The Inner Critic: A Dialogue with a Reader of this Blog

This site is devoted to paranormal subject matter especially those that have their roots to a greater or lesser extent in the Victorian era. It is a non-sectarian site. It is non-denominational and it is not intended to promote any particular ideology or religious dogma. However, like any good journalist, I think it helps if I acknowledge my bias and background so that readers may judge for themselves whether that background has inadvertently influenced my editorial choices and opinions.

Though I believe my spirituality is uniquely my own I do look favorably upon Christianity, Spiritualism, Spiritism, and Wicca. Each of these traditions has had a profound impact on my life and on my thinking. To deny their influence would be the spiritual equivalent of burying my head in the sand.

I make these comments by way of introduction for the exchange that follows. There is little more satisfying to a blogger than reader feedback. For many bloggers that is why they blog, to build community and to create relationships between like-minded people who share the same interests and values.

Recently a reader and I engaged in what I thought was a stimulating and exciting exchange. We address some religious subject matter but I think the principles are universal and so I asked my reader if I could share the exchange with you and he agreed provided I alter his name. Where his name would appear I have substituted the word “friend.” Other than that this exchange is unaltered and unedited.

We eventually ended up discussing the tarot and one card in particular was mentioned: The Hierophant.

RWS_Tarot_05_Hierophant

The Hierophant speaks to us of orthodox religion. The traditional church and ecclesiastical authority offers, to some, a place of comfort, guidance, and belonging, and people feel safe living within the boundaries of a prescribed tradition, conforming to the ideological and behavioral standards of their tradition of choice. But there is a flip side.

Rachel Pollack, in her book Seventy-eight Degrees of Wisdom, said, “the religious institutions of the Hierophant can easily become corrupted by the authority given them, so that the priests see their power as an end in itself, prizing obedience above enlightenment. Obviously, the position of defending a doctrine will attract doctrinaire people…the individual is ultimately responsible for him or herself. The whole idea of an outer doctrine, a code of rules and beliefs accepted on faith, depends on the assumption that most people prefer to have someone else tell them what to do and think.”

Making the decision about what you believe and what you do and assuming full responsibility for those choices is intimidating for some and it almost invariably requires a person to, at least on some level, disagree with ecclesiastical authority and face the scorn and ridicule of “church people.” It is a high price to pay for freedom. I have had religious friends tell me to my face that they wish I was dead because my thinking tends to have an influence over the thinking of others who look up to me.

I don’t want anyone imitating my personal religious practices. As far as I am concerned they are mine and mine alone. I constantly challenge people to take responsibility for their own faith and conduct and some people want to but find that breaking from a tradition into which they have been indoctrinated is a challenge. My friend described this challenge as “the inner critic.”

I hope you find our exchange as stimulating as I did.

Enjoy.

David,

My friend, please bear with me as I try to explain. I’m not sure if you have dealt with this or not, but how do you deal with the “inner Christian critic?”

Sometimes, whenever I learn and study the occult/ paranormal, like the tarot cards. Coming from Bible College, and in your case coming from the seminary, we got indoctrinated; things that we’ve been taught come creeping up. My “inner Christian critic” surfaces, placing doubtful fearful thoughts, from my indoctrination and what pastors/ preachers have said regarding the occult/paranormal.

Example #1: I remember watching John Hagee on TV mention about him knowing or experienced about a woman who used tarot cards and she became possessed. John said she was on the floor moving like a snake during the exorcism.

Example #2: Ouija boards. Other than what you address regarding Ouija boards, possession and the movie “The Exorcist” on vintageparanormal.com. I heard another story, way back in youth group, about someone wanting to get rid of an Ouija board and they ended up burning it and while it was burning, it was changing all sorts of colors…stuff like that.

Example #3: In the bible, the apostle Paul ‘was casting out’ the spirit of divination out of the girl and of course the converts from Ephesians burning their books of witchcraft.

How do you juggle your knowledge of the occult/paranormal, and Satan, demons & familiar spirits?

Having grown up in a Christian home and at the same time always had this attraction to the occult and paranormal. In addition, questioning the church and Christian community regarding how they handle and understand the occult/paranormal seeing lessons and things to be learned from the occult/paranormal; the misinformation. etc.

How should I discern my study and practice of the occult/paranormal, with what have I learned from Bible College? How have you discerned things?

How do you deal with the “inner Christian critic”?

