Monday, June 20, 2016

Valak: The Conjuring 2 & the Demonizing Of White Men

This is a fantastic image. Young Janet stands in a window, and she's about to be "forced" to jump out of the window by a demon; the fall from the window wouldn't kill her, but the tree that has been sharpened into a spear point by a lightening strike below would. The hand we see holding the Rosary is Lorraine's, and in order to save Janet, and her husband who has risked his own life to save Janet, Lorraine has to face that which is haunting her and keeping her from being able to be effective in this case. The window bay, where Janet stands, has three windows to it, a sign of the Trinity, because windows symbolize "reflection" and the interior life, self-examination and illumination. Janet is being forced to "reflect" upon her identity and who she is: when we first meet her, she's with her friend Camilla and Camilla is smoking; she tells Janet to hold her cigarette for her and, sure enough, the teacher comes out and sees Janet with the cigarette and tells Janet mother who believes Janet has been smoking. We can be confident that the moment pictured above in the image relates to this smoking accusation because the glass in the window shatters and goes all over Janet's face, causing multiple abrasions from the broken glass; the glass, symbolic of reflection, hitting Janet's face--the location of our most basic identity with others--is a call for her to "reflect" upon who she is and the choices she makes. About three-fourths of the way through the film, Janet tells her mother that she hadn't smoked, that she was just holding the cigarette because she wanted to look cool in front of Camilla. Janet "fake smoking" with Camilla (holding the cigarette but not smoking) is, sadly, a foreshadowing of the "fake" haunting Janet will be accused of later when she has to intentionally throw dishes and intentionally demonstrate a "faking" of the disturbances so the Warren's and the others will leave. This is an intense scene, mostly because it takes place "in the kitchen" which is also where important scenes took place in The Conjuring, so more on this below.
There is a question which we re-visit from the original film: What did Lorraine Warren see during the exorcism that took place and caused her to lock herself up for eight days? Although it's the same screenwriters and director, somehow, a conversion has taken place: it's not JUST that The Conjuring 2 is pro-capitalist where The Conjuring was (very) pro-socialist; it's that the sequel demonstrates the ultimate argument being used to advance socialism in the world today, and it undermines it completely. There are two parts to this film: the first is what is haunting Janet Hodgson in London, and the second is what is haunting Lorraine Warren (and what she saw in the exorcism), and the two are intertwined beautifully (my analysis of The Conjuring can be found at this link).
But first,...
Let's go over the geography of a haunted house because it's important in every haunted house film, but imperative in both The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2. Whenever someone goes up the stairs, it symbolizes that they are entering a "higher level" of consciousness, and they expect the audience to follow with them, i.e., to be interpreting what is going on (this is especially true in The Conjuring 2 where there is peeling paint and frayed fabric everywhere: the surface has been "stripped away" and we are supposed to peer at what is underneath, and, in this case, that means what the film is trying to say to us [we have to "cross" the threads of the tape just as Ed does so we can get the whole message; the "tapes" we have to cross is that which happens to Janet and that which happens to Lorraine; or, we could say, that which happens in the film, and that which happens in reality outside of the film]). The basement is always going to be that which we haven't dealt with in our own lives, the things we have tried to "bury" and don't want to remember or examine, so we keep all those things "in the dark." The main level of a house is the main narrative, the elements of a story we would expect to see unfolding in a particular way and will have the feeling of "normalcy" to them but which are really just the manner of "passing through" between the upper-level and basement.
Now, Janet. 
As we know, water symbolizes the three stages of self-awareness: water is its liquid form is the first stage of awareness about an issue or the self; water that is in vapor form, fog or clouds, means that one is trying to look deeper, but things are not becoming visible and manifesting, they are hiding and it's difficult to discern what the issues are. When water is solidified, like ice or snow, it's because the thoughts have been finalized and are now tangible. In the image above, it's not only important that Ed stands in water, but that it's in the basement, and it's not just that, but that he's also holding a flashlight and someone is creeping up behind him (presumably Bill Watkins being controlled by Valak, judging from the dentures). So, the basement indicates something that has been hidden, something repressed or put away that someone doesn't want to deal with; in this case, since it's Peggy's basement, Ed has entered into her psychological zone of what she doesn't want to deal with and has repressed. The washing machine has broken and there is a leak, a valve needs to be turned off because it's flooding the basement. We can say, then, that what this scene means is that Peggy has repressed the loss of her ex-husband and it has nearly destroyed her (the flood in the basement); Ed helping her to fix things around the house is a reminder of what it was like to have a man in the house again. Ed finding the leak in the basement means that he's going to be able to stop Peggy's rush of negativity towards men because the of the crummy thing her ex-husband did to her and their family, so Ed can "stop the flood" that's ruining Peggy's psyche (and yes, if you are thinking of Noah's Flood, and the wiping away of the old world so a new world can start again, that's right on). The flashlight means that Ed can illuminate what the problem is, he can see how defenseless Peggy is and the burdens she has and help ease those so she's not as stressed.  Just as Ed is making progress, however, Bill Watkins shows up in the corner and starts lurking towards Ed as if to attack him; why? Because Ed is being a nice guy. Ed is being what every man should be, like Peggy's neighbor Vic who helps Peggy and the kids and lets them stay with them, what a great guy! And socialism doesn't like that. So Valak is going to use Bill Watkins to attack Ed  BUT, since Peggy stood up for Ed and warned Ed that he was going to be attacked, Peggy gets to be attacked, literally, instead. Rather than try and drown Ed, Bill--being used by Valak--bites Peggy on the arm and plops his dentures into the water to prove he was there. This isn't all that has happened in this scene, but we'll finish it below under the caption where we see Bill seeing in his leather chair.  But, in doing these things for Peggy and the kids, Ed not only helps them and restores their faith in men, but also is helping men by being the type of man that men need to be and, ultimately, want to be, because men need to be needed, just like women. That's the last thing a socialist wants someone saying. 
