Are Buffy & Sabrina Angels?
By Phil Hadley
Up to 100 young people a month are enquiring about how to become witches, according to the Pagan Federation, who say they are, at times, swamped with calls from teenagers. “As we enter the 21st century, one thing is clear, Pagan Youth will lead the way. They are embracing this spiritual path with a passion & conviction like we have never seen before.” So claims Witches’ Voice-the massive website linking witches right across the world.
What has brought about such a massive upsurge in interest? Many youth workers & youth culture commentators feel that a range of fictional TV programmes and magazine articles have fuelled the curiosity of young people seeking for the supernatural in the New Age world of their parents or the materialistic world of their grandparents. Teenage magazines such as Mizz have regularly promoted spells, tarot cards & crystals in their ‘Spooky’ section. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sabrina the Teenage witch, Witch Academy & Angel are among the growing number of popular TV programmes attracting particularly girls to Wicca (witchcraft). The videos, computer games & now the non-fictional book titles are following. The Young Witches Handbook by Kate West (Harper Collins) & Spells for Teenage Witches by Marina Baker (Kyle Cathie) are just two examples.
Many Christians are also concerned about the influence of the Harry Potter series of books with storylines which involve sorcery, spells, hypnotism & wizards. Some point at the overall themes of good triumphing over evil & draw comparisons with CS Lewis’ use of witches in the Tales of Narnia, but others say that as Harry has grown older in each book the issues dealt with have become more adult & darker.
The head teacher of a Primary School in Kent hit the headlines in March for banning the books from her school library. Carol Redwood told reporters “Our ethos on teaching comes from the Bible. The Bible is clear about issues such as witchcraft, demons & the occult. It says clearly & consistently that they are real, powerful & dangerous. I believe it is confusing to children when something wicked is being made to look fun.”
And what of Pokemon? Or the satanic salute made by extending the little finger & the index finger which is currently popular among teenagers because of its use by a range of pop/rock singers & constant appearance on many teenage TV shows including from studio audiences on Top of the Pops! The same salute can be seen being made by Anton La Vey on the back of the “Satanic Bible”. To be able to respond in a sensible and Biblical way we need to know what we are dealing with.
What is Witchcraft?
David Burnett in his book Dawning of the Pagan Moon has identified four streams in contemporary neo-paganism: Wicca, or practitioners of the craft of witchcraft; Pagans, who follow the pre-Christian European traditions; and Magicians. The fourth stream is Satanism, which stands separate from the others because of its explicitly anti-Christian position. John Allen, an elder at Belmont Chapel in Exeter, explained in a recent article in Youthwork magazine that “Witches don’t worship Satan; they have several gods & goddesses of their own. The goal of Satanists is to master the world to impose their ego upon it; witches are trying to harmonise with nature & further its good. However, Wicca has many varieties: there are hedge witches & kitchen witches, white, black & green witches, coven-based witches and independent operators. Not all believe alike or practice the same rituals.”
So what’s wrong with it?
2) God hasn’t invited us to interfere with the workings of nature in this way. Wiccans are tinkering with powers they can’t handle. White witches claim they use their powers for good; but who decides what’s good? Ultimately: them.
3) Although few witches are ‘black’, all witches are playing with fire. The powers they’re celebrating aren’t neutral forces of nature but forces of evil ranged against God. That’s why the Bible warns so sternly against witchcraft (see Deuteronomy 18 v9-14, 2 Chronicles 33 v5-6, Galatians 5 v19-21); and why the ex-magicians & witches of Ephesus burned their spells upon finding Christ (see Acts 19 v18-19).
4) Most crucially, witches trust in the inner divinity of each human being-& completely ignore the most crucial problem of the human race: the sin which has separated us from our true humanity. Only through the cross can our lives be put back in synchronicity with God’s purposes in the universe. Trying to bring ourselves into harmony with nature, while ignoring this gaping wound in ourselves, is complete folly.
