Venerable Ephraim the Syrian: Beware of making potions, casting spells, telling fortunes, making storages (talismans) or wearing those made by others: these are not storages, but bonds.
Saint John Chrysostom:
“Even if we are sick, it is better to remain sick than to fall into wickedness (resorting to conspiracies) to free ourselves from illness. The demon, even if he heals, will do more harm than good.
It will benefit the body, which after a little while will certainly die and rot, and harm the immortal soul. If sometimes, by God’s permission, demons heal (through divination), then such healing happens to test the faithful, not because God does not know them, but so that they learn not to accept even healing from demons.”
“The demoniacs cry out: “I am the soul of such and such a person!” But this is also the trick and deception of the devil. It is not the soul of some dead person who cries out, but a demon pretending to do so to deceive the listeners.”
“Just as slave traders, offering small children pies, sweet fruits and the like, often ensnare them with such bait and deprive them of freedom and even life itself, so sorcerers, promising to cure a disease, deprive a person of the salvation of his soul.”
“Do not voluntarily resort to fortune-telling, but if you are attracted to this by others, then do not agree… A person always wants to know the invisible, especially wants to know in advance about his misfortunes, so as not to fall into confusion due to surprise… But if you listen to fortune telling, you will be unworthy of God’s favor and mercy, and by doing this you will prepare for yourself numerous disasters.”
“The fortuneteller is an evil demon who speaks from the wombs of ventriloquist women and with this strange action tries to make the false credible; “He speaks not naturally, but from the stomach, and by this he plunges ignorant people into amazement, forcing them to believe that he speaks the truth.”
“What, for example, does star divination mean? Nothing more than lies and confusion, in which everything happens at random and not only by eye, but also senselessly.”
Saint Basil the Great:
Don’t be curious about the future, but make good use of the present. For what benefit is there for you to anticipate the command? If the future brings you something good, it will come, although you did not know it in advance. And if it is sorrowful, why languish in sorrow until the end? Do you want to make sure of the future? Fulfill what is prescribed by the Gospel Law and expect to enjoy blessings.
Saint Gregory of Nyssa:
A carnivorous person in real life has a desire to look into the future in order to avoid troubles or achieve what they want. Therefore, so that people do not turn their gaze to God, the demonic nature, full of deception, has invented many ways to find out the future: for example, fortune telling, interpretation of signs, divination, calling the dead, frenzy, influxes of deities, inspiration, cards and much more. And if any kind of foresight, as a result of some deception, is recognized as true, the demon presents it to the deceived as justification for the false proposal. And the demonic trick points out every false sign to those who are being deceived, so that people, having departed from God, turn to serving the demons. One of the types of deception was the deception of ventriloquists, who believed that their sorcery could attract the souls of the dead again into this life.
In the memoirs of V.I. Popov about the journey with St. John of Kronstadt from Arkhangelsk to Moscow in 1890, he tells how St. Righteous John of Kronstadt cast out a demon from a possessed woman and cites their subsequent conversation:
“Upon leaving the station, during the journey, I entered into a conversation with Fr. John about this miraculous healing.
Father said that the illness of a peasant woman is “from the evil one”, that she is “corrupted”, for indeed there can and are people who are so morally corrupt, so angry, proud, haters and vindictive that they, so to speak, have given themselves over completely to the devil and, undoubtedly, with his assistance, can inflict harmful devilish power on people whom they passionately desire to cause harm (or, in general, any misfortune, for example, illness).
Thus, according to the conviction of Fr. John, a similar popular view is not just superstition, but has a completely real, factual basis.
Of course, this happens where, on the other hand, favorable soil is prepared for the influence of the devil’s power – mental and physical relaxation, as a result of a vicious life.”
(I.K. Sursky. Father John of Kronstadt. T. 2)
“One monk accidentally saw a fortune-telling book and, out of curiosity, examining the secrets of satanic fortune-telling, involuntarily became fascinated by them. One night a black man of gigantic stature stood in front of him and said: “You called me, here I am. Whatever you want, I will do it, just bow to me.” “I worship the Lord my God and Him alone do I serve!” – answered the monk. “Why did you call me, learning my secrets?” With these words, Satan hit the monk hard on the cheek and disappeared. The monk woke up from pain and fear. His cheek was swollen and blackened so much that it was scary to look at. Every day the pain intensified, and the tumor completely disfigured the monk. The Monk Dionysius found out about this and immediately came to the unfortunate man. Having prayed to the Lord and the Mother of God, Saint Dionysius anointed the monk with oil. He was healed and glorified God.”
“One Egyptian indulged in passion for a noble woman who was married. Unable to seduce her, the Egyptian came to the sorcerer and said to him: “Either make her love me, or make her husband leave her.” The sorcerer took a good payment from him and used all his charms and spells. But, failing to arouse love in her heart, he made it so that to everyone who looked at her, she seemed like a horse. Her husband, coming home, was horrified and took his wife to Saint Macarius of Egypt. Abba Macarius blessed the water, poured it over the woman from head to toe, and the spell was immediately broken. Saint Macarius told her: “Never shy away from communion of the Mysteries of Christ. The misfortune happened to you because you have not partaken of the most pure Mysteries of our Savior for five weeks.”
