From Satanism to the Occult and back to the Catholic Church, one woman found hope and healing through Christ and the sacraments.
Satanic messages are seen spray-painted on a statue of Christ June 6, 2006 at the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians in Erin, Wisconsin. (CNS photo/Stephen Olszewski, Catholic Herald)
Editor's note (March 26, 2013): Deborah and the editors understand that readers can click through the links and see Deborah's last name. However, Deborah requested that her last name not be used in this article, so we have honored her request.
The world of Satanism is a secretive one, often vulgar and sometimes dangerous, or so says ex-Satanist and Catholic “revert.” Fifty-one-year-old Deborah [who requested her last name not be used in this article] said that although the beliefs of Satanists vary tremendously, they center on indulgence of the appetites and a mockery of Christianity. Additionally, you’d be surprised to discover that seemingly respectable citizens in your community are members of Satanic covens. As she explained, “They’re people you meet on the street.”
Since memberships in covens are so secretive—with the threat of death for members who share details of their participation, according to Deborah—it is rare to find ex-Satanists willing to share their experiences.
Deborah was born in 1961 and grew up in Salem, Massachusetts. She attended both Catholic and public schools. As a teen, she got involved in Satanism. She returned to the Catholic Church in 2009. Today, she is married and lives on a farm in Maine.
Deborah shared details of her experiences in her book A Message of Hope, Confessions of an Ex-Satanist: How to Protect Yourself from Evil. She is also a featured speaker at the Spiritual Warfare Conference, held at the Ontario DoubleTree Hotel in Ontario, California on May 4 and 5, 2013. Deborah recently spoke to CWR.
CWR: Tell me a little about your background and how you first got involved in Satanism.
Deborah: First off, as an adult, I was diagnosed as a high-functioning autistic. [Autism is a neurological disorder that can adversely affect a person’s ability to communicate and establish friendships with peers. It is often manifested in children through a variety of atypical behaviors, such as the ones Deborah describes here.] When I was a child I was undiagnosed, and I exhibited a lot of autistic symptoms. These included rocking, hand-flapping, and humming. I also argued with my teachers, and didn’t want to socialize with my peers. Today, I’m still unable to live independently.
Additionally, my mom was a German in an anti-German, Jewish neighborhood. (My father abandoned the family when I was young.) The other kids in school would make fun of me, steal my toys, and call me a “retard.” I was also beat up physically every day. I begged my mom to let me stay home from school. I was hurt, angry, and wanted to be by myself. I isolated myself from others.
I attended a Catholic school from grades 7-10. I went to the nuns who ran the school for help. Because of my behavior, I was unpopular with them and they suggested I deserved the treatment I received. I was angry at the nuns, so, as a joke and to get even, I started coming to school wearing the pentagram. I would also draw it on my homework assignments. They asked me to leave the school.
Now, these were the pre-Internet days, so I began reading about Satanism in books, and then began talking with Satanists.
CWR: Did you attend Black Masses?
Deborah: Yes. They were absolutely disgusting…the Eucharist is defiled…statues and crucifixes were turned upside down; anything to mock Christianity. It is depravity at its worst. Satanism is about indulgence, and destroying the Church and traditional morality.
I stopped attending the Black Masses and went off and formed my own group. Keep in mind there are different types of Satanism, and they vary in level [of] intensity. It is all very secretive and dangerous; you’re threatened with death if you try to leave a coven [a Satanic group of 13 members]. The world of Satanism is very secret. If you’re involved, you don’t want your members spilling these secrets. If you’re a blabbermouth, they will come after you. Some of what they do is so hideous they don’t want it exposed.
CWR: Did you see people hurt?
Deborah: No, they were consenting adults.
CWR: How far did you go as a Satanist?
Deborah: You couldn’t go any deeper. I made a blood pact with Satan.
CWR: Do many Satanists leave their covens and find Christ?
Deborah: No. Most end up killing themselves.
CWR: If I’d known you when you were a Satanist, what would I have observed about you?
