Thursday, January 30, 2014

Marcia Montenegro Interview Transcript

The following transcript is from an Apologetics 315 interview with Marcia Montenegro. Original audio here. Transcript index here. If you enjoy transcripts, please consider supporting, which makes this possible.

BA: Hello. This is Brian Auten of Apologetics 315. Today I’m speaking with Marcia Montenegro. Marcia is a former professional astrologer for eight years, having formally studied astrology. She was also a member of various astrological societies, writing and speaking on the topic. She’s been involved in the New Age and occult and Eastern beliefs and practices, and these included participation in Tarot card reading, spirit contact, séances, astral travel and the like.

She has since become a Christian and renounced these practices. Now she has a unique perspective from which to reach out and minister to those caught up in the occult. She’s also author of Spellbound: The Paranormal Seduction of Today’s Kids.

The purpose of our interview today is to hear a bit more about Marcia’s story, find out what’s behind some of these practices, and how Christians can communicate Christ to those seduced by the occult.

Well, thanks for joining me today, Marcia.

MM: Oh, thanks for having me on, Brian.

BA: Well, I’d like us to go on a walk through your spiritual journey today, because it’s really interesting and fascinating. And I’ve got a number of questions along the way. But first, could you just tell our listeners who you are and briefly what your ministry today is?

MM: Sure. I’m Marcia Montenegro, and my ministry is Christian Answers for the New Age, which I abbreviate to CANA, C-A-N-A. And this is a ministry that has a twofold purpose, one of which is to educate Christians about the areas of the New Age and the occult so they can be more discerning and better equipped to witness to people in those areas. And the other purpose is to reach out to people in the New Age and the occult, where I once was.

BA: Mm-hmm. Well, maybe one of the first things that would come to mind for those who are listening is what’s the difference between the New Age and the occult. Can we kind of define what those are and the differences? And then we’ll talk about your journey.

MM: Okay, sure. And I want to say that the distinctions I make between the New Age and the occult come mostly from my own observations and experiences. Some people group them together, and they do overlap. But I think that the main reason I make a distinction is because there are two different worldviews.

The New Age is very transcendent-oriented. It’s focused on the future, on spiritual evolvement, you know, how you’re always spiritually supposedly progressing, usually through reincarnation, through living various lives, and how you’re getting more and more spiritual, according to their standards.

The occult is more focused on the here and now, on practical ways of accessing power or using your power, which might be called magic, and that has to do with harmonizing, usually with harmonizing in some way either with nature, as in modern witchcraft or Wicca, or it has to do with following secret teachings, as in ritual magic, where you are accessing power through certain techniques, through tools, through rituals, through incantations, et cetera. But there is more of a focus on the here and now.

Now, those are the main distinction I make between the New Age and the occult. But we often find - in fact, it’s very common – people in the New Age do get interested in activities that are specifically occult, such as astrology or Tarot cards. Those are occult practices. But a lot of New Agers do them or they go to people who do them for advice.

And then you have people in the occult, like maybe a Wiccan or someone doing magic, who may take on some New Age views and may get into reincarnation and the idea of spiritual progress. So there’s a lot of overlap, but essentially the worldviews are not exactly the same.

BA: Mm-hmm. Would you say that, from your observation, that people who are involved in these different areas, they kind of just stumble into it and start picking and choosing what works for them and custom-build their own New Age version of what they believe?

MM: I don’t know if they stumble into it. People get into it a lot of different ways. Some people are introduced to it through other people. They may meet someone or have a friend who’s, let’s say, gone to a workshop led by somebody in the New Age, and the friend found it really, really fascinating. And so then the person decides to go to the next workshop and gets the book and starts reading, and then that leads to other books and other teachers, et cetera. So it can often happen through another person. It can be by stumbling on a website. This is how a lot of young people have become involved in Wicca and the occult. The access to the Internet, of course, is pretty much out there for everybody. And they get interested through the website; also could be through friends.

Some people are very curious, have a very lively desire to know things. And they may have heard of these things, and they’ll start exploring on their own. So they’ll, you know, start looking for books or they’ll go online and look for websites and try to get information. Other people get in it by maybe even almost accidentally. For example, they might do something, quote/unquote, “for fun,” like go see a psychic or an astrologer, you know, as a fun thing. And then what happens is the psychic or astrologer gives them some information that is very accurate and very specific. This impresses the person, and they get interested that way.

And yet another way – (laughs) – is people have paranormal experiences that just seem to come out of the blue. They’re not trying to have it. It just happens. This happened to me, and is one way I got into it. It can often happen to you even when you’re extremely young, like eight, nine, ten years old. And you might not do anything about it then unless you have people around you who are pointing you in that direction, but later you may have another experience or you may talk to someone who had an experience or read about the experience you have, and that may cause you to seek it out, like, well, what does this mean? What is it that’s there? Why did this happen to me? This must mean there’s a spiritual dimension I should explore. And then you start looking through books or people or websites. And that leads you on. So there’s a lot of different ways, unfortunately, that people can get into these areas.

