When I was about eight years old, there was a “craze” among my friends to make up little squares of paper, folded in a particular way, with numbers on the folds, and when a flap was lifted up under its respective number, there would be a “message”. These folded papers would have four different colours on the outside, and were manipulated by putting fingers into the folds.
Everyone else’s messages would say “Yah, boo and sucks!” or something like that. Mine would say “You will have a nice present”; or “You will have a nasty shock.”
Without realising it, that was my first “dabbling” with fortune-telling.
Sometime later, while playing, I took hold of another girl’s hand, and said the first things that came into my head while looking at her palm. I don’t know why I should have started then as I don’t recall seeing anybody else doing it; but, from time to time I did this, not taking it at all seriously. To me it was just another game.
When I was eleven, I can remember feeling very smug, having devised a system of fortune-telling with ordinary playing cards, reading of another, similar type of cartomancy printed in one of my mother’s women’s magazines, thinking that my “system” was more accurate.
Intermittently, over the years, I used palmistry and cartomancy for fun, and as a means of gaining other people’s attention. I acquired many occult books and read them avidly, particularly those on Astrology, and was well versed in the different signs.
To my delight, I also found I was a natural “medium” and conducted many, many Ouija board séances. I involved a lot of people that way.
Tarot cards and, finally, a crystal ball, came my way, and I used them, too.
Although I was light-hearted over all these things, nevertheless I had an underlying belief in them as they always “worked” to some extent but, like any other fortune-teller, I could never claim 100% accuracy. (Compare with Bible prophets!)
Against this background of occult activities, which lasted about 25 years, I feel I should also mention that, at 12, I joined a Church of England choir, in which I sang for four years. I loved the singing but, because of the occult, the Bible was a closed book to me: nothing registered.
However, I got christened and confirmed at 13, not because I knew and loved Jesus, but because I hated being stuck in the choir-stalls on my own while the others took communion. What a dreadful reason! But I do feel now that, because I took this public step of a faith I did not have then, the Lord protected me from the worst of my “excesses”.
I married at 21. It was a disaster, except for two things. One was that we moved to Whitchurch, where I live now. The other was my son, now grown up and married.
Cutting a long story short, my husband (a regular airman) was posted to Germany, and I went to live with my parents in Gwent. The marriage went on the rocks shortly afterwards and eventually, after much heart-searching, I obtained a divorce. The local people were very hurtful in their attitude towards me, having read about it in the local press.
In the end, I decided to return to Whitchurch, where people had been kind to me. I obtained a job with a local solicitor, and I had accommodation. Things were looking up at last.
However, I was lonely. One day I was stopped in the street by an old lady, who was a stranger to me. She asked me “Are you lonely?”
It was such an unusual question that I stopped dead in my tracks. I admitted that I was.
Then she mentioned that there were many societies in Whitchurch. I told her that, as a single woman, I felt I just couldn’t walk into such places. The old lady was very persistent.
“Are you a churchgoer?” she asked.
“Not any more,” I said bitterly.
Then she said that she knew a lady in one of the local churches, saying that she thought I’d find them all right. In the end, to please her, I agreed that she got in touch with this lady, and left it at that.
Two days later, I received a loving letter from this lady, inviting me to the Young Wives’ group, and my son to the Sunday School. I decided I’d ring her.
“I’m divorced,” I told her.
“I knew that when I wrote to you!” was the reply.
I was silenced! And intrigued.
So I went along. They put their arms round me, and loved me, and made me cups of tea. These were church people? Because of their loving ways, I decided to try one of their services. I could feel the love, and for four years there was a tug-of-war: to go or not to go to church.
One Saturday night – the 11th December, 1976 – there was an induction service at the church. Being nosey, I went along, and went up into the balcony to get a bird’s-eye view of the proceedings. It was a joyful occasion, and I can remember the man in charge of the ceremony making a joke. I laughed – and relaxed.
Suddenly, I felt a big, warm hand on my right shoulder. I turned round. There was no one there! Then I felt a gentle warmth pervade the whole of my body. I was utterly stunned. What on earth was going on?
Afterwards, I went up to the new minister and congratulated him, then told him of my amazing experience.
He said calmly, “I saw the hand of the Lord on your shoulder.”
Like a huge, cosmic jigsaw, everything suddenly fell into place. Jesus is! Jesus is alive, and He loves! He loves me! He died for me and now lives! He wanted me; I am His and He is mine – for ever! I felt a sunburst of joy within me and went home rejoicing – but telling no one!
After a while, I felt that I had to put the record straight and get baptised. I wanted to identify with Jesus and show that I really meant it this time. I attended a baptismal service and went forward at the end so that I could get baptised next time around. Everyone hugged and kissed me afterwards, they were so pleased.
I went to bed full of joy and peace but, as soon as I went to sleep, I had a most terrifying dream. I dreamt I was dressed in a long-sleeved, long, white gown. I was all on my own, standing in a desert, with sand all around me. In front of me were the most peculiarly shaped rocks I have ever seen. Immediately in front of the rocks was a red dragon on my left and a white one on my right, fighting silently and violently. I was petrified: rooted to the spot with terror. Suddenly I was compelled to say “Get thee behind me, Satan!”
