Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Exorcist

That's your mum, that is.

How To Become An Exorcist

Get ordained
Both the Church of England (in 1975) and the Roman Catholic Church (in 1999) have restated the ongoing need for ‘proper’ exorcisms. For that reason they still employ official exorcists. These tend to be local priests who have shown themselves to be ‘holy, courageous, and humble’. Candidates should also be physically strong: exorcisms are notoriously stressful. In 1982 the Pope himself conducted an exorcism on a possessed woman which left him ‘writhing on the ground’.

Be lucky
Each diocese or bishopric in the UK (whether C of E or Catholic) has one designated exorcist. That means there’s one living not far from you. But as there are estimated to be only a handful of true cases of possession (i.e. cases of possession which aren’t really cases of Tourette’s syndrome, or schizophrenia) in the UK each decade, even these official exorcists will be fairly fortunate to encounter authentic diabolic manifestation in their working lives.

Change denomination
If you’re determined to hobnob with a hobgoblin, consider working for a more flexible employer. The Eastern Orthodox church, for instance, follows medieval Christian practise in allowing any layman with the right skills and mindset to practise exorcism. And certain ‘charismatic’ sects of fundamentalist Protestantism, like the Universal Life Church, or the Assembly of God, positively encourage their ordinary members to lay into each other’s ghoulies.

Locate demons
OK. So you’ve joined some bunch of frankly mad tambourine-bashers. Now all you need to do is find a malign possessing spirit. Good places to look for demons, according to the Catholic Encyclopaedia, are latrines, wells, cellars, and dogs (particularly liable to possession, apparently). That done, just arm yourself with some salt, a violet surplice, some Holy Water, and a copy of the Exorcism Ritual, or Ritual Romanum, and you’re away. But be careful - on average one American dies each year as a direct result of ‘amateur’ exorcisms.