I don’t believe in the ability of a rabbit’s severed limb to increase my good fortune. Nor a horseshoe. I will quite happily walk under a ladder, as long as it isn’t a rickety one with someone on it. I don’t believe in monsters in my closet or vampires and werewolves camping out near my window at night just waiting for me to leave it open just a little too wide.
This is the 21st century after all. And I didn’t hold truck with such things in the 20th century either.
I’m not exactly willing to be so arrogantly cocky as to say that things like magic, possession, hauntings and the like are pure superstitious nonsense. I’m sure some people will say, “Of course, not Deacon, you already believe in a 2,000-year-old superstition called Christianity, which was based on a previous superstition called Judaism that started six or seven thousand years ago.”
But I digress.
It’s easy to say that something like sorcery just doesn’t exist. But science hasn’t locked down all the mysteries of the universe. Because I do operate from a position that there is an unseen God at work and a nasty piece of work named Satan working against him, I already believe that there are entities engaged in activities either outside the realm of physics or at such a high level of physics that it’s something we can only comprehend as “magic.”
I don’t think that sorcery per se is usually real. I think it’s something that is pretty rare and not something dramatic like in the movies or in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” on TV. But I’m not willing to dismiss it, and I think there are people who are able to draw resources from wells that they shouldn’t be.
I try to remember the biblical precepts that tell us not to dabble in sorcery. I take that advice in the same vein I took a lot of my mom’s rules. There were some things I was willing to break rule-wise and other things I didn’t see the profit in. For example, I might grab myself a cookie when I shouldn’t or go play someplace dangerous but cool that I was barred from. But I didn’t play with matches and I didn’t take up bad habits like smoking. Because, frankly, the rules I followed to the letter all the time every time were things that didn’t strike me as fun to begin with. I didn’t see the appeal, for example, in possibly burning myself or burning down my home just to see a flame up close. The cookies had value to me, though.
I don’t see any attraction in palm readings, Ouija boards, seances or casting spells. That makes it easy for me to obey that biblical rule because I don’t see the profit in it. It doesn’t appeal to me to begin with, and I’m supposed to avoid it. Done deal. But there are other people who would see the allure or fun in such things and they risk being drawn into areas they shouldn’t, not unlike a husband who starts flirting with a co-worker and after weeks or months suddenly realizes he’s having an affair that he doesn’t much want to stop having.
Many of you will say, “OK, fair enough. You avoid it just in case. Still silly to believe in it to begin with.” Maybe. Maybe not.
I had a good friend in grad school who once told us of an experience he had in an apartment he lived in where items would go missing, and then turn up someplace else entirely. He started keeping track of items religiously to make sure it wasn’t something he was doing. Still kept happening, typically with the same items. Finally, one day, he said to the open air, “OK, I get it. You’re here. You want to be acknowledged. Whoever you are. I’ll give you some recognition and acknowledgement, and you stop taking my stuff.” He never had a problem again.
And before you tell me he was just telling us a story that he made up, this is a guy I trusted; someone who never showed anything but honesty. He was personable, popular and respected. He had a truckload of funny and entertaining anecdotes about his family and growing up in a little New Hampshire town. Am I supposed to believe that he felt the need to make up a ghost story on top of all that because that would give him some extra edge? It’s possible, but oh so unlikely.
In my own experience, I have almost never had any signs, visions, visitations, psychic events or anything else. Whatever I have experienced has been so vanishingly infrequent or so minor it doesn’t bear mentioning. Except one thing. A few years back, my wife needed some essential oils for some aromatherapy stuff she was doing, and we went to “New Age” kind of shop in the city. I’ve been to a lot of alternative spirituality, New Age, Wiccan and other similar types of stores in my life. I actually like the places. They’re usually interesting, they have some cool stuff and there are some good books I can pick up to learn more about other belief systems.
But not this place.
My wife admitted later she felt a little weird too, but I felt more than weird in that place. I had an overwhelming sense of evil. That something had happened or regularly happened there that didn’t bear mentioning. Something spiritually wrong with the whole place. From the point at which I entered the door, all my internal alarm systems were going off. No, I didn’t fear that a demon would pop out from behind a bookcase or that I would be possessed or that the walls would begin to bleed and a hole open up beneath my feet to drop me into hell.
But all the same, what I felt was awful. A sense that I wasn’t welcome and didn’t belong. A sense that something wished it could hurt me. I don’t know what, if anything, that the shop owner dabbled in, but I never set foot in that store again and although he’s moved locations a couple times, I will not set foot in any of his other shops either.
(Come to think of it, my wife and I get a pretty funky feeling if we stay too long in the Wal-Mart. I wonder if the Walton family is using dark sorcery to keep its empire together. Hey, just throwing out theories. These are Sam Walton’s uber-greedy heartless kin, after all.)
In the end, I have to believe that forces exist that I don’t understand. The universe is a huge place and the workings of it are beyond the ability of the greatest minds on this planet to unravel. No matter how much science advances, or even spirituality for that matter, we will not know all the answers down here. I think that it is dangerous for any of us to assume an air of intellectual superiority that sorcery and the like are pure hogwash. Take a healthy grain of salt and be dubious, certainly. But don’t dismiss. It’s the purview of adolescents and GOP presidential/vice presidential candidates for the past several election cycles to be arrogant, shallow know-it-alls.
If you feel comfortable staying just in the realm of the provable and rational, I’m not going to argue with you. But just be careful about assuming that just because you don’t believe in it, that means it doesn’t exist.