Exorcism

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Painting of Saint Francis Borgia performing an exorcism, as depicted by Goya St. Francis Borgia Helping a Dying Impenitent by Goya.jpg
Painting of Saint Francis Borgia performing an exorcism, as depicted by Goya

Exorcism (from Greek εξορκισμός, exorkismós "binding by oath") is the religious or spiritual practice of evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person, or an area, that are believed to be possessed. [1] Depending on the spiritual beliefs of the exorcist, this may be done by causing the entity to swear an oath, performing an elaborate ritual, or simply by commanding it to depart in the name of a higher power. The practice is ancient and part of the belief system of many cultures and religions.

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Demon Paranormal, often malevolent being prevalent in religion, occultism, mythology, and folklore

A demon is a supernatural and often malevolent being prevalent historically in religion, occultism, literature, fiction, mythology, and folklore; as well as in media such as comics, videogames, movies and television series.

Demonic possession is where individuals are supposed to be possessed by malevolent preternatural beings, commonly referred to as demons or devils. Symptoms of demonic possession commonly claimed by believers include erased memories or personalities, convulsions and fainting as if one were dying. It is also worth noting that in most cases of supposed demonic possession, the individual displayed sporadic hand movements, as if playing a piano.

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Requested and performed exorcism began to decline in the United States by the 18th century and occurred rarely until the latter half of the 20th century when the public saw a sharp rise due to the media attention exorcisms were getting. There was "a 50% increase in the number of exorcisms performed between the early 1960s and the mid-1970s". [2]

Buddhism

The ritual of the Exorcising-Ghost day is part of Tibetan tradition. The Tibetan religious ceremony 'Gutor' ༼དགུ་གཏོར་༽, literally offering of the 29th, is held on the 29th of the 12th Tibetan month, with its focus on driving out all negativity, including evil spirits and misfortunes of the past year, and starting the new year in a peaceful and auspicious way.

The temples and monasteries throughout Tibet hold grand religious dance ceremonies, with the largest at Potala Palace in Lhasa. Families clean their houses on this day, decorate the rooms and eat a special noodle soup called 'Guthuk'. ༼དགུ་ཐུག་༽ In the evening, the people carry torches, calling out the words of exorcism. [3]

Potala Palace was the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India

The Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet was the residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India during the 1959 Chinese invasion. It is now a museum and World Heritage Site.

Lhasa District in Tibet, China

Lhasa or Chengguan is a district and administrative capital of Lhasa City in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. The inner urban area of Lhasa City is equivalent to the administrative borders of Chengguan District, which is part of the wider prefectural Lhasa City.

Guthuk

Guthuk is a noodle soup in Tibetan cuisine. It is eaten two days before Losar, the Tibetan New Year and is a variation on Thukpa bhatuk. The Tibetan religious ceremony 'Gutor' (དགུ་གཏོར་), literally meaning offering of the 29th, is held on the 29th of the 12th Tibetan month, and is focused on driving out all negativity, including evil spirits and misfortunes of the past year, and starting the new year in a peaceful and auspicious way. It is made with barley and other ingredients.

Christianity

Exorcising a Mute by Gustav Dore, 1865. JesusCuresamute.gif
Exorcising a Mute by Gustav Dore, 1865.

In Christianity, exorcism is the practice of casting out or getting rid of demons. In Christian practice the person performing the exorcism, known as an exorcist, is often a member of the Christian Church, or an individual thought to be graced with special powers or skills. The exorcist may use prayers and religious material, such as set formulas, gestures, symbols, icons, amulets, etc. The exorcist often invokes God, Jesus and/or several different angels and archangels to intervene with the exorcism. Protestant Christian exorcists most commonly believe the authority given to them by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (the Trinity) is the source of their ability to cast out demons. [4]

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with over 2.4 billion followers.

Christian demonology is the study of demons from a Christian point of view. It is primarily based on the Bible, the exegesis of these scriptures, the scriptures of early Christian philosophers, hermits and the associated traditions and legends incorporated from other beliefs.

