Former New Age astrologer warns about questionable influences creeping into church


Are alternative healing, yoga, mysticism right for Christians?

Christian yoga

By Mark Ellis

Marcia Montenegro was deeply entrenched in the New Age movement, taught astrology, and headed the Atlanta Astrological Society. But a co-worker’s prayers and an unexpected compulsion to attend church led her to Christ.

Now she’s warning about unbiblical influences entering the church with eerie echoes from her past. “I was Buddhist and New Age, so I recognize the concepts right away,” says Montenegro, founder of CANA/Christian Answers for the New Age. She is also the author of “SpellBound: The Paranormal Seduction of Today’s Kids” (Cook, 2006).

One of her concerns relates to alternative healing, which involves medical practices outside the realm of conventional medicine. She sees Christians embrace alternative healing approaches after bad experiences with doctors or when they have lost hope in traditional medicine.

“The kind I’m concerned about is based on spiritual views and really doesn’t have objective scientific or medical data to support it,” she says. Montenegro cites acupuncture, homeopathy, and energy healing as examples.

Some practitioners use machines to detect and manipulate “chi,” a supposed life force or energy flow that has its roots in Taoism, according to Montenegro.  A National Institutes of Health statement on acupuncture noted that concepts such as chi are difficult to reconcile with science. Generally, the existence of chi has been rejected by the scientific community.

Montenegro also sees many Christians get involved with yoga, including so-called “Christian yoga.”

“Hatha yoga is a part of the Hindu spiritual path, a way of practicing Hindu beliefs and honoring the Hindu gods,” she says. “It’s a very esoteric and occultic practice.”

She believes there are other options for believers. “There is no reason to do yoga,” she says. “There are other things you can do to tone your body, exercise, and stretch. Why do Christians feel they have to do yoga?”

A third area of concern for Montenegro relates to the growing influence of mysticism among Christians. “This mysticism creeping in came from Catholics who were open to Buddhism,” she notes. She also cites Richard Foster, a Quaker, and ideas coming from the Emergent Church movement.

The confluence of their influences have begun to redefine prayer, especially to encourage a form of “listening prayer” which seeks to empty the mind so practitioners may hear from God.

“When you try to do something to conjure up God, you’ve gone away from the Bible,” Montenegro says. “If God wants to speak to us, do we have to do something special to hear it?” she asks.

She is aware of at least one prominent Christian leader who recommends Ken Wilber’s book, “A Brief History of Everything.”

“Wilber is one of the premiere Buddhist-based New Age philosophers,” she notes.

In Wilber’s “A Brief History” he writes, “And in the highest reaches of evolution, maybe, just maybe, an individual’s consciousness does indeed touch infinity—a total embrace of the entire Kosmos—a Kosmic consciousness that is Spirit awakened to its own true nature. It’s at least plausible.”

“In the New Age you are always on a search because you never really find any answers,” she notes. “It was clearly the Lord who intervened and drew me away from the false path.”


Marcia’s ministry is CANA/Christian Answers for the New Age, and she is a missionary with Fellowship International Mission, an independent mission board based in Allentown, PA. CANA is an informational and outreach ministry. She has been featured on various Christian media, and leads workshops and speaks at conferences, churches and retreats, and writes for Christian publications. Marcia is the author of “SpellBound: The Paranormal Seduction of Today’s Kids” (Cook, 2006).


  1. As a Catholic working in a very secular hospital with a signficant New Age influence, I can tell you that new age practices are getting rammed down our throats; from Reiki to mom-baby yoga classes,-runs the gamut. Almost impossible to get it out of here, let alone even criticise it. Very disturbing.

  2. I feel this is attacking Catholicism. Mysticism especially within the Catholic Church has its roots in Elijah in Mt. Carmel when he ascended and found God in the whispers THROUGH PRAYER!!!!!. Catholic mysticism is Centered in the Triune God and has nothing to do with Buddhism. That is and should be considered and erroneous statement in comparison with those who say Christianity takes ALL of its teachings from Buddhism.

    • I agree. To say that Catholic mysticism misleads true believers is to deny the importance and validity of the communion of saints, many of whom were “mystics” in communion with Christ himself…..nothing wrong with getting quiet (call it meditation if you want) in order to hear the voice of God…..

      • Well, I think there is a difference between Catholicism’s teachings and practices and traditional Evangelical Christianity. We part ways first on how one is saved but also on the many teachings on mysticism, and such. So you are speaking from a differing perspective than what Marcia’s beliefs are.