Janet's story begins with a "spirit board." Why? The Conjuring 2 wants to invoke the film Ouija, and the same lesson we learned in that film: not just the rules of a spirit board, like never play in a graveyard, never play by yourself and always end the game and say good-bye (all three rules being broken by Janet [since Bill died in the house, we could say the house is a graveyard since there didn't seem to be any activity before Janet's bringing of the spirit board into the house; at the very end of the post is an image of Peggy holding Janet's "spirit board"]). Why are these young people (in both The Conjuring 2 and Ouija) playing with Ouija boards?  They thought they were going to get answers to their questions, instead they got death and destruction, and this mirrors what has happened politically in the US with the Millennials supposedly electing Obama and supporting socialist Bernie Sanders: in other words, Millennials have no idea from whom they are asking for help (we saw a similar example in The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian, explored in the caption below). So, it is, supposedly Bill Watkins who "answers" and is accountable for the haunting and terrorizing of Janet and her family. So, who is Bill Watkins?
Janet meets Lorraine for the first time and Lorraine tries to win Janet's trust. What's so ironic is, Janet is so hesitant to trust Lorraine, but was consulting "someone" with her spirit board (which is pictured at the very end of this post); in other words, here is a real human Janet can trust, but she was turning to an un-seeable and un-knowable presence when she was playing with the spirit board to ask about whether her dad was coming home. We can say that the makers of The Conjuring 2 are clearly "channeling" the film Ouija as well in this.  In the film The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian, the Narnians are facing extinction by human rulers and Prince Caspian, who has lost faith that Aslan will come and help them, enters a spell to summon the White Witch (Tilda Swinton); Peter, furious with Caspian, knocks Caspian out of the spell's circle but is then there himself and is himself entranced into nearly giving the White Witch the power she needs to re-enter Narnia; it's only Edmond, who learned the White Witches evil tricks so well, who recognizes what is going on and stops the proceedings before she can fool Peter. The point is, the film Ouija is very much set up like Prince Caspian, and The Conjuring 2 follows this line of thought in that those who have lost faith are attempting to summon powerful forces they don't understand to come and save them, rather than save themselves. There is another terribly important element which The Conjuring 2 utilizes from Ouija: a newspaper headline. In Ouija, one of the characters discovers that Doris had gone missing/died (or something like that) from a newspaper article; on the same page as that story is the headline about troops coming home from the Korean War; why? Because the film makers wanted to relate in the minds of the viewers that "mother" in Ouija was the same as the "motherland" America who had been off fighting the communists in Korea (please see Mother's Coming: Ouija (film) and What's Haunting the Millennial Generation for more). In The Conjuring 2, we see a newspaper headline about the English "Amityville" and Enfield poltergeist, but if you look around on that page, you will also see notices about the breadlines in England at this time. In other words, the government was having to help feed people (with breadlines) because they couldn't feed themselves and the bread was running out. This socialist program in England was matched by the United States in the same year with the launching of food stamps, which has only risen in use, especially since 2008.  In the scene pictured above, Janet tells Lorraine that she feels "it" is using her, and it has told Janet that it wants to hurt Lorraine. Why does this happen? Because the young people, like Janet, are being used, and they are being used to hurt the older generations. This isn't just in the US right now but all over the world. Besides a class war about income, besides an ethnicity war about skin color, besides a gender war against white males, there is also a culture war between youth and their elders being waged, and so even though two "minorities" like Janet and Lorraine who are both females, should be on the same side, they are going to be turned against each other politically speaking so that everyone is at fault and no one can find an ally with whom to rally against the main force controlling all the war being spread. This is a very important point for us to consider: the Enfield Poltergeist, upon which the film is based, is considered nowadays to have generally been faked by Janet and her older sister Margaret. The Conjuring 2 brings up the possibility of faking, but it's also clear there is a demon at work and the film makers believe the events in real life to be the foundation of a successful narrative acting as a metaphor to describe today's political events. 
