Beware the Wicked Witch?

Aleister Crowley

Aleister Crowley was an English witch. He reveled in his description as ‘the wickedest man in the world.’ He was a shameless self publicist, a fraud and a charlatan, but he was also an educated, intelligent and willful diabolist. He was indeed very wicked and was definitely involved in just about every kind of vile perversion, drug addiction and occult religious practices imaginable. He died in Hastings, on the South coast of England in 1947.

In 1982 I moved to Bexhill-on-Sea, a town one step along the coast from Hastings. I was newly ordained as an Anglican priest, and was heading to my first parish.  Living just around the corner from the ancient parish church was a coven of witches whose leader claimed to be the successor of Aleister Crowley. The ‘witches’ were well known in the town. They lived in a kind of hippie commune, and their leader–a lecherous man in his fifties–frequented all the bars and pubs. Rumors abounded about their drug use, sexual immorality, corruption of young people and dark occult practices.

As a young priest involved in the Christian youth work in the town I came across several young people who had been involved with the coven of witches. One afternoon I witnessed an old priest deal successfully with what seemed to be demonic infestation of a fifteen year old girl who had been spending time with the witches. The stories the young people told were of seriously sick and genuinely horrifying attitudes and actions. More than once we had to deal with spiritual influences that were dark, destructive and demonic.

Are witches real? Of course they are. Are they skinny old women with green skin, a pointy chin, a wart on their nose, cackling over a cauldron? Of course not. Do they attend an academy called ‘Hogwarts’; play a form of hockey on their broomsticks and battle mythical beasts? Is ‘Samantha’ a pretty middle class suburban wife with magical powers and a gaggle of kooky and spooky family members? Of course not. All of that is an attempt to make us believe that there are not really such things as witches.

But there are. Witchcraft is alive and well in our modern, secular age.  It has taken the name ‘Wicca’ and claims an increasing number of adherents. Followers of Wicca profess to be modern pagans. They claim to draw on the powers of nature to heal people, foretell the future and put people in touch with their departed loved ones. The modern Wicca religion is descended from another British witch, Gerald Gardener, who, in the 1950s synthesized various strands of ancient paganism into a new mish mash kind of paganism.

Is there anything to it, or is it just a load of silly, New Age nonsense? Be assured that there is not only something to it, but something sinister. To put it bluntly, pagans worship the gods and goddesses of the ancient world. The early Christians understood quite clearly that the pagan gods and goddesses were demons. They understood that the pagan rites were sacrifices made to demons, and that through the pagan initiation rites devotees gave themselves to the demons, and that as a result, the pagan worshippers were usually demon possessed. That’s why the preparation for Christian baptism involved careful catechesis over a long period of time with numerous exorcisms.

Is it possible for modern people to summon up the ancient gods and goddesses and offer themselves to be infested by such spirits? Of course it is. C.S.Lewis commented on the foolishness of summoning up evil spirits, saying that if they were called we should not be surprised if they arrive on our doorstep. Followers of Wicca are not benevolent New Agers who just happen to be vegetarian, sandal-wearing beardy weirdies. Their religion follows ancient rites in which they summon up the ancient gods and goddesses.

The 2001 census in the United States revealed 134,000 people who claim to follow the Wiccan religion. The numbers are doubtless far greater now. Not only are there more people involved in witchcraft than those who register formally, but because the movement is diffuse and secretive and sectarian, there are far more people involved in some form of occult practice than can be accurately numbered. In addition to those who are consciously involved in pagan witchcraft, there are a huge number of Americans who are involved in New Age behaviors that (while not openly identified as witchcraft) are nevertheless identical to occult practices.

If a person is involved in fortune telling of any kind, tarot cards, Ouija boards, seances, crystal healing, channelling, and astrology they are involved in the occult. If they are involved in certain types of depth psychology, re-birthing, spiritualism, envisioning other lives, native American spirituality, ecology spirituality and feminist theology they are probably meddling with the occult as well. The vague attractiveness of the New Age movement, as well as it’s spiritual danger is explained well in the Pontifical Council for Inter religious Dialogue’s document called, Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life. This official church teaching outlines the danger of the New Age movement and lists the various (seemingly harmless) New Age practices that can lead true believers into the occult.

