“It’s not real, Mom!” “Yes” responds the devil and those demons listening in! We are so surrounded by witches, vampires, zombies, voodoo, black magic, and the occult that we take it all in stride…think Supernatural, Witchblade, Millennium, The Dead Zone, The X-files, Angel, Dark Angel, Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or go back to Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, and Dark Shadows. The Exorcist, Carrie, Devil’s Advocate, The Craft, The Sixth Sense, The Blair Witch Project, Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street–these movies tantalize, please and ultimately desensitize us to demonism, witchcraft, and magic. The horoscope is in our daily newspaper. Then there are books, stories, and games: Harry Potter and Merlin the Magician, board games–like Ouija–and role-playing games that use witchcraft, sorcery, spells, and spirits. All that can’t be real or we would have to adjust our ideas of harmless fun. Even most of us not all that into pop culture have computers that don’t show icons, but instead give us our choice among charms. Public universities offer courses in witchcraft and paganism. We have always been curious to know if there is more to this life; now in the face of very public failures of organized Christianity, people are growing more open-minded to any religion that appears to fill the spiritual void in their lives. The voice of a new generation says, “The truth is out there …somewhere.” “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light,” (2 Corinthians 11:14 ESV). Our desire to know the future and to control events that are not ours to control is at the heart of witchcraft, though these abilities belong only to the Lord. This desire has its roots in Satan’s first temptation to Eve: “You can be like God” (Genesis 3:5). There are only two sources of spiritual power: God and Satan. (Satan has only the power that God allows him to have.) To seek spirituality, knowledge, or power apart from God is idolatry, closely related to witchcraft. Witchcraft and Spiritism often involve the ritualistic use of magic potions and mind-controlling drugs to achieve an altered state of consciousness, which can open us up to the invasion of demonic spirits. Christians do believe in the visible and the invisible, both good and evil. (“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places,” Ephesians 6:12 ESV). We don’t need to fear Satan’s power, but we should respect it and stay away from it and all of Satan’s counterfeits to holy spirituality. So do Christians celebrate Halloween? Halloween literally means “the holy evening” and begins with the Christian concept of the importance of the individual soul. It started as a time to remember the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed by attending church services, praying, making special food for the dead, lighting candles on graves to help the dead find their families, wearing masks to hide those on whom the dead might seek vengeance and costumes to honor the saints, and ceremonially acting out the battle between good and evil, around bonfires and while dressed in costumes of saints or of evil spirits (now known to us as “trick or treating”). Halloween was considered a time when evil could manifest itself. It is an acknowledgement of that existence, to ask for God’s blessing and protection from evil in the world. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things,” (Philippians 4:8 ESV).
∞ Rev. Linda Lee Karanja-Sebastian ∞