Category Archives: Pentacostalism

Still Silent Voice

5998-011I have been hanging out with Christians over the weekend. Now, this isn’t unusual, I live in a heavy Christian area. Most of my family, co-workers, and acquaintances are all Christian – in one form or another. But over this past weekend, I was in a seminar about faith – and I was the only non-Christian there. My anxiety and privacy kept me from self-disclosing this, but I participated in some of the actions and hoped I brought a bit of a non-Christian paradigm. While I was there, I noticed something – that many of the ladies in this group experience god very similar to the ways I do. That particular way is through feeling or what I sometimes call, the heart.

For me, religion has always been about feeling, and not necessarily beliefs or knowledge. I am sure I took this from the way I was raised. I was brought up in a Pentecostal church, and several of the ideas stressed was a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, living life filled with the Holy Spirit, and following ones feelings over rationalization of the mind. This “still silent voice” in the heart was the ultimate authority on what was right and wrong. God gave us this tool in order to better communicate with Him, because no matter what we believe or intellectualize about the divine, we could never truly know God. So it is through feeling and the heart where we best can know His wishes, communicate with Him, and learn about Him.

I still believe this. When you are young, and you rebel over the many things your parents wanted you to be. However it seems to trace back when you get older. I will be hitting 40 in a few months, and I realize that my relationship with god has grown since I was a small boy, to the man I am today. But the basic belief that god loves me, and wants me to live fully is still here. Yes, it has waxed and waned with my particular paradigms occurring, but yet here I am. My beliefs are secondary – and I have believed lots of different things. It really isn’t important what I think about life after death, the nature of wrong and right, understanding who god is and what his or her name is. None of things things matter as much as that feeling of heart.

Is this a Christian concept? Most definitely, and I accept that. It is not a bad thing. Is it particularly something that previous believers in my faith practiced? It’s very doubtful. But it does make me who I am, and it fulfills a need that I have. It doesn’t make me any less Kemetic Orthodox than the next person, but I am aware that not everyone needs this or has this.

In closing, I would like to share a Pentecostal Altar call hymn:

“In the Savior’s brow;
His head with radiant glories crowned,
His lips with grace o’er flow,
His lips with grace o’er flow.

“No mortal can with Him compare,
Among the sons of men;
Fairer is He than all the fair,
Who fill the heav’nly train,
Who fill the heav’nly train.

“He saw me plunged in deep distress,
And flew to my relief;
For me He bore the shameful cross,
And carried all my grief,
And carried all my grief.

“To Him I owe my life and breath,
And all the joys I have;
He makes me triumph over death,
And saves me from the grave,
And saves me from the grave.”

Listen to that voice in your heart. Grab that feeling that grows. Know that that is god talking to you and he wants you to know that you are never alone.

 

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Love

(For simplicity, the masculine pronoun will be used to refer to god unless to specify the feminine aspects)

As I talked about earlier in this blog, I was raised in a Pentecostal church. I was taught from childhood that god loved me, and even further than that, He loved me unconditionally. I was taught god lived in my heart, knew my wants, and could destroy my sadness. No matter what I did, god would love me. When puberty occurred I started to have sexual feelings for the same sex. It did not feel wrong, it felt real. However as we well know, most Christian churches denounce homosexuality and state it is an abomination unto god. This means that my innate feelings of love were considered vile, shameful, and detestable to god. God hated me for this and I would burn in eternal hell for such feelings.

What happened to His unconditional love? I become a teenager and all of a sudden my church does a 180. God’s love isn’t as unconditional as I thought. He loves me, but only if I don’t do this. That then makes His love conditional.

So why do I bring this up in a blog called “Love?” Through the trials of my life I have discovered something wonderful. I know today, that god does love me unconditionally. I believe that. My mother and grandmother were right. Not only does He love me unconditionally, but He loves you unconditionally as well.

As I was returning this past week from Pantheacon in San Jose, I had a very profound meditation. As I looked out of the plane’s window and gazed over the mountains, Netjer spoke to me and asked me to carry out this message. Someone out there really needs this right now.

