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Author Topic: Bilocation, Levitation, Supernatural Energy, etc.  (Read 9898 times) Average Rating: 0
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Gebre Menfes Kidus
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« on: October 24, 2009, 12:40:46 AM »

What is the Orthodox belief regarding such things a bilocation, levitation, superntaural energy, perfumes of sanctity, indedia (the ability to live for years without food or drink) and other spiritual phenomenon that are often attributed to Saints in the Catholic faith? Does Orthodoxy accept these things as valid and genuine manifestations of holiness, or are these perhaps only demonic deceptions? I know that the Saints performed miracles, but I have always associated things like bilocation, levitation, and astral projection with demonic power rather than divine power.

I ask the question because a Catholic friend of mine gave me a book called The Sanctified Body which relates numerous accounts of Christian Saints and saints of other faiths (or "holy men and women" of non-Christian religions) who manifested spiritual phenomena such as levitation, bilocation, etc.


Also, what about the "stigmata"? Does Orthodoxy affirm the stigmata as an authentic manifestation of holiness?

OK. Thanks. I know these are delicate questions.

Selam
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« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2009, 01:03:47 AM »

I'm pretty sure we don't believe in the stigmata.  That's been discussed here before.  Click on the tag for that below.  The other things I'm not sure about, although I've heard stories about some of those things. 

For example, I've heard that there is a monk in Egypt who travels to places in his dreams, so that he will literally be in two places at once.  Now I have no idea if that is true, or what the monk's name is, etc.  It could just be a story.

I also seem to recall hearing about an EO saint of the twentieth century, St. John of San Francisco, which may have involved levitation.  What I heard was that he praying alone at the altar of his church one day, when someone who worked there walked into the altar area and saw him.  The person said they saw him praying and his feet were not touching the floor.  Again, however, it may just be a story.  Perhaps one of our EO friends who is more familiar with this saint can tell us if they ever heard this.

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« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2009, 01:10:58 AM »

The material about St. Pope Kyrillos in this thread indicates that he may have had the gift of bilocation:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,8382.msg110487.html#msg110487
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« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2009, 02:01:23 AM »

Well, I've heard about all of this happening in Eastern Orthodoxy. 

As far as transfiguration, the Tabor Light has been manifest through saints such as St. Seraphim of Sarov.  This also would probably fall under the category of 'supernatural energy', as Eastern Orthodox theology teaches a distinction between the energies and essence of God, which is related to this Uncreated Light:

Quote
The miraculous transfiguration of the starets' face was described by a close admirer and follower of St. Seraphim: Motovilov. This happened during the winter, on a cloudy day. Motovilov was sitting on a stump in the woods; St. Seraphim was squatting across from him and telling his pupil the meaning of a Christian life, explaining for what we Christians live on earth.

"It is necessary that the Holy Spirit enter our heart. Everything good that we do, that we do for Christ, is given to us by the Holy Spirit, but prayer most of all, which is always available to us," he said.

"Father," answered Motovilov, "how can I see the grace of the Holy Spirit? How can I know if He is with me or not?"

St. Seraphim began to give him examples from the lives of the saints and apostles, but Motovilov still did not understand. The elder then firmly took him by the shoulder and said to him, "We are both now, my dear fellow, in the Holy Spirit." It was as if Motovilov's eyes had been opened, for he saw that the face of the elder was brighter than the sun. In his heart Motovilov felt joy and peace, in his body a warmth as if it were summer, and a fragrance began to spread around them. Motovilov was terrified by the unusual change, but especially by the fact that the face of the starets shone like the sun. But St. Seraphim said to him, "Do not fear, dear fellow. You would not even be able to see me if you yourself were not in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Thank the Lord for His mercy toward us."

Thus Motovilov understood, in mind and heart, what the descent of the Holy Spirit and His transfiguration of a person meant.

Levitation is attributed to a few Athonite monks I have read about, as well as the aforementioned St. John of San Francisco. 

St. Mary of Egypt (also celebrated in Oriental Orthodoxy) walked on water.

Concerning indedia (I have never seen this term used before), I seem to recall coming across instances of saints living on no food or water for prolonged periods, but I don't know about years.  It seems like in most cases I remember God miraculously providing food, not sustaining the saint without it.

