairo Geniza was on the second page. He mentions an excerpt from a Roman text whose author states, “as a matter of fact, I saw [a demon] coming out, all black and smoky”. It is interesting to me how people interpret demons or how the imagine them leaving their victims body. This Roman says it was black and smoky, however not every individual may believe that this is what an evil spirit looks like or is.
On the following page, the author states that the “practitioners” reported cures, but they could have simply been rumors and became practiced in other parts of the world. This made me think that maybe a so-called exorcist had somewhat of a placebo effect on the possessed because of the word-of-mouth status of the practitioners. Since the era this article is talking about was a while back, a lot of people could have had dementia or other diseases that were not know then, but are known now. Because of how dependent culture was on religion and spirits, observers and the possessed could have only imagined the disease was the cause of spirits.
Another thing that caught my eye was that spirits could not only take control of humans, but of all living things. The example about Samael possessing the snake could have caused the bad connotation humans today put with snakes, however it was not the snake, it was really Samael. Later in that paragraph the author reiterates that the body the evil spirit is in is not accountable for the actions he takes. Therefore, the snake should not be frowned upon, but Samael. It is interesting to me that Jews put serpents in the category of evil when this article shows that they should believe that the snake had no control over the spirit that made him evil. However, I am not sure if this article is talking about the serpent from the Adam and Eve story or a different biblical story. Either way, it is interesting to me to play devil’s advocate and see both sides from a believer and non-believer.