Wednesday, November 18, 2015

AtomaCon Panel: Demonology: Is it real?

Of all the panels I attended at last weekend's AtomaCon, I have to say the Demonology: Is it real? panel was my favorite. It was led by Alex Matsuo, founder and director of the Association for Paranormal Study and author of The Haunting of the Tenth Avenue TheaterThe Haunted Actor, and More Than Ghosts. A demon is a malevolent entity (or a fallen angel according to religion), and I never gave them much thought until I found out that The Exorcist was inspired by a true story. Alex said that she specializes in residential cases in her paranormal investigations and has come across a few demonic cases. According to The Bible, only Jesus can deal with demons, but he's not around to help out, so instead Catholic priests/clergy or pastors are called upon to exorcise a demon once they decide that someone is possessed. In order to get to this point, the individual in question must be evaluated by a priest, who assesses whether the person is suffering from mental illness or demonic possession (they have similar signs).

Signs of possession:
-hysterical laughter
-talking gibberish, speaking in languages the individual doesn't know, or speaking in tongues
-knowledge of things the individual has no way of knowing
-shifts in bone structure and body contortions
-aversion to holy objects/holy water
-changes in voice, personality, and appearance

Characteristics of demonic activity:
-foul odors
-oppressive feeling
-shadow figures
-reaction to religious objects/prayers
-heavy objects moving on their own

Stages of demonic possession:
1. Manifestation: when the demon is invited in (either directly or indirectly)
2. Infestation: when the demon makes itself known (growling, whispers, etc.)
3. Oppression: when the demon oppresses an individual physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually
4. Possession: when the demon has access to the body
5. Perfect Possession: when the individual accepts the demon, and an exorcism is no longer possible

In order to act on behalf of Christ, the priest must do an act of contrition before he performs the exorcism. Before the exorcism begins, the possessed person will be restrained so they can't hurt themselves or anyone else, then the exorcist will recite prayers both in English and Latin, which takes 35-40 minutes when read non-stop. The exorcist will also attempt to get the name of the demon and ask for the time and date of the demon's departure.

During the panel, we watched videos of exorcisms from other religions, which was pretty interesting, and Alex played an audio recording from one of the 67 exorcisms performed on Anneliese Michel (who was the inspiration for The Exorcism of Emily Rose), which really creeped me out. Anneliese died from malnutrition and dehydration at the age of 23, and her parents, a priest, and a pastor were all charged with negligent manslaughter. (You can find out more about Anneliese here:

I've watched a bunch of movies about demons/possession and read a few books on the subject, so I thought I knew almost everything there was to know about it...but the Demonology panel was fascinating, and I learned a lot. I didn't really enjoy riding home in the dark afterward or trying to fall asleep that night though. ; )

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