In some religions, an exorcist is a person who is believed to be able to cast out the devil or other demons. A priest, a nun, a monk, a healer, a shaman or other specially prepared or instructed person can be an exorcist. An exorcist is a person who performs the ridding of demons or other supernatural beings who are alleged to have possessed a person, or (sometimes) a building or even an object.

In general, people considered to be possessed are not regarded as evil in themselves, nor wholly responsible for their actions, because possession is considered to be unwilling manipulation by a demon resulting in harm to self or others. Therefore, practitioners regard exorcism as more of a cure than a punishment. The mainstream rituals usually take this into account, making sure that there is no violence to the possessed, only that they be tied down if there is potential for violence. [5]

Evil profound immorality

Evil, in a general sense, is the opposite or absence of good. It can be an extremely broad concept, though in everyday usage is often used more narrowly to denote profound wickedness. It is generally seen as taking multiple possible forms, such as the form of personal moral evil commonly associated with the word, or impersonal natural evil, and in religious thought, the form of the demonic or supernatural/eternal.

Catholic Church

In Catholic Christianity, exorcisms are performed in the name of Jesus Christ. [6] A distinction is made between a formal exorcism, which can only be conducted by a priest during a baptism or with the permission of a bishop, and "prayers of deliverance" which can be said by anyone.

The statue of Saint Philip of Agira with the Gospel in his left hand, the symbol of the exorcists, in the May celebrations in his honor at Limina, Sicily Ottava di San Filippo d'Agira a Limina - Province of Messina, Sicily, Italy - Sunday 19 May 2013.jpg
The statue of Saint Philip of Agira with the Gospel in his left hand, the symbol of the exorcists, in the May celebrations in his honor at Limina, Sicily

The Catholic rite for a formal exorcism, called a "Major Exorcism", is given in Section 11 of the Rituale Romanum. [7] [8] The Ritual lists guidelines for conducting an exorcism, and for determining when a formal exorcism is required. [9] Priests are instructed to carefully determine that the nature of the affliction is not actually a psychological or physical illness before proceeding. [6]

In Catholic practice, the person performing the exorcism, known as an exorcist, is an ordained priest. The exorcist recites prayers according to the rubrics of the rite, and may make use of religious materials such as icons and sacramentals. The exorcist invokes God—specifically the Name of Jesus—as well as members of the Church Triumphant and the Archangel Michael to intervene with the exorcism. According to Catholic understanding, several weekly exorcisms over many years are sometimes required to expel a deeply entrenched demon. [9] [10]

Lutheran Churches

From the 16th century onward, Lutheran pastoral handbooks describe the primary symptoms of demonic possession to be knowledge of secret things, knowledge of languages one has never learned, and supernatural strength. [11] Before conducting a major exorcism, Lutheran liturgical texts state that a physician be consulted in order to rule out any medical or psychiatric illness. [11] The rite of exorcism centers chiefly around driving out demons "with prayers and contempt" and includes the Apostle's Creed and Our Father. [11]

Baptismal liturgies in Lutheran Churches include a minor exorcism. [12] [13]

Hinduism

The image of Hanuman at the Hanuman temple in Sarangpur is said to be so powerful that a mere look at it by people affected by evil spirits, drives the evil spirits out of the people affected Kashtbhanjan.jpg
The image of Hanuman at the Hanuman temple in Sarangpur is said to be so powerful that a mere look at it by people affected by evil spirits, drives the evil spirits out of the people affected

Beliefs and practices pertaining to the practice of exorcism are prominently connected with Hindus. Of the four Vedas (holy books of the Hindus), the Atharva Veda is said to contain the secrets related to exorcism, [15] magic and alchemy. [16] [17] The basic means of exorcism are the mantra and the yajna used in both Vedic and Tantric traditions. Vaishnava traditions also employ a recitation of names of Narasimha and reading scriptures, notably the Bhagavata Purana aloud.

