Book Review: 100 Cupboards and Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson

This is a Guest Post by Elisabeth Gygax, daughter of Hans Gygax

Our family has watched many videos of Doug Wilson. He’s a godly Christian man. And we’ve seen his son, N.D. Wilson, follow in his steps. So when my Dad saw that he’d written some children’s books… well, what could go wrong?

So Dad ordered his first two books in a series- 100 Cupboards and Dandelion Fire– from the library. And he brought them home for us children to read. We all love reading, so I and three of my younger brothers immediately pounced on them. From what our Dad and my older brother had gathered from what they had read, we got the impression that these books would be spiritual- written as if one is deep within the spiritual realm and it is real life. So we didn’t quite catch what was going on at first.


The first book we had some questions about, but it wasn’t obvious. But when it came to the second one… it was too much. I told my brothers to stop reading the books but finished them myself for the full context. I brought my concerns to my dad. He asked me to write a review, which I did. And then he asked me to write this article.

Although N.D. Wilson is highly imaginative and a very talented writer, there are some major concerns I have about his books that I strongly feel must be addressed. I do this because I am concerned for my fellow Christians who may read Wilson’s books- especially because they are written by a Christian author. We, as Christians, don’t want to create anything that will dishonor God, do we? And as Christians, do we want to fill our minds with things that displease God, even though they’re just make-believe? I know what’s right and what’s wrong, you say. A little make believe won’t hurt me.


Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

And what about 2 Corinthians 10:5?

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”


When we read a book or watch a movie or anything in between, we need to ask ourselves this question: What lessons is this teaching? And we need to pray that God will give us discernment, for although we are Christians and Satan cannot control us, we can still be oppressed by him if we allow it. Evil spirits can still influence us if we open ourselves up. Even if we don’t realize it.


And how will we answer this question? With the Word of God. The answer to all our questions when determining right from wrong can and should be found there (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17, for example). So this is what we are going to do with the two books 100 Cupboards and Dandelion Fire: we’re going to break them down and answer that question.


Please note that I am not, by any of this article, implying that N.D. Wilson is not saved and/or that he did anything wrong purposefully. Our family used to defend “white” magic in books, movies, etc., as well, thinking of it as just a fun, make-believe thing. But now that God has opened our eyes, I cannot say nothing to my fellow Christians if the occasion arises. And I believe that the need has arisen. I do this for my fellow Christians. I do this in prayer that maybe the Lord will use this article to help them to consider that perhaps we have blended with the world’s thinking in some areas. I write this not only for the sake of N.D. Wilson’s work, but to compare all magic with Scripture. What does the Scripture say about this subject? We must know. So without further ado, let’s begin.

Question: What lessons are 100 Cupboards and Dandelion Fire teaching?

  1. That there are two kinds of magic: “Black” and “White”


This fact will be obvious to anyone who reads these books. “White” magic is “good” magic. And if the good people in the books are using magic for good… well, then the books are obviously saying that there is such a thing as good magic. Magic can be used for either good or evil, they say… but stop. What does God tell us about magic?


“There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all these things are an abomination to the Lord.” — Deuteronomy 18:10-12


The subject of magic can be found all over in the Bible, but these are some of the prominent verses that first came to my mind. After I wrote that down, I decided to look up the Hebrew definitions of several words pertaining to our subject.

Here they are:
Divination– Divine sentence- witchcraft
Witchcraft– To whisper a spell- to enchant or practice magic sorcery
Enchanter– Whisper a magic spell
Witch– To enchant or practice magic- a sorcerer
Wizard– A conjurer


And for a few other words not contained in Scripture, I used the Webster’s 1828 dictionary, a very reliable source for the older definitions of words and a reliable Christian dictionary as well. Webster even references to verses oftentimes.


Conjure (Webster’s Dictionary): To expel, to drive or affect, in some manner, by magic arts… or by use of certain words, characters, or ceremonies to engage supernatural influence; as, to conjure up evil spirits…


Magic (Webster’s Dictionary): The art or science of producing wonderful effects by the aid of superhuman beings, or of departed spirits; sorcery; enchantment


In no place in the Bible is magic portrayed as good. It’s always evil. It’s a bonding of the soul with demons, and using their power. Those who practice such works are to be put to death (see Exodus 22:18). So we see clearly that even “white” magic is forbidden and completely wicked. There cannot be “good” magic- especially because it is a force apart from God’s power.


