Thursday, May 28, 2020

Paranormal Parasites Episode One--Exorcists and Exorcisms, Part One

The centuries-old practice of exorcism is on the rise. Why now?

“We had always been raised not to question authority figures. He’s a priest — what he said is holy writ,” Joaquin Oviedo, a retired high school teacher, said. “We never imagined he was a phony.” Problem was...Mena wasn't a priest. In fact, he was an imposter. Not only did he abscond with tens of thousands of dollars (and that's only what they know about) but weddings had to be re-officiated by legitimate priests, as did baptisms, christenings, and other sacraments. But lost in all the legal mumbo-jumbo, there's a more intimate, painful, human cost. 

Mena's not the only such imposter. More fake priests are defrocked every year. In 2018, for example, a man named Miguel Angel Ibarra was exposed right before Christmas after eighteen years of posing as a Catholic priest. The Colombian native was caught at the parish he'd been preaching at in Medina Sidonia, Spain after investigation proved he'd falsified his ordination paperwork. 

Religion is a huge part of the human experience. Roughly a decade ago, the Pew Research Survey counted well over two billion Christians on this planet, and is now nearing two and a half billion worshipers. In recent years, there's been a huge rise in reports of dark or demonic hauntings. The Catholic Church was overwhelmed with requests for exorcisms, becoming so inundated that they were caught off-guard. This led to the establishment of a Course on Exorcism and Prayersof Liberation at the Pontifical University of Regina Apostolorum within the Holy See.

What's that, you ask? It's literally exorcist school. Right now, the Vatican is working to place an exorcist into every diocese in the world, including here in the US. In fact, the exorcism course is a non-denominational class, where prospective exorcists from any religion can study the most dangerous form of spiritual warfare possible. If that doesn't convince you of the urgency the Holy See is approaching the rising threat caused to humanity by the diabolical, nothing will. 

And this is where the paranormal and spiritual worlds collide in a very pragmatic and potentially lethal way. Although only about a third of America's nearly 200 dioceses have official exorcists who've been trained by a Catholic church, there are innumerable exorcists who claim to conduct spiritual warfare against demons outside of Catholicism. While some of these exorcists are sincerely going toe to toe with demonic entities, some are not. If the subject of a demonic attack gets hooked up with a fake exorcist, his situation can go from worse to worst. 

Yes, I used worse/worst instead of bad/worse deliberately. 

So how do you tell the difference between a real exorcist and a fake one? Well, it requires someone that most victims of demonic attacks are running a little short on. Meticulous attention to detail. 

Let's clear something up at the onset. Do you have to get a Catholic priest to help you if you're under demonic attack? Once upon a time--and a surprisingly recent time, too--the clergy of protestant denominations would tell people who'd come to them for help that only a Catholic priest could exorcise a demon. Even then, though, the Catholic church wasn't exactly happy to help someone out. Especially after the release of William Peter Blatty's 1971 novel The Exorcist and the subsequent film two years later, exorcism suddenly came 'into fashion'. The tag line 'based upon a true story' titillated audiences, and the idea that demonic possession was actually real permeated pop culture almost overnight--something that rarely happened in an age before the internet. 

In an interview I conducted with top US Exorcist Father Gary Thomas (San Jose, CA diocese) in 2017, the Exorcist craze caught the church off-guard because Catholicism itself was in a state of flux. There was a growing sense among the Catholic clergy that Satan and demons were allegorical--basically literary devices created to personify evil and give it a form of sentience. 

But that's not necessarily the case. While sure, there's a definite trend towards tulpas (a belief so powerful that it essentially creates what the person/people believe in) as a possible explanation for the growing number of demonic cases in the US, there's still a significant number of exorcisms conducted in the world--not only by the Catholic Church but by ministers and priests of a wide number of religions. So no, you don't necessarily have to have a Catholic priest exorcise you or your family or your home. 

But you need to do your due diligence. Make certain the clergyman you talk to is a practicing minister of a legitimate religion. Many scam artists operate under the umbrella of the "old Catholic Church" or the "Order of Exorcists" or "The Sacred Order of St, Michael the Archangel". Some purported exorcists claim to be able to train you to become one as well--for a nominal fee. The fact of the matter is that in my opinion, you need to go first to the minister of your own church and ask him or her for guidance. And before you let anyone drag you into a spiritual struggle with the demonic, you have to be--NEED to be--vetted medically and psychologically. That's a condition the Catholic Church has imposed in order for an exorcism to take place, and believe me: that's something you want to make absolutely certain happens. 

The easiest way to find out if an exorcist isn't what he or she purports to be is to run the street address provided on their webpage through Google maps. If the street level view is of a strip mall (with a UPS Store or Mailboxes storefront in particular) or an apartment block, I wouldn't trust my health, safety, and spirituality to that alleged exorcist. 

You could ignore me, naturally. I wouldn't recommend it. 

Stay tuned, folks. There are about to be a lot of new entries in the coming weeks. I'm researching my new books on the paranormal, Demonic Synchronicity (about common occurrences in pre-internet demonic hauntings) and The Bell Entity (why "Bell Witch" is an inhuman entity perpetrating one of the longest and most violent hauntings in America). I'll be investigating several sites just as soon as the quarantines lift, and I'll post my findings here. If nothing else, it should be a rip-roarin' spooky time. 

But even that pales in comparison to what could happen to anyone who falls into the clutches of the paranormal parasites. Next up in this series? Textbook cases of exorcisms gone bad and why they did. 

The Annaliese Michel case, and why that's not the only horror story out there.