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How to Perform an Exorcism (Without Botching It) | A Christian Witch Discusses Netflix's Marianne

These shows get me riled up worse than my parents when their football team loses.

Marianne, Netflix, Demons, Demonology, Exorcism, Christian Witch, Christian Witchcraft, Spirituality, Religion, Slovene-American, Slovenia, Folklore, Catholic, Culture

Here is your fair warning: there are spoilers in this blog post.


If you don't mind spoilers, that's fine by me. But no matter what, I do recommend you check out Marianne on Netflix! I have a real soft spot for a good ghost movie, and not only was this movie about a ghost, it was specifically about the ghost of a witch.


And I mean a witch in the most traditional sense of the word: one who hurts, who poisons, who eats kids and makes hex charms out of literal skin and bone. One who weds a devil (not the devil but a devil, which we'll get to later) and who vows to get vengeance on the descendants of those who killed her. This is where the spoilers will be the heaviest: in summary of the story.

Our story begins with a young French woman, Emma, who has quite the career as a horror writer. Her Lizzie Larck stories feature a heroine, Lizzie, who battles an evil witch Marianne throughout the series. But Emma's written the last book, and she's planning on putting that storyline down for good—until a childhood friend comes to her after fifteen years and tells her about the obsession her mother has with the series.


Turns out fifteen years ago, Emma left her hometown of Elden to distance herself from all of these people, because since she was a child, she's been having nightmares about a certain Marianne—an evil spirit, the ghost of a witch who's trying to come back to wreak havoc on this little town. That evil spirit took the life of her best friend's little sister, and the local priest told Emma the only way to make things better was to take her cursed self far, far away. The only problem is that by writing about her in her stories, thinking Marianne was nothing but a weird little nightmare, Emma has been accidentally feeding into her power and making her stronger.


That's classic egregore behavior if I've ever seen it—gaining power by how many folks think about you and keep you in your imagination. But in this case, it's the way for a witch to draw in the energy she needs to manifest and move through the world to cause trouble. It's interesting: as Marianne coerces Emma to write by terrorizing her parents and friends, taking quite a few lives along the way, and we discover her history in the town—including that this witch is allegedly a bride of the Goetic demon, King Beleth.


But eventually, they manage to burn what's left of Marianne's pact with King Beleth that was stuffed in her grave, thus also releasing the witch's spirit and breaking the curse for good. Turns out her grave was in Emma's childhood yard the entire time: talk about convenient. Nonetheless, the day is saved, everything is resolved, we managed to get at least a few people to survive, and they're only moderately scarred forever from the experience.


One thing that's very interesting, also, is the talk of "the edge," or "the city," or the "black water," as Marianne is trying to take Emma and the others to. "Hell is near the ocean," says Emma's assistant, Camille, who also saw it after getting possessed by Marianne for a hot minute. For anyone who's ever worked with demons, it sounds like they're grasping at describing the Void, or the Abyss, or whatever else you'd like to call it: the endless, boundless, formless dark, where one can get some real good meditations that uncover all the wriggling, slimy parts of ourselves that, like earthworms, prefer to hide from the direct light of the sun.


Luckily for us, media and movies aren't a very good representation of what those spaces are actually like, nor do they really illuminate what one gains from them or what one has to do in order to get access to them (hint: it isn't sacrificing your kids in the woods, as this show posits). But that's a topic for another time, I think. Right now, let's take a walk through here and point out where these poor folks went very wrong in their attempts to ensnare a witch soul of this caliber.


How to Perform an Exorcism (Without Botching It):


Don't Just Paint the Sigil of the Relevant Demon Anywhere (Especially if It's Not Even the Demon You're Trying to Exorcise in the First Place)


I feel like this is the most obvious thing that went wrong for me: after discovering that Marianne was a spouse of King Beleth, and that his sigil was literally all over any papers concerning her (including the one that was buried with her, which signified her "pact" with him), the investigator that this show later had acting as Esoteric Wonderboy decided that painting that sigil on a wall in order to help summon Marianne.


(They also insisted that Marianne wouldn't be able to resist the call when they used her true name," which was just... her first and last name. There's something to be said about witch names and hiding your true name, but Marianne was always Marianne.)


Anyway, let's think about Solomonic magic. I know most demonolaters don't abide by it—and for good reason, as it's a fast track to getting a demon royally pissed off when you let it out of the magical cage you create for it in a Solomonic working—but whenever you summon a demon, there are a lot of magical elements to keep that kind of spirit contained. Secure. Away from the practitioner. Usually also beat around a little by whatever angel was invoked for support.


