Bishop Tikhon – Has a particularly harrowing experience with a Ouija board
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Putin and the monk January 25, 2013 by: Charles Clover [Financial Times]
…. his recent autobiography Everyday Saints and Other Stories….. is devoted mainly to reminiscences of an older generation of churchmen, Tikhon’s teachers, who he presents through a rather gauzy, nostalgia-laden portrait of a time when life was simpler. Unlike his earlier film project, there is no overt chest-thumping nationalism or pro-regime political propaganda, only a rather well-written and compelling narrative about the lives of monks in the Soviet Union.
It was actually a particularly harrowing experience with a Ouija board in 1982 that started Father Tikhon – still in film school at the time and named Georgy Shevkunov – on his long road to the heights of secular and spiritual power in Russia. The decision to be baptised was not taken lightly back in the days of the pre-perestroika Soviet Union. But Shevkunov had a pretty compelling reason.
An amateur spiritualist, he and a group of friends had taken an interest in the occult, finding that, with the help of a few candles, a planchette and the right attitude, they could “establish contact with certain completely incomprehensible but nonetheless absolutely real entities” from the spirit world, according to his autobiography.
The new acquaintances introduced themselves variously as Napoleon, Socrates and even Stalin. It was fun for a while. And then, it almost went horribly wrong.
One evening, the group managed to contact who they believed was 19th-century author Nikolai Gogol. But he was in a terrible mood, and the group recoiled in terror when, in a fit of extreme crankiness, Gogol told them all to commit suicide by ingesting poison. They raced from the room, and the next day, headed straight to the nearest church, where a priest chastised them.
The foolish youngsters had not really been in contact with Gogol, said the priest. Instead, they had simply been the victims of a clever prank. By a minor demon, most likely. His recommendation: baptism.
Tikhon’s generation were spiritual explorers, which drew many like him to Christianity. The Soviet prohibition on religion only made it more attractive – the forbidden fruit.
Yevgeny Nikiforov, who is in his fifties, laughs today when he remembers the antics of his 1980s generation. “First we all learnt yoga, then we studied Sanskrit, then we read the New Testament. It was all the same to us at the time. Only later did we become spiritually mature,” he says. “No one had the first clue. The KGB even thought karate was a religion,” he laughs.
“We watched Bruce Lee movies thinking they were some sort of mystical experience. Can you imagine?”