Renowned media guru, Oprah Winfrey, once admitted in an interview in Time Magazine that during the filming of Beloved, she had moments of “spiritual episodes of divine guidance” that far transcend the chatty exchanges she had with her studio audiences.
She revealed her personal communion with spirits of black slaves from the past which she called upon at will to guide her in her work.
In her words, “I tried to empty myself and let the spirit of Sethe inhabit me … Every morning before my scenes, I lit candles and said the names of these slaves. I prayed everyday to the ancestors.”
The media has caught on the trend of using reality TV shows to titillate viewers with the paranormal and supernatural by igniting their curiosity and/or deepening their fears about spirits from the other dimension.
A 2015 report from Norway indicated that though Norwegians are mandated to belong to the Lutheran church, many of them are now turning to spiritism. “God is out but the spirits and ghosts are filling the vacuum,” said Roar Fortland, a Methodist professor of theology as quoted in the Irish Times.
In spite of the growing skepticism in the modern age, many people are actually seeking to become a part of something bigger, something more significant than themselves.
Every human being has an innate longing to seek fellowship or connection with a higher being, and this is the main reason why people are fascinated with receiving a message or “sign” from forces from another realm.
Unfortunately, many of these seekers are stepping into a terrain forbidden by God and they are interacting with wicked and deceitful spirits dressed up in beautiful “prada.” Here are some of their categories:
I. Cultural or “Regular” Spiritism
Cultural spiritism is the contacting of departed spirits as dictated by various cultures. It is aptly described as “a cult of antiquity” because it is one of the oldest forms of communion with the spirit realm.
Spiritism was known among ancient Egyptians, Chaldeans, Eutricians, Greeks, Romans and Chinese, usually as ancestor worship. Virtually every culture believes in the interaction of the spirits of the departed ones with the living.
In several African cultures, when a person dies, his spirit can be supposedly invoked to know the cause of his death, inquire on how to share his property or even avenge his murder.
In some cases, people are visited by a dead relative in their dreams who informs them where he kept his/her money or what medicine to use for specific ailments, and they find that information to be accurate in reality. They then conclude that dead relatives are still watching over them from the spirit realm.
In 19th century America, spiritism metamorphosed into “regular” spiritism or Spiritualism – an organized self-conscious religion started by Margaret and Kate Fox. It was a diabolic attempt to mimic and counterfeit the huge revivals of the 18th and late 19th centuries in the West.
Spiritualist churches today are modelled after traditional churches. They have their own liturgy, ordained ministers and services (involving prayer, revamped Christian hymns and “messages” or “readings” from spirits), along with public lectures and periodicals.
There are at least five major spiritualist camps in the US where a plethora of occult services are rendered to the public.
In the 1980s, a different dimension of necromancy emerged: mediums serving as channellers or actual physical voices for particular spirits. Individuals, including some Hollywood stars, have at various times, admitted they had “spirit guides” – spirits of the dead from centuries ago – offering them spiritual insight, wisdom and guidance.
For example, Penny Torres channelled a spirit named “Mafu”; Sharon Gless was a medium of “Lazaris”; Jane Robert channelled “Seth” and J. Z. Knight channelled a spirit named “Ramtha”. Knight in fact, established Ramtha School of Enlightenment in Washington, U.S., attracting all who were thirsty for the waters of New Age mysticism.
Currently, many psychics and mediums – like the Long Island medium, Theresa Caputo, and the South African Cindy Kruger – have carved out a niche for themselves by dishing out messages from the spirit realm to millions of people worldwide, for a price, of course.
And there are also groups of psychics or independent paranormal researchers who make a career out of visiting locations haunted by ghosts or poltergeists and communicating with them.
Many of these spirits make their presence known to seekers by tapping or rapping on walls, moving furniture, flicking or strobing lights, ectoplasms, throwing objects around, playing pianos or turning on appliances.
Notably, most, if not all, of these paranormal locations usually have a history of violent deaths (murder, suicides etc.), abortion, abuse and demon worship. Evil spirits are easily attracted to such places like vultures drawn to carcasses.
These practices – necromancy and consulting with familiar spirits – are condemned by God and the spirits these people are seeing and hearing from are actually demons imitating the dead (Deut. 18:10).
The spirits being contacted by spiritist mediums are the same spirits witches contact from the demonic realm. Their external packaging only slightly differs.
This is why spiritism in any form is dangerous; these seekers are communicating with dark spirits who like their master, are sent to deceive, kill and destroy. Those seeking them have no reliable standards of gauging whether they are being told the truth or are feasting on lies.
This involves contacting the spirit world and interacting with spirit entities (deities, ascended masters or energies) there to attain knowledge, healing and power.
The term “shaman” comes from the language of the Tungus tribe in Siberia and refers to a tribal medicine man or witch doctor. A shaman is thus an occult priest/priestess who taps into the spirit realm through dreams, visions or trances at will.
Shamanism exists in different forms, in fact, Anthropologists are intrigued by the fact that shamanism is practiced in every part of the world. This points to the reality of the spirit realm and Satan who “deceives the whole world” through his demons (Rev. 12:9).
