I was raised in a devout, evangelical house with loving, Baptist parents. I always looked up to the women in the Bible and their virtue, and I loved to sway and sing. There’s a video of me at a young age somewhere, dancing to the worship music in church. I knew when I was young I wanted to be baptized and have a relationship with Jesus.

Then came my teen years.

We all go through phases, and not all of them are damaging. There was my vegetarian phase—it lasted maybe two months—where I looked down on non-veggie eaters. But when I was 13, I wanted to be cool. So I tried marijuana with some kids at school.

More Than a Crush

I had started getting friendly with this really cute guy, *Damian. I saw him in the school halls periodically, and he always made it a point to talk to me. After smoking together and hanging out for about a year, we became romantic.

He said he wanted to date me but could only date people in his faith. Damian showed me a star inside a circle—a pentacle—he kept under his shirt and told me he was a Wiccan. When he described his faith, it sounded like poetry. I was enthralled.

I told him I was a Christian. He was understanding but asked me to think about it. I told him I would.

That very night, I dreamed of a goddess-like being walking with me down a dirt road Damian and I often walked, and I felt happy. I had those dreams more and more often. They made Wicca seem more inviting.

Websites I read were intriguing, and I even caught myself praying to Ruth from the Bible once. I don’t know why I did it, but I didn’t feel ashamed. The voice in the back of my head still told me, “STOP, STOP, STOP!” But I couldn’t. The promise of power and love was too tantalizing.

I should have known I was in too deep.

Becoming Wiccan

I told Damian I wanted to be a Wiccan. He was thrilled and said he loved me. I told him I loved him too, and he happily told me more about my new faith.

I cast my first spell against a bully at school, and she was sent to boarding school only days later. I felt strong, and I was very pleased with myself.

Sunday mornings, I told my mom I was going to church with friends but went into the woods with Damian and his friends to sing to our goddess instead. We formed a coven and operated on full moons and witch holidays. Our most important Sabbaths were Beltane and Yule, which celebrated the goddess and the birth and death and rebirth of her son. On those holidays, we meditated after smoking marijuana—we called it a holy herb of the gods—and attempted to speak to the goddess.

One snowy Yule, I had a vision that rocked me to the core. I still shiver to think of it today: A woman with curved horns stared at me from a dark tree. Her face contorted into a terrifying mask with fangs, and she lunged at me, hissing for me to die.

*Liza shook me back to reality and told me to calm down. She had seen it too. I asked what it was, and she told me it was a void demon.

“I thought there weren’t demons,” I said, and she shook her head.

“Oh they’re real,” Liza answered. “The void is bad, and we got too close. Yule is a bad time for that without the god around. I forgot you aren’t as experienced as us.”

I sat out for the rest of the ceremony and watched the snowfall.

I think I was 17 when things got rocky with Damian and me. Our parents didn’t support our relationship, mostly because our faiths differed. We did tarot readings and spells to calm things down but to no avail.

We were in his car when he brought up something drastic. He wanted to do a binding spell to make my parents shut up. I talked him out of it, saying it would blow over. He told me if it didn’t in a year, we might have to either break up or do the binding.

I was heartbroken, but I agreed.

Not in Our House

A week later my mother was waiting for me when I came home from school. She threw my tarot cards and Wicca books and my Book of Shadows on the kitchen table.

“Where do you really go on Sunday?” she demanded. My father was visibly furious in his lounge chair.

“I’m in a coven.”

The heartbreak in her eyes is something I’ll never forget.

“You get this out of our house. Give it back to Damian. Burn it. I don’t care. Just get it out, and I never want to see you practicing THIS in our house ever again!” she said.

My father added, “If we see you doing this ever again, we will make sure Damian never talks to you again.”

“But I love him,” I cried.

They sent me to my room. I cried and prayed to the goddess.

My parents made me to go to church that Sunday. The sermon was on witchcraft, and it made me squirm. The pastor showed us videos and articles and warned against witchcraft. I was curious and scared at the same time. I thought it was a natural response to my perceived oppression. I didn’t realize it was conviction.

Monday at school, one of my coven members, *Janice, asked me why I wasn’t at the last meetup. I explained, and she seemed angry. In exceptionally colorful words, she said Christians should shut up and stay where they belong.