    • AMEN RR!!! The enemy who is the source of anything and everything opposed to the true and living God is not only not a creator but he has to take truth and twist it. This is what he has done with the new age movement and idolatrous forms of mysticism. The true kind of mysticism found in Catholicism and even in Protestant denominations that have fully embraced the Holy Spirit have done just that, they have embraced the Living God in the third Person of the Trinity. For example – yoga is actually a form of worship to a demon. the movements were all formed and consecrated to the demon. God however meant for everything to be sanctified, even our movements can be a praise unto Him with great reverence and power and humility. Healing – well the greatest example of this would be the actions of Christ Himself foreshadowing what we are to do, lay hands on or pray for the Holy Spirit to come and heal. Homeopathy and other more natural healing modalities are based in nature which God created so don’t throw out the baby with the bath water so to speak. Because they are based in nature science does and will back them up (but in America we tend not to support such data and research). You have to be wise to understand if the medicine choice you are seeeking is based in nature/science or mysticism. As an example there are two forms of reflexology, one Buddhist and one science based.

      So the real issue is discerning which spirit one chooses to worship and abide in. The counter fit or the Living God. Both are real. One is salvific! And the other cannot even compare.

      • Praise the Lord!
        Homeopathy is indeed one of the worst forms of the so called Alternative Medicines. Hanneman the founder of Homeopathy was a Freemason, praticioneer of spiritism and Confucionist, all of this is frontally against the Christian faith. Homeopathy “medicines” are based on successive dilutions to “potentiate” the medicine. They say the more “potence” the better. From were dos it come that “potence”? It is based on the New Age concept of the Vital Force and healing through the “realigment”of he Vital Force within the individual. Clearly NOT compatible with Christianity. Stay away from it.
        God bless.

  3. I also have sadly had an upfront and personal encounter with a nurse whose mentor for reiki to “help patients” is an extraordinary minister at a church I used to attend. The well-intentioned member of the Rosary society came to visit with our prayer group which meets in a small chapel near the church to tell us how the rosary group has no intention to do anything wrong, they just want to alleviate some pain in the patients they treat at nurses. I had written a letter to the rosary society and sent them some information I received about the new age counterfeit from the program of Johnette Benkovic’s show on EWTN so they will see how they are being deceived by satan. I wrote a kind but strong letter to this group which I sent along with the book warning them to heed the words of the messenger, not to detest the fact that the messenger cares enough about their souls to encourage them to ask Our Lady for advice and counsel about their choice to ignor what I said to put a halt to the use of new age practices, especially since the teacher of the group must be poorly instructed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as it is addressed by the popes as to the condemnation of the use of new age practices which have nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ. I cannot tell you how difficult it was to pray on this that these ladies withdraw from any such practices and go to confession, now that they know that this is false religion slithering into the Church. I did the best I could to help them see how wrong it is, but, I know I am not to condemn, only to bring the truth to the unknowing, as Christ came not to condemn, but to give His mercy and everlasting life to those who love Him.

  4. RR, I wonder if the part that jumped out to me is the same part that jumped out to you. It is certainly not wrong to listen for God. We need to get away from society’s constant noise to hear Him. But I think this article is talking about a different kind of listening, where you are “conjuring” or in a sense trying to force God to speak to you. There is a difference. And we certainly should not be listening for the voice of the “god” within us.

    It was eerie to see this article on just after having an argument with my daughter about yoga. There is nothing wrong with it, because it is her opinion that there is nothing wrong with it. I asked her, if some poses are to honor Hindu gods, and you do them saying they mean nothing to you, then some day can your husband do things with other women that “look” inappropriate, as long as it means nothing to him? I had hoped that she would see that she is being unfaithful to God, even if she says it means nothing to her. The fact that it means nothing to her, unfortunately means something. I am afraid that she is at a point where she wouldn’t particularly care if she did offend God.

    • Excellent point, Sharon! If a husband poses inappropiately with other women, but he says, “It means nothing to me,” we would all say he’s full of beans.

      To my shame, I used to think yoga could be Christianized; not that I have ever tried it, thanks to the grace of God and knee arthritis!