According to Gita Mahatmya of Padma Purana, reading the 3rd, 7th and 9th chapter of Bhagavad Gita and mentally offering the result to departed persons helps them to get released from their ghostly situation. Kirtan , continuous playing of mantras, keeping scriptures and holy pictures of the deities (Shiva, Vishnu, Hanuman, Brahma, Shakti, etc.) (especially of Narasimha) in the house, burning incense offered during a Puja , sprinkling water from holy rivers, and blowing conches used in puja are other effective practices.[ citation needed ] It is also believed that praying to Lord Hanuman gives the best result. It is also mentioned in the Hanuman Chalisa. It is believed that just uttering the name of Lord Hanuman makes the evil forces and devils tremble, in fear.

The main puranic resource on ghost and death-related information is Garuda Purana. [18]

A complete description of birth and death and also about the human soul are explained in Katō Upanishad, a part of Yajur Veda. A summary of this is also available as a separate scripture called Kāttakaṃ.

Islam

Islamic exorcisms consist of the treated person lying down, while a sheikh places a hand on a patient’s head while reciting verses from the Quran, but this is not mandatory. [19] The drinking or sprinkling of holy water (water from the Zamzam Well) may also take place along with applying of clean non-alcohol-based perfumes, called as ittar. [20]

Specific verses from the Quran are recited, which glorify God (e.g. The Throne Verse (Arabic: آية الكرسي Ayatul Kursi)), and invoke God's help. In some cases, the adhan (call for daily prayers) is also read, as this has the effect of repelling non-angelic unseen beings or the jinn .[ citation needed ]

The Islamic prophet Muhammad taught his followers to read the last three suras from the Quran, Surat al-Ikhlas (The Fidelity), Surat al-Falaq (The Dawn) and Surat an-Nas (Mankind).[ citation needed ]

A hadith recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari , 8:76:479 states: "Seventy thousand people of my followers will enter Paradise without accounts, and they are those who do not practice Ar-Ruqya and do not see an evil omen in things, and put their trust in their Lord." Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, a scholar, commented on this hadith, stating: That is because these people will enter Paradise without being called to account because of the perfection of their Tawheed, therefore he described them as people who did not ask others to perform ruqyah for them. Hence he said "and they put their trust in their Lord." Because of their complete trust in their Lord, their contentment with Him, their faith in Him, their being pleased with Him and their seeking their needs from Him, they do not ask people for anything, be it ruqyah or anything else, and they are not influenced by omens and superstitions that could prevent them from doing what they want to do, because superstition detracts from and weakens Tawheed". [21]

Judaism

Josephus reports exorcisms performed by administering poisonous root extracts and others by making sacrifices. [22]

In more recent times, Rabbi Yehuda Fetaya (1859-1942) authored the book Minchat Yahuda, which deals extensively with exorcism, his experience with possessed people, and other subjects of Jewish thought. The book is written in Hebrew and was translated into English.

The Jewish exorcism ritual is performed by a rabbi who has mastered practical Kabbalah. Also present is a minyan (a group of ten adult males), who gather in a circle around the possessed person. The group recites Psalm 91 three times, and then the rabbi blows a shofar (a ram's horn). [23]

The shofar is blown in a certain way, with various notes and tones, in effect to "shatter the body" so that the possessing force will be shaken loose. After it has been shaken loose, the rabbi begins to communicate with it and ask it questions such as why it is possessing the body of the possessed. The minyan may pray for it and perform a ceremony for it in order to enable it to feel safe, and so that it can leave the person's body. [23]

Taoism

In Taoism, exorcisms are performed because an individual has been possessed by an evil spirit for one of two reasons. The individual has disturbed a ghost, regardless of intent, and the ghost now seeks revenge. An alive person could also be jealous and uses black magic as revenge thereby conjuring a ghost to possess someone. [24] Members of the fashi, both Chinese ritual officers and priests ordained by a celestial master, perform Chinese rituals, in particular, exorcisms.

Historically, Taoist exorcisms include chanting, physical movements, and praying as a way to drive away the spirit. [25] Rituals such as these occur during festivals. Rituals such as these are considered of low order during these festivals. They are more for entertainment than a necessity during festivals.

