Heresy in the Hood: Teen Witchcraft in America

Linda P. Harvey

Linda P. Harvey is editor and publisher of Mission: America, a quarterly Christian newsletter and Internet web site at Mrs. Harvey founded the organization in 1995 to address tough cultural issues within a Christian context. With over twenty years' experience in advertising and public relations, Mrs. Harvey is the recipient of over fifty communication awards and has started ten publications. She is graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and has held executive positions in the fields of health care and insurance. She is a frequent guest on TV and radio shows, and has been especially active in addressing the issues of homosexuality and radical feminism.

Editor's Note: This is the original version of a newly updated article. The updated version can be found here: Heresy in the Hood II: Witchcraft among Children and Teens in America.
The fifteen-year old girl next door, her mom tells you, has cleaned up her once-rebellious act. Suddenly, Brittany is getting up early, reading more books, going to church more, even keeping her room clean. Drugs and alcohol are not cool, she tells her parents. And she has a much more positive attitude, your neighbor has noticed. Seemingly, a young life has turned around for the better.

Well, hold that applause. For young Brittany's new standards are outlined by Teen Witch author Silver Ravenwolf as the model for every young wiccan.{1} Yes, in today's crazy America, Brittany could have found new identity and meaning in witchcraft.

Did you ever think you'd live to see actual witchcraft-undisguised, with spells and all-being pitched to our young women as the solution to life's problems? Yet here it is, out of the closet, with or without warts. As an alternate lifestyle or a source of empowerment, the imagery, symbols and ritual of sorcery are everywhere in the lives of young Americans, female and male.

Style and Identity

"Witchcraft is the fastest-growing religion in America today," said a proponent recently on the teen-popular "E"-cable channel, and interest is high among adolescent girls, since wiccans are "strong, self-directed women."{2} The fascination with witchcraft among the young is a new twist. As recently as 1993, Cynthia Eller noted in her admiring book on feminist spirituality (witchcraft), " few women [in feminist spirituality] there are below thirty....There are women in their teens and twenties, but not many."{3}

That has changed. One big push has come from the Hollywood entertainment machine that, with seemingly no limit on depravity, is mining the curiosity of youth for all it's worth. A burst of movies and TV shows featuring witchcraft have targeted young viewers, among them this past summer's hit Blair Witch Project. In 1996, The Craft featured teen practitioners; last year's Practical Magic showed witchcraft's usefulness in romance. ABC's Sabrina: the Teenage Witch, and now The WB's Charmed with popular star Shannon Doherty, have made wicca seem like just another hobby. The 1996 movie The Crucible featured teen idol Winona Ryder, and glorified for yet another generation the victims of the Salem witch trials. All this high visibility depicts witchcraft as alluring, accessible and apparently as innocuous as tennis lessons.

And then there's the influence of popular music. A recent "Disney" channel show featured a new Irish singing group called B*Witched, who seem to appeal to pre-teens and middle schoolers. Although the practice of the "craft" isn't evident with this group, the casual adoption of the name is worth noting. Associating with a label of witchcraft must be a positive image-builder these days.

One of the most popular events with American youth has been the Lilith Fair, which has played to packed audiences of students throughout the US and Canada for three summers. Why did musician Sarah McLachlan choose the name "Lilith" for the all-woman concert tour she founded? According to radical feminism, Lilith was the first wife of Adam before Eve. Lilith left the Garden in a huff when she couldn't share dominion with Adam. The myth goes even further. "Modern feminism identifies Lilith with the Serpent of Genesis, " writes Peter Jones in Spirit Wars: Pagan Revival in Christian America (p. 155).

There is only one reference in the Bible to the term "lilith," in Isaiah 34:14, which says, "Also, the night creature (lilith) shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest." The reference is to the wasteland of the world once God has inflicted His judgment. The publication of a shady medieval work called The Alphabet of Ben-Sira described Lilith as a lustful witch-like figure who supposedly roamed at night looking for children to kill. Mothers in the Middle Ages began to keep amulets to protect their babies from Lilith. According to the web site of one wiccan priest (http:\\\lilith\khephmod.html), feminist neo-pagans have adopted the Lilith legend because "...the main focus is upon Lilith's choice to fly from paradise, and even suffer the death of hundreds of her children, rather than live under submission to Adam." While there is not a shred of biblical evidence for the Lilith story, apparently for feminists the Lilith legend's appeal lies in rebellion against God the Father. While we don't know about Sarah McLachlan and overt witchcraft, we do know about her rabid hostility to God as expressed in song (see below for the lyrics of "Dear God.") The choice of this name for the popular tour seems a deliberate show of antagonism toward Christianity, as well as exalting a depraved example of womanhood. How does this ideology influence our kids when promoted by their most beloved performers?