Prologue in the teachings:
“There lived a nobleman in Constantinople who had an only daughter, whom he wanted to devote to the service of God. The devil aroused passion for her in one of the servants. The servant, wanting to marry her, came to the sorcerer to ask for advice. The sorcerer brought him together with Satan, who asked: “Do you believe in me, do you renounce the Lord Christ?” And having received a positive answer, he ordered the young man to write a renunciation on paper. The young man fulfilled the command. And Satan aroused in the girl a passion for the young man. The girl forced her father to marry her to this servant. When the reason for her passion became known to her, she was horrified and convinced her husband to go to Saint Basil the Great. The saint, having received full acknowledgement from the young man, removed him to one of his cells and commanded him to pray and fast. And he himself began to pray for the young man. Several days passed. Saint Basil asked him how he felt. “I’m in great trouble, father,” the young man answered, “the demons give me absolutely no peace!” The saint encouraged the unfortunate man, crossed him and left him alone. Forty days passed, the young man said: “Glory to God, father, now I saw myself defeating the devil.” After this, Saint Basil gathered the entire church clergy and many Christians and spent the whole night in prayer with them. The next day the young man was brought to church while psalms were sung. Then the devil attacked him with terrible force, and he began to shout: “Saint of Christ, help me!” The saint said to the devil: “Isn’t your destruction enough for you, you also torture others!” The devil replied: “You offend me, Vasily! It was not I who came to him, but he who came to me. And his renunciation, which is in my hand, I will show to the common Judge!” Saint Basil said: “Blessed be my Lord! All these people will not bring their hands outstretched to heaven to the ground until you return the young man’s manuscripts to me!” And, turning to the people, he commanded them to raise their hands to heaven and pray with tears: “Lord, have mercy!” The people fulfilled the command of the Saint. And suddenly, to the amazement of everyone, the handwriting of the young man’s sins flew out from under the church dome. Saint Basil took it and asked the young man whether this was his renunciation. And, convinced of this, he tore up the handwriting, led the young man into the church and gave him communion.”
“The brother of St. Joseph of Volokolamsk, Father Vassian (later Archbishop of Rostov) relayed the story of one peasant: “For a long time I was seriously ill, I always prayed and called on the Holy Great Martyr Nikita for help. My relatives advised me to invite a sorcerer. But I refused and continued to earnestly ask Saint Nikita for help. One night I hear the doors of the house open and a bright man enters, addressing me with the words: “Get up and come out to me.” “I can’t, my lord, I’m too weak,” I answered. He repeated: “Get up!” And suddenly I felt healthy, jumped out of bed and bowed. When I got up from the ground, I saw a black man with a fiery sword in his hand. He wanted to hit me, but the luminous man stopped him: “Not him, but those who went to the sorcerer.” The black man disappeared. I asked the Alien: “Who are you?” And I heard in response: “I am the martyr of Christ Nikita and was sent by Christ to heal you because you did not agree to call a sorcerer, but placed your hope in God. And now God is adding another 25 years to your life.” After these words, the martyr became invisible. A misfortune happened to the same people who visited the sorcerer: at night they were killed by that black man with a fiery sword.”
Rules of the VI Ecumenical Council with interpretations of Bishop Nikodim (Milos):
“Those who give themselves over to wizards, or others like them, in order to learn from them that discoveries ascend to them, in accordance with the previous paternal decrees about them, are subject to the rule of six years of penance. Subject to the same penance those who pronounce fortune-telling about happiness, about fate, as well as the so-called charmers, practitioners of protective talismans and sorcerers. Those who are stubborn in this and do not reject such destructive pagan inventions are determined to be completely thrown out of the Church, as the sacred rules command.”
Witchcraft, fortune telling and similar matters are condemned by this rule as a satanic work and punishes with 6 years of penance anyone who engages in these matters; if such a person does not repent, but persists in sin, he is subject to complete expulsion from the church. This is about the laity. If the priest is caught in these matters, if he believes in fortune-telling, or does he himself indulge in witchcraft and fortune-telling? The 36th rule of Laodicea speaks about this. Balsamon, in his interpretation of this (61st) rule, notes that such a priest is subject to immediate defrocking. And since this is a betrayal of faith, such a priest must be expelled from the church, for by engaging in such matters, he has turned from a servant of the Eternal God into a servant of the devil.
“In the new moon, the lighting of bonfires by some in front of their shops or houses, through which, according to some ancient custom, they jump madly, we command from now on to be abolished. Therefore, if anyone does anything like that, the cleric will be deposed, and the layman will be excommunicated. For in the fourth book of Kings it is written: And Manasseh made an altar to all the power of heaven, in the two courts of the house of the Lord, and caused his sons to pass through the fire, and made enemies and practiced sorcery, and created ventriloquists, and multiplied sorceresses to do evil in the sight of the Lord, so as to provoke him to anger. (2 Kings 21:5-6).”
