February 27, 2008

My Freedom from Witchcraft

adapted from various speeches

This paper describes my former addiction to witchcraft and most importantly my freedom from the powers of witchcraft. And the paper briefly teaches a scriptural perspective of witchcraft, demon possession, and most importantly deliverance from demons in the name of Jesus.

We begin by quoting the Gospel of Matthew 8:16-17:

That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and cured all who were sick. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.” (Matthew 8:16-17 NRSV)

Here we see a mini revival. Jesus ministered deliverance and healing to many people with sicknesses including afflictions from demons. “... he cast out the spirits with a word, and cured all who were sick” In some cases, demon affliction causes various types of sicknesses. And Jesus cured all demonic sicknesses. And Matthew 8:17 quotes a prophetic reference to the ministry and death of Jesus, a prophecy that Isaiah wrote centuries before the birth of Jesus.

God’s healing starts with eternal salvation. And the reading in Matthew teaches that this healing also includes physical healing and deliverance from demons. In sum, God’s healing includes our body, mind, and spirit.

Now that I briefly outlined a scriptural view of healing, I will share about my experience with witchcraft, psychotic delusions with audio and visual hallucination, and deliverance in the name of Jesus. My family background included struggles related to my father dying a few months before my birth. I believe that these struggles helped to instigate my search for happiness in the wrong places.

I grew up going to the Roman Catholic Church, but sometimes I found witchcraft more interesting than God. My earliest memory of experimenting with witchcraft was in the summer of 1971 when I was nearly eight years old. I watched television commercials for the movie The Exorcist. And by the way, the movie The Exorcist is a pathetic portrayal of deliverance ministry. Not only that, the brief television commercials for the movie inspired me to pray to Satan when I was a couple months shy of my eighth birthday.

I saw the demon possessed girl in the television commercials for the movie make several objects float near her. I wanted her power. One night that summer, I ignored the laws taught to me by the Roman Catholic Church, knelt before my bed, clasped my hands, closed my eyes, and I asked Satan to come inside me and give me power like that girl on television.

According to the best of my childhood memory, after I laid myself in bed, I felt as if my bed shook and spun in the room while I couldn’t move my body. My heart raced. My head flushed. I tried to stop it by both closing and opening my eyes, but the jolting persisted. I screamed, “Help me.”

Sometimes that night my mother and a brother of mine would recline beside me in bed while I felt myself shaking and spinning around the room. They felt no movement except my fear.

At one point, I started to feel peaceful and then felt a warm body recline beside me. Thinking that it was my mother, I put my arm around it. To my surprise, I saw a middle‑aged mannish figure with a black tuxedo, black hair, black eyes, and a pastel white face. I tried closing my eyes, but I saw him whether my eyes were open or shut. I trembled with fear, but he gained my confidence while he offered me supernatural powers.

I recall that I eventually feared damnation according to my Roman Catholic school teachings. And I called out to God for help. My terrifying experience stopped, but I did not yet start a personal relationship with God.

Later as a child, I heard about tribal cultures and ancient mythologies from children’s literature and television documentaries. I discovered that many tribes throughout history in various regions of the world had healers that consulted spirits, a form of witchcraft. I developed a belief in witchcraft by studying such tribal religions in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas, and various islands. I often tried casting spells, a primary activity in either Satanism or white witchcraft.

In the summer of 1978 when I was fourteen, I meditated about the spiritual world and considered the role of Satan. I had read that some tribal religions still try to appease evil spirits by worshiping them. They believe that the primary God rarely bothers with the earth. And they say God is beyond human reach, and God’s meager interventions only bring good blessings. Since they think God never causes harm and no one can invoke God, they only attempt to gain the favor of demons because demons have an active role in human events. They encourage the evil forces not to destroy, but to protect them.

I was already a skeptic, and didn’t believe the traditional Christian doctrine that says fallen spirits are bent on evil. I thought everyone had the potential to be good, including all spirits. And I liked how dozens of tribal religions sought the good side of demons, but I differed with their belief that no one could seek the primary God.

I came to an inclusive belief. I thought that all religions might have some grain of truth. I sought the favor of all potential spiritual forces. Sometimes in prayer, I called to a pantheon of names, Buddha, Vishnu, Allah, Zeus, Jupiter, Poseidon, Neptune, Thor, spirits of nature, Great Spirit, Christ, and Satan.