Deborah: If you were nice to me, I would have been nice to you. If you were mean to me, I would have gotten even. I might have sent a demon after you.
You would have been uncomfortable around me, as I could have given you some hateful looks, and found me very manipulative. You would have been surprised that at a young age I had accumulated tremendous wealth, even though I was only working part-time.
CWR: Satan was rewarding you for following him?
Deborah: Yes. It seemed that wherever I was, material things just fell into my lap.
CWR: And how long were you involved with Satanism?
Deborah: I was involved seven years, and 30 years in the Occult. While in the Occult, I was involved in conjuring up demons, and experienced all the things you see in the Hollywood horror movies, including physical manifestations and apparitions. I don’t like to share specific details. In my book, Message of Hope, I focus on how the demons operate and how we can effectively battle them.
CWR: And how do the demons enter into our lives?
Deborah: The most common way is that we invite them in. We open portals. You can make use of Ouija boards, go to a psychic, attend a séance, or try to communicate with ghosts. We can also invite them in when we let ourselves be consumed with anger and refuse to forgive.
Demons have the ability to tamper with our thoughts, and lead us into addictions.
CWR: Give me an example of where you see the work of the demonic in our society.
Deborah: I see it in the violence manifested in video games and in movies about killing.
CWR: What about the slaughter of innocents at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut?
Deborah: Yes, I believe that the shooter was demonically influenced. However, demons cannot coerce us. We have free will. We have to choose to follow their suggestions.
CWR: What made you decide to leave Satanism?
Deborah: It was difficult. The demons were terrorizing me. They came to collect my soul or wanted full possession (even though full possession is rare in our society). I had a dream where an angel came to rescue me. I got up the next morning and decided, “I’m going to be Catholic again.”
I went to see a Catholic priest, and he threw me out of the church. He didn’t believe me. I ended up joining a religious cult for 18 years. I drifted from occult practice to occult practice. One day, I prayed, “God, I don’t know if you exist, but if you do, send me a nun to bring me back to the Catholic Church.” A few months later, He did. She introduced me to some priests with experience in dealing with the demonic, including one who lives in Maine. I returned to the Catholic Church in 2009.
CWR: And how are things now?
Deborah: I love the Church, and have dedicated my life to Her. I want to serve the Church, and I’m in the process of becoming a Third Order Dominican.
Our Lady has had an incredible role in my life, too. I’ve seen great miracles happen through Mary.
CWR: How would you advise the faithful to keep the devil out of their lives?
Deborah: First of all, in this life he’s always going to be in your life and close by. So, you have to protect yourself by going to Mass and receiving the Eucharist. It’s powerful protection. Holy water is extremely effective. I call it “industrial-strength spiritual Lysol.” I keep it in my home and regularly bless myself.
The sacrament of confession is important. One of the fastest ways for the demon to enter our lives is through unconfessed sin. I freely tell people, Catholic or not, that the Catholic Church is the only church that has the tools to deal effectively with the demonic. That includes devotion to the Blessed Mother.
Also, be careful about your hobbies and entertainment. The drinking, partying, carousing lifestyle can create an opening for the devil to come in; I also recommend people avoid slasher movies.
CWR: Tell us about Our Lady of the Light Ministry.
Deborah: It is a ministry I founded to help people involved in the Occult to break free. As part of the ministry, I also investigate claims of demonic hauntings and offer spiritual help. I do not expel demons; my role is to assess and assist people with finding the resources they need. I always do my work in consultation with a priest.
I introduce people to prayer, the sacraments and Our Lady, even though most of the people I help are Protestants or pagans. Even though I do not advertise my services, people contact me through my website and I have from 10 to 15 clients at a time. I never charge for my services.Whether in this ministry or in my public speaking about this topic, it is my goal to share with people a message of hope (from my book’s title). I want people to know God’s great mercy. If you’re ashamed of your sins, I tell them you haven’t really sinned until you’ve worshipped the devil! I’ve dedicated my life to Christ and His Church, and I want to cooperate in the work of saving souls.
About the Author
Jim Graves is a Catholic writer living in Newport Beach, California.