The many dangers of dabbling in occult practices

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Saul and the Witch of Endor (1st Samuel 28: 1-19)

Father Paul Desmarais, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Pawtucket, R.I., who has worked with teens and the occult for the last 10 years, recognizes the attractiveness of Wicca to adolescents in search of spiritual meaning.

“Our world has become so consumer-oriented, so goal- and appearance-driven, kids feel a real sense of powerlessness in their life,” he says. “I think kids do spell casting or try to learn it [spell casting] for love because they just feel this real deep hunger for something.”

Although Wiccans’ beliefs vary widely, when teens look for Wiccan spirituality, they’ll probably discover the following common notions:

Most Wiccans worship a dual deity, the Horned God and the Lady. Many believe that all gods and goddesses are aspects of these two gods.

Wiccans usually believe that the goal of human life is to live in harmony with nature, that all of reality is divine, that the spiritual and material world are one reality, that there is no one true right or only way, that there is a plurality within the divine oneness, and that ritual practice is the witch’s path to harmony. Practitioners live by one moral law called the “rede,” which says, “As long as it harms no one, do what thou wilt.”

Wicca, a neo-pagan form of witchcraft, isn’t Satanism. Followers don’t offer animal sacrifices or believe in the devil. For the most part, Wiccans don’t actively recruit teens, and most practice it on their own.

“They [Wiccans] aren’t out to get kids in a vengeful way,” says Carolyn May. “They honestly believe they are offering something good.”

Demonically Possessed

But at least one online posting reveals a disturbing message. A writer who identifies herself as Britt says: “I was talking to my friend Dave… and he is quite a devout Christian. … I just found out … that he used to be Wiccan. He said that he got so deeply into it, that he was nearly demonically possessed.”

Although Wicca and Satanism aren’t the same, most teens don’t know the difference, and this confusion can lead them into other occult practices.

“Dabbling leads to more dabbling,” says Father Desmarais. “One of the things parents don’t realize is that the spirit world is real, and any kind of dabbling in the spirit world opens you up to it. Kids run the risk of actually having manifestations of evil spirits, being harassed or bothered by evil spirits. Sometimes you say that to parents, and they look at you like you’re crazy. But then they hear the stories about what’s going on, and they go, ‘Oh, wow.'”

John Gibson adds that the more deeply involved someone gets in the occult, the more enticing it appears to that person.

“The inherent danger of ‘magickal’ [sic] addiction is :hat the more power you raise, the more intoxicated you get,” he says. “You start gathering more and more power for yourself, and it takes over your life.”

Indeed, The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others — even if this were for the sake of restoring their health — are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion” (No. 2117).

Gibson, along with May and others who work with teens, know firsthand the dangers of dabbling in occult practices.

“The biggest danger I see is the loss of our eternal soul,” May says.

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Neo-Pagan fantasy: A New Age beyond right and wrong

The term New Age refers to the imminent astrological era, the Age of Aquarius, expected to commence around 2070, and of no intrinsic significance to anyone except stellar cartographers. Yet the coming era is eagerly anticipated by disillusioned folks looking forward to a new age of enlightenment, freedom and the “sacred feminine” (Wiccans worship a “triple Goddess” associated with the various phases of the Moon). The Age of Pisces, in which we currently live, spans the whole of the Christian era, and many New Agers believe the passing of the Age of Pisces will coincide with the end of Christianity and patriarchalism.

A number of pseudo-Christian churches have sprung up in the US since the late 1800s promoting New Thought philosophies. The most popular of these is Unity, whose teachings embrace an emasculated form of Christianity in which Jesus is merely a “master teacher of universal truths”, and whose main emphasis is on spiritual healing. A real danger of this philosophy is that people with serious medical problems are often inspired to put their faith solely in unscientific methods such as positive affirmations and energy healing.

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This Week’s Ask Alice: Discerning Spirits. Dealing with apparitions.



Send A Question To Alice

She’ll answer as many questions as possible,
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

Carolyn Asks: My youngest daughter has twice seen a man during Mass that is wearing what she calls “Ellis Island” clothing. Yesterday at Holy Thursday service, she witnessed him during the consecration. She said he genuflected, put his cap on (touring cap) and walked out the back. He is older (she described a bowl cut hairstyle). She is very uncomfortable about this. As side note, recently, while spending the night at a friend’s house, she witnessed what she described as three ghosts . I called our priest about that. We went to confession asap. She slept on our floor for a month. She’s okay, now. She’s 16 years old. Should I find her a spiritual director?

Alice Answers: It is a privilege to answer your question. I believe your daughter has a special gift. She sees spirits because the eyes of her heart are open wide to Christ, and to the members of His Mystical Body.

Many years ago, during the consecration at Mass, I saw John, our deceased parish business manager. He was on the left side of the church, behind the altar. John had been kind to me when we served together on the Parish Council. Seeing him brought tears to my eyes by reminding me that, even in death, we remain connected, through the Body of Christ.