I didn’t ask her what she meant, and we went to class. There, she passed me a note I still have to this day. It read: “Tell me what church they go to. I can take care of it.”

I wrote back and asked what she meant. “I work with a powerful demon that can drive the pastor crazy,” she wrote. “The church will shut down in a week or so; I promise.”

I was dumbfounded. She worked with those fanged things? I did not respond.

Horrifying Dreams

That was my first moment of doubt—and my first night of horrible dreams. The demons and the goddess were standing by, watching, not paying attention to my screaming no matter how I called to her. The dreams were worse when I went to church. Violent. They involved killing and suicide.

I told Damian, but he wasn’t concerned. He said they were just dreams, but something in my soul said otherwise. I called out for the goddess to help me, but it didn’t help. I asked her if she was even real, and the dreams grew even worse.

One night in the spring, I was crying, dreading going to sleep. Something cold suddenly blew across my face. I bolted upright in my bed, and I could feel the presence by my bedside. I shut my eyes tightly and threw the blanket over my head, trying to forget it.

I made the mistake of telling *Kaya, a coven mate who was also the oldest. She told me to do a séance and came over with a Ouija board. We stayed up late, set up candles and cast a circle. Kaya asked the board what was in my room and why. The board piece moved, making my hairs stand on end. I could feel it.

When the board spelled out a name, Kaya went white. Then the board told us a demon was there for me, that the demon wanted to work with me, and that I didn’t need to be afraid of the other demons because she was their mother. She could make them go away if I would work with her.

I asked Kaya what to do. Her advice was to choose on my own but to be careful. This demon was a powerful god. Something in me told me not to accept, to turn and run. But when I declined the demon’s offer, I felt an immense terror deep inside. I thought I must have made the wrong decision.

Then the board went silent and refused to talk to us. Kaya said I shouldn’t worry; it would probably be okay.

But she was wrong.

The nightmares continued. My father was laid off. Our lights went out randomly. Damian and I broke up; the list goes on.

Finally Came the Calm

One night I lay scared in my bed, feeling coldness all around me, not knowing what to do. Then I remembered the sermons I used hear. In a desperate effort to right my wrongs, I broke down, sobbing and praying.

I screamed out to the one true God, “Help, help, oh Jesus, help! Please, I’m so sorry! I messed up; just make it all stop!”

Suddenly, I felt warmer. Calmness fell over me, and I knew it was all gone. It was all over. Love washed over me. I fell asleep and stayed asleep that night. I found a cross I had thrown in a cabinet somewhere and put it on. That morning, my parents commented on how energized I seemed.

At school, my coven mates didn’t want anything to do with me after I told them what I experienced that night. They said they pitied me for falling into the Jesus cult and excommunicated me from the group.

But that was okay.

For the first time in what felt like forever, I felt whole. I went to church again, and I felt at home once more, making new friends there, and swaying and singing and clapping. I rededicated my life to Jesus and went on missionary trips to Jamaica and parts of Africa and all around our country with my youth group. It has been the most rewarding time of my life; it was also when I realized being in ministry was my calling.

I’ve already gotten the chance to talk to and help guide many mystics around the globe to Christ during my trips. God has blessed my life. He saved it so I could have a second chance. Now I proudly proclaim His name everywhere I go. I am currently in Bible college and on the way to seminary. God continues to lead me along my path, and I am eternally grateful.

This is only part of my story; however, it is a lot of it. Nothing could have prepared me for what happened during those years or for what my ex-coven mates still throw at me as they tell me straight to my face that they curse and work against me.

I’m not sure I would skip my time as a Wiccan if given the chance to do it again. It wasn’t fun; it wasn’t some trendy, neat lifestyle that gave me everything I wanted. But those experiences deepened my faith in Jesus.

I am not advocating converting to see the other side. But I know I have these stories that allow me to relate to pagans and witches when I talk to them.

Most importantly, my story tells you the pit will never be too deep for Him to pull you out.

*Names changed for privacy.

by Chloe Dinkelberg

Jesus has shown Chloe Dinkelberg life, and she would not trade that for anything. Someday she’d like to reach out to those stuck in the muck of the occult and show them the Light is better than they could imagine. She is a southern tea lover and friend to just about any animal that comes her way.

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