Exorcism

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Spiritual Humanism Church understands people exhibit behavior they consider alien to them. It is not part of who they are or their identities do not contain the behaviors observed by them or other people. Exorcism is the process of treating aberrant behavior that recognizes alien nature and yet provides a method for correcting it.

Many religions do not believe in possession by demons and are afraid of people having such beliefs. Demon possession is a part of believing that God is a person. If God is all-powerful and all-goodness, there is a need to explain evil in the world. This need requires the creation of both God and the evil twin or Satan. The angles of God have a counterpart in the demons of Satan. Such an explanation is the basis for the silliest Bible story of Job. In this story God has Satan do a job on Job. A couple of old friends sit around having a few beers, get drunk on spirits, and decide to torture a poor human whose only crime was being a loyal servant of God. It makes the Greek myths seem rational by comparison. From this story and earlier stories comes the need to explain that unexpected behavior results in attributing the role of demons in the lives of mortals. Exorcism is a major part of Christianity, and people that follow Jesus thereby accept that he cast out demons through this godly power.

Words Have Power

Humans want to control that which is out of control and explain what defies explanation. When we come up against something that does not make sense, we first try to gain control by giving it a name. There is a long cultural tradition of giving things names in the effort to control them, and changing names when situations change. There are words (the name for God) that have so much power that humans cannot speak them. It is accepted that the power of a name to help also contains the power to destroy. Choosing words that are unusual enhances their power. It is important for demons to have names that would not come up in common conversations to reduce confusion. A demon called Bob or Fred could easily be confused with your uncle. It reality, they may be the same entity, but being too obvious could be detrimental to family relations.

Some people get around the process of naming demons by saying there is a Legion of demons. No name is required because there are too many to mention. Jesus did this and it continues to be effective.

Exorcism is a Relationship

Demon possession occurs in social groups, most often in families. A person having a demon possession in private is the wild man of the woods and is only a problem when the person interacts with others. Families have demons when a member acts in ways that are unexpected and defy explanation. Demon rum is not demon possession because being intoxicated is the explanation for the observed behavior. Having an epileptic seizure (Tonic/Clonic) was considered demon possession in ancient times because it was very unusual and not explainable. We now have at least some understanding of the causes of seizures and treatments from medicine to surgery. Men having affairs are not considered demon possession today, but were explained as such in history. Now we just know “men are pigs.” Most families would not explain the door slamming behavior of 15-year old daughters as demon possession. Without going into emotional changes from hormones, it still remains the best explanation to give parents and adolescent breathing space.

Listen

The first part of Spiritual Humanism Church exorcism is to listen to the person with the demon possession and the family members concerned about this behavior. Listening requires hearing what is said and not said while taking notes. Although some exorcists stress what to wear and use in the exorcism ceremony, the main tool of Spiritual Humanism Church is paper and pen (computer if you are proficient). Remember exorcism is a relationship not a solitary activity. Write down important information about the environment and the circumstances where demons are behaviorally expressed.

If the demon wants to talk to you directly, pay attention. Movies like to have demons swear and say the religious leaders are evil and have done disgusting things. The profanity is supposed to be shocking to religious people. Preachers, priests, and ministers of all religions are not shocked by such talk. They have heard it all before in locker rooms or school hallways by the age of 10. We now know that some of these church officials actually did such things and it was through the words of demons that their misbehaviors could be exposed. Write down what is said with special attention to the relationships described. If you listen closely, you will likely discover relationship truths obscured by the demonic stories.

Finding a Place

After listening to the family and person believed to be possessed, the next step is to make a place for the demon. Demons have a purpose and that purpose needs to be respected. Finding a place in the family or community for this behavior provides that respect. Keep in mind that the place may be in a locked hospital ward or a prison cell. With compassionate listening and responding, however, a location in the presence of other humans is preferred over a secure setting.

Touching

People performing exorcisms often want to touch the person possessed. Touching can be powerful, but also extremely dangerous. We know that a lot of people have been abused and touching can elicit posttraumatic stress responses. The first rule is stay out of arm’s reach from people that might strike out in anger or frustration. Having a person wear a sacred or sanctified robe or shawl can be helpful. It provides a symbolic way to express support without getting close enough for physical injury. Sprinkling some water from a distance can also produce a helpful distraction. Spiritual Humanism Church recommends exorcism should include a rational religious conversation in the presence of family. Private meetings with possessed people leads to more troubles than any minister should ever have to experience. Don’t let demons destroy your life.

Putting the Demon in Its Place

The next step after making a place for the demon is putting the demon in its place. Aberrant behavior left alone can be expected to expand to encompass the entire family. It needs to be restricted and given boundaries. This is the time for the family to set those limits on this behavior. Spitting, swearing, and throwing pea soup does not need to occur in all locations or in front of all people. Demonic behavior has a purpose, but other behaviors have rights to be expressed too.