Concerning 'perfumes of sanctity', most accounts of incorrupt saints describe their bodies as emitting a wonderful fragrance.  Another example of this not dealing directly with relics is from the account of the Martyrdom of Polycarp, where he is burned alive:

Quote from: Martyrdom of Polycarp 15:1-16:1
When he had offered up the Amen and finished his prayer, the firemen lighted the fire. And, a mighty flame flashing forth, we to whom it was given to see, saw a marvel, yea and we were preserved that we might relate to the rest what happened.

The fire, making the appearance of a vault, like the sail of a vessel filled by the wind, made a wall round about the body of the martyr; and it was there in the midst, not like flesh burning, but like a loaf in the oven or like gold and silver refined in a furnace. For we perceived such a fragrant smell, as if it were the wafted odor of frankincense or some other precious spice.

So at length the lawless men, seeing that his body could not be consumed by the fire, ordered an executioner to go up to him and stab him with a dagger. And when he had done this, there came forth [a dove and] a quantity of blood, so that it extinguished the fire; and all the multitude marveled that there should be so great a difference between the unbelievers and the elect.

I can't think of any example of bilocation offhand, but I was never really looking for it.  I have never encountered an example of stigmata in Eastern Orthodoxy.

There is apparently a living saint in Egypt right now who is Coptic Orthodox that has hands that shine a blinding light, and they have to keep his hands wrapped up in gauze to keep people away from him.  Of course this falls outside Eastern Orthodoxy, so I'll let someone else discuss it.

You are correct that we must always be on guard for demonic deception and not be a wicked generation seeking signs and wonders.  We need to always exercise discernment.  However, one verse from the Holy Scriptures helped me deal with all of the unbelievable things I would read about in the lives of the saints as I approached Orthodoxy, and helped me to realize how thoroughly depraved my Christianity was of the supernatural:

Quote from: John 14:12
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

I had taken to the notion that only those events from the Holy Scriptures which were 'familiar absurdities' could be believed and accepted.  Last year, hearing about our patron St. Mary of Egypt walking on water during the homily about made me explode with disbelief.  "What nonsense!" I thought to myself.  "Are we meant to understand these events literally or figuratively?"  My priest's answer?  Both.

Welcome to Orthodoxy, it's a mind-bender for sure.
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« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2009, 02:06:08 AM »

During one such vigil a truly marvelous miracle was, by divine grace, witnessed by one of the nuns, who, unable to sleep, left her cell and entered the courtyard. There she saw her abbess motionless, totally absorbed in prayer and in a state of levitation about one meter above the ground. This was not only one miracle, but another, that the nun observed for the two nearby cypress trees had bent their heads to the earth in homage before her. When she left her state of prayer, Irene blessed the trees and they returned to their former state. The sister (nun) who witnessed the event trembled thinking that it was a vision from the tempter, but later when others of the community noticed handkerchiefs placed in the tops of these same trees, she related the whole story. At this the whole sisterhood became so excited that Irene had to rebuke them, emphasizing the need to concentrate on their own way of prayer and charging them not to relate any extraordinary events until after her death.

St Irene Chrysovalantou - http://www.serfes.org/lives/stirene.htm
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« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2009, 02:24:13 AM »

Thanks for the informative responses so far. Smiley

Two questions:

1. How are we to discern whether these spiritual phenomena are divine or demonic? Obviously we know that the miracles and phenomena recorded in Scripture and Holy Tradition are valid, but how to discern these things today?

2. What about these same phenomena that are manifested by "holy men" of non-Christian religions? I especially think of Black Elk, the Sioux holy man who seemed to have visions of Christ and the Apocalypse. Is it possible that Christ reveals Himself in the manifestations of spiritual phenomena among those who do not even profess Him?

Thanks again.

Selam
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« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2009, 02:31:21 AM »


There is apparently a living saint in Egypt right now who is Coptic Orthodox that has hands that shine a blinding light, and they have to keep his hands wrapped up in gauze to keep people away from him.  Of course this falls outside Eastern Orthodoxy, so I'll let someone else discuss it.

I believe you mean Abouna Fanous:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,10363.msg140736.html#msg140736

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« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2009, 02:41:01 AM »

1. How are we to discern whether these spiritual phenomena are divine or demonic? Obviously we know that the miracles and phenomena recorded in Scripture and Holy Tradition are valid, but how to discern these things today?

By the grace and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and by the protection of the prayers of the Mother of God and the power of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross.  It is always better to err on the side of caution rather than to err on the side of heedlessness.  If we encounter such things, then we should ask for God's will to be done and for the Counselor to lead us in the truth.  We shouldn't put too much weight on such things.

