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Author Topic: Deity and/or Ancestor Possession / "Channeling"  (Read 1405 times)

Aster Breo

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Deity and/or Ancestor Possession / "Channeling"
« on: February 04, 2017, 01:26:06 am »
Questions:  

For those of you who practice deity or ancestor possession or "channeling", including drawing down rituals, how do you do it?  

Do you have triggers or cues that help you get to the appropriate trance state?  If so, how did you develop them?

What kind of internal preparation do you do to become open to the spirits or deities?  

How do you know if you've actually been in contact with a deity or spirit?  

How do you know whatever you said didn't come from your own brain, subconscious or otherwise?


Background:  

About 10 years ago, I had a revelatory experience in an oracular seidr (aka spae) ritual led by Diana Paxson.

(NOTE: This technique was developed by Paxson and her group, Hrafnar, and is based on their understanding of Norse lore, but, since there are no details about seidr/spae,* they had to fill in the blanks as well as they could.  So, the practice is reconstructed/built from the lore as informed by inspiration, UPG, and some info from other traditions. More info: http://seidh.org/. I understand that there is disagreement within the Heathen community about whether this is an authetic practice. I'm not making any claims about how authentically ancient or Norse it is.  I can only speak to it's effectiveness in my personal experience.)

Right after that ritual, through a series of events that was far too coincidental to be a coincidence, I began training in the seidr technique. The training was taught by someone who was part of the group who developed the technique, worked closely with Paxson for many years, and moved to the East Coast at some point and now lives in my area.

After some period of time that I don't really remember, that training ended.  I continued learning as much as I could on my own.  And I've attended a couple more oracular seidr rituals at conferences.

About a year and a half ago, I heard about another seidr workshop that was being held by the same person I had trained with the first time.  I sent her a message asking about it, but didn't hear back.

Then, about 2 weeks ago, out of the blue and right after I'd been thinking about seidr for some reason, I got a message from her saying she had just received the message I'd sent 18ish months ago (way to go, Facebook Messenger!), that she was doing another workshop the following week, and that I was welcome to attend. It felt like another non-coincidental coincidence.

I did that (very intense) workshop last weekend.  And I had a couple of experiences that I'm still trying to process.  Which is difficult, because I can't remember one of them during which I apparently hosted the Norse goddess Idunna -- a goddess I'd never even heard of before that night.

All I remember about that experience is sitting there while the guide was singing, and thinking "this isn't going to work". My next memory is of drinking wine, and enjoying it, despite the fact that I hate wine.  I was told that everything I said was completely consistent with past experiences with Idunna, and that my face had changed in some way while Idunna was present.  I REALLY wish I could remember more.

I remember slightly more about the ancestor session, earlier that same day, during which I relayed answers and comments from General Lafayette (yes, the Lafayette from the American Revolution and the French Revolution).  I wish I could remember more about that, too.  I mostly remember just knowing the answers to the questions being asked, even though I didn't see him or hear him telling me or anything like that.

Starting this week, I'll be participating in a monthly spae practice.

So, in addition to re-reading Trance-Portation and The Way of the Oracle (and reading The Essential Guide to Possession, Depossession, and Divine Relationships for the first time), I'm looking for as much input as I can find on the mechanics of doing this kind of work.

I'd appreciate anything you want to share about how you, personally, do this work -- especially internal processes (e.g., for triggering trance states) and ways of confirming contact.

Thank you!!!

~ Aster


*I'm using both seidr and spae for this oracular work because, as I understand it, the developers originally called it seidr, based on their reading of the lore and language, but have more recently begun using spae, based on their more recent understanding. I could be totally wrong about that.
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Dynes Hysbys

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Re: Deity and/or Ancestor Possession / "Channeling"
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2017, 04:15:03 am »
Quote from: Aster Breo;202302
Questions:  

Do you have triggers or cues that help you get to the appropriate trance state?  If so, how did you develop them?

What kind of internal preparation do you do to become open to the spirits or deities?  

How do you know if you've actually been in contact with a deity or spirit?  

How do you know whatever you said didn't come from your own brain, subconscious or otherwise?


 
This is a core part of my work so I do it quite a lot:

1) Basic start position is a light working trance - I have "programmed" myself to be able to drop into this state at will now- two deep breaths and a conscious intention will do it.

2) Not a great deal now - just a few minutes beforehand meditating on the entity I will be carrying. At first I would surround myself with their attributes to help get the right state of mind.

