evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person or an area they are believed to have possessed
|“||Exorcism is not something to toy with. [...] Are you sure you want to take this risk? If there is something inside of him, we are much more likely to agitate and enrage it than destroy it. Some things are better left unawakened.||”|
— Cotton Mather about the dangers of exorcism
Exorcism is a dangerous ritual done to free a person possessed by evil spirits and demons.
Exorcism is the religious or spiritual practice of purportedly evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person or an area they are believed to have possessed. Depending on the spiritual beliefs of the exorcist, this may be done by causing the entity to swear an oath, performing an elaborate ritual, or simply by commanding it to depart in the name of a higher power. The practice is ancient and part of the belief system of many cultures and religions. Exorcism is a very complex ritual and requires permission from the Church of Rome to be executed after checking that there are no other plausible reasons to explain the sickness of the subject. According to the words of Mary Sibley and Mercy Lewis, the practice of exorcism is noot very well seen by the Puritans, who consider it a legacy of paganism rather than a faithful Christian liturgy, an element that marks one of the many differences between Catholics and Protestants. However, very few people have the guts and the experience to carry out an exorcism without problems, since most of the time results in the death of the possessed.
Throughout the Salem serie
In Survivors, Reverend Lewis performs a catholic exorcism on his daughter Mercy Lewis. Holding a cross and a bible he chants in latin while Mercy pleads with her father to stop in fear of what the Puritan's will do to him if they discover what he has done but her father tells her he is not afraid of the Puritan's and is adamant he will free her from the witches grasp. Later, the witch Mary Sibley once again forces the young Mercy Lewis under her control by forcing another familiar within her, despite the girls pleas.
In Children Be Afraid, Mary and Mercy run into Reverend Lewis who would like to speak with his daughter. Mary asks Mercy to fetch Isaac and then she tells Reverend Lewis he can never spend time with his daughter again, because if he tries to do so, she will publicly accuse him of child abuse and completing an exorcism on her.
In Til Death Do Us Part, John Alden asked his old friend Cotton Mather to reach him at Petrus's shack, where he reveals that he needs his help to do an exorcism on his son John, which he rightly believed to be possessed by evil entities. Unfortunately, while Cotton warns John Alden not to take similar rituals lightly, the child said with a diabolical voice that it is too late. The child, in fact, shows completely black diabolical eyes and rotate his own head until he have the face where there should be the nape.
In On Earth as in Hell, Rev. Mather borders the little John in a protective circle, drawn with coal on the floor inside Petrus the Seer's shack. The circle is also enhanced by the power of some cabalistic-ish symbols. The ritual of exorcism start in oder to suppress malignant entities within the child, but when Cotton Mather tries to recite the prayers, the child is possessed by the devil and induces the priest to vomiting blood. John is then shaken by terrible spasms and apparently only the paternal love strength of John Alden manages to temporarily banish the evil spirit from the child.
Rituals of Exorcism
Reverend Lewis's exorcism ritual
The ritual of exorcism employed by Reverend Lewis to release a human host by the evil yoke of a demon, in this case a familiar in the guise of a serpent, physically extracted from the host body after practicing incisions on the abdomen of the possessed. Mercy Lewis, bound hand and foot of the bed, was also sprinkled with holy water and subjected to listening to the litany in Latin and in English while the reverend was holding a cross, as a sign of banishment to the malignant spirit.
- Ritual words: "Imperat tibi Deus Pater Imperat tibi Deus filius Imperat tibi Deus Spiritus Sanctus Imperat tibi majestas Christi. Eternum dei verbum caro factum Imperat sacramentum crucis! I cast you out, every unclean spirit, every satanic power... I beseech you! Every onslaught of the infernal adversary In the name and in the power of our Lord Jesus. Malleus Maleficarum!"
Cotton Mather's exorcism ritual
An elaborate ritual, which requires the use of practices falling in all respects in the so-called Ceremonial Magic. Placed the victim of demonic forces on a couch with ankles and wrists tightly bound, a circle is drawn around it with chalk along with cabalistic signs and seals designed to evoke the Almighty to drive out the demon. The possessed is then invited to recite Christian prayers, like the Our Father, while the exorcist invokes the power of God and of Jesus Christ to drive out the devil from the body of the possessed. Candles are lit and left burning along with the herbs in censers to flush the demon inside and have him expelled.
- Ritual words: "O Almighty and everlasting God, be merciful to we who implore Thee. Send Thy Holy Angel from Heaven to bless and hallow these ashes so that we, who know ourselves to be but ashes, may fear no evil. Protect us, Oh Lord. There is no god but God. And God, this almighty, everlasting God... So loved the world, he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. And Jesus rebuked the foul spirits, saying unto him, thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him! And the spirit cried and foamed and gnashed his teeth and rent him sore...I command thee, in the name of the Eternal God and Jesus Christ, our savior, to speak your name and declare from whence thou cometh! He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. But he that believeth not shall be damned and these signs shall follow them that believe. In my name shall they cast out devils. I abjure thee in the name of Jesus Christ, son of Almighty God, depart from this boy! Whosoever believeth in him shall not perish!"
