Exorcism, from Greek ex (out of) plus horkizein (cause to swear), is an ancient spiritual practice common in many cultures aimed at purposefully expelling demons, evil spirits or other unseen entities from a person or a place they are supposed to have invaded. Although few people are aware of the actual nature of this practice, the term is very familiar due to abundant references in popular books and movies.
Adorcism, on the contrary, is a rather unfamiliar term, known only to few scholars and seekers. It implies a polar opposite process from exorcism. It consists of practices and attitudes aimed at placating and integrating spiritual entities in a person or place. Unlike exorcism, the presence of these entities is regarded as healing, empowering or beneficial. They are not considered necessarily negative, even if they appear to be so.
Here, it is important to point out that from an adorcistic perspective, there is not a substantial difference between positive and negative spirits. The split between good and evil often depends upon the belief systems at work. The traditions that employ exorcism are generally based upon a dualistic vision of reality, whereas those that use adorcism hold a non-dualist, holistic perspective.
In adorcism the relationship with the spiritual entity can initially develop in a rather negative and disharmonious way, with symptoms similar to demonic possession. Yet, this negativity, is understood as part of a stage of integration and transformation.
The term adorcism was coined by the sociologist Luc de Heusch to define practices used to accommodate entities with a positive intention in places and people. Adorcism implies establishing an open attitude towards what is perceived as negative and antagonistic, in order to understand its real nature. According to this perspective, each process of transformation requires a cathartic stage, which involves the release or death of an old part, to promote the birth of a new part.
In shamanism, adorcism is what generally enables the shaman to acquire a power spirit or ally. The first stage of this process can be laborious and even devastating, with crisis and situations that resemble spirit possession. Yet, the adorcist, unlike the exorcist, who operate to expel the energy involved, facilitates the activity, supporting the person until the entity has been fully integrated.
Adorcism is similar to pregnancy and delivery, which can also be rather cathartic. As a matter of fact, a mother in pain during delivery, for someone who is not aware of what is happening, could look as possessed. Nobody would however consider the foetus as a demon. The birth of a child is usually supported, or aborted, yet in this case without the assumption that the baby is negative.
When we relate with non-ordinary and invisible realities we approach a very controversial area of awareness, filled with copious prejudices and fears, mainly towards forces we are unable to understand.
We can define exorcism as an abortion of forces who could potentially emerge and integrate in our consciousness, whereas adorcism is the intentional gestation and birth of those forces. In certain circumstances, when the person involved is unable to cope with the process or serious issues develop, exorcism is legitimate, yet from an adorcistic perspective this does not necessarily imply that there is a malefic entity at work.
The paradox is that exorcistic and adorcistic practices are not outwardly so different from each other, what changes is the inner intention. It follows that a shaman operating in a dualistic culture can perform an exorcism while actually doing adorcism. Many adorcistic practices, such as tarantism, manage to survive in dualistic cultures thanks to this stratagem.
“Adorcism is to make friends amongst possessed people and the entities who possess them. Ritual possession: who is ill is possessed from inside by an entity, but the entity is not necessarily evil, it can become your friend. And this happens through the performance of a mimic dance, in which the taranted [the person possessed by the tarantula spider] becomes the tarantula. The identification of the right colour and music is just the identification of the precise entity who possesses, a required step in the process of reconciliation. It follows that adorcism is pleasant, it is not a dance of demonic possession, it is a dance of divinity.” (G. Lapassade, Tarantism and neotarantism)
© Franco Santoro