In the 1973 film The Exorcist a little girl is possessed by an Ancient Mesopotamian deity called Pazuzu.

Priests gather around the girl and start to read the Bible and pour holy water on the girl.

But how did an Ancient Mesopotamian demon who was living millenia ago and was dug out of the earth in the 20th century know Jesus, the Bible, the holy water, the phrase "Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit", and even the God itself?

The demon reacted to all of them with fear, pain, burning, and screaming.

  • 2
    Multiple individuals in the bible demonstrate the ability to see into the future. The book of revelation is literally that
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 17:13
  • 1
    Seriously? It's a story of the supernatural - with an underlying premise that demon's exist and the God of Christianity exists (because Catholic priests have the power to exorcise them). Is it such a stretch to imagine that a demon is aware of 'the enemy' ? Or that the holy water has powers to hurt a demon? I mean the whole premise is silly / requires suspension of disbelief.
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 20:19

1 Answer 1


Every show has a playbook - a document by which it must abide, in order for its audience to abandon logic and instead apply 'willing suspension of disbelief'. In other words; just enjoy the show, don't question the plot too much or you'll spoil it.
This applies equally to Hollywood and religion.

All the bigger, more famous gods hang out in the mountaintop domain of Dunmanifestin. They spend their days quaffing nectar [or ale or mead, depending on denomination] and throwing thunderbolts at one another.
Just because we mere mortals don't have a clue doesn't mean the various deities can't see what's really going on.
The smaller gods, of course, know less than we do about the whole thing - eventually just blowing away as wisps in the desert, once they run out of believers. One day maybe they'll gain just one new believer and their career could take off again.
In other words, don't expect anything rational when it comes to gods. They're all omnipotent… except when narrative imperative deems they're not.

The other thing about gods, in terms of the religion they represent, amongst those surviving peoples who may still believe in them, observe their festivals and rituals… is that gods are immortal. No good burying one and thinking that's the end of it, especially if we're in Hollywood. Life will out.

OK - Let's try to actually answer this… in "Hollywood" terms.

Of course, this is a TV trope, relying on well-established 'rules of engagement', usually based on some show-biz persona of Catholicism - as they were the guys who at one time thought this was actually 'demonic possession' with a well established method of expunging the demon, at some point back in pre-science history.

So, just because one religion claims to have dug up the quite dead remains of another religion's deity, doesn't mean that deity is not due for a rapid resurgence of popularity - probably within the time-frame of our plot, if it's to satisfy the audience.
Dug-up ex-deity is going to quickly become clear and present danger to at least part of our cast. [Narrative imperative again.]

This deity has of course not really been dead all this time - being omnipresent [if not, for the sake of the long plot, actually omnipotent.] They've been paying attention over the years as to who's been popular in the other local religions - maybe in hopes of cashing in on a comeback tour eventually. If not, then at least in hopes that by knowing how their playbook works, maybe they could eventually recreate a playbook for themselves. Mesopotamia is just around the corner from Israel, so JC would be one of the guys Pazuzu would be keeping an eye on. [Probably Abraham & Mohammed too… but being Hollywood, and its historic stance on anything not entirely Christian, that wouldn't fit our plot so well - so they're conveniently ignored.]

Right. So our guy is finally dug up and gets their chance at fame. They find a local girl open to suggestion and jump right in there. Chance at the comeback tour. Oddly, the scriptwriters seem to have ignored that our dug up demon was originally meant to be a protective force for its believers and instead went for the full-on, evil megalomaniac, bond-villain-taking-over-the-world-style demonic presence, with rotating heads. Shame really. He might have been able to sign up for a longer-term career otherwise.

Our local Christian community is not so keen once Pazuzu starts being rather overtly demonstrative - with emphasis on demon. So they go for the 'our religion is better than yours' cure.

An exorcist is called in - you can find them in the Yellow Pages, in any Hollywood horror movie; or if not, just ring the Vatican - always willing to assign you a local expert. There's a hotline. They probably just have a standing charge and an hourly fee, plus tax.

Our archetypal 'Catholic exorcist' hero turns up, armed with book, bell and candle -which actually has nothing to do with 'real' exorcism, that was for excommunication - and gets on with the script.

Your ancient, resurgent, common or garden old-world deity responds correctly to the call of "In the name of Jesus Christ… yada yada" with improvised - or scripted, if the deity had a good acting agent - responses of "ooooh… aaaargh… you'll never get me copper… I mean priest… You'll never take me alive, or dead, or undead. Let me just spin this girl around a bit for emphasis, see if I don't."

This tends to go on a while, with props shaking the walls and pouring fake blood down them. Lighting gets to see how much they can flip the on/off switch.

Until eventually our exorcist wins. [Narrative imperative again.]
All done. Some of the cast may have died in the process, but all's well that ends well.…
Unless they're planning a sequel.


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