I just subjected myself to one of the worst blog entries I’ve ever read. Which, knowing the internets, must be pretty bad. As it seems that riling me up is the only way to get me thrown headlong into the blogging process these days, here I am, full of disappointment and irritation yet again, as some well-meaning, but ultimately ignorant and unqualified person attempts to speak the Truth About The Occult, only to unknowingly make a fool out of them self and drive away the souls most in need of conversion.
Let me be clear– while I do try to swallow my irritation on most matters, in this case a person is not only misrepresenting the Catholic Church and Christianity, they are further alienating and pushing away many souls that, I rather rashly assume, they would deem most in need of saving and conversion. I am not writing this to Defend This Person or That– although in this case it may seem that way. I am writing this because I am concerned about good, devout people getting scammed again and again by frauds. I am concerned about these frauds (and their believers) unintentionally causing scandal to the Church. These things help no one, and cause great harm.
So, to my credentials for this subject: Yes, I am familiar with the occult. More than a passing acquaintance, though somewhat distant these days. Yes, I am currently a practicing Catholic, yes I go to Confession and sing in the Choir and read my Bible and bicker with others about the Traditional Latin Mass vs the Novus Ordo. So it is that I am just as familiar with Dion Fortune as I am with St. Therese of Lisieux. I am just as read in Manly P. Hall, Israel Regardie, and dear Frater Albertus, as I am with St. Bernard of Clairveaux, St. Hildegard von Bingen, and dear St. Francis de Sales. To be fair, I haven’t read Blavatsky, but neither have I read all that much Vianney. I have enjoyed puzzling through Agrippa and St. Albertus Mangus. Moreover, just as I can go to Mass, Confession or Adoration with little to no need for a “cheat sheet” (I am fond of my iConfess app), likewise can I navigate the standard LBRP, Middle Pillar, or Rose Cross Rituals with no need for script or index cards. [For the record to passing occultists: I leave out the SBRP and the LBRH because in the case of the former, I am uncomfortable with the Analysis of the Keyword and, for the latter, it uses Enochian, which I avoid, due to my conviction that not only was Dee deceived, but Kelley tried to tell him so and he (Dee) wouldn’t listen.] Finally, since it is near impossible to read any of the above occult authors without also having familiarity with Garnder, Starhawk or, Gawd-help-us, Silver RavenWolf, I have a more than passing familiarity with Wicca and modern Witchcraft, and mild knowledge of other, more traditional “Low Magic” traditions. (And yes, I have read Crowley, and I’m never getting those hours of my life back. . .)
I say all this not to brag (well, ok, maaaybe a little), but to try to demonstrate that I do actually have some idea of what I’m writing about. I am not the best expert, by far, but I do have some actual knowledge and experience here, which is better that half those YouTube frauds who say they were involved with this and that and prove their ignorance within 3 seconds. This is not to say there aren’t real people out there. It’s just. . . it’s not everyone. Any jack@ss can say these things, and most Christians would have no idea that they were being lied to. I am trying to separate myself from them. OK?
So, to the actual subject of this entry: How to Spot a Fake-Azz “Occult Expert” in Two Words.
It’s easy. The person, of their own volition and with no outside prompting (unlike this post, which is in fact prompted by at post at http://linenonthehedgerow.blogspot.com) or questioning, will utter or scribe these two words:
Yep. Again and again, I see posts or videos about how the Harry Potter books are evil, gateways to the occult, even. And not once has one of these presentations not been completely ignorant of A) Harry Potter or B) The Western Occult Tradition or C) Both. The reason for this is thus: Anyone that’s both actually read the Harry Potter series and actually studied/ practiced various aspects of the western occult tradition knows they have little to nothing in common. Like, here’s the Complete and Thorough Lyste of Commonalitys Betwixt The Twain:
1) There are, um, wands
2) And rocks
3)Cups involved somewhere
Latin! (That’s how you know it’s evil!) [Actually, no, now that I think about it, most occult stuff is in English, Enochian, or even Hebrew. Sometimes Latin, but that’s more rare.]
6) Nicholas Flamel and his wife Perenel (Though, to be fair, Alchemy isn’t really occult, as such. That will be explained in a post that has been sitting as a draft for 2 months, *sigh*)
7) People are referred to as a “Witch” or
“Wizard”. [Very few people refer to themselves as a “Wizard”. It’s kinda, um, cheesy. Like that airbrushed wizard on the neighborhood hippie’s van. . .]
8) People use brooms in some capacity.
9) There are Books!
10) Shady people
Wow. That’s a lot. I’m overwhelmed by the unique similarities. . . No, no, I’m not. I was being facetious. Because if I don’t cop something of an attitude, I’ll stop typing and throw things at my wall instead.