  5. It’s an intersting fact in my experience that most people who are in a state of grace feel a sense of unease when they are in the presence of New Age practices, whether they are conciously aware that these are spiritually or theologically dangerous or not. This has to be the Holy Spirit prompting us to flee from these pitfalls and we must NEVER ignore or disdain these “intuitions.” The best weapon against these attacks are prayer and trust in the Lord, Sharon. I pray that the Blessed Mother will gather your daughter under Her mantle and protect her as She protected Our Savior. Do NOT despair!

  6. I was asked to go to a night of reflection at a local retreat house. The nun who was conducting the session had a bowl sitting on table. Thats when the Holy Spirit made his entry, I had the sense that there was something terribly wrong. The nun then proceeded to take what looked like a drum stick and began to rub it around the edge of the bowl. I pulled out my Rosary and tuned her out . I later found out that it was a Tibetan singing bowl which is some new age practice.Thanks be to God for His warning….

  7. It drives me NUTS that the preschool at our parish has the little ones doing yoga. I cannot stand seeing it, and I will not be sending my own children there because of it. Too bad our pastor seems to see nothing wrong with yoga. If anyone has some advice for dealing with this, I’d love some.

  8. These are great points against the dangers of the occult for sure but there is one important point that has yet to be made, and this is CRITICAL to know and be aware of as Christians in our knowledge of the New Age Movement. Under no circumstances should we ever EMPTY OUR MINDS or our self! This emptying of mind that the New Age proports is absolutely dangerous! This is where things get real risky as nature abhors a vacuum!…since if we open or “empty” ourselves up to something (not Someone who is Christ) it will be filled with something else, difficult to get rid of and difficult to deal with, losing a great peace in our hearts in the process. The New Age always uses something that appears seemingly “good” (pain management, exercise, etc) and preys upon people who are wounded in one way or another to draw in more souls, moving them away from Christ. The Devil is very cunning, and named thus as “The Father of All Lies” who even quoted the Scriptures to Christ himself. If we truly understood that our souls were made for Christ and are ETERNAL, we might be more apt to safeguard them at all costs while we still have some time here on this earth! Only through Christ will we find the TRUE peace and healing we need, anything else is sure to disappoint and do far more damage than good! -“Our hearts are restless until they rest in You” – St. Augustine.

    • Donna, you are so right!!! Many people are being deceived about the “New Age Practices”….many do not even know what they are doing! You have explained it well…I pray people gain understanding and knowledge through God’s Word so they can begin to discern these wrong practises!!!….Kudos to you sister in Christ!

  9. Lady, go to Mass. So tired of self-proclaimed “Christians” knocking the Church Christ founded. Your ignorance is total.

  10. I am a Catholic christian and believe also that the New Age has pushed it’s way into the church and has become mainstream. Yoga is taught at retreat houses, as is rekki classes and the meditation.. One needs the gift of discernment from the Holy Spirit though. We can’t throw out everything because that is also wrong.. In Gensis it speaks of God giving us plants that will be our medicine. It is a shame that many new agers have hijacked God’s plants to make it into what it is not. Before we had all the technology we used natural things for many of our cures. Braggs apple cider vinegar for digestive issues and yes homeopathic remedies (which are small doses of the allergen to help us overcome the problem) It has been a literal God send for me in the natural cure for bladder infections. There IS science behind homeopathy. The important point is to find a company that is interested in healing through natural means without the new age. After all, lets face it when I go to an allpathic doctor (traditional) they know almost nothing about nutrition. If they cannot prescribe a drug to cure you they are lost. I am in the medical field and I find the best combination is where we use drugs when needed but NOT as a first line of defense. We need to clean up our crummy diets, we need good clean living, and we supplementation that can support our organs and body systems to help them. A christian chiropractor adjusts my neck when I have slept the wrong way and can’t turn my neck. Is this new age? No. God expects that I take care of my health. If I went to my doctor would he/she adjust my neck? No they would give me a drug that I do not need. We need balance her. We need to recognize what is harmful and what works along with our bodies without putting our souls in danger. We need to teach discernment. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us. God does heal through HIS plants too. So although I am very aware of how New Age principles have creeped into the church, we do a dis-service to people who really need help they may not find exclusively through a family physican to make them feel guilty when they do find a health practitioner who can help with healing without drugs. It is up to the Holy Spirit to guide us. He will teach us and guide us to the truth, and He will guide us individually to what is false. We must rely on the guidance of the church and also prayer for our individual needs.

