If you weren’t aware, I am a magickal practitioner, Wiccan, Pagan – give me a label that you are comfortable with that describes someone who does psychic, spell and celebratory work from a pagan perspective, who lives in the Southern United States.
I was born in Georgia – the heart of Dixie Land and raised a Pentecostal Independent Southern Baptist.
So we can all move forward on the same page, I need to give you some definitions.
Southern Baptist can mean two different things. There is the Southern Baptist Convention which is comprised of churches who affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention for political and economic reasons. Then there are Independent Southern Baptist churches who hold to the basic tenets of the Southern Baptist Convention and refuse to give up God’s authority to anyone else. This means that depending upon the church what Southern Baptist looks like can vary widely church to church in the south.
However, pentecostals have no convention and share some basic beliefs that can vary widely church to church. Wikipedia gives an excellent definition of pentecostal:
Pentecostalism or Classical Pentecostalism is a renewal movement within Protestant Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience ofGod through the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, the Greek name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks. For Christians, this event commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the followers of Jesus Christ, as described in the second chapter of the Book of Acts.
In practicality, this means that pentecostals are taught from a very young age to channel the Holy Spirit and commune directly with the essence of God. What varies is the degree to which each church takes its practice of Pentecostalism. The spectrum runs the gamut from practices of poisonous snake handling to a simple speaking in tongues to ecstatic trance dance and spontaneous healing.
I was raised by my grandmother to firmly and thoroughly believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit as set down Biblically in I Corinthians 12:7 – 11 which reads:
7 The Holy Spirit is given to each of us in a special way. That is for the good of all. 8 To some people the Spirit gives a message of wisdom. To others the same Spirit gives a message of knowledge. 9 To others the same Spirit gives faith. To others that one Spirit gives gifts of healing.10 To others he gives the power to do miracles. To others he gives the ability to prophesy. To others he gives the ability to tell the spirits apart. To others he gives the ability to speak in different kinds of languages they had not known before. And to still others he gives the ability to explain what was said in those languages. 11 All the gifts are produced by one and the same Spirit. He gives gifts to each person, just as he decides.
For my grandmother the gift of prophesy and to tell different spirits apart and translate what is said when people spoke in tongues is all part of the spiritual legacy of my biological family. She didn’t like the term psychic because she felt psychics didn’t acknowledge the divine nature of the gift they had. Her first rule was, “This is about what God gives you, and not what power you have without God.”
There was this very clear knowledge that God, The Holy Spirit was responsible for her ability to prophesy, identify spirits of the dead and translate language. Lest, you think I mean only speaking in tongues, I mean any language. As a student in college I worked for the Latin professor. One day he was out of the office and I answered his phone. I had a pleasant conversation with the German teacher who was coming to college in exchange for one year. When my professor returned and I gave him the message he looked at me strangely and then marched to the phone and made a call. When he returned he said, “How long have you been able to speak German?”
Stunned I said, “I can’t speak German.”
He shows me the note where very neatly in my own handwriting in German was the message I had taken earlier.
“Heir Kitterman said that you spoke perfect German and was confused because I hadn’t told him my student assistant was fluent in German. You took this note in fluent native German. Why are you denying you can speak German?”
“Gifts of the Spirit,” I said to him quietly and left the office.
I had never studied German, but in the moment in time when I needed to speak German, understand German, I was able to. This has happened to me several times in my life with Spanish and French which I have studied but had until that day never happened with a language I had never studied.
The problem is that paganism and paganism classic training is driven from the idea that most people who find this path have no experience in energetics and therefore, a lot of the training is in an attempt to get them to learn how to run energetics especially in circle. If someone is a Christian they are seen at being a disadvantage when it comes to energetic working because most pagans do not understand the energetic and psychic consequences that come from a life raised, trained, and encouraged by the pentecostal church or any church that acknowledges the ecstatic gifts of the Holy Spirit and the actual manifestation in humans on this earth.
In my own community I am beginning to see the marked differences in pagans with pentecostal backgrounds and those without. Pagans without need basic training in energetics and working energetics. They resonate easily along the accepted resonances of degree levels, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and beyond. I can watch them use the traditional methods of psychic and energetic training and easily level up.
My experience with pentecostal pagans is quite different and helps me better understand why my own teachers had so much problem dealing with me.
When I came to paganism the term meditation was not only foreign to me but I had been taught they were dangerous. I had never “meditated” before. However, I had spent HOURS and HOURS and HOURS in different types of meditative trances. There was prayer trance when I was praying. There was prayer trance when others were praying. There was the trance of channeling spirits or receiving prophesy. There was the trance of singing the same song over and over again during the call to the altar after a service.
