I was raised in a traditional Christian home.
One of my earliest memories of church is sitting on a hard wooden pew with my mother listening to a pipe organ play a traditional hymn. We were attending a Methodist church at the time. I remember hearing Bible stories, singing songs about the B.I.B.L.E and Jesus Loving the Little Children. It wasn't until I was six years old attending Vacation Bible School that I learned how Jesus wanted to save me from my sins. I can't say I understood the greater concept of sin but I did want Jesus to be my friend. At the end of the lesson, I raised my hand and the teacher prayed with me to “accept Jesus into my heart”.
However, as I went to church each Sunday, sang those Bible songs, and learned about God, there were other influences in my life. Even as a young child I was aware of a hidden world surrounding us because I could feel the beings present within it. I could sense a dark being in the corner of my room, watching me as I played with my dolls.
For years while growing up, I had a recurring dream that this being would float over me. And I was fascinated by the occult. Ghosts, witches, mediums, psychics, haunted houses. Anything spooky caught my interest. My friends and I would pretend to read each others palms or minds. We'd play occult games such as “Light as a feather, stiff as a board” at sleepover parties. I wanted to be a psychic or gypsy fortune teller.
No one ever told me these “games” were spiritually dangerous.
As a teenager I wanted to delve deeper into the Bible. As I read, I began learning God warned against occult practices. I loved God and didn't want to offend Him so I stopped participating in occult games and seeking psychic experiences as I'd done throughout childhood. But the damage had already been done and a desire for the mystical remained, constantly at war within me. While I devoted myself to God, attended a Christian college, met and married a Christian man, I longed for the activities of the occult. I sought an outlet through reading horror novels by Stephen King. I went to every frightening movie which hit the theaters or broadcast on television.
My husband and I became very active in church, volunteering or serving in some way. As my children were born I wanted to make sure they were protected from the world. I would strictly censor anything they watched on television or read in books. Coming from broken homes, I wanted to ensure my husband and I had the perfect Christian marriage, protected from divorce. Over time, as I worked to make sure my family was always happy and on track, I lost a vital part of my relationship with Christ. I forgot the mercy of my Savior. I began listening to others who suggested to be a "real Christian" you had to live by the rules, act a certain way. I became legalistic, replacing a relationship based on grace for strict religion and a desire to be "the perfect Christian".
Life wasn't easy. Our family was not prosperous as some Bible teachers proclaimed we should be. I did all the right things and said all the right words but the “blessings” never seemed to come our way.
In 1995, my husband's job required we move to Atlanta and that he travel five days out of the week. My children were under the age of five, I had no family or friends there, and didn't really connect with the people where we attended church. We had only one car so when my husband was gone during the week I had very little option for things to do with my children outside of our home. I had to stick close to our apartment complex.
Once a week, I would pack my girls into the stroller and walk to the library which was about half a mile from our apartment. As the librarians entertained my girls with stories, punch, and cookies I would wander through the rows of books.
By this time I was desperate for anything which would answer the questions I had about God and life. On one of these occasions I happened upon a book about a religion called Wicca called Ariadne's Thread: A Workbook of Goddess Magick. I didn't know there was a religion centered around witchcraft and the idea intrigued me. I took the book home, read it cover to cover, practiced some of the recommended exercises. The response I received from “the goddess” was immediate, welcoming, and I was thrilled! I thought I'd found my answer. However, when my husband came home and I told him what I'd been doing his response was less than serene. Not wanting to cause further difficulty in my marriage, I returned the book to the library and went back to being a “good Christian”.
I became depressed, the relationship with my husband strained. I couldn’t live up to my religious demands and neither could he. Eventually I stopped reading the Bible and gave up on prayer. Going to church became a rote exercise.
In 1999, I decided Christianity wasn’t working for me any longer and after twenty-nine years in the church—I left. Even though I kept up the pretense of going to church with my family (and worked as a teacher in a Christian preschool) my mind and spirit were elsewhere.
