Opposition to Wicca/Paganism/New Age spirituality

Hey there.

So uh, this is my first post on here so I should say hi! I’m a Religious Studies student who’s been doing some work on the reaction of established traditional religion to some of the new movements that have developed over the past hundred years, but there’s one thing that puzzles me.

Obviously, I understand the practices of any other religion or even Christian denominations are unacceptable and incompatible with Catholic teachings (as much of a vague nod of respect the Catechism might give Islam and the Orthodox church). What I don’t really understand is why the New age is singled out as an especially dangerous enemy in a number of modern Catholic works.

I’ll take Wicca for an example, since I’ve had to observe a few rituals of a coven recently. I don’t believe for one moment that the goddess they pray to or invoke during the “magick” actually has any effect or that they can actually force people to fall in love, suffer bad luck or whatever it is they might ask for. Whatever the intent is or whatever they might choose to call the deity/deities in question it’s essentially a petition to the “higher being”, (whatever that might be in their minds can vary).

Now, if this is so awful (which it is or isn’t, that’s not my concern at the moment) why do the prayer methods or rituals of other faiths such as Hinduism or Sikhism not warrant half as much condemnation and public opposition? Clearly, they’re all heretical and false doctrines in the eyes of the church, but If I’m not mistaken the Catechism acknowledges prayers by Muslims to Allah are addressed to God, and the Pope Emeritus met on a few occasions with leading Hindus and Buddhists. They might be false, but unlike the new age movements do seem to have some, if somewhat begrudged tolerance.

Clearly it’s all wrong to the Church, but why do New Age movements warrant particular opposition over the others. Is it purely because they label their rituals as “Magick”, because they certainly aren’t growing as fast, are any less morally grey or with any less scandal than say Buddhism.

PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR CULTURE, PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE states:
The appeal of* New Age* religiosity cannot be underestimated. When the understanding of the content of Christian faith is weak, some mistakenly hold that the Christian religion does not inspire a profound spirituality and so they seek elsewhere. As a matter of fact, some say the* New Age* is already passing us by, and refer to the “next” age.
vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/interelg/documents/rc_pc_interelg_doc_20030203_new-age_en.html#1.4.%20The%20New%20Age%20and%20Catholic%20Faith

Demonic spirits are real and many new age religions and wicca practitioners are praying to and worshiping demonic spirits, whether they know it or not.

And even if it isn’t real, they believe it is, and the results are often disastrous. Matthew Arnold explains why in his talk titled, “Overcoming the New Age Movement” from Catholic Lighthouse Media. Matthew was completely immersed in these New Age religions and his talk is excellent.

-Tim-

Hello there, Neko, and welcome.

First off, “New Age Spirituality” is somewhat of a misnomer. You seemed to get this in the title of your thread, then seem to have dropped the ball in the OP. New Age Spirituality is essentially an off shoot, or a ‘reincarnation’ of, paganism–and therefore, rather ‘old age’. Paganism, by definition, recognizes a multitude of ‘gods’. To suggest for a second that the Church ever took paganism lightly, is completely ignorant, and misinformed. Paganism is easily one of the most anti-Christian beliefs that ever existed. Our Faith heritage is Judeo-Christian. Christ was a Jew. To the Jews, God the Father entrusted the 10 commandments. The very first of which, is:

I am the Lord your God…You shall have no other ‘gods’ before me.

One God. We believe in, and acknowledge, one and only one–THE only one–God. That why/how we are ‘monotheistic’–‘mono’ = 1; ‘theistic’ = belief in God.

That is the very first and most important declaration of our Faith. It is the very first line in the Nicene (and Apostles) creed(s).

I believe in ONE God, the Father almighty…

Any deviation therefrom, is not only inconsistent to Christianity–it is patently offensive.

That is why the Church acknowledges the Muslims in this regard, as ‘people of good will’–for all their faults, the Muslims recognize only one God–THE ONLY God–the ‘God of Abraham’–even if they refer to him ‘Allah’.

