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The Gods did not reveal, from the beginning,
All things to us; but in the course of time,
Through seeking, men find that which is better.

But, as for certain truth, no man has known it,
Nor will he know it; neither of the gods,
Nor yet of the things of which I speak.
And even if by chance he were to utter
The final truth, he would not know it;
For all is but a woven web of guesses.

– Xenophanes

 

This is a post I struggled to write, for fear that it would come off as caustic, but nonetheless, I feel that it must be said.

To take a moment to define the phenomenon in question, let’s say that we are talking about all situations where a deity is somehow experienced through someone else’s body. This includes full on possession, channeling where the deity is only using the person as a conduit through which to pass on words, etc. (In terms of the person acting as the conduit for a possession, channeling, or other divine communication, you will also hear me interchangeably using the word vessel with the word horse. The latter is a term from African Diaspora religions, especially Vodou.) While these experiences themselves are not a bad thing, I’ve observed that they’ve driven a rising movement for on-demand or drive-thru spirituality.

It’s difficult to build a relationship with a God, or a spirit, or even your ancestors. I’ve had a lot of people coming to me upset because they cannot hear the Gods as clearly as others or at all. They lament about how their experiences do not match those of others, how they don’t feel the energy as intensely. They feel lost, confused, and often hurt.

The only comfort I can offer is this: you are meant to suffer through this. Not in the sense that you are somehow an awful person, and deserving of silence and despair. But, this is part of the mystic’s path. You will question. You will doubt. You will be afraid. You will know moments of ecstatic closeness to the divine and moments of utter solitude and quiet. You will write words of love, enthrallment, and hope. You will curse Their names and wish you had never gotten yourself into this, before you wake up and make them an offering the next morning. Mysticism and the spiritual experience is a journey. It requires seeking and struggling.
For those of you asking how to hear better, how to exist in certainty with the will of your divine and ancestors, this is how it happens. It takes time. It takes determination. It takes hours or even days of meditation over weeks, months, and years. It takes struggle. Because in this ordeal, that is how you come to know Them. More importantly, that is how you come to know yourself. You become able to distinguish God’s voice from those phrases and ideas that linger in your subconscious. You learn the feel of Them and the omens that they give you. You learn the difference between the feeling and emotion that comes with a spirit or deity tampering with coincidence and the shuffle button iTunes.
It takes time. It hurts. It takes patience, and most of all, faith. The battle between doubt and this hard-earned gnosis cements the trust between yourself and the spirit in question. It builds faith.

That’s why I take such umbrage with all of this possession and channeling going on, especially online. I know that most people do this as an effort to be genuinely helpful, but it is, in truth, a robbery.
Honing out that connection and clarity for yourself is crucial to a successful spiritual relationship that is not dependant on others, as all spiritual relationships should be.
There is, unfortunately, a lapse of judgment regarding this on the side of those provided said channelings and possessions. If you are one of those people, please take a moment to stop and consider whether or not this is really the right thing to do for the person in this situation. I know it is difficult to watch someone suffer through the struggle I’ve mentioned above. But, pause to consider that if someone had come in and told you the answers, and you never had to seek for them yourself, would you be in the same relationship that you are with your Gods/spirits/ancestors right now? You might have wanted to pull your hair out a little less, but the answer will be, in most cases, probably not. If that person is struggling for help, consider, instead, providing them with advice on how you got through a similar ordeal, and if they’re really struggling, perhaps a divination. Even if you feel that said God or spirit wants you to do this, consider what it is doing for or to the recipient, and consider how you will feel if this person attaches to you as some sort of prophet for this deity and therefore comes to you with every question they have because they have failed to establish that relationship on their end. I would hope not good, but that’s what this type of consistent struggle-and-response relationship nurtures. This type of hang-up has the potential to do a lot of damage to both individuals and communities alike, please take this from someone who has been there.

