Warnings From Occult Practitioners – Darkness and Greed
|By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2004|
|Are “unstable” people drawn to the occult—or does involvement with the occult create “unstable” personalities? The experts disagree.|
Warnings from Occult Practitioners
Darkness and Greed
- …it would seem that it is not merely the unstable who should avoid this sort of practice but we can guarantee no protection to ordinary balanced people, and the only safe procedure is to stop all automatism, once and for all.9
Charles Tart is the editor of Transpersonal Psychologies, which discusses numerous occult psychologies, including those from the traditions of yoga, Taoism, alchemy, Kabbalism, Buddhism, Sufism, and Christian mysticism. In the section titled “Patterns of Western Magic,” occultist William Gray discusses some of the hazards along the Western magical path:
- There are many dangers on all [e.g., occult] Paths of Life, and the Western Magical Way is no exception. The worst danger is definitely imbalance in every imaginable direction…. It is a fact that frequently after initiation ceremonies there are sudden “flare-ups” of outrageous behavior in the subject; analogous to inoculation reactions. Also symptoms of paranoia may develop…. A chief hazard especially of the Magical Path is breakdown of mental and physical health if safeguards are ignored. Diseases are nonetheless real because of psychosomatic origins. Most of these troubles arise through misuse of Magic applied to mind or body, and are traceable to wrong intentions, disregard of calculable risks, carelessness, or just lack of common sense. Genuine accidents can occur as with everything else, but the majority of ills through Magic are invited ones. For example, those who poison themselves with chemical drug compounds and exhaust their physical energies while contorting their consciousness into painfully unnatural knots can scarcely complain when the account for all this has to be paid. Their mistreatment of Magic deserves small sympathy. Magic makes its own retribution on misusers.
- It is also true with Magic that there are dangers arising from misinterpretation of intelligence gained from Inner sources, or acceptance of influences from antihuman entities…. The upshot of this results very often in troubles coming from sheer gullibility, deceived Inner senses, and plain credulity due to inaccurate Self-estimates. Human beings enjoy flattery and Pseudo-Self aggrandisement [sic]. They like supposing they have been singled out for special spiritual messages, and are delighted to discover an awakened ability to make contact with other than human types of consciousness. This makes them liable to any kind of confidence trick or subtle manipulation they may meet with from immediate Inner quarters which are not necessarily in favor of human progress.
Another warning comes from veteran psychic researcher Martin Ebon in an article in Psychic magazine. He also admits that in the psychic world “there is much darkness and greed” and likens participation to a game of Russian roulette: “A game in which the element of danger is ever present and must be acknowledged.” He lists representative case histories of the hazards, e.g.: 1) suicide (justified by the desire to experience the “wonders of the other world”); 2) the destruction of families through adulterous liaisons or divorce among those who accept a belief in reincarnation (these were justified because psychic revelations indicated the new partner was one’s “soul mate” in a previous lifetime and hence the perfect “karmic partner” for this life), 3) major financial loss through the deception of fraudulent mediums, (justified by vital instructions from the “other side”); 4) serious mental illness from various causes; and 5) bogus exorcists who financially prey on the gullible for “deliverance.”
Indeed, it is just such themes as these that are common among occult practitioners: death, immorality, financial loss or ruin, emotional illness, and fraud. Ebon proceeds to point out that for every case that comes to light, “dozens remain submerged, unrecognized, suppressed or ignored.”
Matters become more complex when we consider the assessment of Raymond Van Over of New York University, former editor of the International Journal of Parapsychology:
- My personal observations (which span over twenty years in studying the occult and meeting people with varying degrees of interest in it) bear out the conviction that unstable personalities dominate the occult population.
He concludes that the occult world:
- … is a world where few stabilizing or discriminating personalities function as a counter example. It provides fertile ground upon which neurotic and dangerously unstable personalities can flourish unquestioned.
Other authorities agree that occultism tends to attract the less-than-psychologically-healthful:
- So many stupid, wicked, irresponsible, and other inadequate people are attracted to Magic for the wrong reasons that it is scarcely surprising that their mismanagement of it is apt to make a very bad impression upon un-Magically minded people.
But are occult tragedies adequately explained by recourse to “unstable personalities,” or is this wishful thinking? While it is certainly true the occult draws unstable individuals, we suggest it is more often true that occult activity is the breeding ground producing such personalities in the first place. Those who view occult practices as high forms of spirituality will naturally view the human wreckage they see as resulting from some other cause, such as from previously unstable personalities who were simply unable to successfully integrate occult experiences properly. But to argue that the problem is not with psychic activity per se, but with the ignorance or defective personality of the practitioner, is ultimately to ignore the reality of what occult practice involves: spiritual warfare with demons and the corresponding possibility of God’s judgment.
