The display was titled, “Going Back to Wizardry School,” a play on the normal “Going Back to School” theme. About a dozen different books were featured in this children’s section of a large chain bookstore. In one book, a young boy at a wizardry school (not Harry Potter) is listening to the professor explain that practicing the black arts is not really evil at all, but is just the exaggeration and twisting of normal human traits: “By ‘black,’ I do not mean evil. Or wicked. I mean dark and deep, as in the black water of the deepest lakes.”1 This view of evil is not uncommon in occult philosophies. Evil is usually expressed in one or more of the following ways, which may overlap: the dark side is just another aspect of the good; both good and evil are needed for the balancing of energy and life (polarity); a magician must master and control all aspects of himself in order to master the spirits and forces of sorcery; evil is a force; good & evil are part of the whole, and therefore, are ultimately the same thing; and, finally, good and evil are transcended and combined in the One.
The dark side
Dark is just the other side of light or good, and these two balance each other. In this case, dark and light are equal (dualism). This philosophy is found explicitly in Deepak Chopra’s recent best-selling book, How To Know God, in which Chopra claims that in the 6th of 7 stages of knowing God, good and evil to the visionary “are two sides of the same force. God created both because both are needed; God is in the evil as much as in the good.”2
The Kabbalah (also spelled Qabbala, Cabala, Kabbala, etc.), a Gnostic spin-off of mystical Judaism that has been enjoying a revival, and which is also a foundation for many forms of sorcery (namely, ritual or ceremonial magick), teaches that good and evil each “has the spark of the other,”3 according to Rabbi David Cooper.
Cooper quotes a story told by Rabbi in which a boy named Israel has the chance to destroy Satan’s “heart of evil” which Satan has placed inside a monster, but is unable to do so when he sees the heart bleed, for Israel realizes that “even the heart of evil has within it a spark of the Divine.”4 The lesson, according to the storyteller, is that “even the heart of Satan has a divine spark; even the heart of evil yearns to be redeemed…our job is not to set up a battleground to eradicate evil, but to search out its spark of holiness.”5 Cooper tells us that “Evil has divine nature within it,” and quotes the Zohar, the sacred book of the Kabbalah, as saying “There is no sphere of the Other Side (evil) that entirely lacks some streak of light from the side of holiness.”6
Echoing this view are Mark and Isha Lerner,7 creators of the “Inner Child Cards,” a Tarot deck and book using imagery from fairy tales and myth. In their section on the The Big Bad Wolf card (traditionally the Devil card), the Lerners state that the darker sides of life are not necessarily evil, but rather represent a struggle for “the human ego” as it “seeks balance and understanding in the physical universe.”8 They further state that “[i]n the dark or ugly side of human nature lies the seed of true spiritual integration.”9
Witches Janet and Stewart Farrar claim that “[t]he Theory of Polarity maintains that all activity, all manifestation, arises from (and is inconceivable without) the interaction of pairs and complementary opposites…and that this polarity is not a conflict between ‘good’ and ‘evil’, but a creative tension like that between the positive and negative terminals of an electric battery. Good and evil only arise with the constructive or destructive application of the polarity’s output…”10 They further state that monotheists are trapped in the belief that good vs. evil is a polarity, and that “Under the unchallenged rule of a non-polarized Creator, nothing can happen.”11 Two essential ideas relevant to this discussion are stated here: the basis for polarity is not good versus evil, and good cannot exist without evil.
The quintessential illustration of this philosophy is the yin-yang symbol. One side is black with a white dot in it, and the other side is white with a black dot in it. Most people believe that this symbol represents opposites, but it actually represents the concept of polarity, although people use the term “opposite” to describe it. The dark and light sides are polarities that need to be balanced. If they are opposite, why does each have a dot of the other color in it? It is because though they appear to be opposites, in actuality they are constantly changing and merging with each other, thus becoming each other. The dark becomes light and light becomes dark. There is no absolute dark or absolute light. [See CANA document on the Yin-Yang.]
The Yin-Yang view is even referred to by Cooper: “[T]he constant tension of opposing forces is a universal law. . . .In the East the principle is described as yin and yang. In Kabbalah it is called gevurot (restrictive powers) and chasidim (expansive powers),” and these “forces of the universe are constantly tugging and pushing.”12 This is a concept I learned in psychic development classes,13 that the “energy of the universe” moved in patterns of constriction and expansion.
