The things I am learning! I don’t think of them as tricks or techniques, more as ways of liberating my latent abilities and channelling the power of God. After I got over the shock of how shallow, deceptive and self-serving Ananias had been, Cyrus reminded me that there were many magicians and holy men who do a lot more to benefit people than Ananias does, with much less fuss and more attention to giving than taking. When I asked him to explain the difference between a magician and a holy man, he just gave me one of his enigmatic smiles and said it depended on whose side you were on.
I have made good progress with mind reading. I learned that almost everyone has the same hopes and fears and shares the same feelings about their strengths and weaknesses and how others see them – in other words you can tell someone a lot about themselves without even having met them. But then you can discover a lot more from watching tiny changes in their expression as you talk to them, and when you touch them you can feel tensions ebb and flow too. I learned how to sense the minute involuntary movements their muscles make as they recall past events or think about future actions. And then sometimes you just become aware of suggestions entering your mind, presumably through some sort of spiritual intervention. Add to this the kind of more obvious information-gathering techniques used by Ananias and his helpers, and you soon have some pretty impressive-looking powers.
I’m beginning to learn that it’s a similar thing with healing and exorcism, which when you think about it are pretty much the same thing. As well as obvious cases of possession such as madness and delirium, we all know that most diseases are caused by demons, whether it’s fever, pain, paralysis, dumbness or whatever. There are all sorts of ways to help to remove demons, including the use of herbs and charms, touching or blowing on a possessed person, calling out the demon’s name, incantations, and of course praying, but in the end the person you are trying to help has to have faith that the demons are going to be driven from them if you are to have much chance of succeeding. But of course they won’t have that faith if you don’t have a reputation for success in the first place.
I have to admit I was a bit sceptical about all this at the beginning, but now I want to learn as much as I can as quickly as possible. However, Cyrus has said he needs to see his family and sort out some business affairs back in Samaria, so he will be going away tomorrow morning for a few days. He said he hopes to be back for the visit of Eleazar the Exorcist to Capernaum on Tuesday, but that Mary and I should go along anyway if he can’t make it, so we can see a reputable exorcist at work, doing some good. He’s told me to relax and enjoy a few days’ rest with my wife, and then next week we can carry on with my studies.