BA: Well, back in 1980 you got into learning about astrology and started to get heavily involved into different practices and what not. What events led up to you getting heavily involved in these different sorts of occult and New Age practices? Can you tell me about your background as a young person and kind of how you got into this area?

MM: Yeah, sure. I did have exposure to Christianity in the sense that my mother had been raised actually as a Southern Baptist. She had somewhat drifted away from that in terms of as far as her day-to-day life, but still considered herself a Baptist. My father, however, was an agnostic. So he was open to people having their religious beliefs, but he himself did not believe in the supernatural. And he felt that we couldn’t really know whether there was a God or not. So he did go to churches sometimes with my mother, but he didn’t really take it that seriously except on an ethical level.

My mother, even though she was not really walking with the Lord, did think that it was important for children to go to church. Now, we moved around a lot and we lived overseas due to my father’s job in the Foreign Service. So we had exposure to more generic type teachings, which I don’t even recall, actually. (Laughs.) I only recall church specifically when we moved back to the United States and I was a teenager and I started going to a Baptist church near our house. And I did get very serious about doing what I was supposed to do. I went to Sunday School. I always did the lesson. I went to youth group. You know, I went to the church service. And for whatever reason, I got it into my head that you had to be good to get into heaven. So I was trying very, very hard to be good. I felt very guilty if I did something wrong. I was sort of afraid, you know, of doing things wrong and not getting into heaven.

That went on for a few years. Then in high school, early on in high school, I had friends who were not Christians. One was a Mormon. One was a Baha’i. One called herself a free thinker. And the other was a Quaker who I do not think was a Christian. She was very, very much into antiwar things, and we went on antiwar expeditions – (laughs) – together, without my mother knowing about it. And this started me thinking, “Well, these people aren’t Christians. You know, they’re in another religion, another belief system. So why do I have to think of myself as having to be a Christian? Do I always have to be a Christian?”

So it started, like, kind of making me doubt the veracity of Christianity. And at that point actually I had already been questioning the Bible as God’s Word. To me it was more a book of stories that were, like, good stories. And Jesus – I did believe there had been a Jesus, but He was kind of mythical to me and sort of like just this – almost like an angel or something; kind of ethereal, not actually very real to me.

And so I started more and more doubting the Bible, doubting Christianity, getting interested in other religions to the point of actually reading books about other religions. And this continued. And, in fact, in high school I made the decision that I would reject Christianity and I did not want to be a Christian anymore. Of course, I wasn’t a Christian, but I saw myself as a Christian.

And so in college in completely rejected it and explored Eastern religion specifically. I was also interested in the paranormal. I had had a very unusual experience at age 11 where I had a dream about a boy I had known when I was five years old and had played with quite a bit. And, of course, I had not seen him since I was five years old and didn’t really think about him, so this dream was very strange. And in the dream I couldn’t find him, and I was looking for him frantically. And I found all these other children but couldn’t find him. And I woke up. I was very distressed. And a couple of months later I found out from my mother that this boy I had dreamt about, Gary, had died. And he had died of leukemia. And my mother didn’t know the exact time he had died, but she told me more or less when she thought it was, and it was around the time, more or less, of my dream.

So I remembered my dream and connected it to this and thought, “Wow, I had a dream. You know, I must have had that dream, like, right after Gary died or right before he died.” And this intrigued me and made me interested in the idea of, you know, knowing things outside of the five senses. And that was a very, very strong interest of mine – ESP, seeing auras, psychics, astrology. All of that in college was something I was interested in. And that continued as well after college even more intensely when I had more time to read. And I went, you know, to some psychics. And I was just – I didn’t get into this overnight. It was something that went with a journey over many years, which finally led in the `70s to very intense involvement with some Eastern groups – Tibetan Buddhism and then Zen Buddhism, as well as a course where I was introduced to my spirit guide.

BA: Can you describe what’s going on when people are channeling or they have a spirit guide and what the goal is there?

MM: Yes. A spirit guide in the New Age and the occult is always – and they’re used in both – is always seen as benevolent. The spirit guide is – sometimes it’s seen as an angel. And if it’s more from somebody with a Christian background, they might tend more to call it an angel or see it as an angel. Or it might just be seen as an advanced – a person who reached a very advanced spiritual level when they were on earth, and now no longer incarnate. And so they are on another plane of existence where they are guides for people on earth, and basically they’re like your teacher. And everybody supposedly on a spiritual path will get at least one guide, usually several, when they’re ready. And these guides help them on their spiritual path. And people have different levels of interaction with their guides.

