In a time where the occult, demons and the use of Ouija boards have become entertainment, it is easy to forget that the threats of dark supernatural forces and possession are very real. ANN MASSEY spoke with respected Irish Demonologist Gavin Canavan to find out more.
ANN: What is a Demonologist?
GAVIN CANAVAN: Demonology is the study of demons and how they affect our lives. Doors are opened through witchcraft, the use of Ouija boards, or being drawn to haunted objects or haunted locations and losing your free will in the process.
These are essentially invitations and once a door has been opened and a dark entity passes through, a Demonologist tries to identify the entity and remove them.
A Demonologist helps people being attacked by demon infestation, oppression or obsession. When it comes down to actual possession, that is where I hand over to the Church.
Demonology is religious, it is not paranormal. You must be religious to be a successful Demonologist, as these entities will only depart in the name of Jesus Christ.
When I enter a location, I use spiritual discernment to find what is there. I can feel, sense and sometimes even see and hear the entity in the home. I will bless the home and pray for deliverance, going head to head with the entity.
Challenging the entity is very dangerous and takes years of experience of working cases to get to this point. It must be done with caution and the safety of all concerned being paramount.
Some cases take months and months of deliverance, prayer and healing to set the client free. In the past I have had to call on the help of an Exorcist. I am honest about my limits as nothing is more important than the spiritual and physical well-being of a client.
How did you become involved?
I was drawn from a young age to Demonology and I knew I wanted to help people. I bought books and began studying exorcisms, the work of the priests and the occult. After a few years working alongside paranormal teams, I took classes and learned as much as I could.
I become close to some of the most respected experts in the Demonology and spiritual welfare field. They tutored me and highlighted the importance of religion to be successful. I have been working Demonology cases for years yet despite that I feel I still have much to learn and much to give.
What should people look out for in their own homes and with their own families and how can they protect themselves?
This is a very tough question as each case is very different. People can experience the same thing in many ways. These entities can attack emotionally, physically or psychologically.
Sometimes medical or environmental issues are at play, but the person may have convinced themselves it’s something supernatural. ALWAYS check your carbon monoxide detector is working, as the side effects of carbon monoxide poisoning can be like the effects of a haunting, this is just one example.
If the entity is in your home however, there is no real way to protect yourself. The best advice I can give anybody to stay safe is to keep away from the occult.
As a Demonologist, what are your biggest concerns with people treating the whole concept of Demonology as something to be toyed with?
As I have said before, if people treat the paranormal world as a game they become like pawns in Chess. They won’t even know they are being used until it may be too late. Demons can play the long game – they have no time limitations.
The reality is people die during Exorcism. People’s lives are destroyed. I have personally witnessed one family going through a living nightmare because of doing one-night ghost hunting for the ‘craic’. This family still have an Exorcist priest involved in their case.
From my own experiences of being personally attacked by these entities because of the work I do, I know first hand how effective their tactics can be. Imagine what they can do to a person who has opened the door and invited them in?
If someone is concerned for a loved one or their own home what should they do?
The first thing to do if it is a loved one they are concerned about is determine if they have delved into anything paranormal.
Sometimes a person is not willing to disclose that information to their families but will usually open up when we arrive at the home. They need to be reassured that although what they have done is reckless, we will do our best to help.
It is vital to check out the side effects of any medication they may be on, or if they are on more than one medication, seek the advice of a pharmacist to check on interaction or adverse reactions.
After this you contact me on [email protected] or go to your local priest and ask him to say mass in your home and bless you and your family. If you contact me I will ask for a written account with as much detail as possible telling me exactly what is going on.
The reason for this is that in conversation people try to get everything out at once and the timeline becomes distorted missing vital information. It is amazing how much can be recalled involving the occult when people are given sufficient time to record information.
It gives the person time to explain exactly what’s going on and gives me time to review the information and decide on the next step without feeling pressured.
At times my case manager will press for further information if clarity on something is sought or if we feel more information may be helpful. If I cannot get to you because of my caseload or time limitations I can certainly advise you on the next step.
