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Sunday, 04 November 2012 00:00
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Witchcraft is hardwork - Former witch

Author Seleah Ally Tower shares her story of life as a former witch who became a Christian in her book Taken from the Night – A Witches Encounter With God. As Halloween approaches, and as the darker side of the holiday's history resurfaces every year, Christian Post decided to take a closer look at the tradition from the perspective of someone who was once immersed for 10 years in witchcraft and the occult before fully accepting Jesus Christ into her life. Tower, who grew up in a traditional Christian household, said she wants the book and her testimony to help others who have experienced the same struggles in the spiritual realm. Excerpts:

We've all heard many stories about the origins of Halloween. As someone who has done a lot of research in this area can you give us a brief summary of what you believe to be the origins of the holiday celebrated in the U.S.?
Halloween as celebrated in the USA is a somewhat diluted version of various traditions mostly stemming from medieval times. Kids dressing in costume and going door to door looking for treats, which is one of the main Halloween events, can be found in "souling" or dressing in rags. This Dark Ages practice included going door to door in search for soul cakes in return for prayers for the deceased or in "guising" where masqueraders carried lanterns made of scooped-out turnips going door to door in hopes of being rewarded with cakes, fruit and money.
Today, adults and even teenagers have taken another medieval time tradition of demanding beer or ale while costumed in exchange for a performance as an opportunity to party. During the Dark Ages, many actually feared encounters with mischievous spirits and wore masks so that ghosts would mistake them for a fellow spirit if they had to go out at night.

What is it about witches in particular? You were drawn to a witch's "lifestyle" at one point in your life. Why the fascination from your perspective and why do so many others hold, in some cases, a peculiar obsession?
A witch has a certain mystique about her and for many the allure has to do with both the unknown and the unthinkable. It's our natural curiosity that causes us to be fascinated with the unknown and the witch portrays this mystery as well as the excitement of entertaining the unthinkable. For me personally, the appeal was self-empowerment and the feminine aspect of witchcraft. The lifestyle enabled me the freedom to make my own decisions according to how I saw fit and gave me the ability to put those changes into action through magic. I think a lot of people are looking for a hands-on spirituality where they can incorporate their own will rather than God's will. We live in a "me" focused society that's all about what "I" want. Part of it is the fault of churches because Christianity should not be a spectator religion. We are all part of the Body and each one of us has a significant part in the whole Church.

How prevalent is witchcraft in the U.S.? What would you warn people who dabble in the occult and witchcraft?
Contrary to popular opinion, I don't believe true witchcraft is on the rise. Being a witch takes a lot of time and hard work, something which is rare in today's society where everything you want is at the tip of your fingertips. I think the term "witch" is loosely used nowadays and the rise is in paganism in general. I would not encourage dabbling in witchcraft from either a Christian or Wiccan point of view. Magic is real; witchcraft is not a fantasy and not something to be toiled with. God, in love warns us against engaging in witchcraft because His desire is to be in a relationship with us alone.

As a Christian, how do you approach the Halloween "season," because it truly appears to have developed into at least a month-long celebration?
I approach the season with prayer rather than paranoia. As Christians we really have no reason to fear when the light of Jesus is within us. I don't lock my door and hide away on Halloween night … rather I see it as an opportunity to shine the light of Jesus in the darkness. I also pray for those in spiritual darkness to come to know the God of Abraham, that they would seek godly knowledge, and for their revelation in Jesus' death that conquered the grave. Then when most other Christians have forgotten Halloween for another year I continue to pray because Samhain is not necessarily October 31st. While all the Halloween parties and public "Witch Balls" are over, the time in between [Samhain] will come unnoticed. This year, it falls on Nov. 6 while most will be distracted with the election for the next president.

What is Samhain?
Witches and most neo-pagans celebrate Samhain. I am unable to speak for the satanist but witches celebrate Samhain as the final harvest celebration or summer's end for the Celtic people. It is the Celtic New Year and beginning of the dark half of the year. It's considered a very magical time when the veil between the worlds is thinnest and the dead walk among the living. The Celts believed it was a time when the future could be most effectively predicted and so it was a time for divination and prophecy.
Do you suggest parents steer away from approving witch or sorcerer costumes for their children?
Putting on a costume is like temporarily putting on the persona of the costume so I would suggest using discernment in the costume choice. I would certainly not encourage a witch or sorcerer costume, but I don't think a parent should overreact to a child's choice of one either. It can be a great learning experience and help the child make another choice on their own.

There are some people who are unaware that there are practicing witches in the U.S. How deep were you into witchcraft? How did you "blend into" society?
I personally embraced witchcraft as a lifestyle, became initiated and practiced within a coven. Aside from perhaps my choice of clothes, I blended in as your typical wife, "soccer mom" and school bus driver quite well. Even though I was "out of the broom closet" with my beliefs, the average person aside from close friends and family would have never known. There was really nothing about my demeanor that would have aroused suspicion in my neighborhood except perhaps my late night trips on full moon.

Were there moments when you were scared? Was there a moment when you knew you could no longer be a witch?
I wouldn't say I was actually scared … we were taught not to fear the "dark" but to respect it. Also working within a group we abided by so-called "perfect love" and "perfect trust" which basically meant you trusted your coven with your life so there was no need to be afraid. For me, the moment came when I encountered the love of God with such intensity that I simply couldn't deny nor reject Him any longer. It wasn't as though I had some horrible experience with witchcraft, rather I couldn't say no to the overwhelming, all-consuming love of God. At that point, I knew I could no longer continue living my life as a witch.

Your book Taken from the Night – A Witches Encounter With God takes readers on your journey from the occult to Christianity – you becoming a born-again Christian – can you give us a brief summary as to your last days as a witch and how you came to know Jesus?
My former pastor invited me to church to speak with an ex-occultist who was visiting. I had been ex-communicated from the church so I accepted only out of spite. I was happy with my Wiccan lifestyle and had no desire for the Christian God. Despite the fact that the woman didn't show, I found myself exhausted and overwhelmed in tears throughout the service. Perplexed by my reaction I asked if I could visit again not expecting I would be invited back the day after the Samhain Witch's Ball. I almost didn't get out of bed but was determined to prove the same thing wouldn't happen again, especially since I was still charged with energy from the night before. Instead God had something to prove to me as He swept me off my feet and saturated me with love beyond words. That encounter was the beginning of my difficult journey back yet, His grace sustained me through it all.

Since the book was released in May of this year, what have you learned in your speaking engagements and comments from readers?
It's amazing to see the vast difference in the reactions and responses I've received but I think the most important thing I've learned is to keep my focus on pleasing God. While I have a God-given passion for sharing truth, what a person does with the truth is between them and God.
One last question about Halloween. There are some Christians who say we shouldn't be celebrating Halloween at all. What will you be doing this Wednesday evening?
This Wednesday I'll be co-hosting a livestream Hallelujah Night celebrating the day 13 years ago that I walked into church a practicing witch and left rejoicing as a believer in Jesus. If you're not sure what to do feel, free to join me.