Bill Watkins is exactly the evil villain socialists want him to be, and very much why I thought the film would be pro-socialist. He died, and he still wants his old, dilapidated house for himself, being "so cruel-hearted" that, even though he's dead and no longer needs a home, he still wants this abandoned mother and her four children out of "his" house. Then there's the television. Janet stays home sick one day with a fever, and the TV begins changing channels; why? It's the old, rich white men in the world who are controlling what we watch (what gets made for TV and what doesn't, which shows get cancelled and which shows renewed). Then, there is the issue with Janet's father, who abandoned them because he had twins with the woman around the corner. What a total jerk. But this is nothing compared to how the film opens with the Amityville sequence.
First of all, please note how ugly, angry and hostile Bill looks as he comes out of the darkness to attack Janet. IF the film were going to be pro-socialist, this is exactly the image of Bill Watkins we would see throughout the movie, not the image of him in his bathrobe being held captive by Valak. Why does Bill attack Janet in her bedroom? Because that is "her" house, the area of the house that belongs to her, the way the blanket fort in the hallway is Billy's and belongs to him, so for him to tell them to get out of his house, he (under the control of Valak) is showing them what it's like to have someone in your home that you don't want that. Now, why are the crosses upside-down? They are crosses, but they are not a Crucifix which has the body of Christ upon it. A cross, while symbolic of Christianity, is only that: a symbol, it has no power in and of itself. A Crucifix, however, derives power from two sources: first, the priest who blessed it, and that blessing carries with it the power of the Holy Spirit to spite demons and other unclean spirits, and secondly, the very image of the Sacrifice, the very image of Love to which all demonic forces are opposed. There are at least two reasons why the differences between a cross and a Crucifix  is important in the film: first of all, anything or anyone can take up a cross and call what they are doing a "holy" or "Christian" activity, even though it's not (remember that Valak wears a cross around his neck when he appears as a nun, so the cross has no power over him, but he uses it to present himself to Lorraine as something that is holy and a message from God). This is the situation with socialism: it dresses itself up in artificial costumes of Christ's teaching--like taking care of the poor, not owning too many possessions--but twists it to its own end and not that of God's, and this is how many people fall for socialism. So it's important that we know there is a difference and the film knows there is a difference. The second reason it's important is because who has the Crucifix we see in the film? Ed. Jesus upon the Cross, the Crucifix, is the ultimate example of what all men are and should do, and that's why Ed is such a good man, he is protected by the Crucifix and the sacrifice of Jesus guides him on what Ed himself should do in all of his decisions and how to act in love for others. Valak can't stand this. Valak wants men who act like Peggy's ex-husband, and the pawn Bill Watkins (not when Bill talks to Lorraine). Men like Ed cannot be controlled by Valak, or socialism, and they undermine socialism's entire argument that white men are bad and evil and greedy and need to be put away because no one else can have anything as long as there are white men around. So, in the scene depicted above, when each of the crosses are being turned upside-down, that's not such a big deal because Valak demonstrates--not that he's more powerful than God in turning Jesus' Sacrifice around and perverting it--but that the crosses have no power over him and anyone using the scene of Bill attacking Janet during this scene is taking the cross and turning it upside-down towards their own advantage as well. 
The film begins with the family murder in the house at Amityville, and who is it that kills his family? A white male, with a shotgun. This man goes through, cocking his gun, and kills each member of his family while they are sleeping. So, not only are we seeing the terrible deeds of a white man, but the horror of the 2nd Amendment which allows American citizens to have guns!!! If you know me, I was ready to walk out of the film before even five minutes of it had started,... so why didn't I? As Lorraine witnesses the murders of the family, she's not just witnessing them, she's participating in them, in that, it's Lorraine Warren we see cocking the gun and going into each bedroom and then pulling the trigger; as she backs out of the room, we see the reflection in the mirror and it's not Lorraine's reflection, rather, it's the reflection of the grown white man who killed his family, but it's like he's possessing her to show her what happened. This is the thing about horror films: they are always  psychological, first and foremost, exploring those gaps within us between the heart, mind and soul. Often, they are sexual as well, but they are always psychological, which is what makes them interesting. SO, why on earth do we see Lorraine walking through these murders "with" Ronald DeFeo Jr. who committed the murders?
To set us up for the next scene.