My spiritual search also led me to chemical highs. In fifth grade, I had my first alcohol binge. I chugged a large glass of port wine that I found in my mother’s liquor closet while my Mom was out for the night. In seventh grade, I started smoking tobacco. And in eighth grade, I started to smoke marijuana. By the end of ninth grade, I started to smoke marijuana daily. I estimated that during a seven-year period, I smoked about seven thousand joints.

Back to around the age of twelve, I felt sad to the point that I wanted to kill myself. I recalling writing a note that I would kill myself after everybody in my family was yelling mad at me. Somehow, by God’s grace, I changed my mind and wanted to live.

And again as a teen, I tried to kill myself. One night, I felt sad and smoked a lot of marijuana. I went to the local railroad tracks and laid my body across the tracks. I fell asleep. I woke up to loud honking and saw bright lights and dust swirling all around me. And a man kept yelling at me. By the grace of God, the train conductor saw me laying on the tracks and had enough time to stop for me. The train with its bright lights and loud horn stopped a few feet before me. The conductor kept yelling at me, but I recall that I felt glad that he cared about me.

These stories indicate that my life was a mess. Now I describe more of my problems with witchcraft. As a teenager, I totally rejected the Catholic Church. Some of my relatives also left Catholicism, and some converted to born-again Christianity. For example, one of my cousins was a former acid-dropping rock-and-roll drummer who converted and became a minister. He told me, “Those spirits that you call neutral are really deceptive demons. They temporarily have great power in this world, but their end is destruction.”

I heard the same from other people. However, I still wanted to keep certain aspects of my lifestyle that conflicted with Christianity. I kept my direction. And I thought that if Satan is the source of all spells, he could not be as evil as Christianity teaches. He had a few character flaws, but Christians gave him a bum rap.

At times, I cast spells to make my career goals come true. The ambition of my youth was to be a producer and director and writer of music, videos, and movies. My first inspiration was Disney and Warner Brothers, then, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, and Pink Floyd. Spielberg and Lucas movies began to fascinate me too. I loved the special effects. Even more, I too wanted to make tens of millions of dollars per movie. I started at a community college in the fall of 1981 and studied math, but for my second semester I changed my major to communications to fulfill my longtime desire of making music and movies. Around that time, I began to pray, “Oh Satan, I’ll give you my soul if you make me a famous movie maker.” I also prayed for things such as seducing women.

The New York University School of Film accepted me for the fall semester of 1983. Meanwhile, I became more of a wretch.

The August before I would start at New York University, I ended up in a mental hospital. My psychiatrist diagnosed me with substance abuse and psychotic delusions with audio and visual hallucinations. I believed that I was an incarnation of God because many voices and visions told this to me. For example, several times I saw and heard a man in a vision tell me that he was my half brother and the reincarnation of Satan. And this vision of Satan told me that he was trying to help me get back my former divine powers. So I was saying prayers to this vision of Satan, thinking that Satan was trying to help me.

The doctors at the hospital asked me to stay for a few weeks, and they prescribed me antipsychotic medications such as Thorazine. I reluctantly agreed.

After a few months, the psychotic symptoms disappeared. But by August of 1984, I again started to hear voices. The voices and thoughts in my mind tried to convince me that I was God and that I would soon regain my supposed former almighty divine powers. After a couple of weeks of debating with myself about my thoughts and voices, I agreed with them.

I also thought that demons ruled the universe. And I decided to pray for all demons to come inside me, thinking that if they were inside me, I could once again control the universe as I believe that I did in past existences. I saw this as the only possible way to get the world out of its big mess: rampant poverty, disease, and violence.

I tried going to a county college that fall. After one week of classes, I twice left my car on campus and walked twelve miles to my home. And my head hurt as if I had a clamp on my head. And I would strike my head with the palm of my hand, which would temporarily take the pain away from my head. And I did not sleep for two days. My family had deep concern about my lack of sleep, the way I would repetitively strike my head, and that I couldn’t remember that I drove my car to classes. They encouraged me to go to another hospital, and I went to a hospital in September of 1984. Again, the doctors diagnosed me with substance abuse and psychotic delusions with audio and visual hallucinations

I want to summarize that both times when I went to a hospital, I heard voices and had strong mental ideas that encouraged me to pray to demon spirits. And this praying to demon spirits is a form of witchcraft. And around the time of my mental hospitalizations, I was convinced that I needed to pray to demons for help.

On the other hand, during my second hospitalization, I tried to read the Bible, which I had tried for about six months. Sometimes I read the Bible to see what I supposedly wrote in past existences. Other times I thought Bible reading might help me. About a week into this hospital stay, I read a verse an aunt of mine highlighted for me in a King James Bible, 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given you a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”. I typically prefer modern translations of the Bible, but that passage worked for me in the King James. From then on, I developed a growing conviction that God would deliver me from my fears and anxieties, and that he would give me strength, the ability to love, and sanity.

