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 Teri's journey

The occult, ESP, the paranormal: popular subjects in America in the last two decades. The New Age movement is a part of that. Yet many people have not experienced the supernatural, so they assume it is all a product of overactive imaginations. That is what I would have believed, too, if it had not happened in my own life.

My early childhood was mostly happy. My parents and my younger brother and I lived in a small town in Florida, in a nice country home with a yard and a home-made swimming pool built by my father. Mom didn't work, but when I was six and my brother was five, she started taking us to the babysitter every day. We both began to have horrible nightmares. I was afraid to go to sleep and would sneak into my room to get away from the terrifying man he saw in his room. Mom blamed my brother's nightmares on his asthma medication. Young as I was, I sensed Mom was seeing another man. "Something bad is going to happen between Mom and Dad," I whispered to him one day. But he had already guessed the same thing.

Sure enough, just before Christmas, Mom coolly packed up all our things and drove away with us kids. I will never forget the look of shock and betrayal on my father's face. We drove straight to the house of the man Mom had been seeing, and the three of us moved in. Not long after that he and Mom were married.

When we first moved in, my stepfather Bruce was a kind and generous man. But the longer we lived with him, the more we experienced his fits of rage. He was a very big man and I was terrified of him. His was a Jekyll and Hyde personality; he could be extremely nice one moment, and the next moment extremely cruel. For a few months, he and my Mom drank and fought. Then, through sheer determination, they both stopped cold turkey. I watched Bruce go through 'the shakes'. Afterwards, he never again raised his hand against Mom.

My mother was never an affectionate person--I don't remember her ever hugging or kissing me--but after her divorce and remarriage she became downright cruel. Mother told us almost every day that our real father did not love us. After a few years of that, she forced us to tell him we did not want to see him again.  That was very painful for me, because I did not want to do it, but my mother was filled with hate toward him, and seemed obsessed with finding ways to hurt him. I understood even at my young age, that she made us do this in order to hurt my father. She was filled with hatred toward him, in words and actions. She seemed obsessed with tearing him down. 

My mother also demanded total perfection of us children, and we were never able to live up to her standards.  If we made the slightest mistake, we were accused of doing it on purpose; and if we protested, we were accused of lying and locked in our room. One time, my brother was locked in his room for three days without food or drink until he decided to "tell the truth." The "truth" of course, was only what my mother or stepfather wanted to hear, and we were kept guessing as to which version of the "truth" they wanted.

My stepfather wholeheartedly agreed with my mother's accusations. Consequently, we were screamed at so much we were afraid to talk above a whisper, something my mother's relatives wondered about when we visited them in Pennsylvania. My brother bore the brunt of most of the attacks because he could not stop his asthmatic wheezing and coughing on command. I remember a few days of peace for him once after he told Mom he was thinking of suicide. Almost daily my mother and stepfather threatened to send him to Shiloh Youth Camp for delinquent boys and me to an insane asylum because I "was crazy." Once, I privately asked our school bus driver if the boys' camp would accept girls; I wanted to be sure my brother and I would be able to stay together. We were so young, we believed every wild story or threat they told us.

Even before we moved in with my stepfather, he and my mother consulted mediums (known in the New Age movement as "channellers"). After we moved in, they took me with them sometimes, although never to a seance. They loved to talk about the thrills of their astral projections (out of body experiences) and the power of the mind. My brother and I were fascinated by all they told us. Looking back, however, I could see that the more they became involved in their quest to become 'higher beings', the more my parents became abusive, paranoid and delusional. The most dramatic personality change was evident in my mother, something I did not want to admit to myself because I clung to memories of an earlier Mom.

The mediums often spoke of the spirits that surrounded and accompanied my mother and stepfather, who was proclaimed by the spirits as a 'psychic healer'. My stepfather was a chiropractor and incorporated his psychic approach into his practice as much as his patients would allow it. He was very interested in helping people, and according to him, many thanked him for his help.

Apparently, these 'spirit guides' attached themselves to us when we were with the medium, and followed us home to stay with us. You could actually feel their presence, and strange things kept happening. Doorknobs would move when no one was near them, and our cats would follow something around and meow at it. Although my brother and I were both scared, my mother and stepfather always laughed, insisting that they were friendly spirits, or at worst mischievous. They themselves also experienced the presence of their various 'friends', and were not alarmed.