What did we do about the coven in the town where I was priest? A few members of the youth group and myself fasted on Fridays. Within six months the coven had moved out of our geographical parish, and within the year they had moved out of the town altogether. I don’t know if it was our prayer and fasting which drove them out, but the gospel says that demons only come out through prayer and fasting.

Therefore, what is the best thing to do when confronted with someone involved in the occult? It might be right to confront them and show them what is wrong with their beliefs and practices, but that will probably not do much good. One of the symptoms of occult involvement is a kind of spiritual, moral and intellectual blindness. As St Paul says in Romans 1:21,24 “…their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Instead, when confronted with those who have given themselves to evil, I recommend skipping meals on Friday, praying a few extra rosaries and invoking the holy angels–especially St Michael. It will not only bring down the witches in full flight, it will also do your spiritual life the world of good.

This article was first published in 2008 by National Catholic Register.


  • Mercury

    Father, although it is always a grave mistake for Christians to get involved in such occult practices, would you really say that all non-Christian (or at least non-monotheistic) forms of religious ritual, prayer, etc. are demonic in nature? I always thought that the native Americans (the ones not involved in the meso-American death cults) were doing the best with what thy had. I guess I’d say the same of Hindus, Buddhists, etc.

    But if the followers of pagan religions are all demon-infested, how can there be such a thing as a virtuous pagan? I think of the countless centuries where some peoples were so separated from the places where Christinaity or even Judaism first arrived – native Americans were separated for millennia – were they all the prey of demons for all this time? In any event, the vast majority of them died of disease when Europeans arrived, but the killer germs preceded the missionaries – almost a cruel irony.

    By the way, did the people who converted in the early church really and truly believe that mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, uncle Vercingetorix, etc. were all burning in hell forever? Did Christian missionaries in China say “all your ancestors are in hell”? I always wondered how pagan or non-Christian converts felt about their parents / grandparents etc. who died before their conversion.

    • Matt R

      Virtuous pagans used reason to the best of their God-given abilities to arrive at the Truth-at least major parts of it-without the aid of divine revelation.

      • Mercury

        So the only virtuous pagans were philosophers?

        What I mean is that if all pagans are demon infested and controlled by demons, how can any of them ever arrive at truth?

  • Juan Manuel Perez Porrua

    What is the diffeence between shuffling cards and wearing amulets and fasting and reciting and repeating formulas? I must confess that I don’t understand the occult. To me it seems that it promisses some secret knowledge, but, as we must ask of anything that wants to pass itself as knowledge, we must ask, not whether it comes from a demon, but whether it has anything to do with explaining reality and whether there are reasons and evidence that it explains reality successfully. I’m reminded of the complicated superstitious hierarchies of spiritual beings. I suppose that the occult shares with religion belief in the irrational. But, unlike most religions, it keeps its dogmas a secret because they are convoluted that they need the air of secrecy to protect themselves from being recognized for the nonsese that they are. Not only do people value the knowledge they receive from occultists in itself but they value the fact that few people are “allowed” to know it. Traditional religions have as much power to blind people, but they are public and therefore must strip their dogmas to bare essentials. Both public and occult religion requires the suspension of reasonable judgment.

  • 42Oolon

    Dear Father,
    While it my own personal view that neither pagan gods or “demons” exist. I am pleased with your response. I only wish that your predecessors in the church had been satisfied with fasting and rosaries. I don’t know what you mean by “invoking” angels but I assume it is through prayer and not physical action. Sadly, many women and men have been tortured and killed to cleanse demons or combat the devil over the centuries. Even worse is that this seems to continue today. Every few months we seem to hear of another person, probably mentally ill, being killed during an “exorcism”, the latest, it would seem in August in Malaysia. Thank you for your moderation.

    • u

      “Satan’s greatest trick was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.”–Pope Pius IX

  • Nathaniel

    This man believes in demons and magic.

    Words fail.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      So would you if you had seen what I have seen.

      • 42Oolon

        You would not believe if you’d seen what I have now. (see how poor of a response this is?) Do you have anything more than “what seemed to be demonic infestation”?

        • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

          If you are not a believer in demons, then you would not believe even if you were possessed by one.

        • joseph e.

          Unfortunately 42Oolon, what Father is saying can only be understood from experience. For those of us whose circumstances in life have exposed us to this reality there is no explanation that will suffice to transfer the understanding.

