With The Conjuring 2 - starring Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga - making $320 million of a $40 million dollar budget, it seems that the demand for horror films is alive and well. But did you know that it is based on the apparently true story of the two most famous demonologists in history, Ed and Lorraine Warren, who over the course of their lives are claimed to have investigated over 10,000 spooky cases? Check out the spine-tingling trailer below:
Whilst demonologists, not being recognised by official institutions, do not have any legally binding qualifications and have often been roundly discredited, there are still many different courses one can take in order to become one. Once you are trained, or, if you're a Catholic, appointed by the church, then you can start practicing. But before you decide to take the course, what does the day job actually entail? Lets find out!
What Do Demonologists Do?
Demonologists believe that this world is not the only world, and beneath the human dimension lies another far more malevolent one. It is their job to bridge the supposed 'gap' between both worlds and rid this one of evil spirits, whether that be in the form of exorcisms, house cleanings, or asking for divine intervention. Due to the fact that nearly all religions talk about demons at one time or another, demonology is said to be a multi-faith practice. The important thing for demonologists to do, when assessing a certain person, is to make sure that what they are dealing with is not merely epilepsy, schizophrenia, or other mental illnesses, but in fact there is a possession taking place. Therefore certain demonologists work in tandem with medical experts, or have medical training, in order to make sure that they can diagnose the case correctly.
Of course, the number of scrupulous medical professions that would willingly work with demonologists is likely incredibly small.
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Channeling The 'Gift'
One demonologist - who also works part time at British pastry shop Greggs - describes her abilities as something quite simple:
"I can actually see demons and spirits. I'll talk to them like I talk to people. I'm never on my own. To me, it's normal."
Some describe the ability to talk to demons as a gift, albeit one that has to be coupled with some level of education, training and constant practice. However, the Warrens were the most famous demonologists all of time not just because they were talented and apparently had supranatural abilities, but also because they had a large body of work behind them to give validity - although that validity largely rests on who you ask.
The Role of Exorcisms
Unless you are part of a certain religion such as Catholicism - in which you have to be or employ a priest - many demonologists also supposedly perform exorcisms. Christian ones are the most famous in popular culture, being seen in films such as The Exorcist, The Exorcism of Emily Rose and The Rite. They consist of first identifying the symptoms, then after first buying religious paraphernalia such as a cross, holy water and The Bible, channelling the Holy Spirit to cleanse the victim in the form of reciting scripture and commanding it to be gone. The trick is to address the demon by name and to be heavily persistent, all the while laying your hands on the victim herself. The demon, unless it is particularly strong, should be gone in several hours (or even days). Other religions have similar practices, but in Judaism, poisonous root extracts are also used.
Despite claims by demonologists that exorcism is the best way to get rid of malevolent spirits, scientists argue that it is a pseudo-science at best and abusive at worst, and that any problem the victim has is largely due to physiological and psychological factors. Some of argue that it is an immoral practice, with Johann Hari of The Independent writing:
"Here is the biggest, richest and most powerful religious institution on earth, explicitly telling deeply mentally ill people the Devil is within them because they asked him in, and they have to suffer to get him out."
It's Not Something To Get Into Lightly
In the process of researching this article, there seemed to be a strong theme across all the demonologists talking about their profession: this is not so much a job as a vocation. Apparently, dealing with demons on a daily basis is not only physically and emotionally draining, it can be deadly and dangerous for those involved. A few expressed their desire to quit, a wish for a normal life, but they know that they can't because their faith (in whatever form it finds itself) means that this is something they have to do. As one writes:
"Very few are called into this ministry, and, more often than not, against their will. Several times I have tried to remove myself from this field."
Another describes in an interview the attacks he has been under from demons:
"I’ve been pushed down a flight of stairs more than once and have been attacked by what felt like a large male beating the crap out of me. I’ve had my arms and legs lose feeling to the point where I was unable to walk without help."
Despite the precedence demonologists have in popular culture, there are many people who are dedicated to disproving their theories as nothing other than pseudo-science. Therefore ,in addition to merely having to deal with 'demons' every day, you also have to deal with those pesky scientists, investigative reporters and doctors who spend their time trying to prove you wrong.
To Find Out More About Skepticism Read: The Warrens vs The Skeptics: A Timeline in Three Movies.
So, if you're considering of becoming a demonologist yourself, have a long hard think about it first. Fighting the supposed enemies of God as your 9-5 is not something you should think of doing merely to pay the bills!
Do You Want To Be A Demonologist?