But what if, you say, God could portray His power with magic?

Why in the world would He do that? Why would He show forth His holy power using something He hates? Why would He permit His children to use the power of demons? A witch is clearly to be killed (Exodus 22:18) so why would He allow His children to do as witches do? There are no such things as “good” witches. Witches are sorcerers, ones who whisper magic spells. This is not God’s power working through His children. This is the work of demons.

But, you protest, the witch in the two books was portrayed as evil! Well, let’s look again at the definition of the word witch in Hebrew.


Witch– To enchant or practice magic- a sorcerer


By this definition, aren’t a whole lot of characters in the book practicing witchcraft? God will cut off those who go a whoring after wizards and familiar spirits (see Leviticus 20:6). Wizardry and using the devil’s power are one the same. In 2 Kings 21:6, it says that King Manasseh “made his son to pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.” So here we see that sacrificing our children, observing times, using enchantments, and dealing with devils and wizards are all in the same category!


For there are only two powers in the world: God’s and Satan’s. The wizards get their power from the familiar spirits (devils). But, you protest, white magic cannot be the power of devils, for the users are doing good. They are using magic for a good cause.

Cannot Satan appear to do good? He himself appears as an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). It is often incredibly difficult to see through Satan’s disguises, and that is why we need to

“[B]elieve not every spirit, but try the spirits to see whether they are of God” (1 John 4:1).

How will we try the spirits? Through God’s Word. For it is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (1 Timothy 3:16).

Hebrews 4:12:

“For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Besides, they are clearly not using God’s power in Wilson’s work, or in any of the books/movies I’ve seen throughout my life with white magic. No one ever gives any credit for anything to God. Is this the case throughout Scripture, with the people who served God? The miracles and wonders God works are clearly His doing. Consider Elijah. What about Elisha? What about Jesus? The apostles? It was God’s hand at work throughout all the miracles, signs, and wonders, and everyone knew it. And, if they didn’t, the ones whom God used to work the miracle made sure it was known to be God’s hand. In 1 Kings 17, after Elijah prayed to God and God brought the widow’s dead son back to life, Elijah brought the widow’s son to her, saying, “See, thy son liveth.” And what was her response? “Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the Word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth.” (1 Kings 17:23-25). When God used Paul and Barnabas to heal a lame man in Acts 17, and the people would have worshipped them, Paul and Barnabas ripped their clothes and ran among the people, saying that they themselves were also men, and that they were only trying to preach that the people should turn to God (see Acts 14).

2. That there is, ultimately, no God


Even though N.D. Wilson does mention God twice in his book when Henry (sort of) prayed on page 225 of Dandelion Fire and when Eli swears “before God and these witnesses” on page 338, the books, as far as I know, never mention Him before or afterwards and never give Him any credit for anything. I don’t see why Wilson even bothered to mention Him at all.


And listen to this part; when Henry, our main character, was being christened, what his beautiful, gentle mother Hyacinth (yes, definitely portrayed as a good character) told the priest who was christening Henry:


Priest: “Who fathered this child?”
Hyacinth: “Mordecai Westmore.”
Priest: “Who bore him?”
Hyacinth: “I did.”
Priest: “What path is meant for his feet?”
Hyacinth: “The one true path.”
Priest: “What God shall walk before him?”
Hyacinth: “The true Gods shall be the God before him.
(Dandelion Fire, page 415. Emphasis added)


Here, clearly, it says Gods (plural). And who on earth are the “true Gods”? The Bible clearly says that there is only ONE God (see Mark 12:32; 1 Timothy 2:5) and that we shall have NO other gods before Him (see Exodus 20:3).


If N.D. Wilson’s work is not pressing God as God, who is it pressing as God? Who should you trust? Wilson’s work answers. Yourself, and the power in you. The magic you possess. Your own power. Not God’s.

(Ex: Dandelion Fire, pages 450-454)


Listen to what Caleb, Henrietta’s uncle (who is definitely portrayed as a good character), says to Henrietta on page 341 of Dandelion Fire:


“Be stubborn,” Caleb said. “As stubborn as a stone mule.” She (Henrietta) clenched her teeth and expanded her fistfuls of mane. She could do that. Caleb continued, his voice a chant. “Your life is your own, your glory is your glory, but you will lose it if you keep it for yourself. Grasp it for the sake of others.” (Emphasis added)

She (Henrietta) clenched her teeth and expanded her fistfuls of mane. She could do that. Caleb continued, his voice a chant. “Your life is your own, your glory is your glory, but you will lose it if you keep it for yourself. Grasp it for the sake of others.” (Emphasis added)


As Christians, our life is not our own- it’s Christ’s (See Mark 8:34-36) and our glorying must be in the Lord (see 2 Corinthians 10:20) because we can do no good on our own (see Psalm 53:2-3). True, the quote says not to keep our honor for ourselves, but to “grasp it for the sake of others”? We are to give our lives and glory to God- not grasp it for ourselves or others.

