John Bradshaw - Conversation with Tammy
John Bradshaw: Tammy, thanks so much for being here.
Tammy: Thank you for having me.
John Bradshaw: I really appreciate you taking your time. So you're a midwife today?
John Bradshaw: You're a volunteer firefighter today; we're gonna talk about that. But I mentioned a moment ago that you were once a practitioner of Santería.
John Bradshaw: Now, someone knows exactly what that is, but somebody else is thinking, "Huh"?
John Bradshaw: Explain Santería to me.
Tammy: Well, the definition is "the way of the saints," and basically it is a Spanish voodoo, and it's incorporated with a little bit of Catholicism.
John Bradshaw: So, voodoo, everybody understands voodoo.
John Bradshaw: This is the, the Latin form of voodoo, if you like.
John Bradshaw: So tell me a little bit about this. You were involved as a much younger person. What happens? What takes place?
Tammy: So, it wasn't by choice that I was involved.
John Bradshaw: Mm-hmm.
Tammy: It was involuntary. I was a child, and some family members practiced it.
John Bradshaw: Okay.
Tammy: I was baptized in it and participated in some rituals.
John Bradshaw: Baptized?
John Bradshaw: Practitioners of Santería are baptized?
John Bradshaw: Baptized by immersion?
Tammy: By immersion.
John Bradshaw: Oh, is that so?
John Bradshaw: Okay. And is that a ritual in and of itself?
Tammy: Yes. So the ritual is you dress in all white. Usually it's about seven days that somebody dresses in all white, and there are certain criteria that you have to fulfill. And one of the criteria is that you get a beaded necklace.
John Bradshaw: Okay.
Tammy: And those beads represent the god or the guardian or the saint, how you wanna call it, that you're dedicated to...
John Bradshaw: Okay, sure.
Tammy: ...into the religion or cult.
John Bradshaw: So, people have been to Cuba. I've been in Cuba. You see the people walking around dressed in white.
John Bradshaw: These are practitioners of Santería?
Tammy: Most likely.
John Bradshaw: Yeah, okay.
Tammy: Most likely.
John Bradshaw: And it varies a little bit. It's not like all Santería practitioners follow a carefully delineated code of practice. It's all over the place, isn't it?
Tammy: Right, it is all over the place. Because when it was brought in from Africa and went to the Caribbean, they incorporated their own religion and their own interpretation and also was passed down from generation to generation, so there's different ways of doing it.
John Bradshaw: So this is a spiritualistic religion that originated in West Africa. Is it a stretch to say that this is witchcraft?
John Bradshaw: That's what this is?
Tammy: That's exactly what it is.
John Bradshaw: So when we are gently saying you were involved in Santería...
John Bradshaw: ...the fact of the matter is you were brought into the practice of witchcraft.
John Bradshaw: What did that look like?
Tammy: I saw spirits on a regular basis. I knew people who read tarot cards. I went to people who read tarot cards. I knew people who talked to the dead, people that were close to me that talked to the "dead" or "spirits".
John Bradshaw: Sure, yeah, yeah.
Tammy: Growing up, I also had a spirit that would stand at the corner of my bed every night.
John Bradshaw: You saw spirits?
John Bradshaw: What did you see?
Tammy: Mostly shadows.
John Bradshaw: How did you know they were spirits?
Tammy: Well, it's a feeling. It's a feeling. A lot of the times, the hairs would stand up in the back of my neck.
John Bradshaw: Were you comfortable with it? Was it a comfortable feeling?
Tammy: It was not a comfortable feeling.
John Bradshaw: It never became a comfortable feeling?
Tammy: It never became a comfortable feeling. Well, it kinda did in the sense that when I asked a certain person what I was supposed to do and that that's what I was experiencing, they said, "It's okay. You know, all you have to do is just, you know, say these things, and it'll be fine". Or they would say, "Oh, that's your guardian. Don't worry about it. They're here to protect you".
John Bradshaw: Okay. So it was normal.
John Bradshaw: But it didn't feel like a visit from your aunt?
Tammy: Not a hundred percent, no.
John Bradshaw: It's fascinating, isn't it, that you're involved, you're inculcated into something.
John Bradshaw: You're told, "This is the way we do things around here".
John Bradshaw: It's not socially unacceptable, given the circle in which you found yourself at the time.
John Bradshaw: But the practice of it didn't feel right.
Tammy: Not a hundred percent, no.
John Bradshaw: Yeah, okay. So you saw spirits, shadows and so forth, and by talking to other people and what you sensed, you understood that these were... wait. You understood that these were what? You called them spirits, but what was your understanding of what they were?
