Many would argue that the influence of the Catholic church is diminishing as time goes on in Poland, and yet the number of exorcists has more than tripled in recent years. And now with an increase in the number of demonic possessions being reported, these official followers of an ancient practice are making their way in a world rife with conflict both from the demons they fight and scientific scrutiny from psychologists. And now a massive group of exorcists has amassed in Warsaw amid great interest.
The massive flocking of Poland’s exorcists to one place is the result of their national Congress to discuss matters of their art and future developments in the field. And while you may think the traditional exorcist will have more than his fair share of stories to tell, the sentiment is overwhelmingly that exorcism is far less dramatic most of the time than television and film suggests. Exorcists are said to have a number of weapons in their arsenal against the forces of evil, but suggest that a typical exorcism will not escalate to levels seen in the classic horror film The Exorcist or even approach the dramatic events portrayed in The Last Exorcism of Emily Rose. Instead, they suggest the events often require a sobering attempt to look into a person’s soul and exorcise personal demons as much as actual paranormal entities. Though the image of the dramatic battle of the wills seen in film is the most commonly known by the general public, many exorcists have come forward saying they find it is rarely necessary for them to raise their voices and many possessed individuals do not require any form of restraining. On the other hand there have been some documented cases where extremely out of control individuals have clashed with practitioners verbally, spiritually, and physically.
Why the massive congregation in Warsaw? Is there a massive final battle between the forces of good and evil approaching in the next few days? If there is, it would be approaching without the knowledge of those present. Typical meetings taking place are more dealing with the regulations, practices, and logistics of being an exorcist in Poland and speculation on why their services are so much in demand.
According to the Catholic Church there is no preset ritual that must be upheld as with baptisms in order to perform an exorcism. As such, many exorcisms are designed by exorcists themselves or occasionally improvised in order to deliver the intended result. Though they are increasing in their numbers, exorcisms must gain the approval of a bishop or higher authority within the Catholic church and then performed by an individual recognized for the task such as a priest. In the United States official exorcisms are rare, as the assumption is made that a mental imbalance is generally the cause of the possessed individual’s behavior. Symptoms officially recognized as possession are generally thought to be knowledge of languages the user would not otherwise know, knowledge of events or locations they could not have visited or learned about by other means, revulsion of sacred or religious objects even if the possessed has no knowledge of their presence, and supernatural abilities such as levitation or strength beyond what the individual would ordinarily possess.