I hadn’t been a Witch for very long when my Christian friend Sam* came to visit my community. She and I have known each other for a long time and Sam was the first Christian friend I risked reconnecting with after my departure from the Evangelical world. When Sam said she wanted to visit a local healing service, hosted by a ministry team from Bethel church, I decided to come along. On our way to the service Sam told me about the problems she was having with her Christian community and that she was considering leaving. “I don’t know where else to go,” Sam said. “But I feel like I need to leave. I just don’t want to cut off the branch upon which I am sitting.”
I nodded and remembered how painful and difficult it was to leave my faith community. I knew there was nothing I could do but to listen and validate Sam’s experience. Her journey would be a lonely one, no matter how much support I’d offer.
We arrived in an industrial part of town and I was becoming less of myself. Maybe this had been a bad idea. People in the parking lot greeting us too enthusiastically. I felt like I was being love bombed and wanted to run. The service was held in a flat building with low ceilings and an old carpet that gave off a damp, moldy smell. Cheap fluorescent lights weakly flickered from the ceiling and added to the abandoned warehouse feel. Overly padded conference room chairs were set up in a circle in which people were praying. Wobbly speakers projected an emotional praise and worship CD into the room. Bright light from an adjacent kitchen illuminated a table with a map of the world for strategic prayer. Near the entrance, fold up tables were covered in art supplies, ready to be used for prophetic painting. Sam and I went to the far side of the room and sat in a short row of chairs that had been pushed out of the way.
After a while two women approached us and asked if they could prophesy over us. Sam nodded and they placed their hands on her, praying and asking God for guidance. I was amazed when they described the same image Sam had used earlier. Sam was supposed to separate herself from a group and cut a branch from a tree. Then they moved over to me and asked to lay hands on me. Just a few years ago I would have replied with a categorical “no” (I have a Christian friend who still, all these years later, holds a grudge against me for refusing prayer from her). This time, however, I took a big gulp of the stale air, and nodded consent.
The first prophecy
Ah, I see suitcases, the first woman said. And train stations and many different places. You have traveled a lot, but I think you will also travel again. Yes, I think this is in your future also, but it will be different. It will be better than it was. It looks like you been uprooted a lot, haven’t you?
No kidding, I thought. I should have kept a list of all of the addresses I have had in the past decade. So far so good. I nodded encouragement to the woman, but her eyes were closed and she seemed to be listening to something, then kept talking.
You need to tell your story. It will minister to people. I see your words reaching thousands and some are on a similar journey. I get a sense that if you haven’t yet, you should start writing, about your story and your community and your faith. I think that’s important.
Well, that made me pause. I had just started writing for Witches and Pagans. I started writing because I had to. I felt alone in my journey, unique in my experiences. I wished I had had a road map when I went through my spiritual transition. Now I was beginning to connect with a handful of people who read my blog. I enjoyed blogging, but I wasn’t sure I should keep writing. I was so new to Paganism that I suffered from a serious case of imposter syndrome. This prophecy suggested I shouldn’t give up and run the other way.
The second prophecy
Yes, I feel Jesus saying that you have been a part of many communities. So many! Different churches and ministries. But none of them really felt like home, did they? You never felt like you fit in or that you belonged. God wants to tell you that this has changed. I see a community that you are in now and it is different. It is really different from any of the churches you have known. It’s like… It’s not at all like the ministries… I don’t know how to say this. I just know that it is really different but in some ways it isn’t. Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t know how to put this into words. It is confusing. Does this make any sense to you?
She opened her eyes, and I nodded, thinking of my intentional community of Witches and Heathens. Very different, indeed, but also a spiritual community.
This one is not like all of the others. This one is your home. All of the other ones were temporary, and you didn’t belong, but this one is different. This one will last. This community is where Jesus wants you, these friends that you have now, they will stay with you.
Tears filled my eyes. How could she have known all that? It was true, all of it! I had been to so many churches, so many ministries, and none of them ever felt like home. I was always the odd one out, never good enough, never right, never home. The only reason I gave Witchcraft a try, was that I could become a solitary practitioner after – inevitably – finding out I didn’t fit into any of the Pagan communities. I had given up on ever finding a spiritual home.