This is probably the most important image of the film, and it takes place at the very start (unfortunately, my analysis is going to be rather convoluted and I apologize for that). Again, we have just seen Lorraine walking through the house, re-enacting the Amityville murders as if she herself were the killer; when she passes a mirror, we don't seen Lorraine's reflection, we see the reflection of the man Ronald DeFeo Jr who committed the murders. Now, under normal circumstances, we wouldn't necessarily interpret what is about to happen as being Lorraine's psyche, her "basement" of the soul because this isn't her house; however, she is doing what she does best, helping people with their haunted houses, and we know that Lorraine isn't actually walking around the house, she's sitting beside Ed at the table the whole time, all the events she sees she is seeing interiorly, so the basement of the house is within Lorraine. So, when we are in the basement of the house, and Lorraine has uncovered this mirror, this is a big moment. As we know, basements symbolize something we have buried, our disappointments, our taboo appetites, our frustrations and fears, parts of our lives we don't want to deal with,... etc. All ready then, in being "in the basement," Lorraine is in a vulnerable position (remember, it's in the basement that the demon Bathsheba was first uncovered in The Conjuring). Uncovering a mirror suggests that she's uncovering a part of herself  (she's going to "reflect" on a part of herself she didn't know was there or she herself covered up). She looks in the mirror and sees the nun behind her, looks back, and doesn't see it standing there; she looks in the mirror again, and sees it standing behind her, closer, but again, when she turns around, it's still not there, until she looks back at the mirror and then it's right in front of her (pictured below). I will go into "the nun's" costume in greater detail below, but please note that Lorraine and the nun both wear white and black, they both have their necks covered, large objects hanging around their necks, their hair pulled back. AT THIS POINT, that nun we see is supposed to be a metaphor of Lorraine's "basement" skeleton: what she did, what she didn't do, what she should do but won't.  Because the nun was initially standing behind Lorraine, that suggests that what the nun symbolizes was something in her past; the nun moving up to be face-to-face with Lorraine means that her "past has caught up with her" and she's going to have to answer for what she's done or what she didn't do. The reason this is such a dangerous situation for Lorraine (and it will be explored further below) is the devil and his demons can appear as "angels of light" and lead us astray. They can take something that one would think is holy--for example, spending time in prayer--and bend it to perverse levels until a person is exhausted praying but they become fearful if they stop praying (this is an example of scrupulosity).  Because we next see a vision of Ed dying, we can interpret the nun being behind Lorraine, and Ed's death, as a "chastisement" supposedly from God (but really from Valak) for Lorraine not becoming a nun and marrying Ed instead. The reason this "trial" is happening at the Amityville house is that Valak wants to get Lorraine to believe that, had Lorraine become a nun instead of marrying Ed, her sacrifice and prayers could have stopped the massacre from taking place. More analysis on this below.
Lorraine is led into the basement by a demonic looking child and searches in the basement until she uncovers a mirror; while looking in the mirror, she sees a demon dressed as a nun standing behind her (pictured above). Initially, since the first film did not lead me to believe that Lorraine and Ed Warren were practicing Catholics--rather, that they were Protestants--I assumed the film makers (still walking down the pro-socialist path) would use the nun as a symbol of the Church and the ally it with evil; that's not what happens. Lorraine "uncovering" the mirror is Lorraine uncovering a part of her own soul, and what she sees in the mirror is the same as what she saw during the exorcism in The Conjuring that caused her to lock herself up for 8 days (I know, if you have seen the film, you're saying, no, that's not right, but bear with me, I can prove this). Just as The Conjuring 2 jumps back and forth between the US and England, so we now need to jump back to Bill Watkins before we can understand what is happening to Lorraine Warren. 
This is Bill Watkins. An old man, on oxygen, in his pajamas and bathrobe; not the stuff of horror films, is he? Socialists, however, want you to believe this--and all men like him, including Ed Warren and the neighbor, Vic, and researcher Maurice--are the stuff of horror films and they have to be overthrown because of all the evil they sow in the world.  (Please consider the film The Purge with Ethan Hawke: his character has to die in the film because he symbolizes everything white men have symbolized to "minorities" since the 1960s, and--throughout the film--Hawke's character is conscious of "being a man" and doing the "manly thing," rather than dying like a coward and not defending his family; these are qualities socialists abhor and want to demonize, and they do it to the hilt in The Purge [please see The New Founding Fathers: The Purge for more]).Those socialists are that black "hand" that looks like an insect body-segment on Bill's shoulder in the image above, because they are using  men like Bill for their agenda. And that's the point, he's only been a pawn this whole time, just as white men in general have been the pawns of socialists trying to start riots and wars against them, what they have accomplished and what they have and have built. (Please consider the film Independence Day: Resurgence when President Whitmore [Bill Pullman] goes on the suicide mission to kill the Queen Alien; he tells his daughter Patricia that he is doing it to save her, and socialists are happy about this because they believe white men like Whitmore block and hinder feminists ability to get ahead and achieve--that is the foundation of the entire myth of feminism--and why Whitmore has to die, he's a white, successful, heterosexual male and therefore he's a dominant power-figure in American society who oppresses everyone else; this is exactly what was done by the Nazis to Jews in Germany leading up to and during World War II). When Janet has been taped "faking" a paranormal attack, she tells her sister that, "He told me he'd kill you if I didn't." This was actually Bill helping Janet, because he's warning her that Valak WILL HAVE HIM KILL THEM if Bill can't communicate to Ed and Lorraine what is happening so they know how to fight Valak. Valak doesn't want Ed and Lorraine to leave, necessarily, because he knows that he has greater control over Lorraine while she's on his turf than when Valak is on her turf (Valak can only appear to her and disturb her if God allows it, and God is allowing it in the Hodgson house as well, Valak can't do anything outside of God's will, but Valak would never admit that and doesn't understand it). 