2. What about these same phenomena that are manifested by "holy men" of non-Christian religions? I especially think of Black Elk, the Sioux holy man who seemed to have visions of Christ and the Apocalypse. Is it possible that Christ reveals Himself in the manifestations of spiritual phenomena among those who do not even profess Him?

All things are possible through Christ Jesus.  Don't lose sleep over it.  Let God be God; he can handle sorting out those outside the visible boundaries of the Church.  Any life that comes into the world comes through Christ, because he is the light that illuminates every man.
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« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2009, 02:43:27 AM »

Thanks for the informative responses so far. Smiley

Two questions:

1. How are we to discern whether these spiritual phenomena are divine or demonic? Obviously we know that the miracles and phenomena recorded in Scripture and Holy Tradition are valid, but how to discern these things today?

2. What about these same phenomena that are manifested by "holy men" of non-Christian religions? I especially think of Black Elk, the Sioux holy man who seemed to have visions of Christ and the Apocalypse. Is it possible that Christ reveals Himself in the manifestations of spiritual phenomena among those who do not even profess Him?

Thanks again.

Selam

Our Lord said we shall know a tree by its fruit (Matt. 12:33.)  If a miracle happens which glorifies our God and is not being used to support any heresy or other false beliefs, chances are it is from God.  If, however, it is being used to support heresy or paganism, or something else that is contrary to our beliefs, or if it is being used by a person to glorify himself and not God, chances are it's fake, or demonic.

Of course ultimately we should trust the Church and what it says about various claims of miracles.
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« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2009, 02:45:39 AM »

It is always better to err on the side of caution rather than to err on the side of heedlessness. 

Very true.
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« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2009, 02:59:53 AM »

Quote
1. How are we to discern whether these spiritual phenomena are divine or demonic? Obviously we know that the miracles and phenomena recorded in Scripture and Holy Tradition are valid, but how to discern these things today?

2. What about these same phenomena that are manifested by "holy men" of non-Christian religions? I especially think of Black Elk, the Sioux holy man who seemed to have visions of Christ and the Apocalypse. Is it possible that Christ reveals Himself in the manifestations of spiritual phenomena among those who do not even profess Him?

I don't have much to add here, but to add to what has been said about caution, I did want to bring something up which might give a Christian (though particularly Eastern Orthodox) reason to be careful about condemning something as demonic. St. Symeon the New Theologian said that the statement "blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven" (Matt. 12:31) in the New Testament spoke of denying or denigrating God's activity in the world. In other words, if God does something like a miracle, you are committing an unforgivable sin by attacking it. So, if you accept that thought of St. Symeon, it'd be best to be extremely careful about attributing miracles (levitation, etc.) to an evil source.
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« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2009, 03:09:26 AM »

I don't have much to add here, but to add to what has been said about caution, I did want to bring something up which might give a Christian (though particularly Eastern Orthodox) reason to be careful about condemning something as demonic. St. Symeon the New Theologian said that the statement "blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven" (Matt. 12:31) in the New Testament spoke of denying or denigrating God's activity in the world. In other words, if God does something like a miracle, you are committing an unforgivable sin by attacking it. So, if you accept that thought of St. Symeon, it'd be best to be extremely careful about attributing miracles (levitation, etc.) to an evil source.

I agree.  I wasn't saying to be quick to condemn, but rather to be slow to believe.
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« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2009, 05:18:47 AM »

Thanks for the informative responses so far. Smiley

Two questions:

1. How are we to discern whether these spiritual phenomena are divine or demonic? Obviously we know that the miracles and phenomena recorded in Scripture and Holy Tradition are valid, but how to discern these things today?

2. What about these same phenomena that are manifested by "holy men" of non-Christian religions? I especially think of Black Elk, the Sioux holy man who seemed to have visions of Christ and the Apocalypse. Is it possible that Christ reveals Himself in the manifestations of spiritual phenomena among those who do not even profess Him?

Thanks again.

Selam

I can't speak for Orthodoxy, or for all those who are answering to this thread, but I can give my personal perspective.