Tammy: Guardian angels or saints or... Sometimes it depends on the situation that you're in. It could be a curse brought in by somebody else.
John Bradshaw: Oh.
John Bradshaw: Okay, so when you say, two things, when you say "saints," that means the dead who've gone on and are in some other place now.
John Bradshaw: Okay.
Tammy: Yeah, it could be family members, but it also tied in directly with Catholicism. So a lot of the saints that are in Catholicism were represented.
— Okay. So it might have been St. Mary; it could have been St. Andrew; it could have been saint something else.
— Okay. Okay. And you mentioned just a second ago that the possibility existed that these things that you were seeing might have been negative, might have been a curse.
— Well, this would have to surely make you feel a little defensive, a little afraid.
— Yes, it did.
— A lot of times I would hide under the covers, and that's how I slept.
— Oh, interesting.
— About what age were you?
— I was in kindergarten.
— Oh, you were little.
— That's when it started.
— So was this frightening? I wanna add to that. Was it traumatizing?
— It wasn't traumatizing.
— You know, as you got older and you continued in it, you just got used to it, and you would just tell yourself... it would normalize.
— You would be conditioned, and it would be normal. And that's what it became; it was normal for me.
— You went to school?
— I did.
— So you're in grade school, you're a 7-year-old kid in grade school, and...
— ...did you ever during "show and tell" say, "Hey, I've got news for you guys"? Or is this something that you kept as a secret?
— You kept it as a secret.
— Oh, you did?
— You knew that it was a secret. I wasn't told that it was a secret, but you didn't talk about it.
— Not to anyone?
— Not to anyone.
— How openly did you speak to...you mentioned family...
— ...about this? Like, did you ever, you know, at the dinner table, did you ever say, "Hey, I'm experiencing this or that" or "I"...
— You would do that?
— So when I was baptized, I actually was given the gift of dreams. And so I would talk to different gods or saints or different people of different cultures that practice the same thing in different languages, and I would relay those messages, and they would be interpreted.
— So let me understand this, the relaying of the messages. It's you're dreaming, and in this dream you're communicating with somebody.
— And you would have a message for X person from this saint, perhaps, and the saint says, "I want you to tell your neighbor," "I want you to tell your cousin"...
— Would it be like that?
— It would be more of, "This is what's gonna happen". Or they would tell me to do things.
John Bradshaw: Okay.
— This is what's going to happen.
John Bradshaw: And it happened?
— Yes, it would.
— Every time?
— Most of the time.
— Okay, so before we go any further, as a kindergartener...
— ...you were exposed to, drawn into-not of your own choosing but so frequently is the case...
— Right, right.
— And based on what you're saying, seeing the dead and communicating with the dead and receiving messages from somewhere, the other side somewhere, this is some pretty potent stuff.
— This is real, right?
— Very real.
John Bradshaw: Yeah.
— Very real.
— There came a time that you realized, or you believed, that what you're in was bad stuff.
— Yes. You know, and I know you know, the Bible says that "we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but [we wrestle] with principalities and powers". And you've had, I mean, we've all had firsthand experience with this, but you've had some pretty graphic, interesting firsthand experience with this thing...
— ...this battle between good and evil.
— Well, the purpose behind Santería is to have power.
— Tell me about that.
— So when I was baptized into it... the guardian that I was given was the guardian of Shango. And Shango, the bead colors were white and red, and he was the god of dominance and power. And a lot of people, when they came into Santería, it was either for protection or to get, you know, something that you wanted or to, you know, dominate.
— Dominate how? Suddenly you're better at business, or you're a better football player, or you're the smartest kid in your class, or dominate how?
— It could be either dominating over a person, whether it be a relationship with somebody that, you know, that you want, or it could be with money, you know, materialistic things. Most of the time it's that.
— It's really very interesting. I think if I would ask somebody on the street, "Tell me about Santería," anyone who knows would say, "It's some spiritualistic, witchcrafty thing".
— I'd be almost willing to wager, were I a wagering man, that few people realize how real this actually is. So... I don't know that you can give me a number, and I'm not asking for that, but how prevalent is this? How common is this?
— Well, you'll find it in all of the Caribbean, South America. It's in Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Haiti, I mean, Haiti calls it something else.
— They call it voodoo, right?
— Yeah, you'll find it all over the place.
— And in those places, I mean, is it rare? Is it just this little tiny group of people who do this in the shadows? Or is it common?
— It's very common.
— It's very common. I mean, back where I grew up, there was locations called botanicas, where it's just like a little corner store and you could just walk on in and get whatever things you needed to get or, you know, talk to the santera or santero, which is the priest of Santería. And we'd have tarot cards, psychic readings, and so on, spells.