At the Lilith Fair, one discovers the kind of company a witch might keep. The tour has featured a female-only line-up of performers like McLachlan, Sheryl Crow and the Indigo Girls (who are openly lesbian). Along with man-wary lyrics and the usual feminist cynicism, the tour sponsors booths pitching left-wing causes. The Columbus, OH concert featured the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), Planned Parenthood (giving out free condoms, of course) and the Columbus AIDS Task Force. Graphic brochures on sexual practices, hetero and homo, were being picked up by what looked like middle school students. A pro-life group, Feminists for Life, had requested to be part of the national tour and were turned down. Pro-life views just don't fit the pagan ethic, apparently.

In Your Neighborhood, In Your Face

We've been prepped for this for years, of course. Even back in our school days in studying colonial American history, we were drilled in the pagan-friendly line about Salem: that it was an example to America about the dangers of religious fanaticism. The whole story was seldom told, and witchcraft was dismissed as a mythical label goofy fundamentalists give to independent, enlightened non-conformists. A "witch hunt" has become one of the left's favorite epithets to intimidate the devout.

But who has to hunt anymore? Children are being lovingly primed to embrace paganism by movies, games, TV and countless sorcery-friendly books. On library shelves everywhere are stories like The Christmas Witch, The War of the Wizards (which features a pentagram on the cover), In the Land of Winter ( where a single mother wiccan and her child have to fend off the bad Christians), So You Want to be a Wizard, Wizard's Hall, and many more.{4}

The Sabrina TV show has spun off a popular array of quick-read novels-today's Nancy Drew, evidently. Then there are the top-selling Harry Potter books by J.K Rowling, which adults as well as kids are gobbling up. This hit series highlights the fantasy life of a boy who has been adopted by unloving relatives. He sleeps under the stairs, until he gets a mysterious invitation to a school for witchcraft and wizardry-and steps into a magical adventure starring him. It's just the right solution to a miserable home life and low self-esteem. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is not simply a children's book, but number 2 in sales at

And teen fiction today is an ungodly witches' brew of street values, sorcery and sexuality. For example, the "Weetzie Bat" book series ( HarpersCollins Publishers) has been praised by secular critics as being "fresh," "unique," provocative," "California hip." The novels are, in fact, a nightmare of children raising themselves in a Christ-less world devoid of standards and devoted to partying. Written by Francesca Lia Block, this series features a teen girl who in the first book shares her home with two homosexual guys and her live-in lover. She deliberately gets impregnated by one of the two homosexuals in a group sex encounter, and when her lover leaves in jealousy, he has a quick liaison with a witch-like woman, who in turn becomes pregnant. Failing to get an abortion like he wanted her to, this woman leaves her baby girl on the doorstep of the now reunited Weetzie Bat and boyfriend. The "witch -baby" is then raised along with Weetzie's little girl Cherokee( who is always dressed in feathers and fringed leather) in a California cottage, where they finance this high maintenance, costumed fantasy by-of course-producing and starring in their own movies! In and around the drinking, strange sexual liaisons, and blended "family," the mostly unsupervised Witch-Baby has dark fantasies and flirts with dangerous powers. And so, of course, do the teen readers of these yarns.

So, teens come to the throne of adolescent self-indulgence and rebellion ready to pick up the sorcerer's wand to satisfy morbid curiosity and possibly wave away their troubles. Author Silver Ravenwolf, a mother raising four young witches, capitalized on current occult interest by publishing Teen Witch: Wicca for a New Generation (Llewellyn Publications, 1999). If there ever was a "how-to" book with teen-friendly language, this is it.

Training Manual for Teens

Ravenwolf told a Columbus (OH) Christian radio station in August that the book was written for girls 11 and up, and that it is currently used in some psychiatric institutions to help troubled girls.{5} One of the most chilling aspects of the book is its casual presentation of wicca as an alternative practice that is powerful yet positive, and compatible with most religious beliefs. She writes, "WitchCraft is a nature-based, life-affirming religion that follows a moral code and seeks to build harmony among people, and empower the self and others. If you think about it, we could use that statement for almost any positive religion, couldn't we?" (p. 4) The unfortunate answer is that, yes-some "Christian" churches teach such a diluted version of the Gospel that outright human sacrifice could almost be acceptable in the name of tolerance.