1. We must look at the personal sanctity of a person to understand if some miracles are genuine or not. Possessing a gift such as levitation or bilocation can be either a true miracle or a demonic manifestation. In other words, a miracle isn't sufficient to 'prove' that a person is saint, and the absence of miracles isn't sufficient to 'prove' that a person isn't saint. We should 'test' the faith and the works of a presumed saint before pronouncing his/her sanctity... that's why it's the Church alone who is given the power of descernment so that she can canonize saints. So, definitely, if a canonized saint has performed a certain miracle (including the ones you listed) you can be sure that, if the miracle isn't a fictional story, then it's a true miracle.
2. As grace can work even outside the boundaries of Orthodoxy, then even miracles might be performed outside of the Orthodox flock. The truth is that the Church isn't interested in affirming the supernatural character of miracles performed by the unorthodox, and of course the genuineness of these supernatural signs isn't sufficient to determine whether an unOrthodox wonderworker was a saint or not! About the ability of Jesus to manifest himself to the non-Christians through miracles, visions etc... "Everything is possible to God" is the answer. We shouldn't limit the range of God's action. Some time ago it was even discussed of a Jewish rabbi (one of the most authoritative of our days) who died leaving as a testament his conversations with the coming Messiah, where he clearly said that Messiah's name was Yeshua. Independently of the reality or not of these visions, what's certain is that sometimes Jesus intervenes in unthinkable manners. Think of the apparition of Jesus to st. Paul: he wasn't a Christian, and he even persecuted the Church... but God recognized his value and wanted him to become an active member of His flock, and so He intervened personally where the Church had failed.

In Christ,    Alex
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« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2009, 11:15:00 AM »


2. What about these same phenomena that are manifested by "holy men" of non-Christian religions?

I would like to add to what the others have said by stating that it would be rare for anything manifested by someone from another religion to be supported by the Church.  About the only example I can think of would be the Magi recognizing the miraculous sign of the star at the time of our Lord's birth, and then receiving a dream from God telling them not to return to Herod.  Magi are pagan (Zoroastrian) priests, and yet God showed them miraculous signs.

However, these signs strictly glorified Christ and were not in any way used to give credence to the pagan religion of these Magi.  In fact, I think we believe that they did not remain Zoroastrian, but became Christians.

So if someone from another religion is claiming to have visions of Christ, but he continues in his pagan religion, or especially if he is using it to give credence to his religion ("All religions are the same," etc.) I would run from such a person.

In any event, as already stated above, we need to leave it up to the Church to discern what is true or not.
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« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2009, 02:34:26 PM »


2. What about these same phenomena that are manifested by "holy men" of non-Christian religions?

About the only example I can think of would be the Magi recognizing the miraculous sign of the star at the time of our Lord's birth, and then receiving a dream from God telling them not to return to Herod.  Magi are pagan (Zoroastrian) priests, and yet God showed them miraculous signs. However, these signs strictly glorified Christ and were not in any way used to give credence to the pagan religion of these Magi.  In fact, I think we believe that they did not remain Zoroastrian, but became Christians.


Don't mean to quibble, but the Tradition of our Ethiopian Orthodox Church says that one of the Magi was an Ethiopian King named Balthazaar or Bazan. Smiley

Selam
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« Reply #15 on: October 24, 2009, 02:45:23 PM »

Everyone has given some excellent answers with which I completely agree. Please keep the answers and thoughts coming!

The story is told of St. Ignatius of Loyola who once received some visitors that excitedly raved about having seen a holy man who radiated a supernatural glow and levitated three feet off the ground. "He must be a great saint!" they said. "Perhaps," replied St. Ignatius. "Tell me, how does he treat his wife? What do his children say about him?"

We know that the antichrist will perform many supernatural signs and wonders. So, I agree that in discerning the source of such spiritual phenomena, we should look at the works and deeds of individuals who manifest such things. Righteous works and noble deeds are more indicative of the divine presence than supernatural feats. 

Selam
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« Reply #16 on: October 28, 2009, 02:27:24 AM »

A tangent about moral lying was split off and put here:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,24065.new.html#new
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« Reply #17 on: October 28, 2009, 02:42:36 AM »

This passage comes from the Benedicta Ward translation of The Sayings of the Desert Fathers:

Quote from: Chapter of Visions; Saying 1
A brother went out to the cell of Arsenius in Scetis, and looked in through the window, and saw him like fire from head to foot.  (He was a brother worthy to see such sights.)  When he knocked, Arsenius came out, and saw the brother standing there amazed, and said to him, 'Have you been knocking long?  Did you see anything?'  He answered, 'No.'  After talking with him, Arsenius sent him on his way.
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« Reply #18 on: October 28, 2009, 10:10:38 AM »