Whether it involves going to your Church to seek help or I work alongside some fantastic paranormal teams who are always very obliging when someone needs help. All cases are fully confidential and free of charge.
Do you think there is a need to have more public education on the dangers of calling on unknown entities and should paranormal groups have that responsibility?
In my opinion I find that some paranormal teams have never experienced the dark side.
Some of these teams treat the paranormal as a hobby and do not see the dangers of what they are doing.
When it comes to Demonology, I treat this as a job and try to be as professional as I can. My fear is that sometimes these entities appear as children or as if they are friendly spirits.
People assume they are communicating with something that is good and this may not be the case. These dark entities can take on many roles, they are masters of deception.
I would encourage people to become more educated on these matters themselves and not to rely on the knowledge of the team they are following, or the TV shows they may be watching. In my experience of working alongside people in the paranormal world most teams know their capabilities.
If they get something dark they will pass it onto me, just like I will pass on the cases that I know are beyond my remit. Ultimately people are responsible for themselves and should educate themselves on the dangers before delving into anything they are not sure about.
Do you think TV and film have a big role to play in the spiking of peoples’ curiosity and willingness to mess with Ouija boards and what do you think about paranormal groups using such boards at public events or during broadcasts?
I think certainly there are more paranormal shows out there now so the chances of people becoming more curious has escalated. The curiosity may lead a person to think there is no harm in dabbling in using the Ouija board.
In some cases, people are watching to see how to get rid of whatever is affecting them.
They don’t have a clue on where to go to get help or embarrassed or ashamed of what they have done.
I personally would not agree with paranormal groups using Ouija boards as entertainment. Sure, they may do a live feed using an Ouija board and may not get feedback that night, but that does not mean they will be that lucky again.
I think they have a duty of care towards their followers and it would appear there is a certain amount of irresponsibility among some paranormal groups to get more likes on social media. That’s just my opinion on the matter.
In life people have the choice to use the Ouija board or not. These groups do not tell people to use them but treat them as a toy and make people believe they are safe to use.
In my experience things can happen and I have witnessed the devastating lasting effects on the people who have used them.
Why do you think there is a surge in reported cases of possession and demonic activity, in Ireland in particular?
I believe there is a surge of cases, not just in Ireland but worldwide. In my opinion some of this can be contributed to TV and a lack of education on the dangers of the paranormal world.
I believe that some paranormal teams need to be more honest when doing ghost tours. An example of this is people need to be told when they enter these locations they are doing so of their own free will. Once that is given up you are open to spiritual attack.
People are not 100% protected entering these locations and simply grounding oneself is not always effective. They need to know they are opening themselves to spiritual attack and these spirits can follow them home.
This can lead to putting themselves and their families at risk. More and more people have access to horror movies and paranormal shows. They see people using the occult and Ouija boards as a plaything, when in reality, they become the toy.
These shows are made for entertainment purposes and I have never met a client who found what they were going through entertaining. Once Pandora’s Box is opened, it is hard to close.
I always try my best to discourage people from using the Ouija board and playing around with witchcraft, but at the end of the day people will make their own choices.
My main goal is to help and educate as many people as I can.
Do you believe there is a need for more Exorcists in Ireland?
We should have more Exorcists on standby, but most importantly people need to educate themselves before getting involved in any aspect of the paranormal world.
It can be difficult in Ireland to contact an Exorcist priest, but I have found once you have a good working relationship with the Bishop, they realise you are only trying to help, and they respect your work so help is more forthcoming.
From working in the field of Demonology for years, I do not blame any priest for not wanting to become an Exorcist. It is a grueling job and as the Irish Exorcist priest Malachi Martin explained, every time a priest performs an exorcism it can take years off your life.
What keeps Demonologist Gavin Canavan going?
Over countless years my faith and strong belief have held back the entities who may have prevented me helping people. So far, they have not succeeded.
I keep confidential case files so that if I ever feel like giving up I look back over them. It reminds me of the people I have helped, the families I have saved and above all else, the work I still have to do.