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Them That BelieveThe Power and Meaning of the Christian Serpent-Handling Tradition$
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Ralph Hood, Jr. and W. Paul Williamson

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780520231474

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520231474.001.0001

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The Experience of the Anointing

The Experience of the Anointing

(p.157) Chapter 9 The Experience of the Anointing
Them That Believe

Ralph W. Hood Jr.

W. Paul Williamson

University of California Press

This chapter describes the actual experience of handling serpents and the experience of the anointing. Anointing, like tongues speaking, may be linked to trance states. However, “trance” does little to describe the experience of anointing, a central experience in serpent-handling churches. Anointing is a common experience among Pentecostals, whether or not they handle serpents. In the existing research literature, there is little that deals specifically with the anointing experienced among Pentecostals—let alone serpent-handling churches. With Pentecostals in general, the phenomenon of anointing emerges largely as an embodied event. The anointing was experienced in church services that also included intense praying, singing, shouting, dancing, and preaching, all of which express the emotional aspects of Holiness-Pentecostal worship that are integral to the faith. The phenomenon of anointing is described as emerging as a particular awareness of the body that served to contextualize the way in which the person directly experiences God. Serpent handlers, like many other Holiness-Pentecostal believers who do not handle, all share a faith that is “better felt than told.”

Keywords:   anointing, experience, serpent handling, trance, Holiness-Pentecostal worship

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