— So we spoke about apparitions, and you were seeing various things.
— You spoke about having dreams where you communicated with others who were also practitioners of Santería.
— So this was, this was what?
— So in our family, we were given a guardian, certain guardians, and her name was Tabitha. And she...
— Biblical name.
— Yes. And she was a Haitian woman. A bit big, I could picture her face, and she would talk to me.
— And you would talk back?
— And I would talk back.
— Yep. Another time I had a conversation with a Native American. One experience, I had a conversation with Satan himself.
— And as you experienced those, from your perspective, were you really talking with a Native American? Do you feel like you were really talking with Satan Satan? Or was this just an impression and role-playing or something?
— I think part of it was role-playing. I do believe that Satan is Satan, but I think the other characters that I spoke with were demons.
— Mm-hmm. So you have no doubt in your mind this was demonic stuff that you were in the midst of?
— Absolutely not.
— Interesting, isn't it? You spoke about psychic readings.
— Now, here, you know, you see madam someone-or-other's shopfront, and she's advertising psychic readings. Explain what these were in your context.
— So when you see those madam whoever...
John Bradshaw: Yeah.
— A lot of those, you know, tend to be scams. In the context where I was, it was a very serious thing. There was a back room in a botanica or in a house of the, you know, the witch, and, I mean, you had to pay, and there were usually people there who you had to get permission to get in. So it wasn't something you could just talk to them easily.
— And the psychic reading would be about what? What are you learning in there?
— It all depends. It all depends on what you're looking for. If you go over there looking for something specific, like a relationship, you know, they'll read the cards, you know, have the bones and animal bones.
— The bones?
John Bradshaw: Animal bones?
— Yes. And they would read them, you know. They would, you know, shuffle the cards. You'd have to shuffle the cards; they'd give the cards to you.
— And these are tarot cards, just like tarot cards that people are, I don't wanna say familiar with, but the ones that we see in modern culture today, sometimes in pop culture?
— Slightly different. They're Spanish tarot cards.
John Bradshaw: Okay.
— So they have different characters.
— But same idea.
— Same idea, yes.
John Bradshaw: Yeah.
— Yes. And so you would have to touch the tarot cards in order to pass on whatever energy or you, what's going on in your life into the cards. And then the santera would take the cards and then place 'em out, and they would read them accordingly. They would read 'em according to the pictures that were on there, the order that they were put in, the colors that were prominent, you know, things that stood out the most to them. And then the bones would fall into place in certain ways, and they would read it according to their interpretation or what messages they received.
— You know, I remember being in an African country and meeting a witch doctor.
— He became a Christian and invited us to his home to destroy all of his witchcraft stuff. And some of what we destroyed that night burned, sounds very much like the sorts of things that you were exposed to in Santería. So, I guess there are a lot of common threads that weave their way through this thing.
— You saw somebody standing at the end of your bed when you were a young person.
— And this happened with frequency?
— Just about every day.
— Every day?
— Yeah. Now, I've heard similar stories from other people. So again, this isn't rare or unheard of. This started when you were young?
— Yes, very young.
— Did it leave you feeling uncomfortable?
— Very uncomfortable.
— But when I asked, you know, or I relayed, you know, the situation, what was happening, I was told that they were my guardian, and they're there to protect me. Even though I didn't feel protected, I had to accept it because the person that told me, I respected.
— Yeah. So tell me how this played out in your life. So you were a young person and then a less-young person. You were a practitioner of Santería, the objective of which, as you said moments ago, is to get power. So what happened? Were you the top student in your class? Were you the most popular kid in town? Did you get the best job there was? How'd this help you?
— I was the smartest kid in the class. I was an honor student. However, I wasn't the popular student. You know, I was bullied a lot, which kind of pushed me and propelled me into chasing Santería on my own.
— It interests me that you were bullied.
— You had spirit guides in your life and someone who stood at the end of the bed watching over you to protect you. One might think that the saints of Santería would've stepped in and taken care of the bullies. Did that happen?
— No, it didn't happen. As a matter of fact, it seemed like there was like a black cloud over my family. Like, any type of tragedy that you could imagine that could happen would happen. And it was like back to back, one right after the other, one right after the other.
— Was there ever a time that you said, "Hold on a minute, this Santería thing is not working like it should"?
— You know, it's funny, because now I look back and I'm thinking to myself, "Wow, this really doesn't work".
— Yeah. But at the time?
— But no, at the time, no. I just... When you're in it, you're thinking it all has to do with how much investment that you give. So if you're not doing the right things at the right time and you're not putting your all into it, then you're not gonna yield the results that you're looking for. So if you're experiencing all these tragedies and it's not working, it's because you're not doing your part.
