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Purification

An exorcism on the beach

 

The day dawned gray, heralding the first summer rains that will soon arrive. On the horizon, almost imperceptibly, heavy clouds are forming and blending in with the lead-colored sea, foreshadowing the storm. Increasingly bold waves conquer larger and larger stretches of the beach, discouraging the fishermen from throwing their fragile wooden boats into the water. 

 

But even so, there is life on the beach. In a place far from the usual fishing, a group of men, women and children are lined up facing the sea, barefoot and seemingly insensitive to the waves that are already lapping their feet. In front of them, as if it were an invisible protective barrier between them and the approaching storm, Pastor Mateus gives an emotional and incisive speech, invoking God and the psalms of the Bible. In silence and with their eyes fixed on the sand, the faithful absorb every word, in a kind of collective act of contrition.  It's the beginning of the Liberation Cult.

However, sorrow and repentance for having committed sins is not enough. Evil spirits remain in the bodies of some; they must be cast out. The Pastor's words, now in a higher tone and accompanied by accusing gestures, are addressed to these evil beings, challenging them to show and manifest themselves in the bodies of the possessed.

The group of worshippers, who until now had been listening orderly to the pastor's words, began to move in an uncoordinated and incomprehensible way, as if they were a single living organism reacting to a threat. Men and women begin to enter into a kind of collective transe. Some plunge into a deep, silent meditation, others start screaming and writhing. These are the possessed, these are the ones who have to be freed.

Most of them are women, who squirm and thrash about as if they no longer own their own bodies. They are possessed by the demon that has finally manifested itself. The servants, the faithful who assist the Pastor in the ceremony, have to grab their arms tightly to immobilize them and allow the Pastor to perform the exorcism, banishing the demons that have possessed their poor souls.

The act of liberation is incredibly dramatic. The Pastor places his hands on the heads of the possessed while invoking Satan, ordering him in a loud and incisive voice to leave the bodies of the faithful. He too seems to be suffering like the possessed, showing an expression of deep pain and consternation as he tries to keep his fingers firmly on the heads of the faithful who are writhing violently, as if they were the evil spirits themselves refusing to leave their bodies. At that moment, the Pastor is in perfect communion with his faithful, suffering with them and giving himself totally in a joint struggle to overthrow evil and achieve the desired liberation.

In some cases, the presence of the evil spirits is too strong and their expulsion can take several minutes, requiring the help of several servants to immobilize the possessed person while the exorcism is performed. The group seems to execute a kind of dance in an attempt to keep up with the involuntary convulsions of the possessed, but the Pastor doesn't give up until he is sure that his faithful have been freed. Normally, this only happens when the possessed comes to after falling inanimate into the shallows, looking relieved and exhausted from the titanic struggle between good and evil.

Other believers who have not shown evidence of being possessed are also scrutinized by the Pastor and one of his acolytes, trying to locate the more sly evil spirits who are subtly hiding and have not responded to the invitation to manifest themselves. The Pastor and the acolyte hold up two fingers on each side of the faithful's head, calling out vigorously for them while the faithful obediently close their eyes and concentrate on the procedure. Those who are apparently free of any possession fall to the ground as if struck by lightning, unconscious. Those who are possessed begin to squirm involuntarily. It's the sign the pastor was waiting for to excommunicate them.

In the meantime, as if out of sympathy, several of the faithful fall into a trance-like state and fall to the ground, clumsily supported by their relatives to avoid being covered by the waves that are already invading the place of worship. They wait anxiously for the pastor or his acolyte to awaken their husbands, wives or brothers from their strange slumber, placing their hands on their heads while uttering indiscernible words in the local dialect.

It is not enough to free the faithful from the yoke of evil spirits by excommunicating them from their bodies. It is also necessary to carry out the Purification of the souls that have been possessed. To do this, the faithful must dive into the waters of the bay, the final act that completes the Cult of Liberation.

One by one, the Pastor calls each believer to an area where the waves are beginning to form before they break on the sand and which is high enough for them to dive into. Hand in hand, he looks the faithful in the eye, as if to confirm that there are no impure spirits left in their souls and says a final invocation, before inviting them to dive in front of him. After they emerge from the water, the Pastor lovingly places his hands on their heads and declares that they are finally purified. When they return to the beach, the faces of the faithful reveal obvious relief and joy. They have overcome their fear of the waves and feel pure in body and spirit.

In a final gesture before leaving the water, Pastor Mateus turns towards the sea and gazes longingly into infinity, as if asking for divine confirmation of the purification of his flock.

After an intense and dramatic morning, the faithful left the beach freed from the evil spirits that had insidiously taken over their bodies and purified by the sea water. The beach, now empty and silent, has witnessed yet another victory for Man in an unrelenting confrontation between good and evil, a battle fought with weapons that no science will ever be able to explain.

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