3) It's an odd sort of feeling - as if your consciousness had been pushed to one side. I am aware but not aware. I also get time loss.

4) I remember very little of it so I set my phone to record the session. People tell you you sound and behave differently but hearing it for yourself is very convincing. My accent changes and my speech pattern and the way I use words alter.

Jenett

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Re: Deity and/or Ancestor Possession / "Channeling"
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2017, 08:01:43 pm »
Quote from: Aster Breo;202302

For those of you who practice deity or ancestor possession or "channeling", including drawing down rituals, how do you do it?


It's part of my tradition's practice, and something I've done, though not recently, because I don't currently entirely have the support structure for it.

My tradition views it as something that is to be done in service of the tradition (i.e. that the person doing it may or may not get much out of it themselves) and that because of the potential for abuse and for problems, it's something I was trained to do only with appropriate support, and in specific structures to help avoid some of those problems.

What kind of problems? The ones I've seen turn up in the bits of the community I talk about such things with include:
- Abuse by the person channelling (them saying things that are in their interest, not the people listening.)

- People who are fairly 'open headed' struggling with repeated pressure from deities or other entities to be a conduit even when that is disruptive to their ability to work, sleep, have healthy human relationships, keep commitments, etc.

- The fact that the process can be physically demanding of the person being the conduit, both in the moment, and for some time afterwards. (We anecdotally found it pretty common for people to be more prone to colds/etc. for about a week after.)

- In general, a lot of people are too casual about aftercare for my tastes: I view this kind of work as complex ritual work with demands on body, mind, and soul, and that should be honoured. However, that means it's not necessarily a good combo to do regularly if you also have a life that means you need to be awake/aware/alert the morning after, or you need to do complicated things the next week.

(Some people are more okay with this than others, but it hasn't escaped my notice that the people who are more conservative about this tend to be the people who are not lurching from crisis to crisis in other parts of their lives.)

- The support structure is partly to make the ritual go smoothly, and partly to remind the deity about any boundaries the person hosting them might have (a lot of priest/esses I know have a "If the deity wants to drink, fine, but *take the alcohol with you*" rule, for example.)  

Approaching it with a degree of science helps: change one variable at a time until you have a good idea how different things affect you, for example.

Quote
Do you have triggers or cues that help you get to the appropriate trance state?  If so, how did you develop them?


My training strongly encouraged both physical cues (change in physical position, moving from one chair to another, specific items of clothing, etc.) and other cues (specific texts, prayers of invocation, etc.) or ideally both.

People who do regular work with this often find that wearing a veil or shawl over their head before opening up for this kind of work, removing the shawl for the work, and replacing it when done works well. (Other people do it the other way, where the veil is donned to represent the being currently being heard.) Some people find pieces of jewelry useful for this, especially something that's a bit more physically obvious like a moderately heavy bracelet.

My usual practice has been a combo of some element of ritual dress that is not put on or revealed until I do the Draw (sometimes that's been letting my hair loose, sometimes that's been clothing added or something on my head, sometimes it's been taking off a cloak.)

Quote
What kind of internal preparation do you do to become open to the spirits or deities?
 

When I've done it outside of training, it's usually a month or so of light preparation work (setting up a shrine or something similar) for the deity I intend to be working with, possibly some more structured ritual - it's always depended a lot for me on what my existing interactions have been, if there are points of connection with deities I work with more regularly, etc.

Quote
How do you know if you've actually been in contact with a deity or spirit?


When I'm not the one doing the draw, there is a particular phrase that gets used to me in situations that otherwise check out as legit draws, that doesn't show up at other times. Getting that phrase makes me weight what I get a lot more seriously.

When I'm the one doing it, I usually have the 'I am standing somewhere to the side, and the deity is driving' experience, but there are lots of varieties of that, from the people I've talked to (and variations for the same person at different times, or with different deities, etc.)

I was taught that there are different levels of contact: everything from 'light inspiration' to 'complete control given over to the deity or other entity' and that none of these is wrong - different levels of negotiated control are appropriate in different circumstances or for different rituals. The most common for experiences more like channeling does seem to be more 'I am standing on the side watching the deity speak' or I've heard someone describe it being like being in the back seat of a car the deity is driving. Other people go somewhere totally different, have their own conversation wth the deity while the deity is using their body.

Quote
How do you know whatever you said didn't come from your own brain, subconscious or otherwise?

