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The Demonic Trends Gripping Western Christian Culture

Man, do we have some things to sort out.

Christian Witch, Witchcraft, Mysticism, Magic, Crystals, Bible, Incense, Folklore, Sara Raztresen, God, Spirituality, Tarot, Occult, Evangelical, Demonic, Sin, Danger

It's everywhere you look these days: new age spirituality. Incense. Crystals. Tarot cards! They're everywhere, all the time, all over, and by God, is it ever an affront to all the good, God-fearing Christian folks that just want to see their great nation stay "great."


(Or who want to make it "great" again.)


How can any Christian parents feel good about the spiritual climate in this country when any child can meander into a Barnes & Noble and find dozens and dozens of decks of tarot cards? Or books on witchcraft and the occult? Even Sephora, a makeup store, was aiming to sell these "beginner witch kits" at one point (though, ironically, it was witches that shut that down), proving that nowhere is safe for those who follow the Lord faithfully and keep His commandments.

Christian Witch, Witchcraft, Mysticism, Magic, Crystals, Bible, Incense, Folklore, Sara Raztresen, God, Spirituality, Tarot, Occult, Evangelical, Demonic, Sin, Danger
Pinrose & Sephora's Starter Witch Kit

Alright, alright. I'll drop the mask, now; I've run out of pearls to clutch. Let's talk about these so-called "demonic" trends that have been sweeping the nation and making up a large part of new age spirituality—something that is slowly creeping further and further into even Christian psyche with the lively #christianwitch hashtag nestled into #witchtok. You've already seen evangelicals panic about things as silly as Pokémon and Harry Potter, and you bet they're out here panicking again about simple tools and things that exist in just about any religion.


Including their own.


So let's take a look.


Crystals

Christian Witch, Witchcraft, Mysticism, Magic, Crystals, Bible, Incense, Folklore, Sara Raztresen, God, Spirituality, Tarot, Occult, Evangelical, Demonic, Sin, Danger

A common cop-out you're going to see evangelicals use (in vain) to prevent themselves sounding completely ridiculous is saying that "it's not the crystals that are demonic, but how you use them."


The problem with this argument is that it assumes a whole lot about anyone using a crystal or what those crystals mean to them.


For example, it's Wikihow¹ and Learn Religions² that go over a couple ideas people have about crystals, and one of those is the idea that by believing crystals have power, that witches or other spiritual folks are putting them above God. They even think that assuming anything that isn't God can have power is idolatry.


When you're done laughing, let's come back and remind ourselves of one very basic fact: absolutely no one who believes in a divine force thinks that said divine force is weaker or less worthy of respect and reverence than a rock. Another thing these two articles point out is that some folks (like myself) see rocks as yet another tool put here by God for us to use. Remember that at one point, people thought using herbs to cure physical ailments was also "against God's will" or some such, throwing out hundreds of lives that might've been saved if people had spent less time accusing an herbalist of witchcraft and instead listening to her recommendations for reducing fever and pain.


These two websites are right to mention the breastplate of Aaron mentioned in Exodus 39:10-13, with 12 stones to represent the 12 tribes of Israel, and the description of the New Jerusalem mentioned in Revelation 21:19-21, among other places. But the Wikihow article falsely links verses like Deuteronomy or Ezekiel to crystals, which is problematic, because these verses actually don't mention crystals at all. Even their claims of pagan crystal rituals are suspect and, to my knowledge and research, unverifiable. A classic Christian cart-before-horse moment: the assumption that crystals are evil and full of witchcraft clouds one's ability to actually understand what the Bible is really referring to.


Hell, even St. Hildegard von Bingen wrote about natural remedies at length in her books, including both herbs and crystals. One of her books, Physica, details the harmful and helpful qualities of natural items like herbs, and Book 4 of this work includes details on crystals.


According to Hildegard's Physica:³

The devil abhors, detests, and disdains precious stones. This is because he remembers that their beauty was manifest on him before he fell from the glory God had given him, and because some precious stones are engendered from fire, in which he receives his punishment.

Further, Hildegard thought that crystals carried "heavenly energy" and "recommended to wear the right stones as jewelery," noting that "also carrying them in your pocket or holding them in your hand could be beneficial."


