It’s a well-established fact that most people who get involved in the New Age – which includes many practices founded in the occult – are “dabblers.” They’re just poking around in this or that, looking for a spiritual high, a “connection” to the universe, an escape from reality, a cure for what ails them.
Others are in it for the money. “Most New Age activities are commercial ventures, initiated by small entrepreneurs, fortune-tellers of all kinds, mediums and ‘healers’,” writes Benjamin Beit-Hallahami in Pscyhological Perspectives in Religion and Religiosity.
But almost no one takes it very seriously.
In fact, one of the most common remarks I hear from people who dabble in things as serious as the occult is, “But I was just fooling around!”
Like the youngsters who are playing with Ouija boards and who say, “But we’re just trying to have some fun!”
The grieving widow who visits the medium, “I just want to know my husband is okay!”
The exercise enthusiast who balks at warnings about yoga and claims, “I’m just doing the exercises.”
The parents of children who read sorcery-laden books because they’re popular at school who say, “But it’s just fiction!”
While it’s true that all of these excuses are innocent enough, does this mean that just because the people involved in these scenarios weren’t intending to consort with the devil that they’re protected from demonic attack?
Let me explain.
The Catholic Church teaches that a person’s intention really matters when it comes to committing sin. As we read in No. 1750 “Freedom makes man a moral subject. When he acts deliberately, man is, so to speak, the father of his acts. Human acts, that is, acts that are freely chosen in consequence of a judgment of conscience, can be morally evaluated. They are either good or evil.”
The morality of his acts depend upon: 1) the object chosen; 2) the end in view or the intention; 3) the circumstances of the action.
“The object, the intention, and the circumstances make up the ‘sources,’ or constitutive elements, of the morality of human acts,” the Catechism summarizes.
And why is this so?
Because ours is a just God. He takes into account our intentions, circumstances, infirmities, weaknesses, etc.
But when we’re talking about the devil, there is no such sense of justice.
He could care less that you’re playing with a Ouija board just for kicks. He’s going to answer your attempts to contact the “other side” regardless of who you think you’re communicating with.
The devil could also care less that you believe posing your body in a position designed to worship the sun god is a harmless exercise. Our early Church Fathers taught that demons hide behind the names of false gods. This means that the demon hiding behind the sun god is perfectly happy to respond to this summons regardless of who calls him into an exercise class.
And because he’s also a cold-hearted monster, he is even more pleased when he can convince a grieving widow that she’s really hearing her husband’s voice rather than his own perfect imitation.
He’s also delighted when he can trick an innocent child into practicing some of the spells he reads about in Harry Potter or any of the dozens of other books that promote sorcery to children.
The bottom line is that the devil doesn’t play fair. This is why there’s no such thing as dabbling in the occult or any of a variety of New Age practices that open the door to the occult, such as certain healing techniques like Reiki, medical intuitives, angel readers – all of which rely upon the intervention of “spirit guides” or other spiritual entities.
Unless you are in a state of grace (regular confession and Eucharist, sincere desire to turn away from sin) even something as minor as an occasional dabble can be dangerous.
This explains why Monsignor Patrick Branken, official exorcist for the Diocese of Tulsa, warned curiosity seekers who might attend a black mass planned for the Oklahoma City Civic Center in 2014 that they are placing themselves in extreme danger regardless of just being there out of curiosity.
“I would think that there would be a real strong possibility, especially in the state of sin, that they would walk out possessed,” Msgr. Branken said about these attendees. “If someone went there out of curiosity, especially if there was a possibility that they were not in the state of grace, they could easily come out with a demonic attachment, whether it would be an oppression, obsession or a full possession.”
The devil is real and he despises every single one of us with a murderous hatred. Does this sound like someone you want to “dabble” around with?