I knew nothing of Jesus or God, except what the spiritualists taught. However, when I was eleven a friend from school invited my brother and I to a Baptist revival where we heard the gospel for the first time. What the preacher said scared me enough that I went to the altar and sincerely prayed the sinner's prayer. As I knelt there, I felt the sweet touch of a different spirit, but I didn't know then that it was my first encounter with God's Holy Spirit. Both my brother and I were baptized in water during that revival, but I hid our baptismal certificates from Mom because I knew she would be furious. Sure enough, when she did find out I believed in God, she overwhelmed me with questions far beyond my ability to answer. Mostly out of self-defense, I abandoned my new faith. For some odd reason, my mother also demanded that I say I did not believe in the Holy Spirit, either. I did not even know what that was!

A year later, when my brother was eleven, Mom threw him out of the house and told him to go live with his #%$@!! father, since they both looked so much alike. I was devastated. My brother and I had fought like brothers and sisters do, but we were very close; I felt he was the only family I had. Suddenly, I comprehended the magnitude of the hatred in that house. Losing my brother forced me to make a decision: I had to survive or let the hatred destroy me. I decided I would become a survivor. However, I was to pay a price: having gotten rid of my brother, my mother and stepfather turned the full force of their rages and demeaning verbal abuse on me.

In spite of my best efforts, the rejection I suffered turned me into an angry child who hated her parents (meaning, my mother and stepfather). I was convinced the world was ugly and that everyone hated me. I did not like the person I was becoming and I longed to be free of the hatred. I began my long search for the Truth I had not found. I studied many of the major religions for awhile. "All roads lead to the same end," Mom said.

When I was twelve, I began to see what the mediums saw in the spiritual realm, even at home! My stepfather was very excited, since all the mediums he took me to had very positive things to say about my 'old' soul and spirit guides, telling me that if I chose to, I could become a very powerful medium and help many people. Thrilled that I seemed to be a gifted psychic, my stepfather made sure that I was well-supplied with all the literature I needed about spiritualism. With his encouragement, I explored hypnotism, ESP, numerology, palm-reading, and auras. Eventually, I decided to concentrate my studies on astrology and white witchcraft, which is the practice of removing a hex or curse or invoking good fortune on someone. Like him, I was very interested in helping people.

Of all of my 'supernatural' experiences, there was one that puzzled me the most. One morning I woke up filled with an overwhelming appreciation for God's creation---even though I no longer believed in God. This was not my usual angry state of mind, and I wondered at the joy and peace I felt. As I tried to get out of bed, an invisible hand pushed me back. Suddenly I saw the incredibly beautiful underside of a white dove, made completely of light, flying by at great speed. A quiet voice in my mind whispered, "Father, Son, Holy Spirit." I knew the vision was from heaven, but I honestly had no idea what the words meant. Later that summer when I attended a Catholic Church with my maternal grandmother and heard the same phrase, I at least understood that it had something to do with the Bible. My Mom bought me a 'Living Bible' at my request, although I still had trouble comprehending it, which disturbed me. Bruce could not object to my reading it because he quoted scriptures at times. However, he was an atheist and he could become hostile at the mention of God, so I did not tell him everything about the vision. I myself almost completely dismissed the incident.

My stepfather's mother was a 'black witch', and he firmly believed she was determined to destroy him. Thoroughly frightened, he rallied his family behind him to "return her hexes" (a white witch tactic), explaining to us that he was weary of her curses. She soon became ill, and sent me a letter telling me that I was "her favorite." The night she died, I was awakened from a dream with a very loud knock on my bedroom door. In the dream I had seen a picture of Jesus at a door, knocking, and had been told, "The devil knocks, too. Don't let him in." The knock was so loud that my parents heard it too, but acted unconcerned.

That same night, I felt a cold chill enter my room and witnessed objects move around. This 'poltergeist' remained in my room for the next few years. It was easy for me to deduce that it was related to my stepgrandmother, since my stepfather told me later how she had tormented him with her spirits late at night: "I used to be terrified at the knocks in my room, and she would laugh down the hall. But that's just how the spirits announce themselves. We hear it in seances." Because of their earlier reactions to such things, I didn't report the 'poltergeist'.

My stepfather began to include me a little in helping those who asked him for help, and I was given a cross necklace in gratitude from someone whom I had 'protected' from a black witch. I liked the power and recognition, and truly felt I had found my destiny, but the more I meditated to increase my powers,  the more I was tormented by an irrational sense of dread. I compulsively charted my astrological signs every day.

You would think that my success in my 'powers' would improve my relationship with my parents. But it most definitely did not. I still spent the next few years trying to survive the psychological abuse from my mother and stepfather. Mother was becoming even better at twisting everything I said, did, or didn't do, into some evil motive. Unable to escape their constant assault, I began to break under the stress. My brother visited once or twice and said he felt sorry for me, but my father seemed to think that I was well-off because Mom had gotten me a horse. I knew I needed help but I had nowhere to turn. If I ran away, who would believe me? Bruce and Mom kept up appearances well. Things got worse. Once when I was about fourteen, as we were coming home from the movies, my parents started screaming at me about the chores I was to do when I got home. I knew perfectly well what I was supposed to do, and as they listed them for me again and again as if I were a retarded child, I felt the anger rise in me like a volcano, then something split inside.

