Originally Published October 17, 2016 for rue-morgue.com
Possession and exorcism. Long before William Peter Blatty’s groundbreaking novel (and the subsequent blockbuster film adaptation) brought the topic into the public consciousness, this spiritual battle between man and otherworldly forces has been chronicled, documented and fictionalized for decades. As the 21st Century continues to truck along, though, and the nature of man’s relationship with religion and spirituality changes and evolves, there are still some among us who walk that line between the physical and the spiritual. Which brings us to R.H. Stavis.
A Los Angeles resident, Stavis plies her trade as a writer in multiple fields – books, comics, video games, as well as screenplays for film and television. But as the old adage says, Stavis’ job does not define her. Instead, she has carved out an interesting path for herself in L.A., a path very much less travelled.
R.H. Stavis, you see, is an exorcist. This is not a hobby for her, nor is it the dabblings of an occult dilettante. Stavis has been plying her trade for some time in Los Angeles and staked her claim in the city’s occult circles. I was able to get some time with Stavis to discuss her chosen path, where it all began and what’s waiting down the road.
Let’s start from the top: tell us a bit about who you are and what you do.
I am an exorcist, first and foremost. That’s what I do, I take your demons out. Aside from that, I am also a writer for film and television. Being an exorcist just happens to be like my “Buffy calling”. So I do that for people, not as my work but because I can, if that makes sens
What was your “ground zero”, the event that set you on this path?
When I was a kid, you know how kids would say there are monsters under the bed, or monsters under the closet, and then someone comes in and shows them that there’s nothing there? Well, for me, there was actually something there. I’ve always been able to see entities – I usually call them “entities”, not “demons”. I can see entities with my eyes. I’ve always been able to do that, and when I got old enough to learn – the hard way, I guess – that not everybody does that, that that’s ‘weird’ – I stopped talking about it. I actually tried to block it out in public settings as much as possible. And then, later on in life, there was a point in myadult life where it all came rushing back, and I wasn’t as good at blocking it out anymore. So, when that happened, it was either close my mind or do something with it. I figured if I had this ability and I was, as far as I know, the only one who could see them with my eyes, then there was a reason I had that. I decided that I was going to start helping people.
In preparing for this kind of work, did you adapt the standard Catholic methodology or have you chosen a more “D.I.Y.” style in your approach?
I’m non-denominational. I’m one of those weirdos that religion has nothing to do with it. If anybody does their research on ‘entities’, they would see that they date back to ancient Sumeria. It’s actually kind of a weird issue for me because even though I am non-denominational, I often work with high- being entities too. The way I try to describe it to people is it’s a diamond-shape. We are the middle of the diamond, and that there are entities below that from us and the entities above that give to us. Those are the ones that people call angels or gods. I actually work with all of these. I work with High-Being Entities to remove Low-Being Entities, so while I don’t recognize them as “religious”, it doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. If that makes sense.
Los Angeles has had a long history as a hotbed of occult activity. Are these merely legends and rumours or, from what you have seen, is there substance to those claims?
There’s a lot in Los Angeles, in certain parts here. I can feel it in the ground, where dark things have happened. Mythical ideas, whether they’re true or not, of “celebrity cults” and such. All of these things do exist, and they’ve been here for a very long time. Walking through certain parts of Los Angeles, like Griffith Park for example, you can feel how dark that area is. And it has been that way for a long, long time. Maybe hundreds of years. This is a place with a lot of darkness, and its place where someone like me spends a great deal of time working on people, taking that darkness out. And places, as well.
Is there a standard operating procedure in place before you enter a hot spot, an established playbook in mind when dealing with these entities?
No, there isn’t. I’ve done thousands of these by now, and in the beginning when I was starting out, I would speak to High Beings and download that information from them and work each individual person in that way. Now, I can’t say it’s the same every time, because it’s not. Each person is dealing with something different. There are a lot of entities that will continue to show up, so I have a very specific idea on how to get those ones out, but every person is different, and the reasons they have it can be different, so that’s where everything changes. And buildings are always different, too. So when a person comes in I can speak to their High Beings and I can tell them what’s going on with them and then we proceed into what we are going to do. Like I said, it’s slightly different for everyone. There are certain things that I’ll always do. Certain beings that I work with that I will always call in. I make different cleansing incenses for people. That kind of stuff will always be going on. But if I were in a pinch and I didn’t have any of those things, I could still do it.
We’ve all seen the pyrotechnic-heavy view of possessions and exorcisms in the movies – shattered mirrors, levitation and the possibility of death – which are obviously amped up for dramatic impact. Have you encountered any cases or situations where that level of threat presents itself?
Always. They’re always dangerous, for me. Not everything that’s attached to people is dangerous to the point of death, though. When I talk to people about entities and what they have and what they don’t, I refer to those ones as “movie-style” entities – the very dramatic, the more brazen. Half the time, the larger ones, the ones that have the strength that “movie-style” entities are trying to portray, they stay hidden. They wouldn’t be like “hey, look at me!” It’s usually the smaller entities that will puff themselves up like cats. That doesn’t happen a lot with the top of the food chain, which is what I call The Realmwalker, or what other people might refer to as The Devil. That thing doesn’t like to show itself. It only participates in places or people that are world-changers. It has no interest in a girl in a farm in Wisconsin, unless she’s going to be a world-changer. So there are instances where I deal with entities like that, but they are much rarer. Most of the population doesn’t carry something like that. Most people are not world changers.
Considering the nature of your field of work, has there even been any offers to follow you around, document and/or adapt your experiences for television, film, etc.?
I actually can tell you this today. I have approval today to start talking about a memoir coming out with HarperCollins. So you’re the first to know. Fall 2017 is our slated date with bay Street Books. I have a film in the works right now, more of fictionalized account and there may or may not be this amazing documentary. I can’t say much, but there may be an exorcism involved. And I’ve been offered reality shows a bunch, but I have declined all of those. I’m very excited about all of that. Working with Bay Street and Harper Collins has been a real treat, because they’ve been really enthusiastic about from day one. It’s really exciting to get that information out to people who are not here in L.A., and may not know what they’ve got going on. And how to potentially fix that for themselves. All of that is really good because unless I travel, I’m only able to do this in one place. Honestly, it’s going to be crazy.