Last week, I watched The Conjuring 2, a movie based on the true story of Peggy Hodgson (a single mother) and her 4 children in Enfield, London. In 1977, a series of demonic activity began in their home after her two girls – Janet and Margaret – attempted to contact spirits via an Ouija board. This case was investigated by the media and two American psychics, Ed and Lorraine Warren who sent the demons on leave – or so they want us to believe.
Indeed, Hollywood enjoys feeding off the curiosity and ignorance of the public with “exorcist” story lines. Though the Conjuring 2 was described as “a superior horror” film, I honestly didn’t find it scary. It seems the film was exaggerated to drum up interest in it, and its this fear that the devil wishes to plant in the viewers. There is a potential danger when we base spiritual realities on depictions by secular (and yes, Catholic) media. Most of these movies rarely present entirely Biblical or credible facts about demons. A couple of thoughts on the Conjuring movie will illustrate this:
1. The word “conjuring” means to implore or summon a spirit (or ghost) through a magic rite. This title alone is telling. The Warrens, the psychics involved, were said to have have investigated over 10,000 cases in their career and also boast of an occult museum filled with many demonic artifacts. In the opening scene, Lorraine goes into a trance to contact the spirits haunting the Amityville house – a practice condemned by Scripture. The pair are Roman Catholics, but there’s nothing Christian about them.
2. The movie features the typical Catholic tropes – demons repelled by crosses, Latin prayers and being “condemned back to hell.” In fact, demons are not scared by physical objects like crosses, though they deceive people to think so. The weapons of the Christian warfare are not physical and demons are expelled in Jesus’ name (2 Cor. 10:4; Mk. 16:17). I’m sure the Oklahoma woman who choked her daughter to death with a crucifix to “exorcise” her body of Satan must have been schooled by movies like these.
3. The plot avoids stating that the demons wielded much power because the family (and the psychics) were not Christians and therefore had no authority over demons. The unsaved are “under the control of the evil one” and cannot cast him out (1 Jn. 5:19). The demons obviously gained entrance into that house when the girls contacted them with the Ouija board and the “Crooked Man” toy. The Hodgson family were not led to Christ to be saved and this is tragic.
4. In a scene, Lorraine says, “Your name gives me dominion over you, you demon and I know your name.” This is based on an occult belief that knowing a personality’s “secret name” is the key to exercise dominion over him or her. But one doesn’t have to know a demon’s name to have dominion over it. Jesus and His disciples expelled many demons without knowing their names.
There are some instances, like people who have worked with specific demon guides who would need to cast them out by name or when the Holy Spirit reveals the name of a demon to a believer to cast it out, but even at that, this is not a formula to exercise dominion. Once the name of Jesus, which is above every name is proclaimed, Satan and his hosts must bow (Phil. 2:9).
5. Lorraine, admittedly a clairvoyant and a trance medium, communed with a demon that told her: “He wants her [Janet] so badly. He almost has her.” This “he” most likely refers to Satan. He continues, “I’m giving and I’m taking. I was there at your first breath. You didn’t ask for me but I will follow you, till death.”
Evidently, the main demon haunting the house is the same one guiding the psychics. Lorraine told Ed what she saw in her trance, “Something inhuman. Something that’s taken a blasphemous form to attack my [Catholic] faith.” She gave the demon’s name as “Valak” and the movie depicted it as a fiendish nun. The movie’s director, James Wan, said the nun depiction was a late development, because in his conversation with Lorraine, she described it as “a dark hooded figure.”
This demon must have looked exactly like the Catholic “Mary.” Its possible “Valak” was really Astarte, the hooded queen of Catholicism that masquerades as “Mary the Queen of heaven.” This demon (symbolized as the cobra) imparts dreams and divination abilities to her slaves. Thus, since Lorraine was entering the spirit realm via a demonic agency, all she was hearing and seeing were manipulations of the devil to deceive and ensnare her clients. Satan cannot fight himself otherwise his kingdom will not stand (Lk. 11:18).
This is one of the dangers of consulting psychics or subscribing to Hollywood school of lies on how to deal with demons. As Christians we have the Bible and the Holy Spirit to enlighten us to the truths we need to walk in victory.