Why the Increase
in Occultism?

© Spotlight Ministries, 2004

Witchcraft, spell casting, contact with spirits, paganism, and other occult beliefs and practices are making headway in modern society at a phenomenal rate these days. This article will examine some of the reasons for this growth.

A big area where the occult realm is making headway these days in the whole realm of fiction and fantasy. Young people, especially, are being drawn to witchcraft and other areas of the occult initially by becoming interested in fictional aspects of it. From this, the jump into the real world of the occult is an easy, more familiar one to make. Even witches themselves recognize this. For example, the book Wiccan Wisdom Keepers quotes Patricia Morrison, who is a Priestess, and wife of deceased rock star, Jim Morrison (The Doors). The book states:

"Patricia Morrison doesn't train people formally, but many have been introduced to Witchcraft and Paganism through her memoir Strange Days and her science-fantasy series The Keltiad. "I consider that I've made the Craft accessible to people who would never read a book about Witchcraft per se, but who would read a fantasy novel or a memoir of life with a rock star. Its my way of sneaking round to the back door then holding it open for them to come inside." (Patricia Morrison, quoted in Wiccan Wisdom Keepers, p. 112).

Probably the most popular fictional books on witchcraft at present is the Harry Potter series. For more on this see the following link: Harry Potter.

As well as fantasy books there are a number of fictional television programmes and films that are wooing young people into the occult. Special effects and exciting story lines help to lure people in. In such a context, occultism is seen to be cool, slick, and sophisticated. In the past, witches were seen in one wrong extreme - such as ugly old women, but today's witches are portrayed in the opposite extreme - young, glamorous, beautiful women, who are successful and have everything.

One example is the TV show Charmed. This is a fantasy drama aimed at a young people's audience, teenagers and up. The series focuses on three sisters, who learn of the history of witchcraft in their family line and consequently discover that they themselves possess inherent, latent, magical powers, which they begin to use. The sisters operate in various occult powers such as telekinesis and seeing into the future and have contact with numerous, spirits, demons and ghosts. Spells are regularly used and there, is reference to and use of, a "Book of Shadows".

A very disturbing trend is seen when one examines some of the Charmed fan sites on the internet. Mixed amongst the fictional information, there is information and links to other sites, on how to cast your own spells. As well as the many web sites out there in cyber space, a book on the Charmed series also directs young people in how they may set up their own ouija board. But the truth is that the ouija board is extremely dangerous and it is totally irresponsible to direct young people in this way. Even a number of witches will rightly warn people that ouija boards are dangerous (For more on this see the article: The Ouija Board on this site).

Another equally popular television programme is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As with Charmed, in among the fantasy of vampires and special effects, there are real references to occultism: witchcraft, spells, spirits, demons. Neo-paganism is also presented as an attractive and glamorous belief system for young people by a character called Willow.

Some people may argue that fictional programmes with an occult theme do not lead viewers into the real thing. For some, this may certainly be so, but for others, this fantasy realm acts as a spring board into the real world of the occult. It is not simply a few Evangelical Christians who are saying this. Even some Pagan groups recognize that all of the attention that television, film, and literature is focusing on occultism encourages young people to get involved in the real thing.

"The Pagan Federation, which represents druids and witches, says it has been "swamped" with calls following teenage programmes featuring good witches. Speaking to BBC News Online the Pagan Federation's Steve Paine, the high priest of a coven, said the hit US drama Buffy and the highly successful Harry Potter books were popular amongst practising witches. "They are taken as fantasy entertainment. But they do encourage people to think about different forms of spirituality", he said. The Pagan Federation, which deals with about 100 enquiries a month from youngsters who want to become witches, does not allow anyone under the age of 18 to become a member." Most of the enquiries are from 14 to 18 year-olds, and are dealt with "reactively" by a specially-appointed youth officer, an Essex based schoolteacher." (BBC News Online, Buffy Draws Children to Witchcraft, Friday, 4 August, 2000, Full article at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/entertainment/newsid_864000/864984.stm).

Likewise, witches Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone have observed:

"...Paganism is drawing so many young people at present, as can be seen by the media's interest in it in television and film. It is destined to become a major force in the religious world by the end of the twenty-first century." (Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone, Quoted in Wiccan Wisdom Keepers, p. 58).

Similarly, Wiccan author Christina Seville, writes:

"Thankfully, the perceived role of the witch has now started to change from that of a villain to a wise and honourable hero or heroine, as seen in television series like Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Bewitched, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and films like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and The Fellowship of the Ring..." (Christina Seville, Practical Wicca, p. 6).

So the truth is that fictional characters like Buffy, the sisters in Charmed, and even Harry Potter, can indeed lead some children into the occult, a fact admitted by practicing occultists themselves. Should we be concerned that children are getting involved in the occult? Most Christians would certainly say "yes, there are great spiritual dangers", but even some of those in the occult community are honest enough to say that it is dangerous for children to dabble with powers they do not understand. For example, in an interview, respected Witchcraft author , Maxine Sanders, was asked: "Why were you concerned that your children were free not to adopt the Craft?" To which she replies:

"Because I don't think the Craft is for children. I really don't think that it is. I've had too many experiences now where even adults can be disturbed by dabbling in witchcraft." (Witches: An Encyclopaedia of Paganism and Magic, p. 139).

Even though many Christians and churches may be disturbed at the growth of occultism they need to bear some of the brunt of the blame for its growth. Some people who have become involved with areas of occultism have had some prior contact with churches, but have become disillusioned in some way. Unfortunately, there are a number of churches out there that are not the best advertisement for Christianity. People get involved with such churches, have a bad experience, then, understandably (but wrongly) tar all of Christianity with the same brush. Churches and its people are not perfect and like any group of people, will let others down from time to time. However, there are some churches out there that have a worse track record than others! Those who become involved in the occult need to know that if they have had such a negative experience that all churches are not like this and that there are many churches that do operate in Christ’s love.

Another area where some churches fail is in the area of the supernatural. Again, it is unfortunate that some churches seem to be nothing more than a sort of social club. In some churches there is no evidence of God moving supernaturally and meeting people at their points of need. Human beings are physical, but also have a spiritual dimension to them. When this spiritual dimension is not met in a church then spiritually hungry people begin to look elsewhere to have the void filled. This is when some find some of their spiritual needs met in occultic practices. The Church needs to be moving supernaturally and helping people to experience God as well as learning about Him through doctrine. If they fail to do these things, we shouldn’t be surprised when people look for alternatives.

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