Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

One of the blessings along my journey of studying world religions has been meeting the people who practice them. Following is a transcript of an interview with a very gracious witch who practices hoodoo. Comments are welcome.

Posted with permission from dragon_cooky.

 

jbnb31691: Hello, Ren. Do you have time to talk?
dragon_cooky: Sure
jbnb31691: So tell me about hoodoo. Is that a form of voodoo?
dragon_cooky: It is of of African origin characterized by the casting of spells using herbs and roots..  Not really Voodoo, but close..  Voodoo is more spiritual than hoodoo..  there is a lot  of ritual and working with saints..
jbnb31691: How were you introduced to the practice?
dragon_cooky: Here is a definition that might help..
dragon_cooky: Hoodoo consists of a large body of African folkloric practices and beliefs with a considerable admixture of American Indian botanical knowledge and European folklore. Although most of its adherents are black, contrary to popular opinion, it has always been practiced by both whites and blacks in America. Other regionally popular names for hoodoo in the black community include “conjuration,” “conjure,” “witchcraft,” “rootwork,” and “tricking.” The first three are simply English words; the fourth is a recognition of the pre-eminence that dried roots play in the making of charms and the casting of spells, and the fifth is a special meaning for a common English word.
jbnb31691: Is this something you learned from your parents? How were you introduced to the practice?
dragon_cooky: I saw a voodoo doll in a store once, several years ago..  I was curious about it origins so I bought a couple books about Voodoo..  That led me to learning about hoodoo..   Since hoodoo is more spell work that actual religious work, it was easy for me to get into it..  I have been pagan all my life anyway, so the transisition wasn’t difficult..
dragon_cooky: I guess hoodoo is just another form of spell work for me..  It’s not full of rules or ritualistic as wicca..
jbnb31691: You say you have been pagan all your life. What does that mean to you? Is this something you learned from your family?
dragon_cooky: Partly..  My father was Mormon, though not very good at it..  My mother was mormon only because my father was..  We were all free to learn about other religions and lifestyles..  Paganism just seemed to come a little more naturally to me..  Mormonism just didn’t make any sense..  At least not to me..
jbnb31691: LOL, Mormonism doesn’t make sense to me either. You might have gathered that from my blog. What is it about witchcraft that appeals to you?
dragon_cooky: The freedom of it..  The practicality..  There is no leader or book telling you what is right and wrong..  What you should or should not do..  It’s up to me to decide what is right and wrong..  Did that make sense?
dragon_cooky: Wicthcraft isn’t really as strange as it sounds..  It really just deciding what you want, who you want to be and making that happen..
jbnb31691: Of, course. It was my understanding that is what Wicca is as well. Picking and choosing your gods, and creating your own worship experience. Although it seems to me you enjoy the practice minus the worship. Am I right?
dragon_cooky: Yes and no..  Wicca isn’t a very old religion..  IN MY OPINION, wicca is just something created by a man who didn’t like being christian..  He  took what he liked from old pagan beliefs, and added rules to it..
dragon_cooky: I do worship, I pray, I believe in karma, I believe in more than one god..  I even believe that the god of the bible does exist.. 
dragon_cooky: There is very little actual witchcraft in wicca.. 
jbnb31691: From what I have learned from my research the practice of witchcraft and sorcery dates back to biblical times and beyond. But I want to learn more of what you practice and believe.
jbnb31691: Well, from the books I have read from Wicca practices they seem to think they are practicing witchcraft.
dragon_cooky: Yes, the do think that..  They also think that dancing naked around a fire is going to get them what they want..  lol
jbnb31691: So how do you determine what spells and when you are going to cast?
dragon_cooky: Lte me think of a way to answer that in a way that makes sense..
jbnb31691: OK, tell me how you get what you want from your craft.
dragon_cooky: Oh that’s easy..  It’s mostly manifistation..  I know what I want, I see myself having what I want..  I believe that I will get what I want..  I KNOW I will get what I want, and I get it..
dragon_cooky: That sounded really stupid didn’t it?
dragon_cooky: When we do a spell, it’s not much different than a prayer..  We just use other things besides out voice..  Herbs, roots, oils, other components..
jbnb31691: No, it confirms what I have read. You say that you believe the god of the bible exists, that seems to be unique. Most witches reject the bible as archaic and irrelevant. What do you know of the god of the Bible?
jbnb31691: How do you think these materials help you get what you want?
dragon_cooky: I have studied some of the bible..  Some I simply do not believe..  BUT, unlike other pagans who believe that the bible and everything in it is untrue, I look at it like this..  If we can believe there is an Odin, a Zeuse, Ra, etc..  Why is it so difficult to believe there is a god of the hebrews also?