 
This is where the "Why are you doing it" comes in. If you're doing this work in service of your community, sincere help from *your* brain is still sincere help, as long as you don't misrepresent it, right? Where the problems come is if someone claims it's the deity speaking when it benefits them (or people not the listener) or misrepresents what's being said. And of course, anyone listening should also evaluate what they get carefully.

I've been in some amazing rituals where I've been told things I know the person whose body it was had no idea of - but they also weren't telling me those things to make themselves look better.

Resources
In terms of other resources, Ivo Dominguez's book Spirit Speak doesn't focus on this, but does have some information and background you might find useful.

Drawing Down the Spirits by Kenaz Filan and Raven Kaldera also has some interesting information, though I find it more on the 'this must be filtered thoughtfully' since a bunch of it is anecdotes where the full situation isn't necessarily available to the reader.
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Aster Breo

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Re: Deity and/or Ancestor Possession / "Channeling"
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2017, 11:55:52 pm »
Thank you for your response. It's very helpful.

Follow-up questions, if you don't mind:

Quote from: Dynes Hysbys;202310

1) Basic start position is a light working trance - I have "programmed" myself to be able to drop into this state at will now- two deep breaths and a conscious intention will do it.


What was the process you used to "program" yourself?

Quote from: Dynes Hysbys;202310

4) I remember very little of it so I set my phone to record the session. People tell you you sound and behave differently but hearing it for yourself is very convincing. My accent changes and my speech pattern and the way I use words alter.

 
That's interesting, and something I'd like to do.  When I asked the group I'm working with about recording sessions, they said they'd attempted that in the past, but the recordings didn't work well -- were distorted, etc. -- and one camera actually broke.  Have you had any similar problems?
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Aster Breo

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Re: Deity and/or Ancestor Possession / "Channeling"
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2017, 12:20:05 am »
Jenett, I was hoping you'd respond. I remember that you do this kind of work and I was sure you'd have helpful thoughts about it.  Thank you!

Quote from: Jenett;202350
It's part of my tradition's practice, and something I've done, though not recently, because I don't currently entirely have the support structure for it.

My tradition views it as something that is to be done in service of the tradition (i.e. that the person doing it may or may not get much out of it themselves) and that because of the potential for abuse and for problems, it's something I was trained to do only with appropriate support, and in specific structures to help avoid some of those problems.


Yes, this is the attitude of the group I'm working with, too. It's about helping the community. They strongly discourage doing this work outside of the group training or ritual situation.

Quote from: Jenett;202350

- The fact that the process can be physically demanding of the person being the conduit, both in the moment, and for some time afterwards. (We anecdotally found it pretty common for people to be more prone to colds/etc. for about a week after.)


Interesting. I've had a way worse than normal migraine week.  I've been chalking it up to the weather, but it occurred to me the spae work could be affecting me.  I'll keep an eye on this aspect. Hopefully, it'll calm down with repeated exposure.  If it doesn't, I'll have to re-evaluate my ability to do this.

Quote from: Jenett;202350

- In general, a lot of people are too casual about aftercare for my tastes: I view this kind of work as complex ritual work with demands on body, mind, and soul, and that should be honoured. However, that means it's not necessarily a good combo to do regularly if you also have a life that means you need to be awake/aware/alert the morning after, or you need to do complicated things the next week.


What kind of aftercare do you recommend?

I've been in close contact with the training group via Messenger all week, and I'll be seeing them again in a few days.  They've been very supportive.

So, I guess I'm asking about what kinds of things you do/recommend for yourself as aftercare.

Quote from: Jenett;202350

My training strongly encouraged both physical cues (change in physical position, moving from one chair to another, specific items of clothing, etc.) and other cues (specific texts, prayers of invocation, etc.) or ideally both.

People who do regular work with this often find that wearing a veil or shawl over their head before opening up for this kind of work, removing the shawl for the work, and replacing it when done works well. (Other people do it the other way, where the veil is donned to represent the being currently being heard.) Some people find pieces of jewelry useful for this, especially something that's a bit more physically obvious like a moderately heavy bracelet.

My usual practice has been a combo of some element of ritual dress that is not put on or revealed until I do the Draw (sometimes that's been letting my hair loose, sometimes that's been clothing added or something on my head, sometimes it's been taking off a cloak.)


I observed all of these kinds of things during the workshop, and I'm leaning toward trying a veil.

