Apparently exorcisms are on the rise. And there is a worldwide exorcist shortage.
This seems an unusual piece of news for the developed world in the twenty first century.
At first glance, exorcism -along with no sex before marriage, literal creationism and the use of stoning to dish out punishment for minor civic infractions- belongs in the primitive monotheistic practices that most enlightened believers in the post-Dawkins world shamefully consign to the attic of history.
But before we all snort derisively and put it down to the fact that “there are still a lot of stupid people in the world”, perhaps we might ask exactly why exorcisms are on the rise.
The developed world is currently undergoing the most acute economic disruption in more than a hundred years.
- Economic instability directly correlates with a rise in mental illness: People lose their jobs, families are put under strain, core components of workers’ identities are removed. Generalised anxiety disorder and insomnia spike sharply. This particular combination regularly leads to auditory and visual hallucination.
- Economic instability unfortunately correlates with a reduction in medical and social services: This particularly affects ‘soft’ services like counselling groups, depression hotlines, etc. Really anything that doesn’t immediately impact the number of nurses you will find in an emergency room. (In fact it does impact it, sadly just not in a way that you can put into some spreadsheet in a remote government department.) For the UK at least, you will feel this more if you live in a ‘safe’ electoral area that the Coalition is unlikely to ever win. Here’s a black hat life hack for you: If you actually want your garbage collected in the coming year, move to a contested electoral area/swing constituency.
Back to exorcism. If we consider exorcism an act of magic -which it undoubtedly is- then it should fall into the 95:5 ratio: Magic is overwhelmingly an act of psychology… Except for those times when it isn’t. (I’m going to tighten this definition up eventually but you all know what I mean.)
So from a socioeconomic perspective, an increasing need for exorcists is an expression of psychological health needs from people who are much more likely to have been marginalised by economic disruption.
And you know what? I don’t actually mind that much. Surely some help is better than none. If you take a longer view, prior to the whole idea of mental health, it was the exorcists, the cunning folk and the shamans who took care of this anyway.
The only reason there should be cause for concern would be if these exorcists came in swinging censers and thumping Bibles over a case of mild depression that is best treated by a change in diet and just talking to someone. But it doesn’t appear that’s happening at all.
This from the article above:
A team does discernment. “I have a physician, a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist, all of whom are practicing Catholics,” says Thomas. “Out of a hundred I exorcise five.” He says the exorcist is the ultimate skeptic. “I never assume when someone says ‘I need an exorcism’ that they do.”
(Sidebar: Anybody notice the ratio? 95:5. Or 19:1 if you want to be a massive nerd about it.)
The black hat life hack here is obvious: If you need to speak to a psychologist and can’t find/afford one then just call an exorcist. This is the world we live in now.
The exorcism rainbow
Thinking about it, the difference between a full-on Hollywood exorcism and your auric cleansing is a matter of degrees.
It is a continuum -or more homosexually- a rainbow that has the light dissolution of yesterday’s mental detritus at one end and an acute case of transdimensional dissociative identity disorder at the other.
These days it is quite rare for me to actually use a magic circle unless I am in the mood for it. As Jason regularly points out, it’s a minority, Western-European practice that really only took off in the late Renaissance among the ceremonial bourgeoisie. It’s practical application is comparatively rare on a global level.
And Peter J Carroll points out in his completely fucking amazing new book that, in his experience, magic circles afford little protection, anyway. (He recommends counter spells as the thing that works with the most regularity. In my mind that would include charms you wear/carry… Which have been the most effective for me.)
That being said, not using a magic circle doesn’t mean I completely avoid magically washing myself. (Not a euphemism but could so easily be one.)
Here are two really lazy examples:
Two lazy cleanses
1. Sea salt
I can’t believe how simple this one is and I am frankly ashamed of the way I came to possess it. This doesn’t go any further than you and me but mother and I were in Doreen Virtue’s first ever graduating class of Angel Intuitives. (There’s a certificate and everything.)
On the first day she said you should take a plastic cup with a little sea salt in it with you in the shower, hold it under the showerhead to get warm water in and then pour it over yourself. This will remove psychic debris from your energy field.
At the time I was avoiding all use of salt in my magic as per the rules of my much more… umm…. “summony” practices at the time.
Anyway so the next morning I tried it and it was like pouring warm water over an iced windscreen (which you should never do but you can picture the effect). You can also bilocate and dunk your energy body in the sea -mom prefers this method apparently.
Try it. I use Cornish Sea Salt which comes from the same location as an Iron Age coastal salt mine. I adore the historical continuity of it. Consider it endorsed. Just charge with white light. (Experiments with Necton, Cornish God of The Sea are ongoing. I think I prefer showering alone, though. Or maybe he does. Whatever, sometimes it’s weird.)
Download and play Haydn’s Quartet Opus 62 in C Major (known as “Emperor”). Light some pleasant-smelling, store-bought incense. Sit comfortably and just breath in through your nose and out through your mouth, focusing on the breath as you go.
You can match the incense to some kind of cleansing/protective herb if you want but I prefer to go with an all-round ‘higher vibration’ product like sandalwood or frankincense -this is likely because I have an oversupply I’m looking to get through.
It doesn’t really matter. The whole point is not to visualise ‘too hard’ and to sit for the whole movement (just under ten minutes). It’s basically meditation with some auditory and olfactory white noise but it seems to have a really potent cleansing effect.
Changing the rhyme
There you have it. In this economically difficult era, it might be time to amend the rhyme about keeping away doctors (which I suspect was probably coined by the apple industry).
“A small cup of Cornish sea salt a day keeps the exorcist away.”
Granted, it’s not quite as good. But ruining rhyming wives’ tales is just something else we can blame the banks for.