Former Luciferian-Turned-Priest Warns of the Rise of Occultism Among Christians
Since his conversion, Father Jean-Christophe Thibault has raised awareness about the harm of occult and esoteric practices that are more and more widespread in every sphere of society.
The world of occultism has few secrets for Father Jean-Christophe Thibaut, who, in his tormented youth, rubbed shoulders with it and explored all of its different facets. This French priest from the Diocese of Metz in northeastern France started communicating with spirits through the use of a pendulum at the age of 8 and joined the Luciferian ranks — a movement distinct from Satanism that worships the character of Lucifer not as the devil but as the liberator or “bringer of light” — as a teenager.
It took, as he recounts in this interview with the Register, a lightning incursion of the Holy Spirit in his life to extricate him from this world of darkness, which had held his soul captive for so many years. It is precisely to this image of a mental prison that Father Thibaut refers in his latest book, La Prison des Esprits (The Prison of Spirits), co-written with Olivier Joly, a former medium who also converted to Catholicism.
The two authors drew on their respective experiences to warn as many people as possible about the profound dangers of apparently harmless yet dangerous practices, which tend to become widespread to unsuspecting persons, including within the Church.
The author of several books on the same theme, Father Thibaut — who has practiced deliverance ministry for nearly 20 years and is now a hospital chaplain — became known to the general public under the name of Michael Dor in 2006 with the publication of La Porte des Anges (The Angel’s Gate), a tetralogy of fantasy novels that aimed to offer young people a Christian alternative to the famous Harry Potter series of novels, which took place in a school of magic.
While reflecting back on his bumpy and atypical path of faith in this interview with the Register, Father Thibaut also delivers an alarming diagnosis on the progress of practices related to magic and the emergence of an “esotericism 2.0” in the West — a symptom, according to him, of a return of the pre-Christian pagan world.
Before writing books about your experience with the occult world, you had become known to the general public under the name Michael Dor through a series of fantasy books featuring angels and demons. How did you come up with this idea, and why have you been publishing these best-selling books under a pseudonym all these years?
I started writing these fantasy books for the youth when Harry Potter was very popular. I wanted to show young people who like fantasy that there is a lot in the Christian faith that is as exciting as the fantasy genre. It was kind of a gamble for me, which pushed me to write a Christian fantasy book. I chose angels because they are creatures that we know very little about, about which we talk a lot, but often wrongly. It seemed to me to be a way of talking about the invisible world, but also about faith, while remaining relatively light, in order to reach a broader audience than the Christian one.
And this is the reason why I wrote under a pseudonym, so as not to be confined to the religious sphere. Thus, as no one knew that I was a priest, my books were sold precisely in the section of classic fantasy novels next to Harry Potter.
I wanted to evangelize the imaginary, to use fiction to convey understandable messages, as Jesus did when he spoke in parables. Behind his little stories, there were obviously deep meanings to be discovered. What struck me at the beginning with La Porte des Anges was that it touched children, pre-teens and people from 50 to 80 years old. It was transgenerational; everyone found the message that interested them, the reading level that concerned them.
What do you think was so problematic about books like Harry Potter?
The problem is that, today, this fantasy world is taken at face value. If the author J.K. Rowling, who wrote Harry Potter, had no particular interest in magic and saw it only as a literary genre, the danger that I saw with the young people around me was a kind of fascination for the occult world, for what is hidden, for forces, powers that can exist in the world, that one could put to one’s advantage and domesticate by way of a good knowledge and technique.
Through these books, I saw the great danger, including among young Christians, of the fascination for magic, which can indeed have something fascinating. But we know very well that this is not the domain of God, but a domain that, on the contrary, leads away from God. Sometimes, with very good intentions, seeking a meaning to life or to the world of the occult, one ends up being caught in a trap set by the invisible world in its most demonic forms.
This occult world is no stranger to you because, as you state in your latest book, you yourself were a Luciferian for many years. Could you briefly go back over your background, which was marked by a hypnosis experience that went wrong?
I come from a family of teachers, atheist teachers, cut off from and even hostile to the Church, and rather interested in everything that was political. My father was a Marxist-Leninist; my mother a Maoist. When I was little, my parents decided to do an ecological experiment, and we lived in a farm in the north of France, completely isolated, without water or electricity.