I do want to say I was introduced to my guide. And everyone in the class – it was a class I took – we were introduced each to our own guide through a guided meditation, where someone is speaking to us and telling us what to say in our mind. And we had been doing this guided meditation every night without meeting the guide until the very end, and then we were told we were going to meet the guide, although it was called a spiritual master. It was not called a guide. And everybody in the New Age and the occult has these guides, every single person. This is just part. It’s a package deal. Even if you don’t want them, you get them. (Laughs.) But most people want them, because this is very special. It shows that you’re spiritual and it shows you’re on a special spiritual path and you have these guides who – and they’re all about – it’s all about you. You know, these guides just are there for you.

Now, some people on this interaction, you know, is very low-level, where they’re aware of a guide being there. I was very aware of the presence of my main guide. Sometimes I saw him in dreams, where he would speak to me. And I did not have interaction with him like some people, where they have names for their guides or they know their names and they talk to them. And then it can get even out of hand, where the guides are actually controlling the person, which is a more extreme case. I did not personally know anyone that had that, but there is a book written by a woman who’s a Christian who formally had guides called Enticed by the Light, where they basically started taking over her mind. And since I’ve been a Christian in my ministry, I have talked to a few people who had that happen.

For most people, the guide is there to help you spiritually. And if you’re actively involved in something, like if you’re a psychic or an astrologer or a medium, the guide helps you with your readings. So, for example, somebody who’s a medium, which is somebody who claims to contact the dead, they will feel their guide is giving them the information or helping to contact the dead person so that they can get the information from the dead person.

And I know, when I did astrology, I know that I really am sure that my guide was giving me some information, because often when I was looking at the chart, the person’s birth chart, I would just get this information, like, put into my head. Sometimes it was visual and sometimes it was words. And it was just very clear. It was, like, crystal clear. And it would be something about the person whose chart I was doing, and I would know that it was correct. And I would say it to the person, and they would be so impressed, like, “Wow, how did you know that?” (Laughs.)

Now, as far as channeling goes, channeling really is technically where you are allowing a guide to speak through you. So the guide actually supposedly is using your vocal chords to speak, and the person’s voice usually alters. So the channeling is actually pretty rare, and it’s done by some people in the New Age, like J.Z. Knight, who claims to channel this, I think, 35,000-year-old warrior named Ramtha. And she had a whole cult following out in the state of Washington, and I think she’s still doing it.

And it’s also done by some mediums when they’re claiming to contact the dead. The dead person will speak through them, and – or sometimes their guide is speaking through them, giving information. And in the cases of channeling, you usually are going into such a deep trance that you’re not aware of what’s being said. So you’re more or less sort of unconscious. And that is a very – like I say, that’s more rare. I never channeled. I did witness a psychic channeling one time. I went to a channeling session.

Most people are just getting information from their guides, either – it’s just being put in their head or you can do it through automatic writing, where you just sit there and you get into the state of mind, altered state, where you just let yourself be guided and you start writing out with your hand, and the words will come through without you consciously aware of it. That also can happen. That’s another way of getting information from the guides.

So there are lots of different things that can be done where these guides are directing you or giving you information.

BA: Well, I suppose at this point people are wondering, you know, what’s your assessment of it, now that you’re a Christian? And we know from the Scriptures that the Bible talks about there being demons and they’re a reality and there is a spiritual world that’s real. But I wonder at this point – and we’ll keep going with your story – but at this point I would ask, what is your assessment, now that you’re a Christian and you look back at these things, what was happening during that time?

MM: Yeah. I think what this is, of course, is that these guides are fallen angels, otherwise known as evil spirits, unclean spirits or demons, which I think are all the same thing. And these guides are there, of course, to draw you further into deception. But usually they appear benevolent, at least initially. And I see this as a way that Satan works through the occult and the New Age. In fact, the enormity of this only hit me a few years ago, and I’ve been a Christian for 20 years. And some things have just taken longer for me to realize. (Laughs.)

And one of them was this: The enormity of the influence of Satan through the New Age and the occult, through these guides, is incredible, because all of these people have guides. And so this is one reason the New Age and the occult are so dangerous. It’s not just that they’re false and deceptive, and it’s not just they’re contrary to God, which, of course, is bad enough. But they are a source of demonic influence and power over people. And I don’t think a lot of Christians realize this or understand about the guides. So these guides, of course, are demons. And people are totally deceived, because once you’ve a guide, usually you are aware of that guide as a good thing.

Now, there have been cases, I know, of people who were initially introduced to guides or met their guides without necessarily wanting to, and the guides did not seem benevolent. And they were told to actually welcome the guide. They were told, “Don’t be afraid of this spirit that you’re seeing. This is something that’s going to help you or make you strong or make you powerful.” And they had to put aside their fear, which was their instinctive response, and which was the right response. And so, you know, in the cases I know of, they did set aside their fear and they let these spirits, you know, in their mind or whatever.