How did you teach yourself to respond to these kinds of cues?  Trial and error?  Or something more deliberate?
 
Quote from: Jenett;202350

When I've done it outside of training, it's usually a month or so of light preparation work (setting up a shrine or something similar) for the deity I intend to be working with, possibly some more structured ritual - it's always depended a lot for me on what my existing interactions have been, if there are points of connection with deities I work with more regularly, etc.


Do you mean doing drawing down / channeling alone?  If so, do you still use a ritual setting?  Or do you do something different when you're alone?  And do you remember what happened when you do this alone?

Quote from: Jenett;202350

I was taught that there are different levels of contact: everything from 'light inspiration' to 'complete control given over to the deity or other entity' and that none of these is wrong - different levels of negotiated control are appropriate in different circumstances or for different rituals. The most common for experiences more like channeling does seem to be more 'I am standing on the side watching the deity speak' or I've heard someone describe it being like being in the back seat of a car the deity is driving. Other people go somewhere totally different, have their own conversation wth the deity while the deity is using their body.


I heard the same descriptions.

I still don't have much memory from the deity work, but I have a sense that my experience was more on the "inspiration" end of the scale. I don't remember what I said, but I just have a feeling that it was more that Idunna was giving me the words, than that She was doing the talking Herself.  If that makes any sense.

OTOH, I don't actually remember what happened. So I suppose She could have been driving and I was taking a nap in the trunk.

Quote from: Jenett;202350

This is where the "Why are you doing it" comes in. If you're doing this work in service of your community, sincere help from *your* brain is still sincere help, as long as you don't misrepresent it, right?


Good point.  Even if Idunna wasn't "driving", those words came from somewhere. And, apparently, they were helpful. So, ultimately, maybe it doesn't matter so much exactly where they came from.

Except that I don't want to represent them as being the words of the goddess, if they weren't.  Ya know?

The not remembering is not helping.

Quote from: Jenett;202350

Resources
In terms of other resources, Ivo Dominguez's book Spirit Speak doesn't focus on this, but does have some information and background you might find useful.

Drawing Down the Spirits by Kenaz Filan and Raven Kaldera also has some interesting information, though I find it more on the 'this must be filtered thoughtfully' since a bunch of it is anecdotes where the full situation isn't necessarily available to the reader.

 
Thanks!  This is very helpful. I'll look into these books.
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Dynes Hysbys

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Re: Deity and/or Ancestor Possession / "Channeling"
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2017, 06:05:22 am »
Quote from: Aster Breo;202358
Thank you for your response. It's very helpful.

Follow-up questions, if you don't mind:

What was the process you used to "program" yourself?
 
That's interesting, and something I'd like to do.  When I asked the group I'm working with about recording sessions, they said they'd attempted that in the past, but the recordings didn't work well -- were distorted, etc. -- and one camera actually broke.  Have you had any similar problems?


The programming is just practice. Before every trance I would start with a couple of deep calming/centring breaths and some conscious relaxation before instigating trance (movement does it for me - a rhythmic swaying). Over a few days I realised that I was trancing out much more quickly and soon just the breathing was enough - my brain recognised that as the "key" to what was coming next and made the transition to the right altered state. I still add movement if I want to push deeper in.

I actually record quite a lot - even when other people are doing the channelling. It is incredibly helpful to replay afterwards as you do forget so quickly and I find I  sometimes miss things or overlook the significance of what didn't seem that important at the time. It's not foolproof though - sometimes it is inaudible or fails completely which I tend to assume means the deity did not want that recording to exist but most of the time it's fine. My coven deities don't seem to mind - I guess they want their words to be remembered (and I have no doubt that they are the ones using my vocal cords to speak rather than providing me with the words). An iPhone works well for me.

Dynes Hysbys

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Re: Deity and/or Ancestor Possession / "Channeling"
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2017, 06:23:17 am »
Quote from: Jenett;202350


- The fact that the process can be physically demanding of the person being the conduit, both in the moment, and for some time afterwards. (We anecdotally found it pretty common for people to be more prone to colds/etc. for about a week after.)



I would agree with this - I find it both mentally and physically draining even if the channelling only lasts a few minutes. It's definitely worse if it's a cross gender and I find some deities are less considerate of your well-being than others.

