When I was about 11 years old I got a Ouija board for my birthday from Toys R Us. Other birthdays were followed by crystals, horoscopes, magic 8balls, and a book on magic spells. For the most part, I grew up with a moderate Occult\New Age influence. However, this upbringing was not without its consequences. Despite what our culture teaches about these things(fun and games) Christian tradition has long held them to be dangerous. The dangers might not always be that apparent because just like any other sin the effects may not be immediate. However, in my circumstances the effects were immediate and I literally started to have the Hell scared out of me. Even into my adult life I had struggled with the consequences of my past sin and was gripped regularly by fear of the demonic forces . Thankfully, I no longer live this way because I learned something very special in practicing Byzantine spirituality, which I will discuss.
On a regular basis most of us are bombarded by adds from the Occult, such as from horoscopes or psychics. By being exposed to this on a regular basis many of us have grown cold to the dangers that they hold. In fact, recently someone from my parish invited me to like a facebook page of a famous Medium. Unfortunately, instead of being influenced by our Church some have embraced the false teachings of our society that treat these things as fun and games. When it comes to these things the Catechism of the Catholic Churches teaches the following, "2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil" the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone". As the Catechism points out the Occult is more than just fun and games because it leads us away from a right relationship with God.
As I expressed the Occult for me was more than just a broken relationship with God because it opened me up to the realm of the demonic. Some people don’t take that into consideration when they use occult practices but no matter what good things are promised, such as talking to a dead loved one, knowing your future, getting good powers, the origin of these 'good' things is not Jesus Christ. The scriptures themselves condemned the Occult on many occasions. Even the Apostle Paul himself was followed by a fortune teller who was telling others to believe in Paul's gospel. The Apostle Paul was aware that this so called 'good' act of the fortune teller was not more than an act to sanction the Occult and he went on to expose the source of her power by casting a demon out of her(see Acts 16:17-18).Consequently, no matter how 'good', harmless, or fun it seems the sources of the Occult power are from the Devil.
If you have been involved in Occult activates it is vital that you repent and go to confession. In my case even after becoming a Christian I struggled terribly with the experiences of my past sin. It was as if it had ownership over me because the activates of the Occult are ways in which the powers of evil can channel their way into our world. On the other hand, in learning to embrace our Byzantine traditions I learned a powerful secret that the enemy wishes no one to know. The scriptures speak of this secret when it says, "greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world(1John 4:4)". It is the gift of God mystically giving himself fully to us that we receive the greatest victory over evil .Through this gift we become partakers of the divine nature, becoming gods by grace, and the powers of evil do not wish us to know this.For just as when the powers of hell tried to swallow the human nature of Christ they were defeated by his divinity. So to now the powers of hell tremble at fear of the man who is becoming a god by grace.
It took me a long time to realize what our Byzantine tradition had to offer in terms of combating the forces of evil. For some time I believed that God was on the outside and by participating in the life of the Church I grew in what could be a nearness to him that kept me safe from evil. However, this thinking was not Byzantine for in the Philokalia we read in many places that God has fully hidden himself in our hearts. Based on this there is no gap between us and God other than what we create. The Lord himself took a human nature that was subject to a fallen world. He demonstrated that human nature can become divinized even in its weakened state. With such possibilities we need not fear the demonic forces that seek to destroy us. As Lord said concerning the dark powers, "Nothing will harm you (Luke 10:19)."It is in knowing this that I have been able to overcome my Occult past.In addition, the Occult in all its glamore and promises could never give what God offers us now. There is nothing greater in this life than becoming a partaker of the divine nature, to eternally share the love and presence of God.