Later in the film, and after being shown a video tape of Janet Hodgson "faking" a paranormal attack, the Warrens leave; boarding the train, Ed has a moment of Grace: the tape recordings of Janet speaking fall out and form a X on the floor and Ed "sees" that just as Lorraine sees spirits, so Ed crosses the tapes and from the tapes hears Bill Watkins saying he wants to leave but someone is keeping him in the house; then, a miracle happens, and Lorraine is able to communicate with Watkins (please see caption above for more) and she learns that he is being controlled by another demon. This is the demon who has terrorized Lorraine since Amityville. So, who is this demon?
Lorraine Warren.
Ed, of course, doesn't realize he's painting a demented portrait of his wife. What does it mean that Valak also appeared to Ed as the nun? That Ed has also had feelings--at least, at some point, and now they are being "resurrected" and used against both of them--that Lorraine should have become a nun. If Ed had NOT had this suspicion at some point, then the vision he had in his dream would have dissipated upon waking and he wouldn't have thought of it anymore; Ed sitting down to paint the vision he had, however, shows that it has disturbed him and he needs to understand it, the way Lorraine needs to "name" the demon haunting her. THIS IS AN IMPORTANT MOMENT IN THE FILM because Valak has a victory; not in getting Ed to paint his picture, rather, because we see the letters of his name in the table area where Lorraine and Ed sit down to talk about not doing their paranormal research anymore, which is exactly what Valak wants; why? Because he then has greater control and can get more people to commit sins (murder, suicide) and have greater power. If Ed and Lorraine stand up to him, he's defeated. So Lorraine saying they aren't going to do  their research anymore proves that Valak's strategy has worked. What strategy was that? If Lorraine is feeling sufficiently guilty about having married Ed instead of becoming a nun, she will be paranoid that Ed is going to die as a punishment for her sin of not becoming a nun. In this scene, Lorraine reminds Ed of what she saw in a vision during an exorcism they aided in and reveals she saw a vision of Ed's death. She locked herself up for 8 days and wouldn't tell Ed what had happened, because the devil showed Lorraine her sin of marrying Ed in the vision. When we feel really guilty about something, even if we didn't do anything wrong, the devil will use it against us so he can control us, and that is exactly what has happened (this is why it's so important to "discern" the spirit that leads us to doing something or not doing something; if the devil can use something against us, he will. Lorraine feels guilty about marrying Ed (that maybe that's not really what God wanted her to do after all) and doesn't want Ed to be taken away from her. The truth is, God wanted Lorraine to marry Ed, they are much stronger together, and that is why God allows Valak to haunt and bully Lorraine, so Lorraine can overcome her fears and sense of guilt about whether or not she should have become a nun. By the end of the film, Lorraine knows she made the right decision and she's victorious and the devil is, once again, defeated. 
Well, at least, the demon Valak wants Lorraine to believe it's her own self, that she is seeing an image of her own soul. When Valak appears within Lorraine's home, and her daughter Julie has seen him, and Lorraine follows Valak into the office where Ed's picture of Valak hangs, there is a moment when the shadow of Valak travels on the wall across the room to the portrait Ed painted; then Valak's hands grip around the painting and Valak charges at Lorraine from behind the painting. This is absolutely the most intimate detail we could possibly be given about the state of Lorraine Warren's soul, and why she is being terrorized, and why she has been "weakened" in the film: she had a "shadow of a doubt" about her vocation in life. At some point, Lorraine discerned becoming a nun; after she met Ed and they decided to get married, she didn't think about becoming a nun anymore. This is the thing about demons and the devil: they will use anything to turn it against you and away from God, case in point,...
We can also see Ed going through this same spiritual dilemma as Lorraine: the shadow of The Crooked Man that fights with Ed (top of this image). Just as the shadow of Valak-as-the-nun will indicate that Lorraine had a "shadow of a doubt" about becoming a nun instead of marrying Ed (in the bottom image), so Ed, too, had a "shadow of a doubt" about Lorraine becoming a nun when we see the shadow of The Crooked Man across the walls; in essence, Valak as The Crooked Man accuses Ed of keeping Lorraine for himself when Ed should have grown old and crooked, like Bill or the character in the rhyme, The Crooked Man, instead of Ed growing old with Lorraine at his side. The point about demonic temptations and spiritual battles is, they don't have to make sense, they don't have to be reasonable; there just has to be some doubt or guilt the devil can exploit and a person's willingness to believe it even for one second, and their faith in God has been undermined. How does Ed overcome the "shadow of doubt" lingering over him and Lorraine? Elvis. I Can't Help Falling In Love (With You) is his prayer-like chant to overcome their doubts that Ed could not have NOT loved Lorraine; he had to fall in love with her, it wasn't because of sex or being afraid of growing old alone, it was because he loved her and therefore needed her. Ed sings the Elvis song for the family but is that a really good choice for Peggy since her husband had just left her? Ed knows, however, that if he and Lorraine are strong together, the two of them will be strong for the family, so that's why he sings it, and it is then played again at the end of the film, because it's an affirmation of the strength that comes from both love and partnership.