dragon_cooky: Oh, the roots and stuff..  Everything has energy..  It’s simply manipulating that energy..  It’s really no different than herbs that have medicinal purposes..  We just believe that certain things can do more than just heal..
jbnb31691: Tolerance is the hallmark of your belief system and I think your opinion is in agreement with that worldview.
dragon_cooky: Ah..  Tolerance..
jbnb31691: Where do you suppose the energy comes from?
dragon_cooky: Funny..  EVERY pagan/wiccan will tell you that they value tolerance above all else..  I will probably be stoned or burned at the stake for saying this, but that is a big fat lie..  At least for just about every pagan and wiccan I have ever met..
jbnb31691: Well, you know, they wouldn’t be practicing and dedicating their lives and lifestyle to something they did not believe to be true. In doing so, they believe all other opposing beliefs to be false. Black cannot be white. True?
dragon_cooky: True..  But to preach tolerance abouve all else and then damn every christian they pass on the street is hypocritical..  They want christans to tolerate them, but they have no tolerance of their own..
dragon_cooky: If your a chirstian, you are wrong..  If you preach or try to convert anyone to christianity, you are a bad person..  Yet they all do the very same thing..
dragon_cooky: They refuse to believe one word of the bible, yet they will believe every word written by people live Ravenwolf.. 
dragon_cooky: Sorry, I’m ranting..
jbnb31691: Some prophessing Christians commit the same sin, condemning where we have no position to do so and in violation of what we are taught in scripture. But you bring up another point. witches do not evangelize. Why do you think that is?
dragon_cooky: I can’t say that none of them do..  But I think they don’t simply because that would be far to openly hypocritical..  You can’t condem every christian for doing so, and then turn around and do it yourself..  Another reason my be that they are afraid or persecution..  Or, maybe they just don’t know enought information about their craft to actualy argue about it..  Me personally, I don’t feel that I need to.. I don’t think I need to go out and tell the world to learn about what I do.. 
dragon_cooky: Or follow what I believe.. 
dragon_cooky: I don’t know..  Could it be that many christains feel that they need to “save” others?
dragon_cooky: When you don’t believe in hell, or that those who do not follow Christ will burn in hell, maybe there isn’t the need to save them from it?
dragon_cooky: I have to go outside for a smoke..  I’ll be back in a couple minutes..
jbnb31691: I posted a great video from comedian Penn Gillete, an atheist, commenting on this very thing. If I believe that I know how you can have eternal life, and I don’t tell you, what a cruel thing that is. I cannot save anyone. But if I know someone who can, isn’t introducing you to Him the right thing to do? How about you? What do you believe happens when you die?
jbnb31691: Not only can I not save anyone else, I cannot save myself. That is why Chrisitans surrender to a Savior.
dragon_cooky: That makes perfect sense
jbnb31691: What do you believe happens when you die?
dragon_cooky: We believe in reincarnation..
dragon_cooky: most pagans and wiccans do, though what happens and why?  Well there are different opinions about that..
dragon_cooky: Wiccans and many pagans believe that we are put on this earth to learn a lesson..  We may have to live several lives to leanr this lesson..  when we do, our souls will go to whereever it is we are meant to go..  the summerland, heaven, Asgaard..  Some sort of afterlife..
jbnb31691: What convinced you that reincarnation is true?
dragon_cooky: I don’t believe that we are meant to leanr a lesson..  If you do believe in past lives, no one remembers what they learned in those lives..  If you are meant to learn a lesson, how can you learn it if you don’t remember what you learned in your previous one?
jbnb31691: You seem to be ahead of the game, Ren!
dragon_cooky: Yeah, I rock..  LOL 😀
jbnb31691: So, if you are not here to learn a lesson, and reincarnation is hokey, what is the purpose of your life?
dragon_cooky: I don’t think reincarnation is hokey, I believe that the wiccans reason for it is..  I think we choose to live other lives..  I don’t believe that each person is put on this earth for a certain period of time and that’s that..
dragon_cooky: I think the purpose of my life is to simply be..  To live, love, hurt, give birth, etc..  That sounded quite Buddish didn’t it?
jbnb31691: Oh, OK, I apologize. I hope you are not offended by my comment. I misunderstood.
dragon_cooky: Not at all
dragon_cooky: I believe that our creators put us on this earth to live our lives, to experience the joy and the heartache of life..  Rather simple, but that’s what I believe..
jbnb31691: Why do you think to live, love, hurt, give birth, etc. are important? Are you here just to experience life? Do you have any eternal value?