I know that god loves me. I feel it. I do not doubt it. He fills my heart with His love so completely and offers it without condition. His love is absolute.

Some of these beliefs may sound familiar. Am I just carrying them over from Christianity? I don’t know, but if I do carry them over then Christianity has given me a wonderful gift. It gave me a god who loves all His children unconditionally. He does not place sanctions or limits. The only one who does is me. Sometimes I use excuses, such as “How can god love someone like me?’ or “I am not good enough for god to love.”

He is always there for us, closer than you think. I do not need to invoke Him, draw Him down, or call out for Him to hear me. He is here in this very moment, as I type these words and as you read them. He resides in the invisible reaches of our soul, every moment of the day.

I know there are times when I disappoint Him, but He still loves me. Sometimes He wishes I would listen more, but He still loves me. The gods love me. Netjer loves me a poor small man filled with anxieties and fears. There is no greater gift than this love that is given.

So when you doubt, when you are filled with sorrow and tears, when you don’t think you can take another day, realize that the greatest friend and love you can ever know is right there with you. Always.

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” – St. Augustine

“May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long ,how high, and how deep His love really is” -Ephesians 3:17, 18


2. History: How I Came to These Paths and My Spiritual History

How did I get here?

This is an excellent question and can tell you a lot about a person. I have decided to break it down into about 5 periods of my life when a particular religious tradition was more important to others, and have decided to break these down into workable essays. I will basically lead up to when I first met the House of Netjer and some of these experiences will be shared later. I hope by doing this I can understand my own path and needs, and help others to see where I have come from and how this affects my spiritual life today.

Pentecostalism

I was born into a Pentecostal family. Specifically it was the Assemblies of God. Well, my mother and grandmother were practicing Pentecostals, while my father was more nondenominational. I grew up going to church every Sunday morning and night, Sunday school, and the occasional Royal Rangers event. My grandmother was the matriarch when it came to the family faith. She was raised in a religious household and continued that on in her own children.

Pentecostalism is identifiable by several things that make the faith a little different than other evangelical faiths. Some of the major characteristics include Baptism of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts (speaking in tongues, discernment of spirits, healing, and miracles). Also known as “Holy Rollers,” it was not uncommon for me to see people raising their hands in the air, cry, roll around on the floor filled with the Holy Ghost, speak in tongues, and prophesize. Songs always filled the air along with guitars, drums, and pianos. Unfortunately on a negative side, threats of damnation, burning in hell, the rapture where all your family will be taken from you and vivid visual accounts were wired into my head.

As a child I enjoyed church. As I got older and began to see more of the social interactions among some church-going people, I began to become less enthusiastic about it. It was this period where they wanted you to make the Altar Call and give your heart to Jesus. I never would go to the Altar. I felt that my personal connection was more private and interior, and that I didn’t need a preacher and the attention such a think would bring. I would instead sit in the pews, pray silently. I was never baptized.

As I grew older, I gave my mother more grief about going to church, so she finally relented. So during my adolescent years I began questioning. Not questioning specifically if there was a god, but did question if he really cared about me at all. I decided to begin my own spiritual quest.

Catholicism

This spiritual quest led me toward Catholicism, which at that point in my life was right for me. It helped me question who I was, my future, and my place in the world. Since I seem to be enthralled by ritual it worked well with me. I was about 20 when I took some required religion classes at college. The classes introduced me to the Bible, and actually got me to read it. I was living next door to the Catholic University at the time and started to attend church at St Francis down the street from me. Finding it very fascinating, I found a sponsor and took the RCIA class (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). This lasted about ¾ of a year and ended with me being baptized, confirmed, and receiving my first communion in the Roman Catholic Church at Easter 1996. I was busy in my parish serving as a lecturer and communion minister.

It was at this time that I was considering religious life. I looked into several religious orders and the priesthood. Specifically I felt most closely aligned with the Capuchin Franciscans. Their way of life and brotherhood felt very natural and right for me. After much thought and consideration (especially with regards to my sexuality) I stopped the thought of religious life, and decided I would fulfill my calling to help people by working in the medical field. Being very disappointed in myself (and something I could not control) I did stop attending and began looking for something more accepting of who I was.

