And Occult Practices
from a lecture delivered in Cochranton, PA after high school students were involved in animal dismemberment and sacrifice.
Some of this is going to sound strange. If you do not believe in God, you probably don't believe in the devil. And even if you do believe in God, you may not believe in a devil. You may consider it all hocus-pocus or superstition. And for people in a scientific age, it may be hard to believe or understand that stuff is really going on. But bear with me. As one social worker has said, "whether you believe it or not; they believe it and what they do about their beliefs affects us all."
I am going to speak to you from a biblical perspective to help you understand what is going on. And I am certain, that in spite of the advances in science in the last generation, nothing in science is going to help explain to you what is going on. But the bible has known about this stuff for thousands of years and it teaches us how to deal with it.
There is a distinction between being led by Satan, and Satan worship. While not all of us have worshiped Satan, we have all been led and some are still being led by Satan. Whether you believe in Genesis literally is not important. In the Bible, God is saying something to you about your relationship to him. Adam means man, and Eve, means mother. So if you wish to look at it as a parable, we each stand in the place of Adam or Eve; and the parable reveals our relationship to God.
The story of Genesis is that Adam and Eve are placed in a garden and are given a choice whether they are going to trust God and obey God, or whether they are going to be independent and take control of their own lives and run them as they think best.
The basic teaching of Satanism, in contrast to what the bible teaches, is that we can get control over our own lives, and that we can do what we want, and we don't have to worry about what God says. In other words, we can be our own gods.
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "for God knows that when you eat of (the tree of knowledge of good and evil) your eyes will be opened and you will be like God…" (Genesis 3: 4-5)
In as much as you seek to be self-willed and independent and run your own lives, you are following the leading of Satan; following exactly his teaching. You may be doing it without being aware of it, and to a lesser degree than those who practice outright Satanism, but you are being misled by him all the same if you seek to run your own life, because you are following his advice. And that is why every single one of us need to repent if we are going to combat Satanism, because you can't fight him while your are still serving him and being led by him. By contrast, Adam and Eve were called to obey God. If we submit to God and trust him instead of running our own lives as Satan wishes, we are putting God on the throne of our lives and taking ourselves off of that throne; and in doing that, Satan is defeated. Satan does not want that. His desire is for us to continue to assert our independence and self-will, and that is the battle that everyone of you will face.
Beyond "getting control over your own life," which is Satan's enticement to us, Satanists believe we can also get control over the world and other human beings through magic, witchcraft, and sorcery. This is where people begin to get involved in the occult and outright Satanism.
In the olden days, people tried to control their gods through spells, incantations, and knowing the "name," of their specific deity. In contrast, when God called Moses (Exodus 3), God would not tell Moses his name, because God will not allow himself to be put under our control. We can't use formulas or bible passages or prayers to control God and get him to do what we want him to do — that would be magic, instead we must submit to him as willing servants and put our life in his hands.
People who do not turn towards God, may chose the old option of magic, trying to get control over the deity. That is basically what the occult is: the use of hidden knowledge or power or incantations to try and influence nature, God, demons, other people, or the future. The word occult means secret or hidden. And those who become members of an occult group, such as a witches' coven or a satanic sect, are often initiated with secret rituals or rites. And beyond that, they are given incantations and spells to make supernatural things happen in the world. (Voodoo and voodoo dolls are an example). Occult groups are secretive organizations, and outsiders do not usually know their leaders. A satanic sect in the school, for instance, may have adult leaders outside the peer group; but the youths will not reveal these adults to outsiders in order to preserve the mysteriousness of the group. And part of the attraction of these occult groups is the fact that people who have hidden or secret knowledge often feel special, and if they are lonely, they may be tempted by this desire to be part of an elite group.
Now, this is the part that gets really hairy. What you may not realize and something you may want to dismiss or deny, is that these occult groups that deal in witchcraft, sorcery, divination, etc. have a real and significant supernatural power. The power and the effect of being involved in Satanism is real. Things of the supernatural do take place. Levitation has been witnessed, mediums, or channellers, as they are now called, really do experience being taken over or possessed by an outside force. Curses and spells sometimes do work their affects upon others. (Exodus 7:8-13. Moses does miracles by the power of God, but the Egyptian magicians and sorcerers are able to do the same things by their secret arts. They turn staffs into snakes! the power according to the bible is real and not just superstition. Cf. also 1 Samuel 28; Acts 8: 9-11.) And that is why the attraction to these groups is so powerful.