This is an actual ordained Saint, and moreover, a Doctor of the Church—a title reserved for "any of the 36 saints whose doctrinal writings have special authority" and positively impacted Church doctrine.⁵ Therefore, I don't wanna hear a word about crystals and idolatry and other blatantly ill-thought-out arguments against the tools God put here for us to use as we like.


Incense

Christian Witch, Witchcraft, Mysticism, Magic, Crystals, Bible, Incense, Folklore, Sara Raztresen, God, Spirituality, Tarot, Occult, Evangelical, Demonic, Sin, Danger

This one truly blows my mind. I am not sure how anyone calls themselves a Christian could be against incense. It is mentioned so explicitly in the Bible, and there is a super specific recipe for incense that is only to be used in God's temple as per Exodus 30:34. Most of the ingredients are likely unfamiliar to Christians—stacte, onycha, and galbanum—but one should jump right out: pure frankincense. Three wise men, anyone?


But even beyond this temple required incense, the use of incense has been a part of religion for eons. Whether used to banish demons and evil spirits across other Near Eastern religions (like Assyrian and Babylonian) or as thanksgiving along with other gifts like oil, wine, and spices (per Judaism), incense featured largely in these ancient faiths, and they still do today. Anyone who's ever been in a Catholic church, for instance, could never mistake the smell in there, which is the smell of burning frankincense. According to Father William Saunders, the use of this incense in especially Catholic churches is to represent the "symbolic value of the smoke is that of purification and sanctification," as well as being a symbol of prayers floating up to God—a common practice to start Mass in especially Eastern churches while invoking the mercy of God via Psalm 50.⁶ It has a long, long history in the church, and in my opinion, only someone incredibly divorced from the mysticism and spiritual element of their own religion would find incense to be something that invites demons rather than banishes them.


(And yes, smokes and smells can banish demons. Just check out the story of Raphael, Tobias, and the demon Asmodeus in the Book of Tobit. Turns out demons don't like stinky things!)


Tarot Cards

Christian Witch, Witchcraft, Mysticism, Magic, Crystals, Bible, Incense, Folklore, Sara Raztresen, God, Spirituality, Tarot, Occult, Evangelical, Demonic, Sin, Danger

There's been a claim I've seen again and again among evangelical types: the Bible forbids tarot cards because tarot cards are divination tools, and the Bible forbids divination. Therefore, tarot cards open doorways to demonic possession.


If you don't think too hard on it, or ever investigate the laws on divination in the Bible, or use anything other than the English translation of the Bible, or learn anything about the history and culture of the ancient Near East (or the history of tarot)... sure. I can see how one would think this.


But if you ever actually look further into the Bible, and what divination meant according to the very specific Hebrew words used (such as ov & yide'oni), you'd see quite clearly that the types of divination used were ones that specifically banned practices requiring necromancy. This means, per ov & yide'oni, putting a bone in your mouth, lighting incense, and trying to summon the spirit attached to the bone to use your tongue to speak⁷—an old pagan practice common in the area that figures like Laban in Genesis and the Witch of En Dor in 1 Samuel use.⁸ Given the strict rules of ritual purity the Israelites had, it's understandable that messing with corpses in any way is a bit of a no-no (as is ripping a live animal apart and using their entrails to read for omens for what I hope are obvious reasons).


However, divination tools have always existed because that was how one could reliably and verifiably get messages from any deity—including God. In Exodus 28:30, God makes it clear that the Levite priests are to wear two stones at all times, the Urim and Thummim, a type of lots, with Urim meaning yes and Thummim meaning no. Saul uses them in 1 Samuel 14:41 to no avail, and he laments later in 1 Samuel 28:6 that "the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets"—not because these things were wrong to consult or out of bounds for God's methods of communication, but because Saul hadn't destroyed the Amalekites as God commanded him.⁹


Lots are also used in the book of Acts, specifically in Acts 1:26, to determine who would replace Judas. Another form of cleromancy, this could be anything from drawing arrows from a quiver (as was used by some other opponents of the Israelites, like Haman, per Esther 9:24-26), drawing straws, casting stones down, etc.; there was no one way to do it. Even today, you could use rocks, trinkets, even dice, so long as you attach meaning to each thing before you toss. God did in fact reveal His will just fine through this method, so we can assume that the act of divination altogether isn't the problem—only certain types (and only ones done with aims of seeing the future through other spirits).


