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The Introduction to the History of Exorcism



I, alas, am not Geralt of Rivia, but I know something about exorcisms. At the very least, "get out of here and fuck yourself" is a shitty form of exorcism.

For a demonologist, exorcism is the act of exorcising a demon or demons from the body of the possessed. And in the role of the latter can be both a person and an animal or even an object. The very word "exorcism" goes back to the Greek exorkidzo - "to conjure".

The ritual of the exorcism varied depending on the extent of the sufferer's possession. In mild cases, for example, in case of malaise, which was attributed to the intrigues of the demon, a simple blessing was enough. The full ritual was resorted to only in cases of complete capture of the body of the possessed. Including his language - the priest believed that in the process of exorcism he was communicating with the demon himself, and not with his victim.

Interestingly, the exorcism procedure was an integral part of the rite of baptism in the Western (Roman Catholic) Church. Until 1972, exorcisms were included in some of the liturgies that took place shortly before Easter, with the aim of expelling the evil spirit from those who were to be baptized on Easter.

According to Christian tradition, the first exorcist was Jesus himself, who expelled from the possessed a whole "legion" of demons, who were so stunned by such impudence that after that they entered a herd of pigs and threw themselves into the sea.

The success of an exorcism is highly dependent on the personality of the performer - the more pious the person, the better. The most powerful exorcisms come from the saints, but you can’t get enough of all the possessed saints. The duration of the ritual can be different: sometimes the demon left the victim immediately, but a case is described when the ritual lasted two years.

By the way, after the ritual, one freed from demonic oppression often "falls dead, and angels take his soul."

In addition to verbal incantations, the ritual also includes a physical impact on the possessed, as you might have guessed from the previous paragraph. For example, "poking" (exsuffatio) is the practice in which the priest blew in the face of the possessed, driving away evil spirits. I remind you that toothpaste and refreshing rinses appeared much later than exorcisms. Sometimes during this ritual, if one was included in the baptism, the priest would moisten the ear of the convert with saliva. Allegedly, she had healing and anti-demonic properties.

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An obligatory part of the exorcism was the "spell of demons". Here we are not talking about magical formulas, but about what modern psychoanalysis has grown out of. The possessed and the priest entered into a calm, detailed dialogue, during which a contract was worked out on mutually acceptable terms for the priest and the "demon".

True, there are cases when such conversations (and they were far from always successful) began to go into the jungle of theological subtleties - after all, everyone who disagreed with the dogma of the church could easily be attributed to the possessed.

The priest had to persuade the demon not only to leave, but also to leave, let's say, in the right direction - so that he would not move to another body or the priest himself, so that he would not return, but ideally - so that he would go straight to hell.

Thus, despite the regulation, the exorcism ritual included, often, very personal moments, depending on the priest's understanding of his goal and his ideas about the properties of demons.

A striking example, perhaps, would be the attitude to the exorcisms of Martin Luther. As in many areas, he revolutionized this practice.

First of all, he abandoned all ritual moments, except for prayer. Yes, and pray, in his opinion, should not be out loud. Luther believed that the ritual of exorcism with these calm conversations and some solemnity flatters the demon, and the spirit should not be cajoled, but kicked out without regret. And the main tools of the exorcist are prayer and contempt.

When the possessed girl was brought to Luther, he laid his hands on her head and began to pray, announcing to the assembled relatives that the prayer would continue "until God hears us." After some time, the clergyman's patience came to an end, he decided that the prayer only caters to the pride of the demon and, moving away from the girl, kicked her and began to shower insults on the demon imprisoned in her. He did not have time to finish the ritual - the relatives took the possessed woman and took her home, and Luther was informed that the evil spirit no longer tormented her.

The New Testament, however, points out the insufficiency of even the most holy words: “Some of the wandering Jewish exorcists began to use the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying: We conjure you by Jesus, whom Paul preaches. The evil spirit answered: I know Jesus, and Paul I know, but who are you?

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