A day beginning with science and atheism at a spiritual connection, now the last ceremony of the night completely handing myself over to spirit and the deity. The majority of my successful spiritual practice has been involved in the concept of shamanism and shape shifting. Taking on the physical and emotional attributes of an animal spirit helps open up new areas of the mind and self discovery. I knew that this class would be much less about the wild side of magic and work with known entities and pantheons. Nevertheless, I was interested to see what I could learn and apply to my own personal practice.
More definition of terms; I find that defining terms at the beginning of these workshops creates a more clear understanding and intention for what everyone is getting involved with and will be learning. Invocation is calling down a spirit or deity to possess your physical body and communicate through you as a vessel. Evoking is bringing the spirit into a space to protect or raise a certain energy without the possession of a human vessel. The reason to do this in a spiritual practice is to enhance the effectiveness of prayer and communication with a higher self. Changing the way we think and act also effect the body’s physical chemistry, allowing us to act towards our goals more authentically.
Putting the burden of communication, insight, and delivering truth to others is easier when we feel protected from personal accountability. There is a deep need to cultivate responsibility before enacting a ritual such as invocation. Just because the words might not be authentically your own does not me they do not personally affect you. Intention, once again, is key. Know who you are asking for help, know what they are like and how they act, and provide gratitude for the messages they might impart. It is method acting on the deepest instinctual level.
And, as with any practice, it is important to fall into a state of natural flow and let things happen. However you channel spirit, whoever seems to answer your prayers, whatever you feel legitimately satisfied by, that is your practice. What I liked most about this workshop was the focus on researching your intention and who you are asking what of. I love making spreadsheets and research about abstract concepts, and this was in a way an affirmation that this process can be in itself a spiritual one. I don’t have to feel like I am high or in an altered state of consciousness to be practicing spirituality and serving deity. You can fake faith as a method of practice until you find what works for you, and then it becomes an organic part of your being.
After discussing the how and why, the workshop then commenced to attempt the practice of possession. My personal experience with this was not to give myself over fully, but to try and deconstruct the boundaries telling me that the experience of imagination isn’t real. As I mentioned in the Dancing Without Deity post, I don’t feel a particular draw to any one god(dess) or pantheon. Bastet and the Egyptian pantheon were my first experience with the non-Abrahamic religions, and have always held a close place in my heart. Big cats, especially the panther and leopard, guide me and empower me with their sensuality, self reliance, and cautious bravery. They are who I imagine before anything or anyone else. Knowing that these spirit creatures are mostly of my own design and understanding makes them difficult to research. Animals don’t speak the way humanized deities do, they act and show you the way to do things the way they know how.
For others though, possession is an intense experience for them and the people around them. It is not something to be taken on lightly, and it is always good to have someone help snap you out of it if needed. I made friends with the leaders of this workshop for the duration of the convention, and was made felt welcome despite my different approach. I think that acceptance is one of the most powerful aspects of the convention. To learn and to express and for it to be okay to create a personalized meaning from experience. It was a long day, full of new ideas and self expression. I continue to have so much insight into the ongoing process of understanding myself and the practices of the world around me. Thank you, reader, for sharing this process with me and allowing me my vulnerability.
(Written post ritual, the end of the first night) I am very good at making excuses about why I don’t do things that I know I should. To own it would be one thing, but to feel guilt and shame for avoidance is another, and falls into the realm of mental illness. I have allowed ego to dictate what I can and cannot do with the justification that know knowing the assured outcome is a danger and a failure on my behalf. During rituals, when the energy is beginning to peak, my sacrum drops- identifying my personal power as a sacred one. I have a deep understanding and connection to things but hesitate to act. Not trusting facts, experience, or intuition. Writing comes from a place of spirit, and doubt and inaction come from ego- telling me that I can do better or will get irreparably hurt from trying. Ego views inaction as survival- in the realms of the celestially and the underworld though, there are mere glimmers of life and self expression that keep me going on.
Ugly truth: I am only alive because my path and hurt would transfer to others if I was dead, not remove the pain. I have tried to kill my physical body and my spirit because I felt there would be repetition of the suffering. I am frustrated and angry my body doesn’t work the way it used to or how I think it should. Ego. My body will work while spirit is unsatisfied. But it won’t be for long and will need as much time to recuperate as I put in. I get frustrated at seeing progress but not feeling growth or wholeness that I have aimed for. I admit my strengths and weaknesses openly, trying to better understand why they came into being, how I believe they serve me in the moment, and how I can improve or better put them into action. But they remain mostly thoughts on a page and not action. I know I have a relationship with death and the underworld, but I don’t know it intimately. I need to explore the concept of the celestial and what it might have to offer.