In addition, we must ask another question. How many of these unstable personalities resulted from prior causes related to occultism? What of a family history of occult involvement that resulted in a person’s mental instability before he or she began occult practice? For example, Dr. Koch lists scores of examples where children of occult practitioners have suffered emotionally even though they were not directly involved in such practices themselves. “It is actually quite usual for such a marriage [of occultists] to produce children who are severely oppressed.”
Again, no one denies that some occultists have pre-existing emotional problems and were attracted to the occult by the hope of personal power and security. But in light of scriptural warnings, it is wrong to say that psychic activity is safe for stable people and harmful only for the unstable.
Consider another example of how occultists think they can engage in their practices safely. Paul Beard was president of the College for Psychic Studies in London. In “How to Guard Against Possession” he asserts that spirit contact is permissible and even desirable, as long as you contact the right spirits. But he also notes the presence of certain spirits who attempt to “break down the personality [they are] obsessing in order to reduce it to neurosis or even possible suicide.” This pattern of spirit obsession “is virtually universal and has been observed by the victims of such influences, as well as by psychic researchers and spiritualists in many parts of the world.”
How can we identify these harmful spirits in order to avoid them? Presumably, we can do so by knowing the kinds of arguments they are likely to give:
- Quite a number of people who are well aware in theory of the dangers of automatic writing nevertheless allow themselves to become obsessed, because they are insufficiently alert to see through and resist the types of argument which the influence [the spirit] will use in order to retain contact with them.
But what if the spirits are more clever than we are? What if they know enough about us to use arguments they know will be effective? What if they first establish trust and then have what seem to be perfectly valid explanations for problems that arise?
Further, how can we tell when a spirit is lying to us? Who can determine the motives of a spirit they know nothing about? If the spirit’s real intent is to hide its true nature and purpose, what protection is there against it?
For example, as a skeptic experimenting with a Ouija board, Alan Vaughan descended into what he termed “a pit of horror” where the “gates of hell opened.” He experienced “the most abject terror” and suffered what he called “the awful consequences” of spirit possession. Yet after it was all over, he went on to teach classes in psychic development!
On the one hand, he freely confessed, “I had been possessed by a spirit.” But did he ever suspect that additional goals were intended by the entity? Vaughan remarks, “If the possession by Nada [the spirit] and my consequent self-exorcism had been terrifying, they had the net good result of propelling me full time into parapsychology.” But how does Vaughan know this wasn’t the hidden purpose of the spirit all along?
In other words, Vaughan concluded that his real problem was simply one of, as he terms it, a “profound ignorance” of the wise use of psychic activity. This ignorance could be remedied by the wisdom of a parapsychological discipline that would prevent the kinds of tragedies he personally experienced. His own “deliverance” proves this.
On the other hand, one might think that the spirit would be happy to leave during the “self-exorcism” if possession were not its real concern. What if its real purpose was to produce a respected defender of parapsychology—one who would lead many other people into the influence of the spirit world through “safe” and “responsible” psychic development? This was indeed the end result: By temporarily possessing someone open to the occult, the spirit had strategically maneuvered Vaughan into the realm of parapsychology and a belief in the “proper” use of psychic knowledge. Vaughan became a respected psychical researcher who influenced thousands through his editorial and other work with Psychic magazine.
Again, those persons who practice occult magic often warn of its dangers. Practicing magician David Conway states, “Magic offers us the most effective way of contacting the supernatural reality we have been discussing.” But as we saw earlier, the occult rituals he refers to involve the generation of a severely altered state of consciousness—literally, a temporary madness—which culminates in spirit possession and envisages potentially lethal hazards.
In addition, Conway shows how the various magical methods of cursing others can lead to great mental damage. Elsewhere he discusses demons. Even the adept can easily be deceived by demons’ “consummate skill.” Coming from someone who has spent a lifetime in occult practice, his insights are highly relevant:
- Everyone who reads occult literature or has any experience of magic will soon be brought up againstforms which seem every bit as personal as the adept himself…. We shall call them evil for the good reason that given the chance they would do us immeasurable harm. The shapes generally assumed by demons are far from horrendous—at least to begin with, when their owners may still be trying to give a good impression: Little children, gentle old folk and beautiful young people of either sex are some of their favourite human disguises. Though not themselves human, they will frequently display as much resourcefulness as the most cunning human being. They will flatter, charm, threaten and cajole the adept with consummate skill in an attempt to gain the upper hand, and the unwary magician can all too easily succumb to their clever ploys… their chief aim which is to destroy anyone, in this case the magician, who dares approach their domain….