You actually see this in some false religions that were started with supposed angels appearing or something to people. And initially often they were very afraid, but then they overcame it. And this is really bad, because here you’re actually confronting something that seems evil to you, and yet you’re told, “No, no, you know, welcome the spirit into your life.” And so then you become desensitized to it as an evil spirit. And, of course, this is what happens in the New Age and the occult anyway. It is a process of desensitization to evil so that, the longer you’re in it and the deeper you go, the more desensitized you get, to where, you know, things that are actually evil don’t appear evil at all. So you don’t even recognize what evil is anymore.

BA: Well, I think that many people would see that this is an appealing, fascinating, harmless sort of thing. And so I would want to ask the question that maybe, you know, your normal person on the street who might see, oh, horoscopes or, “Oh, I’m going to get my palm read or have Tarot cards read for me,” why should they be worried about this? What would you say to someone who says, “Oh, there’s no harm in that; I just do it to get direction or to look at what they knew about me”? What would you say to them to dissuade them from what? And what are the reasons that they shouldn’t?

MM: Yeah. I would say – because this is a very common attitude, that it’s just for fun or it’s harmless or, you know, they’re just doing it out of curiosity. And my response to that is you are opening yourself up to a demonic influence, because if you go to a palm reader or a psychic or an astrologer, you’re going to someone who has these guides who are demons, and they will not necessarily let the person alone who is consulting the psychic. Plus the information you’re getting it is – some of it, at least, is coming from demons. So you’re getting false information and you’re getting information that is deceptive and misleading, and it will lead you away from the truth and it will lead you away from the true God and from Jesus Christ.

And this applies to both Christians and non-Christians. Of course, I don’t think a Christian – I do not believe a Christian can lose their salvation, but I think they can be deceived and they can stray. And I have known Christians who have been affected by going to psychics or astrologers, and they have gotten – it gets to the point where even though they realize it’s wrong, they feel like they can’t stop because the astrologer or the psychic is giving them some advice or information that seems helpful and they don’t know how to stop. They really give in to this. It’s weird. It’s almost like they’re under the spell of the psychic or the astrologer.

And you have to use God’s Word for a Christian. You have to keep showing them the Scriptures. Deuteronomy 18:10-12 is probably the best passage which lists all the practices of the occult, you know, where God denounces contacting the dead. He denounces witchcraft, sorcery. He denounces casting spells. He denounces divination. Divination would include palm reading, astrology, psychics, you know, card readers. All of that is divination.

And so a Christian is disobeying the Lord as well as opening themselves up for deception and possibly demonic influence. What happens in the case of a Christian is if they continue to see a psychic or astrologer or someone like that, that normally they begin to lose interest in church and in reading the Bible and praying, partly because they’re probably being convicted that what they’re doing is evil. And they don’t want to be convicted. So the way to not be convicted is to avoid anything connected to God. (Laughs.) So, you know, they don’t want to go to church because they’ll feel convicted there. They don’t want to read the Bible because that makes them feel convicted. So they just put it aside and they rationalize it, and eventually there they are, this Christian that’s just really messed up and not in church and not reading God’s Word. And any Christian knows that’s not a good thing.

Now, for a non-Christian, I still warn them that not all spirits are good. I usually put it in terms of angels and say there are good angels who serve God and there are fallen angels who are against God and who are against truth, but they are very good at disguising themselves, and they can disguise themselves as good angels. They can disguise themselves as helpful, benevolent spirit guides. But they are deceptive. So that’s usually how I term it if I’m talking to somebody who’s involved in these things or is interested in them.

BA: Before we elaborate more on your experiences with the occult and astrology, I want to ask another one of these “What’s going in there?” sorts of questions.

MM: Okay.

BA: So let me sort of introduce the question by presenting, say, two extremes where one could view what’s going on as, “Wow, all of these things are of Satan; all of these things are of the devil; everything that you see from horoscopes to meditation, they all have a demon behind it somewhere.” And on the other hand, there could be another extreme where, “Oh, those are false; we know they’re false; it’s just simple cold reading techniques; it’s telling people what they want to hear based on the feedback they give in their body language and reading people that way.” You know, meditation and things cause you to have hallucinations or be deluded in some way, and it’s power of suggestion.

Now, my personal view would be somewhere in the middle, where I’ve had experiences, say, with Ouija boards and things of that nature, where things in the room move at odd times, at specific times, in response to something that could not have been any other thing than some sort of spiritual activity, things of that nature that have happened that to me it’s undeniable that there’s something going on spiritually that’s not from God. It’s not good. But then, on the other hand, I see a lot of things in horoscopes or in, say, palm reading that, you know, these are cold reading techniques. These are a lot of false things.

So would you say that there’s a mixture there, that there’s some of the things that there are demons behind, but other things are just other sorts of natural influences or phenomena?