Later one Sunday, a sister of mine took me from the hospital to visit an independent Pentecostal church. Because of my medication, I walked as if I wore an invisible straight jacket and my eyes were glossy and half shut. The pastor, a Marine vet, prayed for me. He looked into my eyes and placed his hand on my shoulder. He said, “Lord Jesus, deliver Jim from demonic spirits, generational curses, and drugs.” After a few minutes of praying, I felt something inside my neck break off, drop to my feet, and go outside of me. I felt freedom as I never had before, but I soon feared that whatever left me was an important part of me. I asked all the spirits to come back inside me. Fortunately, dozens of people at the church began to pray for my healing.

I went back to the hospital and experienced a vision while lying in my bed. In my vision, I sat as the skipper of a sailboat during a race while I controlled the rudder and mainsail. This was a familiar setting for me. I sailed in over a hundred races and was the skipper for a couple. The first leg of every race points directly into the wind. Buoys, called marks, determined the course of the race. The sailboats zigzag upwind at roughly forty-five degree angles toward the first mark.

This race in my vision had a strong wind, about thirty to forty miles per hour. Sometimes during a race with strong winds, inexperienced sailors gain little ground upwind. It once happened to me when I crewed in a race, and I felt both frustrated and humiliated. In my vision, other sailboats surrounded me. I periodically changed my tack from the right side of the boat facing the wind to the left side of the boat facing the wind, while trying to zigzag toward the upwind mark. Other racing boats always surrounded me, and I noticed that I never got closer to the mark. I kept misinterpreting the wind shifts, failing to gain ground. After a while, I felt so frustrated that I gave up and yelled, “God, I missed the mark.”

Immediately after my yell, the boat transported passed the first mark. Instead of holding the mainsail and the rudder, I sat as a crew. I looked at the mainsail and rudder and sensed an invisible being--God--took control. I don’t know how I knew that he was God, but I just knew. Soothing warmth traveled through my body, and I knew that everything would be okay. The sails looked perfectly trimmed, and the boat balanced at a perfect keel. I thought: oh great, all I have to do is keep the boat in balance. However, I floundered and tripped all over the place while the boat kept its perfect keel. Finally, I relaxed and enjoyed the ride. After the trance-like vision, I knew that God would eventually heal me.

A couple of years later, I learned more about the vision while studying theology. I was reading my class assignment about the doctrine of sin. One New Testament Greek word for sin is hamartia, which compares the idea of sin to an archer that misses the mark. While reading my textbook, I felt ecstatic as I remembered the vision from a couple of years earlier. Before I knew anything about Greek, I confessed to God with a yell in a vision that I sinned by missing the mark. I did not hit the purpose of my life. After I acknowledged my failure to God, he put my life back together better than I could imagine.

Meanwhile, back at the hospital I felt inspired by my Bible reading. I said to some of my fellow patients, “This is not the way I am going to live. No, I’m not going to have one breakdown after another. God will heal me, take away my fears, and give me a sound mind according to the verse in the Bible. I just have to figure out how to get his Spirit. I know it has something to do with faith in Jesus and him dying on the cross, but I’m not sure.”

Sometime in early October, my psychiatrist thought I was well enough to go home from the hospital. I sensed that I would soon convert to Christianity, but a couple of days after I left the hospital I wanted one more night of heavy drinking while carousing New Jersey go-go bars where I had a few dancing girlfriends that purchased me drinks.

The following Sunday, I went back to church. The pastor prayed for me again, and in a one-on-one conversation he talked to me about my condition. He said to me, “Jim, Jesus died to give you spiritual and physical healing. However, your rebellion is separating you from God and his healing. You need to acknowledge your sins, commit yourself to obeying him, and trust that God will forgive you, give you his Spirit, restore your life, and bring you to heaven when you die.”

I thought about what he said for a couple of days. Later that week I read my Bible in the basement of my house. A strong impression came to my mind. The strong impression said that if I didn’t turn from my rebellion and ask Jesus to forgive me, I would have another breakdown every year for the rest of life, then die, and go to hell. However, if I would turn to Jesus and ask him to forgive me and be my God, he would heal me.

I prayed from the depths of my heart. I said, “Jesus, I know you are God and became a human to die, taking the punishment for my sins. You rose from the dead to show your power over death. Please pardon me of my sins: spiritism, drugs, self-centeredness, manipulation, premarital sex…. Deliver me from the evil spirits that came inside me. Thank you that I’m beginning a father-child relationship with God, and I’ll live in heaven forever.”

