It’s the first night of the brand-new Exorcism Olympics, and I’m pleased to have boots on the ground here in Lafayette, Indiana. This is a very eclectic community, welcoming Catholics of all colors, Christians of many denominations, and far more Santerians than any Midwestern city has the right to expect. Not only that, but in the year 2000, this city had the highest Pagan population per capita in all of the U.S.A.! It’s no surprise that they decided to host the newest up-and-coming sport of the country here: the first competitive bout of medium-ship and spiritual cleansing in America.
My name is Sarah Graham, a longtime fan of the mythic and mystical, and I’m pleased to be your guide on this unorthodox – no pun intended – walk into the esoteric. I’ll be available on Twitter all night for questions – just look up @normalparanormal #ghostpurge
First the católicos arrive and set up camp, and for good reason! Their flowers, rose water, holy water fountain, altar, and team all need to be set up in the light of day, and that is fading fast. Of course we have begun this adventure at 5pm on October 31st, so we’re racing against nightfall here at – oh, wait, the graveyard must remain anonymous to protect the souls of both living and dead. Just let it be said that we are in a beautiful location, full of trees but close to main roads, able to enjoy both nature and open sky. And it is looking to be a beautiful night for a competition!
@GhostWhore84 asks: What weather is good for ghost hunting? Well, on a nice clear night that’s covered in clouds, the light from factories, houses, and streetlights bounces back down, creating a glowing effect. If you simply turn off local light sources, you can actually see better than if you were carrying a flashlight. Plus, it allows ghosts the best opportunity for full apparition.
As the sun begins to set, the clouds have indeed banked thick as we welcome the teams from the local Catholic churches. Oh, my – do we actually have a team from the local high school? Indeed! We have teenagers in our midst, ladies and gentlemen! How they will fair against the spirits, we dare not guess, but any and all are welcome to try their wits against this rare and unique challenge.
To remind the folks at home of what’s involved, let’s call over one of our judges. Rain – is that your name?
“Yes, that’s me.”
May I clarify – is that a pseudonym, or a legal name?
“I’m not at liberty to specify, actually. Terms of the event require anonymity. I’m only allowed to use my first name, or nickname.”
Oh, my! That is an original requirement, isn’t it? Please – tell us more.
“Well, I am here to help call the spirits of the dead to rise this evening, if they are not already at peace. I’ll work with the other sensitives who have been drafted as judges to earmark the graves. Each spirit that rises is then documented using both spirit photography and EVP, if possible.”
Then we’ll let you get back to it, madam. Thank you for your expertise!
As Rain rejoins the experts, the paranormal teams are arriving from all over the state. Their gear is quickly unloaded and prepared, with battery packs clicked into place and infrared lights turned on.
We see evangelical teams arriving. A team of Baptists has arrived from Chicago, and their songs are reverberating off of the walls here at the edge of the graveyard. And here comes a Santerian team – yes, there’s the incense and, no surprise, the mewling of a goat in their midst. It’s going to be a messy night, but certainly worth it!
As the sun sets, the witch teams are arriving in standard Pagan Standard Time. With barely a minute to spare, their cars pull in, shut off headlights, and they wander over to the front lines to see what might happen next.
This is it, ladies and gents! Our three judges are raising their arms above their heads, and the night is underway!
The cloud cover is indeed dense as the local lights are all extinguished. The chanting is reverberating, and the air seems to glow. Only passing cars interrupt the radiant hush of the evening, as melodic words begin to be carried on the winds. The judges walk off into the headstones, marking one after another, as the paranormal teams set out.
You can feel the tension in the air as the cameras and audio recorders switch on! The Catholic teams are chanting the Lord’s Prayer in their preferred language, while hymns from multiple Baptist teams echo off the trees. Is that the smell of marijuana? Not necessarily – sage has been lit by one of the pagan groups, and it’s being used to cleanse their white robes. The green witches are doing the same for their jeans and t-shirts as the evangelical team drops into group prayer. The Santerian team has begun drawing vehvehs around their candle-lit altar. The sense of God is strong in the staging area.