Buddhism does not explicitly acknowledge God; but it also doesn’t deny God, nor acknowledge a multiple gods. To the extent that the Church approves of Buddhism, it does so for 2 reasons: 1. its silence in this regard–such that it isn’t offensive to Christianity; and 2. due to the consistency of their moral teaching, with Christian moral teaching (not to say that the 2 are completely compatible or equivalent–rather there is some over lap–hence to the extent of such over lap (and only to such extent), the Church gives its approval); and a 3rd aspect, not expressly championed by the Church, is the fact that some Buddhist practices–or rather, some ‘branches’ of Buddhism–seek not to be religious at all, but purely philosophical, or psycho-therapeutic, or such. (The Church doesn’t expressly approve of such, and doesn’t expressly chastise it–but the Church does warn strenuously against it, due to the propensity to lead away from Christ–and because it offers nothing that Christianity cannot provide–NOTE: this last part, is purely my gleaning from what I’ve read from Pope John Paul II, the Great, and Pope Benedict XVI. Others may have read them differently).

…this is why the Church refers to both Buddhists and Muslims, as ‘people of good will’.

Secondly, Muslims and Buddhists do not seek to invoke ‘majestic’, or ‘spiritual’ powers, for egotistic human comforts or selfish purposes, and worse still, against other humans–both such attempts at manipulation of the spiritual realm, are present in paganism (New Age Spirituality), and especially in Wicca–at it is essentially, to the Christian view, invoking/inviting Satan–regardless of one’s intention. (NOTE: when Christians pray, even to the Saints, ever prayer is directed to God, the source of all grace–and every petition carries with it, the implied caveat that whatever we ask for be done (or not) according to the Holy, solemn, and sovereign, Will of God. This is presumed to the Muslims (even if they don’t intend to imply it, the mere fact that they are directing their petitions to the ‘God of Abraham’, makes it subject to God’s Holy Will).

cont’d…

With the Buddhists, their ‘prayer’ is much more simplistic; at worst (in the scope of seeking to ‘manipulate’ the spiritual realm), they can be said to deny themselves of dignity that God endowed them with; but there is no prayer vis a vis others, that could be equated to an attempt to manipulate the spiritual realm, to the detriment of another–and therefore, not invoking or inviting Satan (though it does potentially open one up to such an invitation–which is why the Church warns against it).

e.g.–the Buddhist ‘empties himself’ of self, then looks to fill himself, by looking in. Well, if you empty yourself of self, and look inward for fulfillment, without invoking or pleading to God to purify your soul, man’s natural inclination–being stained by sin–is towards sin–which by definition, leads us away from God–and away/astray from God, leads us towards Satan, if not directly to Satan–at the very least, it leaves us vulnerable to Satan.

Thirdly, the reason the Church takes such a strong position against ‘New Age Spirituality’ in particular (to the extent that it is distinguishable from paganism and Wicca)–is that it seeks to hide its roots, or actual identity (paganism) in some benign sounding nomenclature, while it appeals to our egoistic nature–the power to invoke ‘gods’, or spirits–to serve OUR WILL, rather than the Will of God. IOW, it is basically Satanism, in disguise. Any attempts to dispose the spiritual realm for our own will, is essentially, Satanism, by any other name.

What did Satan do to get ‘thrown out’ of Heaven? He refused to submit to the Will of God, and sought to be as God.

What did Satan do in the Garden of Eden? He tempted Adam and Eve–‘you don’t have to serve God; you can serve yourself’ you can be as God; I can show you how’; I can make you equivalent to God’.

How did Satan tempt Christ in the dessert? "all this can be yours…you can quench your this, satiate your appetite…throw yourself down, see that the angels will serve you…you don’t need to serve the Will of God (the Father)…serve yourself!’.

That’s what Satan does–he tempts people with the thought of ‘being as God’, ‘not needing to serve God,’ and to do things for our own benefit.

If you open your eyes, you can see that that is exactly what paganism, and Wicca (and voodoo, and Santeria, and New Age spirituality’…) are really all about. Denying God; serving one’s self; and seeking to make oneself like unto God–by seeking to have ‘spirits’ serve our selfish whims.

Satan not only approves of these–it must be presumed that he is actively involved in these belief systems.

FWIW/my $.02.

:clapping:

OP: this is a positively GREAT question!

