Is There Danger in Occult “Charms”?
WE OFTEN see persons who carry about or have in their homes certain “charms” obtained from others who believe in or practice some form of spiritism, fortune-telling, and so forth. These articles may be in the form of an image, an amulet or fetish. Or a gift—a picture, a handkerchief, a scarf—something not ordinarily viewed as a charm, may be received from someone who practices spiritism. Are these things harmless?
The question is of interest to you whether you want to worship God or not. Why? Because your attitude and actions toward these things can vitally affect your mental and even your physical health. We have evidence of this, not only from the Bible, God’s Word, but also from the personal experiences of many.
When God was about to bring the nation of Israel into the land of Canaan, he gave specific and repeated warnings about this danger of occultism. It was not without reason, nor because of favoritism, that he was driving out the people who lived in Canaan. He told Israel why, saying: “These nations whom you are dispossessing used to listen to those practicing magic and to those who divine.” He called these practices “the detestable things of those nations,” and then commanded: “There should not be found in you . . . anyone who looks for omens or a sorcerer, or one who binds others with a spell or anyone who consults a spirit medium or a professional foreteller of events or anyone who inquires of the dead.”—Deut. 18:9-12, 14.
Furthermore, Israel was told: “You must not mention the name of other gods. It should not be heard upon your mouth.” (Ex. 23:13) This did not mean that they could not mention those names as false gods, for example, in teaching or warning their children. But they were not to acknowledge those gods as having any power, or to be looked to for anything. Why?
Because, even if they were not directly worshiped, any leaning toward them, expecting them to do good or bad, or wanting any material thing connected with them, would actually mean having association with wicked demons. These demons are real spirit persons, wicked angels, the worst enemies of God and man. The apostle Paul said: “The things which the nations sacrifice they sacrifice to demons, and not to God.” (1 Cor. 10:20) Because Israel did not obey God’s command, some persons were terribly afflicted. When Jesus was on earth, he healed many, casting out demons who troubled them.—Matt. 12:22; Luke 13:11-16; Mark 5:2-13.
‘But,’ you may ask, ‘what harm is there in merely accepting gifts from persons who practice some form of spiritism or astrology, who rely on charms, Ouija boards, and so forth?’
This: In modern times many persons have been seriously harassed by the demons because of taking these things into their homes. As an example: a middle-aged woman in New York suddenly suffered occasional seizures of paralysis. She would lie in bed stiff, rigid and cold. She was able to speak but was very despondent, wishing that she would die. She was associated with a congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses, so was visited by two of the elders of the congregation. They recognized it as a possible case of demon harassment, and questioned the woman closely as to whether she had any association with any person connected with spiritism. She recalled having worked alongside such a person in a factory, finally quitting her job to get away from this person’s constant ‘predictions’ and strange talk. She was asked whether she had accepted any gift from this individual, and it was finally discovered that the spiritistic woman had given her a pair of gloves and a string of beads. These were then hunted out and thrown into the incinerator. Immediately the woman recovered fully and has not had such an attack since.—Compare Acts 19:19.
‘DO NOT BRING THEM INTO YOUR HOUSE’
There are numerous experiences like this on record. They emphasize the seriousness of God’s command to Israel concerning the things belonging to the Canaanites. They were not to keep their images of worship, nor were they to take for themselves even the gold and silver from them merely because of their material value. God said: “You must not bring a detestable thing into your house and actually become a thing devoted to destruction like it. You should thoroughly loathe it and absolutely detest it, because it is something devoted to destruction.”—Deut. 7:25, 26.
If a city of Israel were to abandon the pure worship of Jehovah and turn to false worship, its inhabitants were to be put to death and the entire city burned. God commanded: “Nothing at all should stick to your hand of the thing made sacred by ban, in order that Jehovah may turn from his burning anger.”—Deut. 13:12-17.
Now, it is common knowledge that in some parts of the world there are medicinemen and juju priests who have, by spells and fetishes, caused death or calamity to people there. These practitioners have often tried their spells against those from among these people who have become Jehovah’s witnesses, even planting fetishes on their premises. But they have been completely unsuccessful in causing any effect on the Witnesses. Of course, the Witnesses had absolutely rejected any association with these magic-practicing priests and had not accepted any gifts from them. They generally did not know that the fetishes had been planted on their property. And they were not harmed, much to the dismay of the practitioners.
You can see from this that you need not live in fear of the demons. You should not be terrified at astrological horoscopes or other predictions, nor of spells of practitioners of spiritism. But you are safe only if you utterly reject any connection with such persons, and absolutely abhor and reject any gifts they may offer. You need to avoid knowingly allowing such detestable things into your house. You are putting yourself into danger if you read horoscopes to see what they say, thereby giving some recognition that they just might turn out right. If you do, you show some liking, some leaning toward these detestable things, or a desire for some material thing connected with them. In that case, you should not be surprised if you suddenly experience demon attacks, perhaps hearing voices or being seriously afflicted.
If you have had such troubles, get rid of anything that you know that you or members of your family have taken from dabblers in spiritism. Cut off fellowship with such persons. Having done this, ask Jehovah God in the name of Christ to bring you assistance and relief. If you are a member of a congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses, approach the elders and get their help, not as of exorcists, but so that you may receive their counsel and the help of their united prayers.—Jas. 5:13-18.