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Expert Answer Forum

by Catherine Frakas 16 Jun 2003

The Reborn QUESTION from Earth Daughter December 3, 1999 You have said that you once upon a time delved into the Occult. I was curious what you did exactly, when and how you realized that it was not the True path?
NOTE: this is a long answer. Please wait while it loads.... ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius on December 9, 1999 Dear Miss Earth Daughter:
Yes, I was into the occult at one time.
This answer is going to be a LONG one...just to let you know.
On the allegedly positive side I was into Chinese medicine and philosophy. I studied the Chinese language and studied Taoism, and in essence became a Taoist. I also studied and was trained in Hindu meditation by a master from India.
In the course of this I became a Holistic Health Practitioner practicing acupressure, shiatsu, with a brash of mental or psychic involvement thrown in, and explored the realms of the spiritual world through meditation and hypnosis techniques.
I explored various sorts of alternative issues and philosophies including Native American, Hindu, Buddhist, and Zen philosophies. I thought about, but did not get around to doing it, going to some of the Indians in South America to explore the spirit journeys they experienced through herbal drugs.
I got in touch with my animal guide through a Native American ritual (which I did along with a former editor of Ms. Magazine), explored astral projection, and was all in all involved in the so-called New Age community and life-style.
I came to believe that god was a cosmic plasma as I adopted a combination animism and pantheism in my personal spirituality.
Also in this time frame, and more on the negative side, I was into the Faust legend. This was a man who sold himself to the devil in order to gain esoteric knowledge. My favorite version of Faust was Goethe's but I also read Marlowe and Thomas Mann.
In that context I began to experiment on myself with various psychic techniques, conjuring of devils, and the like.
I had a good deal of success in these ventures into the spirit world including conjuring demons, astral projection, using psychic forces in influencing women, doing healings, and practicing new age medicine.
How did I get out of this? Well, since all of this stuff is truly and really authored by the devil, that dark force eventually came to the fore-front as it does with all people involved in this stuff (whether they know it or not, whether they will admit it or not).
For me, since I was flirting with deliberately negative forces, this darkness was much more acute and much more physically dangerous.
Here is a draft of Chapter 3, 4, and 5 of my autobiography that I am in the process of writing. This is only a draft. The final version will most likely be more detailed. The time period described was when I was a Protestant and part of that time an ordained Protestant preacher:
During the 1970s, my ministry activity ranged from activism in the issue of pornography working with a commissioner on the Presidential Commission on Obscenity and Pornography and with Morality in Media, to working as a Bus Pastor bringing in 700 children to Sunday School every Sunday, to teaching Bible studies, to evangelism on the home mission field of the Southern Baptist Convention, and more.
By the end of the 1970s I left the Southern Baptist Convention to enter into the non-denominational church world. I was ordained and pastored a non-denominational Church for a short while.
But things totally fell apart by the end of 1979. My wife had an affair (a one-night stand actually) the year prior. I found out about it about six months later. This was a wake-up call for me. I blamed myself mostly. My wife was responsible for her own sin, of course, but I had plowed the fertile ground that lead up to her temptation. I had NOT been a good husband. I had been somewhat abusive and emotionally cold oftentimes.
Although very hurt, of course, I did not want our marriage to break up. I forgave her, but she could not forgive herself. Eventually she became impossible to live with and I suggested a separation to allow things to cool and to gather ourselves together to see whether our marriage could be saved.
Unfortunately, within two weeks of our separation she was in bed with yet another man. I returned and appealed to her to not continue down this road and to try to make our marriage work. But she made her choice. She left with the other man. Even worse, she left behind not only her marriage, but also her faith. She eventually married this fellow and has remained married to him since then. She never did return to her faith.
This gets into a whole story in and of itself, which I will not get into here for time and space considerations. The above is partly to explain what happened next.
I did not take the divorce very well and spiraled downward in every way - emotionally, physically, and spiritually. By 1981 I had abandoned the faith myself and was into occultism and the Eastern religion of Taoism.
In addition to all this, I was also demonized. In fact, at one point, when my oldest daughter was five years old, whom I had custody of at that time, she reported seeing a large monster standing over me while I slept. She did not know what it was other than it was ugly and monstrous. Over a period of about a year she reported several such events.
During this time I experienced a wide range of supernatural events including astral projection (my spirit body leaving my physical body), ESP, and demonic apparitions and manifestations. It became such a common experience that I was relatively cavalier about it. I remember one time at the University of Iowa while studying for a test I sensed a demonic presence in the hallway. I looked over to the entity and casually said, Go away, I don’t have time to deal with you now, I have to study. The demon left.