          • Pattie, RN

            This is truth. As a hospice nurse, I have attended many deaths, and witnessed the transition of most people (joyful, peaceful) and one horrible man (fearful, cold darkeness and spiritual pain).

            You can chose to believe or disbelieve in anything you’d like, but that does not change the reality of what IS.

        • Ismael

          Too bad Nathan’s words are nonsense as well.
          It’s a concealed ad hominem, providing no argument nor any clear thesis to be supported by arguments.

          Essentially, just because it is today ‘popular belief’ that some things do not exist, it does not mean they do not exist. Nor it is foolish to be wary of some things that have blind sighted the masses.

  • kenneth

    Wiccan and proud of it! Please don’t bother going hungry on Fridays or any other days on my account. Pray the Rosary all you like however. I’m not going anywhere!

    • the little brother

      Here ya go kenneth. Take a deep breath. These people practice hardcore, esp. tonight!!

    • Jim J. McCrea

      Jesus is the only way to Life.

    • Anita

      I hope you remember only one thing. To say “JESUS, SAVE ME” when you realize you are in danger.

  • Noe

    If I were to have a specific problem with this piece, it would be the suggestion that these people connect to things ancient by way of methods (‘worsphip’), ancient. The scholarship on the recent vintage for so much belief puts lie to so many of their claims. Many ‘modern pagans’ embrace the creative, innovative aspect of their ‘path’, and specifically do not suggest the pure antiquity of their practices and doctrines. It only feeds their sense of pedigree to suggest their antiquity, but also diverts from the equal dangers of those who ‘innovate’ their own magical paths, who claim to NOT be involved with ‘dark’ forces, because they don’t abide old concepts of the gods and such. They also suggest the same creative, non-pure lineage to classical Christianity which is “of course” equal parts lost ancient paganisms and perennial innovations to the times. It’s also debatable that the early church viewed ALL of their contemporaries religious views as merely demonic, given the ‘unknown God” discourse, Paul’s engagement with and knowledge of pagan philosophers and the application of their insights not simply to ‘elite’, agnostic philosophers, but to many others in the ancient world. i also think of the consequences of junking Lewis’ Myth-Become-Fact theory, “Corn God/Christic prefigurement” , given there would be nothing none, if all before Christ and outside Israel was simply demonic dominions.

    • Noe

      Written ‘on the fly’ but I think you understand, father.

    • Matt R

      Valid points, and I think you and Fr are both right.

      • noe

        I think part of the danger of “like our spiritual ancestors of old, we’re innovating our spiritual paths, even ‘discreting’ out from The Great Mystery those attributes we can relate to and yes, creating a ‘God/ess in our image and likeness’, but aren’t we all God in the truest sense? And aren’t we all creating our paths out from The Great Mystery?…aren’t we all sort of playing dress up?”…
        From that perspective, you can have an even stronger, more-lethal sense of “I’m controlling these impersonal powers, I’m the creator here” – given how much of the world the latest crop of neo-pagans have grown up in is actually man-made, man-controlled and amenable to modification by hacking, upgrading and “customizing”, like an FB profile, WoW/2nd Life character. You can really [first] fool yourself, and then be fooled into thinking you are in control, and that all you’re dealing with is something comparable to electricity, and the only rules are smarmy relativist crap like “harm none, for negative magic returns twicefold” or something.
        In ignoring the “we as pagans know paganism evolves/is creative” component, we ignore a related pathology; that they “understand” all religions as they ‘understand their own, being ‘innovations’ and ’1/2-makebelieve’ as they believe their own path to be; it’s one among many, waltzing into “The Great Mystery”. In acknowledging and embracing an ‘episcopal’, Pagan-lite paganism, they run a very high risk of permanently inoculating themselves from truth as True, truth as a Person. We need to be able to say “what you believe is CRAP, here is how, this is who’s sold you on this BS – now stop levitating your roommate and put out the stanky candles and listen to this raw data from a Cambridge scholar on how Jesus is not ‘just another avatar’”.

