Q:

What are some ways to rid a home of evil spirits?

A:

A wide range of past and present cultures have offered their own folkloric and religious methods for ridding homes of evil spirits, such as the Ancient Egyptian use of garlic, the Catholic practice of exorcism and the Irish-American practice of making jack-o'-lanterns. Originally carved from turnips, rutabagas or potatoes, the frightening appearance of these jack-o'-lanterns was supposed to drive evil spirits away, while at the same time serving as a marker for lost souls trying to find their way back to the spirit world.

Other food-based traditions for protecting the home from evil spirits are the Hungarian practice of scattering salt, the generally European practice of scattering mustard seeds on roofs and the Japanese practice of littering homes with beans during the festival of Setsuben, paying particular attention to doorways and dark areas of the house.

Although not widely accepted as canon by the Catholic church (at least until 2014 when Pope Francis gave it his official recognition), exorcism is a ritualized means of driving spirits from the home (along with any other place or object). It can also be used to cast demons from the bodies of possessed people. It involves the recitation of prayers and the personification of suffering as satanic.

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