As a student, Tabitha Sanders was assigned to read one of the Harry Potter books. She refused in protest.
Beforehand, she had read half of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," but devout in her faith she refused to read any more of the books because of the deep rooted occult teachings she believes are evident throughout the series.
To this day she has not finished any of the books, but rather has read excerpts from the series. She spoke about the books Wednesday night at the Hilltop Church of God in Sunnyside.
Sanders said the Harry Potter books fall into a specific genre of books known as fantasy.
"When you think about fantasy you think of things that cannot happen in the world around them," said Sanders.
The Harry Potter books are also known as "high fantasy" because they have an element of magic, but they take place in both the real and fantasy world.
"Fantasy books are important to the development of our children," said Sanders, adding that it helps develop the child's mind, imagination and ability to think outside of given parameters.
But with the Harry Potter series, written in both the real and magical world, it takes the book from true fantasy, said Sanders.
The books, which were written by United Kingdom author J.K. Rowling, took the writer from the British welfare system to the ranks of a top-selling multi-millionaire.
Sanders said the first three books released in the series made $480 million and an estimated 116 million books are in print.
"It's estimated that half of all children in the United States between ages 6 and 17 have read at least one of the books," said Sanders.
Since the books have been released, Sanders said they have been integrated into school curriculums. She said it is being used during read aloud times in classrooms and as texts in schools. She added that there are study books and classroom guides that have been made available for teachers.
She said the study guides take students into the common language of the occult, including Satanism and witchcraft. Sanders said it is a child's guide to the history of witchcraft.
Sanders said that in interviews she read, Rowling admitted to studying witchcraft and mythology when writing her books. Sanders added that about 1/3 of the books are based on occultism.
The books tell the story of a young orphan boy, Harry Potter, who is a living in the non-magic world of "muggles," or non-magical humans. He learns of his magical heritage and chooses to attend the magical school "Hogwarts School of Magic and Wizardry."
She said muggles are everyone who do not practice witchcraft.
"They're depicted as being mean, dumb, ugly and as living a life that isn't worth living," said Sanders.
Voldemort is Harry's enemy and the wizard that killed his parents and continues to attempt to kill Harry.
Sanders said that in the books Potter lives his life between reality and the fantasy world. She said the name of Voldemort is made of three French words, that when translated means flight of a deadman.
Sanders said that there are satanic and occult references throughout the books.
One of the ways the occult is evident in the books, according to Sanders, is through symbols. She said that symbols are images that have an inner meaning.
"You think you understand the meaning, but it's so much more," said Sanders.
In writings by occultists, Sanders found descriptions of "brain wasting" or brainwashing.
Sanders said there is heavy symbolism on the Harry Potter book covers.
Three symbols Sanders pointed out on the cover of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," the first book in the series, are the unicorn, Harry's scar and the Sorcerer's stone.
The Sorcerer's stone, or Philosopher's stone, as it was released in the United Kingdom, is the fifth and final stage of the transmutation of the soul to reach or achieve eternal life, as believed by many occultists, said Sanders. She said no one has reached the level of eternal life in occultism.
She said once the level is reached the occultists believe they can bring themselves back from the dead.
She explained there is a belief amongst occultists that in the fifth stage the person who reaches that level will be their messiah, or the anti-Christ.
The scar on Harry's forehead, which is a curse scar, is the result of a spell cast by Voldemort to kill Harry. The spell killed Harry's parents, but only scared Harry.
"There's a belief in witchcraft that if you cast a spell that is stronger than you, it will come back on you," said Sanders.
She said it is believed the anti-Christ will require people to have the mark of the beast on their hand or forehead, adding that the mark is said to be a curse mark.
"So many of these kids look up to this character as their hero," said Sanders, who said kids lining up for the books show up with scars painted on their foreheads in order to mimic Harry. "Kids are slowly being conditioned to accept the curse mark. They think once they have that curse mark they can do the things Harry does."
Unicorns are believed by Illuminists to be the symbol of their "christ," said Sanders.
In the books unicorns are one of the most powerful ingredients in potions, and powerful wands which are owned by Harry and Voldemort, have unicorn hairs in them.
The cover of "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" has pictures of serpents and Harry grasping the tail feathers of a Phoenix.
In the Bible, Satan takes the form of a serpents body, said Sanders.
The Phoenix is one of the oldest symbols of the occult and is in the Egyptian Satanic Mysteries, she said.
Sanders said that it is believed that there is only one Phoenix and it lived for 500 years. The bird burns up and then rises from the ashes. She said that in the five levels of the transmutations of the soul the Phoenix is the last level.
The Phoenix parallels the life of Jesus, said Sanders.