Unfortunately most ministers what to quote scriptures to demonic behavior. Preaching is basically useless. Demon possession solutions written by ancient peoples are as helpful as killing goats to repair cars. Quoting scripture is a sign of spiritual stupidity, don’t do it. Putting a demon in its place is a negotiation with the family not a power trip for the minister. This does not mean denying demon possession with a “just say no” exclusion of the real experiences of people.

Spiritual Humanism Church Explanation

The church accepts the existence of spiritual experiences, and these subjective experiences are real because people really have them. God is defined as the spiritual experiences that we have within us. God and demons within us are real expressions because they are manifested in observable and objective behavior. If a minister denies reality, it is the minister that is irrational (or a rabid rabbi). Accept that what is brought by the people involved in an exorcism is real to them and must be respected.

Treatment

After making a place for the demon and putting the demon in its place, the next step is providing treatment. Since demon possession is a relationship disorder, treatment cannot be effective in isolation from the environment where it occurs. Treatment starts with action. Some ministers act by giving a prayer of protection to include all members present. “As we respect the right for this demon (or legion) to exist on earth, we want the same respect that the people present here have the right to be protected from all evil. Imagine a white light of protection over all people present that protects and shields everyone from harm, emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual harm. Let us be protected as we seek to resolve conflicts and heal pain.”

There will be a need to change the meaning (redefinition) of demonic behavior. Some of the essential meanings may be related to a warning being given. Humans respond more to warnings than to encouragements. There is about a 10 to 1 ratio for the power of criticism to complements in shaping behavior. It is evolutionarily appropriate to say that demonic behavior warns us to pay attention to threats in our world but must give way to the promise of love and encouragement to move beyond those things that would hold us back.

Definitions can also be quite simple and straightforward. They often need a story to make them more meaningful and memorable.

A person went to a wise man because of a large number of crows were sitting in the trees. The wise man came and looked at the crows (recognized them) and said they represented spirits sent to provide safety to all that saw them (made a place for them). He said he would not send the crows away because the person needed the protection from evil thoughts and deeds they provided (treatment). The person quit worrying about the crows and got on with life (resolution).

A mother came to a minister because her daughter was crying and yelling. The minister talked with the daughter with the other family members present. The daughter said that everything was fine and there was no reason for her to be yelling at her family, and particularly not her mother. The issues of traumas and changes were addressed, but there did not seem to be any major concerns. The family was asked if this kind of behavior had occurred to the parents when they were young. The mother said she had been rebellious as a child and felt some regret about how she had treated her parents. She thought her daughter had been very compliant and had been a blessing in the family. The family was asked if it might be possible that the demon child of the mother was visiting the daughter in the next generation, if perhaps the observed behavior was a way for the daughter to rebel without causing too much stress in a family that had fallen on difficult economic times. The other children squirmed in their chairs a bit, the demonic daughter seemed to relax, and the parents said they did not think so.

Some additional considerations were given, and it was recommended that the demonic behavior be given a name, not the name of the daughter. The family came up with the name of an aunt that had been mentally ill. This was rejected by the minister with a request to find a name that would represent a desire to make things better than one for a disorder. After some discussion, they chose a name of an uncle that had died and left some money to the family. They had not known him very well, and his gift was considered a helpful surprise. The demon had a place.

Then the explanation was given that this uncle and his name had been helpful in the past, but he was now gone. While his spirit was still part of the family and in their gratitude, his name and the demon could not take over everything. The demon had to be respectful of the needs for family members to grow and become separate for each other while still being attached in love and support. It was noted that humans need to know they are supported by their families because there will always be people that do not show that same respect outside in the bigger world. The family was thanked for recognizing the members will all need to be individuals and still remain together in different ways across time. The daughter was requested to find a picture of the uncle and put it in a place of honor in the family home. The demon was put in its place.

The daughter and the younger children were asked to make up a story about how the uncle would have changed if he had lived longer. They were asked to tell how the uncle (demon) would come to visit the family, become friends with the children, would have told other people what wonderful people they were, and gone back home after a pleasant visit secure in the knowledge the family was strong and supportive. Telling the family that was a glorious story ended the session.

The demonic behavior continued a few more times, and the family said things seemed to be better. Within a couple of months, there was no more problem, and the daughter’s grades improved and she made some new friends. When the mother commented that there did not seem to be an issue anymore, the minister recommended the daughter take the uncle’s picture down and put in a box for the time being.

Follow Up

It is seldom that ministers actually have information about the results of exorcisms. E
xorcism is thought of as the rite of driving out demons or Satan. It is actually resolution of a relationship or organic disorder. If it is a relationship disorder, the exorcism negotiates the fate of demons with the people in the relationship. If it is an organic disorder (brain disease), the main people that will help manage the organic demons are family members of the person. Successful follow-up is noted when families move on to other issues and leaves demonic possessions as a historical event with little relevance to the present. Exorcism is well done when not remembered as ever being needed.

Spiritual Humanism Church ministers function like shamans. In a relaxed and calm state, they negotiate with the family the causes and solutions of attributed possessions. There is no need to argue about facts or beliefs. Acceptance of the map people bring is important, and solutions are based on what will work for the family not what fits any religious dogma. Improving the human condition is our only goal.