I’m not gonna fisk the whole post that prompted this one, simply because it would be grievously uncharitable to my brother in Christ, Richard Collins. However, to let this folly stand unanswered would be likewise uncharitable, permitting him to wallow in his blissful ignorance while he goes about slandering the innocent, perpetuating various frauds, and inciting unnecessary fear among the faithful.
Let me address the only worthy part of his writing first, when he brings up as a rather oblique reference (but fails to provide any linkage or citation) the letters between Ms. Kuby and then-Cardinal Ratzinger. In looking up this matter, I have found this well detailed and cited article by the aptly screen-named John Granger: Rita Skeeter Covers the Vatican. [I may have to add him to the blogroll.] Do read the whole thing. From this (and the rest of my reading, which was pretty much summed up by Mr. Granger), I would say simply that reports of Pope Benedict XVI condemning the Harry Potter novels are about as accurate as reports of
Pope Francis I endorsing Communism.[Edited 13 Dec 2016 because, after all this time, this comparison no longer works. Let us try the following:] disappearing ice caps and the immanent extinction of polar bears. [yes, I think that works better. For now.]
Mr. Collins, after vaguely mentioning the Kuby affair but failing to provide any actual information or link to such, and after proclaiming his own personal ignorance about Harry Potter (which, honestly, should have prevented him from writing this entry at all, unless as an inquiry) makes a list of claims from a presentation by Fr Chad Ripperger. I do not know Fr. Ripperger. Many there are that respect this man, and his is a professor, so I will assume that he is an expert indeed on many subjects. But there are a lot of people out there claiming to be experts about the occult, and exorcisms, that I have serious doubts about. (Point of fact, the only one I’ve even half-way credited in the past 10 years was Fr, Corapi, and we all know how well that turned out, don’t we?).
I will limit myself to the list that Mr. Collins reproduced, his writing in italics:
J K Rowling went to witch school before she wrote the books but denies being a witch.
Really? Which school? Lol, Which Witch School? I think there may be an actual group with a physical building all there own somewhere out in San Francisco. Maybe one in London, though I’ve not heard of one– I only postulate based on the long history of Britain and magical tradition. But that’s about it. There is no real Hogwarts, no real witch school. There are pagan and wiccan covens that offer classes (you can look them up via witchvox.com) or lessons, usually offered through someone’s home, the local “occult” bookstore, or sometimes even rented out room at a local library or community center.
Also, you can take those classes, finish them, and not be a witch. Just like someone can go through RCIA and then not get baptized. It happens.
To proclaim this as fact about Ms. Rowling is slander. It giving false witness against a neighbor. To pass along someone else’s slander is gossip, and still false witness against a neighbor.
The spells in the Harry Potter books are actual spells – witches confirm that & one woman in Spain decided to try the spell for fire and burnt her house to the ground.
No, they’re not. In none of Agrippa’s Four Books of Occult Philosophy, the writings of David Michael Kraig, Tyson, Gardner, Starhawk, (Gawd-help-us) Ravenwolf, or the massive compendium of 5,000 spells by Judica Illes, is there anything like the little spells given in Harry Potter. If requested, I’ll give examples–but only if requested.
As for the reported woman in Spain: That is, at best, a joke. Someone pulling someone else’s leg. Or maybe an outright lie. The spell for fire in Harry Potter is Incendio. If this actually worked I could save a ton of money for matches and lighters for my candles and incense. Also, I could make a ton of cash on stage in Vegas. You try it. Go out to your grill, maybe take some steaks or burgers out too, focus real hard, and proclaim Incendio! Use a wand or even staff if you really want to get into it. You know what the result will be? Funny looks from the neighbors, or, if they’re real Potter-geeks, they’ll turn their hose on you while shouting Aguamenti!
I do have a memory of a rumor of some poor fool who, one day, was crafting his Enochian Elemental Tables and, prior to completion, decided to step out the door to grab a bit to eat.. He returned to find his house in ashes. However, I cannot find a written reference to such a story at this time, either in print or on the internet, so I cannot think it credible. But even so, it is more credible than some story about a woman saying “Incendio” and burning her house down.
Finally, as mentioned above, few magical spells, even under the loosest of definitions, are in Latin. They are in the caster’s native tongue. In the west, we can add Hebrew and Enochian to the mix. You know the roots of this Latin-is-magic idea? Anti-Catholic tracts written during the Reformation, and specifically during the time of Oliver Cromwell, and more recently, the “writings” of Jack Chik. In fact, most of the western/ American idea of witches has roots in Anti-Church sentiment and propaganda dating from these times (or earlier days, when the Church was still converting pagans. Looks to the origins of the terms “Spell” and “Grimoire”, and remember where Morgana Le Fay learned her “Magic”). The statement above resurrects those old slanders, only now it is the Catholics themselves spreading it.
