Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ask Me Anything: "Channeling"

In this new feature on Witch Mom, I answer select questions from readers. There is a box to the right of my blog posts, under the "About Witch Mom" description if you would also like to ask a question. It could be about The Craft, parenting, pop culture, multi-religious education, or whatever! I cannot promise to answer each one, but I will read them!

A reader asks,
"Is it truly possible for a person to be a non-consensual trance medium or channeler?"

At a Voudou Gede in Brooklyn

Those terms (channeling, trance medium) are more new-agey than I would personally use, but the short answer is YES.

In Feri, as in many religious trads that work with spirits directly by allowing them inside us, we call the practice what it is: possession. We allow spirits and Gods to take temporary possession of our physical bodies so that we can benefit from their presence here in this world for a number of reasons.

 In my religious tradition, we "do" possessions- sometimes in a ritual context. In such a case, it is a planned part of a ritual and the "horse" (or host, or whatever you would like to call the human allowing a spirit/ God/ or being to "ride" them) is a willing participant and has prepared for such a role. We carefully negotiate with the God beforehand, letting them know the limits of what we will and will not permit when they have control of our bodies. We also carefully chose a caretaker to tend "the horse" during and after the possession. They help enforce the agreements made with the God beforehand. I have been in that role many times- I was encouraged to master that role before attempting a possession myself. As a priest-in-training, I have done both roles now several times. Both have their challenges.  As the caretaker, you need to be able to say NO to a God and be able to back it up. (Ever say no to a God before? It's um... interesting.) Gods rarely understand the physical limitations of a human body, and a horse needs an advocate sometimes.

An appropriate (consentual) type of
possession: oracular work
But to answer your question- I have personally seen, in my tradition and in other places/contexts, people that cannot control what happens to their own bodies and spirits and/or Gods take their bodies unknowingly or without consent. Yes, it does happen. This is frowned upon in my tradition, as we see ourselves equal to everything that there is, including what we call "Gods". We do not allow anything to take our life force and an unconsenting and unknown possession does just that. As a priest-in-training,  I have been trained to control my (brain and energy) states so as to either enhance a possession or to also forbid access to my person if it is not the appropriate time or place for a possession. That is why my tradition really stresses the alchemical tools we have to its students (future priests)- it builds a string spiritual container to allow us to do work like this. And gives us the ability to truly say YES and NO, to anyone- be they God or human.

1 comment:

  1. My work in Feri has given me much greater control over what spirits have access to my body. My previous background in Umbanda was wonderful in opening me up to these experiences, and not so great in giving me much agency in exerting control over them. It's also useful to have relationships with Gods and spirits who defend you on an astral level. Ultimately I believe the responsibility to maintain ones own personal boundaries rests within the self.


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