Do Quakers Quake?

Why are Quakers called Quakers? Do they literally Quake? We asked 15 modern Friends.

Jon Watts

Jon Watts launched and directed the QuakerSpeak project for its first 6 seasons. Keep up to date with Jon’s work at his website.

9 thoughts on “Do Quakers Quake?

  1. We are close to a deaf Kenyan Quaker and sent him to Quaker Speak by the deaf Greensboro Friend. We sent him the video but unfortunately you have cut off some of the sign language because you are focusing only on the face. You did it again today in your latest video. Please be sensitive to deaf Friends when you are setting the camera and editing the film of someone who uses sign language. Is there any possibility that you have or could create a “full sign language” version of the Greensboro Friend?

    1. We appreciate your feedback. For accessibility, we provide a transcript and embed closed captions in each one of our videos. Viewers can turn the closed captions on by pressing the “CC” button when the video is playing. On some mobile devices, viewers may need to tap the “three dots” icon (⋮) to see the Closed Captions/Subtitles option.

      Jane Fernandes did not sign consistently throughout her interview, so we regret that a “full sign language” version is not possible.

  2. I do tremble quietly in the silent meeting, pretty much every time. It’s the way that my body responds to the presence of the Spirit, and the experience is very peaceful and comforting. At times it can intensify to a stronger shaking, but I try to keep it down, so as not to be a distraction to others in the meeting. Having experienced this for years in worship settings, when I started attending Quaker meetings, I thought it might be appropriate, since the group is indeed called “Quakers”.

  3. Yes, i have quaked on occasion. In yoga, these are called kriyas, cleansings. We can think of the nervous system, especially the parasympathetic trunk lines that run in a pair of spirals around the central spinal cord, as pipes, as in plumbing. Karma is the buildup of tension stored in the neuro-endocrine and muscular systems, deposits in the pipes that obstruct the flow of prana, life force, holy spirit. In plumbing running too much water through the pipes makes them shake. When centering deeply, when a lot of spirit gets moving in the nervous system, it shakes. My Transcendental Meditation teachers said that this shaking was the release of this tension, of this accretion karma in the nervous system.

  4. Yes, firstly when one quietly stands up in the most humble manner in a room as silent and solemn as before a judge with people with faces as beautiful as angels seated in circles geometrically arranged and the Spirit awakens me to alertness from deep seeking and waiting, it’s there and then that I begin to hear the voice of God speaking to me through that person ministering and automatically a reflex action ceases me and I find myself trembling and quaking. This also happens to me just before I’m prompted to minister during and immediately after.

  5. Thank you Quakerspeak for bringing up this important point. This is part of our pentacostal / charasmatic / mystical Christianity roots that parts of the Quaker family no long know about / want to know about.
    I call myself a Quaking Quaker, but since moving / switching my yearly meeting I no longer quake as much as I used to, but there are 2 main reasons:
    1) coming to Meeting for Worship with hearts and mind prepared is harder for me (I find William Tabers “through the four doors” helpful)
    2) my current worship group contains less people who come to worship in “expectant waiting” / who don’t (want to) believe in the “Holy Spirit ” therefore we rarely gather as a majority in the spirit and go deeper together. It does happen occasionally though.
    I still quake 3-4 per year, and cleansing it brings helps me a lot. Sometimes the revelation is just for myself and other times for the group / someone else n the group.
    Barrack Obama said last week in Berlin, he believes God doesn’t speak to us as individuals, but to us communities. However, as we know, from our past it takes sensitive souls to act as prophetic witnesses and if these concerns are tested by the worshipping community as a message for the wider community then I guess he is right.

    If we are to see the changes we are called to bring about (specifically used “we” not I) then should we not be encouraging more quaking?

  6. i thought I was the only one that described the quaking experience as a “spiritual orgasm”. So refreshing to hear someone else say the same thing. The spiritual practice of waiting and trusting the quaking has been a profound teaching. I trust it like nothing else. The process of discerning is an important aspect. I may “think” or “believe” I have something to share but if it doesn’t come with that intense physical experience its not. Sometimes the feeling comes first and I have to “dig” to find out what the message is. Give it voice. It is also humbling to experience and then let it go. Not expecting or wanting praise or comment at rise of Meeting. A very valuable practice indeed!

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