2. As grace can work even outside the boundaries of Orthodoxy, then even miracles might be performed outside of the Orthodox flock. The truth is that the Church isn't interested in affirming the supernatural character of miracles performed by the unorthodox, and of course the genuineness of these supernatural signs isn't sufficient to determine whether an unOrthodox wonderworker was a saint or not! About the ability of Jesus to manifest himself to the non-Christians through miracles, visions etc... "Everything is possible to God" is the answer. We shouldn't limit the range of God's action. Some time ago it was even discussed of a Jewish rabbi (one of the most authoritative of our days) who died leaving as a testament his conversations with the coming Messiah, where he clearly said that Messiah's name was Yeshua. Independently of the reality or not of these visions, what's certain is that sometimes Jesus intervenes in unthinkable manners. Think of the apparition of Jesus to st. Paul: he wasn't a Christian, and he even persecuted the Church... but God recognized his value and wanted him to become an active member of His flock, and so He intervened personally where the Church had failed.

In Christ,    Alex

My one issue with miracles "outside" the Church...are that they do NOT lead believers to the Truth, but, confirm their misconceptions and beliefs in a pagan god.

I have a Muslim friend who keeps telling me about miracles performed by their imams back in Pakistan.  One man got bitten by a scorpion and was dead....when the imam prayed over him, made some mud and placed it on the wound....healing the victim completely.  Blind were made to see, lame could walk, etc.

There are a number of these "miracles".

However, they are not bringing people to Christ.  In fact, they are confirming their belief in Islam...and giving them ammunition that the true miracles of Christ, as revealed to us in the Scriptures, are in fact "no big deal".  Therefore, to me....these are all misleading events.  These are not sent from God, for God would not lead believers away from Himself.

It reminds me of Moses speaking with the Pharoah, and the Pharoah's magicians doing "tricks" to disprove the power given to Moses by God.

As Orthodoxy is the True Faith, any event that does not lead or strengthen people's faith in Christ, does not come from God.

Just my two cents.



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« Reply #19 on: October 28, 2009, 01:04:57 PM »

I have a question. What could possibly be God's point in having someone levitate?  The light, the odors of sanctity, make sense to me, but I'm just curious about the levitation. Would it just be something to prove the person is possibly holy?

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« Reply #20 on: October 28, 2009, 01:09:47 PM »

I have a question. What could possibly be God's point in having someone levitate?  The light, the odors of sanctity, make sense to me, but I'm just curious about the levitation. Would it just be something to prove the person is possibly holy?

Might it have something to do with transcending the gross weightiness of our bodies?
Just as an aside, I'm curious why you find sense in odours and lights as signs of sanctity but not levitation.
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« Reply #21 on: October 28, 2009, 01:25:48 PM »

I have a question. What could possibly be God's point in having someone levitate?  The light, the odors of sanctity, make sense to me, but I'm just curious about the levitation. Would it just be something to prove the person is possibly holy?

It aligns with the image of being lifted upward toward the heavens, just as Christ's ascension into the heavens is a symbol of his authority.  "Up there" is sacred space, and so levitation is pointing to the person's "upness."
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« Reply #22 on: October 28, 2009, 01:40:05 PM »

I have a question. What could possibly be God's point in having someone levitate?  The light, the odors of sanctity, make sense to me, but I'm just curious about the levitation. Would it just be something to prove the person is possibly holy?

Might it have something to do with transcending the gross weightiness of our bodies?
Just as an aside, I'm curious why you find sense in odours and lights as signs of sanctity but not levitation.
Interesting! I hadn't thought of that (obviously). Thank you. As to your question, I don't know.
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« Reply #23 on: October 28, 2009, 01:42:22 PM »

It aligns with the image of being lifted upward toward the heavens, just as Christ's ascension into the heavens is a symbol of his authority.  "Up there" is sacred space, and so levitation is pointing to the person's "upness."
Thank you! I hadn't thought of this either.
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« Reply #24 on: October 28, 2009, 02:04:49 PM »

In the link about St. Irene above there is an example of stigmata...

At that time Methodios the Confessor was Patriarch. He was a leader of such courage that through the tortures of the Iconoclasts he bore on his body the stigmata of Our Lord.

I think that's the first time I've read about stigmata in Orthodoxy.


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« Reply #25 on: October 28, 2009, 03:54:37 PM »

I have a question. What could possibly be God's point in having someone levitate?  The light, the odors of sanctity, make sense to me, but I'm just curious about the levitation. Would it just be something to prove the person is possibly holy?

