The Unwitting Prisoner

An Unwitting Prisoner

The change was incredible. I felt so different, so clean.

Judging by the size of the garbage bag I'd just filled, my bedroom was cleaner as well. The lawn bag filled with witchcraft workbooks, texts, spellbooks, and other resources, a collection of crystals and amulets, two sets of elaborately decorated tarot cards, and anything else in my possession that didn't glorify God.

Only 90 minutes before, I'd been a practicing witch, even though I'd believed the craft I practiced was a gift from Jesus Christ.

I'd lived in darkness for sixteen years, but I'd never recognized the darkness until I'd accepted The Light.

The '70s had just begun, and the increasing fascination with the occult and supernatural phenomena was obvious: Satan was in vogue.

At 4, my television diet consisted of Bewitched, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, The Phunky Phantom,I Dream of Jeannie, Red Hot the Lil Devil, Wendy the Lil Witch--all shows that sugar coated witchcraft and demonology. On bolder days I watched Creature Feature and Chiller Theatre, Saturday morning horror films that usually featured the supernatural thrillers that captivated me. I was repeatedly told by the children's entertainment industry that the occult was harmless, desirable, and attractive.

Children are naturally spiritually inquisitive, and I was no exception. As enthusiastically as I stored away information on the occult, I was equally hungry to learn about God.

My family were "good Catholics" for generations, but our Catholicism was not a heartfelt conviction. For us, it was merely habit. We had no real knowledge of the Bible, no personal relationship with Jesus. So as earnestly as I mirrored the occult rituals I'd witnessed, I prayed to those who might answer my prayers, be they mortal, angelic, or divine. Anything supernatural that presented itself to me would gain my youthful trust.

By junior high school, I began to manifest "counterfeit tongues," much to my embarassment and my classmates' amusement. My focus would shift in mid-conversation, and I'd begin to speak in gibberish, or nonsense verse. Epilepsy was diagnosed only after nine years of these episodes had passed. By high school, I was experiencing convulsive seizures.

Despite going through 13 years of Catholic grammar school and college, as opposed to only 4 years of public high school, I'd been taught ideas that were contrary, if not directly opposed!, to the Bible. As ninth graders, we learned about Bahai'ism, Hinduism, reincarnation, and studied the "radical left" and the "far right." We were told over and over the virtues of agnosticism and atheism. Even our Core Level Religion professor in my Catholic college openly announced, "Jesus Christ is a myth!" Another core religion professor, a nun, explained that it didn't matter whether or not Jesus rose physically from the dead! The Dalai Lama, considered a living Deity by his followers, was a keynote speaker at my college. The students were highly encouraged to attend.

By the time I'd entered college, I was scared, isolated, lonely, dependent on my spirit guides, and definitely spiritually confused.

A week into my first year of college I met Keith (not his real name), a young man heavily involved with spiritism, Dungeons and Dragons, T'ai Chi, hallucinogenic drugs, and magic. My guides assured me he was "the one" for me, and in two months we were dating steadily. By the end of the first semester, we were engaged.

My relationship with Keith pulled me deeper into spiritism. He introduced me to a white witch named Sasha (not her real name) who offered to help me with one of my spirit guides. I began telling fortunes on campus, but didn't consider it occult, I considered it a "misunderstood gift of God."

In my junior year, I took notice of Martin, a young seminary student with whom I'd had a passing acquaintance. When Keith moved back upstate to prepare for our upcoming wedding, Martin became a good friend. He talked to me about God often, and I would debate him on theological issues. He was studying for the Catholic priesthood, a mere three years away from ordination.

But when he saw my bookshelves, he became worried, and began to pray for me.

My seizures had worsened since my friendship with Martin began to grow. I now was having several convulsive seizures a day, every day. The Dilantin and Depakote I was taking was not helping.

As a show of affection towards Martin, I began to attend Mass again. I was in love with him, and chose to show him by dragging myself to Mass. It bored me, literally, to sleep.

When Martin nagged me to come with him to something called a "Charismatic Catholic Mass," I reluctantly agreed.

That Sunday, upon entering the church, I immediately wanted to leave. I'd never seen praise before! Certainly not the unabashed praise of these worshippers. Walking up to the front pew, I knelt down to pray.

Suddenly, God's Spirit washed over me, and I was aware of a holiness I'd always overlooked. Great sobs of guilt welled up in me, and abruptly I was aware of where I stood with God.

Throughout the service I remained on my knees, loud sobs of sorrow shaking my body. I only knew I was asking God to forgive and accept me. My sobs of conviction turned to sobs of joy--I ws clean! Forgiven! For the first time, I knew who God was, and who I was to Him--beloved!

At the close of the service, I went home, and got out a garbage bag. Three years after the massive room and spirit cleaning, I underwent deliverance at the suggestion of my pastor (after having left the Catholic church), and not only were my hidden helpers cast out (Bye, guides!) but so was my ordeal with epilepsy and infertility!

Had it not been for God's Truth, I'd still be satisfied to live the lies Satan presented to me and to countless other children, parents, teachers, and students who become the unwitting prisoners of his deception.

(C) 1994, Valerie Duffy. All rights reserved.