I Practiced Witchcraft Every Day
As we’re getting closer to Halloween, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day, there is so much joy and fun in gathering pumpkins for our doorsteps, watching spooky movies, and brewing up pumpkin spice potions. Trick-or-Treaters get to reimagine themselves, make themselves the lead of their own story, and try on different identities on their path toward finding their own. While there is some debate about Halloween and its practice in Christian communities*, I am a person who fully celebrates the season, rejoicing in the midst of fear, and connecting in meaningful and spiritual ways with those who have gone before us. A little memento mori has always been a healthy practice for me.
At one time in my life, I got a little too carried away with the spirit of Halloween and embraced a lifestyle that made room for fortune telling, horoscopes, and superstitions. One by one, I drifted further toward a life that put me in the center of my universe instead of God. Some embrace those things out of a spirit of fun and entertainment (or sometimes true devotion*), but it just wasn’t working for me on my spiritual path and it was something God asked me to leave behind.
Once I left those practices in the past, I dedicated myself to my faith and my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I spent time in scripture study, worshipped at home and during worship nights, put my time in at my church’s chapel, prayed the right prayers at the right times, did good works in the name of the Gospel, embraced social justice, went to services when I was supposed to, embraced God’s calling about sin and confession and mercy. I was doing everything “right.” In the process, I found so many mercies and blessings. True ones that were overflowing. I won’t deny that all that hard work opened the door for a lot of closeness with God and His Kingdom.
As I grew in my spiritual life, God started calling to my heart that maybe there was more to life than this simple exchange: good works = many blessings. That maybe there was more out there for me than a quid pro quo relationship. Of course I had read that we can’t earn God’s love and grace, but I was working so hard at it that I lost sight of that simple truth.
Once I felt like I conquered one spiritual task, say attending church every Sunday for a period of time, I added another. Then another. And on and on. Thinking all along “well if this produces blessing in my life, how much more will these other things add increase to my relationship with God!” That worked for awhile to be honest. That formula produced some pretty great fruit! But was it sustainable & was it good?
I got to a point where I would think “mix a little church with a few prayers and a touch of bible study and out comes grace and blessing.” Trying to craft the perfect spell to achieve my desired ends. I thought if I worked hard enough and believed hard enough, I might also acquire the gift of prophecy and visions. I might be able to predict a future and then walk in that reality.
I was casting spells and divining the future. I was using different tools, but I was sometimes using my faith the way I once used the tools of a different Craft. And with that, I realized I was practicing witchcraft. Not in action, but in belief.
In doing that, I put myself back in the center of my universe. Which is a place I don’t want to be and a life and faith I choose not to live.
Within a season or two of growth, I saw things more clearly for how they were. It took awhile to get there, but once God spoke to my heart, suggesting that maybe, just maybe, I was using Him and His church the wrong way sometimes, my whole faith was illuminated. I had gotten sucked back into a world I thought I left behind.
I’m not saying that what I was doing was wrong in fact. Of course not! We are given these tools and these practices as a gift and they are righteous and good. I was just using them, more and more every day, to manipulate an outcome in my life, to tell the future, to exert my will on my little corner of the planet. Prayers & spiritual devotions were little by little used in a distorted way that was backfiring for me!
Prayer stopped being a tool to align my heart to the Father. It became a way for me to bend the will of the Father to my own.
I consider this conviction to be a real gift. To show me that I can never ever earn God’s grace & blessing. I could do exactly zero of these things, and if He willed it, I could have abundance, breakthrough, and overflow. It’s up to Him, not me. It’s up to Him to dispense blessings, not me. He gives because I am His and He loves me. He gives because He is good, not because I am.
In this season of spell casting and potions, let’s keep a close eye on our hearts. Let’s hold up our incantations to the Light of Christ. If they are in alignment with His heart, by all means keep them around. If they are a way to manipulate the Gospel to our own ends, consider chucking them like candy spilled out on the sidewalk. Lay aside the fortune telling and the masks of righteousness. Look straight into the porch light of our faith & head into the open door of God’s heart.
This article really sums up a lot of what I feel about celebrating Halloween. If you and your family don’t celebrate Halloween, I absolutely respect that choice. If you’re on the fence, consider reading this article and/or googling “Halloween myths.” You’ll find a lot of good food for thought.
If you’re interested in reading more about modern witchcraft, paganism, and Wicca, I recently finished reading Witches of America by Alex Mar. This book is for those who want an anthropological look into this belief system and a personal memoir about finding your own spiritual path. Mar writes with empathy and authenticity as she documents her journey in faith. If you are easily bothered by frank accounts of the occult and earth-based spirituality, you may want to pass this one up. I did not find it hampered my faith personally (I think it actually helped strengthen my faith and think more deeply about it!), but some are more sensitive to these accounts.