According to a Craigslist posting from three days ago, a restaurant in Richmond’s Fan District is seeking an “exorcist” to conduct what most Abrahamic faiths refer to as an “exorcism” – a stylized ritual used to purge and cast out demons from this earthly plane. The posting starts with a simple lament known to exorcists everywhere, “…we are a small Richmond restaurant that has recently come under demonic attack.”
While the exorcism ritual has been in decline in the US since the 18th Century, there have been incidents throughout American history where an exorcism has been required, such as the case of “Roland Doe.” Doe, a boy from Cottage City, Maryland, was allegedly possessed in the 1940s, which resulted in him being able to levitate, the family’s furniture moving on its own, and strange noises percolating through the house. The case of Doe was popularized in the 1973 cinematic masterpiece, The Exorcist.
Nonetheless, it seems like the demonic forces of Satan’s hellfire have finally come home to the River City. In the ad, the anonymous poster claims, “We are experiencing strange smells, apparitions, areas of unexplained cold and heat, and a general sense of malaise.” It concludes with, “We would prefer a priest with experience in these areas but we’re open-minded. As long as you’re serious and hard working we can make this work. Compensation negotiable, please take this seriously.”
There is no set standard for how the ritual should be performed or which demon is behind the supposed possession. However, based on the experience of this publication (in matters of the esoteric), it is likely that the plucky spirit behind the possession is none other than Azazel, known in Hebrew as עֲזָאזֵל or in Arabic as عزازيل. Azazel, a fallen angel, whose ruination originated with Satan’s rebellion in heaven, is also associated with the “scapegoat” rite in ancient Judaism. As specified by the Old Testament, the scapegoat rite is a way to ceremoniously project the sins of a group of people on to a poor an unsuspecting goat, who is then sacrificed and thrown over a cliff.
All of which is pertinent background knowledge for a would-be exorcist. More so because the post also claims the exorcism is needed “desperate[ly] to revive our business.” Possession is a fitting scapegoat for any restaurant currently operating within the boundaries of The Fan. Perhaps they should also think about exercising their $8 craft beer, $12 craft cocktails, $14 appetizers, and $25 entrees, which is enough to terrify even the most hardened of exorcists.