DID YOU KNOW EXORCISMS AREN’T JUST A BUNCH OF HOCUS POCUS?
Whether you are getting ready for a gory Halloween movie marathon, taking it to the streets to trick-or-treat – or priming your costume for a spooky soiree, remember, as we indulge in the spirit of make-believe and pretend, some scary traditions are based in reality — yikes! In fact, one of the scariest movies of all time, “The Exorcist,” involves the concept of exorcism, which according to Drexel history professor Jonathan Seitz, PhD, has a very real history and is even being practiced today.
Seitz’s research focuses on the historical intersections among science, medicine and religion, especially in the early modern era (roughly the 1400s-1700s). Just in time for Halloween, Seitz gave the News Blog some insight on the very real roots of a practice that seems tailor-made for horror movies.
According to Seitz, exorcism has roots in both religion and medicine. Healing clerics — calling themselves exorcists — in early, modern society were influential and often sought after to cure “spiritual” illnesses.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops defines exorcism as “a specific form of prayer that the Church uses against the power of the devil.” According to Seitz, its original purpose was to remove a malevolent spirit or a demon afflicting a person or a place.
Back then, exorcism was a common cure for a “spiritual illness.” In the 1500s and 1600s the professional exorcist community strove to assume an authority over the practice………