Charlie Charlie

There should be no excuse for spiritual, emotional and psychological abuse committed by well-meaning educators
against pupils of public schools. [1]

Learners have been warned not to play a harmless game of chance called Charlie Charlie [2] because, in the words of exorcist Moulana Nazeem Salie, who was invited by Prince George Primary School to assist educators in preventing the game from being played, “The game you are playing is making deals with the devil and we do not belong to evil, we belong to God.”

Despite the Western Cape Education Department’s public discouragement of “any activity that vulnerable children may find psychologically disturbing” [3], pastors and exorcists have joined a small gullible chorus of believing educators and parents fearful of the game’s alleged harmful spiritual influence on their learners and children. [4]

I asked Educator Tercia Coetzee du Plessis how she thought teachers should be handling the Charlie panic.

“Public schools should handle this matter rationally. This means they should use it as an opportunity to teach learners critical thinking skills. One good way is to use the Socratic method. Don’t start by telling learners what to do, but how to handle this. Ask questions like “What do we know about the origins of the game”? “If Charlie is real, by what mechanism does he operate in the physical world?” “If Charlie can do harm, for example by causing children to bleed to death internally, how is this done?”

My own son of 13 years, was scared because “4 children bled to death internally after playing Charlie Charlie.” I started by asking him where this happened and what the names of the children were. We tried to find the information online and established that there was no such story in the news. I then explained to him what happens when someone dies – that a death certificate is issued, and that if a (more so if there are four cases from one school), healthy young person just dies from unexplained internal bleeding there is sure to be major investigations by doctors and the police. This is a very good opportunity to teach children research skills and how to use the internet. The internet is a double edged sword; lots of good information, but also loads of nonsense. Without critical thinking skills the internet is probably a great danger.”

I asked her if she thought exorcists should be invited to speak to learners about the believed dangers of the Occult?

“An exorcist is the last person to visit any school. Unless the school uses the opportunity to debunk their practices. Regrettably the school my children attend follow the “warning, dangerous game” approach. The letter they sent out did encourage parents to read online, but that is not much use unless one includes a list of reputable websites.”

Acting director of the South African Pagan Rights Alliance, Retha van Niekerk, concurred with du Plessis.

“The Social Media hype surrounding this game has been blown out of proportion by fanatical individuals without facts. The reference in the media about a Mexican demon called Charlie that the youth are supposedly communing with, does not exist. There is no Mexican demon called Charlie.”

“There’s no demon called ‘Charlie’ in Mexico,” says Maria Elena Navez of BBC Mundo. “Mexican legends often come from ancient Aztec and Maya history, or from the many beliefs that began circulating during the Spanish conquest. In Mexican mythology you can find gods with names like ‘Tlaltecuhtli’ or ‘Tezcatlipoca’ in the Nahuatl language. But if this legend began after the Spanish conquest, I’m sure it would’ve been called ‘Carlitos’ (Charlie in Spanish).” “Mexican demons are usually American inventions” . [5]

Van Niekerk called for a more rational approach to understanding the game and the consequences of stereotyping it as dangerous.

“The facts are that with the slightest movement of air, the pencils move with a combination of gravity, friction and the position of the balanced pencil, according to a British Newspaper “The Independent”. What is more alarming than this innocent ‘party-trick’ game is being used by fanatics as a way to promote Christianity while discriminating against minority religious in schools. This opens the door to all sorts of discrimination and intimidation against innocent victims. The psychological damage discrimination and intimidation has on a developing child is very alarming, but no attention is being paid to this. No child has been harmed through
playing this game. Yet again, no attention is being paid to this.”

Van Niekerk says real divination games are a part of any Pagan household.

“Games of divination should be strictly supervised by informed Pagan parents, and never forced on a child, especially when they are not ready to participate. It is very difficult to set an age or family norm for this.”

Should children be exposed to games of divination?

Francisco Fumarola, an Occultist and executive member of SAPRA, feels that educators do not understand the esoteric rationale for acts of divination which employ random chance, such as the fall of runes or selection of tarot cards.

“We live in a divine universe and in a divinely ordered universe there is little room for chance. Any random event can have meaning attached to it by us and can become an act of communication between the divine universe and the human soul. Why does one pick that particular tarot card and not another? Then one can find a message and a meaning which provides illumination on a personal level, sort of like Jung’s Synchronicity. The random selection can become a tool of self-reflection and personal illumination. Divination games where the movement of the tool is dependent on subtle muscular movements of the one using the tool can be effective in tapping into ones own unconscious.”

I asked a Satanist, Octavius Drake, what he thought of Charlie Charlie.

“First, I wanted to play the game to see what happens, but it isn’t clear if I need to ask the question out loud or not. I think this is pretty much crucial to understand because if you don’t want anyone to know you’re playing the game, you probably don’t want to be shouting out weird questions and hoping a pencil moves. How long do you have to wait for an answer? I’ve just tried – I asked the question under my breath and I hope Charlie doesn’t have any hearing impairments – and nothing happened. Second, I’ve never in all my studies ever heard of a demon named Charlie. That tells me that, with regard to Satanic belief, it isn’t a demon. In my studies I learned that if you ask a demon his name, he will always tell you his true name. Charlie doesn’t sound like a legitimate name to me. I consider this nothing more than legend tripping nonsense. I think the kids want to have a bit of fun and if they can do it while upsetting some authority figures in the school, then why not?!

