Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dreams, Tarot Cards, and Other Weird Moments of Direction

She turned over the first card, and said to her customer, "You've lost your faith." The lady sitting across the table nodded, and began to pour out her story of false accusations, treachery and abuse at a local church on the South Shore of the Boston area. She was an evangelical Christian, and most evangelical Christians would not consider going ot a Tarot Reader at a Psychic Faire, but here she was pouring out her story to a Witch.

The Witch brought her to the Confessional Booth we were operating. The Psychic Reader knew we could help her. We did.
______

The Young man stood in line with his friends for a Dream Interpretation. He was dressed in the regalia of the season - full length black cape, and large chains with amulets around his neck. His long hair cascaded into the hood of the cape. He leaned upon a tall wooden staff.

We talked about what he believed, and he discovered I was a Christian. He was a Neo-Pagan of the eclectic variety, but then again most Neo-Pagans are these days. They draw their sources of practice and belief from any number of places which interest them. He and his friends were visiting Salem for the days coming up to Halloween. He believed that the unseen realm of spirits, gods and goddesses was benign, which meant that any spiritual experience must by necessity be beneficial. I'm not so sure he came to his conclusions, because he philosophically considered the consequences of his beliefs, or if he simply trusted his spiritual experiences, and thereby came to the conclusion that everything must be nice in that place he couldn't see.

"Do you do these dream interpretations also?" he asked as we were talking.

I was monitoring the line this time, as others were interpreting dreams inside the tents. "I do."

And we were off.

He began to share his dream. He and his friends were at Red Rocks, a natural amphitheater in Colorado. Over the hills behind him black helicopters appeared. Realizing that these helicopters were not friendly, he and his friends began to run. Some of his friends were wounded by the helicopter fire, and some even were killed. He and one other girl escaped into a cave, and hid out until it was safe.

As he finished his dream I responded with one simple sentence. "The unseen realm is not benign, it is often malignant."

His eyes opened wide. His silence lasted a moment, and then he said, "Wow, you're right."

We talked for 20 minutes longer about lies, deception, and oppression coming from spiritual beings. We talked about both lies and truth coming from beyond, and the necessity of listening to the right voices. These concepts were new to him. He had been convinced that the other side was all good.

I could have tried to convince through Bible verses that his philosophy was messed up. In our discussion before he asked if I interpreted dreams, I could have gone preachy on him. But this young man rejected the voice of scripture as a true guide for his life.

His dreams on the other hand - he believed his dreams, and he walked away with a world view a touch more biblical than he previously possessed. He took away a few Bible references which backed up this new philosophy as well.

"Can I get in touch with you if I ever return to Salem?" he asked.

"You bet. You're always welcome to hang out with us."

11 comments:

Steve Hayes said...

Fascinating.

Around here Zionists have been doing that kind of thing with paleopagans for years, which is why the Zionist churches have been growing so fast.

Interesting to see that you guys are doing something very similar with neopagans.

Pastor Phil said...

I had to check out the Zulu Zionists in order to understand who you were talking about. I can imagine that dream interpretation among tribal groups in South Africa could go a long way in reaching people.

I am convinced that the Spirit o God is speaking to people in their dreams, because He loves them so deeply, and is drawing them to Himself.

jenelle said...

I am convinced that the Spirit o God is speaking to people in their dreams, because He loves them so deeply, and is drawing them to Himself.

I'm convinced of this, too. I've found the same to be true with teenagers in Europe...everyone's dream is an instant legitimate reference point. I think God likes it when we ask him to encounter us through visions and dreams.

Pastor Phil said...

Jenelle,

Yes, yes. I'd love to hear some of your stories about this.

I think He even likes it more when someone doesn't ask, and He just comes in to speak gently, and they encounter Him as Jacob did - "The Lord was here and I knew it not."

Steve Hayes said...

I don't know if you ever had a look at my article on Christian responses to witchcraft and sorcery, which I think I referred to in response to something else you posted. You might find it interesting, because it has more about Zionists, and also about the point you make that not everything in the spiritual world is good.

Sally said...

Phil- thank you for this, these experiences are common as we reach out into the New Age scene here. It is essential that we learn to meet people where they are, and not force them along- it also requires that we are open to where God is working and what the Holy Spirit is saying- why does that seem too hard for some folk to grasp???

Pastor Phil said...

Steve,
I like your paper - as much as I have read so far, and will be reading through it completely.

I have taught Neo-Pagan evangelism to evangelism classes at Gordon-Conwell seminary, and the Africa students have a dramatic response to the word Witch - far more than even American Pentecostals.

By your paper, it appears that this dramatic response is based upon deep Christian superstition, and that many (if not most) African Christians are afraid of Witches, and are showing a sixteenth century European response here in the 21st century. Am I reading you right on this?

I have wondered if that was the case, but not having been on the ground, or knowing people working with African Pagans, I could only take the African Christians at their word, and assume that African Witchcraft was somehow darker than American, and European versions.

Is it darker at times, and is this where the London African abuse and murder scares are coming from, or is it like here - rare occurances of malicious arts, but mostly Witchcraft aimed at healing, and beneficial attempts at magic.

Pastor Phil said...

Sally,

It is hard because we have demonized the work of God in the hearts of non-believers. Strict Calvinistic doctrine, and at the other end of the spectrum, legalistic Pentecostal spiritual warfare doctrine appear to relegate all experiences occuring among the unsaved, and specifically the occultically involved as automatically demonic. How can God be speaking to them? It must be the devil.

If someone believes this, how can they possibly be open to seeing the Spirit at work? - it will appear to always be darker spirits at work, and must therefore be rebuked, rejected, or prayed against.

This is the sad state of Christian outreach toward those in the occult: God is interacting with them daily in dramatic ways, and the church is missing one of the greatest opportunities today to reach a people group.

So me thinks.

Steve Hayes said...

Phil,

In African traditional religion (pagan) the witch is the primary symbol o0f evil -- the equivalent of Satan in the Christian understanding.

That is why in most pre-Christian African societies there was a specialist called a "witchdoctor" -- someone whose job it was to detect and counter witchcraft. Witches are only ever evil and malicious, and are incorrigible. You cannot cure w witch, you can only neutralise them by killing them.

Christianity has modified this to a greater or lesser extent, by propaagating the idea that there is no sin that cannot be repented of, and so that even witches can repent and be reintegrated into the community.

This links with out syncretism discussion to an extent. Some Western denominations have accused African initiated churches of being syncretistic because they have accepted the idea that there are such things as witches. Belief in witches, they say, is a pagan superstition that has no place in the Christian church.

Pastor Phil said...

Steve,

Thanks for that lesson on understanding African Witchcraft. Is this malevolent form of Witchcraft still the only model for a Witch still to this day? Or is there a Neo-Paganism in Africa as well, which has redefined the term Witch?

How does the Christian church relate the occultic activities of the Witchdoctors?

Steve Hayes said...

There is a neopaganism, which is found mainly among intellectuals and academics and downplays witchcraft. But I'm not really familiar enough with it to comment.

There are Christian witchdoctors, but they seem to have a kind of double value system, distinguishing between healing from God an healing from the ancestors.

Many Zionist prophets deal with the same range of ailments as trasitional witchdoctors, but with a different interpretation and approach.