What I Learned from the Black Pentecostal Church
(a post for those who like to read)
As a child growing up in the pentecostal church I was very well aware that we were not like the churches on TV who sat quietly in their seats while their pastors calmly exegeted texts that were devised by catholic priests. Those pastors could speak in a whisper and still be heard on the back row of the church, however my church was a bit different. Have any of you ex-pentecostals ever wondered why we just HAD to have a drum or bongos in the building even if there was no other musician?
Many of you are well aware of what it’s like to be taught by pentecostals so I’ll spare you the gory details, but just know after some years in the church, I left because there were too many things that did not make sense and even more ideas that should have received attention, but were ignored AND you were crucified if you wanted to think or use your mind.
Like many of you, I left because the concept of an eternal hell did not resonate with me in light of the many dreams of reincarnation and spirit visions that I was blessed to have as a “Pisces” child. Also, I could not imagine that 2000 years ago a man from Jerusalem could have a brother with an English name like John and a dad named Joe so I left.
Similarities Between Voodoo and Pentecostalism
I remember the day I decided enough was enough and while turning counterclockwise in my kitchen three times in front of my now EX-husband (my first ritual) I said “I reverse the effects of lies — let the truth come forth” — oh yeah, and I said that three times. The next day I heard a voice, which said “gnostic mysticism” and I was like ‘What’s that?” — the rest is history. After reading about gnostic mysticism, buddhism, zoroastrianism, catholicism, constantinism (LOL), vodun, indian shamanism, animism, satanism, etcism, I am now finally enjoying freedom of expression in paganism (me-ism), however, I did learn the following from the church so it was not all a waste:
1. Devotional service/ praise and worship is a lot like the initial singing and movement in a Voodoo service. Both ceremonies are typically accompanied by the beating of drums and the purposes of our singing and movements are to raise energy, to unlock portals for unearthly gifts, and to lure the spirit, many of which the church knew NOT, but we called everything the holy ghost. We did not know the names of any other spirits because it was forbidden to read anything other than the holy book from Europe!
2. Catching the holy ghost or the spirit was like having the spirit ride you in voodoo. We’d fall to the floor as if dead, writhe like snakes, fall into trances, dance out of our clothes, stay up all night and not be tired, then have a feast and talk about what had happened when our ‘special invisible guests’ had arrived. There was this one man who would hold his leg and limp around in the front of the church. Little did I know he was probably being ridden by a spirit very similar to Papa Legba, but we called it the holy ghost too. We called every spirit the holy ghost.
3. Once we had raised this energy, anything could happen. The dead would come to life, the sick would be healed and people would even vomit stomach ulcers…..yep. Once the spirit was upon a man or woman, you could get info about what you should do and about your future — just like in a voodoo ritual — we even wore white.
4. As African-Americans we did not know the true history of what we were doing, it had just been passed down to us and we worshipped like our forefathers before us, just had to call it something different with the taskmaster watching. And don’t even begin to think it started with Azusa, that’s just when we wrote it down, and news reporters even called that the Occult. However in some black churches, you could get kicked out for that kind of stuff because it wasn’t dignified, it was indicative of lack of civilisation.
5. I learned about curses and hexes from the pentecostal church, but the cool thing about it was that we never had to take responsibility for it, we could always say “God did it.”
There’s a Reason for Everything
So I have to say it is not all bad having been raised in the church, because it would be more difficult for me to accept meditation, manifestation and energy work, if I had not first been taught prayer, faith and being filled with the spirit. As you all know, there are fatal flaws with Christianity, but we won’t get into that in this post, let’s just be thankful that all things happen for a reason and we were smart enough to take what we needed from the experience and vomit out the remaining stomach sores.