A list of exorcists who have shown to include in their practices even elements of Ceremonial Magic and Qabalistic teachings.
|Increase Mather||An experienced witch hunter, has employed amulets and talismans of various kinds to counter witches' maleficia, including cabalistic symbols and the ashes of a 200 years old witch. He was also said to be a skilled exorcist.||Dead|
|Cotton Mather||Great scholar of Witchcraft and its most sordid ritual, as well as its traditions and ritual objects, Cotton Mather has successfully prepared a crippling poultice made from herbs and roots. Cotton Mather was also able to perform a summoning rite for calling forth the Devil (a topos of ceremonial magic) using a ritual circle with cabalistic inscriptions, as well as an attempt to perform a ritual of exorcism to banish the Devil from Little John's body.||Alive|
|Reverend Lewis||Reverend Lewis has proven to be able to exorcise a familiar spirit from his daughter Mercy Lewis.||Alive|
- Mercy Lewis: You must stop this.They will hang you if they learn of this.
- Reverend Lewis: The witches have already taken your life. I no longer fear the puritans claiming mine. The wretched spirit that inhabits you must be excised. Do you trust me, Mercy? That I would do nothing to hurt you?
- Mercy Lewis: It's you that's been driven to madness!
- -- in Survivors
- Mary Sibley: Your charge, simple and clear, is to protect the Lewis girl from further possession. And yet was the episode in the marketplace not evidence of exactly that?
- Cotton Mather: We have no proof it was the work of witches.
- Mary Sibley: So you've paid her a visit, then? You've determined what ails her?
- Cotton Mather: The pastor says she's resting and best not be disturbed.
- Mary Sibley: May I ask you a question, Reverend? When your father seeks out demons, does he ask permission? Does he knock on doors and offer to come back at a more convenient time? Or does he, armed with the lord's righteousness, demand the demon answer to him?
- Cotton Mather: My father and I are different men. We work in different ways.
- Mary Sibley: When I summoned a hunter of witches to protect the people of Salem, it was not you I requested. Yet it was you who arrived on our shores. Do not make me regret settling for my second choice.
- -- in Survivors
- Reverend Lewis: I am, uh, astounded at the charity you've shown my child, but if I wish to see her, is that not a father's right?
- Mary Sibley: Why, in particular, do you wish to see her, Reverend? Were you perhaps considering another exorcism? Do your days grow dull, lacking a child to beat and torture and the nights far too lonely with no daughter to visit?
- Reverend Lewis: I would never...
- Mary Sibley: Mercy is mine. Return here again and these accusations will be made public.
- -- in Children, Be Afraid
- John Alden: Look, all you need to know is that without him, the entire witches' plan falls to nothing, but if we don't get the devil out of him... We're done... all of us.
- Cotton Mather: And you have this boy?
- John Alden: No. But I'm working on it.
- Cotton Mather: You yourself told me that you killed a man just because he knew your name. So, why don't you just... kill the boy? An exorcism is a very dangerous rite to perform, and we might not make it out alive.
- -- in Til Death Do Us Part
- Cotton Mather: Exorcism is not something to toy with. What if I hurt him? What if he's innocent?
- John Alden: He is, but what's in him is far from it. Save the boy before we lose him completely.
- Cotton Mather: Are you sure you want to take this risk? If there is something inside of him, we are much more likely to agitate and enrage it than destroy it. Some things are better left unawakened.
- -- in Til Death Do Us Part
- John Alden: There's nothing wrong with this boy except some sickness and the pain we are causing him. He's just a boy!
- Cotton Mather: One moment, he is just your son in all his innocence. But if he is under their influence, his soul is besieged by another. It is that other we must expose and expel.
- -- in On Earth as in Hell
- Cotton Mather: No demon may speak the "Our Father." The very words scorch their tongue.
- --in On Earth as in Hell
- Demonic possession, not to be confused with the Spirit possession, is an important element in many novels and horror films, often attributed to various demons and not directly caused by Satan himself. The most famous film on demonic possession is definitely The Exorcist (1973), based on the book of the same name and portrays a fictional case of demonic possession loosely inspired by the case of "Robbie Mannheim".
- The Puritans, unlike the Catholics, were not very inclined to resort to the practice of exorcism, as reflected in the words of Mary Sibley. They presumed, in fact, that the exorcist would sin of pride in believing himself capable of handling the power to cast out devils.
- According to Cotton Mather, the rite of exorcism can kill not only the victim but also the same exorcists, if the ritual is conducted too lightly.
- According to Mary Sibley, as deduced from her dialogue with Cotton, Increase Mather was a skilled exorcist. We don't know if this is true or just another exaggeration due to the fame of the Reverend Increase Mather.