  11. About 10 years ago, my daughter and I went to yoga classes and even a few reiki sessions for muscle relaxation and toning. I even asked an Indian priest in our parish if it was okay and he said it was. For a while it was just fun and to some extent helped. Then, it began to unwind. The yoga/reiki lady tried to turn my daughter against me. She thought that I controlled her life too much. She told me I should give my daughter space. We wondered why it was any of her business. I had a problem with my hip and she did reiki for me. She prayed to the Holy Spirit and St. Michael, etc. etc. While she was “working” on me, there appeared to my left two large black holes that appeared to be tunnels. A voice told me to follow her into the tunnel she was standing in front of if I wanted to be healed. I thought I was dreaming. So I ignored it, but it persisted. I finally asked the reiki lady if she saw or heard anything. She said no. I told her what I saw and heard. She denied knowing or ever experiencing anything like it. Told me it was my imagination. It wasn’t. I did return for a few more sessions because I was totally oblivious but the black tunnels appeared again. I didn’t like it and stopped going. A couple of months later she moved in with her lesbian lover and her children. My daughter remained her friend with reservations. She was always telling her that I had too much control over her life. She was downright annoying. Thinking back. I see the evil which I didn’t then. So many are being deceived.

  12. Pam, Elijah did not conjure up God by any technique, God spoke to Elijah because God chose to do so and not as a result of centering prayer or meditation but in response to the desperate and exhausted and ready to die man’s whole hearted turning to YHWH, and if you think Catholicism consists of what Merton or whoever swiped from Buddhism you are severely misinformed about Catholicism.

    why don’t you read some of these articles?

    Fr. Amorth is or was the Vatican top exorcist and he has nothing good to say about any of this stuff. here are a couple of links. incl. link to
    the book ” The New Age Counterfeit Johnnette Benkovic
    Pb 124 pgs
    Johnnette looks at the many aspects of the New Age movement and points out the many discrepamcies to Sacred Scripture. An over-all look at the movement and good study guide.” since she is from EWTN the RC network, and was soft on Medjugorje I would think you could accept this. examines and rejects New Age practices like centering prayer and so forth as new stuff that crept into the RC.

  13. To RR I had been involved in some of this New Age folly of Eastern religions and drug induced experiences before God called back to my Catholic faith. Catholic mysticism involves a process of conversion, giving up our sins and growing in prayer through more active prayer and meditation as in the Scriptures, meditations on the goodness of God, The Cross of Jesus etc, and over time God Will call us to more simple loving prayer of God. God can if He wills lead us to contemplative or mystical graces but it is God who leads. New Age meditation and even so called Catholic meditations taking approaches of Eastern meditation can falsely attempt to create a false silence or a false quietness which is a type of self hypnosis as opposed to the prayer of silence which God may lead us to by His Grace and mercy. For awhile I had participated in something called “Contemplative outreach” which is much like a Catholic meditation approach which is done like Transcendental Meditation except that it uses Christian prayer words instead of Hindu Mantras. And for me this caused a type of self hypnosis which was a poor counterfeit of the times I have experienced God’s grace in prayer. Perhaps some could pray that way and it would be OK but for me it was my trying to manipulate God or to create a false peace instead of letting God lead me in prayer.

    • Thanks for the responses. What hit me is the way the sentence was written. We all have to remember that the way something is written can be very misleading and even controversial. If what was written were phrased in terms of “new age mysticism in Catholicism” then I wouldn’t have had any perturbance. What I read it as was that all of Catholic Mysticism which would have stretched from Elijah to St Teresa of Avila. I know that there is this infiltration of the New Age in Catholicism is fairly large and is quite disturbing, yet I had more difficulties with the phrasing of the sentence. God bless to all!

      • Yes as terms such as mysticism, meditation, etc. are used by both good Catholics, by other good Christians as well as by new Agers and by eastern religions of various kinks, it is important to know that the speaker means by those terms. And as, new Agers and others have given terms like mysticism a bad name, many, especially protestants are leery of such things, especially if their tradition does not have a tradition of deep prayer. So let us remember like St Paul, that Christian prayer always starts with Jesus Christ and Him crucified and always stays close to His cross, as even great mystics like Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross never outgrew the centrality of Jesus and Him Crucified. And I remember reading of The words of St John of the Cross, probably the most well known and respected Catholic mystic, on his deathbed. His brothers reminded him of all the good he had done, and his response was “Don’t think of that now but I Hope to be saved by the blood of Christ.” And if great saints needed to rely on His blood for their growth in faith and even in their deep prayer, how much more do we need that?

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