dragon_cooky: That, I am not sure of..  That is the big question isn’t it?  What will happen when I die?  I can believe with all my heart that what I have studied and learned is correct, but when I die, I may just find out that I was completly wrong..  I may learn that there is only one god, or no god..  I may even learn that there is nothing after death..  So I guess it all comes down to the F-word..  Faith..
dragon_cooky: I suppose it’s all a matter of choice..  What do I choose to believe?  I guess that is what we all do..
dragon_cooky: I think it’s the same for any belief system..  Athiests believe there is nothing, Christians believe there is heaven or hell, pagans believe in reincarnation..  No one forces us to believe any of this..  We choose to believe it..
jbnb31691: What do you have faith in?
dragon_cooky: Honestly?  This will sound incredibly smug..  I have faith in myself..  I have faith that I know what is right for myself..  I have faith in karma.. 
jbnb31691: Why do you think that is smug?
dragon_cooky: I assumed you would think it was 🙂
dragon_cooky: I suppose for many people it is easier to say that they have faith in god..  That no matter what happens, god will care for them and see them though anything.. 
dragon_cooky: Kind of like our children know that whatever happens, their parents will take care of them..
jbnb31691: I cannot create nor sustain my own existence, can you?
jbnb31691: It only makes sense to me to trust the One who can.
dragon_cooky: So the question would be, who is that one?
jbnb31691: We can’t both be right, can we?
jbnb31691: We could both be wrong.
jbnb31691: Is it possible for you to live consistently within your worldview, or have you experienced some contradictions?
dragon_cooky: I believe that the gods created us..  but I do not believe that our lives are planned out for us..  I don’t believe that we are simply playthings for some higher power..  I believe that we were put on this earth to make our own mistakes, solve our own problems and decide what is right or wrong..  I simply can not believe that there is a higher power just waiting for us to cry out for help every time we face a preoblem.. 
dragon_cooky: Did that make sense?
dragon_cooky: We could both be wrong, true..
dragon_cooky: again, it’s comes down to faith I guess..
jbnb31691: Absolutely. The bible tells us that this attitude to do things our own way with out acknowledging the source of our existence is what causes all of our problems. Isn’t that why you practice witchcraft? To solve your problems? What do you see as humanity’s biggest problem?
dragon_cooky: I think humanity is humanity’s biggest problem..
dragon_cooky: kidding..
dragon_cooky: I think if people seriously just lived and let live, we would all be better off.. 
dragon_cooky: We have a lot of problems..  Power, greed, self gratification..  The whole “top of the foodchain” mentality..
jbnb31691: I don’t usually quote scripture to unbelievers, but you keep referring to faith and the necessity of it. Would it intrigue you to know that my God agrees with you? Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
dragon_cooky: That doesn’t surprise me at all..
dragon_cooky: But like I said, I do believe there is a hebrew god..  I just don’t believe he is the only god..
dragon_cooky: If you don’t mind me asking, what religion are you?
jbnb31691: If live and let live is relative without any universal standard to measure right or wrong, it seems that your philosophy of life is embraced by most people. If I am the one who determines what is right, then it is. If you determine what is right, then it is. Seems incredibly selfish.
jbnb31691: I have faiht in Jesus Christ. That He is who he says he is and he will do what he says he will do. Not without reason, but because of the evidence supporting the truth of his existence.
dragon_cooky: Who is to say what is right or wrong?  I know what is right for me..  Is it not selfish to say “I am the creator of all things, only I know what is right for you, don’t think for yourself, just do what I tell you..”?
dragon_cooky: Oh, I have no doubt that Christ existed..  However I do not believe that he was the son of a god.. 
jbnb31691: It would be incredibly selfish, if he were not the creator of all. Doesn’t it make sense that my maker would know what is best for me? You brought up children earlier. Children have a limited understanding of their world and their existence just as you and I. As parents, we discipline them, protect and provide for them. Just as God does for us. It is when the child rebels that they hurt themselves or others.
dragon_cooky: Yes, and then when they reach a certain age, we let them go..  Though we worry that they may not make what we think are the right choices, they are still free to make them..
jbnb31691: Absolutely, and God allows us the freedom to choose as well. There are those who say to God, “They will be done.” and there are those to whom God says, “Have it your way.” CS Lewis
jbnb31691: Thye not they
jbnb31691: good grief I can’t spelll
dragon_cooky: I guess we will have to agree to disagree then..  And my spelling has been horrible all morning..  I haven’t had enough coffee
jbnb31691: I thank you for your graciousness in sharing your thoughts with me this morning, Ren. I’ll let you get to your coffee. Have a lovely day. I hope that we can chat another time!
dragon_cooky: Anytime.. Have a good day..

