Donal Anthony Foley reviews, Ransomed from Darkness: The New-age, Christian Faith
And the Battle for Souls, by Moira Noonan, (North Bay Books, El Sobrante, 2005)
Ransomed from Darkness is an account of one woman’s journey
out of the abyss and madness of New Age practices back to the sanity of Catholicism. Moira Noonan tells us how
she was involved in the New Age movement for over 20 years, following a disrupted Catholic upbringing—she attended
a non-Catholic school in her teens—and how she gradually drifted out of the Church and towards an interest in Hinduism.
This was during the late Sixties when the influence of Indian religion of the popular consciousness was very strong.
Once at university, she began to dabble in meditation, and gradually became disillusioned with western materialism.
However, she was fortunate in that she had a solid Catholic grandmother who acted as a positive influence on her
from time to time, although she admits that that during this period the Mass meant very little to her.
After graduating with a degree in communications, she moved into publishing and became very successful, but at
the age of 28 was involved in a serious car accident which left her partly paralysed and in chronic pain. She was
persuaded to go to a “pain clinic” which used
therapy based on various New Age practices such as psychic healing, shamanism, and self hypnosis.
These practices worked for her, and led her to get more deeply involved in the New Age, while at the same time
she got married and had a child. She then became involved in clairvoyance and spiritualism generally, and tells
us that she “actually began to see angels and demons.”
She also became involved in hypnotherapy and Reiki, a psychic healing system. She had her own “spirit guide” which she later realized was a demon. She was also
initiated by several Indian gurus.
However, negative experiences were also part of this strange world. Moira Noonan recounts a revealing incident.
While still embroiled in New Age practices, she visited a spiritual “retreat
center” in the northeast United States, which included a lake on the property. One hot
summer’s day while sitting on the lake shore she tells us that she “had
the sensation that something was wrong. I felt that there was something very strange and forbidding about this
lake.” She attempted to shrug off this feeling by going for a swim out to a platform
in the lake, but by the time she reached this, “the dark emotion I felt
had completely overwhelmed me. …It was as if I had been literally swimming through spirits. It was just eerie and
it was sickening. It felt like I was swimming through blood, it was just so thick. I couldn’t stand it.”
When she got back she discovered that the white settlers of the area had massacred the native people who lived
there—killing men and women and children—and then throwing their bodies into the lake.
What this seems to indicate is that the practices she was involved in really were a doorway to the preternatural—New
Age thinking is not based on imaginary experiences, but offers a genuine way of getting in touch with the occult,
and that is what makes it so dangerous.
Moira Noonan then became involved with some Medjugore supporters, and her return to the faith was partly because
of this involvement. The negative side of all this, however, is that, in the words of Noonan, “an enormous false Mary movement,” has grown up, principally through
the writings of Sondra Ray, a well-known new-age practitioner, who has promoted the idea that the Blessed Virgin
is a goddess who can be “channelled” in a spiritualistic
In any event, Noonan claims that while engaged in a spiritualistic “table
rapping” session, she heard an “inner voice” from the “Queen of Peace” giving her
an intuition that what she was doing was wrong. But she also tells us that she started to wear a miraculous medal
that had been left to her by her deceased grandmother. Other incidents seemed to be pointing her towards Marian
devotion, including one where she was physically prevented from using her New Age crystals by an invisible force,
and again heard an inner voice, this time telling her to pray the rosary. She was also led to go to confession,
the first time she had received this sacrament in 25 years.
She now began to live a sincere Catholic life centred on Mass, prayer and spiritual reading, but breaking with
her past was a long and difficult process. She finally managed to go to Medjugorje, where she went to confession
to a priest with experience of the New Age movement. Her first confession to him lasted for 2½ hours, and
in subsequent meetings with him she was gradually led to renounce all her past spiritualist activities, and was
thus able to make a truly fresh start.
While applauding this outcome, the point clearly needs to be made that it was her participation in the Sacrament
of Confession at Medjugorje which was the crucial part of her spiritual healing, rather than actually been present
in the place itself. We also have to take into account the fact that she was wearing a miraculous medal. But having
said that, it does seem possible that she did receive some extraordinary supernatural help to bring her back to
the right road.
This has to be understood, though, in the context of her overall situation. It may well be that God had infallibly
foreseen that it was only by means of her coming into contact with Catholics associated with Medjugorje that it
would be possible for her to free herself from her New Age involvement. In other words, in an extreme situation
like this, it might be necessary for God and the Blessed Virgin to have intervened miraculously in her life, given
that she was so involved in occult practices. However, this obviously does not imply a blanket endorsement of everything
to do with Medjugorje.
In general, this is a very interesting book which should certainly serve
as a cautionary tale for anyone thinking of getting involved in New Age practices, and likewise act as a source
of hope for those seeking to extricate themselves from such an involvement.
© 2005, Donal Anthony Foley, All Rights Reserved
I am grateful to Donal Foley of www.theotokos.org.uk website for permission to reproduce this book review
Version: 20th May 2009