Chapter 24: Demonic Oppression
“And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized.”–Acts 9:18
Two weeks after saying the prayer, I found a part-time job as a school based social worker. I didn’t put the two events together at the time, but looking back I know God’s hand was in that. I wish I could say I thanked God for the job, but I wasn’t aware of the concept of gratitude and humility then. I felt as if I had earned the job solely by my own merits, as if it were owed to me for my hard work. God rewarded those who worked hard, so that’s what I believed.
The job was as a good opportunity, but it wasn’t my first choice per se. I would be working with elementary school children to help them improve social skills in the classroom. It was out of my comfort zone in that I was accustomed to working with rebellious teens, not toddlers. I had been using the teen vernacular to relate to the kids for so long, that learning to communicate with younger children felt a bit like speaking a foreign language. I found myself in a strange new environment where the phrases ‘Use your walking feet” and “Chew your food” were everyday jargon. Another aspect of the job was that I began to be acutely aware of my own lack of a child, a husband, and a family of my own. Each day that I went to work I saw all the happy faces of families dropping off their children at school, and each day I began to realize how much I wanted to be a mother myself. I had long ago buried that dream, but this job was showing me a glimpse at another life. It started to open old emotional wounds and I started to ask God some tough questions. Why hadn’t I found a man to love me yet? Why hadn’t my college love James asked me to marry him? Surrounded by precious little ones all day, I wondered where I had gone wrong in my search for a soul-mate.
Another aspect of this job was that I found myself working with mostly Christians. At the time, I scoffed at this and felt surrounded by annoying people whom I called ‘stepford’ like. I felt Christians were a cadre of women who usually had a lot of money and treated church like a country club. I had some negative experiences with judgmental Christian women in my childhood, so I didn’t really like ‘churchy’ ladies.
However, God still used these women to reach out to me in love, and show me that I had indeed encountered some ungodly people in my childhood that were professing to be Christians. However, the Lord would later show me that not everyone who professes His name is actually His. The women at the school challenged my idea of what a Christian woman was, and I began to realize that I had been wrong in assuming Christians were all judgmental.
The first woman to show me true love was the principal at the school. She took me under her wing at that job and we would have long talks on our lunch break. She encouraged me in many areas of my life, one of which was to check out a local church that had a good singles ministry. I didn’t actually follow her advice then, but it planted a seed that I would need later. Meeting some kind-hearted Christian women who didn’t judge me was something I hadn’t experienced before, and it had a powerful effect on me. I became a bit softer towards Christians in general as a result. Shortly after, I also met my first Christian friend in Arkansas, and this was a turning point for me as well.
Little by little, my heart began to soften and these were the baby steps of my returning back to Jesus. I didn’t know it at the time, but the enemy will attack most ferociously when we try to move closer to God. The enemy uses others to try and lure us away from God, or satan resorts to outright spiritual warfare if he feels we are slipping away from his grasp. This was exactly what was about to happen to me.
The attacks were to take the face of someone I trusted this time around, and I would later learn that satan literally speaks through others to tell us lies and destroy our peace. This all began when I called my friend Regan back in Oklahoma to tell her the good news about getting a part-time job. Our other goddess circle friend, Chelsea, had recently moved to California, and this had caused Reagan and I to become closer friends. Being single past the age of 35 was not easy in the Midwest, and so Reagan and I needed each other to assuage the loneliness. We decided to turn the tables a bit and celebrate the fact that we were single, the fact that no man was there telling us what to do. We were single and fabulous as far as the rest of the world was concerned, but behind closed doors we shared our pain from not having found a man we truly loved, who loved us back.
After catching up on the phone, Reagan and I decided we needed to plan a weekend camping trip to celebrate my new job. I hadn’t had much of a social life since arriving in Arkansas, and it had been about 6 months since I had seen any of my friends back home. It’s true that I had my new Christian friend in Arkansas, but she wasn’t quite as ‘cool’ as Reagan and I were because she wasn’t into witchy or metaphysical stuff like we were. So, a fabulous gal’s weekend sounded like a great way to toast to my new job and life in Arkansas. Reagan and I decided to rent a cabin near a place called Eureka Springs for the weekend. Eureka Springs was about 45 minutes away from where I was staying with my mom, so it was an easy drive. Getting away seemed like a great idea, and I was excited to be surrounded by the forest and all the magic of nature. Many witches feel nature is full of fairies (faeries) and nature spirits that help them, and that the universe is a pure source of energy that does their bidding. So, recharging around nature takes on a spiritual meaning.
Upon arriving at the cabin, Reagan and I excitedly greeted each other, ready for the fun weekend ahead. We quickly realized we had to get provisions for our meals, so we headed into town to find a grocery store. After securing some food to cook on the outdoor grill, we returned to the cabin. The plan was to grill out, drink some wine, catch up, and do a spell—the usual. It’s interesting that casting spells seemed so commonplace to us at this point, like just another self-care ritual. After a few glasses of wine, we sat down to eat dinner and Reagan began to tell me about how she had been dabbling into some spells on her own. The breakup with her prince charming had been so stressful, that she had been interested in going deeper with magick. She had done a few spells calling on some darker Egyptian gods, wanting protection from her ex-boyfriend. I felt uncomfortable about this, and finally screwed up the courage to tell her I didn’t want to call on gods or goddesses anymore in our spells. I was fine if she wanted to do that as a solo practitioner, but I wanted to focus solely on manifesting rituals for love and abundance. I wanted to do spells for God. I told her that I had realized I was a Christian Witch, and this was my new focus for wicca. She respected my choice, and we decided to do a self-love ritual instead. I had brought some candles to carve our wishes into, and the plan was to chant a loving phrase to the universe. I really wanted to love myself more, and love my body. I had gained weight from all the stress of moving and looking for work, so I thought if I could love myself then I would start to feel better about my body. Years later, I would learn that self-love is yet another form of deception and idolatry from the enemy.
After the spell, we drank some more wine and hung out on the front porch of the log cabin. It had begun to rain that night, and I remember how peaceful I felt just listening to the rain trickle down the leaves of the trees above us. One of the things that initially drew me to Wicca was a search for peace, and the fact that the Christian world seemed so frought with talk of demons and spiritual warfare, that I didn’t see it as ‘peaceful’. I saw the Christians as fearful and judgmental, and I wanted to escape all that into a world of love and light and beautiful things. The illusion of the occult is a beautiful, otherworldly place where I could focus on creating my own magical reality, instead of living in the negative reality of fear. This illusion is powerful and extremely seductive, and it lulled my mind into a false state of tranquility.
Unbeknownst to me, that was all about to start crashing down around me. That very night would be the last time I felt this sense of false complacency. That night would also be the very last time I would work a spell, and instead I was about to embark on a crash course in the reality of my own spiritual darkness. My world was about to change in a big way.
God was about to remove the scales from my eyes and show me the true face of the darkness.
The next morning, things began to shift almost immediately. Over coffee and breakfast, I began to notice a change in the way Reagan was speaking to me. We were talking about my new job and my graduate level coursework. I was telling her how I was feeling positive about making progress towards getting my Master’s, and how even though it was challenging staying with my mother I felt good about making an investment in my academic future. Reagan’s response to this shocked me, as it was not at all supportive like I expected. She began to tell me how she felt my mom was the real problem, and how I needed to get away from her. This way of thinking was very unhelpful to me at that time because as Reagan already knew, I had struggled mightily to find the current job I had. My job was only part-time, but it took me 6 months to find it so I needed to celebrate my progress..not focus on all the negative things about my current situation living with my mother. I told Reagan how I felt, but instead of supporting me she had a look on her face that I had never seen before. It was almost as if she was enjoying pointing out how awful my mother was, even though she knew it made me feel worse. I already felt trapped in my underemployed situation, and to belabor the point felt unwanted. Yet, Reagan didn’t seem to care. It was as if I was seeing a side of her I had never seen before, a side I didn’t much like. God was about to show me that Satan can use others like puppets, and can speak lies and death through them. People become manipulated by the devil and used as a mouthpiece to sew doubt and discord. Reagan was being used in such a way, but I couldn’t see it at the time.
I finally got angry with her, and it was the first time I had ever done so. I told her to cut it out, and that I didn’t feel at all like she was being helpful. She smirked at me, but respected my wishes and stopped talking about it. I tried not to focus too long on our squabble, being that Reagan was my closest friend and all. Plus, she was so cool and well liked within our social circle, so it was fun to have her as a friend. We decided to move on from the squabble and focus on the great day we had planned. After a fun day of hiking, a great lunch, and bit of shopping, we parted as friends and headed back to our homes.
Little did I know, but the seed of anger was about to explode when I got back home to my mother’s house. Upon my arrival, I discovered that my mom had forgotten to give my cat water for a day. Panicking about the welfare of my cat, I began to explode in anger and yell at my mother. I was so angry at her, and just knew she secretly hated me and that’s why she forgot to take proper care of my cat. I was furious and knew she was out to get me…paranoid that she was scheming to hurt me or didn’t really care about me at all, and never did. I suddenly knew Reagan and my friends were right about my mom, and I began to feel the anger towards my mother grow inside me, bubbling up into an almost uncontrollable rage.
I went to my room and slammed the door, determined to hide out in there until I could calm down. The already existing seeds of irritation towards my mother had been watered by my weekend with Josie, and I was even more convinced that my psychic and friends were right about my mother being the biggest obstacle to my happiness and success. Yet, how could I escape living with her when I couldn’t even find a full-time job? I felt trapped, stuck out in the country with a heavy weight around my neck. I felt that my mother would suck the life out of me if I let her, terrified I would end up lonely just like she was.
Months went by, and the best I could do at this point was to simply tolerate my mother. I began to drink wine more frequently to cope with the stress of my anger towards her. Months went by like this, and eventually the holidays were at our doorstep. With all the fighting between my mother and I, the holidays only made it more intense. My brother was driving over from Oklahoma to stay the night at my mom’s, and every minute was spent cleaning and cooking to get ready. I had drunk a lot of wine that night to get along with my mother, and I wanted to put on my best behavior for my brother’s sake. However, at the end of the night I realized the charade had completely drained me. I began to wonder what on earth I was doing with my life. If I couldn’t stand my mother, why was I yet again living at her house??
Just then, the anger began to flood over me. This time it was different, stronger. Something felt wrong, but I couldn’t tell if it was just the wine I drank or if something else was awry. Suddenly, I felt paralyzed with fear as I had the most violent and horrible thought I had ever had. All the sudden I began to shake and sweat, and I heard a voice inside my mind. The voice was not mine, but it was inside my head somehow. It was like before in Seattle when I felt I was being forced to cut my wrists with knives, but this time instead of hurting myself…the voice told me to hurt my mother. The voice was very specific. It told me to go put a pillow over my mother’s mouth while she was sleeping.
I sat there sweating and shaking, fighting the horrible thought inside me. I hated my mom at that time, but I would never hurt her or anybody else. Finally, I got mad enough at the voice and I fought to get the words out :
“In Jesus Christ’s name, satan Flee!” I said the words just like my mother had always taught me as a child. In an instant, the voice was gone and I had stopped shaking and sweating.
I immediately felt normal again, but I couldn’t believe what just happened to me. I felt a deep sense of shame and disgust. I began to hate myself that day for even having a thought so dark. Maybe I was a disgusting person after all. I tried to forget about what just happened and go to sleep. However, the darkness had just begun.
I would later learn that Satan puts thoughts into our heads, and this is one of his primary ways to oppress us. The only way to be freed from this is to call upon the name of Jesus Christ and resist the devil.