MM: Yes, I agree with you. I think that it’s usually a mixture. There are some people who are just, you know, basically scam artists, for want of a better term; you know, fortunetellers who are scam artists who are good at reading people and they’re good at taking your money. And they’ re mainly doing it for the money. And they know what to say to you. And I’m not sure anything demonic is always present when they’re doing that. It’s just a scam.

Then there are the people who are very seriously into it, who are not doing it – they might be getting some money, but they’re not doing it primarily for money. For them it’s a spiritual activity and it’s something where they think they’re really helping people. Now, this is where I was. It was part of my spiritual path. I felt astrology was my calling. So being an astrologer was the way I was going to help people. At one time in my life I had wanted to be a nurse, and then a little later I wanted to be a social worker. So I had this very strong urge in me to help people. And I finally felt I had found this in astrology. So – and I never made a lot of money as an astrologer. So, you know, I clearly wasn’t doing it for the money. But I thought I was helping people.

Now – and I think a mixture comes into it. I think there’s a mixture of, you know, knowing people well, and so you kind of know just from someone’s age maybe what they’re dealing with. A person at 25 is dealing with very different kinds of issues than someone who’s, you know, 40 or 50. So just knowing a person’s age – and, of course, an astrologer knows their age because you have to do the chart – (laughs) – you kind of have an idea of what they might be dealing with. If they’re in a relationship, that gives you more information on issues. And those are definitely there. Then there’s also the factor of coincidence, where you could say something is right and it could just be pure coincidence.

Another thing at work is the desire of the client to believe in these things. So the person has paid money to see a psychic or an astrologer or a Tarot card reader, so they have invested something. And they’re going to want to hear something relevant or helpful. You know, they already have that desire. So when the psychic or astrologer is talking or listening for things that are true or they can relate to, and they tend to dismiss the things that are wrong, or they may even think, “Oh, maybe that’s something I haven’t seen yet,” so they try to fit what the astrologer or psychic says to their life.

Another factor that plays into this is general statements from the astrologer or the psychic that the person may apply to specific situations. And I’ll give you an example. For example, as an astrologer, there were times when I said, looking at the person’s chart, there are going to be – there’s going to be some upheaval in your job situation, a lot of upheaval, unexpected things happening. So at your workplace some unexpected things might happen, or you might even completely change your career path. You know, and so I might say something like that.

And then, of course – and I would say, “Well, maybe this will be in the next three months,” depending on what I was seeing in the chart, which would involve the position of the outer planets relative to the birth chart. That’s how astrologers see those things, or think they see them. And then the person is going to – of course they’re going to think, “Okay, something is going to be happening.” So anything that comes along – for example, maybe they suddenly get a new boss a month later or they get a new co-worker that proves very difficult, or they’re suddenly saddled with extra responsibility they didn’t have before, and this completely throws them off-balance in their job, so all kinds of things are likely to happen in those three months that they are going to interpret as the fulfillment of that prediction. So that’s another way that these things seem to work.

And then, of course, there’s the demonic element, which is getting information from the guide. Or I often felt I was guided through the chart when I did the chart. I felt – because when the astrologer is looking at a chart, you’re looking at a whole bunch of factors. You know, there’s all the planets. There’s the 12 houses. There’s the different Zodiac signs, and there’s the position of the planets relative to each other, which all mean something. And you have all these different things you could look at. And you have to start somewhere, and then you have to go to another thing and another thing and another thing. And what would usually happen for me is that once I got started, I would feel guided through the chart, like I would kind of know where to go next in the chart, because it’s impossible - when you’re doing an astrology chart reading, it’s impossible to tell the client everything you see, because there’s just too much there. So you have to be selective.

And so how are you selective? Well, the way I did it was usually I felt guided. If I did not feel guided, which did happen sometimes, not the majority of time – and I don’t know why that was, but sometimes I just felt I was unguided – I would be – it was much harder for me to do the reading. So I do feel there was this supernatural element there most of the time.

And then the other factors at work there that I mentioned all combine to make it seem like a valid thing. So the astrologer or the psychic or the card reader thinks, “Wow, you know, this really does work.” And the client who’s consulting them thinks it works. So it’s amazing how all these different things come together and they make it seem like something valid.

BA: Well, we talk in your story about how you were interested in all these different sorts of New Age and occult things. You got into it. And then you began to study astrology and became a professional astrologer for eight years. I suppose that the important thing is not knowing the exact mechanics of it, but understanding that there is a negative spiritual influence going on there, that it’s not going to help you psychologically in any way and that it’s going to lead you down the wrong path. And I want to make sure that we don’t dwell too much on exploring the experiences you’ve had other than to serve the goal of showing that, yes, these things are attractive to people who get into them, that there’s an alluring sort of sense about them.

Now I want to really focus on how you got out of that, how Christ changed your life and brought you out of that. One of the things that happened was you had this urge to go to church, and you started being curious about Jesus. Can you talk about that?