For those of you who are struggling to build a relationship and are upset because you cannot hear or you feel lost, I understand. When you are reading the words of people who are experiencing what at least appears to be a peaceful and/or strong spiritual relationship, it is not because we were more loved by the Gods or more deserving than others, it’s because we have been where you are right now, in all of its painful glory. We can sympathize, we can offer advice, but we cannot take that struggle away, nor should we want to. Not because we are awful and want to see you suffer, but because spirituality is a seeking process and you must find that place of peace and strength for and in yourself.

If you are going through this, my first advice to you, if you have not done so, would be to get a type of divination native to either your ancestors and/or the spirit or deity you are trying to contact. This is why I learned the runes, you may find yourself learning Ogham or the Tarot or even a type of divination you have never heard of. I even know one young woman who divines using otter penis bones, because it’s a Polish system she was taught by her ancestors. Either research, or just walk through the divination section at a local metaphysical or book store and see if something jumps out at you. If you don’t have a local shop, you can take the same pretense to an online store and see if you feel compelled toward a certain set or idea. Make a practice of using that system to talk to your spirit/deity with them at least once a day. If you are confused and struggling, this is normal. This too, in time, shall pass. Keep a journal of your readings and experiences so you can re-read them and note, for yourself, the progression. Seek out others as you get stuck and ask how they got through what you are experiencing.

Secondly, fine-tune your intuition and never question it. We’re taught not to listen to our instincts from a very early age, but they are our most primal and important red flags. If you feel in your gut that something is either very right or very wrong, you’re most likely correct. There is an excellent book titled The Gift of Fear by Gave de Becker specifically about this.
Take time to ground/banish and shield every day, and take a few moments of quiet meditation afterward. Try to quiet your mind and then journal on the thoughts and ideas that pop into your head. You will likely find repeating patterns. These will help you distinguish the mental sock puppets and subconscious fears/thoughts from spiritual messages.

If you feel that talking to a God or spirit directly is absolutely necessary, be analytical about whom you choose. Talk with your chosen vessel/horse and research them. Do they seem stable and like they have a firm grasp on themselves? Do they claim to have been a practicing priest of so-and-so for twenty years and you found them posting as a self-proclaimed atheist four years ago? You are asking for a demanding and deep spiritual process, be as confident as you can that you’re getting the least amount of interference. This is why developing confidence in your intuition is so important.
You need to be analytical about the process during an interaction as well. It is always best to err on the side of reverence and be respectful during the possession, but you can politely excuse yourself from the experience if you don’t believe it to be genuine.
As part of your research, I would recommend that you purchase or at least read a copy of Drawing Down the Spirits by Raven Kaldera and Kenaz Filan. Regardless of how you feel about Raven, this is the most modern non-path-biased reference we have from both within the observer and vessel’s point of view. One chapter also lists a series of warnings to watch out for that may signal that a message or possession may not be genuine.
One very common sign is if the vessel refers to themselves at all during the possession, especially by name or in a manner intended to build confidence in or promote the vessel during the possession. Referring to the horse during possession rouses the conscious mind, and since the horse often goes through efforts to attain an altered state of consciousness through which they can be not present, this can disrupt possession by re-establishing a sense of self-identity and disturbing the connection. This same concept carries over into a person “talking themselves up” during a possession. Be wary of horses who want to tell you about how great they are or who ask for things while possessed. The same is true of horses who say things while “possessed” in effort to validate the possession, such as that they “will not remember this”, etc. The deity is there to communicate with you and is generally unconcerned about the side effects on the horse after they leave at least in the sense of such “givens” as memory loss or confusion.

I don’t deny that there is a situation where possession can be very helpful or even necessary. I also feel that a possessory right is something that most practitioners should experience at least once in their lifetime. It is an awe-inspiring and intense rite of devotion. But, I feel strongly that this something worth traveling to someone you find reputable to experience and not best lived over the connection of a keyboard.

Be blessed in your seeking, whichever road you chose.

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