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Exorcismo: Colombia's exorcist drives evil spirits away
Saturday, June 29th, 2013

LA CUMBRE, Colombia — Do you believe in evil spirits? Many people in this western Colombian town apparently do.

A 52-year-old named Brother Hermes Cifuentes keeps busy driving the demons away. He says he's performed countless exorcisms for more than 20 years, having learned everything he knows from his father.

While Colombia's a largely Catholic country, its culture also mixes indigenous and African customs in often vibrant, colorful ways.

Cifuentes' exorcisms are quite the spectacle. Possessed subjects are smeared head to toe in dark mud and then undergo a ritual using fire, candles, flowers, eggs and other ordinary items.

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Diana R., who claims to be possessed by spirits, prepares herself for an exorcism ritual performed by Hermes Cifuentes in La Cumbre, Colombia.

(Jan Sochor - GlobalPost)
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Hermes Cifuentes, a Colombian spiritual healer, prays at an altar in his apartment before performing an exorcism.

(Jan Sochor - GlobalPost)
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The possessed must be covered in black mud as part of the exorcism ritual.

(Jan Sochor - GlobalPost)
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Hermes Cifuentes, a Colombian spiritual healer, holds a crucifix as he tries to rid his subject of unwanted spirits.

(Jan Sochor - GlobalPost)
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Diana R. is covered head to toe in black mud.

(Jan Sochor - GlobalPost)
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Hermes Cifuentes, a Colombian spiritual healer, performs a ritual of exorcism on Diana R., who claims to be possessed by spirits, in La Cumbre, Colombia.

(Jan Sochor - GlobalPost)
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Caked in mud and dressed in simple white garb, Diana lies in a ring of fire to rid herself of evil spirits.

(Jan Sochor - GlobalPost)
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Handmade wooden crosses seen during a ritual of exorcism performed by Hermes Cifuentes in La Cumbre, Colombia, May 28, 2012.

(Jan Sochor - GlobalPost)
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In this coffee reading, Cienfuentes believes that the coffee grounds sludge in the cup shows three people, one of them is Jesus Christ. He holds onto this cup as a religious relic.

(Jan Sochor - GlobalPost)
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A hand of Diana R., who claims to be possessed by spirits, seen during a ritual of exorcism performed by Hermes Cifuentes in La Cumbre, Colombia.

(Jan Sochor - GlobalPost)
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Diana R. lies on the ground during a ritual of exorcism.

(Jan Sochor - GlobalPost)
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Diana R. lies on the ground surrounded by flowers during a ritual of exorcism performed by Hermes Cifuentes in La Cumbre, Colombia.

(Jan Sochor - GlobalPost)
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Diana R., who claims to be possessed by spirits, cries during a ritual of exorcism performed by Hermes Cifuentes in La Cumbre, Colombia.

(Jan Sochor - GlobalPost)
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It's a lovely thing when shared traditions unite so many different people.