Parents: where there’s smoke, there’s Satan?

What should you do if your teen is dabbling in the occult? The Vancouver Sun’s Parent Trap has some ideas. Photo by Flickr user penelopejonze.

Seeing your kids develop an interest in something you find scary is never fun. Especially if it’s something the movie world, television, and the press have told you is associated with violence and death.

One mom found herself in just such a position, and wrote to Vancouver Sun columnist Michele Kambolis’ column “The Parent Trap” for some advice. It starts off with heavy metal music, which she “shrugged off,” which is perhaps not the correct thing to do, but it’s better than assuming the worst. Things progressed to “inverted pyramids” — which could signify some interest in journalism (okay, probably not) or rejection of the arcane. Or that the kid doesn’t really have a handle on his occult symbols.

And then, this happened:

About four months ago, he started dating a girl who seems to be even deeper into this world than he is. The situation hit a breaking point when my husband smelled smoke (our kids aren’t allowed anything flammable whatsoever in their bedrooms) and burst in on the two of them setting up some sort of shrine complete with black candles and demonic pictures. There were also sharp objects on the table, and in doing some research on satanic cults, we have learned of the disgusting practice of satanists drinking each other’s blood — and I’m convinced this is the direction they were headed in.

This is where fear and bad information can get the better of you. It’s good that the dad went in when he smelled smoke, particularly since candles/flames are against house rules. But “black candles,” “demonic pictures,” and “sharp objects” do not equal Satanism or blood-drinking.

This could very easily have been a peaceful Wiccan ceremony. Wiccans use black candles for healing, banishing negativity, and other wholesome goals. Images of Cernunnos or Pan could be mistaken for demons. Most Wiccan altars are not complete without an athame, or ritual knife, which is used symbolically, and to stir or demarcate things during ceremonies, and not to hurt people. Even if it was Satanic, there’s no reason to think that it would automatically lead to the kinds of activities she’s worried about.

I wonder where this mom decided to “do her research.” The Internet? If, for example, you do a Google search for “do Satanists drink blood?”, you get several affirmative links, but none of them are authoritative or trustworthy.

Fortunately, the advice Kambolis — and her readers — offer is mostly sensible: talk to your son, listen when he explains his spiritual interests, and set reasonable ground rules. Unfortunately, one mom says, “I went through this with my daughter. I raided her room and removed everything that scared me, grounded her and banned her from seeing a friend who led her down the disturbing path in the first place.” It’s surprising this mom still has a relationship with her daughter.

Inexplicably, Kambolis says, “Websites bring teenagers directly to satanic chat lines where they can feel a sense of connection when they otherwise might struggle socially.” I’m not sure what she means by “Satanic chat lines.” There are certainly Web sites that explain Satanism, but “chat lines” sounds made up. Even if such things really exist, it honestly sounds like Kambolis was speculating.

Parents, how did you work with a child who was exploring an occult or pagan path? Current or former occultists and pagans, how did your parents respond to your burgeoning interest? Please share your stories in the comments.


10 responses to “Parents: where there’s smoke, there’s Satan?

  1. “…our kids aren’t allowed anything flammable whatsoever in their bedrooms…”

    Man, that’s a drag. I think almost EVERYTHING in my room is combustible.

  2. I’ve never understood parents who choose to react in a way that will encourage their children to hide their interests from them. If you want to know what your children are doing be open with them in the first place. My own parents were open to my explorations of alternative spiritualities. They didn’t exactly understand it but I think they knew that since I didn’t feel a need to hide it, it likely wasn’t something “harmful”

  3. Pingback: Wiccan Priest appalled by occult-teen “advice” | Backward Messages

  4. I find it odd when you said, “But ‘black candles,’ ‘demonic pictures,’ and ‘sharp objects’ do not equal Satanism or blood-drinking.”

    So I did a quick research on black candles. And it said to clear the mind and increase the psychic ability.

    Does Cernunnos require people to drink blood? So I did a research from If that’s the case, it looks like the teenagers were a doing strange rite to super charge their sexual power.

    Then I checked on Pan and I did not find any references relating to him and drinking blood.

    I personally don’t think drinking blood is sanitary. It’s best for the parents to ask their children what they were up to in order to avoid any confusion.

    • Dean, the kids weren’t drinking blood. The mom saw what they were doing (lighting candles, setting up an altar), did some misinformed Internet searches, and ASSUMED they were drinking blood. Not the same thing.

  5. If people wonder what the affect of this sort of knee-jerk reaction can have on the relationship between parents and their kids, well, I felt so alienated in my own house that I moved out. There were too many fights with my parents, and several times, my mother would come in my room and demand that I take down my altar (usually when there was no altar at all, but a pile of things that looked odd to her on my dresser). I am Pagan, and at the time was studying Wicca. I felt harassed in my own home. The worst part is that my parents truly believed they were doing these things out of love. That made the betrayal only more painful.

    Parents, you can spare your children a lot of pain by listening to them and being open minded about their beliefs.

  6. Whoever wrote this stupid article has had their brain scooped out and replaced with cream cheese by Yahweh Silver Tongue, the Demon of Ignorance, Stupidity, Corruption, and Herd Conformity. May The Great Beast Whose Dreams Are Made Flesh send this person nightmares.

  7. Err… I meant the original advice, not this article.

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