Oh, I can hear it now from some typical Christian pastor. Those questions you’re asking! God is convicting you! Those doubts!

Usually I’m doing pretty well, no problem with my studies, my practice and the things I learn from the occult/paranormal, but sometimes, just sometimes, my “inner Christian critic” surfaces giving me doubts; but not all the time.

Thank you so much David.

Dear Friend,

You raise some really good points and you ask some really good questions. My short answer is let your conscience be your guide and do not engage in any activity that you think, on whatever level, is not in your best interest. But, if you decide that something is not in your best interest please do not impose your choice on someone else. That is not appropriate and, in my experience, it never comes from a place of love but from a place of insecurity. I don’t believe you would ever do such a thing. It simply is not the Friend I know.

I have absolutely no faith in the institutional church or its leadership. I have seen too many that are intentionally manipulative and self-seeking. I’m sure there are good, decent, and sincere Christian leaders but I have personally had enough of the institutional church.

I believe many of the doctrines that have evolved over time have less to do with good biblical interpretation and more to do with self-preservation and manipulation.

The church today is essentially no different than the pharisaical institutions of Jesus’ time. If you have not already done so please read Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices by George Barna and Frank Viola and Raising Hell: Christianity’s Most Controversial Doctrine Put under Fire by Julie Ferwerda.

I believe that we each have unique spiritual path to follow in faith, trust, and love. That is not to say that objective spiritual truth does not exist or that there are not universal spiritual laws. I believe in truth, I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe there are unyielding spiritual laws like, “as ye sow so shall ye reap.” But I also believe that we cannot walk in a faith relationship with God if we follow blindly the ravings of the so-called authorities around us.

One of my “callings” is to shake up the status-quo, to make people reevaluate the ways they have become complacent and passive in their belief system. Goth was a good way to accomplish this and so is witchcraft and Ouija, not that I am engaging in these practices for that purpose. I engage in them because that is where I sense the Spirit leading me but as a high profile person, a beneficial side effect of my own journey is that it “shakes up” other people.

If your inner voice is not comfortable with tarot then stop and focus your mind on something else.

Example #1: John Hagee, I performed exorcisms for two years. In all that time I never met one person who couldn’t have gotten free of the “devil” if they had decided on their own to do so. I have been reading tarot for at least five years and as far as I know I have had no demonic encounters of any kind.

Example #2: Ouija boards – Depending on the chemicals in a board, it is apt to change color when being burned. That is no indication of paranormal activity.

Example #3: In the bible, the apostle Paul ‘was casting out’ the spirit of divination out of the girl and of course the converts from Ephesians burning their books of witchcraft. That girl was being manipulated by business men for personal gain. When Paul “set her free” her real liberation was from those abusing her. Read the whole story. As to the books on witchcraft, I have no way of knowing what the contents of those books were but I do know that High Magic depends on the invocation and manipulation of so-called “evil” spirits for the magician’s personal gain. More than likely this was the type of magic espoused by those books.

“How do you juggle your knowledge of the occult/paranormal, and Satan, demons & familiar spirits?” I don’t have to juggle anything. I live according to my conscience and there is no disharmony in my belief system.

“How have you discerned things?” I am subject to error and you should not do as I do simply because I do it. I go where I feel led. If I’m not comfortable I don’t go. Let love and peace be your keys to discernment. What does not give you peace, what does not produce a more loving nature inside of you abstain from, you don’t need it.

One more thing, Jesus said you would know a person by their fruits, i.e. their character. There has never been a better standard for discernment than the character of the person whose words or advice you are considering.

I’m not a conformist; I am an agent of transformation and change. Not everyone is called to a path like mine. I harbor no ill will toward the conservative who sincerely condemns me. In fact, I harbor no ill will toward anyone, not even the “pastors” who know very well what the scriptures actually teach but they teach false doctrine anyway. God said, “Vengeance is mine.” What he meant was the law of karma will take care of it, mind your own business and that’s what I do.

I don’t know if this helps or not but those are my thoughts.