If you're just pulling a card with a picture on it while you're talking to God, like with tarot, there's nothing demonic or evil or dangerous about this. Nothing at all, save maybe the tendency to think the worst or let your biases and judgments get in the way of what God is trying to say.


So What's Demonic, Then? Surely There's Something?


Of course there are things that I'd determine to be what evangelicals call "demonic." Things that bring out the worst in us, and that make our hearts filthy with the tar, the delusion of evil. And I think we all know what they are.


They're things like authoritarianism, in which evangelical preachers and speakers enforce through a woman's complete submission to a man, and a child's complete submission to both—even under threat of physical punishment. They're whatever wicked spirit grabs hold of evangelical leaders, one that counsel parents on how to avoid drawing police's attention by covering welts and bruises on those children. They're the voices of evangelical favorites like Phyllis Schlaffly's and Elisabeth Elliot's in the mid-20th century, claiming that equality "was not a Christian ideal" (despite Galatians 3:28 seeming to directly contradict her).¹⁰ They're things that, throughout the last century, have caused specifically white church goers to stop their services mid-sermon to run out and lynch a Black man, only to come back and resume services like nothing ever happened.¹¹


And none of that says a word about the still-occurring phenomenon of evangelical church goers throw oodles of cash into the hands of megachurch pastors, ones who shame their congregation if they don't have enough for a private jet. Or the people like John Ramirez, who build their platforms on sensationalized stories of breaking free from a life of "witchcraft," from hyper masculine, militant books, like Combat Prayers to Crush the Enemy (what a name). No, there's an iceberg of truly vile spiritual rot that has long warped people's common understanding of ethics and morality, of even their own religion itself, and issues like we see in today's times are only the tip of it.


If we want to talk about demons, we can't sit there pointing fingers at innocuous tools like incense and crystals and divination tools—things that have always been a part of religions across the world, including Christianity. No, we need to talk about the spirits of hate, of delusion, of power, and of violence that have eaten away at our understanding of a religion built on the opposite: on love, on trust and faith, on peace and hope.


But those who see the word "witch" & haven't shaken their own demons loose will scorn this message. Still, I say all that have ears should listen anyway.


 

Sources:


¹ Mary Fairchild, Are Crystals in the Bible?

³ Hildegard quoted in Rev. Sharon Sterringer's Touring the Hildegard Haus: The Crystal Cabinet

Ardenner Cultur Boulevard, Hildegard von Bingen

⁶ Fr. William Sanders, Why is Incense Used During Mass?

Jewish Study Bible, Second Edition, 58, 599.

⁹ Ibid., 573.

¹⁰ Kristin Kobez du Mez, Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation

¹¹ Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited



 


Christian Witch, Witchcraft, Mysticism, Magic, Crystals, Bible, Incense, Folklore, Sara Raztresen, God, Spirituality, Tarot, Occult, Evangelical, Demonic, Sin, Danger

Two sections left. Two. Just a couple little bits on Galatians and Revelation, and we are done with Chapter 2.


"Sara, you said last week"— yes, but then the section on Deuteronomy alone was 3,190 words. Over three thousand. Is it in depth and comprehensive? Yes. Did it take me forever to really pin down exactly the intricacies of all of that multi-part verse? Also yes. Luckily, I don't anticipate both Galatians and Revelations to take me more than a day's writing, tops, which means we can finally start on chapter 3 after this.


The goal is still to finish my portions of the book by the end of summer. Given how Where the Gods Left Off is also now ready for production (and is coming out in September), we'll see how easy that goal is to hit, but nonetheless, we're looking good overall, I'd say. By end of May, the worst of the book should be behind us, and the rest is a lot less of a mess.


But that's what we've got this week, so thanks for sticking around!

 

Sara Raztresen is a Slovene-American writer, screenwriter, and Christian witch. Her fantasy works draw heavily on the wisdom she gathers from her own personal and spiritual experience, and her spiritual practice borrows much of the whimsy and wonder that modern society has relegated to fairy-and-folktale. Her goal is to help people regain their spiritual footing and discover God through a new (yet old) lens of mysticism.


Follow Sara on Tiktok, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube, and explore her fiction writing here.


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