Evil spirit removal ritual goes awry

Exorcist buries himself and fails to signal his rescue. Bizarre.

Sri Lankan man dies in failed exorcism ritual.

A Sri Lankan man died Thursday after a bizarre and botched ritual to drive out what he thought were evil spirits from a house outside the capital, police said.

The man sacrificed a cat and was then buried in a shallow grave after instructing onlookers to dig him out once he gave a signal of pushing a sword he was carrying through the ground, police said.

“Even after three hours, there was no sign of the sword coming up from the grave,” a local police official told AFP.

The 32-year-old man, identified by police as Maxi Castro, a local exorcist, was taken to hospital early Thursday morning but he had already died, the official said.

Castro was invited to remove the evil spirits from this property after the owner had seen him perform a similar ritual. Why was an exorcism needed? The owner says: “He said I had bad luck because someone had sprinkled human ash at my house, but he could drive out evil spirits through this ritual.”  An investigation is underway by police. But it appears that this is a deep cultural belief in black magic that would have to be overcome. It’s shocking that people believe in demons and that such a ritual could fix it.


  7 comments for “Evil spirit removal ritual goes awry

  1. spookyparadigm
    September 5, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    No sympathy if you are both that dumb and that exploitative of other people.

  2. Kiljoy616
    September 5, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    Oh well I guess the ghost won this round, ROFL.

  3. September 5, 2013 at 6:06 PM

    You should never blame a person for his own ignorance or gullibility, ESPECIALLY if it’s a cultural thing. People trust their family members and their neighbors and their religious advisers — clearly too much. But it’s natural. And Magical thinking exists in every day life even outside of religious communities (*cough* politics *cough* economics *cough*). This just happened to be a tragic consequence of it. When you are surrounded by this sort of thinking, it’s no wonder that people believe in it. And I doubt that anyone is fool enough to challenge it or risk being ostracized from that community.

  4. spookyparadigm
    September 5, 2013 at 10:48 PM

    It sounds like this (getting buried as part of a magic spell) was his profession (and specifically getting paid by people afraid their house is cursed), not something someone came and put on him from a position of cultural authority.

    Cultural relativity is a useful tool, but it isn’t a prime directive. I also think it is isn’t fruitful to hand wave things as a “cultural thing.” Everything is a cultural thing, and such things aren’t static or eternally unchanging or universally accepted in a community (and I like Gramscian cultural hegemony as a model, but I also do like agency). Further, I don’t know about in Sri Lanka, but in nearby India there have been decades of public knowledge of the uneasy boundary between supposedly miraculous abilities, and the stage-magic methods used to produce such abilities (including successful entertainers mixing the two in the same way mentalists and magicians blend ideas of western occultism with entertainment).

    Culture is important, but it isn’t unquestionable programming instructions that are identical in every mind in a given area either.

  5. Tim Kudamik
    September 6, 2013 at 7:22 AM

    I feel bad for the cat.

  6. September 6, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    He should have been left buried there. He wouldn’t be pushing up a sword but he might push up some daisies.

  7. Massachusetts
    September 8, 2013 at 9:52 PM

    It’s sad that he sacrificed a cat as part of his ritual. That’s most unfortunate.

    I believe in cultural relativism, but there are limits. But relativism aside, we really don’t know motivation and state of mind, we can only guess at them. He may have a true believer and been acting in a well-intended manner–or a scam artist. He clearly made a poor decision.

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