NON-DIVINE ANDREW’S DAY
Wax pouring on St. Andrew’s Day has been inscribed in the Polish tradition for good. Fortune telling is an entertainment among students, pre-school children, and recently even children in nurseries. Whereas, adults spend the night of 29 and 30 November at parties where professional fortune-tellers predict the future not only from wax shapes but also from cards, palm or a glass sphere. An innocent fun or ‘spiritual adultery’?
Many people associate celebration of St. Andrew’s Day mainly with fortune-telling. Wax pouring through a key-hole and piercing a paper heart with a pin are nearly a tradition. Where the day came from – it is not known. St. Andrew has always been a patron of people in love and helped in matrimonial matters, but it does not change the fact that he was also an Apostle – one of the twelve close disciples of Jesus, and hence – he had nothing in common with magic and occultism. Fr. Dr. Aleksander Posacki SJ states that November witchcraft may come from not so much Christ’s friend but from the old-German god Frejr – a giver of riches, love and fertility. In the priest’s opinion, even people predicting the future used to ask St. Andrew for help and they used to do it in the form of spells – not a prayer.
Paganism under the name of the Saint
The evening and night of 29 and 30 November – although celebrated under the name of the Christian Apostle – in fact has nothing in common with the Catholic faith. The main attraction of this kind of party is fortune-telling, which is condemned by the Church and called a sin of idolatry, and even ‘spiritual adultery’. Whereas, wax pouring is suggested not only to the youth, but also to toddlers in nurseries. One of the popular programs for parents reminds that party of St. Andrew’s Day for children must have a black cat and a fortune-teller. One can dress up as a fortune-teller but it is not necessary because internet is full of notices of professional astrologists who are present at parties more and more frequently – also at the parties for the youngest.
‘I have been dealing with fortune-telling from cards for 15 years. I have foretold at occasional parties for three years, where I devote 10-15 minutes to one person. During such a mini-séance I concentrate on what a particular person is interested in, I say what happened, what is now, and what will be in the future’. This kind of announcement do not surprise anybody today. After all, a fortune-teller is on an official list of professions, acknowledged by the Ministry of Employment and Social Care. In Paris even the Higher Astrology School was established which prepares students for this craft. No wonder that agencies of fortune-tellers are developing today. Tarot, numerology, clairvoyance or fortune-telling from coffee grounds are attractions which can be seen not only at parties of St. Andrew’s Day and Halloween parties, but also at parties of the eighteenth birthday, bachelorette parties or company events. Astrologists (also called spiritual advisors) are going with the times, offering their arrivals to clients and fortune-telling via chats, text messages and exoteric TV channels. There are also those who read out mysteries of future not only from cards or a palm, but also from………buttocks.
Dangerous fun with the satan
However, we should remember that fortune-telling – even the most innocent one – is not a joke. –Treating predicting the future in the categories of fun, we minimize the danger which is in this kind of practice, and this is opening oneself up to the bad spirit. It often happened that people involved in occultism later had serious problems of psychical and spiritual nature – says Fr. Dr. Andrzej Wołpiuk, a consultant for sects and new religious movements in the diocese of Bielsko-Żywiec.
Many people declare that fortune-telling on St. Andrew’s Day is a fun for them or an element of tradition. – Conscious resorting to fortune-telling and predictions is a voluntary involvement in the evil. So, we should think if a Catholic can have fun with what is contradictory with his faith? Sometimes it is better to resign from something in case something bad happened, in the name of carefulness. It is worth learning from a wise and reasonable person to reject not only what may bring harm to our faith and lead us to the sin. Even if it was to be a form of entertainment – says Fr. Wołpuk. – There are not any safe forms of fun with the satan, only it is safe to keep away from him – he adds.
After all, it may happen that a prediction will be reflected in the reality. Then it is easy to give oneself in the impression that if we managed to tell the future from a shape of wax, we can also do it from cards, stars or fingerprints. Certainly, many people will not perceive it as a danger but some of them may be encouraged for occultism by it.
St. Thomas called fortune-telling, astrology and horoscopes as asking the satan for help. ‘We must remember that practicing occultism in any form makes a man manipulated by bad spirits, and its consequences are tragic. There are serious disorders and sufferings in the physical, psychical and spiritual spheres, caused by the action of evil powers. There are suicidal thoughts and blasphemous thoughts, aversion for a prayer and sacraments, depression, various obsessions, devil harassments and sometimes there is even demonic possession’ – writes Fr. Mieczysław PiotrowskiTChr in the magazine ‘Love one another!’.
Fr. Andrzej Wołpiuk gives one more reason for which various forms of fortune-telling should be rejected: – Occultism assumes that life is inscribed in cards, starts and horoscopes, so the human role comes down to discovery and accepting his destination and passive expectation for what will be brought by the fate. Such a way of thinking takes away freedom and hinders creative forming the future. It is also often a pretext for self-absolution, whose natural consequence is stopping working on oneself.