But not only did Esoteric Wonderboy just chuck that sigil of Beleth up there on a wall before diving into a very Betelgeuse-esque seance; he also, if anything, gave Marianne a bonus. Because that sigil represents her spouse. A demon king. One who has eighty-five legions of demons under his belt. And who, per this storyline, had a vested interest in keeping Marianne safe and able to do her work.


Why on earth would you do that? Summon the infernal king that a spirit is attached to, without even attempting to constrain it properly despite already being openly antagonistic to it? Why would you think that would ever help you case? Why would you ever go slapping around the sigils of things you weren't intending to bring to you (and if you did want them to come and you knew they were out for blood for whatever reason, why would you not take proper precautions)?


In fairness, the Esoteric Wonderboy was in fact trying to draw Marianne closer, but with hardly any belief that what he was doing was working and by throwing out the names of God (incorrectly using the Tetragrammaton), the name of St. Dunstan, jailer of demons, etc.—but there was no real sense that the dude knew what he was doing. Obviously. Mans wasn't a professional magician, that's for sure.


So lesson one: if you're going to exorcise a spirit, maybe don't accidentally instead summon unfettered backup for it.


Make Sure You Clean the House Before Starting


A while back, we talked to Ji Hae (or @neomudang) about why it's important to keep your space clean, and I'm going to reiterate that here: messy houses attract stupid things. They're full of dust and snags and snares that spirits not only get caught on, but like to hide on.


Given that back in the day, people didn't have germ theory and instead attributed illness to evil or unclean spirits, this connection between physical and spiritual cleanliness is pretty easy to understand. It's the basis for the ritual of Leviticus 14, after all, in which a spirit of disease is cast out with birds (one dead and one alive), with cedar and hyssop, with red thread. But here's the thing: working magic of any kind—including exorcism—in a house strung up with nasty energy is like washing dishes while you're surrounded by thick, decades-old cobwebs. Sure, you got your dishes clean—but you're covered in cobwebs, and so is the drying rack you just set your dishes in. Ew. What good is that?


I remember an exorcism I did (the only one to date): it was a poltergeist, which manifests from one's own negative energy polluting a space. When I tell you looking into the shadows of that house felt like looking into a big, ugly wasp's nest, angry and buzzing and mean, I'm serious. We had to smoke that spiritual gunk out for a long time before the air finally got lighter in there (and it sure did try to push us out and spook us before we could finish the job).


So I'll say this: a proper exorcism starts with a clean house, or at least a clean room to perform the exorcism in. It doesn't need to be a deep clean with steamers and bleach or anything, but picking the spac up, vacuuming, dusting a little, all help, and so does purifying the room spiritually with things like rosemary smoke or lemon-based cleaning products. Rosemary is protective and purifying, with the element of fire and the Sun influencing its power. Lemon, on the other hand, is also very much a cleansing and purifying item (think of that acid, that corrosive sting!), but is based in the energy of water and the Moon. Using them together would balance them pretty well.


And, as a Christian witch, I'll also recommend that after you cleanse the space and bring God's creation into it via things like rosemary or lemon, also sprinkle some holy water, holy oil, or holy salt into the corners to then set a holy boundary once the ickiness has been burned and washed away. Now you're ready to roll in a space that doesn't feel like it has a wasp's nest of bad energy clustering around you while you work.


Give the Spirit an Exit Point or Other Vessel to Occupy


As I mentioned Leviticus 14 before, let me talk about it more here: the two birds, one dead (killed for the ritual) and one alive is precisely for this concept I'm discussing. At the end of this ritual, that living bird, which had been dipped in the blood of the dead one and used as a tool to sprinkle said blood onto the afflicted person, was later released. It was thought that by doing this, the evil spirit causing the illness would instead attach itself to the bird and be taken far away from the community.


A similar concept applies in the scapegoat, the goat which had the sins of the community written on it and which would be chased off into the wilderness as a snack for Azazel, the sin-eater. By doing this, the sins of the community were carried far away, unable to plague the people any longer. It's where that term scapegoat comes from, as you might've guessed.


Remember also, when Jesus encounters Legion in Matthew 8:28-34, the same thing happens: the many demons beg Jesus not to just toss them back into the Abyss, but to cast them into the herd of pigs hanging out nearby (of course, they dump off the cliff's edge of their own volition afterwards, but they got what they wanted). They'd rather have somewhere else to go than be just whipped out into the ether to hang around listlessly.


This is one of the biggest reasons spirits keep coming back: they have no alternative for where to go or what to do. It's also a problem when you have some bad energy or spirit that you're trying to chase out and you keep al the windows closed. All that'll do is make them bounce around your space like a pinball and inevitably settle back down angrier than they were before. By giving them a new vessel to occupy (like a poppet, a box, or a satchet with the targeted person's essence inside, such as a fingernail or a scrap of hair, or an animal it can jump into and ride away in), you give it something else to attach to so it won't come back to the original thing it was messing with. Or, if there's just a window open, at least it has the option to go out and find something on its own.