Wicca and witchcraft are everywhere from TV to video games and best selling novels. It’s influence continues to grow with the lack of absolutes in our culture paving the way for Wicca popularity. The promise of power over others and the lure of a female friendly religion is intoxicating to the younger generations. The environmentally friendly Wicca has gained ground in segments of the population that the church has lost due to the perception that Christianity is judgmental and male dominant. Moral absolutes are rejected so there is no need to appeal to a silent God for salvation or assistance.

HISTORY AND BELIEFS
There is no agreement on the age of Wicca, but evidence supports the thousands year old suggestion. There is also disagreement on the origin of the belief system which is possibly European. There is no founder and no common doctrine. The Wiccan beliefs date back to the Druids and the Celts, but because it is a “build-as-you-go” religion it is constantly being repackaged to maintain a modern feel while retaining centuries old  traditions. At the core of  Wicca belief is the Wicca Rede, a rule that states, “An ye harm none, do what ye will.”1  There exists no absolutes in Wicca, so “harm no one” is nothing more than a relative idea such that all understandings of the meaning  would be right. Another rule that most Wiccans follow is the Threefold Law. This is the Wiccan version of karma which states, “Ensure that your actions are honorable, for all that you do shall return to you, threefold, good or bane.” Since there is no universal standard of good within the Wiccan belief system, good or bad remains relative to the practitioner. The religion draws mainly on experience and rejects any religious authority.

The Wiccan will choose two deities on which to build their religion. These deities are one female and one male, and drawn from the gods of any variety of religious lore be it Greek, Hindu, Roman, Egyptian, etc. but not mixed and matched. The Wicca builds his or her pantheon of gods depending on what appeals to them. The freedom to create one’s own personal experience of worship is the main appeal for most Wiccans. With no doctrine or authority to dictate the worship experience, the Wiccan instead works in harmony with the deities rather than simply begging for assistance.

Wicca is grounded in the worship of the earth which is a living goddess blessing us and which must be nurtured in return.2  The All existed before the creation of the earth. The female spirit gave birth to the male spirit and though they are two, they are one. They gave birth to the universe and the goddess dwells in all things. With the seasons, eight Sabbats are celebrated within each coven to honor the goddess. The Wiccan circle in spell-casting represents life and life cycles. They believe that death is only a transformation and that all is reborn, so the circle offers protection as a magical barrier in spell-casting .3  The rituals of Wicca are designed to develop a greater awareness of the unseen “energy” within the universe and to restore harmony between Mother Earth and Wiccans.
 

The deepest need of every human is to learn from experiences, so every witch has a Book of Shadows which acts as a diary chronicling spells, magick, life experiences, lessons learned and ultimately their feelings. It is through their feelings or six sense that they perfect their knowledge. A witch’s spells are only as powerful as the emotions the spell raises inside of her. Spell casting and magick are a vital part of Wicca practices and are performed in an altered state of consciousness in order to manipulate the universe. The practice is used to discipline the mind and cause creation to yield to their will.

Wiccans believe in reincarnation, but if a soul is not ready to come back it can choose to serve as a spirit guide. There is no heaven or hell, but there is a place called Summerland where the spirit goes to contemplate the previous life. Ultimately when a spirit has learned all it can out of life, it will be absorbed into the All. The monistic and pantheistic flavor of Wicca belief eliminates the need to appeal to a higher power since all is god, making proselytizing unnecessary.