- From this there arises the ever present need for caution before you scale the heights of magic. Even in the foothills there lurk dire perils, which is why the rites so far described should not be undertaken lightly. When someone sets out deliberately to contact the astral world, be that world inside or outside his mind, he at once faces many dangers which only knowledge can help to overcome. But even the cleverest and most knowledgeable magician realizes that the demons of the pit are waiting for the one false step that will deliver him to them.
Conway proceeds to observe that if your ritual intention is a negative (i.e., evil) one, in that case: “These creatures will, without too much persuasion, do their utmost to help you realize it since their appetite for destruction and discord appears to be insatiable.”
All this is supposedly “white” as opposed to “black” magic. But the attempt to give such occult activity religious trappings and a benign “white” or “pure” image only underscores the subtlety of the devil, who uses every possible guise to suit his purposes. Even sincere “white” witches and other “good” occultists sometimes confess they fail to live up to their image; in the end, they discover they will also use their powers for evil.
Yet, one might suspect that this temptation would be yielded to more readily than claimed, given the following facts: 1) magic is an evil activity to begin with, 2) man has a fallen, self-seeking nature, and 3) the ever-present temptation exists to use power for solely pragmatic ends, not to mention the deliberate influence of demons on the “white” practitioner also. As a former black witch observes:
- I will mention here that although white witches claim never to harm anyone, I can say that I’ve known white witches who did so. Practices called voodoo by black witches were followed by white witches, who use “fithfath,” a doll made of clay in the image of the person they wish to harm.
Dr. Koch concludes, “The cost of indulging in magic is extremely high. Every example drawn from counselling work of Christians reveals the terrifying effects.”
But even what most people consider relatively harmless or “milder” forms of the occult, such as divination, are not harmless. W. B. Crow, writing in A History of Magic, Witchcraft and Occultism, alleges of any type of divination, that it is “nearly always dangerous.” Finally, the famous medium Stanton Moses confessed of his own profession, “It would not be honest of me to disguise the fact that he who meddles with this subject does so at his own peril.”
In conclusion, occult practitioners are well aware of the hazards of the occult. Unfortunately, they offer a humanistic perspective. The psychic realm is seen as merely another frontier for man to explore and conquer for his own glory. Admittedly, they say, occult practice has its hazards, but which frontier doesn’t? Given insight, patience, and wisdom, man can benefit greatly from this exploration.
But this new perspective neglects the warnings given by God. In a questionable area already littered with human tragedy and spiritual destruction, woven with endless unknowns, and at best ordered by conflicting human speculation, certainly the one sure voice that should be heeded is that of God Himself.
- William G. Gray, “Patterns of Western Magic” in Charles Tart, ed., Transpersonal Psychologies (New York: Harper & Row, 1977), pp. 464-466.
- Martin Ebon, “Psychic Roulette,” Psychic, Dec. 1975, p. 56.
- Ibid., p. 58.
- Raymond Van Over, “Vampire and Demon Lover” in Martin Ebon, ed., The Satan Trap: Dangers of the Occult (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1976), p. 275.
- Ibid., p. 108.
- Gray, in Tart, Transpersonal Psychologies, p. 466.
- Kurt Koch, Occult ABC (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1981), p. 275.
- Paul Beard, “How to Guard Against Possession” in Ebon, “Psychic Roulette,” p. 198.
- Ibid., p. 186.
- Alan Vaughan, “Phantoms Stalked the Room…” in Ebon, “Psychic Roulette,” pp. 155, 161.
- Ibid., p. 162.
- David Conway, Magic: An Occult Primer (New York: Bantam, 1973), p. 14.
- Ibid., p. 180.
- Ibid., pp. 195-198.
- For documentation on white magic from a Christian perspective see Kurt Koch, Christian Counseling and Occultism (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1972), pp. 145-152, 192-194; and his Between Christ and Satan (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, n.d.), pp. 65-78; also Merrill Unger, Demons in the World Today, chapter 5.
- Doreen Irvine, Freed From Witchcraft (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1973), p. 102.
- Koch, Between Christ and Satan, p. 89.
- W. B. Crow, A History of Magic, Witchcraft and Occultism (North Hollywood, CA: Wilshire, 1968), p. 29.
- In Nandor Fodor, An Encyclopedia of Psychic Science (Secaucus, NJ: Citadel, 1974), p. 235.