Christopher West, a Satanist and founding member of Satanic Freedom South Africa, agreed with Drake’s position on the non-existence of Charlie, and calls for real religious freedom to include Satanism and Satanists, who are often targeted through the media by pseudo-Occult experts as the cause for unexplained crimes in which occult influences are alleged as possible motive.

“From the perspective of a Satanist, I am deeply disappointed that I have to be commenting on such a childish matter. As Satanists we have NO interest in demonic possessions or inciting violence within our communities and our country as a whole. This game is no different from the origami finger toys we made in school, choosing and delighting ourselves in whomever we may marry. Let’s be realistic. Let’s focus on education, instead of the eternal damnation of innocent children. I am a father. My step-son is a Christian. Instead of shunning or brainwashing, we spend bedtimes reading the Christian Bible to him. Satanism is far too misunderstood. We are not murderous animals plotting with the Illuminati to control the world! We are mothers, fathers, doctors, police officers and even government employees.” West alluded to a new pro-active approach to challenge future discrimination against Satanists in South Africa.

Mja Principe, Pagan, founding member and Convener of the South African Pagan Council, clarified the nature of Occultism as a positive philosophical pursuit.

“Occultism is founded on the premise that divinity is imminent. It is within every living being. It is a series of disciplines that leads to an awakening of the inner divine and the attainment of wisdom. The key to every degree
of initiation is the aspiring initiate himself, and not fear of the God/s, entities or even of the “supernatural”. There is no place for ignorance on the road to enlightenment and self-realisation, and yet the way is peopled with those too keen on embracing the macabre for effect and those who are fond of exaggerating ‘happenings’; these are the tricks of their trade. They spend a lot of time trying to influence and mislead the credulous through whatever means. Panic and hysteria are tactics often resorted to. The reason for this is because it allows them to exploit the fears they sow in people’s hearts and minds to start off with, and this gives them the upper hand in being able to manipulate those they have ushered towards the corral of mind manipulation. Why not invite children to exercise critical thinking, experimentation and deduction/conclusion, instead of enabling the hysteria by bringing in the “occult experts” for exorcisms and fueling the demonic activity bit of propaganda?”

I approached Hans Pietersen, founding director of the Organisation for Religions Education and Democracy, who is currently pursuing legal challenge against 6 public schools for religious (Christian) coercion and abuse of learners’ rights in public schools [6], and asked him for comment on the way in which this recent panic has been handled by the Department of Education and school governing bodies.

“I’m astonished by the reactions at some schools. Fortunately not all; at some the Charlie Charlie game is seen for what it is – a simple prank. But for headmasters to ban the game on grounds of supernatural fears is the knee-jerk reaction that we don’t need from leaders.

A quick search of the internet to trusted sites like Wikipedia and Snopes shows that the game has no magic involved and is based on elementary physics – an inherently unstable balancing of a pencil that can easily be upset by a small tremor or puff of breath. Such a game trending on social media provides the ideal opportunity for parents and particularly science teachers to explain the primary school physics behind the trick. But some parents and schools react frantically, furthering irrational suggestions of supernatural interference by a supposed Mexican ghost with the peculiar name of Charlie. Children are by their very nature gullible and ignorant, some more so than others, and for superstitious or autocratic adults to fan irrational fears is contrary to what is expected of schools.

The phenomenon is not new, of course. I recall teachers and self-styled know-it-alls from my school years threatening us with damnation if we should listen to Rock music, many even burning their children’s music collections to destroy the Satanist backward tracks supposedly hidden in the music. More recently a harmless marketing stunt motivated paranoid parents and opportunistic journalists to warn about the imagined dangers of Stikeez. Every such instance is a case of ignorant, gullible or sly adults jumping on the supernatural bandwagon and creating fears out of thin air. Schools need to instill thinking skills in children and educate them about the silly stuff some people believe in. Banning harmless tricks from school grounds, or even pupils who participate therein, is contrary to that missive.”

Of course, the only “demons” causing demonstrable harm against children are those gullible adults seeking to justify the promotion of their own personal religious agendas in public schools. [7] The deliberate promotion of spiritual panic among children by religious leaders and educators amounts to religious abuse.


[1] Cape Flats school calls in exorcists
By Genevieve Serra | 7 September 2015
[2] Pupils banned from playing ‘demon game’
By Venecia Valentine | 2 September 2015
[3] Education department probes ‘demon’ game
IOL | 3 September 2015
[4] Schools nip ‘Charlie’ in the bud
by Earl Haupt | 8 September 2015
[5] Where did Charlie Charlie Challenge come from?
BBC | 26 May 2015
[6] Organisasie vir Godsdienste-Onderrig en Demokrasie (OGOD)


[7] Department of Education intervenes in ‘Charlie Charlie’ craze – video
Raahil Sain | 02 September, 2015—video

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