The upside-down world of Pullman's "Golden Compass"

Where Bad is Good and God is banned

By Berit Kjos - November 13, 2007

More than 15 million copies of Philip Pullman's trilogy have been sold.

The first movie in the series opens December 7.

Pullman was a teacher at Westminster College, Oxford, while writing children's books.  

The Golden Compass won the prestigious Carnegie Medal


Skip down to unity

and original sin






"This will mean the end of the Church... the end of all those centuries of darkness!... The Dust [psychic elemental particles] will change everything."[1, p.394] The Golden Compass

"The God who dies is the God of the burners of heretics, the hangers of witches... [T]hat God deserves to die. The Authority, then, is an ancient IDEA of God, kept alive artificially by those who benefit from his continued existence."[2] Philip Pullman

"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." Aleister Crowley, the sadistic occultist.

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil...." Isaiah 5:20

Flying witches, evil specters, talking bears and evolving "Dust" abound in The Dark Materials, Philip Pullman's popular fantasy series for children. In this confusing cosmos of multiple universes, humans are linked to personal daemons, and telepathic seekers find answers to life's mysteries through divination, Eastern meditation, ancient "wisdom" and ritual magic. These occult practices are essential to the battle for the "free" Republic -- against the despised old Church.

Lyra, the pre-teen heroine, is a headstrong tomboy raised without parents at an Oxford college in a universe parallel to ours. A proficient liar, she's first seen snooping in a forbidden area with her daemon camouflaged as a moth. From then on, she follows her intuition from one crisis to the next until all remnants of Biblical truth and authority have been destroyed. By the end of the series, God is dead. Free-spirited Lyra (still a 12-year-old) has sexually "come of age" and fulfilled her prophetic assignments in the war against Christianity.

As readers move from book to book, they meet likeable God-haters, experience magical worlds, and discover the strange forces that drive Pullman's occult cosmos. Defying any short, simple synopsis, this mind-changing trilogy appeals more to feelings than to understanding. But those feelings will open hearts to deceptions that produce death and bondage, not life in Christ.


In The Golden Compass, the first book in the series, a strange mass of mysterious Dust is discovered during a magnificent display of Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). But Pullman sees no Creator behind the beauty. Instead, he attributes the amazing Dust to evolving matter driven by intelligent consciousness -- an esoteric notion reminiscent of the occult philosophies of Teilhard de Chardin, Willis Harman, ancient Gnostics, and William Blake. The latter, one of Pullman's main sources of inspiration, was captivated by Rosicrucianism, Theosophy and other occult teachings.[3]

Lyra's choices and circumstances take her to the arctic island Svalbard. She sails northward from England with some valiant gyptians [gypsies] determined to rescue children abducted by the heartless "Church" for experimental purposes. While traveling, she studies her alethiometer ["truth measure"] and practices the deep trance-forming concentration needed to receive its mystical guidance. Though she doesn't yet know it, she's being prepared for a greater purpose:

“The witches have talked about this child for centuries past... Because they live so close to the place where the veil between the worlds is thin, they hear immortal whispers from time to time, in the voices of those beings who pass between the worlds. And they have spoken of a child such as this, who has a great destiny that can only be fulfilled elsewhere—not in this world, but far beyond. Without this child, we shall all die."[1, p.176]

Do you see how this fantasy undermines Biblical values? Pullman's crafty tale pulls the readers' minds into an occult context where -- through their imagination -- they experience life from his atheist/occult perspective. In fact, his methods sound just like the transformational tactics in UNESCO's global education plan. These proven methods are designed to--

1. Give new meanings to old terms. For example, the word DAEMON (sounds like demon) refers to a loving, intimate and normally inseparable companion to its human counterpart. Unlike the demonic deceivers of Satan, these daemons live to help their human hosts. Though equated with human souls, they talk with their hosts as separate entities.

Second, the word "CHURCH" points only to an evil hierarchical dictatorship. The true Church -- those who trust and follow Christ -- are never mentioned. The proud witch Queen Ruta Skadi describes Pullman's perceived enemy well:

"Let me tell you... who it is that we must fight... It is the Magisterium, the Church. For all its history... it's tried to suppress and control every natural impulse. And when it can't control them, it cuts them out.... They cut out the sexual organs.... and every church is the same: control, destroy, obliterate every good feeling. So if a war comes, and the church is on one side of it, we must be on the other, no matter what strange allies we find ourselves bound to.... Lord Astriel [Lyra's pompous, absentee father] was my lover once, and I would willingly join forces with him, because he hates the Church."[4, p.50-5 ]

Third, the Biblical "HEAVEN" is presented as a lie. It doesn't exist, according to an apparently homosexual angel, Baruch. Instead, everyone ends up in the "world of the dead" -- a miserable "prison camp" established by the evil Authority.[5,p.33] Yet, the word "heaven" is used with reference to the occult, anti-Christian Republic.