And in referring frequently to "positive religion," Ravenwolf attempts to demonize biblical Christianity. "Our only animosity toward Christianity, or toward any other religion, is...that these institutions have claimed to be 'the one true right and only way.'...Witches are sick and tired of people in other religions passing judgment and spreading lies about our belief system just because they are either insecure in their own faith or don't realize that many paths to God exist in our universe." (pp.7-8) The teen who has been exposed to countless lessons espousing the virtues of tolerance and the dangers of "bigotry" will be ready to embrace Ravenwolf's message.

Teen Witch reinforces the ample doses of nature worship girls are already receiving throughout the culture, including at school, while justifying ignorance about and hostility toward Christianity. And it is all set within a framework that claims to be upbeat, moral and ethical.

For instance, Teen Witch outlines the code and worldview of witches, at least as Ravenwolf depicts them. Witches, she claims, don't do drugs or alcohol( p. 126), gossip or tell lies ( p. 16). They avoid negative thinking ( p.70); do not do spells to harm others (p. 130); they keep their areas/rooms clean (p.49); and practice daily devotions /prayer to "God." (p.103). The undiscerning parent or friend might conclude from appearances that this is a teen with her/his act together.

Along such "positive" lines, Ravenwolf outlines a whole array of rituals (spells) teens can do at their own altars, with instructions for the materials they'll need (incense, candles, etc.). There are spells for peace, self-confidence, love, a happy home, friendships, more money and homework. Ravenwolf also encourages her readers to meditate (pp. 108-110); invoke the goddess or "Spirit" (p 106 and elsewhere); use drumming, chanting, and trances ( p. 42, 67); and call on a spirit guide or "guardian angel" ( p. 72, 103, 176 and elsewhere).

Abortion & Homosexuality: Sacred Sex

Parents should be concerned about teens under the influence of the occult for spiritual reasons certainly. But a very practical reason for concern for your child is the danger that comes with the whole pagan package, including acceptance of abortion and sexual license.

The horrifying philosophy wrapped around witchcraft was featured in a 1992 book called The Sacrament of Abortion by Ginette Paris. This pagan author lauds the example of the goddess Artemis for giving us justification for sometimes taking human life. Abortion is a necessary yet sacred sacrifice to the "goddess," she believes. Her chilling viewpoint is that until women have power over both life and death, they don't really have power.{6} While not all people who are involved in witchcraft may agree with this approach, it is one that certainly has its followers as the push for empowerment of women grows-and as the pro-abortion lobby strains for justification.

Then there's the connection of witchcraft to homosexuality. Throughout her book Living in the Lap of the Goddess, Cynthia Eller relates anecdotes of how women were originally drawn to feminist spirituality, and it becomes obvious how frequently lesbian or bisexual practices are involved.{7} She quotes well-known feminists Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor, writing in The Great Cosmic Mother: "The original witch was undoubtedly black, bisexual, a warrior..."{8} And not only does witchcraft encourage alternate sexual practices, it also works the other way---homosexuals promote paganism. Peter Jones says in Spirit Wars: " While not all homosexuals are overtly anti-Christian-indeed some claim to be Christian-one may not underestimate the role of homosexual theory in the normalization of paganism in the Christian West."{9}

A Poisonous Apple

Those who dabble in witchcraft can open themselves up to dangerous supernatural influences. The lengths parents may have to go to correct the course is poignantly recounted in a new book, She Said Yes:The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall (Plough Publishing), written by the mother of the student slain at Columbine High School. Her parents had to forcibly remove her from the influence of friends who were deeply into occult practices. Cassie had left witchcraft behind for an inspiring walk with Christ when she paid the ultimate price.

Our culture seems obsesses with "empowering" young women and dwells on the need to raise girls' self-esteem. In this climate, both the uninformed and the rebellious can be attracted to witchcraft. A caller on Dr. Laura Schlessinger's May 3, 1999 program was concerned about her 17-year old daughter. Several years ago, the girl became immersed in the "goth" sub-culture and started practicing witchcraft. The mother, a Catholic, wondered why her daughter had drifted into this. Dr. Laura responded, " It's because in your faith, God has power, but when she practices witchcraft, she has power."

