Winning the Battle for Souls
A former satanist recounts her return to the Church and provides some timely advice about dealing with Halloween.
Deborah Lipsky went through tremendous suffering as a child. Her high-functioning autism elicited the frustration of teachers, along with the ridicule and abuse of classmates, leaving her hurt and isolated — and eventually enraged.
She sought revenge through witchcraft and then full-blown satanism. Her goal was to destroy the Catholic Church, which she saw as responsible for her pain. Yet she found that getting even would exact a price. Despite initial thrills of power, Lipsky became increasingly miserable.
Years after narrowly escaping her demonic entanglement, Lipsky came back into full communion with the Church in 2009. Now, she helps others to see beyond the glamour of the occult to the beauty of Catholicism. She does this, in part, through her new book, A Message of Hope, and through a new CD interview, Former Satanist Comes Home to the Catholic Church, both available from St. Joseph Communications.
Deborah Lipsky told her amazing story to Register correspondent Trent Beattie in time for All Hallows' Eve.
Is it true that Halloween is a prime day for satanists?
Yes, it is a “high holy day,” so to speak, because it’s a mockery of All Saints' Day on Nov. 1. Anything the Catholic Church celebrated we would mock, and this is one outstanding example of that. Instead of asking for the intercession of the saints, we would call upon demons and the damned to grant us all our earthly desires and harass those who had offended us in any way.
Do you think it’s okay for Christians to participate in Halloween activities?
Some people think as long as your children dress up as baseball players and angels it’s perfectly fine for them to go out trick-or-treating. I disagree because Halloween is predicated upon mocking God and his saints. Even if you have an innocent outfit on, almost everything else around you is not innocent. You’re exposed to so much negativity and even downright demonic activity that it’s just not worth the little reward you get in candy.
A much better thing to do is to ignore Halloween altogether and concentrate on All Saints' Day instead. Engage in Christian activities. Pray the Rosary as a family; read the lives of the saints; have your house blessed or enthroned to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. These are just a few of the countless ways to teach your children about the Christian faith in word and deed.
If more Christians would actually live as Christians, Halloween wouldn’t even be a blip on the radar screen. We would be so happily immersed in God’s grace that it wouldn’t so much as enter our minds to pursue deviant things. Yet we’ve abandoned the faith in so many ways. That leaves a vacuum — a vacuum that will be filled by something else.
Is that how you got started in the occult?
In a general way, it was. I attended Catholic school from seventh to 10th grade, but there was very little reverence for the faith by my peers. It was more of a surface, cultural thing — kind of a feel-good show. It wasn’t something you thought of as being held accountable for on Judgment Day. This made it easier for my classmates to regularly mistreat me because of my high-functioning autism.
In high school, I was even physically abused. This was disturbing, but what happened later was even more so. When I actually got enough courage to tell one of the teachers (who was a nun), she said it was my fault. This was so devastating that it took my anger beyond its previous levels. I had been severely hurt, and someone in authority who was supposed to help, made things worse.
I had been through enough, and I desperately needed relief. There wasn’t any to be found, even at home, because my parents were going through a divorce. Everywhere I turned, there was trouble. It was a tumultuous time — a time of great injustice, pain and confusion.
I got started in witchcraft as a way to get even with those who had harmed me. I felt powerful for the first time, and it was addicting. The teachers and classmates who used to despise me now feared me. The witchcraft grew into full-blown satanism, with my main target being the Catholic Church. I blamed the Church for what happened to me, and I did everything I could to destroy it.
This was your main goal and that of those you associated with?
In Matthew 16, Jesus Christ gives the keys to Peter and tells him that the gates of hell will not prevail against his Church. Our Lord knew hell would engage in a battle with his Church, so he gave authority to Peter and his successors in the papacy to win the battle.
Satanists are either so blinded by their anger that they cannot see this, or they do see it, but still attempt to do as much damage as possible.
How did you get out of such a negative mindset?
Despite the momentary power I felt at getting even and receiving all my worldly desires, over time I began to be tormented by the very demons I had sent to torment others. I didn’t know it at the time, but I’ve since learned of this universal law: Any demon you summon to harm others can and will harm you.