A popular display of polarity thinking is in the Star Wars movie, Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Anakin, the future Darth Vader, is accepted as a Jedi apprentice in order to “balance the force.” In recalling the first movie where Luke Skywalker discovers his father is Darth Vader, the message is that Darth Vader has gone over to “the dark side,” not that he is evil. As Luke faces his father, together they represent the polarity of dark and light. The implication is that in looking at his father, Luke is seeing himself.
Lucifer, the Angel of Light
Medium and psychic Sylvia Browne admits there are dark entities that choose from the beginning to be this way, but she denies the devil. According to Browne, God sent Lucifer down to watch over people when God saw they had chosen “the dark side.” According to Browne, “Lucifer is neither dark nor fallen. He wasn’t rejected by God or banished from the light.”14
Another book, purported to be bringing a message from the real Christ, tells us that in the Garden of Eden, God “sent the sacred snake to you with an apple and invited you to eat.”15 Although God warned man that this would cause “duality and feelings of separation” in man’s mind, God does not condemn us for this or any action because he “is not concerned about” our actions.16
According to author Ferrini, evil comes from judgment, and the devil is the “ego mind,” and is our “angelic presence defiled” caught in “the savage pull of worldly incarnation.”17 Lucifer is not the devil; he is the Antichrist, but is not really bad at all. Lucifer “is the wounded child transformed into the risen Christ, the angelic presence leading the human into God’s eternal embrace.”18 God himself will say, “Welcome home, Lucifer” and, in fact, “when Lucifer is redeemed, the light comes to man.”19
So Lucifer is a protector in one view and, in another, he is the one whose redemption brings light to man. Much like the Satan in Cooper’s story, who is not all evil but contains divinity, this Lucifer will be redeemed.
Evil as a force
Occult dualism also teaches that evil is a force, an idea seen most popularly in the Star Wars movies in which either the dark or light sides of the Force can be accessed. “Star Wars” is another example of the philosophy that these two “forces” are complementary. Calling evil a force makes it seem less evil by turning it into an impersonal energy that is not particularly attached to human nature.
One does not necessarily choose evil but goes to the dark side almost inadvertently through emotions that one has failed to control. The very Zen-like Yoda in “Star Wars” says that the dark side of the Force is accessed through fear and anger (natural emotions, not evil). This is similar to what the teacher says to the boy at the wizardry school. The young wizard is told that “[w]e are all made up of such deep and dark emotions, and as we grow more mature, we learn to control them.”20 The message is, control your emotions, master yourself, and you will keep the dark side at bay. This message is also found in the first four Harry Potter books. Harry is not taught so much to do moral good, as he is to control his powers. Even in using his powers for a heroic act, Harry practices deception and disobedience on an almost constant basis. Morality is irrelevant as a value in itself; what matters is that the ends justify the means. This kind of compromise is accepted, even lauded, in a world where there is no absolute good or evil. Of course, for a wizard (sorcerer), self-mastery is of paramount importance since self-mastery precedes mastery of the forces and spirits he believes he will be manipulating in his occult art.
In this view, man is morally neutral, like the Force. As Rabbi Cooper states, “[W]e are neither good nor evil in our nature. We are simply the product of the accumulated influences in our lives, plus the most important variable: our free will.”21
In “Star Wars,” however, there is a big contradiction in the idea of the Force. In Episode One: The Phantom Menace, characters in the movie refer several times to the “will” of the Force. But an impersonal Force cannot have a will since it does not possess an intelligence. And if it does possess a will, it cannot be a Force. So how can a Force have will, and how can a Force have the qualities of good and evil, or dark and light?
Beyond Good and Evil
In the 7th stage of knowing God, according to Chopra in his How to Know God, one learns that God encompasses everything, even what we call evil. Chopra writes, “What is the nature of good and evil? God is the union of all opposites. Evil no longer exists.”22 Duality disappears into nonduality, the true nature of reality.
Chopra is presenting what seems to be a beautiful spirituality. But his message is similar to the teachings of sorcery. A novel about murders committed by a practitioner of Palo Mayombe, the “dark side” of Santeria, offers this description of the black magician, “He was a gifted, powerful, man…Beyond good and evil, like any master magician.”23 In this way, the master of the dark art of Palo Mayombe becomes the same as Chopra’s God. In transcending good and evil, one is making one’s self into a god, putting the self above the need to answer to anyone higher for one’s actions.
