Witches and Wizards

The other day my thirteen year old asked if witches were real. It’s a good question. In our society its difficult to discern between fact and fiction. Special effects in movies make the mot fantastic creatures seem very real indeed. Meanwhile, most of the media conspires to shield us from reality as effectively as possible.

Are witches real or are they just the stuff of Harry Potter books, Wizard of Oz and Narnia? Are witches just ‘pretend’ like fauns and fairies and elves and dwarves?

Not in my experience. In my experience witches are very real indeed. I’ve never met one with green skin, a pointed nose with a wart on the end, nor have I seen them fly on a broom or heard them cackle like a demented crow.

However, when I was an Anglican priest in England I served in a parish that was home to a witches coven, and not just any witches coven. The witches in our coven were the successors of the famous diabolist, Alasteir Crowley who died in the next parish to ours. The ‘King of the Witches’ was well known in the town. He was a dirty, bald headed little man who lived as the head of a commune. Despite his smell and repugnant attitudes he had an amazing hold over women and was known to seduce anything in skirts with great success.

There was a negative feeling in the town and a string of unexplained tragedies and scandals within the church community. As a priest I was called out to a surprising number of low level hauntings, pyschic disturbances and disturbed personalities. Once I learned who actually lived in the parish I was concerned. I was also concerned that the other clergy in the town simply laughed at the King of the Witches and dismissed the whole thing as so much nonsense.

I wondered what I could do about it. I couldn’t engage in any head on confrontation, but some friends and I decided that we would fast on Fridays for the removal of the witches. We took the spiritual battle seriously and did what we could. Within a few months the witches had moved out of the parish. By the end of the year they had moved out of the town altogether.

On this Halloween we must not underestimate the presence of evil in our midst. The devil is like a roaring lion prowling about seeking whom he may devour. We must not be mistaken. The moral battles we fight are spiritual battles. The evil one is real. He has devotees under many disguises. In the midst of trick or treating and dressing up in spooky fun costumes, do not forget that Satan is real. If you are a follower of Christ he hates you and wants to destroy you utterly; but also do not forget that he who has called you has already overcome the evil one and has given us the power to tread underfoot the lion and the dragon.

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  • Dwight, the part about Alaister Crowley sent shivers down my shine. We had a EMHC meeting not too long ago at our parish. Our pastor told us to be make sure that the person receiving Holy Communion place the Consecrated Host in their mouths right away. He told us that some pay over $1000.00 for a Consecrated Host to be used in a Black Mass. It must be so awful that Father refused to give us details when asked what a Black Mass was.

  • My slight confrontation with explicit diabolism was truly frightening. No wonder the evil one disguises himself. If we saw him and his minions as they really are we would run screaming from the horror

  • I remember reading somewhere (and it may have been Chesterton…I’m not sure) that the “black mass” is, ironically, one of the most convincing proofs of Catholicism. That the worship of the devil mocks the Mass (and not just a generic praise service or whathaveyou) suggests there is, from evil’s perspective, something frightfully real about what the Church does at Mass.

  • There is an interesting short story by (I think) Graham Greene which makes this same point about the Black Mass. The writer meets a stranger on a train dressed in black. He tells him the story of witnessing a Black Mass. It turns out he is a Catholic priest and it ends with a comment like, “If the witches took it so seriously, who was I to disbelieve?”

  • Someone I know sent me a link to a very detailed description of a black mass, which is also a Gnostic mass. It is a complete desecration. For example…when we go to Mass, we have a choice to be there, to leave if we care to walk out, to recieve the Blessed Sacrament, etc. We also are duty-bound to know what we are recieving. IN this black mass, (this form, in any case), the attendees do NOT have a choice once they enter…they have to remain, and they have to recieve the parody of the “sacrament”. If you’d like, I can try to send you the link. It’s on my blog somewhere so later this evening I can try to find it. It is truely chilling.

  • The Greene story is The Hint of an Explanation and the priest tells the story of being offered gifts and bribes to supply the antagonist with a Host as esther has implied.