I am no expert or theologian. My background’s philosophy. But here’s my 2 cents:

the appellation “pagan” suggests many negative things—witchcraft, voodoo, wooden idols, spells, incantations, invocations to mischievous and evil spirits—and it also suggests the earlier Greek pagans, who were largely religiously apathetic, but tossed a few whiffs toward “the Gods.”

New Age, I think, is bubble gum for the mind. Perhaps it’s Starter Religion or Religion For Dummies or Religion for Those Who Are Just Beginning to Feel Spiritual Life May Be a Real Matter. It’s just goofy stuff. It can be fun—and there’s often a consumerist impulse to it.

“Wiccan” suggests anti-social lesbians.

Grab all these together, and it’s likely that those attracted to the stuff will be people either (a) with prejudices against Christianity, (b) people who feel Christians are hypocrites, © people who identify with outcasts, loners, misfits, geeks and who wish to band together in some way for community.

The pagans I’ve met are a lot like cafeteria Catholics, in locating the locus of spiritual decisionmaking WITHIN THEMSELVES, and thus picking and choosing whatever the heck they want or feel they should believe.

I think religious belief is quite a different kind of thing.

The reason someone opposes or strongly condemns something, it is usually because they fear it.

In this case, the Church fears that it will lose followers to these New Age movements.

Conversion to Islam is not that common, conversion to Hinduism is very rare (it is just too Indian culturally), Buddhism is too intellectual for ordinary people, but a New Age movement is easy and sometimes attractive to follow - it does not demand much and may offer a lot. This invokes a lot of fear on the part of the Church that ordinary, non-practicing Christians may leave the Church to join these New Age movements - hence the strong opposition.

In my opinion, the only thing the Church “fears” is people losing their eternal salvation by being led astray by these types of teachings.

I happen to know a couple we declare themselves as “Pagans” and are involved in Wicca. Now this may be their particular interpretation of their belief system, but one primary problem is they do not believe in God. They believe in spirits, but not God.

Granted this may be an over simplification, but I find this to be a primary problem with their “New Age spirituality.” In addition, their “prayers” can include invoking “evil spirits” ever bit as much as asking for help from “good spirits.” They also believe in magic in terms of curses against others for their own gain or use. Finally, they have no problem with trying to contact the “nether world” or the dead.

Any time you are making any effort to contact evil spirits you risk serious involvement with the Devil. This is truly dangerous and sinful. By doing this one is risking their very salvation as far as I am concerned. I also think that there is a terrible amount of arrogance and pride involved in these practices, since they rather imply that the individual “knows better” than God, or that they can control the situation. Dangerous.

So that is just my perspective from having known a couple of folks involved in this stuff. Personally I would rather do nothing that might provoke any evil spirits or demons from entering into my life. I believe they are very real and horribly dangerous to the soul and one’s life and well being.

In general I think new age spirituality is about people finding ways to justify their actions, avoid morality and to “feel good” all the time. This is not the way to be well rooted in Faith and God.

Relativism and self-deification.

A lot of new age practices deny objective truth, so that throws any kind of concrete moral code out the window, which is essential in Christianity and most of the other established religions. It also tends to degrade people’s personal moral codes with time, since everything’s relative now.

And for the ultimate in relativity, some new age practices tell people that they ARE God- that there is no separation between the human person and God. Can you imagine a greater insult to God? Can you imagine a greater inflation of the ego or justification for doing anything?

I don’t think people in the new age movement are bad people, nor do they generally go around commanding others and telling them they are Gods. But its easy to start off well enough, with good intentions and slowly fall into a self created bubble religion where anything goes as long as it “feels right” (which just sounds like secularism with a spiritual justification).

Isn’t this true of sin in general? Isn’t it incredibly attractive and doesn’t it often cause people to leave religion and true spirituality in general? Isn’t the Church right to “fear” the loss of souls and to strongly condemn it?

I think the culture of intolerance, xenophobia, suspicion of those who are not like yourself etc are a greater danger to your soul and losing your salvation than New Age movements which are in general quite harmless.

Nonsense. This new agey stuff is small potatoes next to protestantism–that is, the Catholic Church loses a lot more members to protestantism, than New Age Paganism, and its various incarnations.

Yet the Church refers to protestants as ‘separated brethren’–because they believe in one God–the One and same (and only) God as we do, and in Jesus Christ.