  • Galen

    Dear Father,
    For a number of years I followed the pagan path as a Wiccan. I conducted rituals, taught classes, and had books published relating to prayers to the god and goddess. For me, Wicca was more about a spiritual path than power. However, one day, as I was praying, the thought came up “To whom are you praying?” I shrugged it off, and continued with my prayer. But this thought became so insistent, and I found I had no real answer, that I stopped praying altogether. Then, I was drawn to pull out my dusty Divine Office and open it and used it to pray (dragging my feet all the way). Then I went before the Blessed Sacrament at out local perpetual adoration chaple, and there, struggling with the spiritual chaos in my soul, I heard my name. I finally knew to whom I was praying, the God who sent his Son into the world to save all peoples,the God of love. I have been “home” now for over five years, and see my prior sojourn into paganism as a lesson in humility. In Wicca, I construct gods in my image, but unless one surrenders everything to God, especially the false notion that we are in charge, one does not know true freedom, nor can one taste the exquisite consolations that God desires us to have. I give thanks to the Holy Spirit who guided my steps home, and pray for all to know that love that surpasses true understanding. Blessings to all!

  • Howard

    I think many people get drawn into the occult thinking it is all a game — either just a fun, silly game (thus such “games” as the Ouija board or “Bloody Mary”), or a snobbish, “we’ll yank the chain of the Catholics and Fundamentalists” game. This is certainly the image that they choose to portray; for example, self-identified Satanists will claim not to actually believe in either God or Satan, but they intentionally abuse Christian symbols in order to offend us “stuffshirts”. If that were all it was, it would be nothing more than a childish rebellion, and no doubt in many cases it is nothing more than a rebellious phase that young people grow out of. On the other hand, even a brief rebellious phase can leave permanent marks. (Will that tattoo really look so good in 30 years?) The kid who starts out shoplifting for the thrill of it can graduate into some serious crimes that wreck his life from the start. The kid who experiments with drugs because they are the “forbidden fruit” his parents have warned him about can end up an addicted drop-out or dead from an OD. Playing around with the occult is much the same. Many of the people who play with it seem to be silly people whose silliness maybe, hopefully protected them from a combination of full knowledge and full consent of the will, but if they stay in it too long, it becomes hard to believe that they have never progressed beyond the childish superficialities.

    • kenneth

      Pagan traditions certainly have their youthful rebels, but they are not the majority of who we are. Most traditional covens and groups will not accept members before their late 20s. I myself did not come to Wicca until I was 35, after nearly a decade of discernment of a calling and research. I was raised and educated Catholic and spent a number of years after as a secular humanist and spiritual seeker. At 42, I am just about the youngest member of our group. Most of these folks have grand-kids who are at the “rebel” stage. All of them hold a master’s degree or better and more than a couple are medical professionals. Nor are we Satanists of any kind. Satan and Yahweh have no more meaning to us than Pokemon characters.

      • Achilles

        Keneth, I think it is interesting that you mention “masters” degrees or higher. You have left the truth in your youth for the emperor’s new clothes. Your words have no strength of conviction and it is clear that you exagerate in your own mind the power of your words. Medical professionals, pokeman cards? These words don’t move Catholics. Return to the Truth. Achilles

      • Howard

        Well then, you are making a dreadful mistake, and at an age where any claim of youthful indiscretion on your behalf sits awkwardly. That’s too bad, but not at all in conflict with anything I wrote. I never said that *no one* following the path you have chosen combines grave matter, full knowledge, and full consent of the will, as you proudly assert that you have done; I was only holding out the possibility that many of the people who buy horoscopes or even Ouija boards and pamphlets on “love spell” (which I have seen in the check-out line of a supermarket), or who identify themselves as pagan to pollsters have not yet gone so far — just as you would not assume every girl wearing a cross on her neck is either a Third Order Carmelite already or well on her way to becoming one.

        As an aside, you surely understand that age does not automatically bring wisdom? That’s something we should both be able to agree on, as it doesn’t decide our disagreement; in fact, I am about the same age you are. As for degrees, I’ve got enough not to be overly impressed by them, and I’ve spent enough time on university campuses to know that every conceivable idea, whether profound, invalid, or totally wackadoo can be found there.

        • kenneth

          No, it is true that age does not guarantee wisdom and nor do academic degrees. They do however, give the lie to the almost universal stereotype of Wiccans as screwed up kids dabbling in something they don’t understand.

          We have a tremendous diversity of demographics in our communities, just as Christians have. The stereotyped narratives about that are constantly recycled in Catholic and Evangelical circles are told and retold with an authoritative air. With even a modest level of inquiry, it becomes clear that none of theses so-called “experts” has ever met a real life pagan, and certain has not spoken with a cross-section of them. It is painfully clear that none of them has ever read so much as a single paragraph from any primary sources or even a decent halfway balanced overview article.