3. Occult


N.D.’s work also includes occult practices, such as:

Astral walking


Astral walking is the practice of leaving one’s body and traveling wherever one wants. The first time Henry did it, it was an accident, but he practices it later and uses it when imprisoned to leave the room and wander about (see Dandelion Fire, pages 313-319).


Astral walking is very real and is practiced today. Why in the world do we want our children to do this occult practice? Oh no, you exclaim, that’s not true! Isn’t it? You give your child a book in which the reader becomes attached to the “good” characters, and you don’t expect them to imitate and admire those characters’ actions? We become like those we are around, whether those people live next door or live in the book on the shelf. Our hearts are tied to them and we, though we may be unconscious of it, become like them. (See Proverbs 13:30 and Mark 6:21).


Books on magic


Everyone knows that witches have their spell books and all, right? And everyone knows that magic can be used for either good or evil, right? Wait!- that’s wrong. Magic is wicked and damned by God, so it is not justified if we use it for a good purpose. So if you found spell books, what would you do with them? Well, in Wilson’s book, Monmouth- the “good” wizard who becomes Henry’s friend- read them. After all, who wouldn’t want to study magic, right?


Let’s look to the Scripture. Yes, books on magic do occur- in Acts 19. Let’s see:


“And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the Word of God and prevailed.” (Acts 19:18-20)


What happened when the people at Ephesus who formerly used curious arts (magic) were converted? They burned their books on magic. Those books cost fifty thousand pieces of silver altogether, and they burned them. And it says that the Word of God grew and prevailed mightily.


Dreamwalking


Dreamwalking is a very real thing that people practice today and is altogether wicked and full of magic. It includes being able to control one’s own dreams even to the extent of choosing where one is, being able to enter another’s dreams, and even being able to possess another’s mind, whether human or animal. You can find articles made by people explaining how to dreamwalk all over. It is similar to astral walking but not the same. Do you know what they say? Using dreamwalking, one can see and commune with spirits. With demons.

In Dandelion Fire, our main character uses this dreamwalking multiple times, primarily on pages 310-313 of Dandelion Fire, just before he astral walks.


4. Other Questionable Topics


The ability to look inside others and see who they are


This happens in a few places on N.D’s book. Henry did this to Nella, the kind woman who took care of him with her husband, both of whom possessed the second sight, and to Monmouth (pages 167-168, 312 of Dandelion Fire). This goes against what the Bible teaches, that only God can see the heart (1 Samuel 16:7, Jeremiah 17:10). Monmouth also did this to Henry at the same time as Henry did it to him.


The World


In Wilson’s world, everything is magic. I mean, everything. Everything is made up of magic. Of words, spirals, songs, magic. Everything. Including people. It’s a magic that can be read, if you have the second sight and the knowledge. This is what Wilson has replaced with God’s beautiful world. He’s replaced it with something God hates.

Special Powers

Wilson’s books also teach that if one is a seventh son, they automatically have the second sight, that any random woman can have the second sight, and that seventh sons can bind to living things, to green growing things. (See Dandelion Fire, pages 167-169, 296). When you are a seventh son, especially a “green man” (seventh sons who are connected to green growing things) you don’t need to be a wizard. You have the magic powers already.


What in the world are we teaching our children? That because of your order of birth you automatically have the second sight? That having the second sight is perfectly okay and if you want to be cool like Henry, you actually want it?


Evil can triumph over good if it is strong enough


When we are Christians, the very gates of hell cannot stand against us (Matthew 16:18) because of Jesus, who won the keys of hell and death (Revelation 1:18) and who reins over all and sits on the right hand of God (see 1 Peter 3:22). We have all power through Jesus’ Name over even demons (see Luke 10:17-19) and we are heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-17).