— Interesting. So the spirit guides aren't really very benevolent.
— No, they're not.
— It seems like they're the selfish ones.
— Much more to ask you about, I really appreciate your time. I'm speaking with Tammy about her experience with Santería, witchcraft, and we are gonna discuss how she sees the prevalence of witchcraft in society today. I'm John Bradshaw. This is our conversation. We'll be back in just a moment.
John Bradshaw: Welcome back to "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written. I'm John Bradshaw. My guest is Tammy, who was raised as a practitioner of Santería, which is witchcraft, essentially. In Haiti, it would be known as voodoo. Throughout much of the Spanish-speaking world, Santería, "the way of the saints". You were introduced to this as a young child; really you hadn't much choice in the matter. You grew up, you mentioned earlier; I thought it was very interesting, it's not something you spoke about. Did you ever confide in a friend and say, "Hey, I've got this stuff going on"?
— How did that work out?
— She...listened. She...maybe thought I was weird, but that was it.
— Yeah, but you didn't tell a lot of people.
— No, I didn't tell anybody else.
— Yeah. So throughout the Spanish-speaking world, Santería is as common as common can be.
— And it's socially acceptable?
— Right? Yeah. People live with it, and it's what those guys do, and might even be what us do, depending of who the person in question is. But here in the United States, do you see or do you perceive that Santería is practiced at all or very much? What would you say?
— I would say absolutely. You know... a lot of the people from the Spanish countries, when they come, they bring all of that with them.
— So, to the common person, they may not understand what the beads are or what certain wardrobe or, you know, the clothes that they're wearing represent, but it is very prevalent in the US.
— You see it. When it's there, you see it?
Tammy: Yes, I do.
— You recognize it right away?
— Right away.
— Okay, okay. Raised with spirit guides and having dreams, and you've mentioned your conversation with the devil and so forth, do you have a heightened sensitivity to the presence of witchcraft around you?
— Every time I'm around a person who either is involved with witchcraft or maybe, this may sound weird, but maybe demon-possessed...
— ...this feeling in my stomach, it just turns, and then I get the hairs that stand in the back of my neck, and I don't feel comfortable. And my first reaction is to just run away.
— Uh-huh. Have you ever intervened? Have you ever spoken to somebody and say, "Hey, can I help you"? or, "Hey, I once was where you are," or, "Maybe I know what you're dealing with"? Have you ever had those conversations?
— I have spoken with people who have been demon-possessed and have prayed for them and have had experiences where their demeanor has changed afterwards.
— So let me ask you this. You can go to other countries and see pretty obvious evidence of demon possession.
— Here in the United States or in many other first world countries, you might not recognize it quite so readily. Do you think there's much of it here in the United States, much demon possession?
— I think it's much more than what we think and believe. Because we tend to look at things in a medical perspective.
— And I do believe that there is a medical aspect to it.
— No question, yeah.
— But there are a lot of times where people are inviting the demonic presence into their lives.
— Where do you see evidence of demonic activity in society?
— Mostly in children's movies, cartoons.
— Yes. They target the young people. 'Cause if you can condition the young people from the very beginning, then you'll have more of a commitment as they get older.
— When you saw the Harry Potter series of books becoming this explosive, runaway success, seemed like every kid was reading about spells and sorcerers and witches, what did you think?
— It broke my heart. And it made me really sad that a lot of parents are allowing this into their children's lives, not realizing the repercussions.
— Okay, let's talk about that. So, some of these parents are thinking, "Oh, it's just good that my kid is reading, and it's just a story, and it's just fantasy".
— You know that there's more to it than that. Why does it matter?
— It matters because the devil is real. He's very real. I spoke with him, I saw him, I experienced what he can do in somebody's life, what he did in my life, the torment, the torture. When I came to Christ, it was, I was an insomniac because of it. And when he gets ahold of somebody, he doesn't wanna let go. And I've lost many people because of him.
— So what you're suggesting is, by reading Harry Potter books, and I'm not gonna say "every", I don't want anybody to think that I'm saying every kid who reads a page of a Harry Potter book is going to hell. I don't think even you would said that.
— Absolutely not.
— But what you're saying is that by placing a book like that in a child's hand, you are setting that kid up for what, possibly?
— Demon possession. Demon possession or demonic harassment.
— What might that demonic harassment look like, could you say?
— At times it can look like psychosis. At times it can be behavioral issues. At times it could be lack of sleep. At times it could be just regular irritability. There's no limit to what Satan is willing to do in order to destroy or torment a person.
— I wonder, too, if part of what many parents don't realize they're doing is they're just setting their child up for later.