At once the red dragon vanished; the white one turned into a brilliant white light – so brilliant that I had to blink. As I blinked, I woke up, trembling with fear.
The next night I went to sleep, I was out in the desert again, all on my own in exactly the same place. Same rocks. Only this time there was a red snake and a white one. Again I had to say the same thing. Again the same thing happened.
It was six weeks until my baptism. Every night I went to sleep – no matter how late I stayed up to prevent them happening – I dreamt these desert dreams; the only difference being that each time there were different creatures, but always a red and a white one of each kind. I didn’t tell anyone; I was too afraid.
I was baptised Pentecost, 1977. Two others were with me, and it was a lovely, sunny evening. I felt so clean and new as I came up out of the water. I went to bed with a lightsome heart. When I awoke next morning, I realised that I hadn’t had any of those awful dreams. Praise the Lord for that! I thought.
However, the following Sunday, when I went to sleep, I dreamt I was in a castle. I was walking down a very narrow passageway; only just enough room for me to walk along. On my left was a high wall, with moss and water trickling down; on my right slits where arrows would have been fired.
Suddenly, I was seized from behind by horrible, grey tentacles – around my neck, waist, arms and legs
, pulling me back. I knew who was behind me, so I couldn’t say “Get thee behind me, Satan!” It was the worst moment of my whole life: I could feel the horror of hell.
I screamed out in mortal terror: “Dear Lord Jesus, save me!”
Suddenly, at the end of the passage ahead of me appeared the brilliant white light I had seen in my “desert” dreams. The tentacles slithered away and then I woke up, drenched with perspiration. I had had enough. I had to see my minister.
When I related the foregoing dreams to him, he said at once, “You’ve been dabbling in the occult, haven’t you?”
“But it’s only a bit of fun!” I said, amazed that that should’ve been the first thing he’d mentioned, rather than that I might have been overdoing things.
“Fun nothing!” he snapped, and opened his Bible to Deuteronomy, Chapter 18, vv. 9-14 (R.S.V.) He made me read the verses out loud:
“When you come into the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations.
“There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, any one who practises divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
“For whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD; and because of these abominable practices the LORD your God is driving them out before you.
“You shall be blameless before the LORD your God.
“For these nations, which you are about to disposess, give heed to soothsayers and to diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you so to do.”
When I came to the part where it said that practitioners of the occult were an “abomination to the LORD”, I was stricken to the core of my being. How could I have done such things? Then the consoling thought came: the Lord had still loved me, in spite of myself!
I was told to renounce everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and get rid of everything occult I possessed, preferably by burning. Because of the local bye-laws, this latter was not possible, but over the weeks I tore up the three packs of Tarot, the books, etc., and put them at the bottom of my rubbish sacks. Every time something went, so I felt better. I thought that was the end of the story, but I was wrong.
I believe it was in 1979 (I was still suffering from hayfever, though the Lord has healed me of this since), that I was at my parents’, feeling very sorry for myself as I wheezed away.
My mother said, “Why don’t you put the television on and watch the Bamber Gascoigne programme on ‘The Early Christians’?” So I did, and sat back on the settee, but not for long! Bamber Gascoigne was talking about St. Anthony and his cave in the Egyptian desert, where he had been tormented by demons. The camera showed the entrance to the cave and then panned round the locality.
To my utter astonishment, so that I nearly fell off the settee, I saw, in the background, the rocks I had seen in my desert dreams. “Mum, me rocks!” I cried.
Up to that time, I had thought the dreams had been symbolic; now I wasn’t sure. But I did know for certain, now, that spiritual warfare is very real and that Jesus is the victor – every time!
A few years later, after I had met and married my second husband, we went to see a lady in the Wholeness Through Christ ministry. She wanted to know my testimony. I gave it to her.
Then she said, “You’ve renounced the practices, but not the gift – the occult gift!” I was stunned. I thought back. Yes, I had renounced Palmistry, Astrology, Tarot, etc.: she was right! I said so.
“Do you want to renounce?” she asked.
“You bet I do,” I replied.
Under her guidance, I renounced my occult gift in the Name of Jesus and asked Him to give me whatever gifts He wanted to give me in its place.
Then, another surprise! “Are there any more like you in your family?” she asked. “I mean, blood relatives?”
“Oh, yes,” I said, “though they haven’t practised any of the things I have done. But they’re both fey – and they’re both Christians!”
“Then you will have to sever the blood-line and ask Jesus to cover the severed ends in His precious blood.”
In prayer, this is what I did. As I did so, I felt a snap! inside me, and have been free ever since, praise the Lord! And I have boldness to proclaim what the Lord has done for me and to warn others similarly entangled in Satan’s snares, to tell them that Jesus has the victory, and that they can be free, too! Hallelujah!