Thursday, May 16, 2019

Exorcism Summit Open to Non-Catholics

Sadly, though, you still have to be Christian.

In a move that I imagine can only be positive for non-Catholic reverse-conjurers everywhere, the Roman Catholic Church has opened up its annual exorcism summit to exorcists belonging to other Christian denominations. By exploring techniques from other strands of their tradition, they hope to improve their methods and develop "best practices." You know, like a great big Agile team or something.

With a rise in reported demonic possessions and devil worship in the era of social media, the Roman Catholic Church opened its doors to non-Catholics for the first time during its annual exorcism training conference.

This article is from Fox News, so I want to interrogate some of its implied assumptions a bit. Is there really a "rise in reported demonic possessions and devil worship in the era of social media?" Members of groups like The Satanic Temple are atheists, and while there are theistic Satanists their numbers are much lower. "Lifestyle witchcraft" is not "devil worship" either - nor is it really even magick or witchcraft as I think of it, just a fashion trend.

I do realize that conservative Catholics think anybody who isn't a Catholic, and certainly anyone who isn't Christian, is basically a devil worshipper or might as well be one. But to be clear, I'm a Thelemite and I don't "worship the devil." I actually don't really "worship" anything. I work with deities and spirits as a peer, not a supplicant. And I have to say, in the occult community I don't think literal "devil worship" is much of a thing for the most part.

Also - has there actually been an increase in "reported demonic possessions?" I scour the Internet for anything that looks like a real case of possession so I can cover it here on the blog, and I can't say that I've seen any increase in reports over the course of at least the last decade and probably longer. It was rare before, and it remains rare now.

About 250 members of the Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Greek Orthodox, and Pentecostal churches are attending a week-long intensive course called "Exorcism and the Prayer of Liberation," which wraps up on Saturday at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, a Catholic educational institute in the capital of Italy.

“Catholics are by no means the only Christians who have developed methods to help possessed people or to rid a space of evil spirits,” Father Pedro Barrajón, an exorcist from Spain who is in charge of programming at the conference, said, according to the Daily Beast. “This is the first time we have included so many other religious representatives to share how they do this work. We think collaborating will help us create best practices.”

And in fact, that's not a bad idea. Optimizing ritual and spiritual technology is always a good thing as I see it, and exposure to new ideas and new approaches is one of the best ways to do it. I will add, though, that there are plenty of non-Christians who also have ritual technology to deal with spirits that are acting in malicious ways or possessing people against their will.

And while some have mocked or dismissed it, the experts at the conference have firsthand experience with it. Father Vincent Lampert, a Vatican-trained exorcist of the Indianapolis Archdiocese, told "Spirited Debate" with Lauren Green he's seen people levitate, have their eyes roll back in the head, and even howl and growl, all of which he says are meant to distract the exorcist from leading the person to God and away from the demonic.

This year's exorcism conference marks the 14th year and the Catholic Church says things have changed. “We don’t open it to everyone, obviously,” Barrajón says. “That would open us up to being infiltrated by devil worshippers, not those trying to fight him.

Because that's totally what a ceremonial magician who signs up for an exorcism seminar is doing. Of course. It's true that if they opened it to anyone I might attend just for the experience, and they wouldn't want me there. But it's pretty univalent of them to assume that I'm automatically evil because I'm not a Christian.

It is not something we think should be taken lightly.” It blames the secularization of society on the increasing popularity of competing religions, tarot readings, astrology, the internet, and atheism.

There has been a documented increase in atheism, but the idea that it equates to "devil worship" or "possession" or anything like that is just silly. Most atheists don't even believe in the paranormal, and they certainly don't worship the devil. They don't worship anything and don't even believe in anything that one could worship - that's he literal definition of atheism. This sounds like the evangelicals who believe that atheists are atheists becasue they are "angry with God," which is super-dumb because you can't be angry with something that you don't believe exists.

Competing religions are just other religions, and people have religious freedom in the United States. The idea that the only reason somebody wouldn't be Christian is because they are possessed by a (Christian) demon is ridiculous and should be ridiculed at every opportunity. Tarot readings and astrology do fall under Western Esotericism, which the church has long-standing hostility towards, but again, esoteric practices are not all "of the devil." Working towards personal gnosis is a threat to the organized church, so they try to keep people away from it as best they can.

And that last one - is this article really saying that the Internet is demonic or evil? If so, I guess you better log off right now. Otherwise I guess you might get demon-possessed, like through your monitor or keyboard or something. Seriously, though, is the Roman Catholic Church opposed to the Internet? If so, that's pretty out-of-touch of them. It's also a little hypocritical, given that Roman Catholic Churches have websites and the like. I'm thinking, though, that this is a Fox News thing, trying to inject some sense of danger where none really exists. That's kind of their business model, after all.

Even with all those caveats, though, I do think this a good thing. I referred to exorcists "reverse-conjurers" up there in all seriousness because that's exactly what an exorcism is. Much of the grimoire procedure that's out there was heavily influenced by reversing the Roman Catholic Rite of Exorcism. It may be that by reversing further optimizations of the technology, our magick can be improved. And the church would really hate that.

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