So the whole Bible teaches clearly & consistently that witchcraft & Christianity cannot co-exist, & that the gospel of Jesus Christ destroys the power & cause of witchcraft.
So, How are we to Respond?
So how are we to respond to Buffy, Sabrina, Pokemon & Harry? After all I’d rather be a “muggle” than a “dementor”! In Philippians 4 v8 Paul gives good advice, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” In his book ‘The Expanded Chocolate Teapot’ David Lawrence explains that for many young Christians their first contact in person (as opposed to TV & books etc) with things like witchcraft or the occult comes from their peers in secondary school. He gives 8 points of practical advice for those who come up against or have got involved in ouija boards, astrology (horoscopes), mind reading, levitation, palm reading, tarot cards & séances.
1. If you have never been involved in any of the activities listed above then
2. Don’t be frightened of evil spirits. They cannot just choose to hurt you, you have to give them the chance (for example by joining in activities like those listed above) - so don’t!
3. If you have been involved in any occult activities in the past then DON’T PANIC, just read on.
4. Although Satan has the power to hurt people who get too close to him, his power is not unstoppable! Jesus Christ has the power to destroy all the harmful effects of what Satan tries to do. This is what the Bible has to say on the subject: The Son of God (Jesus) appeared for this very reason, to destroy what the devil (Satan) had done [1 John 3 v8] If the Son (Jesus) sets you free, you will be free indeed [John 8 v34].
5. If you want a clean start, Jesus can give it to you! He can replace the negative influence of Satan with the positive power of God’s Holy Spirit. So:
6. Pray to Jesus. Tell him how sorry you are for letting Satan influence your life. Ask him to ‘throw out’ anything harmful which may be affecting you.
7. Ask Jesus to fill your mind & spirit with his Holy Spirit.
8. Talk to an older Christian about your experiences. Show them this and ask them to pray with you. Ask for their advice about how to stay close to Jesus. This may seem like a hard thing to do, but if you’ve been involved with occult powers or witchcraft you do need the help of an older Christian, so pluck up all your courage and...GO FOR IT!
Witchcraft is very strong in parts of Cornwall. Covens in North Cornwall are known to include professionals such as teachers and bank managers. Boscastle has a museum of witchcraft. Pray for the Christians who have opened a shop next door as a witness to the light of the Gospel. I once had to beat a hasty retreat with a car load of young people after driving into a coven dancing round a fire at an isolated spot on Bodmin Moor.
A few years ago a student in one of my History classes was inexplicably confrontational & mis-behaved. As I prayed as various tactics over a series of lessons had little effect, the Lord said this is a spiritual thing. A few lessons later I confiscated the spell book she was holding whilst chanting under her breath. Last year a non-Christian teaching colleague came to me & asked for prayer for protection as she had just counselled several students she had caught playing with the ouija board. After camp this summer one of the CCYC team received a small parcel through the post from a camper who had become a Christian at camp containing her spell book which she wanted the team member to destroy for her. We wage a spiritual battle, but our struggle is not against flesh & blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world & against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. So let us put on the full armour of God so that we may be able to stand our ground. Take heart, for greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.
Witchcraft doesn’t lurk around every corner, but it is on the increase, especially among young people, fuelled by its acceptance & portrayal in popular teenage culture. Whether we are a teenager, a parent, a youth worker or leader we need to be wise, that we may walk in the way of the Lord & be effective as we seek to make Jesus known.
This article first appeared in the CCYC Autumn Newsletter. Reproduced by kind permission. Sources used in this article She Could Be A Witch by John Allan (Youthwork Oct 2000); Youth Recruits to Witchcraft-News Article (Youthwork Sept 2000); Potty about Harry by Jenny Baker (Youthwork Sept 2000); Hallowe’en: Trick or Treat? By David Porter (Monarch) Dawning of the Pagan Moon by David Burnett (Monarch); Expanded Chocolate Teapot by David Lawrence (S.U.)
See also: Hallowe’en - Just a bit of fun, or something more Sinister?
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