Warnings From Occult Practitioners – Pitfalls of Psychic Practice

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2004
A widespread myth in our society is that psychic practices are sometimes good. We begin by looking at the concerns expressed by occult practitioners themselves about these practices.

Warnings from Occult Practitioners
Pitfalls of Psychic Practice

Who are the casualties in warfare? The disobedient, the unarmed, the weak, the undisciplined, and those with illusions about the war being somewhere else. So too are the casualties in spiritual warfare. —Michael Green, I Believe in Satan’s Downfall

A widespread myth in our society is that psychic practices are something good. Perhaps they are controversial or questioned as to their legitimacy, but they are certainly not considered harmful. In the following material we will prove this perspective is indefensible and offer specific documenta­tion from a variety of sources and categories.

We will begin by examining the concerns of occult practitioners themselves, who, as we found, are very aware of the pitfalls of psychic practice. Unfortunately, such persons often order their thinking along the lines of a “careful versus careless” approach to the occult, and it is primarily the latter which they warn about. This view is itself problematic because it is not how one approaches occult practice that determines safety. All occult practice should be avoided on the basis of God’s warnings and the fact that psychic exploration easily links one to a demonic realm that is, put sim­ply, beyond human capacity to master. For example, in his astute study of human evil, People of the Lie, M. Scott Peck points out that, among humans, evil people are far more prevalent than most suspect and that “these who are evil are masters of disguise; they are not apt to wittingly disclose their true colors—either to others or to themselves.”[1] If this is true among men, how much more must it be true among those spirits who are even yet more cunning and more evil?

For example, no rational person goes swimming in shark-infested waters. The only people who do either don’t believe in sharks, don’t know sharks are present, or are just plain foolhardy. Of course, there are those who might enter the water because they have been assured the fins they see are the fins of playful dolphins. But in a moment of terror they will discover too late that a hor­rible mistake was made.

Nevertheless, those who practice the occult today believe in the safety of their activities for a variety of reasons.

Psychics are convinced their psychic gifts are from God (hence “godly”), or that they constitute benevolent higher powers of the mind available to anyone. What could be wrong with seeking God? What could be dangerous about developing human potential?

Occultists who engage in more serious rituals, but are carefully trained by adepts, believe they have the personal wisdom to conduct their practices safely. One Satanist told us that because he was united to the powers of darkness he had no reason to fear them.

Parapsychologists believe they retain the safeguards of science in their research into occult phenomena.

Followers of Eastern paths accept the promises of their guru that he will protect them from pos­sible harm. But in every case, these people are pursuing a path of potential danger.

Unfortunately, even when confronted with the hazards, most of those involved seem to feel that the dangers don’t apply to them personally and that somehow they are beyond the level of suscepti­bility. Such people may trust the “assurances” of their spirit guides, or feel that they have advanced to “higher levels of consciousness” and are “in control,” or that they are simply neutral scientific investigators, who won’t be affected by some silly superstition of occult dangers or “curses.”

But who has ever explored the psychic realm and claimed they have understood its true nature? If our ignorance of the physical universe is still galactic, how much more of the unseen universe? Is not humankind’s perpetual inability to ever know what really goes on in that world, and the dangers that might exist, sufficient reason at least for caution?

Why would a loving God warn against occult activity to begin with if such activity were harm­less—or helpful (Deuteronomy 18:9-12)?

When the American spiritualist movement began with the Fox sisters in 1848, the first messages from the spirits were typically warm and loving: “Dear Friends… you must proclaim these wonderful truths to the world. This is the dawning of a new era. God is with you and good spirits will protect you in this vital endeavor.”[2] But after a lifetime of proselytization for spiritism—and a life of misery, including being led into alcoholism and immorality—Margaret Fox herself confessed the following publicly in 1888: “I am here tonight, as one of the founders of spiritualism, to denounce it as abso­lute falsehood… the most wicked blasphemy the world has ever known.”[3]

Former witch Audrey Harper initially thought witchcraft a good thing. But it took 17 years of psychiatric care to undo the damage it did to her.[4]

If real dangers exist in the physical world, can we logically expect the spiritual world to be full of goodness? If a race of more powerful beings inhabits that world, if their hatred for man is proven, if experimentation can mean deception with eternal consequences, who in their right mind would risk everything? Isn’t it possible that the fact of man’s historic belief in demons and devils tells us some­thing about learning a lesson the hard way? Is it not just possible that malevolent entities, far greater in power (2 Peter 2:11), would seek to deceive men in such a way as to ensure their spiritual death? Are there not thousands of personal testimonies to these very facts: that deceptive and evil spirits exist, and that their purpose is man’s spiritual and other destruction? Then one can but wonder how psychic practitioners think themselves immune from all dangers.