So there goes your fear theory–at least as you implied it. The Church ‘fears’ the detrimental effects these belief systems can have on individuals’ souls–so the ‘fear’ is vicarious, for the souls that stand to be harmed by them; not out of the Church’s self(ish) interests.

Ok, intolerence and xenophobia and such, are not exactly virtues, and are certainly subject to abuse. But the simple fact is, a moral code that recognizes objective good and bad for what they are, is preferable to a moral-less ideology, that promotes ‘feel goodism’ as its highest virtue.

Whether its Wicca, New Age paganism, Voodoo, Santeria, ‘classic’ paganism, or whatever cutesy new name you want to hang on it–they are all grounded in relativism, materialism, egoism, egotism, nihilism, solipsism, and such–basically placing one’s one interests and comfort as the highest virtue.

IOW: Satanism, by any other name.

Not exactly ‘harmless’.

So warning someone of going in a potentially bad direction is a “culture of intolerance, xenophobia, suspicion of those who are not like yourself”? That’s quite a leap!

Personally, I think some of the new age stuff is relatively benign when it doesn’t fall in the categories I and others have mentioned. In fact, I think that secularism is far worse, because there sin is “normalized” and we all move along together to worse sin.

The people who are into new age are usually either disillusioned with traditional religion or don’t really know what its about but have a lot of preconceptions and prejudices that secular society likes to make about religion in general. So they’re trying to become more spiritual through other means. That’s at least a noble attempt. But its easy to get very off-track from there and get on a dangerous path that is far from “harmless” to the soul.

Protestants are still believers in Christianity and they are powerful. The Church would not dare say too much against them (the Church did at the time of the Reformation).

But you group New Age/Paganism with Voodoo and Santeria and Satanism - that is unfair and malicious - this is what I mean by xenophobia.

Also I never said Satanism is harmless and Voodoo/Santeria is not New Age or even new,

openmind77;11944260]

Protestants are still believers in Christianity and they are powerful. The Church would not dare say too much against them (the Church did at the time of the Reformation).

But protestantism takes people away from the Catholic Church–many more than any New Agey stuff.

Please note that you were the one who suggested that the Catholic Church came out against these belief systems because she feared she would lose members. Here YOU are, again:

In this case, the Church fears that it will lose followers to these New Age movements.

Did you forget typing that? If the Church fears losing members, and that’s the primary reason why she takes her positions, then wouldn’t it stand to reason that she would reserve her harshest stance against the greatest source of her ‘loss’ of members?

What difference would it make to the Church if she lost her members to protestantism vs. Wicca, if she didn’t genuinely care about their souls???

…at least the Protestants seek to lead souls to Christ, and away from Satanism.

That is a substantive difference that only pertains to the souls, not to the Church, or her ‘coffers’.

But you group New Age/Paganism with Voodoo and Santeria and Satanism - that is unfair and malicious - this is what I mean by xenophobia.

Nonsense. Please read my posts above where I laid out the nexus. I don’t feel inclined to do it again–or even cut & paste, since you need only scroll up the same thread.

Satan isn’t just about great and glorious destruction–his M.O. is much more often than not, simply about turning people inward, against themselves (and thereby, away from God).

Also I never said Satanism is harmless and Voodoo/Santeria is not New Age or even new

No, you didn’t; I did. I equated them, because when the dust settles, you are left with the same emptiness, the same result.

Living for one’s self, by whatever belief system that may serve as the vehicle to get one there, yields the same result–damnation–or, to put it in a way that may perhaps be less abrasive (as you may infer from ‘damnation’ more than what it entails)–permanent alienation from God, our creator, and our intended ultimate destination–without whom we are ‘damned’, by mere virtue thereof.

Also, if you do read my posts above, the first thing I pointed out was that “New Age Spirituality” wasn’t new at all–that’s exactly why I called it New Age paganism.

Thank you all for your posts, I know I’ve been rather quiet so far but I’m very grateful for them all since they’ve all been very enlightening of various different viewpoints.

I suppose I hadn’t really taken the claims of New Age spirituality being Satanic very seriously (since up until now I’ve only really heard that from fundamentalist groups, who aren’t really that rational a source). If that is seen this way by the church as well, this is fascinating for me as are the reasons for it, all of it is a great aid to my research. I’m very, very grateful.

