Hallowe’en is supposed to be a fun time. It certainly was when I was growing up: a time for children to doll up in costumes and collect candy (and, before some morons got involved, caramel apples, which were my favourite). I can’t remember how many years I went as a clown, because we still had the costume; I went to a party as Barney Rubble another year, and there was the time, during my Australmaniac phase, that I went as a duck-billed platypus, with a “bill” cut out from shirt cardboard and a sign around my neck, saying, “I AM A DUCK-BILLED PLATYPUS”.
At age 12, I made my last Hallowe’en sortie, joining with a couple of friends as a singing trio. I put on a long wig and carried a ukulele and warbled “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” a-la Tiny Tim. The candy we collected went to another friend who had landed in hospital with a hemophilia-related injury.
My kids have gone as a princess, Robin Hood, an angel, and one year, as an oversized leprechaun.
One character that none of us has portrayed is a “dark side” entity. No monsters, zombies, vampires and certainly no witches.
Because there are some things you don’t play around with — witchcraft, in particular.
I’ll cut the chase and get right to the point. Some years ago, I got an up-close-and-personal view of witchcraft. If it were simply weird incantations, lighting candles in a strange pattern and dancing around a cauldron like the wyrd sisters in Macbeth, it would be easy to walk away. But what I experienced was much more subtle. The practitioner exploited my weaknesses and led me to do things I should not have done* — all the while, making it appear that this was a work of God, and denying there was any evil involved.
That’s the enemy’s most effective weapon, by the way: denial. The biggest danger comes not from people who walk around with an pentangle tattooed on their arm or an inverted cross for earrings, but the ones who say they don’t worship Satan because they don’t believe in him. Those are the ones to give a wide berth.
Here am I and the children whom the LORD has given me!
We are for signs and wonders in Israel
From the LORD of hosts,
Who dwells in Mount Zion.
And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living?
To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
— Isaiah 8:18-20
The experience with the witch came at the same time as my turning to — running to — Jesus. That was no coincidence. Any time someone makes a commitment to Christ, the enemy is right there at their elbow, coming up with ways to keep them away (read the first couple of chapters of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, and you’ll see what I’m getting at). I shudder to think of how close it came to working. But the thing to remember is that the Holy Spirit is stronger than anything, and He was still able to get through to me and convince me to walk away.
But I also learned something else about witchcraft: it isn’t just for avowed witches. Not long after the experience, I noticed some professing Christians were using prayer in Jesus’ Name to do the same thing: manipulate people and change their behaviour.
You may have heard this kind of prayer: “O Lord, please make Susan do XYZ!” “O Lord, please call on Bob to help me with the move!”
In the latter one, Bob was actually in the prayer circle at the time.
I don’t know if Bob was duly motivated, but the fact remains that using prayer to force someone to do your will is just as much witchcraft as anything done by an actual witch. It reduces prayer to an incantation and — worse — it carries a religious overtone, that a person is being “convicted by God” to do something that was not their free will.
Contrary to Frank Baum’s depictions (The Wizard of Oz), there are no “good witches” and “bad witches”: witchcraft, wizardry and generally messing about with the supernatural are verboten in the Word of God. Don’t even bother trying to argue — just walk.
Isaiah writes that “there is no light in them”. Jesus says,
“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
— Matthew 6:22-23
One more thing: I said earlier that the Holy Spirit is stronger than anything. Let that strength protect you long enough to recognize the evil and turn towards Him. Don’t try to be a hero and beat the devil. It’s already been done.