Yet despite all this, Wilson’s books- as seems to be the case with all magical books- have it so that good can triumph over evil if it’s strong enough. You’d just better hope that the white magic inside you is stronger than a wizard’s black magic if you happen to run into one, because if his black magic happens to be stronger…


This concept is easily seen by anyone who reads Wilson’s books. This concept can be found, I believe, in nearly every book wherein there is white magic vs. black. Thinking back to all the books and movies I read and watched before God opened my parents’ eyes to the truth about magic, I can see this concept everywhere. And yet, can evil triumph over good? Can the devil ever triumph over Jesus? No. The only way the devil could triumph over a Christian would be if they weren’t trusting God or were sinning.


I’ll tell you why black magic can triumph over “white” magic. Because they’re both evil. So that’s not really the problem. The problem is that if we are teaching that magic can be either good or bad, and we have the evil triumphing over the “good”, then what is that teaching our children about good and evil?

That even the good can be possessed by evil, used by evil

Henry, our main character, would have been possessed by Darius, an evil man-wizard, been bound to him and made his, the man-witch’s blood in his veins- had not the son-binding warpspasm malfunctioned (Dandelion Fire, pages 92-96). Like being possessed by an evil spirit. Henry’s mind would no longer have been his own- it would have been Darius’.

What if Henry would have died during the warpspasm process? Well, then Darius would have absorbed Henry’s spirit and its power of the second sight.

This is what Nimane, the witch, using Darius to help, did to everyone that she sensed die- she absorbed their spirits and the power inside. When she destroyed the life of the land, she didn’t just destroy it, she absorbed all its power. Of both good and bad people (See Dandelion Fire, pages 96, 274, 360-363,451). This all is contrary to Jesus’ promise that, as Christians, our souls are safe in Christ and no one will be able to pluck us out of His hand (John 10:28), and that nothing on earth can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39).

Yet, all that’s not really a problem, for none of our characters are Christians anyway. Exactly! you say. So why bring it up at all?

Why would we want our children to delve themselves into the realm of evil? We are supposed to be wise (knowledgeable) about good and simple (unlearned) about evil (Romans 16:19). Every book our children read and every movie they watch, they will be affected by. If we allow them to read books that portray evil as good, their little minds, which are still moldable and forming, will be twisted. Subconsciously. Do we want that for our children? Do we want that for us? Do we want to bring evil into our minds?


Characters


Another concern I have is the characters’ characteristics, especially the children’s. For example:


Henrietta
Proud and independent, Henrietta refuses to show any signs of weakness, and will lie freely to guard herself. She hides things from her parents and friends, and has almost no remorse at all about lying and even stealing (A few examples: pages 11, 15-16, 19, 55, 239-240, of Dandelion Fire). She sneaks into dangerous places without asking or telling anyone (ex: pages 42-50 of Dandelion Fire). She does a lot of this with Henry, who isn’t quite as bad but still does hide lots of things from people (ex: pages 44-49 of 100
Cupboards
).


Anastasia
The youngest of the Willis family, Anastasia has almost no remorse about lying or sneaking on other people’s conversations (ex: pages 90-94 of 100 Cupboards). Why would she, anyway? Her older sister does it.

Are these all characteristics we want our children to have? Do we want them to lie or steal, or hide important or dangerous things from us? No, of course not! And yet some of our favorite characters have these as realities in their lives.


Leviticus 19:11: “Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, nor lie one to another.”


Conclusion


My conclusion is this: that if we desire to follow and love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind, then we need to always measure everything against His Word. And never accept something just because everyone else, Christian or not, accepts it.

If God’s Word says otherwise, are we willing to change?

Elisabeth Gygax

Comments

  1. Tim Folke

    Thank you for this excellent, comprehensive and informative essay.

    Yes, especially when it comes to homeschooling, it is incumbent upon the parents to proofread books before providing them to our children.

    Years ago I attended one of the more strict Mennonite Churches. The church had its own school, and I was on the proofreading committee. Long story short, I was grateful we did proofread as many of the books, even though they were endorsed by reputable sources, contained some very unsavory content.

    Let’s not forget there is a profusion of wholesome and educational books written in the past, primarily before WWII, that are available to homeschoolers. Such books are timeless.

    As has been said, one cannot judge a book by its cover.

  2. Jim Hix

    This is an excellent exposure of the Anti-Christian occultic precepts that are conveyed in these books. You’ve performed a commendable work in having warned those with less discernment to beware of these and similar types of children’s books. Satan is a treacherous, sneaky, snake!

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