Shamanism is based on Pantheism (the belief that God is all and all is God) and Animism (belief that everything is alive and has a soul), so shamans often claim to contact spirits in trees, animals or rocks.
A class of these spirits are called Devas – nature spirits or deities in the plant kingdom. This idea is also subtly relayed in “innocent” children cartoons. For example, in Disney’s Pocahontas, grandmother Willow speaks from a tree to her saying:
“All around you are spirits. They live in the earth, the water, the sky. If you listen they will guide you.”
It’s then understandable why Glory Zell, a witch, said this cartoon was “the most pagan-positive movie to ever come out of Disney.”
These devas are often contacted through drugs like marijuana, hashish etc. which enable the shaman to experience the spirit world.
“The key thing with plant shamanism,” says a writer, “is to establish a connection with the plant. Once this is done, the plant spirits themselves teach you everything you need to know and reveal the many ways of using them in healing.”
Shamans also astral travel through “sound of drumming, which encourages ‘dreaming’ patterns to emerge in the brain, taking the shaman deeper into a more holistic experience of the world” (The Sequitur, May, 21, 2016).
Others travel via occult meditation as an ex-Hindu yogi wrote:
“During the daily meditation, I began to have visions of psychedelic colors, to hear unearthly music, and to visit exotic planets where the gods conversed with me, encouraging me to attain even higher states of consciousness. Sometimes in my trance, I encountered the same horrible demonic creatures that are depicted by the images in Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto and other religious temples” (Rabindranath Maharaj, Death of a Guru, edited by Dave Hunt, 1985, p. 57)
It’s total folly to worship creatures rather than the Creator (Rom. 1:21-25). God is “the Living God” who is distinct and separate from His creation, hence, He is not a universal force present in rocks or plants (Jer. 10:10-12).
The spirits shamans are in touch with are demons cleverly disguised as nature deities. One evidence of this is the downward spiral in the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual states of those who communicate with them.
Christian researchers, Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon in their article, Nonhereditary Transference of Psychic Powers, gave an example of one psychic who entered a trance state to help an emotionally disturbed woman whose brother had apparently been murdered.
During the trance, the psychic actually “relived” the murder, including experiencing the sheer terror of the victim, and the hatred and revenge of the murderers and the murder itself. “It was all as if it were my own,” she reported. Leaving the condition of the trance was difficult, plus all of the emotions were brought forth into the conscious state where they remained, causing serious mental problems.
III. Apparitions and spiritual manifestations
These can vary with religions, but I want to focus on two specific groups – African syncretic (white garment) churches and Roman Catholicism.
In the former, these spirits are termed “good angels” (malaikas) or “the Holy Spirit” and are often invoked with wild dances, rites involving chanting of Psalms and names of “angels”, prayers with assorted candles, offering sacrifices at specified locations, incense, rituals bathe and invocation at ceremonial altars.
Members of these churches frequently have dreams, visions and supernatural experiences which they fondly assume are “proofs” of divine approval.
Their mediums usually give wild, histrionic “prophesies” which make them glide on floors, hop on one leg like Sandpipers, go into trances, scream like wild animals, or bang their heads on walls. Of course, one will not find a single godly person in Scripture exhibiting such barnyard manifestation while receiving messages from the Holy Spirit.
In Roman Catholicism, on however, the apparitions of “Mary” or the “saints” also convey certain messages, but the primary ways to know they are demonic are:
a) They teach doctrines that contradict or discredit the Bible (Isaiah 8:20)
b) They misrepresent God by either presenting Him as mean and unapproachable or as an indulgent father who approves of their sins (Genesis 3:1-2).
c) They distort the Person of Christ and deny He is the only way to God (John 14:6)
d) They deny the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice by teaching the necessity of sacrifices or rituals for sin or receiving blessings from “God” (Hebrews 10:12)
e) They instill fear into people by threatening those who don’t blindly accept their messages with suffering, horrors and death.
I’ve addressed the Marian apparitions in a separate article, but I’ll cite just 2 examples here:
#1 “I alone am able to save you from the calamities which approach. Those who place their confidence in me will be saved” (Teiji Yasuda, Akita: The Tears and Messages of Mary, 1989, 78).
But the Bible says: “I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no saviour.” (Isaiah 43:11)
#2 “The world is degenerating so much so, that it was necessary for the Father and the Son to send Me into the world among all the peoples, in order to be their Advocate and to save them” (Message given to Ida Peerdeman, April 29, 1951).
But Scripture says: “My little children … And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2)
Only a demon would give messages that conflict with God’s Word. Christians don’t need to consult created spirits with limited knowledge or power when they have an all-knowing and all-powerful God.
We “have received … the Spirit which is of God that we might know the things freely given us by God” (1Cor. 2:12).
There is no technique for contacting the Holy Spirit who “guides [us] into all truth … show [us] things to come” (Jn. 16:13). We don’t need to seek out deities, spirits in haunted houses, “saints” or Mary to know God’s purposes for our lives.