"The inherent danger of 'magickal' [sic] addiction is :hat the more power you raise, the more intoxicated you get," he says. "You start gathering more and more power for yourself, and it takes over your life."
Indeed, The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one's service and have a supernatural power over others — even if this were for the sake of restoring their health — are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion" (No. 2117).
Gibson, along with May and others who work with teens, know firsthand the dangers of dabbling in occult practices.
"The biggest danger I see is the loss of our eternal soul," May says.
She cites Deuteronomy 18:10-12, which says: "Let there not be found among you anyone who immolates his son or daughter in the fire, nor a fortune-teller, soothsayer, charmer, diviner or caster of spells, nor one who consults ghosts and spirits or seeks oracles from the dead. Anyone who does such things is an abomination to the Lord."
"This [Old Testament passage] was definitely pre-Christianity, and God was already saying, 'Don't do this,'" explains May. "Not because he wants to be in control, but out of basic wisdom. [He was saying,] 'If you want to be happy and have a good life, these are the guidelines that will help you.' "
Not only is practicing Wicca a violation of the first commandment — "You shall have no gods before me" — but dabbling in the occult can also lead to physical as well as spiritual harm, May says. If teens get involved in Satanism, she points out, there are physical dangers for them and beyond that confusion, doubt, depression and suicide attempts.
Because "all acts of love and pleasure" are thought to please the goddess, Wiccans tend to be sexually permissive. Most support the feminist and gay-rights agendas. Fearing no eternal punishment, they commonly expect to be reincarnated after a pleasant rest in the Summerland of the goddess.
Wiccans have no dogma, hierarchy, or uniform rituals. They do typically celebrate four great festivals called "sabbats"—Samhain (October 31), Oimelc (February 1), Beltane (May 1), and Lughnasadh (August 1)—and smaller celebrations on the solstices and equinoxes. Other gatherings may be held for special needs, such as healing, or simply to raise psychic energy.
Paganism is centered on personal psychic experience, which is considered to be direct contact with the divine. It’s about doing and feeling, not believing and thinking. Pagans try to reshape reality nearer to the heart’s desire, recapturing the playfulness and wonder of childhood. Observer Tanya Luhrman calls the reprogramming of their minds "interpretative drift." By working magic, pagans create stronger, finer fantasy selves, which are reflected in the romantic pagan names they choose for themselves—names like Rushing Water, Nybor, Morning Glory, and Wardstar.
"Freedom" and fluidity are essential to paganism. It promises one a chance to fashion one’s own spiritual path—and rituals—without reference to any outside authority. Some pagans think their religion’s decentralization will help it succeed as the religion of the future. Others are moving toward more formal structures, including collaboration with the Unitarian Universalist Church. In either case, paganism will probably diffuse into the common culture and gain wider acceptance.
But paganism has serious philosophical weaknesses. Its basic ethic—"as long as no one gets hurt"—is relativistic and fails to offer firm guidance in complex situations. It avoids the problem of Evil by declaring that natural evils are simply part of the cycle and must be accepted.
It's all around us, and it's getting stronger. The Occult, in the forms of Wicca, paganism, Ceremonial Magick and other nasty deceptions of the kingdom of darkness, is spreading its tentacles across cyberspace, and finding plenty of new victims. John Gibson, a former practitioner of the black arts, explains how he promoted Wicca and paganism online, and how Christ mercifully saved him with the grace of conversion. Read how the hidden world of "Magick is teaching many people to point and click their way down the wide, well paved road to hell.