Casting Out Evil: The Centuries-Long History of Exorcism

Since its theatrical release in 1973, The Exorcist, based on William Peter Blatty’s 1971 novel of the same name, has served as the cultural touchpoint for an otherwise mysterious religious ritual. In reality, it’s only part of the most recent chapter in the long history of the spiritual practice that involves far more than a spinning head and green projectile vomit.

“Exorcism is a prayer or ritual that is meant to remove the influence of demonic, evil power over a person,” says Stephen Okey, a theologian and assistant professor of philosophy, theology, and religion at Saint Leo University in Florida.

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