by Dr. Juanita McElwain

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." Revelation 12:7-10.

The devil and his angels have been present in the earth ever since that time. Evidence of their presence and activity may be found throughout the entire history of the Bible, particularly during the time when Christ was on earth, where we find numerous accounts of Christ casting demons out of people. Their activity has not only continued to our day but has intensified. "Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." Revelation 12:12.

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." I Peter 5:8.

Which Spirit Possesses You?

The devil did not invent spirit possession. Jesus offers us oneness with Him. This is the kind of possession God has planned for fulfillment and happiness in our lives. Satan always counterfeits every good thing, and in this case, he uses the very mechanisms to take control of man that God has provided for us to have complete possession by Him.

What is involved is the influence of some supernatural being in the lives of people. In order for this to take place, some form of communication must occur in the form of the transfer of thoughts and feelings. Consider the following statement: "The brain nerves that connect with the whole system are the medium through which heaven communicates with man and affects the inmost life." Education, 209. God created in us a mechanism whereby the Holy Spirit can communicate directly with each of us. This is a Biblical concept: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" 1 Corinthians 3:16.

Spirit Possession and the Mind

However, if one submits to the suggestions of an evil spirit, possession by that evil spirit will take place. It is reasonable to think that the mechanism, designed by God for communication with the Holy Spirit, may be taken over by evil spirits. William Sargant, a British psychiatrist, studied extensively the work of witch doctors, voodoo priests, and faith healers. He compared their methods with hypnotic trances and rock music festivals. Specifically, attention is diverted and fatigue sets in. Eager anticipation and high expectation of ecstasy also playa role. Individual will power is weakened. (See William Sargent, The Mind Possessed: a Physiology of Possession, Mysticism and Faith Healing, Harper & Row, NY, 1974.)

T. E. Wade examines transcendental meditation, hypnosis, glossolalia, and spiritism in connection with possession. He concludes: "It is my personal conviction that the normal human brain is capable of experiencing the functional relation to the Holy Spirit by a mechanism which is misused to achieve hypnotic trance. . . . This mechanism may be surrendered to the control of an evil spirit as occurs in voodoo spirit possession; or a human hypnotist may intrude into the relationship when he casts a spell over his subject." T. E. Wade, Spirit Possession, Gazelle Publications, Auburn, CA, 1991, 47.

Ellen White strongly opposed the use of hypnotism: "The theory of mind controlling mind was originated by Satan. . .. It opens a door through which Satan will enter to take possession both of the mind that is given up to be controlled. . . and of the mind that controls." The Ministry of Healing, 243.

Spirit Possession and Music

Having established that spirit possession does take place, the possibility of the role of music in possession may be examined. Satan has always been highly involved with music, beginning in heaven. "Satan had led the heavenly choir." The Story of Redemption, 25. This suggests that Satan is the most intelligent being regarding music in our world. He knows how to make the best use of it to achieve his ends. He does things with music that seem strange and even impossible.

The search for the use of music in devil possession resulted in finding two main avenues. One is the use of beats in music to call the spirits or gods. The other is the altered state of consciousness.

Music Beats

Much has been said and written by many people about the harmfulness of the beats in rock music. One of the most important reasons it is harmful is because it calls the demons. This use of music goes way back in African history. It is also found in Indian history. The author has, in her possession, tapes of songs to the oldest known, original gods of India. These come from Tamil in the southern part of India and go back to the early time of Indian history. From these countries, and particularly from Africa, the music and religion spread in the world because of the dispersion of people in slavery. Even though slaves, people preserved their loyalty to their religion through whatever means they could. There are three main religions which are still extant which grew out of this dispersion. In Haiti, it is called Voodoo. In Cuba, it is called Santeria, and in Brazil, it is called Condomble. In each of these religions, as in African and Indian religions specific rhythms are used to call specific gods. This is the purpose of the rituals performed. Drums are played, there is dancing. A certain rhythm is played, depending on which god is desired, and that god comes and possesses individuals. The same exact rhythms are used in each of the three religions named above, in African and Indian music, in rock music and in music used in meetings of faith healers. It seems as though the god is willing to come whenever called by anyone. Does the god come to celebration churches when the god's rhythm is played in Christian rock music, even though the people present do not realize that they are calling a god? There is quite a strong consensus that the god does come.

The story is told of a family where the husband liked very much to listen to Christian music radio stations (country gospel and contemporary Christian). His wife, however, did not appreciate this music, so she banned her husband with the music to a bedroom with a closed door. As time went on, strange things occurred in their house. There were odd noises, and things moved unexpectedly. When she learned that the beat in rock music calls the demons, she said, "That is the answer. My husband's music is calling the spirits into our house."

So they determined to stop the music, and immediately the strange occurrences also stopped. They did not know that they were calling gods into their house.