Not only does this claim again slander Ms. Rowling, but it also perpetuates a centuries old slander against the Church Herself.
One exorcist claims to have done the footwork and claims that 60% of the names in Harry Potter are actual names of demons that exorcists have booted out of people.
Mmm, no. Maybe roughly 60% of the names are names like Harry, Ron, Seamus, Fredrick,
George, Margaret, William, Percival, Neville, Lily, Rose, Narcissus, James, Tobias, Tomas, Peter, Dean, Padma, Dudley, Petunia, or Vernon. The there are another 39% are the names of astronomical bodies (Draco, Scorpius, Regulus, Sirius, Luna, maybe toss Minerva into that classification, too?), or Latinate names like Albus, Rubeus, Remus, or Severus,with a few deliberately scary sounding names for bad guys like “Voldemort” and “Lucius”– the latter of which is not all that rare (see the most recent Batman films for Lucius Fox), but kinda maybe sounds like “Lucifer”. (Because he’s very pretty and very bad, yeah?).
Now, I suppose it’s possible that exorcists have booted out demons claiming some of those names. But these aren’t the names of demons found in texts involving demons. Granted, I never had much truck with Demonology, really much preferring Angelology. But, can’t study the latter without brushing up against the former, so usually, you don’t run into names like those listed above. At least not in the things that Rowling might have pulled names from.
One exorcist – a friend of the exorcist – has had to exorcise 3 children just for reading the Harry Potter books.
This makes no sense. Was it the exorcist or his friend who did it? And how, precisely, was it determined that Harry Potter was the cause of the possession? Because, you know, cases for valid and properly Church Regulated exorcisms are supposed to go through rigorous study and evaluation (and, one assumes, rigorous reporting to the Bishop) prior to an exorcism. You can’t just show up at someone’s house and toss off an exorcism. . .
The exorcist was involved in a case where the 5 demons expelled from that possessed person claimed that they were the demons who inspired J K Rowling to write Harry Potter.
You know, if I was a demon, seeking to sow discord, anxiety, and sin among God’s faithful. . . I’d say the same thing. Are we seriously taking demons at their word? I mean, I know they often use and twist Truth, but. . .I’m pretty sure that the scions of the Father of Lies might be eager to say things that aren’t true at all.
In fact, I know they do.
The exorcist’s advice: avoid it! Experienced exorcists are very clear: stay away from it!
. . . see previous.
Demons are always looking to get glory. They get glory in this life by their name being pronounced and said. Every time you read those books or pronounce those words you are actually giving glory to them.
So, we should stop reading the Bible? Specifically, parts about King Solomon, Gog and Magog, parts of Daniel, Revelation, and pretty much the entire Book of Tobit?
And, we should stop reading Faust? The Tempest? The Divine Comedy? Paradise Lost?
Because the Bible plus those other works are pretty much the reading list for Demonology 101. And, let’s be honest, Rowling has nothing on them when it comes to total readership and esteem in the literature world.
There is a lot of glorification of certain disorders which are very subtle in the books. For example it’s OK to lie in order to get a good thing to come as a result of it.
I’m thinking specifically of the Lie of Narcissa Malfoy, near the end of Deathly Hallows. Wherein Narcissa lies to Voldemort to save Harry Potter’s life (and by extension the life of her own son, Draco).
I will grant that this is always a tricky moral question. Is it morally permissible to lie in order to save the life of another?
Well, not to invoke Godwin’s law, but at roughly 2500 words here, maybe I’m due: If one is hiding Jews in one’s attic, is it morally right or wrong to lie when the Nazi’s come knocking? Let us leave aside questions of trying to evacuate them completely. Let us also understand that misdirection or twisting of truth in order to deceive is, morally speaking, still a lie. Likewise, failing to say anything would have to be, in this circumstance, a positive response.
The Nazi’s come, and ask you point blank: “Yes or no, are there Jews within the confines of this building?”
If you refuse to lie, you say “yes”, and you betray them to slaughter. If you protect them, you lie, and say “no”. I don’t see any way around this.
And frankly, I’d take the time in Purgatory if assigned for such a lie rather than betray them to the camps. Because If I spoke that one, truthful word, I would loose all pretext of faith, honor, or courage. The guilt of it would crush me to the end of my days, at least.
Yes, lying is bad. We shouldn’t do it. But I fail to see how betrayal is somehow a better choice.
