I’ve mentioned before on this blog that among other things I do, I’m an exorcist. It is a real job, I do get paid for it, it’s nothing like all the movies, and what it means varies. Let me break it down for you.
Did you learn that in Seminary?
Not exactly. There was one class in one course that went through some of the bishop’s experiences of it (the bishop was teaching the class), and I think if anything it helped to widen my personal perspective of what demonic possession could look like. Because typical demonic possession doesn’t look like it does in the movies – that stuff may in fact happen, but I haven’t seen it yet. All demonic possession I’ve encountered thus far was rather subtle. Not that one could confuse the person possessed for someone filled with joy and light (not that subtle), but there was no crawling up the wall backwards, no spinning heads, no ectoplasm. You know, it was just a demon doing what demons do: ruin people’s lives on every level possible, and make every situation that much worse while giving off the creepiest vibe possible.
I learned all the on-the-ground stuff after Seminary from a colleague who took me under her wing. There were no classes. It was entirely field work. Having said that, it wasn’t like we were walking through haunted mansions together. I mean, there was that one time, but other than that. And part of what I learned was that it wasn’t just about demons – which was great, because that would be boring as hell. (Get it? Exorcist joke.)
The thing is, the Church has a space carved out in its zeitgeist and its culture for psychics who are passive and just meditate on the love of God and let that quietly inform their lives. We call them mystics, or contemplatives. We like to misunderstand them and make them into saints, but however we misunderstand, we do have a place for them. And the Church has similarly a space carved out for psychics who are active – just one space.
We misunderstand them, too, though we rarely make them into saints, so I’m safe.
So what does an Exorcist do, if they’re doing anything other than casting demons into the outer darkness?
Exorcism Beyond Demons
So, an Exorcist can work with energy healing, curse breaking, discernment, angel activation and distribution, and the removal of other shadow or dark entities that may be plaguing you, from haunting ghosts to things I’d prefer not to name, because names are actually power, and beyond even this list. It varies from exorcist to exorcist and depends on their training, their talents, and their proclivities. For some, if it’s not straight up demonic possession, they’re not interested, call someone else. For me, I’m here for the mulit-faceted healing opportunities.
So, for me anyway, Exorcist is the church-approved-name for me being a fairly powerful psychic and actually using my power for good, for the health and healing of my world and for the health and healing of my life and my family. Other traditions have different names for this very similar work.
But I’m not Wiccan. And I’m not Iroquois. I’m Christian, and a priest at that. So Exorcist it is.
You get paid for that?
Yup. It’s not part of my current job title and I don’t personally know any salaried Exorcists, but think of it more like a therapist or yoga teacher. You pay for a private session, you contract with a professional, you get what you pay for. My sliding scale (I think everyone should have a sliding scale) is from $40-$200 per session, and the first assessment is free to discuss the scope of work, if I can help at all, and if we gel. In the past I’ve just lumped it under the heading of Spiritual Direction, because often when I’m doing Spiritual Direction for Christians (yes, I have an atheist directee) I’m throwing in some exorcism and energy work in there with the Direction. (Just one more service I offer.)
I’m teasing Exorcism out as a separate thing these days because by and large Spiritual Direction looks like therapy, and it looks like a long-term therapy relationship. Exorcism and related tools are very much end-product, goal-oriented, get-it-done type tools, with as few sessions as will get the work done and then everybody moves on.
Is there continuing education for Exorcists?
Yup. I’m doing some even now. But it’s not usually entitled ‘continuing ed credits for exorcists!’ It’s more like those people who created their own major in undergrad and had to pick and choose from a variety of different departments to create the perfect mix of what they needed to learn. So I focus on therapy modalities, energy healing, radical self care, trauma care, and self care specifically for people who are sensitive or psychic.
Different therapy modalities help me to understand better the dynamics between people, the importance that trauma plays in people’s lives, how the body and the mind process trauma, how humans process stress and pain and suffering. I do continuing ed in therapeutic modalities not because I’m a therapist, but because I’m a human and I want to relate to my fellow humans in the best possible way and understand why they do what they do – and why I do what I do.
I also do continuing education in energy healing, self care, and self care as a sensitive/psychic so I don’t just project all of my issues on to other people and call it demons.
I’m currently loving Dr. Karen Kan’s energy healing TOLKPAKAN method and I hope to train in it officially before the end of this year. I’m wading through some of the seminal texts on trauma-informed therapy (The Body Keeps The Score, and Waking The Tiger). I’ve just taken a week-long seminar in managing transitions and I’m reading a transcript on a course for Internal Family Systems Theory. In the past I’ve studied Bowen Family Systems Theory and General Systems Theory in depth both in my MSW training, in Seminary, and in continuing education courses. Naturally, I’m also a level 3 Reiki Master, and I study qigong which translated from the Mandarin literally means ‘Energy Cultivation’. I’ve also been educating myself on gaslighting, narcissists, and energy vampires, as well as TRE and Meridian Tapping.
And I pray. A lot.
If you or a friend need to consult me, email me.
Bonus Section: Do You Believe In Ghosts?
Let me explain.
So, imagine me, a young curate standing next to my very experienced rector (translation: baby priest next to priest boss), in the high balcony of the cathedral-sized stone church we worked in. I had just had an unnerving experience in the sanctuary the night before, staying late at work to play one of the Steinway grand pianos, I hadn’t started training any of my psychic gifts (in fact I didn’t think I had any, an idea I now find so adorably cute), and I asked my revered, worldly, and perhaps just a shade irreverent and cynical boss if he believed in ghosts.
His answer was no.
Belief, he explained, takes a lot of energy. When people believe in something, they throw their eggs into that basket, they give it their time, their attention, their focus. It becomes a pastime, a hobby, perhaps an entertainment. They become a fan. However they do it, people give what they believe in their all.
He knew ghosts existed. He sometimes dealt with their shenanigans. But he couldn’t afford to believe in them. He chose to put his time, attention, and focus elsewhere.
As a commentary on how human attention works, I like it a lot. And I follow in his footsteps in at least that one way. I don’t believe in ghosts.
I’ve had to tell them to go away. I’ve had to give them a therapeutic nudge so they would leave me alone. I’ve listened to their pleas and sometimes done what they’ve asked of me. I’ve held funeral services for ghosts. I’ve fielded their incredibly rude and uncalled for comments. I’ve exorcised a demon from a poltergeist and downgraded it to just a really pissed-off haunting ghost. When they were distant family members telling my trans wife to just be a man, I’ve sworn a blue streak at them, enumerating their many personal faults at volume before demanding they leave my house that very instant and not return until they grow the hell up and learn how to love people or at least refrain from insulting them in their own home. (Perhaps not my finest hour, but there again, I’m being honest about it.)
I deal with ghosts regularly. Daily, sometimes. Sometimes professionally. But believe in them?