CHRISTIAN EVALUATION

Contrary to Wiccan belief two opposing beliefs cannot both be true, one or none, but not both. Not surprisingly Wiccans reject the Bible as outdated and irrelevant. But the historical data supporting the truth of scripture is hard for the Wiccan to counter. God vehemently condemned the practice of witchcraft, sorcery and pagan worship in Deuteronomy 18:9-13.

 9 When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. 13 You must be blameless before the Lord your God.

 Although the initial condemnation in the Old Testament was thousands of years ago, it was confirmed again in the New Testament in Galatians 5:19-21.

 19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

God does not change His mind. Wicca is still a condemned practice today. We do not get a second chance or numerous opportunities to learn from our life experiences as Wiccans assert. Hebrews 9:27 says, “Just as a man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgement.” God is very clear in the just punishment for those violating His perfect law in Revelation 21:8, “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

None of us have the power to create or sustain our own existence. Any energy that we need to survive is found outside of ourselves, not within. There is only one all powerful source for our existence, the God of scripture. And there is only one who can provide salvation from the just penalty of our sin, Jesus Christ. Yahweh is the only power who can transform a life from ashes to beauty.

1. Steve Russo, What’s the Deal with Wicca? (Bloomington, MD: Bethany House Publishers, 2005), 19.

2. Ibid., 22.

3. J. Philip Rhodes, Wicca Unveiled (Glastonbury, Somerset, Great Britain: Speaking Tree Books, 2000), 27.

 

With thanks to my friends of the Craft for sharing their thoughts with me. Merry meet.

This is why I tolerate the insults.

In response to Walton-

You have raised a question that I had wrestled with for many years.

 

“If God exists, then He must be Omni-benevolent. But an Omni-benevolent God would not condemn innocent people to hell.”  So how do Christians reconcile this? I did not find a satisfactory answer until I attended seminary, in spite of grilling every pastor and Sunday school teacher I ever had.

 

I don’t do this with unbelievers, but since you profess Christianity, I will respond with scripture.

 

It appears from your comment that you agree that God is Omni-benevolent, so I will begin with the question of how an all-good God can condemn innocent people.

 

One error is in the assumption that innocent people exist. Reading Romans 3 we learn that no one is righteous, not even one. We all fall short of the glory of God. This means that everyone is guilty of sin, of missing God’s perfect standard. We are all guilty. No one is innocent. Not the suburban housewife, not the pygmy in the tree, no one.

 

Now, since you claim to be a Christian, I am also going to assume that you claim Christ as your Lord and Savior bringing me to the next point. With the certainty of eternal damnation, eternal salvation is necessary. The wages of sin is death. But how can someone who has never heard of Christ be held accountable for what has not been revealed to him? The answer is: we are each held accountable to the revelation we have received.

 

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Romans 1:18-25

 

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.g 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” John 3:16-21

 

This still leaves the suburban housewife and the pygmy in the tree held to a standard they cannot keep, and owing a debt they cannot pay. We are all given general revelation concerning God’s existence Rom. 1:20, and concerning our moral condition Rom. 1:18, John 3:19. So what is the solution? The Omni-benevolent God we serve provides special revelation, if we seek him through general revelation.

 

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

9 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  Matt. 7:7-11

 

20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Rev. 3:20

 

Finally, our salvation relies upon the sovereignty of all good and all loving God. If God is all powerful and sovereign, then He will save all those who seek and trust Him. Because He is all loving, He does not force anyone into His presence against their will.

 

It is appointed to every man, once to die and then judgment. Heb. 9:27

Mark 8:1-9 records Jesus feeding the 4000. The text begins with Jesus telling his disciples in his compassion that he is concerned about the people who had been listening to him for three days. He did not want to send them off without anything to eat. They had a few fish and loaves of bread which Jesus blessed and distributed among the over 4000 present before sending them on their way.

Mark 8:6 “He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people, and they did so.”

Jesus addressed a basic need out of compassion for those who followed him, filling that need to overflowing. But it was not until the people obeyed the voice of the Lord, ordered themselves and sat down that they were satisfied. Can you imagine all of the commotion with thousands of men women and children milling around for three days and suddenly the Lord saying, “Please be seated!”

This is a reminder to me that when I am anticipating provision from the Lord, that I need to be seated. I need to be still. But before that I have to drop everything and focus on the Lord, giving Him my undivided attention so that I can hear his instruction.

Are you in a waiting pattern right now? Have you positioned yourself to hear His instruction? Sometimes if you want to be filled, all that is required of you is to be seated.