It may seem like exorcisms only exist in movies and television shows of questionable reality, but "professional exorcist" is a real job title that an increasing number of clergy proudly claim, but you're not alone if you're wondering exactly what professional exorcists do to get this odd job. It takes years of training beyond priesthood to become a professional exorcist, and those in the profession face danger with every new mission they take on.
With that in mind exorcisms should not be attempted by amateurs, and certainly not by anyone reading this list. This is not an instruction manual, merely an attempt to entertain. So, please, do not try this at home, but read on for a great introduction on how exorcisms work and how to get the devil out of your house - be gone, demon!
The Exorcist Can't Just Be A Run Of The Mill Priest
In order to perform an exorcism, canon law dictates that the priest must be of extraordinary virtue. In addition to a strong moral character, the priest should also have read a significant amount of literature on the subject in order to learn the right words to use to cast out evil, to identify the signs of a true demonic possession, and importantly how not to get possessed themselves. Some people, like Father Gary Thomas, have even devoted their lives to studying the art of the exorcism, which is very emotionally oriented. "I’m always listening for doorways," he said in an interview with catholic.com, "so, you know, if there’s any pattern of practice with the occult or history of sexual abuse. Eighty percent of the people who come to me have been sexual abuse victims, usually as a child." He therefore is trained not only to deal with literal demons, but metaphorical ones as well.
Make Sure It's Really A Demon
This one might just be the trickiest step, because demonic possession can present itself in a similar light as a slew of mental illnesses. Some of the telltale signs, however, according to Father Hardon, include the "ability to speak with some facility in a strange tongue or to understand it when spoken by another, the faculty of divulging future and hidden events," and "display of powers which are beyond the subject’s age and natural condition." So, while hearing voices may not be a sign that you're possessed, suddenly being able to speak Latin probably is. Additionally, beyond-normal strength and physical changes, such as suddenly having eyes like a snake, are also giveaways for demonic possession.
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Holy water, crucifixes, and rosaries are essentials for any exorcist, but there are far more things that an exorcist will likely have on hand to purge the demons. Relics, parts of Saint's bodies, clothes, or belongings, are a significant source of holy power, which is reiterated during the actual ritual when all the Saints are called upon to assist with removing the evil energy. Other tools include the Bible, a copy of the specific exorcism rite, and any other holy items that the exorcist may deem necessary. Pretty much anything holy can be used to invoke the forces of good for the expulsion of a demon.
Determine The Extent Of The Demonic Activity
There are four ways a demon can infiltrate someone's life: an infestation, an oppression, a possession, and an integration. In an infestation, the demon latches onto an inanimate object, such as a house or a doll, which must then be exercised in a separate ritual. For an oppression, the demon latches onto a specific person, but doesn't inhabit their body; oftentimes the demon will follow them around causing misfortune and depression for the host. A possession is what people typically think of when exorcisms are mentioned, and is when a demon physically inhabits someone's body against their will. Perhaps the scariest, however, is an integration, in which a person voluntarily accepts the demon's will as their own. In this state, exorcism rarely is able to help.