I started longing to get past my anger to happiness, so I left satanism. This is not an easy thing to do, once you’ve made a formal pact with the devil, like I did. After initial trouble, things got somewhat better, but I was still not in a state of mind to return to the Catholic Church. Instead, I joined a religious cult that denounced Mary. Once I started wanting to come home to the Church, however, more demonic torments recurred. The demons knew it was in the Catholic Church that they found their nemesis. As long as I stayed outside the Church, they were okay with that. But once I made a move home, the harassment came back.
It was a difficult journey, but it was definitely worth the effort. I was eventually freed from demonic forces through the intercession of Mary and by the support and guidance of two Catholic priests. My official return to the Church was in 2009. I had previously (and quite unexpectedly earlier that year) met a nun. We became friends, and that made it easier for me to come home to the Church.
Yet it wasn’t until 2011 that I became deeply devoted to Mary, who is Our Lady, Queen of Heaven. She had brought me home through others, but, in 2011, she made it known in a miraculous way that she was my spiritual Mother.
Our Lady had worked similar wonders with Bartolo Longo. She rescued him from his satanic past and brought him to Jesus. Bartolo dedicated himself to Jesus through Mary, which enabled him to do the great apostolic work he did, including promotion of the Rosary. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980, and now we can confidently call upon his prayers in the battle against the occult.
What other things should Christians do in this battle?
The most basic thing to do is get into a state of grace. If you’re not in a state of grace, go to confession. Receive the forgiveness Jesus wants so much to grant you. Forgiveness is his mission, and yet we prevent him from operating when we refuse to go to confession.
The thing some people fear the most (confession) is what will help them the most. It’s a great gift, yet we don’t use it as much as we should. Confession should be a regular part of one’s spiritual life.
We should also go to Mass as much as possible. Receiving the holy Eucharist in a state of grace is the best possible thing we could do. We are then more firmly united to Jesus, and virtuous actions become easier for us. We are strengthened in an incomparable way when we receive the holy Eucharist reverently. This is because the holy Eucharist is not merely a gift, but the Giver of gifts, Jesus Christ.
Our participation in the sacraments is aided tremendously by the use of sacramentals. We should use holy water, blessed salt, crucifixes, medals, scapulars, rosaries and holy pictures. These are powerful weapons in the spiritual battle, so we should gratefully make use of them.
What things should Christians avoid?
Many things we should avoid are portrayed as fun and fashionable. Fortune-telling, horoscopes, Ouija boards, Dungeons & Dragons, tarot cards ... are some of the things Christians should have no association with. These are tools of evil because they open portals to higher-level demons that are more eager and effective in derailing us from salvation.
People who are harassed by demons in extraordinary ways have called me to help them out. Usually when I inquire how the demons got there, they have no idea. I ask if they’ve participated in any occult activities, and the answer is usually, "No." Yet when they search deeply enough, it is inevitably revealed that at some time in their past they have gone to a fortune-teller, played with a Ouija board or engaged in some other occult activity.
Another thing we should all avoid is a sense of entitlement. Anger comes through being hurt, and being hurt comes from having our sense of entitlement violated.
Anger can be a very destructive thing because it attracts demons like blood attracts sharks in water.
Are there any other things we should know about living a Christian life?
One of the most important things I’ve learned to appreciate is God’s all-encompassing providence. Everything that happens to us, without exception, is within the providence of God, who does not make mistakes. Everything that happens to us is an opportunity to learn from, and draw closer to, God, who is our loving Father.
Things which were previously means of our destruction can become the very things we use to serve others and be more firmly united to God. My autism was the occasion of so much pain and confusion in childhood. I was considered too stupid to learn, but now, with a master’s degree in education behind me, I help others understand autism through books and speaking engagements.
Similarly, the nun in high school who blamed me was the final straw that drove me away from the Church, but it was also a nun who helped bring me back into the Church. Even our own sins, if we repent of them, can become occasions of grace. This is what happened with Mary. I used to denounce her, but now I venerate her and tell others of her powerful love for them.
Sin repented of can humble us and make us more compassionate toward others. So while we should avoid sin from here on out, there is no reason at all to despair over what we’ve already done in the past. We must prayerfully trust in the mercy of God, which is open to anyone who seeks it in his Church.
Register correspondent Trent Beattie writes from Seattle.