My downward spiral brought me eventually to the gates of hell itself. Satan had brought me to the very line-in-the-sand, the line of pure evil. My toes were on this line and Satan was trying to get me to cross it. If I crossed it I would have been involved in some horrible crimes. God help me, I almost crossed. But, the mercy of God is greater than Satan is and He helped me to pull back.
Now, I didn’t ask God to do this, He just did it. Thank You Lord for doing it!!!
But, with the ultimate test failed, from Satan’s point-of-view, he would now dump me in revenge. There are several stages of involvement with Satan. The last stage, no matter what else one does in obedience or disobedience to Satan, is the Dump Stage. Once Satan is finished with you, or once you pull back from him after being within his grasp, he will dump the person into an abyss of insanity, suicide, drugs, or whatever -- anything that will destroy.
For me, it was suicide.
After pulling back from the line of pure evil, I went into a tailspin. One day while at work, I had an anxiety attack. It seemed that the buildings around me were falling on top of me. It was just like the images one sees in the movies when one is going crazy or is having an anxiety attack.
I quit the job on the spot. I had no where to go in terms of shelter and ended up at my parents. But I was so messed up that I couldn’t stay there. I lived in my car and in the park for a while.
My emotional state continued to deteriorate until finally I decided to kill myself. I planned it out carefully - how, where, when. The day came.
The place where I was to kill myself was out past where my parents lived on a country road. When going by my parents’ place I stopped by for one last time to check my mail, oddly enough. I don’t know what difference this made, I was to be dead in an hour, but I checked my mail anyway. What I did not expect was that God used my checking the mail in a miraculous way.
This odd event saved my life.
I collected my mail and opened it in the car sitting behind the wheel. One letter was from a poetry publisher. (I was a professional poet.) The letter congratulated me on the fact that one of my poems had been accepted for publication in a poetry anthology.
This particular publisher was a fifth rate publisher, so this news was not a major feather in my professional cap as a poet. But when one is in a suicidal spiral sometimes any positive news can be a slap to the face, the thing that snaps one out of it.
I remember this as clearly as if it was yesterday. It was November 26, 1982.
I stared at this letter, sitting behind the wheel of my car. I stared at it almost like I was in the catatonic state. For fifteen minutes I stared at it.
Finally I said to myself, This is stupid. I was not referring to the poetry, but the estrangement from my parents.
I got out of the car, went into my parents’ house, and told my mother that we needed to talk.
I reconciled with my parents and my life was saved -- because that letter gave me pause.
My father agreed to pay rent for an apartment in Iowa City for four months to allow me time to convalesce from my emotional situation. Food was paid for by food stamps. I got on with my life.
A couple of years later I applied for membership in the Writers' Guild, a professional writers association. To be eligible for membership one has to have so many publication credits. I was one credit short. So, although I hated to do it, I had to admit to that fifth-rate publisher who accepted one of my poems.
I called the publisher on phone and asked for a confirmation of the publication credit. I was told that my poem was never published and that they had no record of my name. I told them that I had a letter in my hand confirming the acceptance of the poem. They checked and could find no record of the letter, no record of my submission, and no record of my name. As far as they were concerned, I didn't exist.
Because of the mix-up, they went ahead and published my poem in their 1985 edition.
The miracle here is that I received a letter that did not exist and received it on the day I was to die.
There are two possible explanations -- one supernatural and the other natural.
The supernatural explanation is that the publisher never sent that letter. Perhaps it was written by angels and sent to me to save my life.
The natural explanation is that unlikely or not my name and all records of my submission were lost from three databases.
It doesn't matter which version one believes in. The miracle was one of timing.
If I had received that letter just one day later, I would be dead!
I have the letter framed and hanging on the wall now not because there is anything magical about the letter, because there's not, but because the letter reminds me that the Providence of God is far greater than my stupidity.
It was obvious that God had other plans for me and thus took extraordinary measures (which were not technically miraculous in the sense of the suspension of natural law, but were certainly an extraordinary coincidence of timing) to convince me to not take my life.
Thank God Almighty, I accepted His invitation to life.
But the story is not over....
One would think that after experiencing such extraordinary circumstances demonstrating God's love for me that I would come back to Him. Well, it wasn't quite that easy. I was a bull headed boy who needed to get hit in the head, with more than the depression of suicide and the life-giving love of God, to come out of my prodigal state. Like the prodigal of the Bible I had to experience the lowest point possible with my head in the mud, before I would wake-up.