As a child, I had many spiritual questions. One day, in my parents’ library, I came across a small book with a drawing of a pendulum on the cover. I was 8 years old. And while reading the book, I understood that the pendulum allowed, among other things, to find hidden objects; that’s what interested me at the time. So I decided to build one, and I asked my little brother to hide objects in the big farmhouse, and I, with the pendulum, went on a hunt, as recommended in the book, and I found many of these hidden objects. I was immediately fascinated. I decided to continue researching in the field of esotericism and the occult.
We eventually moved back to town, and I found a friend who shared this interest. After reading a book by Morey Bernstein, The Search for Bridey Murphy, who practiced hypnosis in the 1950s and said he could retrieve memories of past lives, my friend and I decided to do the same thing. It was a bit naive, at 13 years old, we had no training, but we did not realize that by doing this, we had put ourselves in a state of receptivity, creating a contact with a spirit, without knowing it. We thought we were doing hypnosis, but in reality, it was spiritualism.
We entered a trap that lasted for years and years. We linked up with two spirits who communicated with us and helped us to put ourselves in a trance state, in a mediumistic state, by means of certain techniques — techniques that I have, by the way, later found in certain yoga practices.
In addition to the intellectual “training” we received, which was not very Christian, as you can imagine, we were encouraged to seek power, inner gifts to develop. We sank into a world that was becoming more and more gloomy and violent. We were leading a double life. In secret, we went as far as desecrating a church. It went very far! They had made us do this supposedly because we had to enter a new cycle, to be the witnesses of a new era, the “Aquarian era,” which was going to make the “Fish era” disappear, as it started with Christianity. This desecration of the church was part of the new order that was to be born, through disorder, chaos and destruction.
After graduating from high school, my friend went to medical school, and I found myself a little lonely at that time. The spirits, to console me, told me that I would come into contact with the one who rules the universe — Lucifer. You should know that, in esotericism, there is a big difference between Lucifer and Satan. Lucifer is the angel of light who brings his knowledge; he is the gnostic par excellence. So I was offered a number of black-magic rituals to get in touch with him. And there, I entered a very dark period of my life. I did very bad things.
How did you come to be converted?
I was studying psychology; and one day, at the request of the spirits, I joined a political group that advocated permanent revolution. It came along with the idea that society and everything religious had to be destabilized so that a new order could be born. So I joined the Revolutionary Communist League, a small group active on my campus. It just so happened that “chance” — in other words, Providence — meant that the building where we were meeting was above a Catholic chaplaincy. ...
And, there, God wrote straight with curved lines: He reached me by this means, but not directly. At the time, this group of young people who prayed and sang, and whom I saw as class enemies, gave me the idea of infiltrating a scout group to destabilize the Catholics.
So I joined a scout troop as a leader. I knew the leader of the unit, a young man I had known in high school, who was to my knowledge the only believer who dared to speak publicly about his faith. Now, it seemed to me that he had a flaw because, during his last year in high school, his father died in a car accident. I saw it as a way to destabilize him in his faith in order to draw him into the world of esotericism and thus accomplish my “mission.” I entered this scout troop saying that I was not a believer, taking the bet with him to show him that God did not exist, that the Christian God, at least, did not exist. This scout leader was not necessarily trained enough to answer all my questions, but he was very peaceful and had faith in him.
One evening, my whole world collapsed. There was the usual campfire with singing, which ended with prayer. Usually, in agreement with the leader, I did not attend the prayer. Except that night, I simply stood back a bit and listened. I remember thinking it was beautiful. It went against my prejudices. I opened my heart a little. And the Holy Spirit took advantage of it; I had an experience of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit — there is no other word for it. I suddenly fell to my knees and stayed there for two hours. I really experienced God, who came and changed my whole inner “hard drive,” so to speak. He first allowed me to see that I had fallen into a trap, that these spirits I had been listening to for years did not want my good, that I was going in circles, and that they were evil. They were demons and certainly not the angels of light they were pretending to be. I understood that this world was making me miss the essential, that is to say, love.
I discovered that all at once, brutally. What made no sense a few minutes before suddenly found a completely different meaning. When I got up, I had become a believer. I was 22 back then.
You then decided to use your experience to enlighten the misguided people who, more and more numerous, resort to these practices. But it is not uncommon to hear exorcists warn against these practices within the Church itself, that don’t exclude bishops themselves. Is this something you have witnessed yourself?
