From Witch to Rich in Jesus!
By Valerie Chiera
EARLY CHILDHOOD - SETTING THE STAGE
My story really begins in 1971, when I went into Kindergarten. I was four, going on five in November of that year. The occult was in vogue.
My television diet consisted of shows like "Bewitched," "I Dream of Jeannie," "Scooby Doo," "The Phunky Phantom," "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" and others like it...cartoons aimed at children, which presented the occult as attractive, sugarcoated, desirable. Rather than presenting the occult as a real, spiritual path, it was presented as the stuff of children's fantasies. I also ate up thrillers like Saturday morning's "Creature Feature" -- whenever the program featured the supernatural, I tuned in. In the book stores at that time, astrology and witchcraft dominated the shelves. Linda Goodman's Sun Signs and other such books were abundant. For some reason, in my house, we had The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology. Even at four years old, I was able to read and understand most of the entries, and I was fascinated by the pictures. I remember especially being attracted to a picture of Azaroth and Baphomet. The Cowsills were on the radio singing "The Age of Aquarius," and the occult was an accepted lifestyle; it was cool to be into this stuff. I had no reason to be afraid, even at four.
Parker Brothers sold a small game in toys stores across America called the Ouija board at the time, a divination tool with which one could speak with "spirits" - be they your departed Uncle Bruce, or Abraham Lincoln. Surely, it is playing with fire....even pagans warn against playing around with the Ouija board.
THE HALLOWEEN PARTY
While I was still four, I went to a Kindergarten classmate's Halloween party where the ouija board was among the fun things to do.
While the party was ending, and the children were being picked up by their parents, there remained at the party four children: me, my friend Cynthia, and two other boys. Having already bobbed for apples, showed off our costumes, and eaten half of our trick or treats, Cynthia brought out the Ouija board!
It was sleek, and interesting.....how wonderful! Imagine being able to speak to spirits! (By the way, Ouija means "Yes! Yes! in French and German---what are we saying Yes to?) Of course, now Christians have something similar called an Angel Board. How sad that Christians are embracing the Ouija board cloaked as an angel.
Here is how old I was
when I used the Ouija board
for the first time.
The board worked --it does work-- and to our amazement, it contacted a spirit which called itself St. Paul. I was brought up Catholic...I'd prayed to St. Paul before...and now St. Paul was talking back! It gained our trust immediately! Strangely enough, it only answered questions that I asked. This ticked off my three compadres, and one of them angrily asked the board, "How come you only answer Valerie?" The board spelled out the word PSYCHIC. I had no idea what that was, but the seed had been planted, and Mom was outside blowing her horn, so I left.
THE SPIRIT GUIDES
Along with the goodie bag from the party, I brought home three spirit guides called Patti, Jane and Maureen. They took the form of three older girls, about the age of my older sister, who is ten years my senior. I admired them. We fought, and made up, laughed and cried together...they became inseparable from me. I was very dependent on them.
MY SISTER... A WITCH?
I also brought home an ailment: seizures. I began to have what are called absence seizures on an almost daily basis. Most people mistook it for daydreaming.
Around this same time, my sister began to do what big sisters do to little sisters...she began to tease me. She began to tell me that she was a witch. She spun tales about meetings of witches, and how she would be taken from her bed against her will at night to attend these meetings...and I believed her. Every word, I believed. And it encouraged me to go a little deeper into what I was already immersed in. My sister, by the way, is a member of God's family now, redeemed and a new creation. God and I both have forgiven her for the teasing. =)
I told other kids in grammar school that I was a witch. My father would hear me speaking in my room to people he couldn't see...and no one ever thought to investigate. Parents, if your kids have imaginary playmates, look into it. It isn't always imaginary. I don't want to alarm you, but part of the deception is to get the kids involved in something the adults don't think twice about.
Patti, Jane and Maureen claimed to be protectors for me, although many, many times I was left to get hurt. An uncle's incestuous advances. Classmates physical beatings and verbal assaults. A brother's pornographic library took away my innocence, and helped fuel my experimentation with homosexual acts - all before the 6th grade! Satan never protects. Satan always takes great joy in our wounds.
FAMILY HISTORY: MOM'S FAMILY
My mother's stepmother was always referred to, in our family, as "the witch." I had always assumed it was a substitutionary euphemism for a similar sounding name... but she was into voodoo and spiritism, and was responsible for the death of my grandfather, long before I was born. My grandfather believed the talk of voodoo and spirits that would kill him if mom's stepmother didn't. My grandfather, who had been a child abuser throughout his life, was now being spiritually abused in his old age. His new, young wife held his belief in the occult over his head, and his life of abusive and his dabbling in the occult brought upon himself and the third and fourth generations of his family demonic strongholds, as the Bible says:
Ex 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.