Addicted to fortune-telling
Ordinary people are using the services of astrologists more and more frequently – including politicians, businessmen who want to find out when it is best for them to make a public speech or sign a contract with a contractor. – Fortune-tellers seem to be a safe form of getting help because they often take a role as a friend – somebody who will listen and give advice. For this reason some people prefer to go to a fortune-teller with their problems instead to go to a psychiatrist or a psychologist. It often results from a desire to throw one’s responsibility for one’s life onto somebody (or something) else. Such a man can later say that he did not have any influence what happened to him because it was simply inscribed in his fate. It is much easier to go to a fortune-teller and later wait passively for what will be brought by the fate, than put one’s effort into work on oneself or spending more time with one’s relatives – explains Katarzyna Wieczorek – Małecka, a psychologist and therapist. The specialist adds that people with the lowered self-esteem usually use the services of astrologists, for whom other’s opinion than their own is more important. Generally, they create their own image on the basis of information coming from the environment, allowing for having their life decided by other people and outer factors. Such people are exposed to getting addicted to occult practices.
- Everything starts mostly with the first ‘innocent’ visit to a fortune-teller, justified with ordinary curiosity, and in fact, being an attempt of receiving a particular solution to a problem. The problem is that an astrologist’s words act as self-fulfilling prediction. If we believe in fortune-telling, we automatically look for circumstances which confirm it. In fact we start to behave according to what we heard, at the same time fulfilling the prediction. In this way we gain a very strong argument to use his services again and it is a vicious circle – explains the psychologist. We may not even notice when we get involved in the spiral of dependence, losing control over our own life – she adds.
A child in the world of magic
A child till the age of 9 cannot always distinguish fiction from reality. Whereas, in cartoons, books and computer games there are a lot of references to occultism. – We should remember that values can be passed over to children not only via films and books, but also fun, jokes. After all, we teach them through the examples of our life – says Fr. Wołpiuk. Especially that these are toddlers who are exposed to influences the most. – It is proved by the fact that some of children got involved into the adventures of Harry Potter so much that when the last volume of the young wizard was published, they lost sense of life and fell into depression – says Anna Czyżewska, a children’s psychologist.
That is true that St. Andrew’s Day fun bring the youngest into the world of magic from their youngest age and make them familiar with occultism. However, we should remember that it will not be a real danger for everybody. – Especially children with high susceptibility to influences are exposed to involvement into magic, as well as those children who have a tendency to be ‘absorbed’ into the virtual reality, and who are difficult to take away from a cartoon or a computer game. If a little kid is susceptible to influences and his parents are very engaged in work and do not devote him much time, there is a risk that the child –not now, then in the future – will excessively get interested in magic, and as a result, he will enter a form of occultism. The danger is bigger especially when a child feels lost and lonely – explains the psychologist.
A recipe for St. Andrew’s Day in a Christian way
Parents who want to have a real influence on school curriculum of St. Andrew’s Day, can offer teachers their help in organizing this kind of a -party. – Fortune-telling on St. Andrew’s Day has always been fun which is treated leniently. Certainly, it does not change the fact that the attempt of getting to know the future – even in the form of fun, but with the usage of fortune-telling – is a sin. Therefore a Catholic who wants to be fair towards God, should reform St. Andrew’s Day a little, that is, change what is magic – fortune-telling directed to getting to know the future – into what is a joy, educational and evangelical – games, fun, contests or chats about St. Andrew. For, the main problem lies not in wax pouring but in the fact that it is called fortune-telling. And if it is fortune-telling, it means that it is possible to predict the future through it. So, we can call wax pouring only a fun. For example, we can organize children a contest of pouring the most credible shape of an animal from wax. We can also tell them about the Shrovetide, Advent and the crucifix of St. Andrzej – says Andrzej Wronka, a theologian.
Anna Czyżewska encourages us to treat the November Day as a pretext for talking about God, covered future and emotions related to it. It is also worth explaining a child why fun on St. Andrew’s Day should not be based on fortune-telling, magic or determinism. – Attempts to perceive diabolic action in everything may lead to absurd behaviours, for example, avoiding telephone numbers with three sixes in a row. This kind of simplifying reality not only raises fear or various psychical disorders, but also exposes somebody to ridiculing. We are not demonizing the reality, but we are also trying to call things by name. Custom of St. Andrew’s Day is contradictory with the Christian faith, therefore, it is worth spending this day in such a way so as not to provoke seeking of esoteric character – explains Fr. Andrzej Wołpiuk.
In the priest’s opinion, the role of a parent is presenting a child with a world of authentic and permanent values, inoculation of a rational attitude towards the reality in him and responsibility for his decisions, so that he would be able to reject everything which has a character of evil, but he would do it not for fear but for care about his faith. It is possible that the pope Francis meant this kind of attitude, who in one of his general audiences spoke about the Decalogue – understood by many people in the categories of orders and prohibitions, but, in fact, being ‘a fruit of affection and love of the very God’: ‘Try to see and treat commandments as if they were words, teachings given by mum, in order to live life well. Mother never teaches what is bad, but she only wants a good for her children – and so is the Church doing it’.