          Their knowledge base, such as it is, derives entirely from rumor and propaganda and sweeping generalizations about what pagans “must be” based upon preconceived notions or memories of the one bi-polar teenager who they remember flipping out sometime around when they dabbled in Tarot.

          When your “expert knowledge” of us is so transparently hollow, why should anyone give serious credence to your pronouncements about who and what we are? Would you engage critiques of Catholicism that were rooted in nothing more than Jack Chick caricatures of your faith and movement?

  • Hieronymus

    Technically speaking, Aleister Crowley was a warlock (i.e., the male witch). The belief in witches has been shared throughout many centuries by many highly intelligent people – Sir Thomas Browne, M.R. James and Montague Summers are the more recent examples – as well as by many unredeemable dunces. The Church’s stance on this issue has been more ambiguous despite the fact that the Holy Writ clearly speaks about their existence. That’s why the Spanish Inquisition conducted very few witchcraft trials while in the rest of Europe, especially in the 17th century, both Catholics and Protestants burned witches en masse. Our generation, infested as it is with crude materialism and scientism, tends to laugh them off. We’ll see who has the last laugh, though.

    • Mercury

      So we should be burning witches?

    • Mercury

      And if you read te Catholic Encyclopedia article on witches, you’ll find that the popes through the ages more or less taught that witches’ “magic” has no real power, but that they are in danger of destroying their own souls with demonic influence. But we, especially the baptized, can freely laugh off any “curses” or “spells” that they may put on us.

      Throughout the Middle Ages, belief in the power of witchcraft was considered rank superstition, and the witch burning a of the early modern period were primarily a Protestant phenomenon.

      • Ismael

        @ Mercury:

        1- No we should not burn witches

        2- We should NOT be afraid of witches or demons or their alleged power, since it is insignificant compared to the power of Christ.

        3- What we should be wary is about people indeed starting to dabble in the occult, however. At best it is mere superstition, which is never good. At worst they might get in contact with something they shouldn’t

        4- Saying that there are ‘evil powers’ and ‘demons’ in the world does not mean we should be paranoid about it.
        Although the church and the scriptures teach us that there are such ‘evil powers’, they also teach we should not fret and be paranoid about them, since the power of Christ conquers all.

        It is wrong to see the devil everywhere, just as wrong as denying there is one.

        In a sense it’s like realizing that there are robbers and murderers in the world, at the same time not being paranoid that every person you see is a robber or murderer. Knowing that there are such criminals, however, will let you be more careful, which is good.

        We should acknowledge that there are ‘evil forces’ in the world, but not suspect everyone of being a devil. At the same time acknowledging that there are such evil forces should make you careful about some things, such as occult practices, self-proclaimed magicians or fortune-tellers, etc…

        This is what the medievals, which were smarter than what most people think, understood.

      • Howard

        Witches do not actually control demons, but they do invite their company. And yes, demons do have real power to do harm, even to the baptized, though that power is not unlimited; the primary threat from demons is indeed spiritual, but they can and do influence the material world as well. These facts are affirmed by Scripture and Tradition; what was actively discouraged were the fanciful elements, such as that “in the dead of night they ride upon certain beasts along with the pagan goddess Diana”, or the execution of witches suspected of having caused bad weather.

    • kenneth

      Aleister Crowley was not a “warlock.” No one in any serious modern occult or neo-pagan circles self-identifies by that term. It is silly and has insulting overtones. Crowley also was not a “witch” of any kind. He had a brief correspondence near the end of his life with Gerald Gardner, who popularized/invented modern Wicca, but Crowley was not at all Wiccan himself. He practiced ceremonial magick in the Order of the Golden Dawn tradition and later Ordo Templi Orientalis, a Masonic-type lodge which he formed into his own religion called Thelema based upon the revelations he supposedly received in Egypt. Crowley’s occult work was a synthesis of Tarot, Kabbalah (as incorporated in Christian mystical traditions), alchemy, astrology and various ideas of neoplatonism and gnosticism which had been swirling around for centuries, though not direct descendants of ancient pagan religions.

