Yu-Gi-Oh and the spirits of Halloween
By Berit Kjos, October 2002
See also: Halloween Symbols
"Behind such Halloween games as bobbing for apples lie Celtic divination arts.... Behind the masks and mischief, the jack-o'lanterns and food offerings, lurk the fear of malevolent spirits and the rites to propitiate them." National Geographic
"Sweet Spirit of the [ancient Egyptian] Puzzle, I don't know how to thank you." Yu-Gi-Oh's prayer to the capricious spirits behind his magic.
"Our continuing research among teenagers and adolescents shows that the trend away from adopting biblical theology in favor of syncretic, culture-based theology is advancing at full gallop." Barna Research Online
Reflecting the darkening culture of our times, Halloween proudly parades its occult attractions. On October 31, when the veil between the physical and spiritual realms allegedly becomes thin enough to allow easy crossovers, children will once again impersonate their favorite villains or idols. It's the time to celebrate spells and magic -- even demons and death.["Deliver us from evil"]
Many argue that it's all innocent fun and fantasy. Some characters may be evil, "but that's why they are so entertaining," wrote one visitor to our website -- as if entertainment should be exempt from moral scrutiny. But nothing is innocent that teaches children to love evil and laugh at its captivating forces.
These enticing symbols of past and promised powers may seem harmless to Christians and to their faith, but they are not. For almost a century, behavioral psychologists and educational change agents have proclaimed the transforming power of both role-playing activities and an open-minded imagination. And contemporary pagans know well that America's annual masquerade feeds new life into the old beliefs that lay dormant during much of the past two centuries.
The spirit of Yu-Gi-Oh
Popular anime characters have joined the vast selections of costumes now sold through the Internet, and little Yugi (short for Yu-Gi-Oh) is likely to be a big hit. Eclipsing Pokemon and more familiar Japanese animations, Yugi has fast gained worldwide fame. Since the daily television show serves as a continual ad for his magical dueling cards, the occult images have suddenly become coveted treasures to young collectors around the world.
The cards in the "starter deck" (pictured above) bear titles such as "Soul Exchange," "Ultimate Offering," "Summoned Skull" and "Sorcerer of the Doomed." The latter card offers this sinister warning: "A slave of the dark arts, this sorcerer is a master of life-extinguishing spells."
Does that sound like a child's game to you?
The latest version of the game, one "that's sweeping the nation," is featured on the official Yu-Gi-Oh website:
"Duel Monsters is a card-battling game in which players pit different mystical creatures against one another in wild, magical duels! Packed with awesome monsters and mighty spell-cards, Yugi and his friends are totally obsessed with the game."
So are his fans. An occult fascination that seemed unthinkable two decades ago has spread like wildfire through western nations and around the world. Indeed, the times have changed, and the gods and spirits behind the old Celtic Samhain (the roots of Halloween) must be cheering.
"But," the Yu-Gi-Oh website assures us, "there's more to this card game than meets the eye!" Indeed there is. Its mythical universe has introduced children to an alternative worldview that may soon become so familiar to young fans that it clouds God's truth and quenches key facts about the real world.
Like the Harry Potter myth, Yugi's mythical world is fortified with its own built-in history. Children learn that today's popular dueling game began in Egypt five thousand years ago, when the Pharaohs played a game that involved magical rituals, divination (foretelling the future) and the combined power of monsters and magic. But, as one might expect, all those "magical spells and ferocious creatures... threatened to destroy the entire world!" But a powerful Pharaoh resolved the crisis with "seven powerful magical totems." As in pagan religions around the world, a mighty shaman had battled evil spells by summoning more powerful spirits to his side.
Fast forward to our own times. Yugi is trying to solve an ancient Egyptian puzzle. When he succeeds, he is filled with amazing energies and creates his own powerful alter ego, Yami Yugi, a larger and stronger replica of himself. The magical dueling game and the monsters symbolized on its cards fill his time and guide his life. "The cards are about heart," he explains.
Yugi and his team of friends supposedly model courage, loyalty, faith and team-work -- all the politically correct character qualities that are needed for global solidarity, according to real-world managers. Naturally, Yugi fans believe that their hero teaches good, not evil, beliefs and values. Are they right?