— Yes, they are.
— Normalizing witchcraft, normalizing demonic activity, normalizing spells. So at some time in the future, there's gonna be a terrible, terrible harvest that's reaped.
— Okay, so I went to Harry Potter, but let's come back here 'cause I think Harry Potter is a pretty obvious one, and many people simply don't understand that it's not benign and it is devilish. But where else do you see? You said "targeting the children". How? How is the devil using witchcraft to target kids today in ways that many of us might not even recognize?
— Definitely in the music. A lot of the music videos are normalizing Satan, talking to Satan, being with Satan, enjoying Satan. A lot of people are glamorizing being a part of his legion. The music, the video games, right now TikTok is exploding with tarot card reading. You could go in the store, a local store, and just buy tarot cards, you know, casting spells, in your local Walmart. They're opening a door, and it seems like fun, you know, and they experience things that are... supernatural. And it seems like fun, but it really isn't.
— You mentioned being harassed. Well, I wanna talk in a few moments about the miracle of you coming to faith in Jesus and leaving this behind.
— It seems like fun. Your warning would be: This may end up, where and how?
— You know, I work with a lot of teens. That's my specialty. Mental health issues on the rise, and suicide is on the rise among them. A lot of them wanna die. A lot of them don't understand. They hear voices; they don't know where these things are coming from, the thoughts that they think, where they're coming from. I mean, a lot of 'em are written in lyrics, song lyrics. The influence is heavy.
— Hmm. And my guess is that many parents are unaware of what their kids are listening to...
— ...and watching...
— ...and being influenced by.
— What could a parent do? A parent who wants to safeguard their child. I don't think too many parents want to be too terribly reactionary and overreact. But, man, you don't wanna under-react.
— How can a parent appropriately react to, first, the danger that our kids are in today, because the stuff is swimming around everywhere...
— ...and secondly, what if you do, if you find out that there's tarot cards under your kid's pillow? First, how do we insulate our children...
— ...from the very real and present danger they have to deal with every day?
— Well, I'm not a parent, so, but in my experience in working with children is being honest, being honest and sharing with them the details. Yeah, some of them will not take it seriously, but when you share with them the repercussions, and they may experience them, and they'll remember. Having a conversation doesn't mean you'll always get a result immediately. But having that conversation plants the seed, and definitely, praying for them.
— What would you say if a parent came to you and said, "I'm discovering that my kid is listening to this awful music that's virtually devilish," or they're playing with some, whether it's cards or something else, perhaps you already answered the question, but what do you do when your kid is involved?
— If they're rebellious, if they fight against it, I would say don't overreact. That's number one. If you overreact, the chances of them going towards it is stronger. But just being there, explaining to them, and supporting them, and I would probably say assess the amount of time that you're spending with them. If you're not spending quality time with them, how can they respect or even listen to your recommendation?
— Not to say that parents aren't doing that, but you would want to invest more time.
— Oh, many parents aren't doing that.
— There's no question about it. So as a kid, you were raised in this certain milieu.
— It was normal. You mentioned never really comfortable, but it was just sort of the place you found yourself. Along the way, did you question? Were you a 10-year-old girl saying, "Man, what is this that I'm into? Maybe I should be going in another direction". Did you have those thoughts? Did you ask those questions?
— I did. Growing up in the Catholic Church, even though, you know, Mary is the one who we turn to, Jesus was intriguing to me. And so, He appealed to me in a different way. I knew somehow that He was loving. I knew somehow that He was compassionate. I knew somehow He had something that I wanted. I just didn't know how to get to Him.
— But along the way you did; you did get to Him.
— I did.
— So, tell me what you can about how a girl, a young woman, raised to practice witchcraft, gets away from that? Because you really did. How did that begin? How did that separation begin from practicing the dark arts to being rid of all of that and being a happy, thriving ministry-focused Christian? I wanna go back to how that began.
— Mmm, yeah. You know, God meets you where you're at.
— Yes, He does.
— And He used the means of dreams to reach out to me. Like, I used to do drugs, and I was an alcoholic, and one time I had a dream, and it was a Native American witch doctor...
— ...that was talking to me and told me to give up smoking and doing drugs. So I woke up the next day, and I did. So I believe that God used that. Also, I was getting into a lot of turmoil, a lot of things that were happening in my life. And so I went to a botanica to figure out what things I could do to protect myself.
— And I'm just gonna jump in here. The botanicas are like the little corner store where you might go and get advice or buy the things you need to practice...
— Right, so you have the beads, you have the candles, you have the statues of the saints, and then there's the back room where the santera is.
— Yeah, okay. So you went there.
