Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Blessings, Cleansings, and Exorcisms

One of the most common methods of resolution in many modern haunting stories is that of a Blessing, Cleansing, or Exorcism. Often this is the end of the story, and the haunting either stops or the people involved feel they can live with what little of it remains. A couple years ago or so, there was a new story about how factory workers were refusing to return to work until the building was blessed, because the woman’s restroom was believed to be haunted.

Lately I find myself reading or watching these stories, and wondering if an exorcism was necessary. Sometimes the activity reported seems so benign, like kid’s toys going off, yet the home owners react with, ‘we were terrified, we needed an exorcism’.

And there’s a dark side to exorcisms too. Some stories don’t end with the exorcism, and after a calm period, there is a relapse haunting which is worse than the initial haunting. Furthermore exorcisms have been increasingly used as an excuse for murder, claiming actions that are in direct conflict with the view that the person themselves is not actually evil and should not be harmed, resulted in ‘accidental’ death.

So, some of you may be wondering by now, what’s the difference between a Blessing, Cleansing, and an Exorcism? How do you know if you need a Blessing or Cleansing, likewise how do you know if you need an Exorcism? And why would an Exorcism fail?

All these rituals are intended to protect, it’s the means of protection that varies. A Blessing is a ceremony in which a deity is asked to protect the location or person from evil (bless means ‘favored by god’), while a Cleansing aims to remove dark energy and encourage spirits to move on (which sometimes involves removing items with negative energy), and an Exorcism is a ritual intended to drive evil spirits out of a person or place, often invoking deities and their servants to do so. Exorcisms are seen as the more extreme, and sometime dangerous option, with religious groups often requiring special permission before priests will perform one. Deaths have even been occasionally attributed to exorcisms (and the occasional murder has been ‘explained’ as an exorcism as I mentioned above).

I do not believe there is any reason to discourage a blessing. If you want to bless, or can get the local priest to bless, your house weekly, I wouldn’t discourage it. A cleansing is much the same. But, exorcisms on the other hand, are harder to get permission to perform for a reason. Go through the proper channels in your church, and don’t assume you can let your guard down afterwards.

Exorcisms are cited to fail for several reasons; pride or other weakness in those performing it, a sinful relapse of those it was preformed for, or a misdiagnosis of a medical condition as a demon attack (feeling sick to your stomach may really be that you are sick in your stomach, and seeing things may just be mental stress or even sounds of certain frequency vibrating the fluid in your eye). There are more possibilities, beyond those, I’m sure, but this gives an idea of just how fragile a pursuit an exorcism is. 

* As a final note, I’d like to encourage you to seek advice from your priest and doctors rather than just taking mine or anyone else’s word for it.