Might it have something to do with transcending the gross weightiness of our bodies?
Just as an aside, I'm curious why you find sense in odours and lights as signs of sanctity but not levitation.
Interesting! I hadn't thought of that (obviously). Thank you. As to your question, I don't know.
Unless the levitating person doesn't disappear in a cloud after detaching from the ground as Jesus did, the two events (Christ's ascension and a presumed levitation) have no connection with each other. In the Bible, the only levitation cases are connected with an ascension (as Christ's) or assumption (as Enoch, Elijah and, in Church Tradition, the Holy Virgin). Levitation by itself isn't, I believe, a proof of sanctity. Many people, even buddhists, have proved the same skill. A collegue of mine, an atheist, has been an eyewitness of levitation by his karate master while he was meditating, so definitely it is not linked with personal sanctity, at least not in its Christian understanding.

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #26 on: October 28, 2009, 06:01:59 PM »

I have a question. What could possibly be God's point in having someone levitate?  The light, the odors of sanctity, make sense to me, but I'm just curious about the levitation. Would it just be something to prove the person is possibly holy?

Might it have something to do with transcending the gross weightiness of our bodies?
Just as an aside, I'm curious why you find sense in odours and lights as signs of sanctity but not levitation.
Interesting! I hadn't thought of that (obviously). Thank you. As to your question, I don't know.
Unless the levitating person doesn't disappear in a cloud after detaching from the ground as Jesus did, the two events (Christ's ascension and a presumed levitation) have no connection with each other. In the Bible, the only levitation cases are connected with an ascension (as Christ's) or assumption (as Enoch, Elijah and, in Church Tradition, the Holy Virgin). Levitation by itself isn't, I believe, a proof of sanctity. Many people, even Buddhists, have proved the same skill. A collegue of mine, an atheist, has been an eyewitness of levitation by his karate master while he was meditating, so definitely it is not linked with personal sanctity, at least not in its Christian understanding.

In Christ,  Alex

Genre asked in the OP;

Does Orthodoxy accept these things as valid and genuine manifestations of holiness, or are these perhaps only demonic deceptions? I know that the Saints performed miracles, but I have always associated things like bilocation, levitation, and astral projection with demonic power rather than divine power.

The answer is; yes, the Orthodox church accepts, with caution, these things as valid and genuine manifestations of holiness, and not as demonic deceptions in Her Saints. That your colleague witnessed a levitation by his karate master is interesting, but not really of any concern to the Church and, you are correct, we wouldn't link that with personal sanctity; though it might be. We simply don't assume anything regarding such an event.

I can't imagine why the devil would want to levitate Christian saints; in the process strengthening their faith, and the faith of others, in Christ. On the other hand, if he is able to produce a counterfeit *miracle* outside the faith, that would work to his purpose of causing confusion and doubt amongst the faithful and keeping others from Christ.

If I recall correctly, St Se raphim of Sari also levitated during prayer.
editied for clarity
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« Reply #27 on: October 28, 2009, 11:28:35 PM »

In the link about St. Irene above there is an example of stigmata...

At that time Methodios the Confessor was Patriarch. He was a leader of such courage that through the tortures of the Iconoclasts he bore on his body the stigmata of Our Lord.

I think that's the first time I've read about stigmata in Orthodoxy.

But it sounds as if the wounds are caused by the iconoclasts, not as though they are some "holy affliction" or something.
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« Reply #28 on: October 29, 2009, 01:04:38 AM »

But it sounds as if the wounds are caused by the iconoclasts, not as though they are some "holy affliction" or something.

Yep. That's what it sounded like to me. It was not unknown for Christians to be crucified, or otherwise wounded thus, be it by their "christian" adversaries, or, indeed, by non-Christians in times past.
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« Reply #29 on: October 29, 2009, 08:09:41 AM »

I have a question. What could possibly be God's point in having someone levitate?  The light, the odors of sanctity, make sense to me, but I'm just curious about the levitation. Would it just be something to prove the person is possibly holy?

Might it have something to do with transcending the gross weightiness of our bodies?
Just as an aside, I'm curious why you find sense in odours and lights as signs of sanctity but not levitation.
Interesting! I hadn't thought of that (obviously). Thank you. As to your question, I don't know.
Unless the levitating person doesn't disappear in a cloud after detaching from the ground as Jesus did, the two events (Christ's ascension and a presumed levitation) have no connection with each other. In the Bible, the only levitation cases are connected with an ascension (as Christ's) or assumption (as Enoch, Elijah and, in Church Tradition, the Holy Virgin). Levitation by itself isn't, I believe, a proof of sanctity. Many people, even Buddhists, have proved the same skill. A collegue of mine, an atheist, has been an eyewitness of levitation by his karate master while he was meditating, so definitely it is not linked with personal sanctity, at least not in its Christian understanding.