It is also is the reason that all these occult practices are condemned by God; because the power is real but it comes from a source other than from God. If people are seeking knowledge and power but not from a loving relationship with God, they are seeking power by playing with demonic forces. And the motivation, unfortunately, for these involvements is often only to further some selfish advantage; to be seen as special; to get money; or to get control over others. But basically, all these things are ways of serving the self, and rejecting trust in God. It is doing what we want and following Satan's leading, just like Adam and Eve did.
Listing of occult practices and modern equivalents.:
In Deuteronomy, God gives a list of occult practices that are strictly forbidden because they are Satanic in origin. Therefore no one should be involved in any of these things. The list oddly enough is just as applicable today as it was 3,000 years ago when it was written. And strangely, the very same practices the bible condemns are still going on today. You would think, if there was no reality behind them, they would have died out by now, because they seem like superstition. But the fact is, they still exist because the devil is still alive and exercising his power through them.
When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. Deuteronomy 18: 9-12.
(The point is: God gives these things as a warning to us, not to punish us, but to let us know that these things are not from him and are dangerous; so we know not be involved. That is why it is important that you know what the occult is, so you can stop yourself and prevent your children from ever being involved.)
Divination: "the art or practice that seeks to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge usually by the means of augury(looking at omens) or by the aid of supernatural powers. Modern examples: clairvoyance, ESP, astrology (horoscopes), Ouija boards, palm reading, fortune telling, reading tea leaves, Tarot cards, I-Ching.
Sorcery: comes from the Greek work, pharmakia, from which we get the words pharmacology and pharmacist. The root of the word means "drugs." Sorcery was condemned because these people chiefly made compounds for poisons, for drugs, which induced hallucinations and altered states, and they made drugs for abortions. Modern examples: cocaine, marijuana, heroin, LSD, PCP, are all drug compounds which induce addiction, dependence, or altered states. Drug use is usually associated with Satan worship or occult groups.
Casting Spells: The use of incantations to call demons or unknown spiritual forces to effect changes in the material world by influencing nature or by affecting a person's will, emotions or mind. Modern examples: Voodoo, witchcraft, Satanic initiation rites or curses, etc.
Medium or spiritist: "an individual held to be a channel of communications between the earthly world and the world of spirits." Mediums describe this as being taken over by an outside spiritual power. The bible says they are being used or possessed by demons.
Modern examples: seances, channeling (a New Age phenomenon now the current rage, just another word for spiritism), Dungeons and Dragons.
D & D is a game that is often provides an entry into the occult and Satan worship. The use of spells and incantations is an essential part of the role playing in the game, but also, all players are encouraged to serve a "deity." Many of the possible deities are devils or demons. And the philosophy of the game is that the players should allow themselves to be used as instruments by these "gods." (I.e., players are encouraged to be channels for supernatural forces.)
"Serving a deity is a significant part of D&D, and all player characters should have a patron god. Alignment assumes its full importance when tied to worship of a deity." Deities and Demigods Instruction Manual.
Without knowing it, children and youth may be involved with witchcraft and summoning demons simply be getting involved with the "playing" of a game.
Human Sacrifice ("passingthrough the fire") & the Black Mass: Essential to performing the worship of Satan is ritual sacrifice. They believe they receive power from blood and from sexual relations, and so as part of the rite they may even eat human flesh or drink the blood of animals. Nudity and sexual intercourse on an "altar" are often part of the rites. The slaughter of animals in sacrifice is an early stage of Satanic worship, but eventually it progresses into human sacrifice and murder as the worshipers become more involved.
The black mass involves a mockery of Christ and the Christian Lord's supper. They may use an upside down cross and spit on it or a broken cross. They may denounce Christ and "Hail Satan." The may drink blood, blood mixed with urine or human feces.
Acclimation: getting used to things which were unfamiliar. In the middle of summer, a 48 day seems frigid; but in the middle of February, a 48 day seems refreshingly warm and balmy. How we feel about something all depends upon what we are used to. In our culture, we are now getting used to Satanic practices and occult practices. It has been so gradual that we may not be aware of what is happening. Like Satanic symbols being introduced by Heavy Metal rock groups, the youth just adopt the styles and symbols of their "heroes" without even being aware what these things represent. It may start innocently, and most young people have no desire to adopt the values or really worship Satan, but the problem is, they can get involved without realizing what is happening.
Things to Watch for at Home and in our Culture.