— I went there. And when I walked in, there was a... I waited for a little while, and a woman came out. And usually, in botanicas, the people that work there are Hispanic...
— ...or of Caribbean descent. But this woman was an American, and she was very... she was pretty. And she had a short bob. And I remember thinking to myself, "What is she doing here"?
— Yeah. She would've looked out of place, right?
— She did look out of place. And she asked, "How can I help you"? And I explained to her what, "I need something for protection. What is the strongest thing that you have in here for protection"? And she looked at me, and she said, "There's nothing here. It's your faith". And immediately I knew she was talking about God. I don't know how, but I know why. And it was God reaching out to me, telling me that I needed to get out of that lifestyle.
— Who was that woman? Did you ever find out?
— I never went back there again, but I wholeheartedly believe that it was an angel of God.
— Someone sent to intercept you and speak to you...
— ...and encourage you.
— So, you'd given up some of these unhealthy lifestyle practices.
— And you were looking for some strong help. The lady said, "Your faith".
— You internalized that as meaning "I've gotta turn to God".
— How did you do that?
— I met some people. I received my first Bible, and I started visiting different churches until I found one that I felt really spoke the truth, and I committed, and my life changed, not very easily.
— I was tormented for a while.
— You know, Satan doesn't wanna let go of people that he has as prisoners. But by His grace, I was set free.
— Okay, here's what I'd like to do. In just a moment, I'd like to ask you about some of what you went through, some of that throwing off the shackles of witchcraft and...
— ...so forth, what that looked like, what you experienced, where that went. And we'll talk about your growth in Jesus and how He brought you to where you are today.
— I'm so glad Tammy is here talking with me, and I'm glad you're part of this conversation as well. I'm John Bradshaw. This is "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written. We'll be back with more in just a moment.
— Welcome back to "Conversations," brought to you by It Is Written. My guest is Tammy, who, for a number of years, was a practitioner of witchcraft. She was introduced to Santería when she was a young girl, and this became a cornerstone, a foundational aspect of her life. But, Tammy, it didn't stay that way forever. You mentioned a couple of interesting encounters you had...
— ...that turned you towards faith in Jesus. You got a Bible. You started looking at church, you started attending church; you found a church that you felt like was teaching the Word of God. But, you know, the devil doesn't tend to let people go without a fight.
— So what did you experience?
— Well, like I said before, I had a dream with Satan himself as I was desiring to leave Santería, desiring to leave that lifestyle. One day I was at home, and I took a nap. And normally I would leave the TV on because I couldn't sleep without television.
— Because of the torment in the dreams.
— Just the regular dreams that you were having...
— ...as a practitioner of Santería?
— So this was going bad.
— Okay, this was not fun. It was not enriching your life.
John Bradshaw: Okay.
— It was getting very scary.
— And I'm sorry to interrupt you, but do you feel like that's typical for most people who are involved in that? Is it a joyful experience for their life, or is there turmoil involved?
— There is a lot of turmoil involved.
— And the more turmoil, the deeper you have to go, because you wanna get the power.
— Yeah. So it pushes you further.
— It does.
— Turmoil increases. In order to get away, you run further and...
— ...so forth.
— So you're just chasing.
— Ahh! Okay, so you were saying you were having a dream, and the devil was speaking to you.
— He was speaking to me. And in the dream, it was a dark place, and I just hear a really nice voice. He had a very appealing look. He was light-skinned, dark hair, very handsome-looking. And his voice almost sounded like music to my ears. It was really just romantic and pleasing. And...as he, you know, presented himself to me, he asked me if I was willing to do something for him. And I replied, "If you tell me what it is, then I will let you know if I can do it". And he promptly said, "No. I just wanna know if you're gonna do it for me. and then I'll let you know what it is". And I responded the same, "No, tell me what it is, and I'll let you know if I can do it or not". And he quickly got upset. And we have a family portrait, and that family portrait flashed before me with all of my family members. And he began to threaten me. And as I looked at my family members, all of their faces became distorted. And basically he said that if I don't do what he tells me to do, then this is what he's gonna do to my family.
— At that time, I was expecting my cousin to come, and so I left my bedroom door open. But at that time, I don't know why she couldn't come in. The door was locked. And I had my phone next to me, and she kept calling, but I didn't hear it. All I knew is that I was in this dream with Satan, and he wouldn't let me go. And I was fighting to let go, but he wouldn't let me go. And my cousin, she is a Christian, and as she's standing out the door, banging on the door, screaming my name, I didn't hear any of it. She decided to call on the name of Jesus. And I believe at that moment, that's when he let me go. And I woke up with no recollection of the dream at the moment. I did feel weird; like, my body felt exhausted. And she was asking me what happened, what was going on, how come I didn't answer the door, you know. And I told her, "I didn't hear you". And that's when she explained to me that she called on the name of Jesus, 'cause she got worried. So that was my first encounter with Satan. And that's what he was promising as I was coming out of Santería, as I was coming out of the lifestyle. And that was the beginning of the, some of the most severest trials of my life.
