X is for eXorcism


When Something Doesn’t Belong

I debated whether to use the exorcism topic for magic systems vs. worldbuilding religions (a topic for a much later time), but I’ll be honest – finding an ‘X’ word for magic systems was proving difficult. I ultimately decided to stick it here, because possession by non-corporeal entities in fantasy stories is not solely a religious concept (though demonic possession usually is religious in nature).

In fictional worlds with magical beings, it’s not uncommon for something (usually stuck in a non-corporeal form) to try and inhabit something with corporeal form. Whether that something is classified as a ghost, demon, or something else in your world is up to you. If you have magical users who can use astral projection, it’s also possible you may end up with one of them accidentally or purposefully possessing another creature.

Depending on who or what anything possesses, that will probably be an issue somewhere along the way. Then comes the issue of whether an exorcism needs to be performed.

Worldbuilding Exercises:

  • Are there entities (magical or otherwise) that can possess beings in your world? Are they able to do it against someone’s will, or only with consent, even if that consent is obtained through trickery? Are there any scenarios in which being possessed by a certain entity, whether for a short period of time or permanently, may be considered an honor?
  • Are there physical signs or symptoms of a possession, or is it only obvious to someone who knows the possessed well?
  • How is one possessed released of that possession (or exorcised)? Do different entities require different rites, or is the exorcism fairly universal in performance?

View 2019 A-Z Participant list here.

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