From a website titled Teen Wicca Page, an article, “What is Wicca?” makes a statement that “most” Wiccans recognize three levels of reality, two of which are dualism (God and Goddess) and pantheism. The other level is defined as “The Ultimate One: All power comes from this level. Power at this level is neither good nor evil, only power. . . We do not believe in the concept of ultimate good or ultimate evil. Instead we believe that all is power and it therefore depends on how the power is used. It is up to us to use this power wisely.”24
Tibetan Tantric Buddhism offers the view that good and evil are both tools in the journey for spiritual mastery. The students of such a path “welcome both demons and angels as their allies. Transcending good and evil, they transmute them both back into that pure essence” from which they come.25 In fact, it is the “manipulation of the forces of good and evil” which “provides the power.”26 These views are not surprising given the statement that they perceive “everything in the universe as holy.”27
Although magician28 Arthur Edward Waite, in his book on ceremonial magick, discusses black magick, he states several times that the differences between white and black magic are surface and verbal. In the preface, Waite discusses “the good and evil side of the arts,” stating that “the two aspects dissolve into one another and belong one to another in the root that is common to both.”29
These are examples of the belief that all is ultimately one; dark and light are not really distinct from each other, but are part of the whole. Believing that all is One must assume that good and evil are the same or do not really exist. Good and evil are swallowed by the One. In another book on the Kabbalah, the author quotes a Taoist text that she believes echo teachings from the Zohar: “Through this step-by-step nonattachment he achieves enlightenment and is able to see all things as One.”30
As Chopra’s book shows, and as the study of occult philosophy reveals, the goal is to transcend good and evil. Good and evil are merely temporary forces of dark and light; the truly enlightened person will go beyond these through knowledge and mastery of these “forces,” arriving at that state where his power and his control are pre-eminent. In this sense, these occult teachings attempt to raise self to God’s level by accessing what is perceived to be divine power for one’s own use. Good and evil as concepts are ultimately discarded, for the occult is about accessing energy or power and the mastery of forces, not good versus evil. It is not even about evil, and certainly not about defeating evil, since evil itself is ultimately denied, transcended, or absorbed into a neutral force.
A God who encompasses evil
Any god of a spiritual system that denies evil or teaches that good and evil are ultimately one, cannot be absolutely good. Or this god might be a force or impersonal power containing all opposites, including good and evil, within him/herself. And so we find that according to the Kabbalah, “In our limited perception we cannot reconcile the sacred and the secular, we cannot harmonize their contradictions. Yet at the pinnacle of the universe they are reconciled, at the site of the holy of holies.”31
According to Cooper, even though the Kabbalistic Satan is associated with evil and the Biblical God is associated with good, this Biblical God is considered a lesser God than the real “God,” the ultimate One that is called Ein Sof. Ein Sof is perceived as a principle rather than as a person. Going beyond Satan and God to Ein Sof is to transcend good and evil, for “Ein Sof is beyond good and evil; we must not attribute ‘goodness’ to It. . . . Simply said, Ein Sof embraces everything, including the totality of good and evil.”32 This brings us back to Chopra’s god, who, combining all opposites in his being, exemplifies the mystical occult transcendence of good and evil.
However one may view the serpent in the Garden of Eden — as myth, as Satan, as the Wise One who imparted wisdom to man, it is true that the Genesis account reports that in tempting Eve, the serpent told her that in eating the forbidden fruit, “you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”33 Eve already knew it was wrong to eat the fruit, so what was the temptation here? It was thinking that if one knows good and evil, one goes to the next step to then decide what is good and evil; one becomes his own god (“be like God”) in determining what is right and wrong. The outright temptation was not to do evil (although in eating the fruit, Adam and Eve disobeyed God), but to bypass God?s word, and be one?s own god. In disobeying God, Adam and Eve did not become gods and they did not gain wisdom; instead, they broke the fellowship with God, who created and loved them, and they lost the Garden.
If the serpent had merely urged Eve34 to disobey God, Eve might have been shocked and refused. But the serpent was crafty; he appealed to human pride, a trait that today still seduces humanity into a desire to be our own god, thinking that thus we achieve a spiritual wisdom. This human ?wisdom? that overrides God?s word creates a society that determines its own moral values, an environment where morality shifts and becomes a matter of personal expedience. The line in the sand was crossed in the Garden of Eden, and it has been blurred by humanity ever since.