— Hmm. So, we don't need to get too terribly specific, but what sort of things were you encountering and dealing with? What were you up against?
— Well, he would try to kill me. So there were times where I was driving on the road, and I would have a thought, or I would jump out of my body, and I would see my car going off of a bridge or, you know, flipping over. One time I was on the highway, and a black car came alongside on my left-hand side and cut me off. And I veered out of the way to avoid the accident, and my car spun out of control, and I ended up in the emergency lane facing the right direction. And I remember a woman parked behind me. She saw everything that happened, and she couldn't believe it. And she just hugged me, and I cried. So those are some of the experiences. And, of course, the torment at night, you know, the spiders, rats, the snakes that would crawl on me. And they were very real. They felt just as real as if you were touching it yourself. And I would wake up screaming, or I would have nightmares of being chased, of being murdered. A lot of things happened.
— These little creatures you spoke about, they were real, or they were not real?
— They weren't real, but they felt very real.
— These were an illusion or something around that that the evil spirits were bringing to you.
— This had to be awful to go through.
— I did not sleep for many years at night.
— You didn't sleep for many years well at night?
— And this was happening to you as you were progressing out of Santería.
— Did you ever say to yourself, "Oh, forget it; the battle is just too great; it would be easy for me just to go back to Santería"?
— You never thought that?
— Why did you never think that? Surely a person would say, "Oh, I can't deal with the rats and the snakes and the awful thoughts and the nightmares about dying".
— Well, there's a huge contrast between my experience with Satan in the dream and how I felt when I thought about Jesus.
— Okay, tell me about that.
— Jesus just had this warm, loving feeling that I just couldn't describe. And I wanted it more than anything in this world. And I knew He was the answer. I don't know how I knew. I just knew He was the answer. And that's when I started going stronger into it. And I wanted to get sleep. I would beg; I'd be crying many times at nighttime, you know, "Lord, I just wanna sleep. Somebody, help me". And then I had an experience at church. There was a sermon, and nobody in the church knew that I was going through this. I didn't know that this wasn't normal. I was just dealing with it. And in the sermon, this pastor talked about the power of Jesus, the power in His blood, the power in His name. And I remember telling myself, "This is it". And when he explained that there is nothing stronger, that when you say His name, all the demons flee...
— ...I said, "I'm gonna do it". And I did it.
— And what happened?
— I slept at night with no nightmares, no torment, just perfect sleep. It felt so good.
— Hey, so how long, then, when you had this epiphany, you heard the sermon, and now you had some spiritual weapons at your disposal, how long before things evened out, sort of normalized? Was it instant, or was there a leveling-out period?
— When you say "normalize," when it comes to my life, it was immediate. But when it comes to my family's life, it's still happening.
— Hmm. Let me ask you this. The demonic activity stopped, just stopped, right?
— For me.
— That's how it happened? Yeah, it just stopped. You still live with very vivid memories...
— ...very strong recollections of some of the stuff you lived, did, were subjected to.
— How do you maintain equilibrium today? How do you live at peace with these really...strong and troubling experiences that you lived through?
— I don't talk about what happened much to many people. This is probably the second or third time, third time that I'm actually relaying this in a public manner. There are very few people that know, that are close to me, that know bits and pieces. But, really, what keeps me sane is that I read the Bible every day. If I don't have His Word, and if I don't pray, Satan will come back, and he will torment. He doesn't, he doesn't let up. But his powers are not... in comparison to God's powers.
— Oh, it's interesting to hear you say that.
— The Bible says, "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world". And you're a living testimony of that.
— That's interesting.
— By God's grace.
— Yeah. So, I'm gonna ask you this question. If you just quit praying and quit reading the Bible, what would happen? Without the power of Jesus present in your life, what would happen to Tammy? Where would you be a day, a week, a month, a year from now?
— To be honest, a few years ago, I had an experience in my life that was one of the hardest trials that I'd ever experienced, aside from coming out of Santería. And...I wanted to turn away from God, 'cause I thought to myself, "How could You not help me"? And I did stop reading my Bible, and I did stop praying. And the strong thought of committing suicide was there.
— That's interesting.
— If I don't have Jesus, I will be dead.
— But you have Jesus.
— I do.
— And you're very much alive.
— I am very much alive and happy to be alive.