I have to say Openmind77, I think you have a very good point. I’ve met with a good number of neo pagans and they are almost exclusively ex Christians/agnostics, I’m yet to actually meet one who “converted” from Hinduism or Islam. I have to say even while I was a actively practicing Catholic I thought of the new age movement as a bit odd, but harmless.

I think the New Age movement is quite dangerous. I used to be knee deep the the movement and it drew me away from my Catholicism and healthy practices. I think it disguises itself (the NA movement) as nicey feel good stuff that other posters have mentioned and in doing that it draws people into the lie. And I think the NA movement is a lie.

I am a cradle Catholic and was pretty involved in my faith. I was in youth group and went to Catholic school through HS. I sang in church and was involved in organizing retreats and events at my church. I was a good (and still normal…lol) Catholic kid. And then I went to college :eek: Slowly humanism and relativism crept into my life. And then I did some reading on NA stuff. That intrigued me and I read more and went to seminars and so on and so forth. It changed me. Reflecting back now I can see where it did actually change my thinking. Things I was vehemently opposed to I was now tolerant of. I remember thinking who am I to tell someone else what if right and wrong. The whole thought that people choose who their parents are and what experiences they have left me really numb and dumb, IMO. So by being against abortion or murder or whatever, is silly because that person set that scenario up before hand to “experience” and learn from. I was being selfish by denying people their “experiences”. What a load of bologna. The philosophy of the NA leaves compassion and concern for other people out the window. It was a stupid road to go down but it was an easy road to go down. I even went as far as tried to channel spirits and do past life regressions. Luckily, I must have a super strong guardian angel as I was never successful at these and so lost interest.

The Church is not afraid of losing members! But the Church is concerned about our souls as that is her job after all. If the Church were afraid of losing members she would have changed doctrine to please the masses of whatever age. Instead, the CC has not changed the teachings in spite of people ridiculing and hounding her to change.

This is just MY story and does not imply that other people had the same experience with the NA movement or Wicca/Pagan religions. It is an empty road and a really bad road to go down. I do feel there is an evil involved and I stay away from these things now. Of course, I do not see the devil in every little scenario in my life but I can see how far I got away fro mmy Catholic faith through the slippery slope of the NA.

First, the three things you mention are generally done privately. Second, after studying each one for years, it is quite obvious that they are, on the surface, decentralized. Strangely, though rituals and practices may vary, they have the same goal: the overthrow of Christianity, but not in a violent way. At least, not now. Some of these groups go under a variety of names and have labeled and relabeled old practices, and constantly present them as new. Having been to a few places where chanting and symbols were present, I was a able to identify the primary symbol and the original source of one of the chants. Both are ancient.

The Abrahamic Religions include Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The Church has been engaged in inter-religious dialogue with all of them. The practices associated with Buddhism are well know to anyone who takes the time.

Detailed research into each category shows that, in fact, they are centralized. In doing some recent research for a friend, I found information that helped to confirm that. Since these fall under the category of mystery belief systems/religions, the Church is well aware of their influence. Books are readily available that contain allegedly real spells, along with explaining how crystals can heal, attract a person you desire to you, and so on. And there are also stones with marks on them that are used for divination.

I think the bottom line is this: many of these groups are accepting of lifestyles and behaviors that the Church teaches are wrong. There are those as dedicated to their beliefs as the staunchest Christian evangelist or Catholic. I won’t name specific books regarding what they do. Recruitment, and believe me, I’ve been approached, is very low-key. And people do get curious, especially if a smiling face invites them to this or that. Or offers them something to read. Knowingly or not, such groups aid the “Dictatorship of Relativism” that Pope Benedict spoke of. Some claim that you are the “I Am.” That’s right, you are god or an avatar or part of god, or against the vile Christian God and the Church. Another warning from Pope Benedict is “vague religious mysticism.” Performing rituals and even dressing up and dealing with leaders who will guide you - astray, makes you invisible to the outside world when not engaged in such rituals.

I recommend the book, Dark Secrets of the New Age by Texe Marrs. My printing is from 1988. Trust me, this has been a long, gradual process with ecstatic promises and a new/wrong way of looking at the world. The Church is aware.

Peace,
Ed

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