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The Exorcist Files Podcast Pulls Back the Curtain on Possession and Exorcism

Have you ever wondered what really goes on in a Catholic exorcism? Or have you ever wanted to know what Catholics really believe about demonic possession? You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to guess that very few exorcism movies depict the Catholic faith accurately (and even the best ones still make a few egregious mistakes), so if you’ve ever been curious about this mysterious subject, you need to check out The Exorcist Files.

The Exorcist Files is a (relatively) new podcast that recounts some of the creepiest and most eye-opening experiences of real-life exorcist Fr. Carlos Martins, and along the way, Fr. Martins also explains many of the core Catholic beliefs that underlie his work. It’s a great tool to educate yourself about the reality behind some of the best and most popular films the horror genre has ever produced, so if you’re itching to find out what an exorcist’s job is really like, this podcast is just what you need.

The Hosts of The Exorcist Files

But before we dive into what makes The Exorcist Files so great, let’s start by getting to know a bit about the hosts of the podcast, Fr. Carlos Martins and Ryan Bethea. Fr. Martins is a Catholic priest who lives in Detroit, and in addition to being an exorcist, he’s also the “relic guy,” as Ryan sometimes affectionately calls him.

He’s the director of Treasures of the Church, a ministry that travels around the world teaching Catholics about the Church’s long history of venerating relics (basically, objects that have some sort of direct association with Jesus or the saints, like the bones of a saint or a fragment of the cross Jesus was nailed to) and giving them an opportunity to venerate a few themselves.

Bones in a glass case
France-000030 – Relic?” by archer10 (Dennis) is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

In contrast, Ryan Bethea is involved in some more secular endeavors (although not entirely!). He’s a producer, writer, and marketing expert who advises companies and helps them grow, and he also has a few other podcasts besides The Exorcist Files. He hosts Kinda Christian, a podcast that asks tough questions about Christianity regarding things like evolution and contradictions in the Bible, and he also runs I Went Camping With, a podcast where he sits down and chats with people from all different walks of life, from sports to politics to entertainment.

Spooky Stories

If you’ve never listened to The Exorcist Files before, you might think it’s just Fr. Martins sitting down with Ryan and narrating his experiences, but that’s not it at all. Sure, there are times when Fr. Martins takes the mic and explains a few things, but by and large, this podcast doesn’t simply recount his stories. Rather, it reenacts them using professional voice actors, and that makes the stories and the people in them really come alive.

What’s more, The Exorcist Files also uses 3D binaural audio, so you feel like the sounds are coming from all around you. That recording style makes for the most realistic listening experience possible, so you’re almost sure to completely lose yourself in Fr. Martins’ stories.

Now, that kind of total immersion would make any podcast sound great, but it works especially well for this one. See, when The Exorcist Files gets creepy, it goes all-out on the demonic voice effects. It makes great use of the satanic sounds we’ve all come to expect from possession stories, and it’s absolutely harrowing.

In fact, I even think it’s scarier than most horror movies. I once heard a film critic say that if you want to avoid being scared by a horror film, you should cover your ears, not your eyes, because the sound is really what makes it scary. And this podcast proves he was right. Even though you can’t see anything, the sounds alone are utterly terrifying, so on the level of pure horror storytelling, The Exorcist Files is pretty top-notch.

The Truth About Exorcism

A priest talking to a possessed boy

But of course, this podcast is about more than just scaring us silly. It also has some really great information to teach us, and in my opinion, that’s the best thing about it. Interspersed throughout the stories, we get some interesting tidbits from the research on possession and exorcism Ryan Bethea has done, and they’re often quite thought-provoking. But hands down, the real draw here is Fr. Martins’ own explanations of his work. He tells us what exorcism is really all about, and it’s pretty eye-opening. For example, in the very first episode of The Exorcist Files, he says something most listeners will probably find rather surprising:

The job of the exorcist, contrary to what most people think, is not to cast out the devil. The job of the exorcist is to find out, “Why is the devil there?” He tasks himself with discovering what rights the devil has gained within the victim, and then to aid the victim in rescinding those rights. Because without rescinding those rights, the devil has every right to be there. That is the process of exorcism.

In other words, unlike what we normally see in the movies, exorcism isn’t just about saying certain words or performing a certain ritual. Rather, it’s about figuring out what’s spiritually wrong with a person and then finding a way to fix it. Sure, the ritual is important, but it’s just one step in a longer process that brings a more holistic kind of healing than simply expelling a few unwanted visitors.

Now, given that explanation of what exorcism actually is, it’s not surprising that the stories in The Exorcist Files tend to focus more on the victims’ experiences leading up to their exorcisms than on the exorcism sessions themselves (although we get some of that too!). We learn what these people did to unwittingly invite demons into their lives as well as the terrifying ways those spirits manifested themselves, and more often than not, these stories involve dabbling into the occult.

A ouija board
Ouija board” by scriptingnews is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

For instance, the first case, titled “No Life Without Death,” is about a woman who desperately wanted kids but who simply couldn’t get pregnant. Her apparent infertility weighed really heavily on her, so eventually, she went to see a psychic. The psychic advised her to gather bugs into jars and keep them in her house, and as the bugs died, their life force would eventually transform and allow her to conceive a child.

Now, as you can probably guess, these extreme measures didn’t stem from the normal desire for children that many people share. Rather, they were symptoms of some deep emotional wounds this woman had suffered during her childhood, so when she finally went to Fr. Martins for help, the priest had his work cut out for him. Not only did he have to expel the demon that had wormed its way inside her, but he also had to get her to renounce her involvement in the occult as well as find her the help she needed to heal the wounds that made her condition so incredibly unbearable for her.

It’s an eye-opening example of what exorcism is really all about, and the other stories in The Exorcist Files are similarly enlightening. They illustrate some of the various (and sometimes unexpected!) ways people can invite demons into their lives, and they also show that there’s a lot more to this stuff than what we see in films like The Exorcist. It’s a nearly perfect mix of terrifying horror entertainment and clear, easy-to-understand explanations of what really happens when someone is possessed, so if you’ve ever been curious about this mysterious topic, do yourself a favor and give this podcast a listen. You’ll be glad you did.

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Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong horror fan. From a very early age, he learned to love monsters, ghosts, and all things spooky, and it's still his favorite genre today.

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