Before this prayer, I felt as if a clamp pressed on my brain. Afterwards, I felt as if the clamp fell off and warm oil soothed the wounds of my heart and mind.

Then I went to church every Sunday, every Wednesday night for a prayer meeting, and every Saturday night for a young adult fellowship. My friends at church spent much time with me going to restaurants, the beach, and just shooting the breeze. They loved and accepted me with all of my problems while continuously prayed for my recovery.

Every day after my conversion, my family, friends, and doctors said I looked better than ever. I was free from witchcraft, drugs, drunkenness, sleeping around, and psychosis. I even quit tobacco after three months. After six months, my psychiatrist said I no longer needed therapy or medication--I never relapsed.

The next fall, I went back to college. Two weeks after my graduation, I married the beautiful Laurie Craig. My family’s Doctor who referred me to the various mental hospitals gave me a premarital exam. He said to me, “Jim, you’re one in a million.”

Since then I learned that several other people who practiced witchcraft had developed mental illness. For example, Cynthia Ramirez was the director of Manatee Palms in Bradenton, Florida. Manatee Palms was a Christian psychiatric hospital. And it had a wing specializing in treating psychotic teenage Satanists. Ramirez spoke at a nursing conference and said, “Seventy percent of the Satanists in Manatee Palms say they have heard or seen some form of demonic spirit.”

I also read Telling the Truth to Troubled People by William Backus, a clinical psychologist and Lutheran minister. He says, “Occasionally, demonic possession will mimic psychosis, and where this is the case, deliverance in the name of Jesus will result in the freedom from all symptoms.”

I found both how demons can mimic psychosis and the freedom from them through Jesus Christ. Consequences of activities that take place while influenced by demons may take time to heal. God, however, can heal anything in body, mind, and spirit.

God was gracious with me. But many who practice witchcraft do not accept God's gift to escape the consequences of witchcraft. One famous example is Adolfo Constanzo. Constanzo was a drug gang leader in the late 1980’s in Mexico. Constanzo was also a master practitioner of an African voodoo magic. And the Constanzo gang murdered dozens of people with rituals that included magical spells.

These magical ritualistic murders were supposed to invoke demons to protect the drug dealers from legal authorities. Despite the magical rituals, Constanzo could not escape the Mexican police on May 6, 1989.

In the last few weeks of his life, Constanzo had so much fear that he could not sleep for more than a few minutes at a time. On May 6, 1989, the police searched his neighborhood for a missing child that had nothing to do with Constanzo. But the police spooked Constanzo, and Constanzo started to fire his Uzi submachine gun at the police. Soon, one hundred eighty police surrounded Constanzo’s apartment. Constanzo said that the police would never take him alive so he gave his Uzi to his associate called El Duby. Then, Constanzo ordered his own execution so that the police could not take him alive. El Duby followed Constanzo’s orders by shooting Constanzo with the Uzi.

Constanzo believed that his ritualistic murders would magically protect him from the police. But Constanzo believed a lie. He could not escape the police. Constanzo trusted demons that were supposed to protect him, but these demons actually led Constanzo to his destruction.

Several people died or developed mental illness from witchcraft. And Scripture forbids casting spells and consulting spirits, for examples, see Deuteronomy 18:9-12 and Galatians 6:16-21. And everybody who experimented with witchcraft needs a touch from God.

A summary of three scriptural points,

1) Demons are deceptive; for example, 2 Corinthians 11:14 teaches that “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” NRSV
2) Demons can cause destructive illnesses and habits; for example, at the beginning of this paper, we saw Matthew 8:16-17 describe that many sicknesses are caused by demons
3) We can stand up to the devil and his demons by God’s grace; for example, James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” NRSV

By God’s grace, we can overcome the work of the devil in our lives when we submit to God. God can help everybody addicted to witchcraft or addicted to anything else. Here are four steps that I followed, and I recommend these four steps to everybody,

I) I asked Jesus into my life and repented of my sins: and I continue to repent of my sins
II) I started to regularly pray to God and read the Bible; and I meditate on Bible verses throughout the day
III) I got help from a good Bible believing church; people in the church prayed for me, became my friend, and taught me the Bible
IV) I continually ask God to fill me with His Spirit

Please visit my devotional website “Divine Reading” to learn about Bible reading and meditation. Please click "here".

Copyright © 2008 James Edward Goetz

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.