A limited knowledge of Christianity plays right into the hands of practitioners like Silver Ravenwolf. When lukewarm denominations dissect the Gospel, one of the first precepts to go is the concept of power and authority outside oneself. Christ was just a nice teacher, God is an invention of man, and then, of course, Satan is just human psychology dressed as the boogie- man. (I clearly recall my twenty years of holding these beliefs). But there is nothing left of Christianity when one strips it down and rejects the Bible's message; so it becomes hypocritical to even talk about "Christ," since it's just a name at that point. The first and second commandments have no meaning: "I am the Lord thy shall have no other gods before Me." (Exodus 20:2-3) Before who, exactly? These pseudo-Christians do not know-nor care. It's all just window-dressing to be able to pray to something, without interference in the really important stuff of life.

But when one takes the time to study the Bible, to ponder the whole truth being laid before us, the overwhelming nature of God can become known-as well as the power behind it. A quick overview of the twentieth century should convince any objective onlooker that incomprehensible evil exists. The absence of faith in the true God is one very plausible explanation. Yet if a supernatural God exists as revealed through Scripture, why not also the demonic supernatural realm? There becomes no logical reason to reject Satan as a possibility, once one has understood that the God of the Bible is really present. Then, how could violation of the first and second commandments remain untroubling?

While the complete ignorance of the unchurched nonbeliever is sad, the pseudo-Gospel of those who are so close to the truth and then weasel away from it, is insidious and dangerous. The consequences are described by Peter: "For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning." (2 Peter 2:20 NKJV)

The Serpent Within

Liberal churches are setting up many young people for experimentation in a realm they won't understand until it's too late. And sadly, it is within Christian churches that many people are learning witchcraft.

The Reclaiming Community in Minneapolis, host of the infamous goddess-worshipping Reclaiming conferences of church women since 1993, has initiated "faith labs" for girls. One targets girls ages 10-13 for "dollmaking" where girls can "create our own traditions from out of the stuff of our feminist dreaming."{10} Recall that this network of Presbyterian, United Methodist, Lutheran, United Church of Christ and Catholic women held a mock communion ceremony with milk and honey, said prayers to a goddess "Sophia" as a new part of the Trinity, celebrated lesbian love, and mocked the Crucifixion at their conferences.

The principle earmarks of the Reclaiming movement among women are the elements of feminist spirituality as delineated by Cynthia Eller. They include ritual to invoke the supernatural (i.e., magic), and reverence for the "goddess" as personifying the sacred in nature.{11} These essentials are identified by Ravenwolf and others as the core beliefs of witchcraft.{12} By re-naming it "feminist spirituality," perhaps these Christian churches hoped to avoid the anticipated uproar. But it seems that relatively few are noticing.

One wonders what it will take to prompt Christians to stand up en masse to the culture's corrosion-and to the destructive forces within our own walls. Will Christians finally become alarmed now that witchcraft has left the parlor, and is creeping toward the nursery?

Linda P. Harvey is editor of Mission:America, a quarterly Christian newsletter. See the web site at


{1}Silver Ravenwolf, Teen Witch: Wicca for a New Generation (Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul Minnesota, 1999).

{2}"E" Channel, "Hollywood Spirituality," July 25, 1999, 10-11 pm.

{3}Cynthia Eller, "Living in the Lap of the Goddess: The Feminist Spirituality Movement in America (Beacon Press, Boston, 1993), p. 18.

{4}"Witches and Wizards Go Mainstream," Christian Research Journal, Fall 1996, p.44.

{5}Radio U, Columbus (Ohio) interview on Bash morning show, August 12, 1999.

{6}See "Abortion and Pagan Spirituality," at

{7}Eller, throughout book.

{8}Eller, p.73.

{9}Peter Jones, Spirit Wars:Pagan Revival in Christian America(Main Entry Editions, PO Box 952, Siloam Springs AR, 1997), p. 193.

{10}"Where Radical Feminism Goes Astray," Janice Shaw Crouse, Faith & Freedom, Winter 1997-98, p. 8-9.

{11}Eller, p. 6.

{12}Ravenwolf, p. 35 and elsewhere. Spells are throughout book.

Pro-pagan, anti-God.......

Sarah McLachlan Shakes Her Fist

Here's what our young people are listening to at the witch-friendly Lilith Fair, on the radio, in their rooms...

"Dear God" by Sarah McLachlan
Dear God,
Don't know if you noticed, but....
Your name is on a lot of quotes in this book
Us crazy humans wrote it,
You should take a look
And all the people that are made in your image
Still believing that junk is true
Well I know it ain't and so do you.....
If there's one thing I don't believe in
It's you
Dear God
Original lyrics by XTC, Copyright 1986

"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light."
2 Corinthians 11: 13-14 NKJV

"..And fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.... Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all."
Acts 19: 17,19 NKJV

© Copyright 1999, Linda P. Harvey. All rights reserved.