When I was younger my mother would often recount her experiences of possession that she had witnessed in
Possession is a rich tradition which manifests in many cultures. Throughout South-East Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and the
From the West African Yoruban traditions derive Santeria and Vodoun, the ancestral fetish religions that honour the Orishas and Lwa respectively. In Santeria and Vodoun possession is called ‘riding’ as it is believed that the Orisha or Lwa rides the devotee like a horse. In South-East Asian cultures the shamanic undertone of many village possessions is quite prominent. In
In the Western Mystery Traditions we seem to have lost our special knowledge of possession or else the interest in cultivating this avenue of understanding and working with the Divine has diminished. However so much of our cultural heritage rings true with it; from the oracle at
‘Drawing down’ is a common phrase used in Wicca and other traditions of Witchcraft to refer to the ritualistic calling in of the spirit of a deity into a priest/ess. Historically it applies to the Witches of Thessaly in ancient
Any student of shamanism knows that attaining trance is essential for journey-work. Trance-states are also necessary in transcending the ego, which opens the self to the Divine. In truth the Divine (the All, and all of Them) is ever-present, and as always in the Arte, it is ritual, devotion and prayer which aids in expanding consciousness so that awareness of these Truths (the Divine) ignites. It is called enlightenment in the East and the grail in the West and it this which is felt when drawing down/in.
To draw down a god is unlike any other experience. It is as if one grows (and deepens) in all directions simultaneously. The Spirit and the Flesh no longer present a dichotomy to the mind and all is merely an expression of something else – an endless spiral; a continuum. The seam of the self is split, the garments of the soul entwine around the outer-self and the ego dissolves. Once this threshold is crossed the deity generally manifests within the body (the pure temple) and adopts the physical as a means of expressing the divine persona (or archetype). The voice changes, the eyes seem brighter/darker and for those looking on it seems as if the body is growing taller and stronger, while the presence of the Divine is keenly felt.
In ritual-space drawing down is generally a facilitated process whereby a priest/ess is properly prepared (having fasted throughout the day) through cleansing with the elements and trance-induction. The ‘caller’ will then kneel before the priest/ess and speak aloud the charge/invocation to attract the deity. The deity then becomes one with the priest/ess (the vessel) and the drawing down is fixed for as long as the deity wishes to remain within the body. Of course there are many different levels of possession. These include aspecting, gnosis, communion, ‘speaking as’, and possession itself. The degree of intensity to which an individual will undergo will depend on the experience of the person in terms of trance and ego-transcendence, how well they have prepared and also the psychic susceptibility of the person.
For those who easily become nauseous or disorientated after powerful magickal work drawing down is not recommended. Nor is it suitable for anyone under the influence of external substances (drugs and alcohol). If you are serious about drawing down and ritual possession you should take a month to meditate, perform psychic and auric cleanses, balance the body with good diet and regular exercise and learn as much as you can about the deity you wish to draw in. On the day of drawing down it is recommended to fast as any dense undigested matter within the body will distract the mind from the task at hand. In this case lightness of all kinds is a good idea.
Before beginning the ritual of drawing down the space should be properly prepared. In the Wiccan tradition the Circle is cast and is then asperged and censed using incense and blessed water. The Elements are then formally invoked at each cardinal direction and the priest will kneel before the priestess (or vice versa, though a priest can kneel before a priest, as can a priestess before a priestess). At this point the external theatrics are performed by the ‘caller’ (s/he who kneels) and the inner work of aligning with the deity happens within the priest/ess drawing down. Deep, rhythmic breathing is initiated and the inner self is hollowed out to resemble a vessel not unlike a chalice or urn. Visualisation is used to aid the flow of energy from one point to the next (i.e. from the crown chakra downwards, passing through each energy centre in turn). It is important to remain centred and unattached to one’s ego. Let go and let the Gods (in), as they say. Creating a mental image of the deity in question will also aid the process. In fact more often than not the deity will present itself a certain way; from toe to crown in its apparent ‘physical’ entirety. The deity or spirit will then step forward and enter the body. At this stage a definite shift should be felt within the body, I call it the ‘click’; your awareness turns itself over and something or someone else is looking through your eyes and speaking with your lips.
Ritual possession is a deeply misunderstood and maligned aspect of Pagan spirituality, and for this reason it has been sorely neglected. Many Pagans do not understand or have never been witness to true possession and thus group it with the twisted tongues of charismatic Christian churches or the
This article appeared in Issue 10 of Spellcraft Magazine.