      It’s a distinction that is lost on the “spiritual warfare” crowd, as all distinctions are lost upon them. Christian anti-occult crusaders who hold themselves forth as experts on neo-paganism reveal their glaring ignorance within the first few paragraphs of anything they write. It is clear that none of them have ever spent any time around real pagans and most have not even done any cursory research on the subject. They quote their “facts” from the recycled and unsourced cesspool of common knowledge and lurid folklore that is recycled from one “demon fighter” to another. Everyone “knows” occultists are all troubled deluded devil worshippers just as everyone “knew” the Jews were secretly performing blood sacrifice and scheming to enslave the world….

      • bobster

        no. wiccans just worship the creation rather than the creator.

      • Ismael

        No one said neo-pagans are all evil devil-worshippers.
        I think you are just filtering what father Dwight writes through your own prejudice.

        POINT ONE: you are colling people ignorant, but you are ignorant yourself.

        - No one claims neo-pagans are evil satanists and demon possessed.
        - What it is claimed is that neo-paganism and modern forms of ‘witchcraft’ are dangerous practices. It’s a whole different storu.

        POINT TWO:
        - Fr Dwight did not say Crowley was a wiccan. He said “witch”.
        -Crowley WAS a ‘witch’ in the borad sense of the word since he clearly dabbled in occult and magical practices.
        He was not a wiccan, but wicca is only a branch of neo-paganism. There is als druidism, varous forms of satanism (like LaVey’s or the Temple of Set) and many others.
        You state yourself: “He practiced ceremonial magick in the Order of the Golden Dawn”, so he could and is considered to be a ‘witch’ in the broad sense of the word. He also practiced aother tipes of magick, such as ‘sex magick’.

        “their glaring ignorance within the first few paragraphs of anything they write. It is clear that none of them have ever spent any time around real pagans and most have not even done any cursory research on the subject. They quote their “facts” from the recycled and unsourced cesspool of common knowledge and lurid folklore that is recycled from one “demon fighter” to another.”

        I think you ate deluding yourself.

        True there are some people like that, but I think you are just as bad as they are, since clearly you stopped after the first few sentences of Fr. Dwight article and rushed off to the comment section to vomit your own ignorant statements.

        I let you know that many Christians are well know of what occurs in the world of neo-paganism, with extensive academical studies as well.

        I think it’s rather neo-pagans or bigots like you who know nothing about Christians or if they do they generalize and include them all in some stereotype they formed into their minds.

        So Thank you Kenneth for sharing your own ignorance.

        • kenneth

          “He practiced ceremonial magick in the Order of the Golden Dawn”, so he could and is considered to be a ‘witch’ in the broad sense of the word. ….

          By this standard of scholarship, we could lump together a Fourth Century Arian heretic, LDS founder Joseph Smith, and G.K. Chesteron as “followers of a messianic Middle Eastern cult” and thus functionally equivalent in theology and practice.

      • Achilles

        Kenneth, you mention being one of the youngest in your “traditional coven” or whatever you are in, and how could that be surprising, a bunch of old hippies grooven on the upside down broken cross the modern world calls the peace sign.

        Are you not aware that 80% of all people who dare to set foot inside an asylum of higher education lose their faith? That is a surprisingly low number considering that most people your age were never properly catechized in the first place and the university itself has devolved into a scientistic materialist’s dream. Man is the measure of all things only impresses citizens of the City of Man as St. Augustine would describe it. Your speech of masters degrees and above and medical profession speaks of the debased idolatry of this age. You talked of “discernment” and “calling” and just like your misplacement of value on human defined success, you have misused those words. One is not “called” by any kind of light to wicca. One is deceived in storing up treasures and false security here on earth. You really ought to learn about the faith you said you grew up in. If you are really able to discern, you might find that you end where you started and will “know the place for the very first time.”

        • kenneth

          With one or two exceptions, most of us are not hippies of any sort. We could easily blend in at a Republican fund raiser or prayer breakfast…

          I did know that college was a common time of doubt and drifting away from one’s birth religion. I was not aware of the 80% figure. If that is true, then Catholicism/Christianity have one of two serious and perhaps fatal problems. If the religion only appeals to the uneducated, it means A) it has no ideas that can withstand critical thinking OR (I think more likely), your apologetics and ability to witness are in utter shambles. In my experience, people see very little of Christ reflected in culture war and institutional Christianity these days. They also find that Christianity’s loudest proponents can rarely, if ever, construct a lucid and reasoned argument that does not rely on insults and invective. My case in point is Wicca and modern pagans. We are becoming visible in the culture and people are seeing for themselves that we are nothing like the lurid tales peddled by the “occult scare” crowd.