Wicca/Paganism

Around this time I began to learn about Wicca and paganism. The internet was the starting point. I explored several sites and practiced a Christian based Wicca spirituality. Scott Cunningham was a godsend for me. Even though never stated in his books, I seemed too had found a spiritual path that explored the magical side of life and was accepting. Eventually I left this behind because of life events. I started nursing school and once you do that forget about a personal life for the next few years. Then of course graduation arrived and the start of my new career.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints/Mormonism

After graduation I became increasingly interested in the Mormon Church. About 60 miles to the north of town lay Nauvoo, IL. Once a center of heavy Mormon activity, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints decided to rebuild the Nauvoo Temple. I had been to Nauvoo before for school fieldtrips and to the Nauvoo Pageant. I have also visited the grave of Joseph Smith and to Carthage Jail where he was murdered. Before the Temple was dedicated they gave tours to the public. I went on the door and found the place beautiful and mesmerizing. I decided to talk with the missionaries and eventually joined the church. I was baptized (Mormons re-baptized all Christians), confirmed, and made a priest of the Aaronic Priesthood. I practiced this for about a year but was starting to seriously pray about whom I am and my sexuality. The bishop tried to help me, but he wasn’t prepared for something like me and my same sex attraction. Eventually I distanced myself from the church because of my lifestyle because I had no place in the church. They never sought me out when I disappeared. I sunk into a deep depression and dark place at that time.

Eastern Philosophies & Return to Wicca
My first experience with the Kemetic gods occurred in the shower. I don’t remember the specifics but it was during this time of darkness. I was in the shower, and I prayed for help with my affliction (because that is what I thought my homosexuality was) and then she appeared in my mind’s eye. A woman glowing of gold. Her skin was dark, her eyes blue. She had golden wings, and a smile that controlled the world. And it was like a light switch turned on. All of a sudden I saw my life play out. I saw who I was, and I loved myself in that moment. The first moment when I actually loved myself in my entire life. I was not ashamed of who I was. I was proud to be who I was. Everything was clear. Aset, Mistress of Heka, worked Her heka on me, and cleared my mind.

My coming out story is not really a part of this particular blog, but quickly occurred after this. My friend Michelle always joked that when I came out of the closet, I blew the damn doors off. After this experience with Aset, I sought Her out to learn more about Her. Back then I knew Her as Isis, and picked up Wicca where I left off and tried to practice an Egyptian form of it. Unfortunately finding information to practice Egyptian Wicca is very hard and scarce. I tried to develop my own rites and observances but it didn’t flow.

I started to examine various Eastern Philosophies around this time. I was becoming frustrated with creating something I didn’t want to, and needed something to calm my mind with a lot of the anger I had built up over the course of my life with god and spirituality. I practiced various forms of meditation and followed the teachings of Lama Zopa Rinpoche. While I did this though, I felt like I was neglecting god and continued with my fascination with all things Egyptian.

I had found the House of Netjer years ago on the internet but never really dug into their website or explored their teachings. I returned to it and lurked on the forums for months, just reading and seeing how people interacted. During this time I could easily say I practiced Buddhism one day and an Egyptian form of paganism the next. I was unsure which direction would be best for me.

Sometime in the Fall of 2006, I went to the King Tut Exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago, IL. I was going through these intense emotions not knowing what direction my spiritual life should go. The exhibit opened my eyes. I saw statues that seemed alive. Representations of people that are dead, but are not. The particular event I remember is the golden mask of Tuya. I looked at her and she spoke to me. Her eyes had life. Her smile displayed a secret she knew and wanted to share. She directed me to follow my heart, and if it didn’t work out I would know. I went back home, signed up for the Beginners class, and have belonged to the House of Netjer since.

Conclusions

This has been a very condensed version of what has happened spiritually in my life and does not even touch the tip of the iceberg. But it gives a basic background and actually a good starting point to delve into things further in the future. If anyone is interested in something I wrote and would like more clarification or detail, just ask. I am happy to provide it. I hope that this gives a good understanding where I have been. Now I am going to look to the now and examine where I am.

Much love,
Raheri