In Christ,  Alex

Genre asked in the OP;

Does Orthodoxy accept these things as valid and genuine manifestations of holiness, or are these perhaps only demonic deceptions? I know that the Saints performed miracles, but I have always associated things like bilocation, levitation, and astral projection with demonic power rather than divine power.

The answer is; yes, the Orthodox church accepts, with caution, these things as valid and genuine manifestations of holiness, and not as demonic deceptions in Her Saints. That your colleague witnessed a levitation by his karate master is interesting, but not really of any concern to the Church and, you are correct, we wouldn't link that with personal sanctity; though it might be. We simply don't assume anything regarding such an event.

I can't imagine why the devil would want to levitate Christian saints; in the process strengthening their faith, and the faith of others, in Christ. On the other hand, if he is able to produce a counterfeit *miracle* outside the faith, that would work to his purpose of causing confusion and doubt amongst the faithful and keeping others from Christ.

If I recall correctly, St Se raphim of Sari also levitated during prayer.
editied for clarity

Precisely. We have no instruments to verify the sanctity of people such as that old Japanese karate master. I can just acknowledge the genuineness of the event, since I believe my collegue to be an almost reliable source: being an atheist and science expert he is tendentially more neutral and rational then a person believing in the supernatural. Then, the fact that a person can have this skills or powers doesn't automatically mean he is possessed by demonic forces, nor that he is surely a saint.

In Christ,  Alex
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« Reply #30 on: October 29, 2009, 01:28:45 PM »

Quote
1. How are we to discern whether these spiritual phenomena are divine or demonic? Obviously we know that the miracles and phenomena recorded in Scripture and Holy Tradition are valid, but how to discern these things today?

2. What about these same phenomena that are manifested by "holy men" of non-Christian religions? I especially think of Black Elk, the Sioux holy man who seemed to have visions of Christ and the Apocalypse. Is it possible that Christ reveals Himself in the manifestations of spiritual phenomena among those who do not even profess Him?

I don't have much to add here, but to add to what has been said about caution, I did want to bring something up which might give a Christian (though particularly Eastern Orthodox) reason to be careful about condemning something as demonic. St. Symeon the New Theologian said that the statement "blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven" (Matt. 12:31) in the New Testament spoke of denying or denigrating God's activity in the world. In other words, if God does something like a miracle, you are committing an unforgivable sin by attacking it. So, if you accept that thought of St. Symeon, it'd be best to be extremely careful about attributing miracles (levitation, etc.) to an evil source.
Not that I disagree with what you've written here, but how then do we treat those who have denied or denounced miracles, then repented of this? Surely the repentance in their lives is a testimony to God's forgiveness. Take Lew Wallace, for example, who actively sought to disprove the Resurrection, yet in his search for evidence against Christianity was convinced of its truth. His novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ is the result of this journey.

I guess what I'm saying is that I can't see even the attribution of God's work to demons as unforgivable, because one can, at least in theory, repent of even that. Maybe I'm not looking at it the right way, but I've always felt the only unforgivable sin, the one that grieves the Holy Spirit, is unrepentance.
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« Reply #31 on: October 29, 2009, 04:24:06 PM »


I believe my collegue to be an almost reliable source: being an atheist and science expert he is tendentially more neutral and rational then a person believing in the supernatural.

In Christ,  Alex

I don't want to veer off topic, but I respectfully disagree with the premise of your statement here. Atheists are not inherently more neutral than theists. To attribute all unexplained phenomena to purely naturalistic causes is as superstitious and narrow minded as attributing all that is unexplainable to the supernatural.

Selam 
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« Reply #32 on: October 30, 2009, 08:33:50 AM »


I believe my collegue to be an almost reliable source: being an atheist and science expert he is tendentially more neutral and rational then a person believing in the supernatural.

In Christ,  Alex

I don't want to veer off topic, but I respectfully disagree with the premise of your statement here. Atheists are not inherently more neutral than theists. To attribute all unexplained phenomena to purely naturalistic causes is as superstitious and narrow minded as attributing all that is unexplainable to the supernatural.

