LR writes: “Our 10 yr old grand daughter attends Catholic school and apparently the series Spirit Animal has been available for the students to peruse. She has purchased and is reading one of these books. Personally I feel she could be reading much more edifying literature and have expressed this to her parent. Can these books and games be dangerous and is there more I can or should do?”
I have some concerns about Spirit Animals.
For those who have never heard of it, Spirit Animals is a series of stories about four children who undergo a ritual, known as a Nectar ceremony, with the purpose of discovering whether or not they have a spirit animal. This ritual is held for each child when they reach the age of 11 to see if they can summon their spirit animal. Officiated by a “Greencloak” (a person who has a spirit animal, also known as a “Marked” person), if an animal does appear, it comes along with special powers that are then shared with the child. Some of these powers are “magical” such as healing and prophecy. The four children and their spirit animals band together to save their homeland, known as Erdas.
This is a series of books which are written by various authors and published by Scholastic.
My concerns are with the concept of a spirit animal, which is derived from paganism. Also known as a totem, the spirit animal is meant to be symbolic of the characteristics and skills a person is to develop in his or her life. In other words, spirit animals are akin to messengers who give guidance about what is to come.
Although this is not the sense in which these spirit animals are presented in the series, youngsters who become curious about spirit animals are bound to happen upon websites that promote the various pagan rituals used to invoke these spirits. If their parents are allowing them to read books about spirit animals, they will naturally believe there is nothing wrong with the concept and could begin to dabble in Native American and other shamanistic practices that involve the calling up of spirits they believe to be the spirits of animals but are actually demons.
While the children in the Spirit Animals saga always use their animals’ magical powers for good, we are taught in the Catechism that the ends never justify the means (No. 1753). If we allow our Christian children to read books like Spirit Animals, we are causing confusion by presenting magical powers (which are considered sorcery and, therefore, evil) as something that can be used for a good end. Evil can never bring about good, only death and destruction.
I was also disheartened to learn that children are being encouraged to go onto the series’ website to receive their own special spirit animal.
Our children have a guardian angel who is possessed of incredible powers that are not sourced in the occult. Wouldn’t it be better to encourage them to develop a relationship with their angel rather than their “spirit animal”?
For parents who want their children to read, but are frustrated with the lack of good fantasy reading that respects the Christian worldview, this blog gives great advice from author Michael D. O’Brien for choosing reading material that doesn’t corrupt the moral order.
Any parent interested in looking into these books for themselves can read the first few chapters of the first book in the series here.