The Word of God is accurate. My grandfather and his wife brought their sins onto us. I experienced the full brunt of the spiritual deception which they wallowed in. Up till now, my life had been a training ground. Now the stage was set, and Act Two began.
MOM'S DEATH: THE PASSING ON OF DEMONS One day in February 1981, I stayed home from school. I had plans to go out that day, and I came downstairs at 9 in the morning to talk to Mom about where I planned to go. I couldn't find Mom that day. I looked in the basement. I looked upstairs. I looked in the living room. I walked through the kitchen, passing her half-empty cup of coffee on the table, and stood in front of the bathroom.
I called to her, "Mom!" There was no answer. I went to open the bathroom door, and it was locked. I got a nail file, and unlocked it, and could only open it halfway...Mom was lying in front of the door. She had a heart attack. I shoved the door open, and saw the signs of a struggle. She'd locked herself in the bathroom so that I couldn't see her. Her head hug behind the toilet, and when I grabbed her arm and pulled her up, her face was blue. I dropped her.
After I dialed 911, I shouted to her, over and over, "Mom, don't die! Please, don't die!" while I ran across the driveway to my neighbor's house. I was only 14 -- how could I handle this, my guides asked. They pressed, Why is God doing this to me? Why was I home when this was happening? God seemed distant, but not my guides. I didn't need to call for them -- they were there, looking frightened along with me.
When I got to my neighbor's house, there was a nurse there, who took care of his aging mother. She was drunk. I pulled her across the driveway and into my house, despite her objections. She yelled at me to help her get Mom up and into the kitchen, but I had phone calls to make. My brother, my sister, my father. I was the one who told them Mom was dying. Or maybe even dead.
EMS got there, and they worked on her. They got her breathing, and got her outside to the front steps, and she stopped again. They resuscitated her, and put her in the ambulance, bringing her to the hospital. When we got there, it was too late. My guides gave me strength. I had even brought a pair of rosary beads from the house for good luck.
Even though I was a practicing witch at this time, I considered myself a Christian witch (an oxymoron, like Jumbo Shrimp...it just can't be). I grew up in a Catholic family, and I believed that Jesus was the Son of God, and knew the phrase "Jesus died for your sins," although I didn't fully understand what it meant. I considered my guides, my "power," to come from Jesus. Never once did I assume I'd tapped into something evil.
Satan does not appear in a puff of red smoke with a pitchfork, hooves, horns and fire. If you saw him for what he is, you could easily reject him. He appears as a seduction. As a likable entity. As a good person. Satan is a sociopath. He is the charming killer -- the Bible says he appears as an angel of light.
2Co 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
After my mother had died, and life returned to what could be considered normal, I reaped the fruit of my maternal grandfather's immersion into voodoo. After nine years of suffering with "daydreaming spells" and "fainting spells," I was finally diagnosed as idiopathic epileptic: Epilepsy with no known cause. My seizures began happening more frequently, and they were no longer absence seizures...they were generalized seizures, seizures where you collapse and convulse.
THE STUDIES INTENSIFY - COLLEGE
And my study of witchcraft and divination got more intense.
Junior year college, with the ring
that was "too small
for a flaw" prominently
I entered college, and my guides did their job in swaying all my decisions for the worse.
My second month in college, I met a sleazy guy I'll call Keith, he made Jack Nicholson look like a boy scout. The first time I saw him at a drama club meeting. His dark glasses barely covered up the fact that he was stoned. He was into fantasy role playing games, pornography, and drugs. The guides assured me that this was the guy for me. Within my freshman year, we were engaged to be married after my graduation. This pretty much sequestered me to Keith and Keith's circle of friends, who were a lot like Keith.
I began to study tarot cards. I told fortunes for many people, both their past and their future. I had many people who swore by my readings. I interpreted dreams for others, and gave advice as only an occultist can. I was sought after, I was offered money for readings, I got many hooked on the power that comes with occultism.
Up till college, you could have called me a "natural adept," a witch who has no formal training, who has been picked by the spirits to bestow gifts upon. But once in college, I came under the tutelage of another white witch, a friend of Keith's, surprisingly, who also considered her powers gifts from Jesus Christ. I learned how to communicate more effectively with each guide I had. I learned how to utilize the Ouija board more skillfully. More guides were added to my spiritual address book. I channeled a demon for the first time.
