Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Fairy Faith and Excorism

The Fairy Faith and Excorism


In estimating the shaping influences, designated by us as fundamental, which undoubtedly were exerted upon the Fairy-Faith through the practice of exorcism, it is necessary to realize that this animistic practice holds a very important position in the Christian religion which for centuries the Celtic peoples have professed. One of the two chief sacraments of Christianity, that of Baptism, is preceded by a definitely recognized exorcism, as shown in the Roman Ritual, where we can best study it. In the Exhortation preceding the rite the infant is called a slave of the demon, and by baptism is to be set free. The salt which is placed in the mouth of the infant by the priest during the ceremony has first been exorcized by special rites. Then there follows before the entrance to the baptismal font a regular exorcism pronounced over the child: the priest taking some of his own saliva on the thumb of his right hand, touches the child’s 
[Pg 270]ears and nostrils, and commands the demon to depart out of the child. After this part of the ceremony is finished, the priest makes on the child’s forehead a sign of the cross with holy oil. Finally, in due order, comes the actual baptism. And even after baptismal rites have expelled all possessing demons, precautions are necessary against a repossession: St. Augustine has said that exorcisms of precaution ought to be performed over every Christian daily; and it appears that faithful Roman Catholics who each day employ holy water in making the sign of the cross, and all Protestants who pray ‘lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’, are employing such exorcism St. Gregory of Nazianzus writes, ‘Arm yourself with the sign of the cross which the demons fear, and before which they take their flight; and by the same sign, said St. Athanasius, ‘All the illusions of the demon are dissipated and all his snares destroyed.’ An eminent Catholic theologian asserts that saints who, since the time of Jesus Christ, have been endowed with the power of working miracles, have always made use of the sign of the cross in driving out demons, in curing maladies, and in raising the dead. In the Instruction sur le Rituel, it is said that water which has been blessed is particularly designed to be used against demons; in the Apostolic Constitutions, formulated near the end of the fourth century, holy water is designated as a means of purification from sin and of putting the demon to flight. And nowadays when the priest passes through his congregation casting over them holy water, it is as an exorcism of precaution; or when as in France each mourner [Pg 271]at a grave casts holy water over the corpse, it is undoubtedly—whether done consciously as such or not—to protect the soul of the deceased from demons who are held to have as great power over the dead as over the living. Other forms of exorcism, too, are employed. For example, in the Lebar Brecc, it is said of the Holy Scripture that ‘By it the snares of devils and vices are expelled from every faithful one in the Church’.And from all this direct testimony it seems to be clear that many of the chief practices of Christians are exorcisms, so that, like the religion of Zoroaster, the religion founded by Jesus has come to rest, at least in part, upon the basic recognition of an eternal warfare between good and bad spirits for the control of Man.