Dynes Hysbys

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Re: Deity and/or Ancestor Possession / "Channeling"
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2017, 06:34:26 am »
Quote from: Aster Breo;202359



Interesting. I've had a way worse than normal migraine week.  I've been chalking it up to the weather, but it occurred to me the spae work could be affecting me.  I'll keep an eye on this aspect. Hopefully, it'll calm down with repeated exposure.  If it doesn't, I'll have to re-evaluate my ability to do this.

What kind of aftercare do you recommend?



I suffer from moderate to severe migraine myself. Getting overtired is a trigger for me so I'm always kind to myself and make sure I eat and drink properly before and afterwards.  The sessions I do tend to be short (my deities tend to say what they want to and then depart quite swiftly)  and I try not to work with certain entities who I know will tax me to migraine inducing tiredness unless it is an essential part of the ritual and there is no one else there who can do it.

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Re: Deity and/or Ancestor Possession / "Channeling"
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2017, 12:07:08 pm »
Quote from: Aster Breo;202359

Interesting. I've had a way worse than normal migraine week.  I've been chalking it up to the weather, but it occurred to me the spae work could be affecting me.  I'll keep an eye on this aspect. Hopefully, it'll calm down with repeated exposure.  If it doesn't, I'll have to re-evaluate my ability to do this.


I'd definitely consider it a possibility. (It's not a migraine trigger for me, but it is a trigger for me to feel worse than usual - exhausted, brain foggy, etc. - for about 1-2 weeks, and that's not a thing I could afford to do every month, y'know?)

Most sensible groups will have some options: maybe it's a thing you do every second or third month, or skip if you have other recent migraine triggers or whatever makes sense for you. (There are reasons that even when we were doing this regularly as part of group work, my group only tended to aim for it a couple of times a year in ritual, and not always the same person doing it.)

Quote
What kind of aftercare do you recommend?


A bunch of the general ritual aftercare things:

- have food (digestion is grounding: protein or denser carbs are better than other things, usually, but sometimes people can tolerate a couple of squares of chocolate or something else sweet before they can deal with other food.)

- do things that discourage going back into trance mode for a few hours (listen to podcasts or carefully selected news rather than music, spend the next couple of hours doing things you need to concentrate on a lot. Some people, f'ex, trance out over washing dishes, and that would be a bad choice.)

- centering and grounding practices. A bath with salt in the water doesn't generally hurt (or a footbath, same concept), especially if you hit that 'too wired, can't sleep' stage.

- get rest - not necessarily sleep, but lying down and reading, etc. is helpful even if you can't sleep.

- post aspecting work, I've also found it helpful to do things that are Very Specifically Me Not Them, but precisely what that is varies with the experience.

Quote
How did you teach yourself to respond to these kinds of cues?  Trial and error?  Or something more deliberate?


Practice! When doing training exercises of opening up to deity in other ways (not necessarily aiming for a drawing down type experience) practice the set up. Doing it in other situations (like before daily ritual practices, divination, etc.) can also help set the cues.

If you're doing something that has an ongoing physical effect, like a shawl or veil, you'll probably find it doesn't take a lot of repetitions before your brain starts making the association. (More subtle stuff like 'this is the incense blend we use for that' or positioning that you may do at other times may take longer.)

Quote
Do you mean doing drawing down / channeling alone?  If so, do you still use a ritual setting?  Or do you do something different when you're alone?  And do you remember what happened when you do this alone?


Nope, I meant training as opposed to ritual: training exercises specifically designed to let people try things out, in a controlled setting, with lots of guidance and support. It's possible to do this with deities (usually reaching out to deities the person already has existing connections with), but another exercise I've seen done is to do this with something like Tarot cards or other archetypal entities.

Training like this was done in a cast circle, but not necessary full blown ritual setup up to that point (i.e. all the steps, but not necessarily singing, additional text, etc.) which was common for a bunch of our more advanced technique training.

Quote
Except that I don't want to represent them as being the words of the goddess, if they weren't.  Ya know?


The solution here is usually in the larger framing of the work: in almost all cases, the words (or actions) of the deity are going to get filtered through you, but it's often like translation: you're picking their expression into English, but you're not (or at least one hopes not) editing or censoring or altering the content substantially.

Debriefing afterwards helps too, in the sense of calibrating how much was you and how much was them (depending on how much you remember: you not remembering sincerely is a useful marker for other people, or you remembering you struggled with finding words for X thing.)
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[Non-Staff Positions]
Webmaster:
Randall