In the image above, when Lorraine sees Ed painting the demon she had seen at Amityville, they go sit down at their kitchen table. I read the synopsis before going to see the film, so I knew the demon's name was Valak. As Lorraine discusses with Ed not doing anymore work, the name VALAK is seen across from her, like a card their daughter might have made; later, when Lorraine reads her Bible and Julie sees Valak, on the bookshelf to Lorraine's left, the letters VALAK are spread on the shelves. Why? The film makers want us to know that Valak is the one acting unseen on the events taking place. For example, when Lorraine sees Ed painting Valak's picture, Valak is the one leading Lorraine to not want to do exorcisms and help families anymore; this is not the will of God. How can Valak exercise power over Lorraine like this? Again, because of her doubt about her vocation, but also because of what she saw during the exorcism which caused her to lock herself up for 8 days. What did Lorraine Warren see during the exorcism? 
Her sin.
The poster in this image is a perfect illustration of Valak using Lorraine's religion to "choke her" and keep her from doing what she's supposed to: using her God-given gifts to help others AND be a good wife to Ed. The beads of the rosary are crossed on Lorraine's hands, just like the tapes Ed recorded Janet on, so by using what we know of Ed and Lorraine, we can cross the prayers and know that, indeed, they are meant to be together because they are stronger as a team than as individuals. Why does The Conjuring 2 want to take time to make this point? To re-establish the importance of marriage. Less than 50% of couples living together in the US today are married, and socialists want that number to rise even higher. In spite of the troubles Ed and Lorraine have faced together, they have stuck it out and in spite of Lorraine's fears about Ed's death and losing him, her faith in God perseveres. These are the lessons we are supposed to learn from the film. As Ed tells Peggy after learning about her husband's infidelity, demons like to feed on negative energy and get us when we are all ready down; a film like The Conjuring 2 is meant to lift us--and the institution of marriage--up.
I know Lorraine says she saw Ed die during the exorcism, and then Valak shows her an image of Ed dying upon the tree that will later show up outside the Hodgson's home towards the end of the film, however, it's because Lorraine has a hidden sense of guilt that she feels it's possible that God will punish her by taking Ed away from her via death so she will be in the state she was in before she met Ed. These are emotions, not logical thoughts or reasoned scenarios, and that's where the devil's power comes from, muddying the water of our emotions. If Lorraine didn't have the slightest possibility that she had sinned in marrying Ed, rather than becoming a nun, then Valak wouldn't be able to control her for as much of the film as he does (like getting her to make Ed agree that they don't do exorcisms anymore, which is exactly what the devil wants). So, is God mad at Lorraine and punishing her by giving Valak this power over her?
No, just the opposite.
In  the poster above, we see Lorraine's hand--not Valak's hand--choking her, and that's because Valak uses Lorraine's doubt against her. In this image, this is the moment when Lorraine is in the basement at Amityville and has turned back around and sees Valak standing in front of her in front of the mirror, in other words, Lorraine Warren is "Face to face with her sin." How can we tell that this is an "unholy nun" and not a message from God, that God is, in fact, trying to communicate to Lorraine that He doesn't want her to investigate demonic hauntings and leave Ed to become a nun? All colors have a positive and negative value, so white, (like Lorraine's coat) is positive when it denotes faith, hope, charity and purity. When a person is dead in those virtues, that is the negative color of white, because a corpse turns white as it decays, like the face of Valak who is dead in all of those virtues (and all virtues in general). Black always means death, but "good death" is when you are dead to things of the world but alive to the world of faith, like Lorraine's turtleneck; "bad death" is when you are dead to the things of heaven but alive to the temptations and pleasures of the world, like Valak's head covering. Valak wears the Carmelite (?) habit which is brown, and brown for the monks and sisters of Mt. Carmel signifies their humility, because brown is the color of dirt, so they hold themselves in a lowly position and place God and others before them in all things. But because brown is the color of dirt, it can also refer to someone literally/spiritually being "dirty," in this case, Valak accuses Lorraine of being slutty, that she should have remained a virgin rather than marry and have a child. We can test this analysis against when Lorraine reads her Bible (and again, the letters spelling VALAK are on the book shelf to her side) and Lorraine believes her daughter Julie sees Valak as a nun at the end of the hallway. We see Julie a minute later, playing with her beads like nothing had happened, indicating that Julie had actually not been a part of Lorraine's trance, but Lorraine imagines Julie seeing Valak because having Julie is part of Valak's condemnation of Lorraine. And, once more, Valak wears a cross around his neck, but it's only wood, it hasn't been blessed and has no religious property. We know that holy beings have appeared to Lorraine because she tells Janet about seeing an angel at the hospital touching the boy's cheek, so if God wanted to communicate with Lorraine about her "sin," He would have found appropriate means to do so.
When Valak enters Lorraine's house, and Lorraine enters a trance and imagines that Julie sees Valak standing in the hallway (as Valak turns to go into (what I am going to call) Ed's office where he put the painting he made of Valak, when Valak turns, there is a picture of a white dove on the wall behind him (see image below, even though he's standing in front of the painting in this one). Although we just saw the letters of Valak's name spread out on the book shelves where Lorraine was reading her Bible, now we see an image of the Holy Spirit as a dove, meaning, God is allowing Valak to torment Lorraine and test her. Why?