Take a look at some scenes from the October 10th episode of the Yu-Gi-Oh anime. Yugi has been battling his enemy, Pegasus, whose powers have "overtaxed" his mind and caused his collapse. His friends fear his death ("I can't sense his spirit"). But his grandpa shows his faith in the strength of the group and its unified energies: "The unshakeable devotion of Yugi's friends keeps him alive."
The three friends agree. "If we will concentrate our energies and try to reach him with all our might, then maybe our bond of friendship can get through to him -- even in the shadow realm. Let's give it a try." They recall their "friendship pact", gather in a triangle, focus their minds, combine their individual energies, affirm their faith in Yugi, and transmit a collective magical force into the object of their devotion.
This ritual matches the formula for spells and magic taught byStarhawk, founder of the Covenant of the Goddess. In her witchcraft manual, The Spiral Dance, the Wiccan leader explains that the purpose of magical training is "to make contact with the Divine within. The beginner must develop four basic abilities: relaxation, concentration, visualization, and mental projection."
In today's real world of paganism, "mental projection" is a psychic extension of occult faith and visualization. After concentrating on the image, the budding magician uses mental determination to connect with the hidden energy source and manipulate the imagined object according to his or her will. This anime, like Star Wars and other myth-making movies, demonstrates a timeless formula for practical spiritism, spell-casting and magic.
In the next scene, Yugi's alter-ego continues the game in his place. Yugi2 draws a card from the deck with power to block Pegasus' all-seeing "millennial eye." Cheering him on, his team is learning another lesson in oneness: "Together we can stand strong against" any foe.
"Now that my friends are working with me on a whole new level, this is a whole new game," declares Yugi2. He draws a winning card: the "Mystic Box" which frees his "magician," who mystically appears with his wand. Next, he draws "Brain Control" and casts a powerful spell. "How does it feel, Pegasus," he taunts his foe, "to have the tables turned and then to have the magical powers of mind control used against you?"
It's Pegasus's turn, but he passes. Yugi draws again. "It's a ritual card.... Dark magic ritual and to invoke its great powers I must make a double offering." He sacrifices two of Pegasus' powerful monsters and shouts triumphantly, "The offering has been accepted. A new power is brought forth.... The magician of Black chaos.... I will avenge my fallen friend."
The Merciless Spirits ofHalloween
Ritual sacrifice? Double offering? Black chaos? These grisly suggestions may be part of a fascinating fantasy, but they are rooted in the very real past.
History and archeology tell us that ritual human sacrifice has played a significant part in every major pagan civilization. The Time-Life book, Ancient Wisdom and Secret Sects, focuses on the ancient Celts, whose celebration of Samhain inspired today's Halloween. Roman records describe how the Celts "constructed huge, human-shaped wicker cages, crammed them with victims, then set the twigs ablaze. Although convicted criminals were usually the ones offered to the gods... innocent victims were substituted if malefactors were in short supply."
The 1984 discovery of a sacrificial victim in Cheshire, England, helps validate the reality of ritualistic human sacrifice. The well-preserved young man had apparently belonged to an elite social class in the second century BC. After two sharp blows to the head, he had been strangled. Then, like the countless sacrifices to Aztec and Mayan gods, his body had been drained of the human blood needed to please and appease the god(s).
The roots grow darker yet. In his National Geographic report on "The Celts," Merle Severy wrote, "Samhain eve was a night of dread and danger. At this juncture of the old year and the new, our world and the otherworld opened up to each other. The dead returned, ghosts and demons were abroad, and the future could be seen."
Page 601 gives additional insight: Julius "Caesar describes mass human sacrifice in Gaul: 'Some of the tribes make colossal wickerwork figures, the limbs of which are filled with living men; these images are then set alight and the victims perish in a sea of flame.'"
"Since November ushers in the darkest and most barren half of the year, the autumnal festival acquired sinister significance, with ghosts, witches, hobgoblins, fairies and demons of all kinds roaming abroad.... The crops as well as the flocks and herds had to be protected from demonic influences that were rife at the turn of the year. It was the time to placate the supernatural powers controlling the processes of nature. Coupled with this were fire rites, divinations, funerary practices and masquerades....
"It was on Halloween that the general assembly, or open-air parliament (Freig), was held at Tara in Celtic Ireland... The proceedings opened with sacrifices to the gods at Tlachtgha in County Meath, the victims being consumed by fire."
