Charis-magik, how Charismatic Christians practice magik whether they admit it or not

Please read the article below and answer the questions at the end.


By Diakonissa Deborah

The Use of Magik in Charismatic Christian Churches

Magikal practices abound in charismatic churches. Just that statement alone will raise the hackles on a charismatic Christian’s neck. Having spent over 20 years involved in such churches, however, I can say that this is true; to point out the truth is the object of this study.

What is a charismatic church, exactly? The Greek word charisma, as used in the New Testament, was generally translated as grace. Charisma and its derivatives were also used to describe the gifts of the Spirit, found in 1 Corinthians 12 – 14. It is this usage that gives charismatics their name—they are actively involved in using the gifts of the Spirit. In colloquial terms, “charismatic” refers to things like speaking in tongues, prophecy, dancing, etc.

Most charismatics (sometimes called Pentecostals, because the Holy Spirit came to the early church on the day of Pentecost) today would consider themselves to be theologically conservative, along the lines of either evangelicals or fundamentalists, with the addition of the use of the gifts of the Spirit. Most evangelicals deny that the gifts of the Spirit exist, at least in the form in which charismatics use them. Over the last ten years or so, however, many evangelical and mainstream churches have been using charismatic practices (longer periods of singing and music, contemporary worship involving more modern music and praise songs, personal involvement in the worship service, special prayer meetings, etc.) to add some interest to their services. To some extent, the lines between evangelical and charismatic are being blurred. As a result, some of the magical practices I will mention as being used in charismatic churches are also showing up in evangelical churches these days.

This addition of charismatic worship practices in the evangelical arena is somewhat of a turn-around for charismatics, because for over a century now, charismatics and Pentecostals have been the “unwanted step-child” of Christianity. The gifts of the Spirit have been seen as weird, spooky, or frightening to most Christians. This amalgamation of charismatic and evangelical practices has resulted in more acceptance of charismatics among evangelical groups, though there are still evangelicals who consider the charismata to be the work of the devil. Calling charismatic practices “magical” will certainly add fuel to the fire! This information is to help those from non-charismatic backgrounds to understand what goes on in charismatic churches, and to see its relevance from a magikal standpoint.

This study will focus on the following charis-magik practices: Praying in tongues (glossolalia); prophecy; visions, dreams, and visualization; prayer formulas; supernatural healing; casting out demons; and general worship practices. Different charismatic churches will have variations in their practice, just as diverse magikal groups will do things differently. I will focus on generalities, knowing that it may cause more controversy, because a study of individual church practices would be too unwieldy and not necessarily result in additional clarity.

Praying in tongues

Praying in tongues is one of the hallmarks of charismatic practice. In many Pentecostal churches, one cannot claim to have “received the baptism of the Holy Spirit” without speaking in tongues. The technical term for speaking in tongues is glossolalia. Studies have been done that indicate that glossolalia is a type of repetitive language, with a sort of vocabulary but no grammatical structure.

There are two types of praying in tongues. The first, and most often used, is often referred to as a “personal prayer language”. Charismatics claim that speaking in tongues gives them a direct line to God, without having to go through the human mind. This is seen as an advantage in prayer because one doesn’t always know how to pray for a particular situation, so praying in tongues (with the intent of praying for a certain problem) supposedly covers the need. The individual doesn’t always know exactly what is being said in this tongue unless they have the gift of the interpretation of tongues. Often, though, the person praying does have at least an idea of what is being said.

The second type of praying in tongues is the gift of the Spirit of tongues, which is to be used publicly, along with the gift of interpretation of tongues. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:22 that public gifts of tongues are a sign that God is in the midst of the meeting, but they should be interpreted so that everyone in the room knows what God is saying. The combination of a message in tongues and its interpretation is equivalent to prophecy. In some charismatic churches, the tongues-and-interpretation messages are discouraged; there is a feeling that prophecy is more direct, and messages in tongues can be a turn-off to newcomers.

Magicians have long used what seem to be “nonsense syllables” in the working of spells. Some types of magic, like Enochian magick, have long lists of strange words that are used in incantations. These words are often linked to angels or angelic language. Paul refers to the “tongues of men and angels” in 1 Cor. 13:1; many charismatics feel that speaking in tongues is a type of angelic language. Could these factors be connected? Could the written lists of seemingly nonsense syllables actually be written forms of speaking in tongues? Because much historical evidence has been destroyed, it’s difficult to say for sure. But the magikal connection is impossible to either completely deny or totally believe. The fact that speaking in tongues and magikal syllables are both considered to be derived from angelic language seems to make for an interesting comparison.


While evangelicals claim that all prophecy stopped with the death of the last apostle of Jesus, or at the latest with the canonization of Scripture, charismatics believe that God still speaks to His people today. Most charismatics would agree, however, that prophecy has to line up with biblical teaching in order to be valid.

Two types of prophecy are used in charismatic churches: one is forthtelling, or simply speaking what one hears from God. The other is foretelling, or forecasting the future. Forthtelling is more common. According to 1 Corinthians 14:3, prophecy is to be used primarily for edification, exhortation, and comfort. Corrective prophecies, doom-and-gloom scenarios, and the like are generally restricted to the domain of an individual who holds the office of the prophet, a specific gifting which is not common. Some churches help to train individuals who have a prophetic calling, some do not. Therefore, the accuracy of prophecy will vary from church to church.

Prophecy, whether in forthtelling mode or as foretelling is a hallmark of shamanic and magikal practices worldwide, both Christian and non-Christian. Some of the training procedures used to help prophets learn their art, listed in the next section, have definite magikal overtones.

