Most of us have either seen or at least heard about exorcism movies. From the classic The Exorcist (1973), to more modern films such as The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), the concept has taken the public by storm. And for good reason, these stories tell of innocent people becoming possessed by horrible demons, turning their lives upside down. These stories tell us that these possessions can happen to anyone, which makes it all the more scary. For all you know, it could happen to you. Exorcisms exist in many different religions, from Christianity to Hindusim, and while science attempts to provide an explanation, some are left wondering.
Catholic exorcisms are the most famous type of exorcism and the most common used in movies and books. Catholic exorcisms can only be performed by a priest with the permission of a bishop and fall into two different categories. The most common type of exorcism is actually the rite of baptism, which in itself is a form of exorcism. The other, less common exorcism is the one that we are all familiar with, also called a Major Exorcism. In order for a Major Exorcism to take place, the priest has to take special care to make sure that the cause is not fake or mental illness. By invoking the name of God, Jesus, and the Archangel Michael, the exorcists starts by learning the entity’s name in order to drive it from the possessed person.
In Islam, the rite of exorcism is called ruqya and is used to repair the damages done by black magic or sihr. Part of a contemporary Islamic alternative medicine called al-Tibb al-Nabawi, or the medicine of the prophet, some Muslims believe that this practice is contrary to Islam and in some cases sihr itself. The rite includes the possessed individual lying down as a sheikh recites passages from the Quran while placing a hand on the victim’s head. These passages invoke Allah or call for his aid, as well as the adhan, or call for the daily prayer, as this helps drive out non-human spirits or djinn.
The main religion of the Indian subcontinent, Hinduism is governed by the four Vedas. The Atharva Veda is the one that contains the knowledge related to exorcisms. In both Vedic and Tantric traditions, mantras, or sacred sounds, and yajnas, or sacrifices, are the basic means of exorcisms. According to the Padma Purana, another sacred Hindu text, the possessed person or those around them must read the 3rd, 7th, and 9th chapters of Bhagavad Gita, burn incense, keep pictures of the deities around the home, and play continuous mantras. Praying to Lord Hanuman is also supposed to drive away the evil spirits as his name drives fear into the hearts of evil beings.