For at least two reasons. 
The hallway symbol is a symbol of a journey, not where she is now, but where Valak wants her to go. Again, when Valak moves to his right to enter the office where the painting of him is, we see a picture of a white dove, which is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, meaning that Valak is acting, but only because God allows it. We can look at the hallway as a "birth canal," notice how long and narrow it is, because God intends for Lorraine to be "reborn" from any and all doubts within her about her having married Ed.
First, it will make Lorraine stronger by making her more pure. She won't have this weed of sin (regret or doubt about not becoming a nun) to weaken her faith, and, therefore, her strength in these trials and battles. Secondly, we cannot give what we ourselves have not received, so Lorraine cannot give exorcism to Janet until Lorraine herself has been exorcised. That God is the one in control is evident when Lorraine demands that Valak give her his name so she can have power over him: why on earth--or in heaven, for that matter, or even hell--would a demon give a Christian their name if the knowledge of that name is going to make the demon weaker in that battle and assure the Christian of victory?
The Clash had just released their first album in the summer of 1977, one of the songs being Remote Control and it's a remote control that plays a key role in a little, but pivotal scene of the film towards understanding the "real" Bill and his relationship with Janet. Janet has a fever and has to stay home sick; she's watching TV, some comedy show with men acting like ten-year-olds and dressing like women (no, it's not Monty Python, I would have recognized them).  Suddenly, the TV begins changing channels on its own: there are images of Queen Elizabeth II, and then images of Margaret Thatcher giving a speech; then the TV stays on a children's choir singing Christmas carols before going to a channel with just noise. We know that "noise" artistically employed means that there is a message hidden in what has happened, but we have to decipher it through everything, so let's take up the challenge. First of all, why would a film focus on Queen Elizabeth and Margaret Thatcher? Well, if women are really so oppressed as feminists claim, then why was one of the world's superpowers being ruled by two women? If women are oppressed, they would not have been in power. Feminists of course, will make the argument (much like people arguing racism) that women are secretly oppressed and don't have the same opportunities or make as much money as men; but there are plenty of men who don't have the same opportunities as other men or make as much money as other men, and that's because of skill sets and talents. Next, the Christmas carols, because the film takes place around Christmas, so is this random? No. The remote control ends up moving by itself into the leather chair that Bill died in, so we can say that Bill wants Janet to know that she's going to die, too (maybe Bill all ready knows Janet will die in the same chair he did) and instead of watching comedy shows, she should be worshiping God and singing His praises because she is going to die. The remote control ending up in Bill's chair is a note of awareness about the real "control" we have in our lives because all of us are going to end up like Bill: dead. We will then either go to heaven or hell, and how we spend each moment determines which of those places we will end up eternally. So, this is actually another way we can see Bill helping in the film, encouraging Janet not to see herself as a minority, and trying to get her to prepare for her own afterlife because of the events she has experienced (remember Maurice telling Lorraine about his daughter having just died and him wanting to know if there was a life hereafter; yes, there is). 
Because God wills it that way.
Valak is subject to God's will, end of discussion, Valak has no will of his own, he can only do what God permits him to do (please recall the Book of Job when the devil has to go before God to ask permission to test Job). Why does having the name of Valak give her power? Because knowing this is the spirit of a seducer and defiler, she knows God is not punishing her for having married Ed; Lorraine marrying Ed was God's will because they are stronger together, and Valak knows that and has tried to pull them apart (for more on visions of Ed's death, please see caption below). This leads us to our last point.
This is a bit of a throw-back, but just to offer another point of validation regarding seeing Valak's nun disguise as a commentary on Lorraine's spiritual state, we saw the same done in The Conjuring (scene at the top).  In this scene, the witch Bathsheba shows Lorraine how Lorraine's talent and skills has placed her "head and shoulders above" Ed because Ed isn't as gifted as Lorraine is. Once more, The Conjuring was a pro-socialist film that advocated everyone being equal, so for Lorraine to be so gifted and advanced spiritually was unacceptable to the pro-socialist agenda (for more, please see The Devil's Hour: The Conjuring and Demonic "Possessions").
Bullies.
When Ed first meets the Hodgson kids, he asks them about bullies, and Billy (the one who stutters) mentions that Janet always stuck up for them; Ed explains that this spirit is a bully and they have to stick up for Janet. Valak IS a bully, but when Johnny goes into the kitchen to stick up for Janet, Johnny doesn't fare well; why not? Because it's the guys who are really being bullied, and--just as we saw in X-Men: Apocalypse how Jean Grey had to defeat Apocalypse who had been unleashed by Moira MacTaggert, so, too, another woman--Lorraine Warren--must defeat the danger bullying Janet who unleashed it. Why? The demons of socialism. Billie and his stuttering is a metaphor of Ed, and even Bill Watkins' stuttering (his inability to say what he has to say in one sentence, he instead has to split up the sentence and tell Ed to cross the tapes) because these white men have been demonized through no fault of their own but forces dark and powerful (Valak) are trying to destroy people and using these men (Bill Watkins and Janet's ex-husband's adultery) to make women not want to be with men. Women without husbands is a driving point of socialism because the government wants to "be the husband" and run the household in place of the male (please remember the trailers for No Men Beyond This Point).