Does it strike you incredible that no one in my family ever knew about this?
Ask any member of my family. They will tell you they had no idea. I'll be glad to pass on a message for you. =)
SEIZURES SEIZURES SEIZURES
Throughout college, my seizures got progressively worse. Their frequency increased. My medication was upped and upped until I was toxic; I looked off balance all of the time. My guides assured me that it was their help that got me to drive each day to college without an accident. I also had auras, forewarnings of oncoming seizures. With these warnings, which my guides also took credit for, I was able to remove myself from a dangerous surrounding and put myself in a safe place, where I would be able to have my seizure without getting too hurt.
Keith graduated college in my Junior year, and moved back home, 2 hours away from me, in order to start saving for our wedding. It was then that I found myself alone at school. My guides were always there, but after seizures, they were quiet, and not helpful. I was alone. There was a quietness when I would come out of a seizure that is impossible to explain unless you are epileptic. It is like you are coming to after having been beaten unconscious by criminals. There is a fear there that blankets you when you wake up. It's a smothering.
During college, the school nurse, an epileptic herself, would pick up the pieces of Valerie, or Keith would, if he wasn't in class. But now, I was vulnerable.
I had a friend, however...
Stephen was a seminary student studying for the Roman Catholic priesthood during our college days. To me, he was always a flirtatious Priest in Training, a Father What-A-Waste. To him, I was the slightly loopy Valerie, who had odd ideas about religion. He became my Cavalry.
Whenever I had seizures, BAM! Stephen was there. He was there to drag me to the nurse, or drag me to the comfy hangout at the college, or drive me home, and we grew to be good friends. And for the first time since I entered college, I began to realize there was more to life than Keith!
I dropped Keith once I realized that I loved Stephen, and gave him back the ring that my father would describe as "too small to have a flaw" and our relationship began. And the spiritual sides of our lives clashed, and clashed and clashed!
CATHOLICISM VS. WITCHCRAFT
We would argue about how one would get forgiven of sins, why he was so hooked on Mary, what under the sun a scapular was...and both of us thought that we were serving Jesus! And both of us were dead wrong!
Anyway, one day, I brought Stephen home, and he got a chance to look at my bookcases. I believe you can tell a lot about a person by the books in their bookcases. My bookcases were filled with expensive texts on witchcraft, decorated with amulets and stacked with decks of tarot cards. Stephen got worried!
"Valerie," he begged me, "please go back to church!" And I thought, "Ugh. I don't wanna!" But I wanted to make points with Stephen, and so I promised him that I would go. Even though I knew I had a superior relationship with Jesus, I decided to go to mass, as a show of love for him.
I am a short person, as you can see, and in any kind of a presentation thing, if I cannot see the stage or the altar or whatever is in the front of the room, I will nod off.
So, I would go to the front and watch the priests do their thing in their long vestments, perform what I considered an incantation over wine and bread, working a spell that would command God down from His heaven and turn the elements into the body, blood and divinity of Jesus Christ. Well, while that was cool, witchy like stuff, I still was bored stiff.
Finally, I told Stephen that if I attended one more mass, I would turn into a pillar of salt, very bored salt. He said to me, "Come with me to my church, Valerie, it's a Charismatic Catholic church."
Well, I'll try anything once, I figured, and went the next Sunday, along with Stephen.
It's a good thing I went with Stephen, because if I hadn't, I'd have run in the other direction the moment I stepped through the doors.
I'd never seen praise before, certainly not the open praise of these people! Their arms were raised, and their voices were loud, and it seemed chaotic. It was scary. I asked Stephen, "What are they doing?" He replied, "That's okay, they are just praising God." I thought, "Yeah, right..." and kept going, up to the front.
As I knelt in the front of that church, Stephen beside me, routinely going through his prayers, the others around me shouting and jumping pews, I was all alone with God. I felt like I was trespassing in the courtyard of the King. I felt dirty. I felt ashamed. I felt like I wanted to hide. I imagine I felt kind of like Adam felt when he hid from God in Eden, after having found out how sin separated one from God.
I began to sob. Great, loud, embarrassing sobs that almost rivaled the shouts of joy that surrounded me. The mass was beginning, but I was still in the courtyard of the King, and now, it seemed like I was directly in front of Him, at His feet. I was aware, for the first time, of the holiness of God. I was aware, for the first time, that I'd been duped by a counterfeit Jesus. I was aware that I had sinned so profoundly, I had no right to be forgiven. It wasn't owed me. I knew my destiny. I knew where I stood with God.
