Advice to a Former Occultist Whose Friends Are Still Involved

Christ casting out demons Christ casting out demons
M. was involved in occultism along with her close friends, and became demonically possessed as a result. She received Baptism in the Orthodox Church, and went to an Orthodox exorcist, after which she felt relief. Her friends, however, continue their occult practices.

Dear M! Having gone through the tragic experience of coming into contact with the abyss, you need to thank God always that you have not perished. Now you need to conduct your life very wisely. You should not sever your relationship with your friends on a human level. Do not be contemptuous of them, but look at them as spiritually sick. The previous form of your relationship with these friends cannot be preserved. Your guidance should be the Word of God: And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? (2 Cor. 6:15). The fallen spirits who hold them captive are more experienced than you are.

They do their work of destroying people with incomparably greater success than the most evil-intentioned men. Man's corruptness consists in the mixture of goodness and evil in him; the fallen spirits' corruptness consists in their total evil, and complete absence of goodness. The fallen spirits' abilities are far superior to those of fallen men, whose intentions are restrained by the very weight and corpulence of their bodies. Demons freely and quickly flow through the universe, and freely do things that are quite impossible for man to do (cf. Job 1:7). People must be satisfied with whatever experience in evil that they have acquired during their short earthly life; their evil intentions are naturally destroyed in that hour when they have to leave this earthly life, and they are called to God's judgment and eternity. On the contrary, demons have been left to abide on earth from the time of their final fall (Gen. 3:14) until the end of the world. Anyone can imagine what experience they have gained in doing evil over such a long period of time, with their abilities and constant evil intent, which is not diluted by good aspirations of any kind.

St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov)

Their deceit can be very subtle; it can lead to your becoming their captive again, and then you would not be able to free yourself from their sharp and tenacious claws. You have to enter into the saving experience of the Church as her full-blooded spiritual member. Be prepared for the fact that your occult practices have left a painful mark in your soul. As a serious, fatal illness makes an organism weak and vulnerable to new illnesses, so does the practice of the occult, magic, psychic experiences, channeling, and other forms of sorcery (this ancient word encompasses all kinds of conscious communion with demonic powers) damage the soul's inner order. The soul's strength is exhausted. Therefore, such a person is often plagued by depression, which causes faintheartedness and doubts about his own salvation. The person begins to think during those moments that God has not forgiven him. You must not accept these thoughts even for a minute, for they are dangerous, and can make depression your habitual state. In order to struggle with these thoughts, you must intensify your faith in God's infinite mercy, remembering that the Lord forgives all those who sincerely repent and resolve to change.

In our corrupt times, many people play with the fires of Gehenna. People who go to them are not aware of the danger. Sometimes I even hear that a fortuneteller or psychic healer has directed a person to the Church. The Church has never recognized sorcerers as "missionaries." A robber who fatally wounds a person and then sends him to a doctor is not considered a benefactor. Our Lord Jesus Christ categorically forbade the demons to speak of Him. And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God (Mk. 1:23–25). The Apostle Paul did not allow the possessed man to "witness" to Him to his travelling companions. The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour (Acts 16:17–18). A person should come to the Church at God's call: Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me (Rev. 3:20).

You can help your friends through the fruits of your spiritual life. Try also to give them books to read about such saints as Seraphim of Sarov, the Optina Elders, John of Kronstadt, Alexei Mechev, and others. After learning about the living and grace-filled experience of Orthodoxy, perhaps they will want to escape that captivity which ends in eternal darkness. "Man cannot escape either captivity or struggle. Pious struggle is nothing other than the active acceptance of salvation as a manifestation of our will, shown and proven by experience itself and life itself" (St. Ignatius Brianchaninov).

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