What kinds of "gods" were appeased by these sacrifices? We know that the Celts -- like the Greeks, Romans, Mayans, Scandinavians and other earth-centered religions of the last two millennia -- sought favors from a wide range of nature gods and goddesses. This pantheon of supernatural beings usually included a ruthless god (or goddess) of the dead whose standard domain was the underworld. Considering the Celts' fear of nasty ghosts or spirits from the underworld during the Samhain celebration, one might suspect that the powerful Druids, their spiritual rulers and political advisors, did indeed encourage sacrifices to the God of the Dead.
An online version of the Encyclopedia Britannica includes a few more details:
"Huge bonfires were set on hilltops to frighten away evil spirits.... The souls of the dead were supposed to revisit their homes on this day, and the autumnal festival acquired sinister significance, with ghosts, witches, hobgoblins, black cats, fairies, and demons of all kinds said to be roaming about. It was the time to placate the supernatural powers controlling the processes of nature.
"Halloween was thought to be the most favorable time for divinations concerning marriage, luck, health, and death. It was the only day on which the help of the devil was invoked for such purposes."
With today's international efforts to tear down Biblical boundaries to the pluralistic world of the occult, the floodgates are opening wide. And the spirits once honored during the fall ritual are fast becoming everyday companions to children around the world.
God's Word tells us that those who honor the world's man-made idols are actually honoring demons. "And I do not want you to have fellowship with demons," warns our Lord.[1 Co 10:20-22] Those lifeless idols are not only worthless substitutes for His sovereign power, they are also terrible teachers and role models. Small wonder, the Bible tells us that "those who make them are just like them, as are all who trust in them." [Psalm 115:1-8]
Therefore, we shouldn't be surprised that God's Word also shares this warning:
2 Timothy 3:1-14
"... in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God....
"...all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned..."
What, then, have our children "learned"? Which Scriptures will help them to stand firm on God's solid truths and "continue in" them, no matter what battles they face?
Consider Ephesians 6:10-18. Here God tells us to -
"...be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."
Use the following outline to help your children put on this special armor. Make sure they know the Scriptures behind each part, so that their faith and understanding will be based on God's Word. Then pray through the pieces of the armor, simplifying each part to fit the ages of your children.
Know and affirm:
Recognize and resist:
|Belt of TRUTH||His sovereignty, love, wisdom, and holiness. (Deut. 4:39; Ps. 18:1-3)||Pantheistic, monistic, polytheistic gods and goddesses.|
|Breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS:||Jesus Christ and His blood, which cleanses us from sin. The cross which frees us from bondage to selfish nature.||Confidence in the natural goodness, connectedness, and sacredness of all life.|
|Sandals of PEACE||Our peace through our union and ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ.||Peace through occult practices and union with a cosmic force or nature spirits.|
|Shield of FAITH||Our continual trust in God, His Word, and His promises.||Trust in Self, inner wisdom, dreams, visions, gods, goddess, cosmic force, coincidences, etc.|
|Helmet of SALVATION||God's promises of daily and eternal salvation in Jesus Christ.||Evolving spiritually by growing in consciousness & connectedness.|
|Sword of the Spirit, His WORD||The power of God's Word to counter deception and triumph over spiritual foes.||The power of thoughts, words and affirmations to change reality and direct spiritual forces.|
For more helpful information on how to "train up your child" to love and follow God, please read The Invisible War, Persecution Stories for Children and The Armor of God.
1. 11. Merle Severy, "The Celts," National Geographic (May 1977), pages 625-626.
2. Yu-Gi-Oh, televised on the WB network, October 10, 02.
3. Americans draw theological beliefs from diverse points of view: (Barna Research Online) October 8, 2002
4.Starhawk, The Spiral Dance (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979), page193-196.
5. SeeChronology of Education and Brainwashing in America.
8.Yu-Gi-Oh, televised on the WB network, October 12, 02.
9. Starhawk, The Spiral Dance (New York: Harper & Row, 1979), p. 62.
10. See Five Types of Religious Expressions and Establishing a Global Spirituality.
11. Ancient Wisdom and Secret Sects (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books), pages 17-19.
12.Ibid., page 10.
13. Encyclopedia Britannica, Volume 11 (Chicago: William Benton, 1968), page 15. Based on A Machain, Celtic Mythology and Religion (1917); E. Hull, Folklore in the British Isles (1928).
14. The Encyclopedia Britannica Online at http://www.britannica.com/bcom/eb/article/2/0,5716,39752+1+38951,00.html. However, this information is no longer available to the public without registration.
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