2. Redefine God and undermine Christianity. Near the end of the third book, The Amber Spyglass, Lyra rescues the captive dead. Corrupting the reader's view of Christ, Pullman trades Jesus, our Redeemer, with this telepathic 12-year-old girl who could hardly be less like our Lord.

With abysmal audacity, Pullman presents "God" or "Authority" as a feeble old man, slain by a wisp of wind.[5,p.410] The following statement by an angel shows Pullman's contempt for him:

“The Authority, God, the Creator, The Lord... those were all names he gave himself. He was never the creator. He was an angel like ourselves—the first angel, true, the most powerful.... The first angels condensed out of Dust, and the Authority was the first of all.... One of those who came later was wiser than he was, and she found out the truth, so he banished her. We serve her still. And the Authority still reigns in the Kingdom, and [archangel] Metatron is his Regent."[5 -31-32]

In the Gnostic context of multiple gods, the "she" refers to Sophia, the goddess of wisdom. Linked to a "divine spark" in everyone, she encouraged self-discovery and gratifying enlightenment rather than truth and obedience. The restraints of authority would only quench the insights and intuition she symbolized. No wonder she was banished!

Metatron is featured in many occult systems. The Kabbalah and the Tarot view him as a powerful archangel. In Hermetic magic he is linked to the god Hermes and the mythical Emerald Tablet with its infamous code, "As Above, So Below." It summarizes the occultist's goal of connecting with higher powers in order to command change here below.

But man's arrogant quests can never dim the power or derail the plans of our sovereign God. Human mockery only demonstrates His never-ending wisdom. For He knows well the nature of man and the battles that would rage through the ages. Therefore He calls those who will trust and follow Him--

"to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God..." Jude 3

3. Highlight seductive suggestions that clash with traditional values.  Daemons assume their permanent animal shape when their human partner "comes of age." For 12-year-old Lyra, that initiation came through sexual intimacy with Will Parry, her close companion and lover near the end of the series. Will's father had been a powerful shaman in another world.

This fits our times, doesn't it? Myth replaces truth, feelings hide morality, and human effort nullifies the cross. In Pullman's amoral multiverses, all traces of Biblical truth must be purged or reinterpreted. For example, Gnostic and other occult philosophies have viewed the serpent as good and the forbidden fruit as enlightening. So did John Milton in his Paradise Lost, another source of inspiration for Pullman.

"Something happened when innocence changed into experience," said Lord Asriel. But the results were devastating.To protect us from the consequences of experiential knowledge of evil -- the fruit of the forbidden tree in the garden -- our wise God warned,

"Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 'but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil ' you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:16

4. Ridicule, rewrite or reinterpret Biblical Truth. Near the end of The Golden Compass, Lord Asriel condemns the "Church" for its despised teachings on original sin: "'s what the Church has taught for thousands of years." Then he reads this false version of Genesis 3:1-7 to Lyra:

“...the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden. But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shalt ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 'For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and your daemons shall assume their true forms, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to reveal the true form of one’s daemon, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband....
     “And the eyes of them both were opened.... But when the man and the woman knew their own daemons, they knew that a great change had come upon them, for until that moment it had seemed that they were at one with all the creatures of the earth and the air...." [1, p. 371-372]

Pullman's version of the Fall had destroyed unity -- an illusion that Al Gore and other globalist leaders want to recreate. Expecting Lyra to reverse those consequence and save the world from the very notion of "sin," the witches conceal a second prophecy. But Lyra's devious mother forces one of them to reveal the secret: 

"You witches know something about the child Lyra.... Tell me the truth.... Name her!"

"Eve! Mother of all!... Mother Eve!" stammered [the witch].... "What will you do to her?"

