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Author Topic: Speaking/Singing in Tongues  (Read 6857 times)
Lykaios
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« Topic Start: February 23, 2009, 02:42:11 am »

I have some totally random questions about speaking in tongues in a pagan context. (As opposed to the Pentecostal Christian context)
Specifically I’m talking about Glossolalia: speaking in a ‘holy language’ composed of what appear to be non-sense syllables that nonetheless sound much like some sort of fluent language and the sometimes incorporated Xenoglossy: spontaneously speaking in a real language which is completely unknown to the person speaking it. 

I got curious about the topic after seeing a documentary that discussed it recently and looked it up on Wikipedia (not the most impressive of sources, I know). At the bottom of the entry, they noted that this sometimes shows up in pagan and shamanistic faiths (also possible in voodoo).

Have you ever had experiences with either? Is speaking in tongues a part of your path? If so, how do you use it and why? Does it have a historical basis in your tradition or is it a modern/UPG add-on?

On a related note, if you do speak in tongues, do you consider what you say a product of purely Glossolalia or do you suspect it might be Xenoglossy, that is to say, do you believe the language you are speaking is or was at one time a real language (such as an unlearned or undiscovered language you cannot identify)?

If you don’t speak in tongues, what do you think of the practice? Have you ever encountered it outside the Christian faith? Do you believe it can serve a purpose or do you see it as nonsense?

And although I’m not specifically talking about constructed languages or ‘Conlangs’ in this post, I could see how the topics might be related and wanted to throw that out there too. Do you think there is any relationship between speaking in tongues and inventing fantasy languages? Why do humans feel the need to do either?
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Lykaios
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« Reply #1: February 23, 2009, 03:05:09 am »


To answer my own questions, part of why I find the topic so fascinating is because I sing in tongues in my car and in the shower. No real reason. I have just always sang in nonsense syllables to the tunes of various Christmas carols (usually God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Carol of the Bells, and Silent Night). I always considered it just a really odd personality quirk and I don’t recall ever learning it specifically or thinking of it in a spiritual context (though I did grow up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and may have been exposed to it as a child).

I have had at least one Xenoglossy experience. When I was nine, I was with my family at Disney world sitting at that pirate-something-or-the-other beach (can’t remember the name, but it was by the wave pool thing). My Mom was a few chairs away but it was really packed and I had to go a few chairs over to find an empty spot to put my towel down. So I told her where I was headed and went looking for an empty chair. I found one and sat down to take my sandals off. There was this really nice woman in an orange dress with her head wrapped in some kind of shawl sitting next to me and a man in a suit sitting by her. She turned to me and smiled then asked if the brown haired woman I had been talking to was my mother. I smiled back and said “Yes, we look a lot alike”.  This shocked the man sitting next to her who immediately called my mother over and asked her if I spoke any languages. My mother said no and he explained that he was the woman’s translator. Apparently, she had asked me the question in her native language, and I had answered a full grammatically correct sentence in that same language when I didn’t know it at all. I wish I could remember the language now, but I don’t. Neither does my mother, but she said it was something she had never heard of before. It really spooked that foreign couple, but my mom just writes it off as one in a long string of ‘weird’ experiences she had with me as a child.

I don’t know how I feel about it, but I’m certainly open to poking around a bit more, hence this thread.  Still, I think it’s too early for me to judge the idea one way or the other. Since I have very little recollection of the event, and almost no knowledge of the phenomena in general. 
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« Reply #2: February 23, 2009, 08:38:33 am »

I got curious about the topic after seeing a documentary that discussed it recently and looked it up on Wikipedia (not the most impressive of sources, I know). At the bottom of the entry, they noted that this sometimes shows up in pagan and shamanistic faiths (also possible in voodoo).

I haven't really heard of this in Pagan faiths, except rarely in the case of some oracles who would speak in a strange tongue which was interpreted by priests.
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« Reply #3: February 23, 2009, 08:25:48 pm »

To answer my own questions, part of why I find the topic so fascinating is because I sing in tongues in my car and in the shower. No real reason. I have just always sang in nonsense syllables to the tunes of various Christmas carols (usually God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Carol of the Bells, and Silent Night). I always considered it just a really odd personality quirk and I don’t recall ever learning it specifically or thinking of it in a spiritual context (though I did grow up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and may have been exposed to it as a child).

Wait...so you sing nonsense syllables to Christmas carols....that doesn't sound like glossolalia or xenolalia to me at all. It sounds like something silly that you like to do.

I've never really heard of it in a pagan sense, except as noted by Randall, but I also don't really think it makes any sense in the Christian context either, the purpose of speaking in tongues, back in the bible, was so that the apostles could speak to people in languages they hadn't learned- actually more accurately called xenolalia. 
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« Reply #4: February 23, 2009, 09:08:26 pm »

To answer my own questions, part of why I find the topic so fascinating is because I sing in tongues in my car and in the shower. No real reason. I have just always sang in nonsense syllables to the tunes of various Christmas carols (usually God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Carol of the Bells, and Silent Night). I always considered it just a really odd personality quirk and I don’t recall ever learning it specifically or thinking of it in a spiritual context (though I did grow up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and may have been exposed to it as a child).
There are (often traditional) vocal-music forms that involve singing sounds that have no meaning other than as sounds to carry a tune, such as Irish lilting/mouth music.  It seems to me that's more what you're doing here - and also that that's what you might have been exposed to as a child.