Meanwhile, the graves seem to flicker in the darkness. Part of this is the forms of both paranormal teams and judges finishing their work, but it’s obvious to everyone present that there is more than that, tonight. There’s a lot of unrest out here this evening – just what we hoped for!
That’s the flare – the game is on!
As the teams are spreading out into the graveyard, let’s take some more questions from twitter. @BibleHumperGhostThumper wants to know, “How do u score exorcisms?” Well, teams get a point for each soul they correctly identify as risen. Then their job is to send them to rest, in whatever way they can. The soul must be confirmed as “at peace” by all three judges for the team to be successful. Every soul brought to rest is 3 points, with bonus points awarded for difficulty ratings, as judged at the beginning of the match.
Another question for us: @EctoplasmErotica wants to know if we can physically touch the ghosts? Sorry to disappoint – physical manifestation almost never involves tactile interaction. @IShipDeadPeople wonders if we’ll get access to any of the EVP and film documentation of the cemetery. What a great question! Families of the deceased will be
approached for approval, but unless they deny access, all of today’s recordings will be available, blurred to protect the names of the innocent.
Oh, my, the vehvehs of the Santerian team have been completed, and boy are they beautiful! The goat is being led in. @VoodooQueenNewOrleans points out that typically goats are used to raise the dead, not to put them to rest. Let’s ask the captain of the team to explain!
“Sí, working with the dead requires a mechanism based on raising power and directing it. Once you raise the power, you can do with as you need to, provided that you can convince the Loa of the necessity. In this case, it’s actually easier to do than when raising the dead. This – this serves a real purpose.”
Fascinating! And what does the goat do in the process?
“Well, he fuels it.”
By eating? It would seem he’s doing his best to do just that – excuse me – is that your pocket he’s eating, sir?
“Oh, crap, no –“
Ladies and gents, this is one of the team leaders from the Green witches.
“Shit, my pipe –“
Um…madame…it would appear that your goat is crunching through some glass…?
“Pollas en vinagre. Our goat –“
“My pipe –“
It would seem that the glass didn’t all get properly chewed…the goat has begun bleeding profusely from the neck.
“Oh, mio dios. José, get the goat to the center, NOW. We need the bowl, the steel blade…”
Aaaand…we will leave them to it as they try to resurrect this – haha – resurrection spell.
Let’s try to get our feet back under us, shall we? Let’s do a quick rundown of the teams, as we check in on each of their progress.
As the green witches pack another pipe, they seem to be having a nice conversation with the ghosts. They’re generating a nice aromatic cloud of smoke, and that is genuinely not incense. I think maybe they misread the meaning of “green” in witchcraft, but the ghosts seem to be highly entertained!
The ritualists have gathered next to a large sarcophagus, and the high priest has climbed atop – wait, is that the high priestess under him? Sure enough, the judges are on their way over. This is not an accepted way to raise energy here, ladies and gents. I’m waiting for the call – yes, they are officially disqualified!
We have one priestess remaining, but it would seem she has no team…? She’s sitting on the bumper of her car observing, drinking a bottle of wine. We’ll have to wait and see how this one plays out.
The Catholic priests have gathered around one especially unsettled grave, and their candles and copal are all burning freely. However, the spirit does not appear to be compelled by the power of Christ as they might have expected. It would seem this one may have been a closet atheist? Yes, there are definitely some raised voices coming from that area. This is another situation to keep an eye on.
Meanwhile, the Catholic prayer team is keeping pace alongside the Hispanic Catholics. The high schoolers seem to be incredibly nervous, however, while the católicos are having a hard time getting their Florida water and flowers placed around the graves they’ve chosen. And is that a squeal?
Oh my, the ghost just made contact with a priest – I repeat, the ghost just punched a priest! Score one for the atheists – and the teen prayer team is hightailing it back to their bus. I think that running in terror automatically disqualifies you – confirmed!
