Exorcism is a fascinating and controversial practice that has deep historical roots. Dating back thousands of years, exorcism can be traced to various civilizations and religious traditions around the world. Throughout history, exorcisms have been performed to rid individuals of supposed demonic possession or spiritual entities. The process involves a ritualistic ceremony, usually performed by a trained individual known as an exorcist. This article will explore the history of exorcism, its cultural significance, and its depiction in popular films.

The practice of exorcism can be traced back to ancient Mesopotamia, where texts such as the Akkadian Incantations describe rituals to expel evil spirits. These rituals later influenced other Mesopotamian civilizations, such as the Babylonians and Assyrians. Exorcism also played a central role in ancient Egyptian religious practices. The Greeks and Romans also believed in the existence of evil spirits and developed their own methods of exorcism. In many cases, exorcisms were performed by religious figures such as priests or shamans, who were believed to have the power to communicate with the divine and banish evil forces.

The history of exorcism is closely intertwined with the film industry, as the subject has been a source of inspiration for many filmmakers. One of the most famous examples is the 1973 film “The Exorcist,” directed by William Friedkin. Based on a novel by William Peter Blatty, the film tells the story of a young girl who becomes possessed by a demonic entity. “The Exorcist” was groundbreaking for its realistic portrayal of demonic possession and its psychological impact on both the possessed girl and the people around her. The film’s success led to the creation of a franchise and a series of sequels and prequels.

Other notable films that explore the theme of exorcism include “The Devil Inside” (2012), “The Last Exorcism” (2010), and “The Rite” (2011). These films often draw on religious imagery and supernatural elements to create suspense and horror. However, it is important to note that these movies often take creative liberties with the concept of exorcism and may not accurately reflect the beliefs and practices associated with the real-life ritual.

Exorcism has a long and complex history that is closely tied to various religious and cultural traditions. Though controversial, it has been practiced in different forms throughout the ages. The film industry has used exorcism as a captivating and terrifying subject, creating a plethora of movies that explore the boundaries between the spiritual and the physical. As a college student, exploring the history of exorcism and its portrayal in films can be a thought-provoking experience that sheds light on the intersection of belief, tradition, and entertainment.

Within pagan/heathen circles a variety of views are held in terms of what could be considered an exorcism or what is also known as banishing, cleansing, expelling. Not all pagans/heathens believe in demons as that concept is mostly Christian in nature and not something that overlays into pagan/heathen practice. However, some practitioners do believe it is possible for spirits to take hold of the body in an effort to remain in the real world. This is more akin to possession by spirtual bodies or ‘recently deceased’. 

Some also believe it is possible to get taken possession of by fairies, land spirits, wights and elves, but the variety in these believes is so broad there is no real distinct practice in terms of banishing or removing invading corporal or non-corporal beings.