When we arrived home and I headed across the yard to feed the rabbits and the horse, I realized I was standing outside my body and watching myself do chores. Deliberately, I did exactly what my parents had told me not to do: I left the rabbit cage open, and left the horse's gate wide open. As I started walking back toward the house, I found myself once again inside my body, no longer watching myself from a distance. Then I promptly forgot what had happened.

The next day the horse had eaten all the sugar cane and my parents were livid. They screamed at me for my stupidity and insisted I had done it deliberately -- but I honestly could not remember leaving the cage and gate open. It wasn't until the third day that I remembered what had actually happened. Because of this episode, I was frightened that I really was losing my mind, and that they would soon be able to make good their threats about putting me in an asylum. Desperate, I found a quiet place and prayed for help from a God I didn't really believe in. I knew I couldn't take the pressure much longer.

I was a straight-A student and loved school; it was my only refuge, even though I was a social outcast. In junior high I was in the "accelerated" classes, and I will never forget my science teacher. Mr. Smith made learning fun and interesting. He taught at college level and I was one of the few who could keep up. Our last assignment was to explore the theory of evolution ourselves and come to our own conclusions. I took the challenge to heart!

As I studied, I decided that there had to be a God. My conclusion was based solely on logic. I realized nothing but an omniscient Creator could devise the intricate perfection of natural phenomena, mysteries we humans have not yet been able to decipher. Random chance could not explain these things. I was learning the truth of the passage in scripture that says, "For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made..."

Somehow Mr. Smith knew where my low self-esteem originated, and he was kind enough to send a note to my mother complimenting me on my intelligence and creativity. Of course, Mom tossed it aside wordlessly. Looking back, due to this act of kindness and some of the things he said in class, I strongly suspect Mr. Smith was a Christian.

When I was fifteen I thought it would be fun to use my powers on a boy at school to make him become my boyfriend. Even as I did it, I felt ashamed for trying to control someone. Wavering between spiritualism and Christianity, I prayed for God's forgiveness, sincerely asking him to show himself to me. Not more than fifteen minutes later, I met a Pentecostal girl who listened to me mouth off on the powers of Jeanne Dixon. When she asked me if I had ever heard of the Holy Spirit, I almost fell over!

Miraculously, Mom let me spend the night with this total stranger. When I did tell her about Donna's church, she seemed happy I was exploring 'new power'. Donna and her friends were sincere and loving Christians. I challenged every statement they made about the Bible; I often shouted at them that I didn't want to hear their nonsense, but they remained patient and did not reject me. The nights I stayed with Donna and went to church with her, I was tormented by migraine headaches and a loud, fast talking voice in my mind, arguing against the existence of God, and repeating the teachings of spiritualism. At first I thought it was just my own mind reacting to the confusion inside, but as I began to argue with that voice, I realized it could not be my own thoughts - because how could i disagree with myself?! I remembered the vision from heaven and the other gentle voice whispering, "Father, Son, Holy Spirit," and I thought hard about the possibility that Jesus was more than just a great teacher.

The more I attended the meetings with Donna and her friends, the more I became convinced that I was in the middle of a spiritual battle. I realized I had to make a choice between the powers of darkness and the light of God--and I wanted more of God. Just before one of the meetings I made my decision, and as I sat there preparing myself for this step of faith, I heard singing. It sounded like a choir of thousands praising God with the most beautiful song I had ever heard. I looked around to see who was making that music, but realized that no one else in the room could hear it. Then I looked up on the walls for speakers since the sound came from above my head, but there were none! It became clear to me that I was hearing angels sing.

With joy in my heart, I went forward to the altar and asked to be prayed for. I told them I wanted to be delivered from the demon that harassed me, and that I wanted to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. As they prayed over me, I was filled again with the God's Holy Spirit and completely released from a spirit of witchcraft.  That night, I could even read a King James Bible, and understand it easily!  My previous difficulty in understanding the Bible was gone.

Of course my mother and stepfather were furious. They challenged and attacked me as they never had before, pulling out all the stops to break me down. I would not have believed their level of hostility could rise any further, but their hatred and paranoia seemed to know no bounds. Convinced my Christian friends and I were praying down hexes on them, they refused to allow me to see them or talk with them for six months, during which I was a virtual prisoner in their house.