One evening at a party, I was telling a friend about seeing John’s spirit. An elderly priest approached and told me I had been given a gift.

Many people see spirits. Through the years, relatives, friends, and even complete strangers have shared their stories with me.

Spirits exist, whether or not we are aware of their presence. There are good and evil spirits all around us. Good spirits appear to bring us messages, comfort or assistance.

Sometimes, souls appear, asking us to pray for their release from Purgatory. Or, a soul might manifest, asking us to tell a loved one that they are well and happy.

Evil spirits also sometimes make their presence known, to people both good and bad. They tempt, taunt, disturb, and attempt to lure people away from God.

Scripture tells us to test the spirits:

“Beloved, do not trust every spirit, but put the spirits to a test to see if they belong to God.” (1John 4:1)

If your daughter has not engaged in occult practices, utilizing a Ouija board or Tarot cards, exploring Wicca, or visiting a psychic, then she most likely has not opened the door to evil spirits.

Since your daughter was cautious and uncomfortable toward the spirits she encountered, she seems to be wise in faith. If she has a good relationship with the Lord, then you can be reasonably sure that her mysticism comes from God.

As you have already demonstrated, frequent reception of the sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Penance are most important to your daughter’s spiritual growth and strength. Prayer and visits to the Blessed Sacrament will draw your daughter closer to the Lord.

Hopefully, she has some Catholic friends to help support and encourage her, in her faith.

Should you seek a spiritual director for your daughter? That’s a tough question!

Some priests, not having experienced mystical experiences themselves, may be squeamish and/or skeptical about such things, and may not be of much help. Pray that if God desires a spiritual director for your daughter, He will lead you to that person. A spiritual director doesn’t have to be a priest or religious, but might be a lay man or woman, who has been given the gift of wisdom.

“To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good…Prophecy is given to one; to another power to distinguish one spirit from another.” (1 Corinthians 12:7, 10)

Clearly, God has given your daughter spiritual gifts and a loving, devoted mother to watch over and guide her. She is indeed blessed! As the late, soon to be beatified, Pope John Paul II liked to say, “Be not afraid!”

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

EWTN Q&A Forum on the subject with related links

Book excerpt from Google Books by noted author, theologian and philosopher Peter Kreeft, on the subject (see pages 32-35).

Seven kinds of ghosts

Seven steps to self deliverance

Useful Prayer Resources

A collection of related Q&A’s

Click here to see all of Alice’s other columns

How a ‘teen witch’ found the Catholic Church

In her teens Elizabeth Dodd delved into the world of Wicca, casting spells and conjuring ‘spirits’. Then one day she went to Mass in secret.

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Exorcist explains how Catholics ought to live their faith

“Obviously, one should frequent the sacraments — especially Confession and Communion — pray every day, and cultivate a loving and fruitful relationship with Our Lord, Our Lady and the saints. In addition, one should do a regular (daily) examination of conscience, with prayers that the Holy Spirit might enlighten us to any secret sins.

“It goes without saying that Catholics should avoid any contact with the occult, Ouija boards, magic crystals, New Age practitioners, anything having to do with Wicca, witchcraft, or even the Goth movement. Also, we need to be conscious of Christ’s command to forgive others. We need to forgive those who harm us and practice charity to those who have hurt us. We have to be very, very careful not to nurse grudges or slights, or hold on to anger or refuse to forgive others for their crimes against us. All this is what we should be praying for daily.”

Read more at Matt C. Abotts’s column

Modern Pagan Revival Means That Your Neighbor Might Just Be A Witch

Today, witches can be as near as next door – and in the public square as well. Wicca is a conspicuous part of a burgeoning pagan revival in the Western world. Although hard numbers are impossible to find, there are about 200,000 pagans in the United States, 120,000 in Great Britain, and many fewer in other developed countries.

More and more, witches are coming out of the broom closet and gaining acceptance as just another religion in a multicultural mosaic. Pagan groups are incorporating as churches, led by divinity-schooled clergy legally empowered to perform marriages. The U.S. military allows pagan services on base, and pagans have their own antidefamation organizations to protect their civil rights.

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A Chilling Story: Conversion from the Occult

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I have chosen not to include my name in this autobiography, though everything this story contains is true.

I have written this memoir twice before, but to my dismay the evil one has repeatedly destroyed my work.

Praying to the Holy Spirit I decided that I would write this paper once more, and if God allowed it to be destroyed again, than I would give up and accept our Lord’s Will.

Well, as you can see, the third time was a charm. I pray that you, the reader, will see my life as an example of what not to do, and to steer your children from the dangers that I lived through.

May God, through the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, bless you all.

Warning: Some of the things contained in this true story may be too intense for young or very sensitive readers. 

Click here to read the article