Ritual Songs

Music is a necessary part of the rituals, a primary purpose of which is to accomplish a state of possession by one or more of the gods.

The role of the drums is to call the gods and thus bring on spirit possession, which is the ultimate purpose of most rituals. Drums are usually played in a battery of three. The largest drum is played by the master drummer and is the most important, because it is specific in spirit possession. Specific rhythms correspond to specific gods.

It is the rhythm identified with each god that is a primary instrument in summoning him and no worship of the gods is possible without the rhythms that call and speak for the god. (See Harold Courlander, A Treasury of Afro-American Folklore, Crown Publishers, Inc., NY, 1976.)

The drums have the primary religious function of calling the gods, and thus of bringing on spirit possession. (See G. Behague, "Patterns of Candomble Music Performance: an Afro- Brazilian Religious Setting," Performance Practice Ethno-musicological Perspectives, Greenwood Press, CT, 1984, 231.)

In all of these religions we find a spirit possession, which is echoed, primarily through the beat of the music, in rock music, in faith healing, and in churches of all persuasions through Christian rock music, contemporary Christian music, and country gospel. The devil has done a good job of infiltrating our culture, including our Christian culture, with spirit possession, which may be very real, even though people do not realize that it is happening to them.

Altered State of Consciousness

The other main stream technique, in which the devil uses music to bring about spirit possession, is that of the altered state of consciousness. "Thoughts naturally flit across the mind, and considering an idea generally brings up related thoughts.

Occultists teach that, by visualization and concentration, this natural flow of thoughts can be interrupted. As this occurs, subjects slip into an altered state of consciousness which we have identified as the corridor of the mind." Wade, op. cit., 74,75. This is called by various names such as illumination, enlightenment, trance, tuning in, and hypnotism. Wade further states: "Any type of concentration on sensual stimulation may alter consciousness. Music with a strong rhythm, or concentration on the relaxation of different parts of the body, can induce it. The apparently innocent concentration on a mental image of Jesus standing in your favorite spot can bring the same effect." Ibid.

Before proceeding, it is important to understand the ways in which music facilitates an altered state of consciousness. One important element of the process is called entrainment. In 1665, the Dutch scientist Huygens noticed that if two clocks were placed next to each other, they would soon begin ticking synchronously and so was discovered the Law of Entrainment. Rhythms in close proximity will entrain. Because of entrainment, music is often used beneficially to control heart rate and other rhythms in the body. Since this is true, it is also possible to use the rhythm of sound to control the rhythm of brainwaves. Neuro-chemical cortical brain activity may be measured. A set of descriptors has been developed and identified as Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta.

Beta is predominantly present when the individual is attending to a task, particularly such a task as mathematics. This is also the state of the brain during critical thinking. When Alpha is predominant, the individual is in a relaxed state. There are some claims that hypnotism takes place in higher levels of Alpha. One description is alert relaxation. The Theta condition is extremely relaxed. Meditation conditions could take place here. Lower levels might include approaching sleep. Delta is the sleep condition. It is an extremely low level of brain activity.

Neurons are constantly firing at various rates all over the brain, but one of these levels may be predominant at any given time under given circumstances. Brain waves are vibrations measured in Hertz (Hz), or cycles per second.


Music is also vibration, which is measured in cycles per second or Hertz, which determines frequency or pitch.

Another element, which the devil employs in his arsenal, is that of difference tones. This is a phenomena commonly explained in psychology of music texts whereby a phantom tone is heard. Under certain conditions, when two tones are sounded simultaneously, a tone equal to the difference in Hz (cycles per seconds) between the two tones may be heard even though it is not being played. If tones of 100 Hz and 106 Hz were sounded, a phantom tone of 6 Hz might be heard. Or if a C and a G above it were played simultaneously, the C an octave lower might be heard.

To combine these three (entrainment, difference tones and brainwaves), consider the following: notes producing difference tones of very low or small frequency could be played and embedded just below the audible sound of the music. When the listener hears the music the embedded difference tones (although inaudible to him) will entrain with the listener's brainwaves, thus controlling them or causing them to match the difference tones. Without realizing what is happening to him, the listener's brain waves may be led to an Alpha, Theta, or Delta state according to the whim of the controller. Some believe that the devil has been using techniques such as these since the beginning of the world and is still using them.

It has been suggested that control by the use of musical effects was used by the Sumerians: "The Sumerians ruled that land [Babylon] from about 3500 BC to 2000 BC when hegemony [leadership] then passed to the Semitic Babylonians who took over their culture. . . . That culture included cuneiform writing, a sexagesimal system of mathematics (based on 60 instead of 10), a pantheon of deities, a considerable literature, and a fund of musical instruments important enough to be classed among the divine principles. . . . And it is the Babylonian development of the greatest system of musical ritual in any ancient religion which makes it imperative that we not neglect possible associations between her mathematics, her music, and her religion." Ernest McClain, The Myth of lnvariance, the Origin if the Gods, Mathematics and Music From the Rg Veda to Plata, Nicholas-Hays, Inc., York Beach, MA, 1984, 130, 131.