The leaders of the exorcisms create a dramatic performance to call out the demons so the village can once again have peace. The leaders strike themselves with a sharp weapon so they bleed. Blood is considered to be a protector, so after the rituals, the blood is blotted with a tissue and put on the door of houses as an act of protection against evil spirits. [26]

Scientific view

Demonic possession is not a psychiatric or medical diagnosis recognized by either the DSM-5 or the ICD-10. Those who profess a belief in demonic possession have sometimes ascribed to possession the symptoms associated with physical or mental illnesses, such as hysteria, mania, psychosis, Tourette's syndrome, epilepsy, schizophrenia or dissociative identity disorder. [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32]

Additionally, there is a form of monomania called demonomania or demonopathy in which the patient believes that he or she is possessed by one or more demons. [33] The illusion that exorcism works on people experiencing symptoms of possession is attributed by some to placebo effect and the power of suggestion. [34] [35] Some cases suggest that supposedly possessed persons are actually narcissists or are suffering from low self-esteem and act demonically possessed in order to gain attention. [36]

Within the scientific community, the work of psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, a believer in exorcism, generated significant debate and derision. Much was made of his association with (and admiration for) the controversial Malachi Martin, a Roman Catholic priest and a former Jesuit, despite the fact that Peck consistently called Martin a liar and a manipulator. [37] [38] Other criticisms leveled against Peck included claims that he had transgressed the boundaries of professional ethics by attempting to persuade his patients to accept Christianity. [37]

Exorcism and mental illness

One scholar has described psychosurgery as "Neurosurgical Exorcisms", with trepanation having been widely used to release demons from the brain. [39] Meanwhile, another scholar has equated psychotherapy with exorcism. [40]

United Kingdom

In the UK, exorcisms are increasing. They happen mainly in charismatic and Pentecostal churches, and also among communities of West African origin. Frequently, the people exorcised are mentally disturbed. Mentally ill people are sometimes told to stop their medication as the church believes prayer and/or exorcism is enough. If psychiatric patients do not get better after exorcism, they may believe they have failed to overcome the demon and get worse. [41]

Notable exorcisms and exorcists

See also

Related Research Articles

Spirit possession is a term for the belief that animas, aliens, demons, gods, or spirits can take control of a human body. The concept of spirit possession exists in many religions, including Christianity, Buddhism, Haitian Vodou, Wicca, Hinduism, Islam and Southeast Asian and African traditions. In a 1969 study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, spirit possession beliefs were found to exist in 74 percent of a sample of 488 societies in all parts of the world. Depending on the cultural context in which it is found, possession may be considered voluntary or involuntary and may be considered to have beneficial or detrimental effects on the host. Within possession cults, the belief that one is possessed by spirits is more common among women than men.

Spiritual warfare

Spiritual warfare is the Christian concept of fighting against the work of preternatural evil forces. It is based on the biblical belief in evil spirits, or demons, that are said to intervene in human affairs in various ways. Various Christian groups have adopted practices to repel such forces, as based on their doctrine of Christian demonology. Prayer is a common form of spiritual warfare among Christians. Other practices may include exorcism, the laying on of hands, fasting, and anointing with oil.

In Christianity, deliverance ministry refers to the activity of cleansing a person of demons and evil spirits in order to address problems manifesting in their life as a result of the presence of said entities and the root causes of their authority to oppress the person. Adherents to this theological concept attribute physical, psychological, spiritual and emotional problems that people suffer to the activities of the oppressing spirits following the example of Jesus Christ given in the gospel. The practices and many of the underlying beliefs of these ministries are not accepted by all Christians.

The Reverend Gabriele Amorth, was an Italian Roman Catholic Priest and an exorcist of the Diocese of Rome who performed tens of thousands of exorcisms over his sixty plus years as a Catholic Priest. As the appointed exorcist for the diocese of Rome, Father Amorth was the Vatican's Exorcist in Chief.

<i>Of Exorcisms and Certain Supplications</i>

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Anneliese Michel German homicide victim

Anna Elisabeth "Anneliese" Michel[ˈanəˌliːzə ˈmɪçl̩] was a German woman who underwent Catholic exorcism rites during the year before her death. She was diagnosed with epileptic psychosis and had a history of psychiatric treatment, which was overall not effective.