Remember: the Hollywood method of compelling spirits in the name of Christ looks fun and cool, but if you don't have the confidence and don't actually believe it'll work (as most people in movies don't seem to), that's already one strike against you. If you googled your whole ritual in the last four minutes and scrawled the wrong sigil down, as well as didn't clean your house or give a spirit a place to go, you might as well hang it up and go home.


Set a Blessing or Ward to Keep the Spirit from Coming Back


Finally, any good banishment should end with a good blessing.


Think about it. If you find a mousehole, do you just keep setting a trap for the odd mouse that pops in, constantly replacing it and composting your furry little victims? Or do you maybe plug up the mousehole and save yourself some cash (and broken mouse necks)?


Same thing applies with these icky spirits you want to get rid of. Once you've cleansed a space, created or found a vessel for the spirit, and cast them out in the name of God, you want to make sure it doesn't come back. So at this point, it's worth setting the bounds of your house again, re-blessing each room and cleansing it of anything else that might be hanging out. Set up some real magical fortress walls; invoke good things into the house, like the Holy Spirit, that'll deter anything from trying to get back in and screw around.


This is another thing everyone misses: the post-exorcism process. Have you noticed how many exorcisms seem to make the issue worse in movies and shows? This is why. Not only does the exorcism tend to be botched in the first place, but there's also absolutely nothing to stop whatever you just set outside from coming back in. It's like kicking your cat off the bed, only for it to pop back up a second later and go to sleep on your head. You have to remove the cat from the room entirely and close the door if you really want the cat to not suffocate you in your sleep.


And Remember the Most Important Thing...


Faith.


I know, that sounds really cheesy, but hear me out: without belief that what you're doing is actually going to work, and without full understanding that the power given to you is granted to you y God as a being made in His image, it won't work. But with faith even the size of a mustard seed, you can move mountains. Magic is funny like that.


Things that are good at moving in the spiritual realm, though, like these nasty spirits, have all the confidence in the world in what they can do, and that they can scare you half to death. If you don't have ironclad resolution to get rid of these things or unshakeable faith that God equipped you right to get this done (and that He'll be there to help you when you just reach out and ask), you're not going to have a good time. Have faith—in God, and in yourself.


But with all that said, those are the most practical tips I can give you on how to actually get rid of some nasty spirit without giving any onlookers hypertension as they watch. No fumbling prayers here, no shaky hands and squeaky voice as you shout in the name of God for a Big Spooky Spirit to go away, and certainly no accidentally summoning a demon while trying to get rid of said demon. Such rookie mistakes, huh?


Hopefully, though, you'll never be in the position where you need to get rid of big problems. The best kind of exorcism you can (and should) do regularly is a simple cleanse of yourself and your common spaces of any negative energy that might be building up. Always good to nip that in the bud before it becomes a raging poltergeist flinging your things around and generally being a menace. to you and your loved ones.


So be safe, be smart, and enjoy the occasional minor exorcism from time to time!

 

Making Progress: Where the Gods Left Off

Christian Witch, Christian Witchcraft, Spirituality, Religion, Slovene-American, Slovenia, Folklore, Catholic, Culture

I did it! I finished the last of the four interviews that needed to be written from scratch!


That means that now, it's all about cleaning up the rest of the interviews, adding some reflections and narrative cohesion to it all, and setting up the index. I also need to design the pages so that they present the information in a clean and clear way. Luckily, I discovered that the Rider Waite tarot deck is actually in public domain in America, so I could potentially include some art in the book.


My main goal is to get all of these interviews fixed up and detailed by the middle of June. Then we can worry more about design and all those other bookish details.


This project is a milestone for me as a practitioner, and something that can absolutely help others, too, so definitely consider pre-ordering it on my website's store or on Amazon. It's one hell of a ride.

 

Christian Witch, Christian Witchcraft, Spirituality, Religion, Slovene-American, Slovenia, Folklore, Catholic, Culture

Sara Raztresen is a Slovene-American writer, screenwriter, and Christian witch. Her fantasy works draw heavily on the wisdom she gathers from her own personal and spiritual experience, and her spiritual practice borrows much of the whimsy and wonder that modern society has relegated to fairy-and-folktale. Her goal is to help people regain their spiritual footing and discover God through a new (yet old) lens of mysticism.


Follow Sara on Tiktok, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube, and explore her fiction writing here.

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