The God of absolute good and light
In contrast to these occult philosophies, absolute good and evil is a spiritual teaching of the Hebrew Scriptures and of the New Testament. God is absolutely good: “And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.”35 God is described in 1 Timothy 6:16 as the one “who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light.” The Psalmist urges us to “taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”36
Satan, the fallen angel, is in total rebellion against God, and is evil. Referring to Satan as a personal being, Jesus said, “there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies,”37 and he “comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy.”38 But Satan disguises himself as something beautiful, as someone who offers man wisdom, enlightenment, power. As the angel of light, he is more deadly since he is not recognized as easily: “…for Satan himself masquerades an angel of light.”39 Satan in the Garden of Eden was not man’s protector, but twisted God’s words and by directly contradicting God, urged Eve to disobey God.40 By disobeying God and yielding to the serpent’s temptation, Adam and Eve made it possible for sin and death to enter the world.41
Neither is Satan part of a dualism with God. Satan is not an opposing god, equal in power and authority to God. Satan is not a necessary being. Satan is a created being, limited in his knowledge and abilities. Satan is never spoken of in the Bible as someone who now rules or will rule hell, but as one who will be cast into a lake of fire: “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet were also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”42
Evil is not necessary for good, nor should we seek balance between light and darkness: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”43 While current culture denies absolute good and evil, God’s word is clear that there is a line between good and evil: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”44
Evil is not a force, but an action against God: “And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.”45
Evil is also a part of our own fallen nature. When sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, the rebellion against God became part of human nature — the desire to exert our own will over God’s will. This tendency to sin, that is, to defy God’s goodness and serve ourselves, imprisons us and separates us from a just and holy God. So what is the answer? A restoration of society to traditional moral values, whatever those might be? Is the answer going back to the Garden, as Joni Mitchell sang in her song, “Woodstock” to an idealistic and troubled generation? Working on ourselves through meditation and mantras?
We cannot go back and erase that line in the sand that was crossed in the Garden; we cannot build a new Garden; we cannot please God by trying to live a moral life. In fact, trying to be moral or spiritual feeds the same human pride that the serpent fueled in Eve; we want recognition and reward for it. There is no action we can take, no matter how good or noble it may appear, to overcome the sin nature. It is for that very reason that Christ came to bridge the gap between God and humanity by paying the penalty for our sins on the cross:
“Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. “46
Evil is not ultimately transcended through a spiritual occult path. Rather, the evil one, Satan, will be destroyed by Christ:
“And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming.”47
The world will be redeemed and made anew.48 Light and good will prevail over darkness and evil: “And there shall no longer be any night; and they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them…”49
In the midst of the darkness of crime, war, conflict, poverty, illness, oppression, and abuse, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”50 Individually, today, one can recognize the huge gap between God’s perfection and goodness, and one’s own fallen nature, and turn to Christ, the promised Messiah, the light of the world. Just as society cannot restore the Garden, neither can a person redeem him/herself. Jesus is the Redeemer, the one who came and lived a perfect life so that he could atone for our sins on the cross, then rise again the third day with power over death. Thus, both sin and death, which entered the Garden upon Adam and Eve’s disobedience, are crushed under the feet of Christ.51
When we trust Christ, we are not left to manage on our own. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who regenerates us and begins our inner transformation.52 In contrast to the sophisticated complexities of occult philosophies, those layers upon layers of metaphysical mazes, it is with simple childlike trust that we turn to Christ, letting the burden fall from us, and depending totally on him.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”53
The dark side, evil as a force, Satan, a god who contains both good and evil — all wither before the shining goodness of God and the redemption offered us through Christ: “And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” 1 John 5: 11, 12
1Jean Yolen, Wizardry Hall (NY: Magic Carpet Books/Harcourt, Inc., 1999), 83.
2Deepak Chopra, How to Know God (NY, NY: Harmony Books/Random House, 2000), 151. This book has endorsements from several people including the Dalai Lama, Dr. Andrew Weil (alternative healing), Larry King, Mikhail Gorbachev, James Redfield (author of The Celestine Prophecy), Rabbi S. Boteach (author of Kosher Sex), Marianne Williamson (author of A Return to Love), Father J. Francis Stroud, S.J. at Fordham University, Dr. Bernie S. Siegel (alternative healing), Dr. Dean Ornish, Wayne W. Dyer (author of several New Age self-help books), Uri Geller (psychic), Dr. Larry Dossey (who states that the book is about “who we really are: infinite, immortal, eternal”), Arianna Huffington, and Neale Donald Walsch (author of Conversations with God, who states that we will recall this as a time in history “when the final veil was lifted from the face of God”).