Visions, Dreams, and Visualization

On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was received by the early church, the apostle Peter quoted the prophet Joel and claimed that “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17). Prophecy, visions, and dreams have ever since been connected in charismatic settings. Dreams are sometimes referred to as “night visions”. Visions are part of the divinatory tools used by prophets.

In the process of training in prophetic things, many “schools of the prophets” and those who teach these matters will use visualization techniques to help the student learn to hear from God. Due to the use of such techniques by New Age groups, some Christians using these techniques have attempted to distance themselves by changing the vocabulary.

The New Age term “visualization” gets changed to “visioning” or something along those lines (or just called “practicing” to avoid connection to New Age techniques). Some of this “practice” is very similar to astral projection (thinking of going to another place in order to send healing, etc.), but would never be called that; it would be called “sending the power of God”, “sending healing prayer”. Another phrase that has been avoided in charismatic churches is “Christ-consciousness” or “Christ-awareness”. Too New Agey.

Interest in herbal medicine, natural foods, alternative medicine, etc., has been criticized as “too New Agey” as well.

Even though these techniques might be called something Christians find more palatable, they are virtually the same practices.

Magicians and shamans alike use visions, dreams, and visualization as part of the intuitive magikal workings. Shamanic journeys have much in common with some teachings on visions and visualization techniques that help train the prophets. A shift in vocabulary results in amazingly similar outcomes!

Prayer formulas

Intercessory prayer groups are common in charismatic churches. An intercessor is one who “stands in the gap” between an individual and God, helping make the connection so the person (or persons) for whom the intercessor prays will receive the help they need. These groups, or individual intercessors, often use prayer formulas in their ministry. These can be based on scripture, or may be a compilation of various teachings boiled down into a ritual format. Praying to the four directions and directing angels has also become popular over the last twenty years or so.

The prayer formulas used by charismatic prayer groups are not that far removed from the magician’s spells. The Tarot card depicting the Magician shows him/her with one arm stretched toward heaven, one arm pointing toward earth. This is an excellent representation of the charismatic intercessor. And of course praying to the four directions and directing angels is a magikal practice that has been used for millennia.

Supernatural Healing

Most charismatics claim to believe in supernatural healing. A variety of practices are used to help bring this healing to individuals in need. Laying on of hands, anointing with oil, formulaic prayers (especially scripture prayers), and the use of prayer-charged objects (like special cloths, crosses, and a range of other objects) are all used to help transmit healing power.

The point of using these “props” is to create a point of contact between the needy person and God. This “point of contact” helps one believe that help is being received. Is this a placebo? Perhaps. Placebos have been known to work because healing is a matter of faith more often than scientifically-minded folks are willing to admit.

Shamans and magicians use touch to heal, and use magically-charged objects for healing as well. Again, a change in vocabulary makes many of these practices interchangeable.

Casting Out Demons

Exorcism (often called “deliverance” in charismatic circles) is a controversial subject anywhere you look. Therefore, the actual practice of casting out demons will vary widely from one charismatic group to the next. The main constant in deliverance is the use of names: calling out demons by their name, and commanding them to leave the afflicted person in the name of Jesus. Other rituals used include formulaic prayer, laying on of hands, and anointing with oil.

The understanding of a being’s name, and the power associated with that name, is one of the first principles of magik. Evocation (calling out spiritual forces) is part of most magikal rituals. There are many similarities here in practice, if not in belief.

General Worship Practices

Music is often used in charismatic worship services to encourage people to “hear from God”. Some have been honest enough to refer to this as “mood music”. Many worship services fall into a regular pattern of praise and worship (singing and sometimes dancing, often including prophet utterances), announcements, taking up an offering, a sermon or teaching, and finally prayer time (often allowing individuals in need to go forward for prayer for healing). This pattern will often use a range of rituals as it plays out from week to week.

Music, particularly drum beats, is important in shamanic journeying and other magikal practices. A set of rituals is often put together as a type of service, especially in group settings.


This short paper is by no means an exhaustive list of charismatic practices and their comparison with magickal workings. It may serve as a sort of apologetic for former charismatic Christians who now engage in magikal workings. The similarities between the two are astonishing, considering the animosity of the Christian church toward magikal things. Perhaps it’s not that surprising, though, because esoteric teachings show us that the early church used magik, as did Yeshua himself. Once one has overcome the different vocabulary, it is not difficult to shift from one paradigm to another.

The many similarities between charismatic and magikal practices inspire the word “charis-magik”. Esoteric Kristianity has long melded the life and lore of Yeshua with magikal ritual. Charis-magik does the same thing, though from a different theological perspective. Perhaps this understanding will help bring down the walls between pagan and Kristian magicians. We’re not so far apart after all!


Copy and paste the following questions to a new e-mail, answer them, and send to the Mystery School with the following subject line: Charis-Magik from __________ (your magickal name).

1.  T/F Some charismatic churches use magikal workings in their services.

2.  The word “charisma” is most often translated “____________” in the New Testament.

3.  In what chapters of the Bible does one find information on the gifts of the Spirit?

4.  What is glossolalia?

5.  Briefly describe the two types of praying in tongues.

6.  T/F Charismatic praying in tongues and some magikal “languages” both claim to be derived from angelic language.

7.  What is the difference between forthtelling and foretelling?

8.  What phrase is another description for dreams?

9.  What card from the Tarot Major Arcana shows a person in an intercessory stance?

10.  Why do charismatics use “props” when praying for the sick?

11.  What is another word for exorcism?

12.  Essay Question: Do you think charismatic practices are related to magick? Why or why not? You do not have to agree with the author, but you should support your views.