The Exorcist

   Posted by: David   in Uncategorized

The Exorcist

It is hard for me to imagine that anyone with even a passing interest in Ouija has not seen or heard of The Exorcist but in case you don’t already know The Exorcist was a major Hollywood production of an already best-selling and widely popular book by the same name. In 1974, The Exorcist was nominated for ten Academy Awards® and it won two, one for best adapted screenplay and one of sound editing.


The film was released in 1973and it was adapted for the screen by the original novelist William Peter Blatty. Staring in the film were such notable actors as Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, and of course the young woman who would rise to fame as a result of her role in the film as the possessed young girl, Linda Blair.

William Peter Blatty maintained that his story was based on true events and like most Hollywood horror films, the studio did not hesitate to cash in on this “based on a true story” hoopla. A modern day equivalent might be The Blair Witch Project. Though The Blair Witch Project was never actually claimed to be “real,” the eerie documentary like quality if the film led some to conclude that it was real and so the cultural phenomena in the aftermath of both films was strikingly similar.

The facts of the “true” story that inspired The Exorcist would not be fully discussed until the 2007 release of The Real Story Behind The Exorcist by investigative reporter Mark Opsasnick. It is fair to say that the story that ended up on screen was more than a little embellished. I would not conclude however, as Mark implies, that the boy at the center of the story was the victim only of “emotional problems.” The priests working with him at the time would have ruled such a diagnosis out before committing the resources of the church to what was a lengthy and costly exorcism.

Having acknowledged at least the possibility of intelligent independent spirit activity in the boy’s life I would not conclude that there was a correlation between that occult activity and the Ouija board or its use. However many at the time of the film’s release in the mid-1970s did make that conclusion and the resulting stigma on the spirit board represents a major turning point in the history of the board.

Prior to 1973 you will not find many accounts of so-called demonic possession associated with the board. After 1973, the paranoia began and it has grown ever since.

Early in the film, the young girl Regan MacNeil portrayed by Linda Blair develops a relationship with an entity via the board. Ironically she refers to this entity as “Captain Howdy” which is the font style used on the traditional Parker Brothers/Fuld board. While the film never explicitly stated it, the conclusion that some drew was that the entity gained access into Regan’s life via innocent experimentation with the board. It is from this erroneous association that the board has gained its reputation as a gateway to hell or demonic possession. This stigma, which I believe began in fiction, has remained associated with the board and its use to this day.

The Exorcist made a deep and lasting impact on my life. It did not scare me away from the Ouija Board and it did not scare me away from the occult but it did contribute to an imbalance in my life that eventually culminated in what Christian fundamentalists call a “born again” experience. What they generally mean by that is an epiphany that results in a dramatic life change.

The Bible indicates that the first miracle that Jesus performed was the changing of water to wine. To me this is significant because it indicates the type of ministry that Jesus has – changing the constitutional nature of one thing into something else. In more occult terms we might call this a kind of alchemy and many alchemist would argue that it is the transformation of the person that is the goal of alchemy not necessarily the transformation of metals into gold.

I have been fascinated with all things occult from an early age. I first heard of the Exorcist while watching The Tonight Show with Jonny Carson. Jonny mentioned in his monologue that he had seen the film and that it had terrified him. At that point I knew I wanted to see it. My parents opposed the idea and they also opposed my second option which was to read the book.

I obtained a copy of the book and read it by flashlight under the covers of my bed. At the ripe old age of thirteen it was a book I literally could not put down. It was a well written and thoroughly entertaining story.

I continued to pester my parents about the movie and it wasn’t long before they allowed me to see it. To say that I was terrified would be an understatement. I literally trembled with fear and I was convinced that there were spirit beings out there intent on invading my body and taking control of it against my will. That is the premise of the film and yes that is a little creepy.

Did Regan “invite” the entity into her life because she innocently used an Ouija board? It’s been a while since I have seen the film and that may be an implication but it never occurred to me when I saw the film and read the book in 1973. Many have made that connection or drawn that inference from the story but my impression was that the entity attacked her at random much like a cancer or a natural disaster and that is what terrified me and that is infinitely more terrifying that attributing the “possession” of Regan to some identifiable “safe” cause.

As a teenager watching the film it seemed to me that Regan was innocent and that the assault on her body was purely a random act of evil. Every Warren investigated “haunt” that became a feature film had an element of random-act-of-evil to it. The families did nothing to invite the alleged evil into their lives except that they innocently moved into a “haunted” house.

If it could happen to a teenage girl roughly my age at the time, it could happen to me. I believed this premise and so began my descent into a psychological trauma that would set the stage or at the very least contribute to a period of anguish that would eventually lead me to the fundamentalist Christian church and eventually seminary.

To be fair there was a great deal more going on in my life than the terror resulting from an incredibly well made film. I was a teenager with all the confusion that comes along with being a teenager. I was also traumatized by the very real terrors of Auschwitz and the horrors of the Second World War. I had a history teacher that insisted on showing us films of Auschwitz taken shortly after the allies liberated the camp.

In my teenage mind those images were devastating.

I believed that an all-powerful loving god could never have allowed such an atrocity to occur. Since there was no doubt in my mind that it did occur, I lost my faith in god.
Now, The Exorcist taught me that I could be dominated by evil entities at their whim and there is nothing I can do to stop it. Auschwitz taught me that there is no god I can call upon for help in time of need.

How do you suppose I felt?
I came very close to suicide.

Now I am sure you are thinking, “David there had to more going on in your life that a scary movie and a history of the world you had a hard time coping with,” and you would be right but the bottom line is The Exorcist is a part of my personal history and for me, that film was life changing so I have more than a casual relationship to it.

I didn’t really believe in god anymore but I had been raised to believe that if a person commits suicide that person will go to hell. I no longer believe that but that belief may have actually saved my life.

I had a plan and a date. I prayed to a god I wasn’t sure existed and I said, “If you are real then you have one week to reveal yourself to me. If you do that I promise I will live the rest of my days in your service. If you do not than there is no god, there is no hell, and any place is better than this world so I will choose to leave it.”

That night I had a dream.

In the dream I was in a room. It was an old room in an almost post-apocalyptic setting. Windows were broken, furniture was old and worn, looking out of my forth or fifth story window the streets below looked battle worn and no life was evident.

Through the key hole I saw a light. When I knelt down to look through that hole I saw a garden unlike any of the most beautiful gardens I had ever seen in the glory of spring. In short it was the most beautiful and peaceful place I had ever seen and I immediately concluded it was the afterlife.

I took the dream to be a confirmation of my suicidal intentions but, always a person of my word I had a few days left so I decided to give god the chance I promised. Later that week my Taekwondo instructor invited me to a bible study. At that study I realized that the paradise I had seen in my dream was not an afterlife but a state of mind, that state if mind has been mine ever since that night.

If you have not seen The Exorcist I suggest that you refrain especially if you intend to cultivate your gifts and skills as a medium or in any capacity work with the spirit board. The film was made for the purpose of creating fear in your heart and life. Why would you intentionally expose yourself to anything that was intentionally designed to hurt you?

Much love,

This entry was posted on Sunday, March 30th, 2014 at 4:43 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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