It would seem the practice of witchcraft would have somehow banished by now – reduced to the image of a cartoon character thus minimizing it to mere fantasy, perhaps in an effort to eliminate man's fears or an attempt to dismiss its spiritual validity. Yet, with each generation we see its subtle influences shed, then re-emerge in a new skin.
Witchcraft has been around for centuries. It's forbidden practice under suspicion and persecution from the Old Testament through the Early Modern Witch Trials and beyond.
Once considered the wise one who lived at the edge of town, the witch was known as the village healer, midwife and storyteller. Many feared this woman who practiced the forbidden arts and who it was said, had the power to summon the dead at the risk of her own life. Yet ironically, when it seemed one's own faith came up short of their wanted desires, they sought answers from what many saw as a peculiar woman. Some even resorted to her counsel, believing God had turned a deaf ear to them as was the case with King Saul.
Surprisingly, Saul had despised Samuel's advice while he was alive, but now faced with the terror of an approaching Philistine attack, he eagerly sought the departed Samuel's direction. This fear had driven him to the village of Endor, in pursuit of a woman known as a witch who could communicate with the dead. Saul desired her to bring up Samuel despite his knowing this was explicitly forbidden.
The witch worked her enchantments and to her surprise, Samuel's apparition appeared uttering a hopeless message for the distraught king. Saul would find no consolation as not only he, but also his sons would fall in battle the very next day. While there is much debate as to the authenticity of the apparition in light of a demonic influence, the story gives us insight into the dedication and lifestyle of the witch in biblical times (See 1 Samuel: 28).
Today, we live in a high-tech society that continues to be driven by speed and stimulation. We've become a world that expects instantaneous results with lack of effort, patience or commitment, while others pledge no allegiance to anyone except "self," choosing to fill their God-shaped hole with an app of the white noise of spiritual apathy.
This cultural AD&D infects all forms of spirituality, including Wiccans whose nature-based religion is now being taught on tech devices, uprooting the very foundation of the belief itself. Some of Wicca has shape-shifted itself into our fluid society in what I refer to as Cyber-solitaries (those self-taught on the internet and who choose to practice without a coven). Even teenagers enroll in online witch schools and download spells from the privacy of their own bedrooms. In their hunger for a quick fix, the seeker can sample from a spiritual smorgasbord, easily picking and choosing what morsel to devour in the comfort of their own home.
For a moment, let's look at the biblical account of events regarding the Witch of Endor through the eyes of today's society. We find Saul facing the terrifying reality of the appending war with the overwhelming Philistine army, googling for a witch in Endor. Within seconds, Google provides the link to the witch of Endor's Facebook page. Due to the urgency, he IM's her and they immediately meet on Skype. Once there, Saul makes his appeal and the witch obliges, conjuring up who they believe to be Samuel. Skype unveils the glowing apparition glaring over her shoulder on his IPAD and he learns of his impending doom.
No matter its outward appearance, witchcraft is still witchcraft and according to the Bible, something we as Christians should not partake. It's the same today. Man still seeks answers using sources other than God when confronted with the uncertainties of life or if he believes God has chosen not to honor his rebellious demands.
Many continue to debate if the enchantments of witchcraft are real, demonic or just a figment of our imagination but our focus would better be spent on seeking a relationship with God and learning to desire His will over our own, which is the root of our being seduced by deception in the first place and the cause of sorcery in some of our sanctuaries.
(Next topic: Sorcery in the Sanctuary; Witchcraft Part Two)