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« Reply #5: February 23, 2009, 09:09:59 pm »

....but I also don't really think it makes any sense in the Christian context either, the purpose of speaking in tongues, back in the bible, was so that the apostles could speak to people in languages they hadn't learned- actually more accurately called xenolalia. 

That always confused me when I was younger as that's what I thought (from reading the Bible) the whole point of "speaking in tongues" was to be able to speak the language so you could spread the gospel. Not to speak in some unknown language.
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« Reply #6: February 24, 2009, 04:55:14 am »

I wonder if one could use glossolalia to achieve a trance state.
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« Reply #7: February 24, 2009, 04:37:29 pm »

There are (often traditional) vocal-music forms that involve singing sounds that have no meaning other than as sounds to carry a tune, such as Irish lilting/mouth music

I do a bit of this, and it does have a spiritual element, but I agree that it differs from glossolalia.  The syllables aren't supposed to mean anything, they just add depth of sound to the tune.

Someone whose word I trust claims to have experienced xenolalia once.  He's Wiccan (oathbound trad), and I think the language was Greek.  He was asked a question and answered in the language of the speaker, which he doesn't otherwise speak.  As far as I know, this isn't part of his regular religious practice, he regarded it as a weird one-time thing.

Glossolalia and xenolalia are outside my personal sphere of experience entirely, though as phenomena I  think they're interesting. 

Betty



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« Reply #8: February 24, 2009, 04:47:00 pm »

I wonder if one could use glossolalia to achieve a trance state.

In the accounts of glossolalia that I've read about in anthropology sources, it seems that the ecstatic trance state precedes the glossolalia. 

I could see letting the mind wander and the tongue babble being a useful way to achieve a light trance, in the same way that repetitive words and movement will do this, but I don't think it's quite the same thing as the glossolalia that happens in ecstatic trance.

It's worth a try, though.

Betty
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« Reply #9: February 25, 2009, 03:18:32 am »

That always confused me when I was younger as that's what I thought (from reading the Bible) the whole point of "speaking in tongues" was to be able to speak the language so you could spread the gospel. Not to speak in some unknown language.

One of the reasons that so many people are highly skeptical of the idea of speaking in tongues, at least as it's presented in the churches.
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« Reply #10: February 25, 2009, 09:33:35 am »

I have some totally random questions about speaking in tongues in a pagan context. (As opposed to the Pentecostal Christian context)
Specifically I’m talking about Glossolalia: speaking in a ‘holy language’ composed of what appear to be non-sense syllables that nonetheless sound much like some sort of fluent language and the sometimes incorporated Xenoglossy: spontaneously speaking in a real language which is completely unknown to the person speaking it. 

I got curious about the topic after seeing a documentary that discussed it recently and looked it up on Wikipedia (not the most impressive of sources, I know). At the bottom of the entry, they noted that this sometimes shows up in pagan and shamanistic faiths (also possible in voodoo).

Have you ever had experiences with either? Is speaking in tongues a part of your path? If so, how do you use it and why? Does it have a historical basis in your tradition or is it a modern/UPG add-on?


Interesting topic. I have heard this myself, in a Pentecostal Christian context, and yes, it was ecstatically induced. I personally find singing and chanting to be a great way to get into trance, and to raise energy for magical work. Bobby McFerrin made a record partly for this purpose with a bunch of witches and singers from around here a while back, www.bobbymcferrin.com/bobby_records.php , that grew out of singing and chanting for ecstatic devotional purposes. There is still a once-a-month circle sing here in the SF Bay Area.

 I can also say that, while my Sanskrit is really terrible, I can feel the power of the words when I chant mantras.
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« Reply #11: March 08, 2009, 04:09:00 pm »

There are (often traditional) vocal-music forms that involve singing sounds that have no meaning other than as sounds to carry a tune, such as Irish lilting/mouth music.  It seems to me that's more what you're doing here - and also that that's what you might have been exposed to as a child.

Sunflower

Actually, that sounds exactly like what I do. Basically using the mouth as an instrument.  Cheesy

My father also came up with a good explanation for where I might have heard what sounded like 'nonsense' singing. Apparently, my grandmother used to sing to me in German when I was a toddler. I didn't learn any German until high school, so it's likely that it seemed like nonsense to me as a child. 
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« Reply #12: May 14, 2009, 02:32:00 am »

I have some totally random questions about speaking in tongues in a pagan context. (As opposed to the Pentecostal Christian context)
Specifically I’m talking about Glossolalia: speaking in a ‘holy language’ composed of what appear to be non-sense syllables that nonetheless sound much like some sort of fluent language and the sometimes incorporated Xenoglossy: spontaneously speaking in a real language which is completely unknown to the person speaking it. 

I've witnessed Glossolalia in the Pentecostal Christian sense (and was severely amused to find out that several of the teenagers I witnessed doing this were in fact just doing it to please their parents rather than any actual spiritual truth behind it), and have witnessed Xenoglossy in the pagan sense.

Unfortunately, I can't discuss too much detail on the latter issue because of the sensitive nature of the event (especially for the person to whom it happened), though I can say the language was what would be understood as being that of the ancient Egyptians. However, the person was completely unaware of the whole event, and to this day still has a memory gap there in their mind. If you wish to know more than that, I'd prefer to take the discussion private.
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