          I did learn something about my faith of origin. I spent 12 years in Catholic schools, served for years before the altar, earned the Ad Altare Dei award and was considered a potential candidate for the seminary at one point. I don’t expect to convince anyone here of the validity of my ultimate calling, but I can demonstrate that it was not lightly considered or uniformed, and it certainly was not the result of youthful dabbling and rebellion.

          • Achilles

            Good comments Kenneth, thank you.

          • Achilles

            Kenneth, I have been thinking about what you wrote. Certainly to look at your wicca friends you might confuse them for republicans, but what happened to all the hippies from the 60’s? They turned into yuppies. This point is not important, what is important is that we understand that the hippie peace sign that signifies the broken cross, or the abandonment of the cross, as well as the ancient death rune, that this sign represents the underlying principle of wicca. What does your group principle boil down to? You tell me Kenneth if I am wrong, but isn’t it “do what thou wilt and harm no one.” ?

            What you said about Catholicism not being able to stand up to critical thinking rests on the false assumption that when one attends a university one learns to think to think critically or correctly. Neither is true. In fact, to look at Catholicism through the lenses of wicca would be cognitive dissonance. Catholicism stands up to much more than just critical thinking, just look at all the great philosophers and how where they are not in error, they are in line with Holy Mother Church.

            There is no doubt that the American Catholic Church is much debilitated as are most of us Catholics. We have sunk almost as low as the wiccans when it comes to egoism, self will, narcissism and self deceit.

            But you know Kenneth, if you are as sharp a thinker as you seem to put forth here, or have really discerned your calling as your purport, perhaps you will agree with the following statement that answers the question: How do you judge the Catholic Church?
            Not by the heretics, not by us terrible sinners, not by those of us who break every commandment, not by the pedophile priests or those horrible men that would hide such atrocities, but……
            Answer: By Her doctrine and dogma- We can use intellectual tests to prove the veracity of Her claims but more importantly is an understanding of the supernatural gift of Faith. And most importantly, by those few who have lived out Her Creed, Doctrine, and Dogma, the Saints.

  • Tim

    Father Dwight, keep up the good work!

  • anna lisa

    I’m a 46-year-old mother of eight. When I was in the seventh grade at St. Raphael Catholic school, I happened upon a book that was in the bookcase of my classroom. I can’t remember the name, but for some reason I do remember the name of the author. His name was Anton LaVey. The book was about “Wicca” of which I knew absolutely nothing. What was interesting was that the more I read the greater was my sense of unease. It spoke of conjuring and garnering power which began to fascinate me. It was at this point that I heard the strangest of statements spoken clearly and urgently to my conscience: “You are a daughter of the Church.” I had never heard this terminology before until I read the classic works of the Saints years later, and I immediately recognized them and remembered what had happened. I fought off my curiosity to read on. There were specifically anti Christian prayers in the book. I quickly brought up the book to my teacher, who had never seen it before.

    • kenneth

      Anton LaVey had nothing to do with Wicca. He was a Satanist, which is really not even worship of Satan. It is really just a philosophy LaVey and some others cobbled together incorporating an extreme form of humanism, nihilism, Nietzchean and Randian philosophy.

      • marcus

        Hi Kenneth
        I am a late convert to Paganism (46 years old). I can not follow all the BS within the responses given to the fathers writing, but would like to state that within the year and a day – now 18months that I have been known as a pagan I can state that most Wiccans just like most Christians are not in the least bit evil but like all paths there are some that practice and teach things that should not be tought. If people were to do more research into pagan history they could identify Christian beliefs that are based on the Pagan religion such as Mithras and Jesus – both were supposed to be born on the 25th December. (Jesus was actually born in September, proven fact) both were visted by 3 kings, both walked on water, both performed miracles (healing the sick e.t.c) both were crucified, both rose after 3 days and ascended to heaven. All proven through writings e.t.c, and did any one know that the Vatican was built on a sacred pagan area dedicated to Mithras (Pagan God) proven fact – some of the original Roman architecture is still visible today. Actually most christian churchs e.t.c are built on old pagan ground. There are other gods that are told to be simular to Mithras and Jesus and all started their ministrys on or just after their 30th birthdays.

        Bright Blessings and harm to none.