It’s always good to hear from you Friend. Please keep those messages coming.
Hey, other people might be interested in this discussion. May I publish it?
I would not have to use your name if you aren’t comfortable.
Much love,
David

David,

My friend, I apologize if I unknowingly imposed something. I don’t ever want to impose anything on anyone. With that said, I sometimes have a hard time putting thoughts and feelings onto paper, in this case; the computer’s screen. I apologize for using “we”. There was difficulty in starting off in writing. Sometimes you just got to start regardless, and that’s what I did. Yes, I could have done the rough draft and then the first draft, but I just didn’t want to do that. I also want to apologize for the “juggling” question. That question implied compromise, and I didn’t want to indicate that you were compromising yourself and your beliefs. I didn’t really want to send that question your way, but with the feelings I felt, I thought it was another view of rewording the question or what I was trying to explain.

David, you are a very important friend me. You are the only friend that I can discuss the occult/paranormal with, with a strong Christian background/education. You’re the only one I can bounce ideas and thoughts regarding the occult/paranormal, and Christianity with. I respect you, I very much respect you. There’s no doubt in my mind that God placed you in my life.

Thank you for responding, and yes you can edit & use this discussion (email), The Critic, and maybe even some from this email if you can. Just don’t use my name. I believe there are other people that are Christian or that have a Christian background that are attracted to the occult/paranormal and are struggling, even others from other faiths and beliefs.

I hope this comes out right, and that it’s understandable.

I think it’s fair to say, in various degrees, that people that come from a religious institution, such as Christianity. Where there is, shall I say a possible tendency to manipulate its followers to believe in a certain way or manner, through certain principles or conduct in order to gain control over them. That these people may have or may not have broken away from, have certain beliefs or principles that are possibly contrary to this religious institution. That these people, when they tread their own spiritual path, that they may experience some sort of inner conflict, due to this religious institutions manipulation. That these people, if there is inner conflict, that they need to decide whether that this inner conflict, is either a matter of conscience or a matter of fighting one’s own dragon of dogma or indoctrination from the religious institution’s manipulation.

I can tell you David that I have in great majority only studied the occult/paranormal from books and TV programs like “Paranormal State” and “Haunted Collector”. I have never practiced anything (that I know of, maybe). I never called anything like the quarters; nothing. With books it’s easy to judge, to discern, to analyze, and to be objective to agree or disagree, or formulate other ideas. I have books about Wicca/witchcraft, scrying, numerology, psychism, runes, ceremonial magick, esoteric kabbalah, Jewish kabbalah, channeling/mediumship, etc., and now a book on tarot. And oh, I won’t say or call or conjure any name, unless I know that name is absolutely connected with the “right” spirit. So far I haven’t said a thing. But now I want to get into tarot, and with learning tarot you need to practice it in order to understand it.

I’ll share something with you that I have never mentioned to anyone else, other than God. Way back, say maybe about 1996, I was practicing hearing and obeying God’s voice and entering the prophetic gifting. One day I heard God or got the impression from God that I was to buy a tarot deck. I didn’t want to question him, but I inquired by making sure it was Him through prayer. To me it was solid that He wanted me to buy a tarot deck. So I obeyed. I went to a new age store and bought “Tarot of the Spirit” tarot deck. I didn’t want to buy the typical Rider-Waite-Smith deck. I looked and studied on what was available. After I bought the deck I said to God I will never practice or learn the tarot, unless you say so. This tarot deck belongs to you. So I packed the cards away and never thought about it until a few weeks or days ago; until when I read your tarot articles on vintageparanormal.com.

In which I took as a sign, and felt to study the tarot. But since then I have all this indoctrination from Church, and Bible College, and now as I follow God on my own spiritual path. I started to study the tarot, and practice to learn them. Then these years of indoctrination bubbles up as “inner conflict or resistance” as I referred to as the “inner Christian critic”. Studying the tarot was not against my conscience, but I realize I’m dealing with the dogma dragon of indoctrination. From this, certain doubts or questions arose. Those questions are what I asked you. Conscience-wise, I’m fine with tarot. But I had this inner conflict, in which I didn’t know how to interpret. It’s kind of like and eagle or an animal that became held captive. By the time the captors decide to allow the animal to go free. Given freedom the animal only goes so far out into the wilderness, but then it comes quickly back to it captors. Because the captors is all the animal has known, until it truly realizes that it’s actually free. And so the animal ventures out never to return.

I think of my life’s journey. I’ve always been a free thinker, and attracted to the occult/paranormal. I’m an only child. And friends didn’t come easy, but I certainly had more friends then, then I do now. I compromised myself for a very long time (and that included my beliefs), until I came to bible college. I became a people pleaser; I compromised for friendship, for belonging, and for acceptance. God got me out of compromise (2004-5) while I was in Bible College.

