Exorcisms in the Berkshire Mountains? Apparently so, per this report from Adam Poulisse for the Berkshire Eagle:
The word “exorcism” can cause a flurry of disturbing images: a young girl’s head spinning around; profanity too vulgar to be uttered by anyone, let alone a 12-year-old; two priests dying during the ritual.
But those iconic images surrounding a possessed girl named Regan (Linda Blair) and her eventual exorcism in the 1973 film “The Exorcist” are “highly inaccurate” compared to the real-life ritual of casting out demons or spirits, according to Glenn Shuck, an assistant professor of religion at Williams College.
“It’s not done so haphazardly,” he said. “Priests should focus on driving the demon out, not engaging in the sensational activities depicted in ‘The Exorcist.’ Sometimes the individual has to be restrained, preferably by a family member, but that’s very, very rare. The film has to play up every possible exaggeration.”
Hollywood dramatizations notwithstanding, exorcisms under several different names and religions still occur today, and they might even be on the rise.
According to the Episcopal Rite of Exorcism, the ritual is “the practice of expelling evil spirits by means of prayer and set formulas [and] derives its authority from the Lord himself who identified these acts of his messiaship.”
Just as in the church’s earlier days, exorcism is reserved only for the bishop, who can delegate the rite to others deemed competent…
[continues in the Berkshire Eagle]