MM: I do agree with you that talking about this evil stuff can incite a morbid curiosity, which I think is extremely unhealthy. So I don’t want to, you know, initiate anybody into some kind of unhealthy interest in these things, because even though they seem to have a benefit for people who do them and they sound interesting or intriguing to some people, it is totally evil and is not where you want to go. And I was aware of the dark side, so to speak, of these things. You know, I was – I did have a lot of scary experiences. I want to emphasize that. I always rationalized it, but there were always negative things. And this is true for everyone involved in these areas.

I was very closed to Christianity. I was not interested in it. I thought Christians were exploring a path that fit the level of their spiritual development. You know, they obviously had either not lived as many lives as I had or they, you know, just hadn’t understood. They hadn’t grasped spiritual truths. So I always felt that I was somewhat above. And most people in the New Age feel this way about Christians. They feel they’re above. They’re on a higher level of spiritual understanding and development than Christians. So Christianity just offered nothing to me, as far as I was concerned. And I was actually very hostile to it.

So it was very surprising to me. Now, I had been an astrologer for a number of years. I’d been president of the Astrological Society and chairperson of the Astrology Board of Examiners, which in Atlanta was the board which formulated and granted exams for aspiring astrologers, because in Atlanta you had to – in order to qualify for the business license, which was legally required, you had to show you knew astrology by taking this test or taking a test offered by the American Federation of Astrologers.

So I was involved in – extremely involved in that. And I had been teaching astrology as well for over five years. So I was very surprised in 1990 when I started getting this compulsion to go to a church. And I had absolutely zero desire to go to one, so I couldn’t understand why I was sensing that I should be going to a church. It wasn’t that I wanted to go. I felt like I should go. I do want to mention that when this happened, which was the spring of 1990, I had been working part-time in an office due to the fact that my marriage had come to an end and I had a son to support. And one of my clients, astrology clients and students, had offered me this part-time position in his office. And he actually was paying me to give him advice on the employees based on their birthdates. So I was sort of a secret astrologer consultant – (laughs) – at this office. And no one knew this, of course, except, you know, he knew and I knew it, and nobody else. I don’t even think his secretary knew it. And that was giving me the money I needed. And I was also, of course, still doing my astrology practice and my Eastern meditations every day.

Well, so here, all of a sudden, I get this compulsion to go to church. It’s completely out of, you know, left field, has nothing to do with my life, and I just totally rejected it. But it wouldn’t go away, and it continued over the summer. And, in fact, it got stronger and stronger and actually made me mad that it wouldn’t go away. I was mad. In August I went to an astrologer/New Age conference in Oregon, and a few strange things happened there that I couldn’t explain. I came back to Atlanta, and I was hoping that this compulsion would be gone, but it wasn’t. (Laughs.) So I thought, “Okay, I’m just – you know, I’m just going to go to a church, because that way it’ll get rid of this compulsion. I’ll just do it and get it out of my system.” And I figured it probably had something to do with one of my previous Christian lives. So I thought, “There must be some unfinished business or something that I’m supposed to understand by going to a church.”

So I rationalized it that way, and I went to this large church in downtown Atlanta. And I actually sat in the back on the end of the pew, because I was planning to leave after the first 15 minutes or so. And as the service began, they had music playing and everyone stood up, and they had a procession from the back of the church down the aisle. And the procession was led by a young boy carrying a cross. This was an Episcopal church. And as he walked by the pew where I was standing, this very, very strange thing happened. I felt this love coming down on me. I just have no other way to describe it. It was love falling down on me and through me. It had nothing to do with the music or the people or how I was feeling. I was feeling somewhat neutral and anxious to leave, and all of a sudden this love falls on me.

And it was as if this personal God was telling me He loved me. I didn’t hear the words. I didn’t hear a voice. But that was basically what I, quote/unquote, “heard” in my mind – “I love you.” And this was not the God I believed in, so I was very confused. It really, really, you know, really, like, shook me. I mean, I was totally unprepared for this. And I just kind of quietly actually started crying. I mean, I wasn’t sobbing. It was very quiet. But tears started coming out of my eyes, because I had never in my life felt love like that – never. And I just kept, you know, standing there. And I stayed for the whole service instead of leaving early, as I had planned. And then I decided to come back the next Sunday, because – not because I expected that to happen again, but because that was the place where it happened. So it’s like I just wanted to go there. So I went the next Sunday. And I continued going.

Within a very, very short period of time - I was not thinking of myself as a Christian, by the way, nor was I thinking astrology was wrong or anything. I just was going to this church. I met a few people there. They were very, very open-minded, so I was comfortable, including a few people who were interested in my astrology business and wanted my business card. (Laughs.) So I thought, “You know, this might work for me, because I might get some clients here.” (Laughs.) And so that was another draw to going there. But within a few weeks I felt this – I had this impression – I have no other words for it – that God didn’t like astrology. And I kind of had an idea that the Bible more or less probably said something against it. I didn’t know the specific passage. But I sort of – somehow I thought that or believed it. I don’t know why. But I knew somehow Christianity didn’t really go along with astrology.

