Until recently, getting a demon via the occult took some doing. Effort and investigation were necessary. Take President Abraham Lincoln for example. He served during the first major surge of spiritualism in America. Think things are bad now with online Ouija boards, yoga in churches, and online tarot card readings? A newly published book entitled, “In the Houses of Their Dead” chronicles the dramatic rise of interest in, what the Bible calls necromancy, seances and speaking with the dearly departed. During the mid-19th century, when Lincoln was first elected President in 1860, there were an estimated 1.6 million spiritualists in a country of only 31 million people. That same ratio would leave us with about 20 million spiritualists compared to today’s population.
Spiritualism in the 1800s had taken such a hold on the nation that it was rumored Lincoln had visited a New Orleans witchdoctor for advice. When his first child died at age three, it was alleged that in 1830, Lincoln and his wife Mary consulted three witches to speak with the child. Two years later when a second son died, President Lincoln admitted to communicating with the child in his dreams. Mary dived deeply into the occult by attending many seances, some in the White House.
Today, followers of New Age spiritualism need go no further than their computing devices or cell phones. In addition to the assorted Ouija advocates and tarot enthusiasts, anyone online can quickly discover how to make a voodoo doll, cast a spell, or vicariously indulge in satanic rituals. If you wish, it’s possible to get an online Bachelors, Masters, or Ph. D. degree in “Mythology and Occultism.” Or you can strive for certification in Gnosticism, Esotericism, or Mysticism. There are live psychic chats with “immediate answers to life’s toughest questions.” Various so-called “mystery schools” offer tutoring in witchcraft and all things pagan and Druid. There is an online School of Witchcraft and a virtual Witchcraft Academy. A plethora of spell casters offer services for love spells and revenge curses. All this on iOS and Android.
It’s likely that Mary Todd Lincoln picked up some demons with her sojourns into spiritualism. President Lincoln may have done the same. And here’s something interesting. John Wilkes Booth who assassinated Lincoln was a close friend and drinking buddy of Charles Colchester, a famous spiritualist during Lincoln’s presidency. In fact, Colchester performed a séance for Mrs. Lincoln and was said to have brought forth her departed child Willie. Lincoln himself asked Colchester to perform for Joseph Henry, then secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Did that connection embolden, even give a spiritual legal right, to the demons that must have possessed Booth?
Seances, talking to the dead, and all forms of divination can be lumped into one biblical category: witchcraft. The Bible condemns all such investigations nearly two dozen times, whether for online profit or in the nation’s White House. The clearest statement is First Samuel 15:23: For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Every individual, rich or poor, politically connected, or ordinary citizen, sinner or saint, who summons supernatural help with online or offline witchcraft risks losing their soul. Perhaps even their life. King Saul died for consulting the witch of Endor, the spiritualist of her time. So, perhaps did President Abraham Lincoln who risked his life by seeking to talk to the dead.