3Rabbi David A. Cooper, God is A Verb (NY, NY: Riverhead Books/Penguin Putnam, 1997), 159.
7The writer of this article knew Mark Lerner when she was an astrologer. Lerner published an astrological/New Age magazine, “Welcome to Planet Earth,” for which the writer wrote for three years. She also participated as a workshop leader at Lerner’s conferences in Eugene, OR in August of 1988 and 1990.
8Isha and Mark Lerner, Inner Child Cards (Santa Fe: Bear & Company, 1992), 104.
10Janet and Stewart Farrar, A Witches’ Bible, Part 2, (Custer, WA: Phoenix Publishing, Inc., 1996), 107.
12Cooper, 157. This was also a view this writer was taught in the psychic development classes taken at the now defunct Foundation of Truth in Atlanta, Georgia.
13Classes taken at the Foundation of Truth (not longer extant) in Atlanta, GA, in 1980 and 1981.
14Sylvia Browne, The Other Side and Back (Signet, 2000), 180-1.
15Paul Ferrini, Reflections of the Christ Mind (NY, NY: Doubleday/Random House, 2000), 248. Note: the Foreword is by Neale Donald Walsch.
17Ibid., 172, 173.
23Alison Drake, Black Moon (NY: Ballantine Books/Random House, 1989), 288.
25John Blofield, The Tantric Mysticism of Tibet (George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1970/NY, NY: Arkana/Penguin Group, 1992), 32.
28“Magician” here does not mean a stage magician doing tricks, but one who is practicing magick or sorcery.
29Arthur Edward Waite, The Book of Ceremonial Magick (NY, NY: Citatdel Press Book/Carol Publishing Group, 1994), xxiv.
30Chang Chung-Yuan, Creativity and Taoism (NY: Harper & Row, 1970), pp. 131, 157, 159, as quoted in Perle Epstien, Kabbalah (Barnes & Noble, Inc. in arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1998), 69.
31Daniel C. Matt, The Essential Kabbalah (HarperCollins/HarperSanFrancisco, 1995), 153.
34Adam and Eve were equally culpable: “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it,” Genesis 3:6; see also Romans 5:12, 18, and 19.
35First John 1:5
39Second Corinthians 11:14
40Compare Genesis 3:1 and 4 to 2:16, 17
41Genesis 3:14-24; Romans 5:12-19
45John 3:19, 20
46Romans 5:18 2
511 Corinthians 15:20-22, 55-57
52John 14:26; Romans 15:13; 1 Corinthians 6:19, 12:13; Galatians 5:22; 1 Thessalonians 4:7, 8; 2 Timothy 1:14
Blofield, John. The Tantric Mysticism of Tibet. NY, NY: Arkana/Penguin Group, 1992.
Browne, Sylvia. The Other Side and Back. Signet, 2000.
Chopra, Deepak. How to Know God. NY, NY: Harmony Books/Random House, 2000.
Chung-Yuan, Chang. Creativity and Taoism. NY: Harper & Row, 1970. Quoted in Perle Epstien, Kabbalah, Barnes & Noble, Inc., in arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1998.
Cooper, Rabbi David A. God is A Verb. NY, NY: Riverhead Books/Penguin Putnam, 1997.
Drake, Alison Drake. Black Moon. NY: Ballantine Books/Random House, 1989.
Farrar, Janet and Stewart. A Witches’ Bible. Custer, WA: Phoenix Publishing, Inc., 1996.
Ferrini, Paul. Reflections of the Christ Mind. Foreword by Neale Donald Walsch.NY, NY: Doubleday/Random House, 2000,
Lerner, Isha and Mark. Inner Child Cards. Santa Fe: Bear & Company, 1992.
Matt, Daniel C. The Essential Kabbalah. HarperCollins/HarperSanFrancisco, 1995.
Waite, Arthur Edward. The Book of Ceremonial Magick. NY, NY: Citatdel Press Book/Carol Publishing Group, 1994.
Yolen, Jean. Wizardry Hall. NY, NY: Magic Carpet Books/Harcourt, Inc., 1999.