Pentagram: a five pointed star. With one point up it symbolizes witchcraft; upside down it symbolizes Satan because it resembles a goat (an unclean animal in Judaism). Often used in worship or as an amulet. A sign used by some heavy metal rock groups like Motley Cre.
Swastikas: a sign of violence associated with the occult and cult religions.
Heavy Metal or Hard Rock Music: Some, and only some, rock groups have an open allegiance to Satan. Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Uriah Heep, and Ozzy Ozbourne contain lyrics or album covers or song titles which openly encourage demon worship, the occult, or Satan worship. Osbourne's on stage antics include the slaughter of live animals. Other rock groups may just encourage immorality.
Watch for Pentagrams or other Satanic symbols on album jackets, T-shirts, and in lyrics.
Pornography: pornography, especially child pornography, bestiality, and homosexuality/lesbianism are often associated with the occult.
Video Games: There are even video games that are modeled on D&D. In them, wizards and sorcerers battle demons, spirits, ghosts, orcs, etc. Rygar is one. The point is that these games get the kids used to the world of demonic.
Cartoons: "Visionaries," is a cartoon that promotes the exercise of supernatural power through spells, incantations, and the calling forth of totemic powers. "He-Man" was all about sorcery and sorcerers. Even a cartoon as seemingly benign as the "Smurfs" has Gargamel, the chief sorcerer who uses pentagrams and ritual incantations. The point is that our children are getting used to these things and see them as normal without ever knowing that they are occult.
Movies: Many of the recent horror movies, dating back to Rosemary's Baby, have portrayed Satan, Satanism, demons, spiritualistic horror. Many portray evil and its power and use these things to create fear and a feeling of helplessness in the viewer. Some of these movies deal with the demonic comically to lower our resistance and our opposition. My Demon Lover and Ghostbusters are examples of these. Even The Exorcist painted a portrait of demonic possession, but none of these movies gives the viewer the true remedy.
What to look for in behavior at home:
A violent or rebellious attitude, especially one that has no apparent reason. Withdrawal from family activities. Long periods of isolation in ones room. Drug involvement. Satanic symbols or occult paraphernalia, like Ouija boards. If the family has ties to the church, then a sudden resistance to church life. Or argumentativeness in church and adversity to the teachings of Jesus.
What to do if you find involvement.
1). The first step is to get help before confronting your child. Just removing the occult and obscene paraphernalia will not reverse the problem. These are only outward signs. The problem is internal: they have taken these things into their consciousness and just fighting with them about their allegiances to their idols will not address the real problem. You will need professional help. Since secular psychology denies the reality of the demonic, secular psychologists may not be prepared to deal with the spiritual dimensions of such involvement. So, your first step should be to get help from your clergy. They are prepared to be with you over the long haul, and they will go confront your child with you. They are also know what other options can be taken.
2) Even if the person involved renounces these occult involvements or worship, they will still need counseling, because it is a whole person change. Local pastors are not necessarily equipped to deal with long term counseling needs, but they can refer if they need to.
3) Finally, I know this is a mixed crowd of the curious and the serious, but I must say this from my experience. There is no middle ground; Jesus is the only one who has the power to combat this Satanic power. If you are just curious about what is going on around you, eventually you will just become fearful as you gain more knowledge. When dealing with the supernatural, you must rest in Jesus' power and forget your own; for he has already defeated Satan. You are only susceptible to Satan's power if you are not following Christ. If Jesus is Lord of your life, Satan will have no power over you. If Jesus is not Lord of your life, ask him to be Lord and ask him to forgive you for following Satan's leading in your self-will. If you have had any occult involvement, ask Jesus to forgive you for it and renounce it in Jesus' name so that Satan's influence over your life will be broken.
Conclusion: We have witnessed a growing manifestation of the occult and Satanic in the last 30 years in our country. And rather than going away, the problem is getting worse, because it is not just a fad, but a sign of real spiritual forces being unleashed on a society that has turned away from God. The ritual murders, the kidnappings, Satanic cult motivated suicides and murders of family members are only the beginning signs of the depravity to be unleashed. A nation that has had the gospel, but which has turned away from God towards demons and devil worship is on the road to destruction.
During the last days, Paul says, " The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of deceiving miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason, God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness," 2 Thessalonians 2: 14
It may be that we have entered these last days.
Jefferis Kent Peterson,
Delivered to the Cochranton School System PTO after kids had been caught smearing blood on graves and threatening to kill others on Halloween.