Music and Babylon

In ancient Babylon, there is the example of instruments used to signal the people to worship the golden image. "That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up." Daniel 3:5. It seems reasonable to think that the instruments served more of a purpose than just a signal. Mrs. White says, "The appointed day came, and at the sound of entrancing music the vast company 'fell down and worshiped the golden image.'" Christ Triumphant, 177- Speaking further of this, she says, "Force is the last resort of every false religion. At first it tries attraction, as the king of Babylon tried the power of music and outward show." "Ellen G. White Comments," Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7,976.

"The ancients knew how to use music to elicit a mystical experience. . .. Everything remains on the level of the emotions and the nervous system. Even today, thanks to the media, we can witness the effect of music on the masses. Singers and musicians exercise tremendous power over crowds of adoring fans. We no longer need lyrics or a coherent message to convince others. The phenomenon has even invaded religious communities. In reaction to the cerebral frigidity of traditional services, certain denominations have fallen into the other extreme. They spoon-feed and wash down the message by the continuous purring of background music. Believers, transported by the spirit, shout and cry out in delirious enthusiasm.

Such an approach considers reflection unnecessary and outdated. It only smiles at absolute judgments. This episode in the book of Daniel warns us against a strictly emotional religion. Emotions can be a part of the religious experience only when united with reflection and thought. Adoration must involve the whole being, and to neglect one aspect could lead to bowing before an idol. Likewise, in the plain of Dura, the preachers of Babel do not waste time in dry demonstrations or arguments. Music suffices to trigger adoration, and its adherents live strictly in the present. Several times the passage explicitly stresses the dimension of the present." Jaccques B. Doukhan, Secrets of Daniel, Review and Herald Publishing, Hagerstown, MD, 2000, 48, 49.

Goddess Worship

A large part of goddess worship was the use of the hand drum to call the spirits. Tibetan bells, or Tin-Ssha's, have been used in Buddhist meditation practice for many centuries. The two bells, which are rung together, are slightly out of tune with each other. The difference tones between them lie somewhere between four and eight cycles per second. This is exactly in the range of the brain waves created during meditation and helps shift the brain to these frequencies. Tibetan bells are experiencing popularity in western culture at the present time. (See Don Campbell, Music Physician for Times to Come, Quest Books, Wheaton, IL, 1991, 228, 229.)

All this leads to the present. Twentieth-century people discovered an ancient usage of difference tones and entrainment and successfully used them to produce an altered state of consciousness.

A man named Monroe first discovered the use of specific frequencies to entrain the brain. He discovered that certain frequencies, which were in the same spectrum as brain waves, could produce entrainment of brain waves. These are too low for the human ear to hear, but by using higher sounds he could produce difference tones. "If the frequencies of two sound sources are applied separately, one to each ear, an Abinaural beat frequency is created. As explained above this is not an actual sound, but only a frequency difference between two actual sounds. The sound is heard within the brain itself, the binaural beat frequency is created by both brain hemispheres working simultaneously. The entrainment or frequency following response did not take place only in the area of the brain responsible for hearing, or only in the left or right hemispheres: the entire brain resonated, the waveforms of both hemispheres becoming identical in frequency, . . ." thus achieving an altered state of consciousness. Campbell, op. cit.

Subliminal Programming

There is a phenomenon in meditation techniques. The music on meditation tapes use two technologies: sound phasing and subliminal programming.

The subliminals use such messages as: I am one. I am love. I am peace. I am the source of my experience. I am existence. . . consciousness. . . ecstasy. . . peace. These are mantras that have come down through the centuries, which make up a very holistic program of non -dual, I -Consciousness.

Sound phasing is defined as "a vibrate sound, a tone that contains two tones, the top and bottom of the vibration. Phasing is the interval between the tones. The sound we call the interval is heard only in the brain. Your brain creates that sound from the two tones." Patrick Harbula, Sounds of Transformation: A talk with Brother Charles, Meditation, 2(4),1987,20-29. This, of course, is difference tones.

Guarding the Mind

Tone wave generators have been built which can insert any difference tones in desired musical carriers. They are called binaural tone generators. They are available for anybody to purchase and are very easy to use. This means that this technique which can open the mind to demon possession is readily available to any that choose to use it. It is to be found in videotapes, cassette tapes, etc., which are being used.

The only protection available to counteract these wiles of Satan is found in Isaiah 26:20, which speaks about the present days: "Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast."

"The darkest hour of the church's struggle with the powers of evil is that which immediately precedes the day of her final deliverance. But none who trust in God need fear. . . ." Prophets and Kings, 725.