<i>The Exorcism of Emily Rose</i> 2005 film by Scott Derrickson

The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a 2005 American supernatural horror crime film directed by Scott Derrickson and starring Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson. The film is loosely based on the story of Anneliese Michel and follows a self-proclaimed agnostic (Linney) who acts as defense counsel representing a parish priest (Wilkinson), accused by the state of negligent homicide after he performed an exorcism.

Jean-Joseph Surin was a French Jesuit mystic, preacher, devotional writer and exorcist. He is remembered for his participation in the exorcisms of Loudun in 1634-37.

Unclean spirit

In English translations of the Bible, unclean spirit is a common rendering of Greek pneuma akatharton, which in its single occurrence in the Septuagint translates Hebrew ruaḥ tum'ah.

<i>The Rite</i> (2011 film) 2011 film by Mikael Håfström

The Rite is a 2011 supernatural horror film directed by Mikael Håfström and written by Michael Petroni. It is loosely based on Matt Baglio's book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist, which itself is based on real events as witnessed and recounted by American then-exorcist-in-training Father Gary Thomas and his experiences from being sent to Rome to be trained and work daily with veteran clergy of the practice.

Clara Germana Cele was a South African Christian woman, who in 1906, was said to be possessed by a demon.

In the late 1940s, in the United States, priests of the Roman Catholic Church performed a series of exorcisms on an anonymous boy, documented under the pseudonym "Roland Doe" or "Robbie Mannheim". The 14-year-old boy, was the alleged victim of demonic possession, and the events were recorded by the attending priest, Raymond J. Bishop. Subsequent supernatural claims surrounding the events were used as elements in the 1971 novel The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty and the 1973 film adaptation.

Exorcism in Christianity

Exorcism in Christianity is the practice of casting out demons from a person they are believed to have possessed. The person performing the exorcism, known as an exorcist, is often a member of the Christian Church, or an individual thought to be graced with special powers or skills. The exorcist may use prayers and religious material, such as set formulas, gestures, symbols, icons, amulets, etc. The exorcist often invokes God, Jesus and/or several different angels and archangels to intervene with the exorcism. A survey of Christian exorcists found that most exorcists believe that any mature Christian can perform an exorcism, not just members of clergy. Christian exorcists most commonly believe the authority given to them by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the source of their ability to cast out demons.

Exorcism in the Catholic Church The use of exorcism in the Catholic Church

The Catholic Church authorizes the use of exorcism for those who are believed to be the victims of demonic possession. In Roman Catholicism, exorcism is sacramental but not a sacrament, unlike baptism or confession. Unlike a sacrament, exorcism's "integrity and efficacy do not depend ... on the rigid use of an unchanging formula or on the ordered sequence of prescribed actions. Its efficacy depends on two elements: authorization from valid and licit Church authorities, and the faith of the exorcist." The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism."

Exorcism in Islam

Exorcism in Islam is called ruqya, and is thought to repair damage believed caused by jinn possession, witchcraft (shir) or the evil eye. Exorcisms today are part of a wider body of contemporary Islamic alternative medicine called "prophetic medicine".

Puritan exorcism was the use of exorcism by Puritan ministers. The demonology of Puritans was not unusual within the Early Modern demonology of Protestants; but the use of ritual and prayer in exorcism was more distinctive. The Church of England did not recognise the ritual of exorcism, while the Roman Catholic Church has always done so. Some radical Puritan ministers performed exorcisms; but some leading Puritan writers, such as William Perkins, opposed the ritual, while accepting the underlying theories, for example about witchcraft.

Minor exorcism in Christianity

The expression minor exorcism can be used in a technical sense or a general sense. The general sense indicates any exorcism which is not a solemn exorcism of a person believed to be possessed, including various forms of deliverance ministry. This article deals only with the technical sense which specifically refers to certain prayers used with persons preparing to become baptised members of the Christian Church. These prayers request God's assistance so that the person to be baptised will be kept safe from the power of Satan or protected in a more general way from temptation.

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Works cited

Further reading