Review: The Rise of the Occult, Slaying Dragons II

Review: Charles D. Fraune, Slaying Dragons II: The Rise of the Occult, Slaying Dragons Press, 2023, 355 pp. including references

This is a good book, and an opportune one at this time, when occultism is on the rise. Its basic thesis is that spiritual health and salvation is to be found within the Catholic Church, and that occultism in all its guises (some of which are quite deceptive indeed) is spiritual disease and death, not only for the benighted individuals but also for their families and societies.

It is both longer and better than the preceding volume. I thought that Slaying Dragons was a fine book, with a serious flaw: over-reliance on the claimed but unchecked and unreliable authority of what I call “celebrity exorcists.” This volume still cites extensively the celebrity exorcists for what they claim to know from the practice of exorcism, but does not rely upon them to the same extent, and this time around, Mr Fraune is more cautious in his use of some of their testimony. The major difference, apart from greater circumspection, is the more prominent use of the testimony of former occultists and their families.

It seems to me that Mr Fraune’s greatest strength as a writer is his ability to conduct research. Research is more than simply the collection of facts, although it includes that. It is the acquired ability to find the salient facts, line them up, and bring forth the telling anecdotes, the revealing quotes, and the hidden connections. The solid researcher is an explorer. This means that in writing in this sphere, he can lay bare before our eyes the concealed unity of the occult assault on humanity and the works of God, and how that unity is diabolically inspired. Of course, I do not presume to speak about Mr Fraune as a person. I am praising his scholarship: the sound Catholic tradition is to critique the propositions in a book, and not the author; although we may be allowed to commend him for an important job well done, especially one in the service of the faith. And in this respect, scholarship may be suffused with the wisdom to hold fast to what is good.

One significant value of this book is how it demonstrates that:

 An occultic mindset does not have to be one which cast spells, or directly fraternizes with demons, but one which sees in this world, and end unto itself, the ultimate destination for man, and thus the paradise in which he must enjoy the fruits of his own desires. It is a mindset that does not see God but believes that pleasure is man’s end, and that man, to go further, is even the source of his pleasure. It is a divinisation of man, without the operation of the supernatural life of grace, one in which man declared himself to be the rule and arbiter of Truth. (55)

That was the first point at which I sat up and said to myself that the author was probing deeply beneath the surfaces. The second came at pp.128-129 when, following up the above insight, he:

 began to use the image of a “funnel” to describe the diabolic technique [he] perceived to be at work. … Satan uses what is called the soft occult as a bait and a funnel and a lure to drag those who are initially merely curious deeper into his grip. This “mere curiosity” is already a problem, for it is itself the pursuit of divine glory and power and knowledge apart from God. … but it is presented so subtly that, like Eve, people often don’t recognise it for what it really is.

It is not that there was nothing in the book of which to be critical. For example, Fraune relates a story by a celebrity exorcist that, on one occasion, a woman in a dark coat stole the relics from inside some reliquaries from a church, while for five minutes the security cameras were unaccountably blacked out. The conclusion offered was that the malfunction of the cameras had been diabolical in origin (pp.195-196). I find this story very difficult to believe: if Satan could do that there would be no relics available anywhere on the face on the planet. Likewise, if Tibetans could teach occultists to walk through walls (p.261) no Christian would be safe from assassination, no bank secure from robbery. I can simply disbelieve these because if they were true the world have been completely conquered by the Evil One.

Incidentally, I have used the term “celebrity exorcist.” By it I refer to an exorcist who publicly declares that he is an exorcist, and uses this as the sole or  a significant pillar in his public persona. In the Maronite Church, and I thought it had been the case in other Catholic Churches, the diocesan exorcist is not to identify himself for the obvious reasons. Being a Maronite priest myself, this is my approach.

However, I do not wish to dwell on such faults: each reader must judge for himself, and besides, such fantastic stories are rare. Let me rather dwell on how Mr Fraune points to the importance of an ordered prayer life, and how the lack of it leaves an avenue for the Dark One’s attacks (e.g. p.304). I am also in agreement with his endorsement of the inestimable value of the Traditional Latin Mass, not only for the apotropaic powers of the highest form of prayer and worship possible on earth, but also for its spiritual value. This relates to what he writes about the value of culture (p.36). Fortunately the Eastern Catholic Churches have largely retained their religious cultures, but the splendid religious culture of the TLM with its Latin (a direct link to the heritage of the Western Church and to a shared literary style and taste) with its sober and restrained church design, altar furnishings, stained glass, and vestments, also provided a contemplative culture, and a basis for a global faith.

I absolutely concur with his warnings against Eastern forms of meditation such as the pranayamas (pp.135-137 and 168-169). I could tell some stories there, but it is sufficient for the reader to take the advice offered in this volume.

I have noted many more points from this volume for honourable mention, but time must have a stop. I commend the book to you.

Fr Yuhanna (Joseph) Azize

Sunday 2 July 2023, in the Octave of the Feast of Ss Peter and Paul


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *