MY TESTIMONY: Ivani Greppi, Former Umbanda Spiritist Medium.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:10-11, NIV).
“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6, NIV).
Twenty-one years ago, a missionary pastor from Brazil visited Pyramid Printing, my parent’s mom and pop shop in Kissimmee, Florida. God used this casual event—a simple business card order—to deliver us from generations of occult practices. This is a summary of what my family and I experienced during decades of being deceived by Satan through the practice of spiritism.
My parents, sister, and I were born in Brazil. Our European ancestors, brought with them to the New World, occult beliefs and rituals practiced for generations before them. I became a fourth generation spiritist medium in Brazil.
My father’s paternal grandparents came from Italy. His Sicilian grandmother was a healer who used potions, herbs, and incantations to heal ailments, as well as spiritual harm caused by “evil-eye” curses. Dad’s father, exhibited strong psychic abilities. As a young boy, he alerted his parents about a fox killing all piglets in the pen. But when his parents checked the animals, the suckling piglets were intact, sleeping next to the sow.
Later, the scene repeated, however this time the family witnessed the fox escape with a piglet dangling from its jaw after killing the entire litter as my grandfather predicted. One of grandfather’s visions even saved a man’s life who went missing after his horse returned home alone. Grandfather accurately described the area where the man lay injured after a rattlesnake spooked his horse.
My mother’s ancestors, immigrated to Brazil from Spain. All practiced spiritism. My maternal great-grandmother, grandmother, and grandfather were mediums. Family, neighbors, and friends often brought sick children to their home to be blessed, or to receive spiritual energy “passes”. The healings included removal of the “evil-eye”, fevers, spiritual attachments, even intestinal worms. Teas, herbal baths, incense cleansing, and lighting of candles in honor of spirit guides, and guardian angels were prescribed for cures.
The Gospel According to Spiritism by Allen Kardec was our “bible”. This 1800’s French educator codified spiritism. One of his missions was to clarify the teachings of Jesus “inaccurately” translated in the Bible. We believed in reincarnation and lived in communion with spirits in relation to the corporeal world through Kardec’s mantra: “To be born, to die, to be reborn yet again, and to always progress—that is the natural law.”
We called ourselves Catholics, but for traditional purposes only: Weddings, child baptisms, and seventh day masses for the dead. In reality we rejected traditional religion and did not believe in heaven or hell. “Crentes” (Christian believers) who came door-to-door evangelizing were not welcomed. When they stood behind our property fence, clapping at the gate announcing their presence, we shunned them.
At the age of fourteen while living in Brazil, my indoctrination to develop as a practicing medium happened at a Umbanda Temple. Until meeting the Brazilian pastor at the age of thirty-eight, I had never read the Bible, much less heard about eternal Salvation in Jesus Christ.
We were not evil. We truly believed communication with spirits came from God. And our psychic abilities, a gift from Him.
“Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead” (Deuteronomy 18:10-11, NIV).
I am five-years-old. Once again, I am awakened from innocent sleep. The type of sleep only children experience. Wide-eyed, I stare into a sea of deep blackness. In the void, someone, or something is hovering close to our pull-out sofa. Watching. Glaring. Fear claws at my heart. A chill envelops me. My skin prickles with raised bumps, and my scalp tingles. Too scared to blink, yet too terrified to see what is behind the blanketing darkness, I try to scream. Only low, garbled sounds escape my lips. Air catches in my throat. My lungs burn for oxygen. Am I dying? My vocal cords and muscles are completely paralyzed. The only movement possible is through my eyelids: Blinking, shutting tight, opening wide.
It is closer now. Menacing. Cruel. Hostile. There is palpable evil filling the atmosphere. While I struggle with invisible chains choking the life out of me, my younger sister stirs. I hear her steady breathing, and the swooshing of blood pounding against my eardrums. Finally, I break free. A scream shatters the silence. It takes a second to realize I am the one screaming. Shaken, I sit up crying out for my mother. And through the dimness I see silhouettes across the room: A chair, the television set with rabbit ears, and papai’s turntable console where a shadowy figure retreats behind, then passes through the wall.
My sister bolts up awake. She hugs my trembling body. Her voice is warm against my cheek, “Don’t cry…mamãe’s coming.” A door creaks open and shuts with a click. The hallway light comes on. My mother’s flip-flops slap the floor in hurried steps. Shushing, she enters the room. It takes many hugs and kisses to finally calm me, “I’ll get you some sugar-water. And tomorrow, you’ll see. Vovó, will make the vultos go away, yes?”
Vultos are shadow people, or spiritual attachments. In spiritism they are described as disincarnated, wandering spirits. Vovó, my grandmother said even though the spirits scared me, they meant me no harm. Because I was a vidente (seer of the spirit world), I was only a vessel used by the spirits to communicate through. When I matured physically, emotionally, and mentally, I would be ready to develop as a medium. This was my mission here on earth.
Today, Vovó blesses me while I sit on her lap. With pinched fingers, she makes crosses over my head, my forehead, back, and chest while praying words I cannot understand. Her fingers snap above my bowed head, my bangs a thin blond curtain over my eyes. I stare at the floor—a patchwork of red ceramic tile fragments laid piece-by-piece by my father. Beneath the table, a mosaic pattern of different colored fragments in the shape of a five-point star. Vovó yawns. Tears on her cheeks streak the rice powder she applies every morning, “There. All better,” smiling she caresses my hair with both hands, “all you need now is a sprig of rue behind your ear to protect you.”
“When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?” (Isaiah 8:19, NIV)
As I grow, I continue to see shadow people, or sense their ominous presence following me everywhere I go. Day or night. At school, or while at play. It seems like the rituals make little to no impact on how they constantly torture me. I cannot be left alone anywhere. My younger sister is tired of chaperoning me whenever I have to go into a room, including the bathroom, I’m ashamed to admit. When I have no choice but to enter a room by myself, bruises covering my arms and legs are testimony to my fight-or-flight response. It’s not possible to fight the invisible. Escaping the threat, I crash against walls and furniture, trip and fall when unseen forces seem to push and shove me about.
During second grade vacation, my mother took me to spend a week with her paternal grandmother, and aunt. I hated going there, but I never expressed this to my parents. Their house was filled with shadows, even on the sunniest days. But what frightened me most about this place were the two vicious German Shepherds chained behind the chicken-wire fence in their backyard.
After supper, I stand behind the kitchen’s screen door watching my great-aunt feed the dogs our scraps. It’s twilight, and there’s a purplish glow in the sky projecting lilac shadows about the yard. Birds peck at papaya peels scattered on the grass next to the herb garden. The dogs strain at their chains, baring teeth dripping with saliva at the food being set in their bowls.
My attention turns to the groaning hinges of the gate at the front of the property. Fear grips me when I see a middle-aged man enter the yard. Wearing a black suit and tie, his shiny shoes tap the tiled walkway. Smoke from his cigarette billows above his slicked- back hair.
How did he unlock the gate? Why aren’t the dogs barking?
He is fast approaching my great-aunt’s stooped body. Oblivious to the intruder, she caresses the dogs’ heads while they devour their meal. When I try to scream to warn her, I become paralyzed. It’s the same type of paralysis when I’m asleep. Straining to scream, my mouth is wide open, but I have no voice. With arms extended, the man bends over to embrace her from behind. But before touching my great-aunt, he vanishes into a puff of smoke.
The next morning, my great-grandmother took me to her medium friend. She wanted to know if the man I saw was her husband, my deceased great-grandfather coming to visit his daughter. The medium’s spirit guide confirmed it was her husband and instructed my grandmother to tell my mom to take me to the Mesa Branca (White Table) Spiritist Center in our neighborhood for counseling on my mediumship development.
In the Mesa Branca séance meetings, mediums sit around a table covered in white linen. A vase with white roses, a jar with water and several glasses are set at the center of the table. The “patients” sit in chairs placed against the walls. The Center is always filled with people looking for guidance from spirit guides regarding health, relationships, finances, and spiritual matters.
Waiting for the session to begin, I stare at a charcoal drawing of Jesus blessing a boy kneeling at his feet. There are shelves with several statues around the room: St. George slaying a dragon, St. Joseph holding a baby Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and Our Lady of Aparecida, the venerated black Madonna and patron saint of Brazil. Candles flicker casting elongated shadows on the walls. Sweet incense fragrance fills the atmosphere.
Through clinks of a beaded curtain, the medium enters the room wearing all white. She is joined by three other mediums also dressed like doctors. They sit around the table, and the session opens in prayer inviting the spirit guides of light to join us. Moaning, the head medium, an elderly woman with bluish hair, channels her spirit guide. Her body convulses, and the table shakes splashing water from the jar on the tablecloth. The mediums take turns reading from The Gospel According to Spiritism. Soon after the readings, the “patients” stand before each medium to receive their spiritual consultations and healing energy “passes”.
When I receive my “pass”, the medium repeats what my grandmother has told us for years: I have a gift, but I’m too young still to develop my mediumship abilities and receive (channel) my spirit guides. No matter how often we attend the meetings, or how carefully my mother performs the rituals prescribed to cleanse our home and bodies of negative energy, the attacks only intensify as I get older.
My psychic abilities also increase, giving me a sense of power. My intuition is strong, and sometimes I can read people’s minds. Revelations of things no child should be privy to is a burden I cannot share with anyone. Since I’m not emotionally prepared to process these things, I become an ultra-sensitive and moody child.
“Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1, NIV)
In 1968, after years of applying for a Visa, our family was granted entry to America. It’s a complicated story of how we came to this country, specifically Massachusetts. In short, my father’s mother was born in Taunton, Massachusetts and lived there until the age of six. She eventually immigrated to Brazil, but never lost her American citizenship. Two years after the death of her husband, my grandmother returned to her country of birth in 1966, reuniting with her mother after decades of separation.
Two years later, we embarked in search of the Great American Dream.
I was nine, my sister eight when we immigrated. We adjusted well to the English language and culture. My mother however did not. This was my father’s dream, not hers. They had an agreement to live here for five years, work hard, save money, and return to Brazil. Dealing with my spiritual attacks in this country was difficult. There were no mediums, or spiritist Centers that we knew of to seek help. We learned right away, our beliefs were not something to discuss openly in American culture. My mother did her best finding herbs for cleansing baths and incense at the local A&P. And we kept our faith a well-guarded secret.
Sleep paralysis, seeing spirits, hearing noises, and footsteps in the ancient house we lived was a common occurrence. From Brazil, my grandmother mailed us books on spiritism to study, and attended the Mesa Branca on our behalf.
“The Egyptians will lose heart, and I will bring their plans to nothing; they will consult the idols and the spirits of the dead, the mediums and the spiritists” (Isaiah 19:3, NIV)
Five years later, my parents sent us back to Brazil to live with my maternal grandparents. They would join us as soon as they saved enough to buy a house in Brazil. Even though my sister and I were excited to return home, America was also home to us now.
One night not long after returning to Brazil, while watching the telenovela with my grandparents, sister, and cousins, I had my second fully awake paralysis experience.
It’s the highlight moment of the telenovela’s cliff-hanger episode. From the corner of my eye, I notice an entity enter the hallway. Paralysis takes over my body. Watching in silent horror, I see the translucent, bluish form of an elderly man enter the living room. Even though I can’t hear what he is saying, I can tell he’s angry. His scowling features are surprisingly visible, even if I can see through him. For a few moments he stands there, waving his arms, trying to get our attention. With a dismissive gesture, he bows his head in defeat before turning away, and leaving the room. Released from the paralysis, my screams shocked everyone out of their seats.
When I told them through tears what happened, they groaned in annoyance. The most awaited moment of the program was interrupted. My grandmother was livid. I could tell by her high arched eyebrow. She ordered me to follow her to the kitchen. To my surprise, she also saw the entity. Her anger was not because I disrupted the show, but how I reacted toward a spirit in need—her grandfather. Her reprimand about my spiritual immaturity cut deep. Why was she angry with me for something I had no idea how to control? After all these years, I still had no direction. She advised me to study Kardec’s books again. And insisted I return to the Mesa Branca sessions for mediumship development.
After sharing this experience with two of my aunts, they invited me to come with them to the Umbanda Spiritist Center they had recently joined. I wasn’t familiar with Umbanda, and my aunt explained it me.
Umbanda, a religion brought to Brazil by African slaves, is syncretized with Catholicism. When the slave masters forced the slaves to worship the Catholic saints, the slaves bowed at the altar, however when their foreheads touched the ground they worshipped the images of their own gods buried beneath the altar. In Umbanda there is one supreme god. The deities worshipped are called Orixás. Each Orixá is also represented by a color and, or element.
For example: Oxalá (Jesus) is white. Iemanjá (Virgin Mary), the sea goddess is blue. Xangô (St. John), god of thunder is red and brown. Ogum (St. George) god of war is dark blue and green. There are legions, phalanges, ranks or hierarchies such as: Spirits of African slaves, children, gypsies, and sailors. However, the “left side” or dark forces must be worshipped too. Once a month, Exu (a demon-like deity), is celebrated to ensure he will continue to be the guardian of the Umbanda temple called “terreiro”, keeping dark forces at bay. Pomba-gira, is the female part to Exu. (Incubus and Succubus like spirits).
This fascinated me, and the following week, I attended my first Umbanda service. When we arrived at the temple, an unassuming blue building, we waited outside with a group of mediums. The guests arrived in throngs, walking in the front door. I peeked in from the side door, the mediums’ entrance, and noticed the guests being ushered to benches. A low fence, with a small gate separated the worship area terreiro, from the congregation seating area. A large altar called congá, extended across most of the front wall of the terreiro. It was covered in white lace with many statues of Orixás, candles, and flowers. Two tall atabaque hand drums made of wood, sat at each side of the congá.
When the Pai de Santo (the head medium) arrived, my aunt introduced me. He was a short, kindly looking man, and like all the other mediums, he wore white clothing and beads around his neck.
He takes my hand, and I am mesmerized by the brilliant pool of his blue eyes. I can’t blink when he speaks to me. Hypnotized by his gaze, I listen intently to his words, “Welcome sister. You are from the waters…daughter of Iemanjá. You are ready to develop your mediumship. Welcome.” My heart accelerates. I am light-headed. Something is stirring in my soul. There’s such a strong spiritual presence here. But it’s different. It’s beautiful. Hopeful. Soothing. At last, at the age of fourteen, the search for my purpose in life is revealed.
I join the guests behind the fenced area. My feet will not step on the sacred ground of the terreiro until I’m invited to do so. Incense smoke clears the room of negative energy. The mediums enter, forming a semi-circle around the room. The Pai de Santo bows, before the altar touching his forehead to the base three times. Pounding his chest with closed fist, he salutes the Orixás. With chalk in hand, he kneels drawing a circle with symbols inside on the cement floor. When he finishes, a lighted candle is placed in the center of the pentagram.
Drumming thunders across the room. Bodies sway from side-to-side. Hands clap to the percussion rhythm. Voices sing in worship to the gods. The Pai de Santo mounted by his spirit guide Xangô, thumps his chest in salutation. Speaking in an African sounding language, mingled with broken Portuguese he summons the spirits. The mediums take turns receiving their spirit guides. Shoulders shake. Bodies convulse and writhe. Dancing breaks-out. Voices raise in chants.
My heart is about to explode. The room is spinning. Electric current-like vibrations cause me to shake uncontrollably. Xangô commands me to enter the terreiro. Someone tells me to remove my shoes. I do this without hesitation. At the altar, I bow before the Orixás.
Hyperventilating, I stand before the Pai de Santo for the energy pass. Swaying, I notice a female medium with outstretched arms, stand behind me. Momentarily I lose consciousness and find myself being lifted from the floor by two other mediums. A siren song resonates all around me in worship to my goddess, Iemanjá.
My life is Umbanda. Umbanda is my life. My mediumship is developing well. This is the happiest time of my life, except I miss my parents terribly. It’s been over a year since we left America, and there’s no set date for them to reunite with us yet.
The next step in my spiritual progression is to be baptized at a waterfall. Waterfalls have tremendous vibrations, and energy to cleanse spiritual impurities, I’m told.
At the base of the waterfall’s veil, I step before the Pai de Santo. The slippery rock is cool against the soles of my feet. I have no fear of falling into the bubbling pool below. He takes my hands summoning my spirit guide. Frigid water showers over my bowed head. Like a bolt of lightning, Iemanjá possesses me. Violently, my head snaps back and forth. My long, wet hair arches high over my head, whipping my face repeatedly. When I come out of my trance, I’m overwhelmed with joy and peace.
“The seers will be ashamed and the diviners disgraced. They will all cover their faces because there is no answer from God” (Micah 3:7, NIV).
A few months later, my parents returned to Brazil. This was supposed to be the happiest time of our lives, but soon enough our lives took a turn for the worse. Constantly my parents fought. My father hated Brazil. My mother loved it. Only a few months after their arrival, my parents placed a life changing decision in my and my sister’s hands. If we wanted to stay in Brazil, my mother would stay with us, but my father would return alone to America. However, if we decided to return to America, the four of us would go back together. This was a heavy burden for me at fifteen, and my sister at fourteen to bear. Even though my sister was madly in love with a boy she dated since we arrived, she and I agreed we must all return together. Both our hearts are broken. Hers for her boyfriend. Mine for Umbanda.
Before leaving Brazil, the Pai de Santo told me never to channel my spirit guide unless it was in the presence of an experienced medium. I vowed to keep this promise, knowing it would be impossible to find mediums in Massachusetts. (This was in 1975. At present, mediums and spiritist centers can be found almost anywhere in America).
After returning to Massachusetts, my parents bought a beautiful home sitting on a hill, with a pond in the backyard. For the first time in our lives, my sister and I had our own rooms. New furniture and appliances. Nice cars. In high school, I reconnected with old friends, and dated a boy I fell in love with before returning to Brazil. We had a lot in common. He also immigrated from Brazil in the 1960’s, and his grandmother who lived in São Paulo not far from my family, was also a medium.
And at first, everyone was content. Except for my sister. She was miserable without her boyfriend. After a year, she returned to live with my grandparents in Brazil. I continued to worship Iemanjá, faithfully. At the beach, I offered her flowers. Blue candles were lit in her honor. In my room, her statue and my aquamarine beads were a constant reminder of my love for Umbanda and the Orixás. Of course, I still saw shadow people, continued to have sleep paralysis, and vivid psychic dreams. But through Umbanda, I believed my spiritual life was under control.
When my sister decided to get married at sixteen, my father didn’t approve, and wrote asking her to wait. Besides, we couldn’t afford to make another expensive trip to Brazil now. My sister insisted on going forward with the wedding plans. Here in America, our lives began to fall apart. My parents were on the brink of a divorce. The day my sister married, my mother almost lost her mind with grief. The atmosphere at home was heavy with oppression, and depression. No matter how much I prayed to Iemanjá to help, things only got worse.
Through vivid dreams, and whisperings of spirits in my ear, I developed mistrust and intense jealousy for my boyfriend. Like my parents, we fought all the time. There was no peace. No joy. Miraculously, our relationship survived my constant bouts of jealousy and accusations.
We received wonderful news a few months later. My sister was pregnant. Plans to arrive for the baby’s birth moved forward. Even my boyfriend would travel with us. Soon after my high school graduation, we left for Brazil.
My sister gave birth to a sweet baby boy. He only lived for four days. This was a tsunami of devastating pain. Unimaginable, what my sister and brother-in-law were going through. Words from mediums saying the baby’s life was short because of his high-level spirit, and his corporal mission here on earth was completed, did not bring us consolation.
After the funeral, I visited the Umbanda terreiro. During worship, a girl next to me was mounted by her spirit guide. While I bowed my head attempting to concentrate to receive Iemanjá, the girl spun in dance, violently hitting my face with the back of her hand. My concentration broke and I looked up, only to receive another full-blown slap. Her aggression, a poorly disguised ruse through wild dancing. Tears stung my eyes, when I heard gasps and snickering coming from the congregation. The Pai de Santo stood before me calling on Iemanjá for a long time while I sobbed in anger and shame. I knew the girl had done it on purpose. It was impossible for me, in my emotional, contaminated state to receive Iemanjá. And this was the last time I attended the Umbanda terreiro.
When we visited my boyfriend’s grandmother a few days later, her spirit guide told me I could no longer allow my body to remain open. The spirit explained it was too dangerous since I was not regularly attending a temple under the direction of a strong medium. Like a magnet, this left me open for evil entities to enter my body. Devastated, I reluctantly agreed. She performed the ritual to close the chakra where spirits entered my body. Someday, when I was ready again, this would be reversed.
I vowed never to set foot in Brazil again. Despondent, my sister decided to return to America with us. Her husband stayed behind to wait for his visa documentation.
After returning to America, my life became an ash heap of hopeless oppression. The strong pillars of my faith, came crashing to the ground.
“I will set my face against anyone who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute themselves by following them, and I will cut them off from their people” (Leviticus 20:6)
The first thing I did upon returning to America, was to remove Iemanjá from the shelf in my room. In a cardboard box, I stored her image along with my beads. From that moment on, the spiritual attacks only intensified, and I didn’t know where to turn to for help.
After a few months, my brother-in-law arrived, only a day before the Great Blizzard of 1978. In June, I was married at nineteen. We bought our first home and had good jobs. We went out and had fun with friends and family. But inside, I was dead. I went through the motions of life with no joy. No peace.
Four years later my son was born. My daughter four years after my son. In the surface our lives looked perfect. My sister also had another boy and a girl, both healthy and beautiful. My parents mended their marriage and enjoyed their grandchildren. But spiritually we all spiraled into a black hole of despair.
My parents, sister, brother-in-law, my husband and I decided we needed a change of scenery. Perhaps moving to Florida and starting a new life in a warmer climate would help raise our spirits. The gray New England winters seemed to be getting longer each year.
Living in Florida was great at first. We all had lovely new homes, swimming pools, and gorgeous beaches nearby. But soon, the spiritual contamination returned to plague us. Even the children were affected by the hell brewing around us night and day. Sometimes they saw or heard things that scared them. Sensing an evil presence particularly in my bedroom, my children refused to enter my bedroom alone.
On many occasions, pounding noises above our bed startled us awake. Once, sounds of shattering glass like a rock thrown through a window had us all scrambling out of bed. We inspected the entire house. The windows were all intact, and we found nothing out-of-place or broken anywhere.
My mood was usually foul, angry, bitter. People walked on eggshells trying not to set off my explosive outbursts. Once I was triggered, anything could happen. I was reckless in my fits of rage, especially when driving. The children white knuckled, held on to their seats for dear life. When my temper flared, whatever I got my hands on became a projectile across the room. My hysterics and madness transformed into guilt and shame once the tempest in my soul calmed. And for reasons I can’t fathom, my husband had the strength to tolerate my violent temper for years.
My health suffered to such extent I had only enough energy to work as an operating room nurse for my shifts. When I got home, I passed out on the couch, unable to cook, clean or care for my family. There were times when I contemplated ending it all, spurred on by sinister voices whispering there was no hope. I was worthless. Insignificant. Love for my children was the only thing keeping me from jumping into the abyss.
When my sister phoned me to tell me she met a pastor from Brazil at the printing shop, my suspiciousness went into overdrive. She became emotional describing his beautiful prayer for her. She told me after he prayed, she felt a peace she never had experienced before. Like a volcano, words of pure hatred for this man I never met erupted from my mouth. I warned her to keep away from him. He was no doubt a charlatan looking for money.
This did not dissuade her from gushing about how he also prayed with my teen nephew. And how the pastor encouraged him to marry the girl he recently impregnated. My nephew not only agreed to this but swore off drugs as well. I didn’t believe her. Personally, I took him to counseling for help with his addiction, with no positive results.
She invited the pastor to come for coffee at her house the following Saturday. My parents were going to be there too. And she wanted us to join them. I refused the invitation.
After hanging up with her, I reconsidered. If this holy man believed he could weasel himself in my family with his self-righteous teachings, I would be there to confront him.
On Saturday, I arrived at my sister’s house armed and ready to fight. We walked in to see the pastor, my parents, sister and brother-in-law at the table, drinking coffee and eating cake. At the sight of the pastor rising from his chair, making his way to greet us, I froze in place with burning hatred for him. Embarrassed, my sister got up from her chair, “Pastor, this is my sister. The one we’ve been praying for.”
“I don’t remember asking anyone to pray for me.”
Unfazed, the pastor extended his hand. My husband shook the man’s hand and made his way the table. But the pastor didn’t budge when I ignored his hand. During our standoff, he touched my shoulder saying the Lord brought him here to help me and my family.
Suddenly, there was such a strong presence of my spirit guide, like I had not experienced in years. I was warned. This was an ambush by the pastor. He was cunning and must be struck down. It was impossible to remain in close proximity to the pastor. I sidestepped him and headed for the patio telling my husband to finish his cake so we could leave.
Slamming the sliding glass door with force, I sat by the pool. With trembling hands, I lit a cigarette. My wrath for the man was insurmountable. Seconds later, the patio door swooshed open. I could not believe the man followed me outside with Bible in hand. Abruptly, I rose from my chair stunning the man to stop in his tracks. My face flushed when I told him I was not interested in talking about religion.
With maddening calmness, the man quoted scripture, “If you call upon His name, He will answer you. He will be with you in trouble. He will deliver you and honor you. With long life He will satisfy you and show you His salvation.”
Snuffing out my cigarette, I told him I didn’t believe in a book written by men to control people through fear and condemnation. Furthermore, he couldn’t manipulate me like he did my sister and rest of the family, “I have spirit guides to protect me. I don’t need your religion.”
I brushed past him, but he followed me back inside. “Sister, there are no such things as spirit guides.” He opened the Bible, jabbing the page with his index finger, “These are demons you listen to.”
I whirled around to face my family. Were they listening? Did he not offend them? It baffled me how no one reacted to this stranger’s arrogance in criticizing our beliefs. With patience, my mother suggested I at least listen to what the man had to say. What if this was true? What if what we believed our entire lives was not from God?
My head was throbbing, and I squeezed it between my hands. The room went silent except for the sounds of the onion-skin Bible pages turning. Like seismic waves, my anger rose. The last thing I wanted was to give him the satisfaction of seeing me lose control. Grabbing my purse, I told my husband we had to go.
“Before you leave sister, I challenge you to read with your own eyes what the Word of God has taught for thousands of years: Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.”
Through clenched teeth, I reminded him the Bible meant nothing to me.
Finally, my father interceded and told me to sit. All the arguing was getting us nowhere. He suggested the pastor ask me about my beliefs, before judging. At last, I had an ally. Taking a seat, I accepted a cup of coffee from my sister’s extended hand.
“Fair enough,” he tapped his Bible, “You don’t believe in heaven, or hell, correct? Tell me what happens to people when they die?”
My response was obvious: Spirits pass through many stages of evolution. What he called demons were merely obsessive spirits in parallel dimensions here on earth. They can’t evolve because they choose not to. The good spirits of light are superior, evolved spirits. Before our own spirits achieve this light, they are reincarnated until attaining it.
Taking his Bible, he pointed to a verse and asked me to read it. But I crossed my arms, refusing the offer. Smiling, he said there was no such thing as reincarnation, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgement.”
Something about those words, peaked my interest. And for a millisecond, I wanted to hear more. Nevertheless, with a dismissive wave I told him it was pointless trying to discuss what I believed with him if he kept referencing the Bible.
When the time came for him to leave, he offered to pray for us, inviting everyone to join hands in a circle. I refused. But with a warning look, my father snatched my hand, and my husband grabbed the other, closing the circle.
As soon as the pastor began to pray, what I believed to be my spirit guide, suddenly manifested. Laughter spilled from my mouth unchecked. The harder I tried to stop, the more I laughed. Through my trance, I heard the pastor yell, “In the name of Jesus Christ! Come out of her, evil spirit!”
The entity had a hold of me. Writhing in pain, coming in and out of consciousness, I couldn’t understand what was happening. How could I be possessed, if my chakra was closed years ago? I was close to passing out. My heart pounded. My chest hurt. Perspiration beaded on my face. And I begged the pastor to stop, thinking this was his doing.
My father came to my rescue and ordered the pastor to let me be. Finally breaking free, I ran to the bathroom and vomited, not the coffee I drank a few minutes before, but a clear gelatinous substance. Feeling spent and betrayed, I told everyone in no uncertain terms that I never wanted to see the pastor again.
“Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ ‘Legion,’ he replied, because many demons had gone into him” (Luke 8:30, NIV).
After the experience at my sister’s house, I began to doubt my spirit guide’s identity. About spiritism in general. Even though I was not yet convicted, it broke my heart to hear the pain in my husband’s voice when he suggested for the pastor to at least come to the house and pray. He described how hideously distorted, and disfigured I became while possessed. My teenage son and nephew witnessed part of the possession. Both were distraught and begged me to let the pastor help me. Even though I was confused and conflicted, out of love for my family, I finally agreed to a deliverance session.
The pastor instructed my entire family to fast, and to remain in prayer on the day of my deliverance, Saturday, March 29th, 1997. He and his wife were scheduled to arrive at my house at five in the afternoon. I fasted too and tried to read the leather-bound Bible he gave me. My husband and children left to join my parents, sister and family at my sister’s house to remain in intercessory prayer.
While alone, I had second thoughts about the deliverance. Panic took over me. Voices kept whispering for me to flee. To run away before he arrived. I took the Bible but couldn’t open it. I tried to pray, but my mind became flooded with alarming threats. Unable to stand the tension any longer, I grabbed my car keys and ran to the door. When I opened it, the pastor and his wife were already standing there.
Prayer and scripture reading by the pastor and his wife initiated the deliverance process. When he tried to anoint me with oil, I recoiled away from him hearing myself screech. There are only a few things I recall clearly about my deliverance. Most details were given to me by the pastor and my sister.
We went through the entire house removing items consecrated to the demonic realm I served my entire life. Images of my hands going through drawers and closets, finding the box with Iemanjá and my beads, the rosary above my bed, clothes, jewelry, occult books, records, and video tapes, are my main recollections of the event. Like in a dream, I also remember crouching behind my house, digging the dirt with my fingers trying to unearth a statue of St. Joseph buried upside-down (a superstitious ritual to sell my house).
My sister however, related horrific details later on to me about the deliverance. Physically, I became transformed. My eyes turned black with hatred. Like a serpent’s tongue coming in and out of my distorted mouth, I spat and blasphemed God. My hands like claws threatened the pastor. When the pastor placed a crucifix on my forehead, the demon laughed hysterically. But when he placed an empty cross over my forehead declaring Jesus Christ’s victory over death, His resurrection, and that our sins were forgiven by His precious blood, the demon screeched in agony saying it was being burned. Momentarily, I remember opening my eyes to a silhouette of a cross. The light felt bright like the sun, blinding me to the point where I had to cover my eyes with my arm.
Finally, when the pastor yelled, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her,” Satan’s stronghold yoke in my life was broken. Like a bomb exploding around me, my body flew high in the air. And I was thrown several feet halfway the length of the hallway. When my back crashed on the tile floor, I opened my eyes. Amazingly, the force of the impact didn’t injure me. Instantly, a dark veil lifted from my eyes. I stood smiling, in awe of my surroundings. Now I understood what it meant to be born again. I was a new creation in Christ. The old had gone. Never before had I felt such peace. Christ had truly set me free.
It surprised me to see my sister sobbing into her hands. I had no idea she was present since she arrived after the deliverance started. The air smelled of sulfur and smoke. I looked at the clock. It was two in the morning. It seemed as if only a couple of hours had passed. But the deliverance lasted more than eight hours. When my husband arrived, the first thing he noticed were several trash bags filled with items to be burned. The second thing was the smell of smoke in kitchen. Even though the pastor assured him this was residual odor from the deliverance, my husband still rushed to the refrigerator, pushing it away from the wall, certain we had an electrical fire.
“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9, NIV).
The day after my deliverance was Resurrection Sunday. Even though I only slept for three hours, I was able to wake up without an alarm clock for the first time in my life. Feeling refreshed, I rushed out of the house to attend my first sunrise service.
Christ is risen, He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!
Jesus Christ used this missionary pastor to bring the Good News of Salvation and deliverance from the occult to many members of my family. He ministered to our family in Florida, in Massachusetts, and Brazil. Many were saved and now live for Christ, and Christ alone. My parents, my sister and her family, my family and I all accepted Jesus Christ as our only Lord and Savior. We were all baptized in my sister’s pool.
As soon as we became Christians, my parents changed Pyramid Printing’s name to Hosanna Printing. After the business was passed on to me and my sister, the name was changed to Redeemer Printing. All for his Honor and Glory.
And now, when I look at my grandchildren’s innocent faces, I shudder to think they could have inherited these demonic curses.
Praise the Lord for His promise of lavishing unfailing love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep his commandments.
“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time” (2 Timothy, NIV).
After my deliverance and salvation, it took me many years to openly share my past involvement with the occult. While researching for Christians with past experiences in spiritism online, I found Laura Maxwell’s ministry, Our Spiritual Quest. Laura’s testimony is powerful. Her humble and gentle manner in reaching out to those who are entangled in any type of occult practice is inspiring. I became an avid follower of her radio program and blog. We connected through social media and her encouragement, gave me the courage to write my testimony, even though it took me nearly two years to finally complete it.
Her interviews with Mark Hunnemann, and many other guests with past occult experiences are edifying. I read Mark Hunnemann’s brilliant book, Seeing Ghosts through God’s Eyes, and soon we connected on social media too. Both Laura and Mark have been a tremendous blessing in my life, and I thank God for their lives.
I pray for those who read this and are not saved, to ask Jesus Christ into their hearts. If you are, or were involved in the occult in any way, including horoscopes, Ouija boards, fortune-telling, or any involvement in the New Age, spiritism, Yoga etc., please ask the Lord to deliver you from it. Find a Bible teaching church and ask for God’s direction in all areas of your life.
Though my testimony is not unique, it illustrates occult practices in detail that many may not be familiar with. Sadly, the kingdom of the occult is spreading at alarming rates, infiltrating all areas including schools, healthcare, and even churches. The fact that many pastors ignore this topic and turn a blind eye to this spiritual holocaust is distressing.
Some may ask how can healing the sick, or aiding a person in need be from Satan? The Word of God teaches us through many verses in Scripture about Satan’s deceitfulness: “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14, NIV); “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10, NIV).
For those who believe they have seen, or contacted the spirit of a departed loved one, this is also a scheme of the devil. Familiar spirits are demons who show themselves in human form only to deceive. Demons have been here on earth since the beginning of time. They know intimate details about our lives: Births, deaths, marriages, infidelities, friendships, betrayals, and even the most basic day-to-day information about us and our loved ones, living or dead.
Satan’s goal is to use his craftiness and trickery to stray humans from God’s truths, and eternal salvation. But, when we put our trust in Jesus Christ, and give our lives to Him, our eyes are opened to His truth, “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-13 NIV).
- Laura Maxwell: http://www.ourspiritualquest.com
- Seeing Ghosts through God’s Eyes: A Worldview Analysis of Earthbound Spirits, by Mark Hunnemann
- Chris Lawson: http://www.spiritual-research-network.com
- Johanna Michaelsen: http://www.michaelsenministries.com
- A Beautiful Side of Evil, by Johanna Michaelson
- Steven Bancarz: http://www.reasonsforjesus.com
- Dana Thompson: http://www.xposingtheenemy.com
- Marcia Montenegro: http://www.christiananswersforthenewage.org
- The Kingdom of the Occult, by Walter Martin
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