In considering the warnings given by occultists, we must reemphasize they simply don’t go far enough because, biblically speaking, they are dealing in a realm “which they do not understand” (Jude 8,10). Indeed, usually they are openly promotional. They believe in “safe” and “mature” mediumism, in the “responsible” development of psychic abilities, in the “scientific” investigation of the occult—in the prevalent error that with the right wisdom or information man in his own power apart from God is able to distinguish spiritual good from spiritual evil.

For example, one prominent psychic researcher stated his belief that greater personal develop­ment of mediumism and knowledge of its ways is the best safeguard against its dangers.

Mediumship is necessary! Without it there would be no means of knowledge, no instruments through which to study the psychic plane; but mediumship, in exact proportion to the magnetic powers it confers, becomes a greater and ever greater source of danger, the further its development is carried, unless the control of those powers can be handled with a firm hand and understood in all its aspects. Knowledge is the best safeguard, and knowledge will be best obtained by those who can study all the conditions of psychic development.[5]

Expertise is certainly necessary for something like handling explosives, but occult knowledge per se would seem to be useless when confronting lying spirits whose primary goal is deception and entrapment. This was the conclusion of no less an authority than the famous eighteenth-century medium Emanuel Swedenborg:

When spirits begin to speak with a man, he ought to beware that he believes nothing whatever from them; for they say almost anything. Things are fabricated by them, and they lie…. They would tell so many lies and indeed with solemn affirmation that a man would be astonished…. If a man listens and believes they press on, and deceive, and seduce in [many] ways…. Let men beware therefore [and not believe them].[6]

Psychical researcher J. D. Pearce-Higgins, vice chairman of the Churches Fellowship for Psy­chical and Spiritual Studies (Great Britain) writes of the hazards of Ouija board use and automatic writing in his “Dangers of Automatism.” He points out that people who endorse such methods have little understanding of the disastrous possibilities:

I am a little surprised to find that some parapyschologists tend to take a rather optimistic view of the possible dangers. But those who write in this way have had little experience of the disastrous psychological effects that can be produced; it is precisely unstable individuals who resort to this form of experiment. Inevitably, the personalities of young people who try this method are still in a formative and therefore unstable period. Such disturbances are difficult to cure, and there seems little reference to them in the literature of psychiatry.[7]

While advocating allegedly safe mediumism, he still warns:

These apparently simple methods of attempting contact with the dead are extremely dangerous. All the experienced mediums I know say the same—don’t do it!—and they know, because they so often have people brought to them who are obsessed or possessed by some mischievous or damaging spirit who has got control of them and won’t let go. They find they are compelled to go on with automatic writing—at all hours of day and night, they may begin to hear hallucinatory voices telling them to do stupid and filthy things; they are no longer master in the house of their own minds and souls. It is often a difficult matter to cure them, and there aren’t many mediums who can do it.[8]

He concludes with a somewhat unique warning for a parapsychologist, at least in the realm of automatism:

So 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]

(to be continued)


  1. M. Scott Peck, People of the Lie (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1983), p. 104.
  2. Cf. Raphael Gasson, The Challenging Counterfeit (South Plainfield, NJ: Bridge Publishing, 1966), p., 48.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Russ Parker, Battling the Occult (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1990), p. 82.
  5. Hereward Carrington, Your Psychic Powers and How to Develop Them (Van Nuys, CA: Newcastle, 1975 rpt.), p. 203.
  6. Samuel M. Warren, A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg (New York: Swedenborg Foundation, 1977), p. 618; cf. Slater Brown, The Heyday of Spiritualism (New York: Pocket, 1972), p. 63.
  7. J. D. Pearce-Higgins, “Dangers of Automatism,” Spiritual Frontiers, Autumn 1970, p. 217.
  8. Ibid., p. 221.
  9. Ibid., p. 223.

1 Comment

  1. Andrè M. Pietroschek on January 22, 2016 at 2:43 am

    I would agree on one generic notion: Even after 25 years of occult practice, or dabbling, I know only one good way of it: Having gods blessing to do so!

    Your given example of that ‘Wanna-Be Satanist immune to Darkness’ can be made easy to understand in my own prose: Even without anything paranormal no mortal still alive is immune to all forms of murder, torture, and treason! The mentioned three are known attachments of the dark path for over two thousand years in nearly every human culture of the planet, too.

    Your gentle notes on something else may be an understatement: The last decades were, even for dedicated occultists, an onslaught of frauds, drug-crazed, and mentally disturbed people. Once more, even if science considers demons nonexistent, such means a load of crimes and harassment contaminate an already dangerous path anyway!

    Just like not being afraid does not prevent the risk of being shot or stabbed it will of course not stop the foolhardy, but luckily a growing number of people have realized that ‘easy occult mastery’ was a false promise – Be it by Satan or Greedy Frauds or Madmen!

    One author I found helpful on transparency in an easy way was: ‘Benjamin Sobieck, with his Glass Eye – Confessions of a FAKE Psychic Detective’, as his female protagonist Zandra explains the criminal truth hidden behind the spiritual guise and posturing!

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