But this was not that. It was not coming from that place. This was something else. This was like a very crystal-clear thing from this God who had showered this love on me, saying he didn’t like it. And I was a little perturbed, because I didn’t understand why He wouldn’t like it, because I was saying to myself, “After all, I’m helping people, so why wouldn’t God like this? I must be misunderstanding, you know, this message.” But it didn’t go away, of course. And then it became this impression that God was telling me to stop, like “You just have to stop doing this,” which really was a huge deal to me, since I’d been an astrologer for so long and was recognized that way and, you know, had my own little niche there, was getting paid for it. I could not conceive of giving astrology up. I just could not conceive of that.

And so, of course, I tried to ignore that, but it didn’t go away either. And it was so clear and so strong. I felt I had no choice. And I actually made a decision to give it up. I actually decided the night before Thanksgiving – oh, by the way, when I first went into the church and had that initial experience, it was Labor Day weekend of 1990, and now we’re at the day before Thanksgiving. So it’s about two and a half months later. And I actually made the decision to give astrology up, just – I mean, based on that.

That to me – you know, now, of course, as a Christian, I can see this was supernatural intervention by God, because no one talked me out of doing astrology. I didn’t tell myself it was wrong. I wasn’t reading the Bible. You know, it wasn’t like a decision. I just decided, okay, I mean, because I would never have done that on my own. I just – it was just a very – it’s probably one of the strangest things that ever happened to me in my life to decide to give it up.

And actually, I’ll tell you something I don’t usually include. Thanksgiving Day, I was invited to a Thanksgiving meal by my chiropractor, who was a witch. And at her house were all her witch friends – her witch partner, who was a woman, and all these other – now, I had – I knew witches and neopagans in Atlanta because I was an astrologer for a lot of them, so that wasn’t that unusual to me. But when I was at her house, I felt very strange, because I had to tell her I didn’t want to talk about astrology. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her I wasn’t doing it anymore, because she sent a lot of clients my way, and I knew she wouldn’t understand. So I just said, “I’m just taking a vacation from astrology” – (laughs) – which she thought was very, very weird.

And while I was at the house, I felt like everybody around me was dead. This is a very strange thing. I did not understand. I kept thinking, “Why do these people seem dead to me? I don’t understand why they seem dead.” And I really wanted to leave. And I won’t go into the details, but I did leave later, but I had a very strange experience when I left, as though somebody there was trying to keep me there. It was a very, very bizarre evening.

You know, looking back on that, I think, as a Christian, that what was happening is that the Holy Spirit was working on me. I was not indwelt by the Holy Spirit because I was not a believer. At that moment I was not saved. But God was drawing me to Christ, and the Holy Spirit was definitely working on me. That’s where all these supernatural things came from. And I think the sense that everybody there was dead was this little tiny glimpse of how, you know, these people were spiritually - they were spiritually dead, you know. They were not quickened by the Holy Spirit. They were lost and they were spiritually dead, which we are all spiritually dead until we have faith in Christ and are regenerated by the Holy Spirit. So that’s what I think that was. But at the time, of course, I didn’t understand that.

And so I thought, “Okay, I can’t take astrology clients anymore.” And when they called me, I had to tell them I couldn’t do their chart. When my repeat clients called, I couldn’t see them. And so I thought, “I guess I’ll read the Bible.” And I started reading the Bible. I don’t really know why, but I did start reading it in December. And I didn’t want to read the Old Testament, which was totally confusing to me, so I started with Matthew, chapter 1, verse 1. And I just read a little bit each night of Matthew; I mean, just not much, just a little bit. I didn’t really totally understand a lot of what I was reading, but I sensed something, something in Matthew or in the Bible that was very, very pure. And it made me feel very impure. I didn’t think, “Oh, I’m guilty and God is holy.” I didn’t have those concepts at all. But I sensed the purity of God’s Word. And it was, of course, showing me my impurity. And I don’t think I thought it through, but I felt it. And I thought that was kind of strange. But I liked reading. I liked reading it. So even though I didn’t understand it, I kept reading it.

And about a few days before Christmas – in fact, I know it was December 21st – I was reading Matthew 8, and I was reading the passage of Jesus on the boat with the disciples. And the storm comes up, and the disciples are frightened, and they wake Jesus and He rebukes the sea and the wind, showing his authority over nature, and chides them for their lack of faith. And this passage just gripped me, and I kept reading it over and over again. And as I was rereading it, God opened my eyes and I saw who Christ really was. I mean, it just – it was like something breaking through a cloud. You know, it’s like this cloud dissipated and I saw what was really there, the true Jesus, the Savior. I knew the story of Him dying on the cross, of course, and I understood why. I understood – I had been on this long spiritual path my whole life up to that point. If I had died, I would have gone to hell.