There in Bible College I found out that I was goth, and then shortly after not only did I identify with the goth subculture, I also identified with the vampire subculture. The occult/paranormal part was always there, just as my goth and vampire part was there. I just didn’t know what it was, and what I didn’t know I repressed and buried; or I reacted by becoming “religious” minded and self-righteous. God was the only one that understood me.

In bible college something happened that I never really understood, until it unfolded over time… and still is. I was in bible college for about 4 to 5 years. In my first or second year, I went forward for prayer; the speaker/pastor came to me and said that God is going to change my perspective, my view. Boy did my perspectives change, and it started in 2004-5. In 2005 I left Christianity. I saw things I didn’t agree with and it was affecting me, such as being judgmental, unloving, critical, and unaccepting. If this is Christianity then I wanted no part of it. Christianity gave me more questions than answers, and inquiry was not accepted.

The extent of my Christianity is Jesus’s death and resurrection, and His blood & body (communion); not forgetting the harmony of the gospels. I wanted to understand and develop my goth-vampire-occult side.

Anyway, I actually have the book Pagan Christianity. I only read half way because I became very upset and angry at Christianity. It was the double-standard or hypocrisy that got to me. How could Christianity point fingers at paganism? Here Christianity has a clearly pagan history that’s well documented and then they point fingers towards the pagans for their beliefs. What’s that expression, “the pot calling the kettle black?” As for the book Raising Hell, I downloaded the PDF of the book from the author on her website. Just for your information that the author has that book to download free, it’s complimentary.

So, just to mention again you can use our discussion to publish. Just don’t use my name, I’m not comfortable yet. Is it possible to see it before you publish it? I’m curious as to what you used and how you edited it.

Much Love,

–Your Friend

Dear Friend,

“I apologize if I unknowingly imposed something.” You didn’t my Friend. The point I was trying to make is that so many decide that if something isn’t right for them then it can’t be right for anyone else. I didn’t mean to imply that you are one of those people. In fact, I said, “I don’t believe you would ever do such a thing. It simply is not the Friend I know.” I just don’t think that kind of thing is in your nature. You have a pure and loving heart.

“David, you are a very important friend me. You are the only friend that I can discuss the occult/paranormal with, with a strong Christian background/education.” I think God has gifted us with each other. I very much value your friendship brother.

You make a really good point: how are we to discern the truth, how are we to know which voice inside of us is the product of manipulation and which is the voice of truth. For me, I let my conscience decide. It is that simple and that complex.

You mentioned wanting to study tarot. The best book on tarot that I know of is Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom: A Book of Tarot by Rachel Pollack. It is not a “beginner” book but it will give you a sense for the potential that is in the tarot.

I think it is awesome that God led you to the tarot. The tarot is an intuitive teacher and I am sure the study of the tarot will be a positive life transforming experience for you. Take baby steps, steps that are comfortable for you, never mind about divination or “seeing into the future,” just concentrate on the cards and the message each one carries and the message the collective carries, that in and of itself is transformational. By the way, before I do a reading for someone, I pray and ask for divine guidance for that person, and God gives it every time.

“It’s kind of like and eagle or an animal that became held captive. By the time the captors decide to allow the animal to go free. Given freedom the animal only goes so far out into the wilderness, but then it comes quickly back to it captors. Because the captors is all the animal has known, until it truly realizes that it’s actually free. And so the animal ventures out never to return.” – What a lovely metaphor for the institutional church. The church serves a purpose. The Hierophant card in the tarot speaks to us (in some respects) of that purpose but as we grow, many of us find that we simply no longer need the illusion of security that the church provides.

“I actually have the book Pagan Christianity. I only read half way because I became very upset and angry at Christianity.” – LOL that is the reaction of so many to that book. I love it so much because it is so provocative.

Thank you so much my Friend,
David

This entry was posted on Saturday, August 31st, 2013 at 2:27 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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David
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Operating any blog well established or not, requires a lot of work. I treat this blog as I would any other job. I have regular working hours and I work during those times to produce the content or otherwise advance the interests of this site. For aspiring bloggers I would recommend a book by Joy Deangdeelert Cho entitled Blog Inc. Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community. Everything you need to know to get started is in that book. Thank you for writing and I hope you start blogging soon.

September 26th, 2013 at 11:12 pm