PH exorcist: On spirit guides, quick answers and other ‘deceptions’
MANILA, Philippines — Hoping for answers about their failed romance or rudderless careers, not a few people have turned to Jeff (not his real name), a tarot reader.
“They won’t tell me why they broke up but I will discover it by reading [the cards] and they will confirm. That’s when I start my analysis,” explains Jeff, who has been divining what the cards say for years now.
He knows the Catholic creed but says he does not practice any religion anymore because “it immediately demonizes (what I do) even though I only use it as a guide and not the ultimate source of truth in the universe.”
Since time immemorial, people have been drawn to tarot reading, horoscopes, and astrology. And because of social media and the rise of so-called influencers or content creators in such fields, one need not make a trip to the sidewalks of Quiapo, so to speak, to try to decipher what the universe has in store.
According to Jeff, tarot cards and horoscope readings have gotten trendier because of people’s desire to understand themselves “on a deeper level that their religion could not do for them.”
He explained that in tarot reading, it depends on the reader or the person seeking guidance which “higher being” they would like to submit to.
Some readers believe it is God himself speaking, he said, while others see either the cosmic energy of the universe or so-called spirit guides.
“For me, I still believe in God because I can feel the same positive energy when I do readings like when I attend Mass,” he added.
Desire for power
While such notions seem harmless, a Filipino Roman Catholic priest warned of the dangers of subscribing to such “occult practices.” The Church considers them to be forms of paganism that worship “fallen angels” as gods and deities.
In his book “Exorcism: Encounters with the Paranormal and Occult,” Fr. Jose Francisco Syquia cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church which calls for the rejection of all forms of divination, including recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring the dead or other practices meant to “unveil” the future.
“Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots … all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and in the last analysis, other human beings,” it said.
Under the “New Age Movement,” a collective term used to describe a wide range of spiritual practices that spread through occult communities, “spirit guides” or “ascended masters” are “invisible teachers” who tell the secrets of the cosmos to people who have already achieved a higher consciousness, the priest wrote.
“When one gets into contact with the so-called spirit guides or ascended master, or draws power from objects outside of himself, one is already in the realm of [the] occult,” Syquia wrote.
‘No need to pray’
When a person attempts to draw power through ritual performance, contact spirit beings or ancestors, use charms, or go on “vision quests,” they are calling on power outside of themselves, Syquia added.
In an Inquirer interview earlier this week, Syquia warned that such spirits, if welcomed into one’s contemplation and search for answers, would begin to exert control and “make one more obsessed and dependent on these practices.”
“Many young people enter this practice because for them it’s a quick way to get what they want. There seems to be no need to pray, discern God’s will, and work hard to attain the goods of this life. This of course is a deception and a lie. Sooner or later the negative fruits of these practices come out,” he said.
Guided via relationships
An exorcist for the last 21 years, Syquia is the commissioner of the Commission on Extraordinary Phenomena and director of the Archdiocese of Manila Office of Exorcism. He is also the director of the theology department of San Carlos Major Seminary in Makati City.
“God does not guide us through horoscopes and other occult practices of divination. He guides us through a love relationship with Him,” Syquia said.
If there are any spiritual powers lurking behind superstitious practices, “they are always from the evil one” because, in Catholic teachings, there are only two spiritual realms—the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of the evil one.
“Remember also that our lives are not fixed and dependent on the stars, when you were born or where,’’ Syquia said. “[Neither believe] that if you don’t live according to your birth sign or whatnot you will experience bad luck. This belief creates anxiety and fear, and fear is never of God. God created us free,” he said.
According to Jeff, the tarot reader, he uses his card readings and astrology only as a “form of guidance” and not some sort of belief system akin to a religion.
“Because as a reader I cannot determine the future. It’s just like forecasting what could happen in a person’s life based on their current situation and mindset,” he said.
But according to Syquia, mixing the Catholic faith with elements of other religions “is idolatrous, highly dangerous physically, morally and spiritually.’’
The practice, called syncretism, is “against the First Commandment of not having other gods in worshiping our one true God,” he stressed.
Being eclectic in one’s beliefs “hurts God because it shows that we don’t really trust in Him alone.”
It is actually “relegating God to the sidelines”—or reducing Him to someone worth listening to only if capable of fulfilling one’s worldly wishes.
“And this opens one to the influence of the evil spirits because one allows these spirits authority in his life. Why do you think so many Filipinos are beset by evil spirits through possession, infestation, oppression, etc.? It is because of syncretism.” The evil spirit “catches” the interest of many young people today because of their curiosity and search for entertainment without proper formation in critical discernment.
“All the devil has to do is deceive them that an occult activity is just a game and is entertaining and … voila! The devil has them doing the activity. We see this truth, for example, in the Ouija Board. How many young people became possessed because of this so-called ‘game,’” Syquia added.