I explored Wicca. I began surfing the internet, joining pagan message boards, studying mythology,and learning about herbs, crystals, colors. I practiced various divination techniques such as the tarot and pendulum.
For the first year I hid my mystical practices from my husband. He was going through his own emotional and spiritual struggles, calling himself an agnostic. Eventually, we began a series of separations and reconciliations which would last five years.
In witchcraft, I thought I'd found freedom. Over the next eight years I explored magick and spell-craft (eventually leaving goddess worship to adopt traditional witchcraft practices). I practiced psychic development which led me to become a medium. I developed an interest in ghost hunting, joining a local team in my area and working my way into becoming a lead investigator.
Thankfully, God was not going to let go of me easily. From the beginning, the Holy Spirit reminded me of His presence, convicting me of sin. I spent a lot of time wondering if I was making a mistake. I would waffle between Christianity and witchcraft. In the end, I became frustrated by my spiritual turmoil. I wanted Jesus without rules. I wanted to create my own spiritual path. So I decided to bring my past faith into my current practice to create a personalized belief system.
I became a Christian witch.
The interesting thing is I discovered many others who called themselves Christian who were also incorporating witchcraft and mysticism into their beliefs. Over time, I found a woman who had been a practicing Christian witch for over twenty years. She became my mentor for two years.
In 2006, my husband and I successfully reunited. He had gotten his spiritual life as a Christian straightened out. When I told him I was a practicing witch, a medium, and going on paranormal investigations, he didn't condemn me. His response was to pray.
A year later, I was on a ghost hunt. My job within the group was two-fold. As a medium, I would go into the house to do a reading, searching for spiritual beings, describing the type of activity I sensed in the area. I would point out particular “hot spots” we would investigate or areas to hold “vigils” in an attempt to gather EVP (electronic voice phenomena) or illicit responses to questions using a pendulum.
I was never given any information prior to my reading, simply told when and where I needed to be. When I arrived at the house for this particular investigation, my team was still going through collecting a “baseline reading” (checking for outlets, exposed wiring, taking pictures and video, interviewing the owner, etc). As I sat in my car, meditating, I became aware there was a demon present in the house. Now you must understand. By this time, I no longer identified spirit beings as angelic or demonic but rather thought in terms of “positive” or “negative” in varying degrees. I believed human spirits could remain in a location or attempt to communicate with the living. So for me to immediately identify one of the spirit beings in the home as a “demon” was unusual.
I think it was a God thing.
Later, as the investigation proceeded I had the overwhelming urge to command the demon to leave in the name of JESUS. As a Christian witch, I invoked the names of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit “Mother” but in ritual or spell-casting. So when I finally gave in and said “In the name of Jesus, you're gonna leave, you're uninvited”, my team looked at me as if I'd lost my mind.
A few days later I received an email with an audio file attached to it. On it you hear me tell this spirit to leave in Jesus name. What startled me was the EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) which followed and can only be described as an inhuman scream.
I was stunned!
My husband is an audio engineer and he happened to be out of town, so I sent him the file. I wanted him to test it, make sure it hadn't been edited (thinking perhaps my team was teasing me for going religious on them). He verified for me that whatever was on that audio, it hadn't been faked.
It was as if a dark veil had been removed from my head. The reality of what empowered my occult abilities and activities was highlighted in startling clarity, God’s truth broke through the malaise of deception. In tears, I confessed my sin and renounced all I had done as a witch,medium, and ghost hunter.
I recommitted my life to Jesus Christ. I was set free.
What I experienced during my eight year spiritual journey was difficult, painful, but I'm thankful for having walked through it. Now I'm firmly set in the center of God's will. No matter where I go from here, I will serve Him. My prayer is God will use my story to bring Him glory, reveal the truth of His never ending mercy, grace, and forgiveness, encouraging anyone who might be on a similar journey to never stop seeking Him.
Escaping the Cauldron is an informative memoir and Bible study, offering one woman's unique perspective on Christianity, the occult, and God's saving grace.