I realized that, and I realized that I needed Christ and that I was totally lost without Him. And I just turned my life over to Christ at that moment. And that is definitely when I became born again. I know not everyone can, you know, pinpoint the time. And I think that’s okay. You know, sometimes you can’t. But in my case, it was very clear. And I also felt that I was a new person, that I had completely changed. And there was evidence for that right away in many different ways. In other things, of course, it took a lot longer for me to come around. (Laughs.) But there were some very strong indications of my new life in Christ immediately.

And I found out four months later that in that office where I had been doing this part-time secret astrology job, a young Christian man there had been praying for me with a group at his church all during 1990, when all those supernatural things happened. So clearly, you know, God does use prayer. He wants us to pray for people. And it’s not that He can’t save people without it, but He wants us to pray because, of course, praying is always good, as we see in the Bible, and it glorifies God. So, you know, I urge people to pray for people that they know who don’t know Christ. Even if they feel they can’t talk to them about Christ, you can pray for them. It’s not a useless thing. God can work through that prayer and does work through that prayer. So I think my story is a real testimony to prayer.

BA: Well, one of the things in your ministry that you do is you do give talks all around, at groups, at churches and things of that nature. What is your overall message and your goal when you give your talks?

MM: When I’m speaking to Christians, my overall message is there is a spiritual world that is evil, which you can get influenced by through the occult and the New Age. There are people lost in that who don’t even understand sometimes the concepts of good and evil, much less the fact that they’re sinners and need salvation. So my message is, first of all, to warn Christians themselves who are getting involved in these areas, because the New Age is so mainstream in the culture in the United States and in Europe now that it’s not even recognizable anymore and it’s no longer alien. It’s become part of our culture in many ways. So I try to warn people of that so they can recognize it.

And then, as far as reaching out to other people, to pray for them, to not be intimidated by people who are psychics or who are into New Age teachers or people who like Deepak Chopra or Oprah or something like that. You know, don’t be intimidated by it, because one of the things that I tell people is that all belief systems outside of Christianity have inherent flaws and contradictions, because Satan is not able to craft a belief system strong enough or, you know, craft it well enough to withstand the truth of God. It just can’t. It cannot withstand it. And Christianity is the only true belief system, and rest on the truth of God and Jesus Christ.

And therefore, if you’re dialoguing with someone in the New Age or the occult, if you just take the time to ask them questions, to find out what they believe – because there’s a real spectrum of beliefs in both of these areas, so you need to ask. It’s not like if you’re talking to a Mormon or a Jehovah’s Witness, where you already kind of know their basic beliefs. There are some basic beliefs in the New Age and the occult, but it’s good to ask, because there are so many variations. And then, you know, you try to find out who they think God is, who Jesus is. And then you just – once you get into a dialogue, you can share what – you know, who Christ really is, because you’re just dialoguing with them. That works much better than trying to give them a message, so to speak.

I mean, a lot of people in the New Age and the occult have already been exposed to what they think is Christianity. They’ve maybe grown up in the church. They maybe at one point considered themselves Christians. Some of them may have been in dead churches. Some of them may have been in churches where, you know, ritual was emphasized. Some of them have been in churches that were very legalistic, and that’s exactly what turned them off from Christianity is that all they got were a bunch of rules and condemnations if they didn’t follow the rules. And so in their mind that’s Christianity. So you need to be prepared to present what is Christianity. You know, what is the gospel? Who is the real Jesus Christ? So that’s usually my advice on talking to people.

By the way, I want to give my website, which is Christian Answers for the New Age is the name of my ministry and it’s the name of my website, just all one, you know word, and then .org.

BA: Well, we’ll definitely link to that on the blog post today. Now, we’ve really spent a lot of time talking about your story and a lot of the different experiences you’ve had and, you know, the dangers of the occult and the New Age. One more thing I want to let people know about is your book, Spellbound: The Paranormal Seduction of Today’s Kids. Why don’t you just give, like, a one-minute blurb about that and tell people what they can find there?

MM: It is a guide – primarily a guide for parents with children about how occult concepts have infiltrated our culture and have been marketed; the video games, cartoons, other games, the movies, toys, et cetera, although anybody who wants to know more about the occult could, I think, benefit from it, because basically it’s an explanation of what the occult is and the different ways we can see it in our culture. So basically it’s an explanation of the occult. It’s not really about the New Age. There’s a few things in there that overlap with the New Age. But I have a lot of articles on my website on the New Age and New Age books.

BA: Well, Marcia, it’s been really fascinating. It’s been a helpful interview. I hope that people will look at your Web page for the resources in dealing with all – you know, you’ve got so many articles in dealing with these sorts of things. And if they want further information, they can hunt down your books while linked to those things.

Thanks so much for joining me today.

MM: Thanks so much for having me, Brian. I really appreciate it. And I enjoyed talking with you.


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