The bird makes its nest primarily of frankincense and myrrh, which were both given to Christ at the time of his birth. Myrrh foretold of the coming death of Christ, said Sanders, who added that in stories the Phoenix dies and then rises from the ashes.
Sorcery is the attempt to manipulate animals, elements and other aspects of life by using rituals, ceremonies or objects, such as amulets, talismans and charms.
Sanders said in witchcraft there are believed to be two different kinds of witchcraft, good and bad.
White, green and blue witchcraft is said to be good magic, and red and black magic are bad. Both good and bad mix magical spells using herbs, which are grown in gardens.
In the Harry Potter books the young witches and wizards are learning about different kinds of herbs used in their spells.
One of the plants used in both the books and in real life witchcraft is theyone, a dangerous and psychedelic drug that was outlawed in the United States in 1915.
Another herb used both in witchcraft and in the book is mandrake, which in the book is depicted as a screaming infant that is deadly if students at the school don't wear earmuffs while harvesting. Sanders said mandrake is a poison that was used in ancient times as a narcotic.
The root, herb and seed of monkshood is deadly poisonous, but is used in witchcraft in small doses. Combined with wormwood, it is used to create a drug that is known as "draught of the living dead," said Sanders. The combination of herbs slows the heart rate so that a person can appear dead, but isn't.
The Exliar of Life is a potion that gives a person the power to life forever. Sanders said it is part of the fifth stage of the transmutation of the soul.
She said in the book charms and casting spells are part of everyday life of students at Hogwarts, and the names of the spells and words from them are real, researched by Rowling.
"To achieve these things (casting spells) they use a lot of drugs and herbs in dangerous doses," said Sanders. "They are suffering the effects of the drugs, not actually doing what they think, like flying."
Sanders said in witchcraft there is a flight spell that uses pig fat and either rat or bat blood and herbs to make a paste. She said a witch will rub the black paste on their face, hands and broomstick and when the person moves it gives them the feeling that they are flying.
She added that in the Bible a sorcerer is said to be of the devil.
Another aspect of witchcraft in the Harry Potter books is divination or fortune telling, said Sanders. She said fortune telling mediums include tarot cards, tea leaves, astrology, Oujia boards, palmistry, crystal balls, mirrors and other types of crystals.
In the books, Sanders said, Harry is called a true seer with the gift of divination powers.
The books have reference to "remember balls," said Sanders, which she said are marble sized balls that remind the holder of something they have forgotten.
Also in the book is the parseltongue language, which is known to be the language of snakes, and a language Harry knows in the books.
"The occult believe they need to learn parseltongue to be able to speak directly to Satan," said Sanders.
The books also have reference to the "Mirror of Erised," which is designed to show a person's heart desires, said Sanders.
Also evident in the book, said Sanders, is the teaching of dualism, which says there is no such thing as absolute good or absolute evil.
"Occultists believe that there are two equal and opposite sides of the force and that there is good in evil and there is evil in good," said Sanders.
Anton LaVey, the writer of the Satanic bible, said that no creed must be accepted that there is an authority of a "divine" nature, said Sanders.
"Anton LaVey tells us there is nothing sacred about moral code," she added.
In the Harry Potter books, Harry and his enemy Voldemort aren't that far apart, said Sanders.
Both have wands made of the same unicorn hair. Both have the gift of parseltongue and Voldemort gained full strength and, he believes, the power to defeat Harry by drinking a vile of his blood.
In I John 1:5, the Bible says there is no evil in good, said Sanders.
"There is not both good and evil wizardry or witchcraft," she said. "The Bible says all wizardry and witchcraft is evil."
Another teaching in the book, said Sanders, is that of spiritism or necromancy, which is the occult belief, held by witches, wiccans and other occult followers that they can contact the dead.
Sanders said throughout the books, Rowling uses ghosts as characters that interact with students.
The belief of reincarnation is also taught in the books, said Sanders. Although many religions believe in reincarnation, she said in the occult, it is believed to be a body living a soul-less existence.
She said in the "Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban," the book tells of people existing as empty shells, "...the body is still living but the soul is gone."
"The occultists believe your body can continue to live, but you won't know who you are," said Sanders.
She said that the book has creatures known as dementors that can suck the soul out of a human.
"Witches do believe that there are creatures that can scare their soul out of them," she added.
"The standard witchcraft belief is that no one ever dies, they change to another dimension. In that dimension the living can contact the dead," said Sanders.
In "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," Sanders said there is a quote that reads, "After all to the well organized mind, death is just the next great adventure."
Sanders encourages parents to be wary of what their children read in school and at home.
"You can request for an alternative book or alternative assignment," she said. "There are lots of great books you can request rather than the Harry Potter books.