So even after this experience in November 1982 I continued to flirt with Satan and the occult. I continued to perform psychic experiments on myself. And I began to hang around unsavory characters some of who were involved in terrorism. In addition I was involved with communist, socialist, and other left-wing organizations and participated in many protest demonstrations. I also taught civil disobedience classes, gave speeches before crowds, occupied University offices in protest with my fat belly plastered on the front page of the newspaper. Rebellion was my job at this time.
I remember having a ritual shrunken head from Brazil, a demonic symbol that I hung off the frame of my ordination certificate. I was thumbing my nose at God, bitter, and lost. Rebellion became my life-style as well as my job. I continued to push that rebellion.
In 1983 I participated in an anti-nuclear protest at Offuit Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska. Two Hundred people crossed the line and was arrested, more than ever before in the history of these protests at that time. I was one of them. All of these people were released a few hours later except for three others and me. The four of us were held over for the FBI because we refused to give our names.
After hours of intimidation they offered to let us go as long as we had our pictures and finger prints taken. The first two of my comrades complied without incident. The woman with us decided to resist completely. The police almost broke her fingers trying to get her fingerprints. She was held-over for arraignment before a judge and ordered to give her name and submit to identification.
My turn was next. I am a big guy, so these two goons started toward me. I waved them off indicating that I would cooperate. My fingerprints were taken and the mug shot was taken. They thought they had me. They did not. I held out for one last bit of rebellion. The military police asked for my name. I still refused to give it, which made them mad, of course.
After a few more hours of intimidation they let the three of us go since they had the pictures and prints. Maggie, the woman, was held over until she finally gave in about a week or two later.
There are lots more stories to tell including being investigated by the FBI for possible terrorism and Secret Service for writing poetry interpreted to be a threat to the President. But that's another story. I think the reader can get the point of the sort of state my mind I was in during those days.
But by the end of 1984 I was tired of politics and activism and was lonely for my children who were living in Texas with their mother. So I packed everything up and moved to Wichita Falls, Texas to be closer to my children. The problem is that I had no job.
After my money ran out I became homeless. I was able to get some assistance to pay for rent at the YMCA for a while, but I had no food. I stayed alive by eating hamburgers out of garbage cans at Hardees. But this was not the lowest point....
Throughout the early 1980's I experimented with the occult. This included conjuring demons, using ESP to influence women, and attempting astral projection. I succeeded at all of it.
The astral projection episode is one that I shall not forget. I remember my spirit body leaving my physical body and hovering about a foot above. Immediately I was attacked by thousands of black hideous demons. I had entered their realm and thus they were able to attack me in the most direct ways.
This scared me completely and after this I never attempted astral projection again.
My uncle also flirted with the occult. Both of us were Faustians. Faust was the guy who sold his soul to Satan to accomplish his desires. In Goethe's version of Faust, which was my specialty, and in Marlowe's version, which the reader might have seen the movie with Richard Burton based on Marlowe's Dr. Faustus, Faust sold himself to Satan to attain esoteric knowledge. It was a lust of knowledge that tempted Faust. This is also what tempted me.
God had already given me the gift of intelligence that allowed me to acquire great levels of knowledge quickly and to practice that knowledge with high expertise with little effort. In many ways this gift gave me the gift of being a Pretender like the T.V. show -- to successfully pretend to be in any number of professions and to pull it off successfully even though never trained in that field. I don't have the super-ability of the character in the T.V. show, but what I had I used to pretend when it suited me.
My uncle was tempted by the Thomas Mann's version of Faust. In Mann's novel the Faust character sold his soul for artistic genius. My uncle is a novelist so the artistic angle was his great temptation. I am an artist, too, a poet, but my primary temptation is philosophy.
In actual fact, my uncle went from a person who could barely write a sentence to one of the best novelists in the United States. He did this almost overnight. He sold his soul to the devil. My uncle, who is also a painter, has several self portraits that look more like demons than a human being.
One night I had an ESP type knowledge that something bad was happening with my uncle who lived across town. In the middle of the night, without a car and only with a bicycle, I raced over to his place knowing something was terribly wrong.
I got to his place and pounded on the door. He open it. His face was weird. I told him what I was feeling and he told me what he was up to.
He had been experimenting on himself with attempting to contact the demonic world. Both of us had been doing this. At the height of his conjurings he took a series of Polaroid pictures of himself. I took a look at the pictures and a cold chill shot though my spine. Just thinking about it as I write this causes a chill through by body.
The pictures were of him, but were not him. The figure in the pictures were demons.
I told my uncle that I think we were both going to far and that it was time to stop before it was too late.
We both cooled it to some degree.
A year later I was facing Satan in the park stocking people, refused the devil's call, and ended up on my way to kill myself in which God saved my life.
But although the direct occultic experimentation came to an end, I continued my distance from God and continued to flirt with Faustian theories and theories of the world that would be similar to pantheism.
It was not until 1985 that I truly hit bottom.
In the Fall of 1984 I went to Texas to be closer to my kids. I went without any job prospects. I checked into the YMCA and ate hamburgers out of garbage cans. After about two months I got a job at a convenience store as a clerk. It was minimum wage but it allowed me to eat normally though I continued to live at the YMCA.
I was beginning to feel normal. I even remember doing a very Christian thing of being the Good Samaritan. A woman with a bunch of kids came into the convenience store one night. She was out of money. Although I was on minimum wage and I had just been paid and had the cash in my pocket. I bought her and her children a bunch of groceries.
Within two months I was chosen to be the new manager at another convenience store in the chain. It was a ghetto store and it was a mess.
Within two months after taking over the managership of the store I had cleaned up the store, hired neighborhood people as workers improving community relations, and increased the sales in the store from $18,000 per month to more then $30,000 per month. I received a bonus for that.
But about eight months later my District Manager I think was fearing for his job. I had gone from entry level clerk to manager in two months and I probably could get his job as District Manager before long. So, plans were under way to have me fired regardless of the fact that I was arguably the best manager in the store chain.
I found out about the plan and went into panic. I had been on the street eating garbage one year earlier and was not quite emotionally well enough to tolerate that prospect again. I had to do something. I was desperate.
Thus I concocted a plan to embezzle some $10,000 from the company. The $10,000 would give me the grub stake I needed to go anywhere, probably Costa Rica or the Philippines, or Thailand where this money would last a long time and I could settle to my writing.
The target date was the Labor Day Weekend. Because banks were closed I would be able to make it so that I could have Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday bank deposits all in the store undeposited. It amounted to around $10,000 in cash (the rest in checks and credit cards).
But how could I pull this off successfully? Two weeks before the target date I hatched a plan that was nearly foolproof.
The plan was to pretend to run of out gas on my way to the bank Tuesday morning. In the process of getting gas at a nearby gas station with a gas can, someone allegedly breaks into my car and steals the bank bags.
I made sure that my car was literally close to being empty of gas and planned on actually getting emergency gasoline at a nearby gas station -- all just in case the police checked.
When this ruse is to take place, however, the bank bags are not actually in my car. Before running out of gas I planned on taking the money and burying it at a pre-planned hole in the ground in nearby woods. I made sure that the woods had several entrances so that one could sneak into the wood from a number of directions without being detected.
Although I knew that the police would suspect me, they wouldn't be able to prove anything. Later, when things cooled down I could sneak back into the wood, fetch the money, and leave town quietly. I would be in Mexico before anyone knew I was gone.
This plan would have worked. In fact when I was arrested the police treated me rather badly. They were proud of themselves that they had out-smarted this smart thief. They knew and acknowledged that I would have gotten by with this crime, except for the police out-smarting me. I was a trophy for them.
But they had not out-smarted me; I sabotaged myself; and God sabotaged me.
In fact, God was directly involved in getting me caught. I am not kidding.
In figuring out this plan I figured the time frame for each step in the process. The time it would take to bury the money in the woods and the time I was suppose to run out of gas was too great if I had actually run out of gas on my way to the bank. There would be about 15 unaccounted for minutes.
In actuality the police would not likely discover the missing 15 minutes, and even if they did, it would prove nothing.
But I was obsessed by this detail. Thus I made the NUMBER ONE mistake when considering a crime. I solicited an accomplice.
The accomplice was a woman, of course. I always had a weakness in that area. With a distorted sense of altruism I offered to split the money 50-50 with her. Her job was to take the money from me at a specific location and take it into the woods to bury it. I would go directly from the drop off spot to the run out of gas location. This eliminated the unaccounted for 15 minutes.
My accomplice, however, got scared and called the police. The police asked her to work for them as an informant undercover. I think I suspected this, but didn't act upon it.
About four days before the date of the caper I decided to cancel it. I decided to not go through with it. My female accomplish convinced me to go ahead with it. And, like Adam eating the apple out of Eve's hands, I went for it.
