Demonology: Exorcism

[Demonic Possession]    [Exorcism]    [Demonologists]    [Historical Connections] [Works Cited]

 "Adjure te, spiritus nequissime, per Deum omnipotentem."

"I adjure thee, most evil spirit, by Almighty God."

The word exorcism has its root in the Greek word exousia, meaning oath; when translated to English, it means adjure. Thus, to exorcise doesn't really mean "cast out" as much as it means "putting the Devil on oath or invoking a higher authority to compel the Devil to act in a way contrary to its wishes (Guiley 87)." According to Toner, "Exorcism is (1) the act of driving out, or warding off, demons, or evil spirits, from persons, places, or things, which are believed to be, possessed or infested by them, or are liable to become victims or instruments of their malice; (2) the means employed for this purpose, especially the solemn and authoritative adjuration of the demon, in the name of God, or any of the higher power in which he is subject." 
Exorcisms were seen as opportunities to obtain access to hidden information, "a moment when the Devil could be interrogated under compulsion and forced to divulge his supposedly enormous range of knowledge (Briggs 131)."

Exorcism Procedures

Catholic and Protestant Views

Political Implications

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