When I founded my intentional community and met the Reclaiming community, I had the overwhelming sense that I had come home for the first time in my life. But I didn’t trust this new feeling. It just seemed too good to be true and I didn’t want to be uprooted and disappointed once again.
One of the women noticed my tears and said she knew it was hard for me to believe. But the Holy Spirit was telling her that he was very pleased with my community and that God promised it would last. I was speechless.
The third prophecy
Oh, and you are also a musician. You used to be. And will be again. I see you playing sacred music, but- Well, this is odd. The music you are playing is definitely… It is… Well, yes, it is definitely sacred. It’s worship. Different, but…. No, there is no doubt, I do see you playing sacred music, now and in the future. Music that pleases God. But your audience isn’t Christian. I don’t understand this. I see people listening to your music, but they are definitely not Believers. But they are worshiping with music that you wrote and sometimes you are leading them. But they are not Christians. But the music is sacred. I’m sorry, this isn’t making any sense. The images I get are very strong, but I can’t see how they make sense. Does any of this mean anything to you?
If I hadn’t been so astonished, her big round eyes and pinched raised brows would have made me laugh. She was so confused! To me, however, her words made perfect sense. I had begun writing chants for our Full Moon Rituals and to be used at Witchcamps. Sacred music, yes, but certainly not for a Christian audience. She kept looking at me, hoping I would say more. I didn’t. That would have been a very long conversation.
The fourth prophecy
God is really proud of you, I just want you to know that. He will bless your community, your writing, and your music. And there is one other thing. He sees how much you struggle financially. You have given much in service to others, but you have never had enough money to take care of yourself. God is going to change that. It will be soon. You won’t always be struggling like this. God will give you abundance and you will have time to focus on your ministry.
“Well, that’s three out of four,” I thought. The final prophecy I dismissed casually. Bethel is big on health and wealth, a theology of spiritual entitlement. I wouldn’t be surprised if they promised “abundance” to everyone. Who doesn’t struggle and could use a word of encouragement and a few extra bucks? For the first time in years I was paying rent on time without seriously restricting my food budget. I’d been homeless before, so making ends meet, even if barely so, already made me live in abundance by comparison.
And God said, Soar!
After the women left, I sat on my chair for a long time. I had come with no expectations, except to remember, to maybe integrate some parts of my past, or to distance myself even further from Christianity. Maybe I came for all of those reasons, but I didn’t expect to receive any spiritual gifts. Certainly not a three-out-of-four accurate and deeply meaningful prophecy. Little did I know that I would receive even more prophecies from Bethel in the future.
When Sam and I got up to leave, a man and a woman blocked our way and asked us our names. I remembered writing my name on a list when we came in, and now I saw why. A stack of index cards with names on sticky notes was laid out in alphabetical order. From what I could see, they all had bible verses and drawings on them. Sam received her card, with a bible verse.
“Annika?” the woman at the door asked. “Here’s your prophetic drawing.”
My card was different from all the others. No bible verse. Just a picture of a flying bird and the word “Soar”.
The back read “To Annika. Love, God.”
As soon as I was home, I took the card out of my purse and placed it on my altar. I put “Christian prophecy” on my list of pieces to write but then carefully avoided doing so. The experience felt too precious, too fragile, too vulnerable. When I wrote about the time I asked Jesus for a sign as a Pagan. Angry commenters informed me that real Witches would never talk to Jesus and I was therefore an imposter. I wasn’t exactly motivated to write about a Christian prophecy after that.
But as a real Witch, I have to first of all be real as a person, real to myself. I carry baggage as well as treasures from my Christian upbringing. To me, receiving a prophecy from a Christian source was a powerful piece of magic that worked towards healing and integration. I felt like Jesus Himself and God Herself opened their arms to me and said “Child, surrender! Welcome home.”
As I pick up the card on my altar, stained and faded after so many months, I think about how my community is stronger, bigger, and healthier than ever. I am still writing (obviously) and loving it. I know my music is used in rituals and at Witchcamps as far away as Australia. And recently, to my complete astonishment, my circumstances changed to grant me greater abundance than I have ever had. I have been gifted time to focus on my community, my writing, and my music. As I look back on this Christian four-out-of-four prophecy, all I can say is: Who am I to decide how Truth ought to communicate?
* Name and identifying details changed