Desperate times call for demonic measures.
In an attempt to curb the ever-growing violence in Mexico, Roman Catholic priests have amped up their exorcisms. According to Mexico’s central statistics bureau, 98% of the 27,500 murders last year went unsolved. Obviously law enforcement has been inept at finding a solution. The largest segment of violent offenders are Mexican drug cartels, and priests are blaming Santa Muerte (the Saint of Death) for the murders.
Depicted as a female skeleton wearing a cloak and gripping a scythe, the cartels pray to her for protection from the police and from death. They ask her to watch over their shipments of crystal meth (no, this is not a “Breaking Bad” episode) and offer up human sacrifices to her. The killing rituals involve the mutilation of bodies — and sometimes the victims are still alive.
Demon and exorcism
Googling didn’t serve up a definitive statistic on how many Mexicans follow Santa Muerte. The general consensus is two million. The BBC, however, reported it as high as eight million. While researching, I stumbled upon the bone-chilling (couldn’t resist the pun) news that there’s also been an explosion of U.S. peeps who believe in the skeletal saint. It’ll be interesting to see if exorcisms begin picking up here, too.
Like Pavlov’s dog, the word “exorcism” immediately brings to my mind Father Damien Karras in “The Exorcist.” I picture him yelling, “The Power of Christ compels you!” as he throws holy water at the demon inside Regan’s writhing body. I think of green vomit and a rotating head and poor little Linda Blair pretending to shove a bloody cross up herself.
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The movie still gives me the heebie-jeebies even though I’ve watched it at least a dozen times and know the lines by heart. The first time I read the book I was so spooked I hid it under my bed at night. I had to turn the light on a handful of times to peer under the bed and make sure the book hadn’t flown open by evil forces.
When I’m thinking rationally — which is most of the time — I don’t believe in heaven and hell, nor God and the Devil. But sometimes spooky and inexplicable things happen and I turn into the Cowardly Lion: “I do believe in spooks, I do, I do.”
Religion, though, is a tricky, slippery thing. A bunch of people get together and agree on a set of beliefs, yet there are zillions of ways to distort tenets. Heck, even the Taliban and Adolf Hitler attributed their actions to the will of God. (In “The Godfather” remember those brilliant jump cuts of mob guys on murderous rampages interspersed with them bowing their heads in church?)
The Bible. Let’s discuss. It is a book written by humans who had vivid imaginations. Amidst plenty of other stuff, there are numerous scenes of Jesus casting out demons. Apparently, priests are interpreting that as a “monkey see, monkey do” opportunity. After all, it is common to emulate people you look up to. So, the Mexican priests bump up their exorcisms to drive the demons out of violent criminals and anybody else who worships the diabolical Santa Muerte.
While it all sounds like a bunch of hooey, I must admit, if I were possessed by a demon, I mean if it is possible, I would want an exorcist on hand.
To learn more about Mexico and the exorcisms, watch this informative video clip from a BBC report: