Exorcism January: Real life exorcism cases – George Lukins

I always talk about fictional exorcisms, but never really looked into “Real” ones. Today, let’s take a look at an older case.

George Lukins, also known as the Yatton daemoniac, was infamous for his alleged demonic possession and exorcism that occurred in 1788. George lived in Bristol and worked as a tailor, performer and common carrier.

Beginning in 1769 , he had suffered from “fits of an alarming nature,”.  He claimed that he had been fine until he was performing an old mummer’s play at Christmas time when he had felt a supernatural slap which felled him to the ground and left him possessed by demons. The people around George were worried because he was making noises that seemed inhuman and speaking in different languages and thus, Rev. Joseph Easterbrook was called in on May the 31st 1778.

An account of the exorcism was published in the Bristol Gazette. The newspaper reported that George Lukins, during his alleged possession, claimed that he was the devil, made barking noises, sung an inverted Te Deum, and was very violent. In light of these claims, on Friday, 13 June 1778, seven clergymen, including Rev. Joseph Easterbrook, accompanied George Lukins to the vestry at Temple Church, where they performed an exorcism on the man, which included hymn singing and prayer. The deliverance concluded when the demons were allegedly cast out using the Trinitarian formula; the clergymen commanded the demons to return to hell and George Lukins then exclaimed “Blessed Jesus!”, praised God, recited the Lord’s prayer, and then thanked the Methodist and Anglican clergymen. Rev. Easterbrook, when recording the events under the patronage of Rev. John Wesley, stated that the account would be doubted in this modern era of skepticism, but pointed to “the scriptures, and other authentic history, of ancient as well as modern times” to buttress what he felt was a valid case of demonic possession. An article in The Gentleman’s Magazine, and Historical Chronicle criticized the account, stating that Lukins actually suffered from “epilepsy and St. Vitus’s dance.” Dr. Feriar, a medical demonologist, criticized George Lukins as an impostor masquerading as a demoniac. Nevertheless, after the exorcism, George Lukins was described as calm and happy. Following this case, several pieces of literature were printed on George Lukins, thus popularizing his alleged case of diabolical possession and deliverance, despite the original design to keep the case a secret. (From Wikipedia)

Now of course, seeing this case at a broader light, we can see that he was suffering from epilepsy and other issues that at that time were unknown so the authenticity of the case is definitely questionable. Much like the case of Petar Blagojevic, we only have their word to go by. It is interesting to see how the reports say that George was fine after the exorcism which points to 2 things: Either the placebo effect worked, or he was just pretending that he was possessed. If nothing else, we have seen lately that people are willing to do anything in order to get attention. Even take the worst stance on something. Regardless, it is a good look into the history of exorcisms.

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