Because pagans see these things as separate and different activities, instead of similar magickal practices, my own teachers couldn’t figure out why given minimal instruction I was able to quickly master grounding, centering, trancing, pushing energy in a circle, calling the energy of the elements. For them there was no foundation from which I should be pulling from.
On top of that, I picked up tarot decks after I became pagan because pentecostals prophesy through touch and trance most often. I quickly learned that in pagan circles this type of divination, as they called it, was very scary to them. I realized they attributed the power coming from the tarot deck and without the deck in evidence (or a crystal ball, or mirror, or some tangible object) the whole operation freaked them out.
Now, this never bothered me because I have always known, even after coming to paganism where my power comes from – and it isn’t inside of me, it is through me. So when Divinity speaks, through which ever form Divinity takes, it’s all good, because that means a God or Goddess is there.
I can remember, however, reading at a gathering and them trying to get me to read an elder who was there. She pointed at me and said, “She isn’t just playing with a deck, you know. She is the real thing and I will never let her touch me or read me and you are all fools if you think she is telling you even half what she actually is learning from you.”
To her point, that was true. My grandmother taught me about the knowledge you should and shouldn’t release into the universe and that what we learn is sacred as the power God drives through us. I think she was the only elder who realized when I tried to explain my abilities in relationship to my grandmother that I was just blowing hot air and there was something to what I was saying.
However, it wasn’t until recent years that I began to recognize what was going on. As I met more pentecostal pagans I began to realize that, as pentecostals, we had had extensive training in energetics and magick working without knowing it.
It hadn’t necessarily been very good magickal training either. I notice pentecostal pagans have a base energy level they run that is nearly always 1st degree level before they have actually acquired the knowledge usually associated with that energetic level. Then these pentecostal pagans spike energy levels like no one’s business. One circle sister will spike to the level beyond first I related to channel and trance work during ritual and is completely unaware she does this. Is you point out what she is energetically doing it crash around her and she will sometime go almost energetically void. It is as if when consciously being focused on the working, she forgets she inherently knows how to do it.
Her husband has always resonated 1st degree energy for me and he has a background in some ecstatic churches but not as much as his wife. His energy spikes 2nd during rituals and when he goes to try to push the energy to third, he can’t reach it. Further I have seen him watch his wife do this with great ease and then ask how she is doing it. The response is that suddenly she isn’t and he is left feeling like maybe it was something he misread.
Then you take pentecostal pagans and put them in circle. If there is one thing a pentecostal pagan knows it is how to run energy up. Attend a pentecostal church and watch the energy ebb and flow before the preacher comes on. They use music, song, and dance to bring the energy level slowly up from dead stop to holy roll. All that energy the preacher will tap into when the preaching starts. He lets it out during the sermon and then releases the rest during the call to the altar after his preaching is done.
Again, this is not great magickal training. In pagan circles you want to whip up the energy and then do a massive release. Most pagans see the ability to direct large group circles of energy as a special skill set belong to High Priests and High Priestess and not always then. However, you give a pentecostal pagan a little instruction and they set energy off in a circle like an elder would. After all every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night they were doing it in church growing up.
My first public ritual was done with a group of about 150 pagans at a large gathering. Once ritual was finished, I was still a bit buzzed when I am confronted by a man who says,
“My Lady!” bows to me formally, “How long has someone as young as you been a high priestess?”
“I am not a high priestess,” I tell him.
“Ahh, so this was before you conference. To make sure you were ready. I am sure your teacher is pleased.”
“Umm, nope. I am not a 1st Degree,” I reply.
He watches me for a few minutes and then says, “Who is your teacher?”
I point him out on the other side of sacred space and watch with alarm as he marches to my teacher and begins to gesticulate wildly. Later I learn that my High Priest was reamed out for not granting the office my energy related to, which was no end of annoying to him. Now, however, I understand. Watching other pentecostal pagans I understand that while they can tap into the energy of higher levels and degrees they cannot sustain it for very long, largely because they were not trained to do so.
Moving forward I think Mentor/Teachers especially in the South must be aware of pentecostal pagans. People with an ecstatic Christian background who will have different abilities and traits than a Catholic pagan or some non-ecstatic tradition of Christianity.
The focus of training needs to be around recognizing meditative states and trance states specifically. It needs to be about sustain a level of magical energy with consistency instead of dropping it off like you would after church. There needs to be a focus on not dismissing the magickal ability these ecstatic traditions of Christianity imbibe upon those who are raised as part of them from very young ages. Pentecostal pagans come with a definite ability that is far beyond what would normally be expected from neophytes and training should focus on making the best of that ability and recognizing that ability for what it really is – the remnants of having been trained in a different magickal tradition.