I was careful never to preach to them. In fact, I avoided them as much as possible, but they went out of their way to provoke a confrontation. They would ask me a question, then blow up when I answered. Bruce's rages lasted for up to five hours, as he cursed me and my friends with every vile curse he could invent. When he tired, Mom took over. Once she was angry because the spirits complained to her that they could no longer get into my room. So she burned my Christian books and hid my Bible, forcing me to read their books instead. She chose to ignore her own vision of the 'dove' only the week before this, which she told me about and then refused to believe there was a Holy Spirit. But God enveloped me with a new strength and love that was not my own.  As he continued to sustain me, I was reminded of the apostle Paul's encouraging words to Timothy:  "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind." Unfortunately, expressions of love to my parents only made them even further enraged and frightened.

Finally, Mom threw me out of the house and I went to live with my brother and real father, after being separated from them for six years. I was worried that my Dad would believe the lies she told him about me, but later he said what convinced him was the cold, heartless manner in which my Mom parted from me. "Frances used to be nice when you kids were young," he said, "I don't know her now." Over the years, many others echoed those same sentiments after encounters with her.

Bruce and Mom moved to California and became part of a group called "Unarius." One of my cousins joined them there - and nearly died because she refused medical treatment for a condition that she was certain aliens from another planet would heal. Bruce lost large sums of money because he placed bets on UFO landings which never came to pass, but to this day Mom denies it was a cult. Afterwards, they switched their allegiance to the then emerging New Age Movement and my stepfather became a respected minister of a Universalist church. The Universalists believe that all faiths lead to God and will get you to heaven.

Occasionally, my stepfather would send me letters full of threats and ominous predictions that never came true. The poor guy never could accept my forgiveness. I have to acknowledge he carried a kind of power. One of those letters gave a burning sensation to the hand of the first person who touched it. He and Mom proudly wrote books and sent flyers about their 'ministries' to her relatives. Eventually, they sent a video tape of his televised push for the 'healing center' he was attempting to build. We all saw the sad display of a once intelligent man, now a mass of contradictions and twisted logic. I remembered his answer to me long ago to my question of how his hero, Edgar Cayce, had died: "He went insane and wandered off into the desert to die," he told me. When Bruce died of a heart attack, he left my Mom penniless and in massive debt due to his failed 'healing center' project. Because it was on the advice of my stepfather's 'spirit guides' that he began the project, my cousin bitterly blamed the channeller for his death. She had no answer for me when I challenged that presumption, telling her what she did not know: the 'spirit guides' were making similar promises through other channellers (back then they were called 'mediums') years ago. My stepfather had been a true believer in New Age, even before it was called that!

The New Age Movement is nothing new. It falsely teaches that we are gods within ourselves and can control our own destinies - and this is what attracts people to it. Many rely on spirits for advice on every facet of life. Even those who adhere to the New Age but do not consult spirits are dependent upon them, since New Age teachings are founded upon information that was originally 'channeled'.  I know from experience that these are lying spirits who do not have our best interests at heart!  Similarly, Christians rely on God for advice - but the similarity ends there, because I also know from experience that God does have our best interests at heart.

Throughout history, man has proven he cannot be trusted with unchecked power. Lord Acton said, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely," and this expresses it well. While it is true that we have a 'soulish' power, it is also true that  anything we don't surrender to God is by default given over to the god of this world (Satan) whom Jesus calls "the father of the lie" and "the evil one."

We are created in the image of God, and our greatest power is the God-ordained power of choice. We have the power to choose between good and evil, allegiance to God or to Satan, eternal life or death. He gave us the freedom to reject Him, even though He never rejects us when we seek Him sincerely and with humility.

It has been almost twenty years since I decided to turn to God's ways instead of Satan's, a decision I have never regretted. I began a whole new life of light when I accepted Jesus and dedicated my life to him. He has healed my mind of the terrible damage done by my parents and the occult, replaced hatred with love (for He is the God of Love), and turned my sorrows into joy. God has given me a sound mind, just as he promised he would, and so much more! It is because of God's love for you that I write this account for you, exposing the pain of my past for the sake of your soul. I have played with the fires of New Age and have been burned. But I am thankful that I stumbled in the darkness and have known true evil so that I could recognize the true light, who is Jesus.  God himself says, "They that diligently seek Me shall find Me."  How about you? Will you be a friend of God, or will you get lost in the twisted maze of the New Age, and lose your soul in exchange for so little while you search for that elusive 'new truth' just around the corner?

John 1:1-5  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was   with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that  has come into being.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."

(Suggested reading: The Gospel of John and the Book of Acts)

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