— And you're a living testimony of what God can do in a person's life.
— Thank God for you. So, it's not something you talk about readily, and that's probably very wise. When you do, like a conversation like this, is it easy enough to talk about? Or does it cause you some pain and discomfort?
— I do experience demonic harassment usually. So when, for instance, coming here, I had to fast and pray a lot for protection and for strength because I know that he doesn't like being exposed. Satan doesn't like being exposed in this way. He wants to keep people blind, but if I can be somewhat of an instrument, then I wanna be that. And so, but it takes a lot of prayer.
— You know, I think what you're saying is true for everybody. Most people just don't realize without the Bible, without Jesus, our lives just crater and spin out of control.
— And we have to pray. We have to be close to God. I was gonna say "at the top of our game". You understand what I mean about that?
— Yes, I do.
— Everyone needs to be connected to Jesus. Your battle has been what it was, and very...graphic.
— But everybody is wrestling with exactly the same power as you wrestled with all those years.
— So it's a good reminder for you and for everybody: The spiritual battle is real.
— Yes, it is.
— We do wrestle "with principalities and powers". There is a ruler of the darkness of this world.
— And he's after everybody, not merely people who practice Santería...
— ...but everybody.
— And of every age group.
— Yes. Yeah, interesting you would say that.
— Yeah. So, the devil isn't slowing down. If anything, you look around society, you see more and more, don't you?
— He's speeding up.
— Yeah, you see it everywhere.
— He's speeding up, and he's attacking in stronger ways and more bold ways.
— Well, I'm a midwife. And in midwifery, now in most schools, they teach spiritualism.
— They teach it?
— Yes. As a part of the practice. And so I remember there was a time where there was a mom, she was a first-time mom, and she had a doula who practiced spiritualism. And they let me know that they were praying to Isis, and that this pregnancy, this labor is gonna go wonderful, and that she has all her crystals, and so I remember that she was in the birth tub, and she formed a triangle with the crystals.
— And you were in the middle of this?
— I refused to be in the middle of it. So, when I saw this happen, immediately, you know, that discomfort.
— So I went to the back of the room, to another room in the birth center, and I got on my knees, and I prayed. And I needed strength, 'cause I knew that what I was up against I cannot handle, and it's only the power of God that can handle and fight. And when I came back, I knew that I could not go in that triangle. So, I just grabbed the crystal and broke the triangle and put it to the side. And I was able to help her in her labor.
— It's real, isn't it? This battle is real, isn't it?
— Very real.
— I just hope that there's not a single person watching or listening who dismisses the reality of the gigantic spiritual battle we are in.
— It's not a joke.
— No, it's the real thing, isn't it?
— Yes, it is.
— If anybody knows that, it's you. Even Disney, right? I don't wanna name too many names, but even Disney's producing television programs, isn't there a program now for kids based on Santería? Is that right?
— Yes. I heard about it recently. It's called "Encanto". And when I saw the trailer, I was appalled. They're introducing this witchcraft to kids. I mean, it's nothing new that Disney does this, but they're just doing it so openly and boldly now. And kids love it. Kids love it. And I just can't believe that parents are allowing this into their homes.
— Well, I hope after you've spoken with me today, less parents will...
— ...and more people will be a little more wise about the reality of the spiritual battle that we're in here.
— That's why I'm here.
— You know what, we're about out of time, but I gotta ask you: You're a volunteer firefighter? What in the world?
— How did that come about, and why are you busy fighting fires and cutting people out of cars? What are you doing that for? I mean, it's the most wonderful thing I think a person can do. But how'd you get involved?
— I enjoy helping people. I got into midwifery because I wanted to help teen moms in their labors. And I got into firefighting because I enjoy just helping people any way that I possibly can. And it's active. I love being active.
— Yeah, exciting too, huh?
— Yes, it is very exciting.
— Yeah, fantastic. Well, I think firefighting, as I said a moment ago, a very noble thing, and we're grateful to every firefighter there ever is or was, and I'm thankful to you for what you're doing to help your fellow human being.
— And thanks for sharing your story today.
— Thank you for having me.
— God has brought you on a journey. The journey's far from over. You're His child; you're serving Him; you're doing great things in the area of ministry and helping other people. And undoubtedly, because we've spoken here today, lots and lots of people are gonna be blessed.
— By His grace.
— So, thank you.
— Thank you.
— Ah, thank you very much.
— And thank you for being part of this conversation. I hope you'll be prayerful about the world in which we live and the spiritual battles that we are called to fight. And remember this: "Greater is He that's in you than he that is in the world". I'm John Bradshaw. My guest has been Tammy. This has been our conversation.