Peggy Hodgson tells Ed Warren that her ex-husband took all the music with him the day he left. Ed takes this to be a metaphor that the happiness left their lives when Mr. Hodgson left, but Peggy elaborates and tells him that, no, he really took all the music with him. Music is an important element of the whole film, from the first time the audience is taken to Enfield where the Hodgsons live, to the end of the film. Why? Given The Conjuring 2 is a horror film, we might expect sound effects and editing to be important from frights and scares, but this is all rock music, Christmas carols, children's rhymes and punk music we hear which one wouldn't really expect in a horror film. The first song is by The Clash, London Calling. but The Clash had had just released their first album that summer of 1977, The Clash, and London Calling wouldn't be recorded until the next year. Even though Elvis Presley died in August of 1977, Ed Warren sings his 1961 song, I Can't Help Falling In Love for the Hodgson family, and it's played again at the end of the film with Lorraine and Ed dancing. The song Bus Stop was originally released in 1966, ten years earlier than the film's events. The Bee Gees are also featured in the film with the song I Started a Joke from 1966 (in 1977, the Bee Gees soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever would become the greatest selling soundtrack of all time up to that point).  So, my point is, these songs were chosen for specific reasons, not because they were the songs on the top of the charts at the time of the events. To begin with, all these musicians are white men. There are no songs by, for example, The Supremes, three black women, who had twelve number one hits and played their last concert in London that summer of 1977 before permanently disbanding forever. Why not have one of their songs in the film? Because the film isn't about them, it's about the white men who are being used as pawns, for a greater evil to take control over families. As mentioned, The Clash had released their first album this summer (1977) and the song White Riot, about class and wages, is on there, but it wasn't used in the film, because The Conjuring 2 isn't a "white riot," but it is about the contributions to our everyday lives and well-being that white male musicians have contributed to. At one point in the film, Margaret things there is a demon in a dark shadow on her wall, but the image she's making out in the darkness ends up being one of the male celebrity posters on her wall (maybe Glenn Campbell?). The point is, however, that the white male celebrity IS being targeted as the demon responsible for making the family miserable because that is what Valak wants to happen, and that's what the same socialists in the world today want to happen who are, again, using white men as their pawns. One last important note about Elvis in this film. There is another recent blockbuster film about battles (The Conjuring 2 is about spiritual battles, but this film is about real blood and destruction battles) when an Elvis song, The Devil In Disguise is playing during the battle scene: Godzilla. In Godzilla, Godzilla battles the MUTOs while in Las Vegas as The Devil In Disguise plays in the background. From my post: "You look like an angel, talk like an angel, but I got wise: you're the devil in disguise, lyrics from Elvis Presley. Recently, on The Bible mini-series, which was the most watched TV show in history, the character playing Satan caused a stir because of his close resemblance to Barack Obama; additionally, it makes sense that we would be thinking of Obama and Las Vegas, because between 2008 and 2012 alone (not including the last two years), Obama has made 10 trips to Vegas, including the day after the 9/11 Benghazi attacks because he wanted to do a fund raiser" (please see Erasure & Time: Godzilla (2014) and the Muto Identities for more). Men and women professing to love each other undermines Obama's recent attempts at spreading "the gay" but also in the Democrats general strategy of making people believe they are not people capable of love, but only animals who have needs and instincts. In the image above, Peggy obviously misses her husband, and in spite of what he did, she just misses him and wishes he was back. Again, this is something feminists and socialists would hate to see and hear.  
I don't know what happened between The Conjuring and The Conjuring II, but this sequel is a complete turn-around from the first film. As always, there is more to the film than what I have time to analyze, so if you have found something I didn't cover, please, do not be discouraged, I'm sure you are right on your point: this is a huge narrative that covers a lot of complex ground, and they couldn't have done a better job. I can't wait for the next one.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
Here is Peggy holding the spirit board just before the furniture moves to block the doorway of Janet's bedroom. What is the significance of Janet having faked the attack in the kitchen (and the real life fake attacks done by the two sisters which make people think the whole thing was a fake)? Personal responsibility. She lied about what happened and so she has to take responsibility for it which almost leads to her death. But she also has to learn who she really is. Valak keeps having her possessed by Bill, i.e., turning Janet into a man. Towards the end, when Janet stands at the window and the glass shatters and cuts her face, that's a warning that her identity has been damaged: she's not a man, but without knowing herself, like Lorraine knowing that she is the wife of Ed, and Ed is the husband of Lorraine, and that's what God always intended, Janet would have a terrible life ahead of her, as do all who don't know God so they can come to know who they themselves are.