And I realized, I needed to ask forgiveness.
Halfway into the mass, still alone with God, I inwardly heard His voice for the first time. Clearly, unmistakably, He said, "You change now, or you will stand condemned."
Still sobbing a half hour into the mass, I choked on my confession, "Jesus, I am so sorry!" I repeated it over and over, knowing that my sins were so many, I could never list them all. All I knew was that, by my actions, I had separated myself from God for 20 years. Finally, I asked Him, "Please, Lord, forgive me!" and I meant it!
With that admission of guilt, I felt the cleansing of God. I felt Him remove my sins from me.
Ps 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
I felt myself become a new creation! And suddenly, where I stood with God changed! I was beloved! I was now Valerie, Child of God! And my sobs of anguish turned to sobs of joy! I sobbed till the end of mass, confusing those around me, and that included Stephen. I'd knelt in the presence of God for the whole mass...God had chosen that place and time to reach me. Did He do it because I was in a Catholic church? No, He did it despite my circumstances or surroundings.
We left mass and I went home with Stephen and got out a garbage bag...and everything went into the bag. Rock records, witchcraft books and trinkets, clothing that was inappropriate .....everything that did not glorify God went into that bag, and I didn't have to think about it -- it was instinctive! It was like the Holy Ghost Housecleaner paid a visit, and took out all the dirt!
I didn't know what it was called, but I was born again on that day in 1988. I became a Super Catholic myself, since I was saved in a Catholic Church. After a year of being there and reading the Bible through and through, I found that I yearned for a church that taught only the Bible, and not the Bible and tradition, or anything else. We searched for, and found, a full gospel church. Stephen and I got married in 1989. In 1990, Stephen was born again, while attending my deliverance from the guides that were still sticking around trying to regain lost ground. God did so much -- fixed so much -- in my life!
My seizures, which had been occurring non-stop since 5 years old, came to an abrupt stop in 1990 at my deliverance. God gave me a respite -- He drove out the demons that exacerbated my epilepsy, and I stopped my medication cold turkey. I had no seizures for 4 years. After 4 years, He allowed the natural pattern of seizures to restart. My faith had grown so that having the seizures would not cause me to get shipwrecked with doubt and disbelief; I had to trust God, who certainly knew what He was doing. Now, any physical ailments I have, and I have a couple chronic thorns in the flesh, I know He is allowing for a purpose.
2Co 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
In other words, I would rather have my seizures and my other thorns in the flesh, because it is when He does great things in my life DESPITE these things that He is glorified more...there is no alternative....God has to be the one working because I CANNOT! What a faith builder is this! To be allowed to serve God with a built in proof -- God does it, God lives in me, God is the One doing it, God is in control!
And now, when you see me, you see a product in the works...a jar of clay still being formed by the hands of the Master. I won't be finished until He returns for us, or if my days end before then, I will be complete when I see Him as He is...because I will be like Him!
1Jo 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
Allow me to end with this parable of sorts.
A boy scout, a minister, and the smartest man in the world hired a pilot to fly them from New York to California. Suddenly, one engine goes out. Then another. Then another. Then another.
The cockpit door bursts open and the pilot throws two parachutes on the floor.
"There's only three parachutes on this plane, and I'm taking one of them!" and out the door he goes!
The other three look at each other for a moment, and the smartest man in the world picks up another parachute.
"The world can't live without my brain; I've helped heads of countries solve problems, I've gotten nations through crises, I can offer far more to the word than either of you!" And out the door he goes!
The pastor looks at the boy scout and says, "Son, you go on, take the parachute-"
The boy scout says, "No, no, pastor-"
"Yes, yes, I know where I am going, actually, I can't wait to get there, now, so you go, you have your whole life ahead of you-"
"But pastor, you don't understand-"
"Pastor! The smartest man in the world just jumped out of the plane with my backpack!"
Cute joke, I know, but....what's in your backpack? Is it something that looks like salvation and feels like salvation, but when it comes time for it to BE salvation, is it going to work? Did you pack your backpack yourself, or did God give you that backpack? Are you sure? Make sure you have a real parachute on when its time to leap from this world into death. The only type of parachute that works is the salvation given by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Some people have chutes that say Jesus was a good teacher. Or a prophet. Or just a good man. Some people have chutes that say there was never such a person! But, remember the words of the Savior:
Joh 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.