Selam 
My collegue's atheism certifies that he isn't so impressionable as a superstitious person. The event he witnessed helped him approach differently to a belief in that supernatural side of the world just because he COULDN'T explain what he saw in a rational fashion. There were no instruments implied by his master to simulate levitation and as a relationalistic atheistic science-believer he had to stop and say to himself: "That's impossible, but I saw it".
A believer can or cannot be superstitious, of course, but seen that they affirm something which is technically if not irrational at least to be accepted by faith, makes many of them regard supernatural things as miracles. Many people have showed the same errors with shaman-like figures (many of which even claim to be Christians!) just because they saw them levitating: often they don't even try to find a logic explanation because "they believe it". I wouldn't say this myself if I hadn't seen this attitude so many times, so trust me, this occurs often.
Btw, "attributing all that is unexplainable to the supernatural" is certainly not the attitude of my collegue: he has just an opener mind towards religion and supernatural then he had 15 years ago when he saw his master levitating.

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #33 on: October 30, 2009, 11:57:03 PM »

From a less religious perspective, I've sometimes wondered about things like levitation. We know that people can do extraordinary things under certain circumstances, such as a person suviving a fall from a balcony many floors up. But there are generally scientifically explainable reasons that things like this can happen. Thus far, some things seem to happen, even though there isn't really an explanation (or perhaps even a credible idea) about how exactly it happens. Is that proof that there is something "other" at work? I don't think it's proof, but it is something to think about, even for a skeptic like me.
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« Reply #34 on: October 31, 2009, 12:11:54 AM »

From a less religious perspective, I've sometimes wondered about things like levitation. We know that people can do extraordinary things under certain circumstances, such as a person suviving a fall from a balcony many floors up. But there are generally scientifically explainable reasons that things like this can happen. Thus far, some things seem to happen, even though there isn't really an explanation (or perhaps even a credible idea) about how exactly it happens. Is that proof that there is something "other" at work? I don't think it's proof, but it is something to think about, even for a skeptic like me.

Remember the "levitating man" in front of the White House a few years ago? He made the news:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PgpWCe2crQ
Well, here's how he did it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etSivpBHUmE
Beware of levitating yogis with sticks.
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« Reply #35 on: October 31, 2009, 12:16:15 AM »

Thanks for the vids, ozgeorge.

"reality is not all it seems to be"--well that's true in his case, just not in the way that he wants people to think, lol.
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« Reply #36 on: October 31, 2009, 03:52:33 AM »

Some more of levitating whitey:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkS36unUvAo&feature=related

Also, here is something interesting:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2Kz8FzruvQ&feature=related
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« Reply #37 on: March 22, 2010, 01:02:39 AM »

What is the Orthodox belief regarding such things a bilocation, levitation, superntaural energy, perfumes of sanctity, indedia (the ability to live for years without food or drink) and other spiritual phenomenon that are often attributed to Saints in the Catholic faith? Does Orthodoxy accept these things as valid and genuine manifestations of holiness, or are these perhaps only demonic deceptions? I know that the Saints performed miracles, but I have always associated things like bilocation, levitation, and astral projection with demonic power rather than divine power.



 Perhaps these verses will shed a little light on the possibilities.  
-------------------------------------------
 Acts 8:26-40 (New International Version)

Philip and the Ethiopian
 26Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." 27So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian[a]eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. 29The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it."

 30Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked.

 31"How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

 32The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture:
   "He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
      and as a lamb before the shearer is silent,
      so he did not open his mouth.
 33In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
      Who can speak of his descendants?
      For his life was taken from the earth."

 34The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?" 35Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

 36As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?" 38And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.
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« Reply #38 on: March 23, 2010, 12:22:31 AM »

Since the topic of Stigmata came up;  there is an Indian Orthodox Abess who bears the stigmata .  Her palms and forehead bleed and so on.  But this is never spoken of by the Church and the hierarchy , ever.

I first came across this information from a Catholic in a write up about stigmatics.  First I thought that she was some sort of non-canonical (because I had never head about her even in passing ) but on investigating I realized that the Mother is an Abess in a convent and fully within the Church. 

I have read some EO websites calling the stigmata to be non-Orthodox and so on.  I dont know, it could even be a very normal phenomenon due to some sort of genetic disease too.  But imo the Church in India, has behaved with great maturity by not giving too much publicity and so on.  If the stigmata is a sign of holiness and sanctification;  the fruits will be know in due time . 

That would be point, where we could make a decision . 
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