Demonic Possession & Exorcism's

Ian was joined by Matt Baglio, author of the book-turned-movie The Rite, for a discussion on demonic possession, exorcism, and the people who train to perform this ritual. Baglio began by briefly covering the Catholic Church's position on Satan and demons, noting that they are 'pure' created spirits who sinned against God and were cast out of heaven for it. These fallen angels are filled with animosity toward mankind and can attack in several ways, including temptation, infestation (possession of place or object), oppression (physical attack), obsession (attack on the mind), and possession (control of victim's body), Baglio explained.

Victims of possession usually have opened their inner selves to something evil, he continued. Evil spirits do not live inside of the possessed person, Baglio added. "These entities are connected to people like a pipe and they're able to send inputs into these people... driving [them] away from God into a state of desperation," he said. According to Baglio, exorcism actually brings the attached demon into the victim's body, where over time the ritual causes it to suffer, weaken, and eventually detach. As the influence of the evil spirit wanes, a victim gains more control and must return to God to remain liberated, he pointed out.

During the ritual, exorcists pray for God's help, command demons to depart, and use anointing oil, holy water, and other religious accoutrement. Since every evil spirit is different, exorcists must probe the demon to find the tool that gets the biggest reaction, Baglio remarked. While the majority of exorcisms are mild, some can be particularly difficult, with the possessed becoming violent, exhibiting unnatural facial contortions, and crying out with inhuman guttural sounds, he said. One exorcist claimed to have witnessed a possessed woman levitate, Baglio added. Even with such cases, exorcisms do ultimately work, he said. 


Matt Baglio is a freelance journalist who has worked for a variety of news organizations and magazines, including The Associated Press, The American Magazine, and The International Herald Tribune. 

Demonic possession is held by many belief systems to be the control of an individual by a malevolent supernatural being. Descriptions of demonic possessions often include erased memories or personalities, convulsions, "fits" and fainting as if one were dying.[1] Other descriptions include access to hidden knowledge (gnosis) and foreign languages (glossolalia), drastic changes in vocal intonation and facial structure, the sudden appearance of injuries (scratches, bite marks) or lesions, and superhuman strength. Unlike in channeling or other forms of possession, the subject has no control over the possessing entity and so it will persist until forced to leave the victim, usually through a form of exorcism.

Many cultures and religions contain some concept of demonic possession, but the details vary considerably. The oldest references to demonic possession are from the Sumerians, who believed that all diseases of the body and mind were caused by "sickness demons" called gidim or gid-dim.[2] The priests who practiced exorcisms in these nations were called ashipu (sorcerer) as opposed to an asu (physician) who applied bandages and salves.[3] Many cuneiform tablets contain prayers to certain gods asking for protection from demons, while others ask the gods to expel the demons that have invaded their bodies.

Shamanic cultures also believe in demon possession and shamans perform exorcisms. In these cultures, diseases are often attributed to the presence of a vengeful spirit (or loosely termed demon) in the body of the patient. These spirits are more often the spectres of animals or people wronged by the bearer, the exorcism rites usually consisting of respectful offerings or sacrificial offerings.

Christianity holds that possession derives from the Devil, i.e. Satan, or one of his lessor demons. In many Christian belief systems, Satan and his demons are actually fallen angels.

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