Exorcist

Photo essays

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Exorcist

Mexico City, Mexico – May 2011

Exorcism is an ancient religious technique of evicting spirits, generally called demons or evil, from a person or a place which is believed to be possessed. This practice is a part of the belief system of many cultures and can be find throughout the world and ages, starting with animistic religions of the indigenous tribes in Amazonia and Africa, following by Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and ending with Christianity in the modern era.

Although the formal catholic rite of exorcism is rarely seen and must be only conducted by a priest named by the bishop, there are many Christian pastors and preachers all over Latin America (known as ‘exorcistas’) performing exorcism and prayers of liberation. Using especially their strong charisma, together with religous formulas, symbols, icons or amulets, they command the evil spirit to depart a victim's mind and body, usually invoking Jesus Christ or God to intervene in favour of a possessed person. Some of them claim to be graced with special skills that allow them to communicate and possibly fight the spiritual entities. Usually it takes several rituals to expulse a deeply entrenched demon.

Modern medicine tends to see the nature of the victim's affliction as a psychological or medical illness and therefore frequently marginalizes the symptoms as illusions or hallucinations. However, unlike the modern psychiatry, ‘exorcistas’ never doubt of what people say and feel is real and thus, those who failed during their desperate search for help in hospitals, family or elsewhere, usually end up with an exorcist, hoping to find deliverance.

Photography by Jan Sochor
Sound recorded by Jan Sochor

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Copyright © 2014 Jan Sochor. No photographs and text may be used or reproduced in any form.