Unfortunately, I have seen this phenomenon a lot in the Church. Since the Church is in the world, it can be influenced by everything that happens in the world. I have confreres [fellow priests] who read the pendulum, who heal by magnetism, etc., and they are very angry about what I write, arguing that Jesus heals by laying on of hands, making a great confusion between magnetism and God, between charisms and so-called gifts.
It was a great surprise for me, when I was converted, to see that, in the Church, things were not always clear, and that the compromises are intensifying with time. This is also why my book with Olivier Joly is addressed first of all to Christians, to remind them that all that glitters is not gold and that we have to be careful with certain temptations that lead us into a spiral that can lead us away from God. We Christians cannot at the same time say in the Creed, “I believe in one God, maker of heaven and earth,” and at the same time develop a whole cosmotheistic thought. One must choose.
A number of astrologers and clairvoyants claim to be Christians, some of them not hesitating to display statues of the Virgin Mary or images of Padre Pio in their studios or in the background of their videos. The incompatibility between these practices and the Christian faith is clearly stated in the Bible, but how would you explain it to these people whose approach may be sincere in many cases?
The great danger in these practices is that, whatever happens, we give up a little of our inner freedom. What distinguishes Christian thought from astrological thought or clairvoyance, for which the divine is only the cosmos, is that we were created by a God, that there is a difference between the Creator and the creation, which is not confused. We are made in the image and likeness of God, that is, free. Our life choices define our own future. We are masters of our own lives, and it is we who make the choice of good and evil — hence, Jesus’ call to conversion.
God is all powerful, except in the face of our human freedom, as Pope John Paul II has often reminded us. This is an essential, ontological point that affects our being as made in the image and likeness of God. Thus, to renounce your freedom and accept that things are written in advance, that we are in a form of determinism, is to renounce an essential part of our being, that which brings us closest to God. God — contrary to the devil, who pretends to lock us into a disempowering determinism — shows us the way that leads to happiness. But we are not obliged to follow it.
You also state in your book that the health crisis has been a catalyst for these phenomena. How do you explain this? What aspects have these trends taken on?
It is true that for the last two or three years there has been an enormous upsurge, outside and within the Church, of everything related to the practice of magic. The phenomenon is impressive. The pandemic has come on top of all the crises, ecological and economic, which plunge us into an atmosphere of fear of the future. At the same time, we are witnessing a retreat, a lack of confidence in everything religious, because it is perceived as something very restrictive, forcing the adoption of rites and dogmas. So people are looking for a way out, for hope.
Today, there is a great revival of interest in witchcraft, which is making a big comeback, especially among young women. It is mixed with ecology, feminism, with a little animalism, anti-speciesism, paganism. I explain it by the fact that witches, in a very mythologized way, used to be persecuted by the Church; they are seen as the first feminist and ecologist women, close to nature and animals, who are now called to become the standard-bearers of this new “spiritual” trend, which overlaps several disciplines. Indeed, it is very disturbing to see that the development of esotericism and occultism are integrated with other fields such as alternative therapies, personal development, and the search for well-being.
This is the theme of your next book, which will be devoted to the new faces of esotericism. What is the common denominator of all these practices?
What I am trying to show in my book, to be published in October, is that all these thoughts have their origin in antiquity and that we find them today in quite unexpected forms. It is no longer pure esotericism, but mixtures, syncretism between several fields. Another notable fact is the renewed fascination for pre-Christian religion, which would, in fact, be, according to its proponents, our true original religion.
In this sense, do you share the diagnosis of the Catholic philosopher Chantal Delsol, according to whom we are witnessing a massive return of paganism in our post-Christian West?
Absolutely, I make the same diagnosis. Delsol analyzes it from a more political point of view, showing that we are returning to all the pagan thoughts that Christianity had finally overcome, by proposing another model that was then considered modern. And, today, we are witnessing the phenomenon of a return trip to the fourth century.
Do you think the Church is sufficiently armed to face these growing challenges? How can we better occupy the field to evangelize all these beliefs?
You touch on a delicate point. I think that the Church is not yet sufficiently aware of the problem. There are quite a few people who are moving in the Church, who are raising awareness of this phenomenon in which we are immersed and which many Christians continue to ignore. They have a little difficulty in realizing what is going on. And many of those who observe the phenomenon still find it difficult to say in what way these practices or pagan thoughts are not Christian. However, we are facing a major challenge, and there is a whole formation to be given to arm Christians against this.
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