The day came. My accomplice was to park her car under the highway on a access road that went from the right side of the hiway, under the hiway, and back up the left side of the hiway -- a U shaped access road with the bottom of the U directly under the bridge of the hiway. The access road was a one-way street.
At 9am my accomplice was to be at the drop off point and I would meet her there. I would give her the bags and leave. She would go immediately into the woods nearby and bury the money.
I got at the drop off point at 8:55am. She was not there. It turned 9am.
She was not there. 9:10 and she was still not there. Finally at 9:15 she had still not arrived. I decided to forget the whole thing and started my car to return to the store, prepare the bank bags for deposit and then deposit them for real.
For reasons that I cannot explain, I started the car, did a three point turn in the road and promptly went the WRONG way on a one-way street.
In doing this, I met my accomplice coming down the road. Since we passed each other, I turned around again, went back to the drop off spot and we went though with the caper.
If I had gone the right direction on the one-way street, I would NOT have seen my accomplice and the theft would have never happened.
I went to the spot where I pretended to run out of gas, did my thing. Pretending to be upset at discovering the bank bags missing I went back to the store and called the police.
A beat cop got to the store first and began taking a theft report. But within minutes detectives came into the store, looked at me, and said, You know why we are here. I nodded yes, was handcuffed and taken away to the city jail.
After I gave my accomplice the bank bags, she apparently went into the woods and placed the bags in the hands of a police officer.
I was caught. I was caught only because I made the mistake of recruiting an accomplice. I was caught only because God confused my mind and got me to go the wrong way on a one-way street.
God was looking out for me. If I had gotten away with this crime, I would have been lost for good.
I spent the night in the city jail. The police took my glasses so I could not see anything without a blur. There were other thieves in the jail, but I was king of the hill to those guys. They had been arrested for stealing $50 or $100. I had stolen $10,000. So in the jail house world I was king of the hill. I remember at the time thinking how pathetic that was.
I was arraigned along with a drug pusher. The drug pusher to children got a bail of $3000. I got $4500 but the police tried to convince the judge to make it higher. I found it odd that a drug pusher to children got a lower jail that I did. All I did was steal money, not destroy children like he had done.
Fortunately, I had a paycheck (a paycheck from the company I had just stolen from ) in my pocket. With that check I was able to put a down-payment with a bail bondsman to get out of jail.
The following morning I was transferred to County Jail and put in a holding cell. Since my bail bondsman was in the process of the paperwork I was never put into the general population of the County Jail. Just after noon, I was released.
Within a couple of weeks I had spoken to a defense attorney. I told him the story and he told me what we might be able to do.
The attorney told me that the police acted improperly - a kind of entrapment. I had decided to NOT go through with the crime, but the police had convinced the female accomplish to use her feminine charms to convince me to do what I didn't want to do.
Because of this mistake on the part of the police the attorney said that we could at least get the charges brought down to a misdemeanor instead of a Class 5 felony.
I said no. Regardless of what the police might have done improperly, the point was that I did it. I told the attorney that I would not make excuses.
I went before the judge and basically said, Guilty with no excuses. My attorney was able to work out a plea bargain since I was a first offender.
I was sentenced to seven years in the Texas penitentiary, suspended to four years probation.
I served the probation with flying colors.
But let me go back to the day I was released from jail.
My car had been impounded and it would take a few days to get it, so a friend picked me up and I stayed at his house.
The following morning when I woke up at my friend's house, the most frightening experience of my life took place. This was an event that I cannot forget and which causes me to shutter even to type the story.
I got up that morning, took a shower, and then went to the sink. I looked in the mirror to comb my hair and was chilled to the marrow of my bones at what I saw.
I look into the mirror and notice my eyes. I did not see my blue eyes. I had no eyes. In the place of my eyes was two black holes, a void, a nothing. I was staring at the abyss, at death, spiritual death. It is said that the eyes are the window to the soul. I saw into my soul that morning, literally, and saw spiritual death, saw death itself, saw abyss.
It wasn't until I was preparing to write this story that I realized what else I saw those many years ago. What I saw was my soul in hell. God had given me a vision of my own hell. The hell that my soul was already in that morning, the hell that I was going to if I had died at that moment.
At that moment of seeing this dark death in my eyes, I said to myself, This must stop.
At that moment, I became the prodigal son on his way back home to God. It took a few years, but I did find my way home to the Father's house, and then a few years later, to the Big House of the Catholic Church.
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