And if, in this choice, the answer is that a lie becomes a fuzzy gray. . .well, then, maybe Rowling has a bit of a point.
When you tell people that you shouldn’t let your kids read Harry Potter, the purely visceral response you get as a result tells the exorcist that there is something diabolic about the whole thing.
Or, maybe, just maybe, we tired of people making up things to just draw attention to themselves, to make prop themselves up as experts or gurus at the expense of Truth. Maybe we’re tired of slander, of lies, of misrepresentations, of being made to feel guilty for sharing quality time with our children, our parents, our siblings and friends. Maybe this one final post has grated on that one last nerve, and after years of holding it in, we finally get tired of being silent, of taking the abuse of others without protest. And yes, this is abusive, when you deliberately incite fear in order to make others dependent on you in any way.
Is there real evil out there? Yes. Do I believe that demons and angels do exist and interact with humans? Yes. Do I believe that some books are dangerous and should not be read? YES (I didn’t at one point, then I read Crowley’s Book of the Law and my brain was alien to me for three days, and that changed my mind on that point).
But the writings of JK Rowling do not fit into this category. And I am beyond tired of people who claim to be experts spreading slander and misrepresentations to the people that trust them. I don’t know who was ultimately responsible for the origins of the statements above. I give that benefit doubt to Fr. Ripperger. I assume he was merely passing along what he’d heard or read elsewhere.
That said, both he and Mr. Collins have passed said slander along with no critique, no investigation, no search to see if that which is verifiable in any way can, in fact, be verified. This is where I believe my brothers in Christ have made error– they have gossiped and slandered the name of not only JK Rowling, but all whom have read and enjoyed her books and shared them with friends and family. They have borne false witness, even if not of their own invention. Whether this false witness was intentional or not is something beyond my ability to know or discern and is, frankly, none of my business.
I shall only pray that they continue to progress ever closer to He that is the Origin of all that is Good, True, and Beautiful, and that they be open to said Goodness, Truth, and Beauty in whatever way He sent it to them.
I find it interesting that not only do people not know about occult, but apparently little of their own tradition either. They are in need of picking up a few primary sources… and then maybe a few secondary as well ^___^
I am also interested that Tolkien gets a pass, but Rowling is thrown to the fire – didn’t see a satisfactory explanation on that one.
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I’m fine with most people not knowing a thing about the occult — The Western Tradition has gone so off the rails in the past few centuries that untangling that mess take a lot more time and effort than most people can dedicate to the task because they have, quite frankly, better things to do. However, not knowing the subject, then, they should be careful of their proclamations on the subject.
The appalling ignorance of Catholics in reagrds to their own religion–its history, its many and varied traditions, it’s actual teachings vs. media sensationalism– still astounds me. Especially from people who really ought to know better.
Tolkien and, for that matter, Lewis, get a pass I think because they were, outside of their science fiction and fantasy writings, outspoken Christians, with tomes of apologetics or other similar writings also out there to establish their bona-fides as Proper and Good, God-Fearing Men. Whereas Rowling only has Potter (and, now, a detective series).
Never mind that the few incantations we hear from Gandalf are closer to Ceremonial Magick than anything Rowling wrote. Likewise, Lewis demonstrated understand in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe a clear understanding of the nature of the deep rooted British Magical Tradition, and furthermore, the relationship of Christ (Aslan) to such a tradition. You see in Jadis that Tradition out of balance, out of control, with no clear focus or direction. But, with Aslan-Christ, the Deep Magic finds direction and purpose. Instead of working to shore up the power of the White Witch, it now flows to serve the greater glory of not only Narnia, but the Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea.
Finally, I think this is because certain people always need a clear and set bogey-man, but are too lazy or cowardly to attack the truly evil, ro root out the real dangers. Why do all these people focus on Rowling, but fail to bring up the O.T.O.? The Temple of Set?
Either Lazy, or Cowards, or Both.
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Could we add potential ignorance masking stupidity to that last line? I continue to be astounded by people that simply refuse to do the right thing because of ignorance – some feigned.
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Sure we can! I generally sort such things under “Lazy”, though, because ignorance can be fixed if you’re willing to do the work. Stupidity, I suppose, not so much. . . but I’m loathe to allow that, because falling back on calling someone stupid in an argument is generally a sure sign that you yourself have nothing further to contribute, so I try to avoid that. . . 🙂
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I concur, but I am open to being proven wrong. I believe stupidity is a symptom of a larger disease that could also fall under many names such as apathy.
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I wholeheartedly agree! Excellent article.
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Reblogged this on J-M's History Corner.
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