This leaves just católicos and classic exorcists, one with a black eye. We won’t count them out, but let’s keep going.
Strains of music erupt. I apparently missed this, folks – the Baptist team from Chicago has brought along a small brass band! The team from Indy is at the far side of the cemetery, preaching and singing hallelujahs, but the team from the Windy City is putting their wind to use – trombones and trumpets are echoing out as they begin a processional that would make New Orleans proud!
The evangelists are praying with the dead, and a string of graves have been flagged in their favor. But as these Baptist saints go marching in, the local souls are joining the parade! This might be a tight match, after all.
And now that the Santerian team has finally completed their blood cocktail, they are marking many multiple graves with ease. The race is getting hot, ladies and gents!
So a quick rundown – two teams are disqualified, the Catholic priests are in a single duel but aren’t moving on, and the católicos are set to possibly pull in a last minute sweep. The green witches are barely in play with a point for each spirit in their discussion on philosophy. Baptists both near and far are beginning to get up on the charts, with 25 points for Indy and 45 for Chicago so far. The local evangelists are actually ahead of the Baptists with 40 points, while the Santerians are catching up, having racked up 30 points in half the time of the other teams.
Wait – what’s this? Did the priestess just start walking across the graveyard, finally?
Time is ticking down as this random woman sets out along the main road, her second bottle of wine in hand. “Hey, spirits!!”
The teams jumped, virtually every member. Even the paranormal teams looked up from their gear.
“Look, we all started from the same place, and we all go back to it, too. I don’t care what kind of God you believe in, the source looks the same. Here, let me show you.” She’s raising her hands to the sky – and is that an unearthly glow??
It’s obvious that she’s got everyone’s attention, suddenly. Except for where the choir and the band are drowning her out nearly at the far end, she seems to hold the floor.
“No,” she seems to be replying to one of them, “I won’t force you. But why would I have to. Look up there – isn’t that your mother waiting for you?”
The flags are dropping – the judges are calling soul after soul in her favor, as first one sets the example, then more follow. She’s still slugging back wine, and barely stumbling considering how much she’s had. Sorry – let’s go back to this bizarre performance.
“Of course you can stay if you want to, but why would you want to? Here, you hunger and thirst, but cannot eat. Here, you can see the humans walk by, but you can’t interact. There, you have family, plenty of food for the soul, and the endless love of God itself!”
It’s obvious that the other teams have no idea what’s going on, but the scoring has suddenly changed dramatically. As midnight nears, we’re looking at a surprise end to the night.
Wait – they called it!! Yes, that’s the sound of the church bells. That’s the game! Let’s get those final scores.
The Catholic exorcists managed to pull off their single ten point attempt, but with nothing additional. The green witches managed to pull in 15, but that’s flat recognition scores, matching the number of spirits who joined in their debate. Our católicos, a fan favorite, have managed to score 30, quite a feat considering their setup time. The Indy Baptists got up to 53 points, but the Chicago parade swept them with 78 points. The local evangelists and the Santerians are having their numbers confirmed, as it would seem they each came in debatably around 80 points.
However, it seems that the recount can wait. The judges are counting the number of graves this random drunken priestess interacted with, as well as the surprising number of spirits she seems to have helped to move on. This mystical midwife of the dead appears to have scored 95 points in a quarter the time of her opponents!
It’s been one heck of a night, but the lone priestess has taken it! A year’s worth of holy water and sage is only the start, as she has won an all-expenses-paid trip to the oldest grave in the British Isles – Court Cairn in Newgrange, Ireland! I’m trying to get a word in with her, as she – wait, seriously? Did she just get in her car and drive off?
Well, the good news is, once we report her license plate for drunk driving, we should be able to know where to send the reward. In the meantime, it’s been an incredibly exciting – and surprising – first ever Exorcism Olympics here in Lafayette, Indiana. Thank you for tuning in, and good night!