Exorcism, a religious ritual to evict evil spirits out of a person's body, who is believed possessed by those spirits, is practised around the world, with the nitty-gritty of the practice varying from religion to religion.
One such practice is prevalent in Colombia and a priest following it claims to have performed more than 35,000 exorcism rituals in the past 25 years, according to a Reuters report.
Meet the real life exorcist, Hermes Cifuentes, known as Brother Hermes in Colombia, who follows a bizarre way of exorcism but claims the ritual has helped those people who claim they have been possessed by evil spirits.
Brother Hermes first covers the ritual seeker's body in black mud and makes him or her lie on the ground, surrounded by fire, lime, greens and multiple crosses, arranged in a circle. The body itself lies to form the shape of a crucifix. Green and red ribbons are tied to the crosses and the seeker is made to hold a cross and an egg in his hand.
Hermes follows certain rituals from both inside and outside the circle. At one point, he sees into the eyes of the seeker calling out the evil and at another, he keeps his foot on the person's chest, as a part of cleansing of the spirit.
The belief in exorcism prevails across all religions but practised extensively at some places. The ritual does not hold any scientific significance, but may link to a person's psychological state, including mental illness like schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder, also known as Dissociative identity disorder (DID), especially when the person himself believes he has been possessed.
In a study about DID, done on ten persons undergoing exorcisms for devil trance possession state, many common traits were found.
"They were overwhelmed by paranormal experiences. Despite claiming possession by a demon, most of them managed to maintain normal social functioning. In this group of persons reporting demon possession, dissociative trance disorder seems to be a distinct clinical manifestation of a dissociative continuum, sharing some features with dissociative identity disorder," the study, Dissociative Trance Disorder: Clinical and Rorschach Findings in Ten Persons Reporting Demon Possession and Treated by Exorcism, published in the Journal of Personality Assessment in 1996 concluded.
While scientific studies are still on to identify the link between exorcism and mental ailments, check out below some of the photographs of Brother Hermes performing exorcism.