Exorcism is a ritual performed in order to drive an evil spirit–whether demonic or ghostly–out of the body of a human. The practice has existed for thousands of years. In fact, according to the early Christian scholar Origen (184-253), Jews have a “special talent” for exorcising demons.
In the Bible, David played his harp in order to exorcise an evil spirit from Saul. The effect was only temporary–Saul’s anger was soon aroused again, and David was forced to flee for his life. Later, in the Book of Tobit and the Midrash, tales are recounted of demonic beings inhabiting the bodies of living people. These stories are surprisingly similar to the possession depicted in films such as The Rite, Poltergeist (by Jewish filmmaker Steven Spielberg), and, of course, The Exorcist.
Judaism offers several alternatives to calling Ghostbusters–including some incantations found in the Dead Sea Scrolls and four Psalms which, according to the Scrolls, can “charm demons with music.” Frequently, it’s recommended to have some sort of sage or rabbi to lead the proceedings, lest the demon prove too much to handle.
For more information about Jewish exorcisms, and helpful suggestions on how to deal with demons, check out MJL’s tutorial on the subject.