And this rule talks about one of the pagan customs, which customs have already been mentioned in several Trullian rules. The pagans, as well as the Jews, had a custom of celebrating the day of the new moon, in order, in their opinion, to be happy throughout the month. This custom among the Jews is spoken of in this rule in the words of Holy Scripture; in particular, about the new moons of the Jews and their celebrations, the Lord says through the mouth of Isaiah that my soul hates them (1:14). This custom consisted of lighting fires in front of shops and houses and jumping over them in the belief that by doing this they would allegedly burn away all the misfortunes that would otherwise befall them, and in return they would receive happiness. This custom was also adhered to by some of the Christians at the time of the Trullo Council, against which this rule was issued, threatening the clergy with defrocking, and the laity with excommunication in case of disobedience.
Rules of the Holy Local Council of Ancyra
Those who practice sorcery, and follow pagan customs, or introduce certain people into their homes, for the sake of seeking magic, or for the sake of purification, must be subject to the rule of five years of repentance, according to the degrees established: three years of prostration, and two years of prayers without communion of the Holy Mysteries.
Rules of the Holy Local Council of Laodicea
It is not fitting for the sanctified or the clerics to be magicians, or charmers, or number tellers, or astrologers, or to make the so-called precautions, which are the bonds of their souls. We ordered those who wore them to be thrown out of the church.
We know the decree of the 61st rule of the Trullo Council regarding lay people engaged in fortune-telling. This Laodicean rule speaks on the same subject regarding persons who, belonging to the clergy, believe in fortune-telling or practice it themselves, and condemns this in the most categorical manner under the threat of excommunication. Nikita, a canonist of the early 12th century, when asked about this subject, refers to the 24th Ancyra rule and the given (36) Laodicean one, and calls fortune telling a pagan activity (??? ??????? ????&????), unworthy of the Christian world, and even less of the Orthodox Church (???? ??? ??? ????????? ?????????). This rule, in addition, especially condemns the manufacture of “preservatives” (??????????), calling these precautions or talismans the shackles of the soul (?????????? ??? ?????, animarum vincula) and ordering everyone wearing them to be expelled from the church. The Holy Scriptures mention these guards, used by the Jews during prayer (Matthew 23:5), namely, they had two bands, and on each of them the name of God and 4 verses from the Holy Scriptures were written. They tied one of them on the head, and the other on the left hand, believing that everyone wearing them would thereby ward off evil and receive all good things. It goes without saying that the latter is an obvious superstition, contrary to the teaching that in his life a person must devote himself entirely to God’s Providence and, doing good deeds, expect benefits only from the Provider. As such, the custom of wearing guards had the meaning of fortune-telling, and it is natural, therefore, that it is designated along with fortune-telling by numbers, stars, etc. From the Jews, the custom of wearing guards passed on to some Christians, who always wore them around their necks or in their necks. During illness, they bandaged the sore spot on the body. Given the importance that guards had at that time (in the 4th century), the severity of the punishment that the rule imposes on everyone who makes or wears them is quite understandable.
Rules of St. Basil the Great
65. He who has repented of sorcery or poisoning may spend the time in repentance allotted for a murderer, with a distribution in accordance with how he convicted himself of each sin.
72. He who betrays himself to sorcerers or the like will be subject to penance for the same amount of time as a murderer.
83. Those who practice sorcery and follow pagan customs or bring certain people into their houses for the sake of seeking sorcery and for the sake of purification, let them be subject to the rule of six years: let them mourn for a year, listen for a year, fall down for three years, and stand alone with the faithful, and so on. yes they will be accepted.
Canonical Epistle of Gregory of Nyssa to Litoius of Melitene
Those who come to sorcerers or soothsayers, or to those who promise to perform some kind of cleansing or aversion of harm through demons, are asked in detail and tested: whether, while remaining in faith in Christ, they are drawn by some need to such sin, according to the direction given to them by what – either through misfortune or intolerable deprivation, or completely despising the confession entrusted to them by us, they resorted to the aid of demons. For if they did this with a rejection of faith, and in order not to believe that God is worshiped by Christians, then without a doubt they will be subject to condemnation with apostates. If unbearable need, having taken possession of their weak soul, brought them to this point, seducing them with some false hope, then let love for mankind be shown to them too, in the likeness of those who, during confession, were unable to resist torment.
13th Nomocanon Rule:
“A sorcerer, who is also a sorcerer… if he performs sorcery on a husband and wife not to copulate [modern term: “lapel”] or by sorcery creates a storm, let him not receive communion for 20 years according to the 65th and 72nd rules of Basil the Great.”
14th Nomocanon Rule:
“A sorcerer and a charmer are one and the same thing. Enchantment is the name given to spells that call upon demons to perform some act to the detriment of other people, such as: relaxation of the limbs, prolonged illness, as well as chaining one to bed for life, or so that a person begins to live a bad life, or so that he becomes disgusted with life, and so on. … Sorcerers and wizards are called idolaters.”
“The Magi are those who supposedly call upon “beneficial” demons for a good purpose, but they are filth-killers and liars.”
Rule 16 of the Nomocanon:
“Those who bring a sorcerer into their house to a sick person for the sake of healing by sorcery, shall not receive communion for five years according to the 24th rule of the Council of Ancyra.”