"Why, I shall have to destroy her... to prevent another Fall."[4, p. 314] 

5. Immerse readers in tempting occultism and ritual magic. Magical practices grab the readers' attention and eventually make occultism feel good and normal. Lyra's delight in "reading" her alethiometer may seem harmless, but her success requires the same psychic skills as those used for spell casting and other forms of magic. Notice the resemblance to the meditative practices now welcomed into emerging churches everywhere:

“[Lyra] read it every day... and she found that she could sink more and more readily into the calm state in which the symbol meanings clarified themselves.... 'It's almost like talking to someone, only you can’t quite hear them, and you feel kind of stupid because they’re cleverer than you."[1, p.150]

“Lyra turned the hands to the [relevant symbols]... Then she sat still, letting her mind hold the three levels of meaning together in focus, and relaxed for the answer, which came almost at once.... She blinked once or twice as if she were coming out of a trance."[1, p.174]

"I got a way of making my mind go blank, and I just see what the pictures mean straightaway." [4, p. 95] 

"It's not only the knife that has to cut, it's your own mind.... Concentrate.... Focus your mind. Think about the knife tip. That's where you are. Now feel with it." "Relax.... You become the tip of the knife."[4, p. 182-3]   

Dr. Mary Malone, a physicist who shares Lyra's fascination with divination, uses I Ching (Chinese divination) and her computer to receive instructions from "those entities she called shadow particles."[5 -80]  But they can only be seen 'when you make your mind empty..." she tells Lyra in the second book, "The Subtle Knife."[4, p. 92] 

"They told me what to do," she said later. [5, p.440]  One of her tasks would be to "play the serpent." She would be the "tempter" who entices Lyra to freely follow her desires and engage in sex.[5, p.80]  And, according to a spying priest, "if the child gives in, then Dust and sin will triumph."[5, p.68]  But God says,

"There shall not be found among you anyone who... practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord..." Deuteronomy 18:10-12

6. Cloak mysticism in scientific language. Pullman's mystical Dust is a perfect example:

"Dust came into being when living things became conscious of themselves..." [5, p.451]

"Dust is what makes the alethiometer work.... You’ve heard of electrons, photons, neutrinos, and the rest? They’re called elementary particles because you can’t break them down any further..."[1, p.370]

Ascribing subjective consciousness to Dust would make sense to people like Dr. Willis Harman who have redefined the meaning of "science." A former Stanford professor, futurist, and founder of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, he even spoke at the 1979 "Evangelical" Consultation on the Future sponsored by the Billy Graham Center.

Like Pullman's Dark Materials, Harman's book Global Mind Change promotes paganism as evidence for a consciousness-driven evolution:

"Down through the centuries a variety of anomalous phenomena, including clairvoyant remote viewing, telepathic communication... and other 'psychic' phenomena, had been reported.... What was common to all of these anomalous psychic phenomena was that mind seemed to have some effects in the physical world."[6] [Remember the occult slogan: "As above, so below."]

"Perhaps a species on the long path of evolutionary development is... pulled by the kind of teleological force implied in... in Teilhard de Chardin's The Phenomenon of Man. In this kind of explanation, mind is prior to brain, and evolution is characterized both by the organism’s freedom to choose and by its inner sense of 'right' direction."[6]

The last sentence summarizes the guidelines for Lyra's success. No one could tell her what to do! As Aleister Crowley said, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." Lyra must be "free" to follow "her own inner sense of right" -- no matter how wrong!

That "freedom" meant rejection of authorities such as God, a wise father, or the Ten Commandments. Truth is simply too restrictive in a world trained to follow feelings rather than fact! No wonder Pullman's heroine was raised apart from her parents and with no parental guidance! As the witches said,  

"Without this child [The new Eve who will reverse the effects of the "Fall"], we shall all die.... But she must fulfill this destiny in ignorance of what she is doing.... What this means is that she must be free to make mistakes. We must hope that she does not, but we can't guide her.”[1, p.176]

Near the end of the trilogy, Mary Malone calls Christianity "a very powerful and convincing mistake." In place of God she had found unity, "the sense that the whole universe was alive, and that everything was connected to everything else...."[5, p.449]

This metaphysical unity and rejection of God match the emerging views of today's change agents. Church leaders as well as environmentalists and corporate managers are embracing an illusion of unity through dialogue and systems thinking -- which deny the Biblical God.[7]  Are your children equipped with the facts and truths to counter such lies?

True truth amidst deception

"Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort... For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things...." 2 Timothy 4:2-5

Some of the links above lead to corresponding teachings from Conversations with [an occult] God by Neale Donald Walsch

*   *   *

See Mysticism & Global Mind Change, Brainwashing & how to resist it, The Armor of God

and Two Roads: Didactic or Dialectic and their praxis by Dean Gotcher

1. Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass (New York: Random House Children's Books, 1995).

2. Philip Pullman's answers to Questions about Science and Religion at

3. at,,

4. Philip Pullman, The Subtle Knife (New York: Random House Children's Books, 1997).

5. Philip Pullman, The Amber Spyglass (New York: Random House Children's Books, 2000).

6. Willis Harman, Ph.D., Global Mind Change (New York: Warner Books, 1988), pp.13, 55. See also



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