Friday, April 15, 2011

You Might Be A Demon If...

Father Jose Francisco Syquia
 Friends pointed me to a long story about an exorcist in the Philippines on Yahoo News today. It was interesting and made me consider a few things, since this has been a week to think about how people and actions are perceived. This is not an article meant to bash any religious group, but it is going to explore the actions of a single man under particular circumstances who has encouragement to do what he's doing from none other than the Vicar of Rome.

 Father Jose Francisco Syquia is a Roman Catholic priest in charge of the Manila Archdiocese's Office of Exorcism. He's been quite busy lately, and was quoted as saying "There is a great dramatic increase of possessions right now," said the 44-year-old priest. "More and more the demons are gaining a foothold into this society."

Demons? According to Fr. Syquia, he has hundreds of cases on video  in his files. Hundreds. He runs the only place where there is such a specialized ministry in the country. Fr.Syquia was ordained only 11 years ago, after he had already obtained a degree in psychology at one of the Philippines' Catholic universities. He claims he's
always been fascinated by paranormal activities and "devoured entire books on the subject". His career began when he identified a member of his congregation as being "possesed", and sought the guidance of a local bishop- who promply gave him permission to perform an exorcism due to his knowledge of psychology.

Houston, we have a problem.

First of all,why is there suddenly, to quote the good Father,"... a great dramatic increase of possessions right now". Why now? Why not a year or two ago? Or ten? or twenty? The rite of Exorcism has always been a controversial one in the Catholic Church.

An exorcist is a person who is specially trained in liturgics to cast out evil spirits in possession of a person's mind and body, or a location. The position exists in many different traditions and  is usually performed by a specially trained lay person, minister or priest in mainstream religions and by a shaman or healer in others. Ceremonial magickans are also able to call up demons and control them. An in magickal theory, so can witches.
 Syquia suggested there has been a conspiracy of silence that permeated the church in the past among the leadership, who didn't want to appear old fashioned because modern science was beginning to understand that many identified as possessed actually had mental health conditions such as bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia.It's interesting to me that a priest with a psychology degree is placed in charge of an office that strictly deals with a subject the rest of the modern world believes is a combination of mental illnesses but he believes is demonic posession.

The exact word he used was medieval. He didn't want the Church to appear medieval because of the upsurge of exorcisms being performed by it's priests...okay, maybe just him.

Rite of Exorcism in Latin
 Let's review this again. A priest-trained as a psychologist- runs the only ministry in the area specifically dealing with demonic possession in a country where superstition is high and the people are poor is saying there has been an increase in demonic activity in his area and as proof, he has hundreds of video tapes of exorcisms he's performed.

I don't know about you, but I smell the beginning of a potential witch hunt in the Philippines.

Fr.Syquia cites the case of a doctor who was "befriended" by demons in the guise of dwarfs that brought her good luck and money. She had left the Church, but upon returning things changed. The dwarfs were so friendly, and it was determined ( by Fr. Syquia, no doubt) that she had been consorting with the Devil's minions.
I guess the money dried up right around the time she decided to made a significant contribution to Fr.Syquia's parish. Damn dwarfs will pack up their lucky charms and skedaddle every time just when things are getting good. Do tell. About another demoniac, the priest was quoted as saying, "She would have levitated had she not been restrained." The whole thing is on tape and is used to train impressionable seminarians. He recounted that the woman cried out" It's very painful" as she was held tight by his assistants.

Scene from 1983 The Exorcist
 I wish they'd allowed her to float up to the ceiling, I'd like to have seen that- because I've been involved in a couple of exorcisms and they were pretty boring, exactly. No one channeled Regan MacNeil, and no green pea soup was spewed on us.  Granted the rituals were done at the insistence of people who had long term  and certifiable mental health issues, but the attention and prayer circle seemed to help... right up until the Resperdal and Thorazine kicked in and then the "fun" was over.

I'm not saying there is no such thing as demonic possession,because having studied and worked in the realm of magick for many, many years, anything is possible.  I am suggesting as a trained counselor in the medical field that it's more than likely the individual in question was suffering from some form of psychosis. I seriously doubt that visitations from lower entities who actually take over humans happen all that frequently...and I do believe they exist, and I certainly do think they are attracted to some of the things we do as occult practitioners. Most of us aren't necromancers, even if we work with the ancestors. We don't do extensive, intense high ceremonial magick that would bring demons poking around to see what we were up to, especially if we take proper precautions to protect ourselves from having an paranormal "Oh shit" moment...You just don't call up what you can't put down, and not many of us are that adventuresome or stupid.

Speaking in strange tongues, writhing around on the floor, screaming like a wild animal and trying to get free from two burly guys holding you down doesn't necessarily mean you're in contact with Old Scratch or any of his friends...because accusation isn't proof, as the folks running the anti-witch hunts campaign over at Touchstone Advocacy would say.

But the story about Fr. Jose Francisco Syquia does cause me to wonder what exactly is happening in the Philippines in regard to the alleged increase of possessions and the supposed need for spiritual intervention...Are the Philippines actually a hotbed of demonic activity? I think it depends on who and what you believe demonic to be and who the Devil is in this case. Could Fr. Syquia be attracting these demons through something he's doing during the ritual that attracts them? It's possible to do both innocently and on purpose. Or is he being well meaning but essentially harmless? Again, that could be the case...or he's gearing up for the next round of spiritual warfare against innocent the same vein of the witch hunts in Africa. Because you just never know for sure.

Link to original article on Yahoo:

Link from Roman Catholic news agency on  the new language of the Rite of Exorcism, with commentary:

Link to text of the Rite of Exorcism, provided for educational purposes only:


  1. Well, putting fear in people is a perfect method of controlling them. (Just for fun - a boyfriend a few years ago claimed that I was "possessed by three demons", and that his spiritual counselor would have to perform an exorcism on me - of course I would have to grant him "certain favors" in return... Needless to say, I kept my "demons" and kicked the guy out instead.)

  2. Honestly I think that you are spot on with the analogy to Africa. The Philippines are one of the last strong holds for Catholicism in the world, and I think that this (on the vatican level) is a way to help keep a hold over the 'spiritual' leanings of the area. As for the priest himself, I think that there should be a psychological analysis done of him (by someone not affiliated with the church). While everything is possible in the universe not all things are probable. But in my opinion, if you put someone with an intense longing for the paranormal in a position to be able to claim the paranormal unchallenged and then perform rites on the populace then you're just begging for trouble. A psychology degree does not a perfect human make.
    I for one would like to know where the 'intense' documentation and investigation that is supposed to be done by the Vatican before an exorcism is sanctioned is.

  3. It would appear that the Vatican is giving him permission to scare people. Of course, they may thing they're scaring people 'for their own good,' which is an interesting thing to consider.
    His psychology degree doesn't qualify him for much of anything in determining anyone's mental health. You have to have at least a master's and usually a doctorate to qualify to use psychology as part of a diagnosing or treating practice. If anything, it's given him just enough knowledge to be dangerous.


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