Thursday, July 8, 2010

Channeling Deity vs. Regressive Trance

This article was incorporated as an edited version in the book “Mastering the Art of Ritual Magick - Grimoire,” but I have often thought that it would be important to present as a stand alone article with more of its original material. Godhead assumption is a very controversial practice amongst witches and neopagans, and unfortunately in some cases, it can also lead to exploitation and emotional abuse. This is not to say that every priest or priestess is guilty of that kind of excess, far from it! It does occur infrequently, but also consistently. Some have had these kinds of terrible experiences, but there is a methodology that, if followed, would preclude them from ever happening. This is the major premise of my article - that there is a way to promote sane occultism while channeling the deity.

In the early 20th century, the notorious arch-magician Aleister Crowley advocated a system of magick where the magician, through deep trance, identified and became the personification of her personal magickal Deity. This was not really a new concept, since there were plenty of religious cults and earth-based spiritual traditions that used this approach to create an immanent experience of the Deity. However, it was a new concept in the tradition of European ceremonial magick, and it radically changed how that system of magick was practiced. We can trace a fracture in the tradition of ceremonial magick to the writings and practices of Aleister Crowley, where ceremonial magick continued on well into the next century, but was gradually overtaken and even replaced by a new methodology.

This new methodology required that the magician not only invoke a chosen magickal Deity, but also completely identify with it, so that the magician acted as a personification of that Godhead while practicing magick. Gone from the preparation stage of magickal practices were the extreme strictures of piety and self abasement as well as fasting, ritual flagellation (either real or metaphorical), confession, contrition and all forms of atonement. Instead, the magician created a personal cult of the Godhead, serving as avatar, chief liturgical official, ardent devotee and congregant all in one. The magician used this assumption of the Godhead as the pivotal point to work magick and placed all of the moral justifications for that work, not to mention the authorities and powers of the chosen Deity, directly into the performed rituals or ceremonies.

How this is done is that a magician creates an imago of the detailed image of the Godhead and proceeds to serve and align with it in a consecrated temple or grove, thereby assuming its personality. This technique powerfully advanced the practice of ceremonial magick, using what would be considered an archaic mechanism for the experiencing of Deity. These practices are neither new or revolutionary, since they have their roots in forms of Shamanism and other ancient types of earth-based spirituality. Godhead assumption is the technique of assuming a high trance state and then merging one’s personal Deity into one’s conscious being, and this is done as a prelude to all works of magick.

This new discipline of magick found its way into all of the various new religions that were inspired from Aleister Crowley’s writings and practices, most notably the religions of Thelema, Neopaganism and Wicca, or Modern Witchcraft. However, one aspect of this new methodology that was clearly authored by Crowley was the rigorousness of the devotions and preparations, the profundity of the assumption and even the testing of the results by those who participated. Since Crowley found any primitive form of channeling or mediumistic practices to be highly offensive, the rigorousness of the preparation and the obligatory testing of the results were extremely important. The reason for all of this was to make certain that the resultant channeling of the Godhead was genuine and unadulterated by the medium’s personality, bias or pathos.

Crowley, and the tradition of Thelema that he developed, went to great lengths to promote the immersion of the individual within the imago of the Deity, and they touted this method as the new central tenet to the practice of ritual magick. Other succeeding traditions incorporated this central tenet as well, but the corresponding rigors of assumption and the testing of the outcome were less emphasized, until they disappeared altogether.

Even amongst the more supposedly archaic earth-based spiritual traditions, assumption of the Godhead is a rigorous process that is experienced by lay persons and clergy under controlled and monitored circumstances. Aberrations and excesses are strictly dealt with, and the gods and goddesses are too well known and identified to be either faked or regressively emulated. Problems such as these are easily dealt with in these older traditions, but not so in the new earth-based spiritual systems of Neopaganism and Wicca.

In these traditions, sadly, the central tenet of Godhead assumption is exclusively lionized, but all of the rigorous preparations, testing and examining of the manifestation of Deity are omitted. How this methodology is often practiced is that the subject assumes a trance state that is regressive and hypnotic as opposed to transcendental and deeply immersed in the domain of Spirit. Once within this tainted state, the subject proceeds to channel a Deity that is infused with the fragments of the medium’s mind. These fragments manifest in a chaotic or barely coherent manner, since they are no longer pulled together into some semblance of order by the conscious ego. The resultant manifestation of Deity is merely an hypnotic extension of the medium’s own personality, fragmented and disjointed and infused with a regressive psychic energy. When such a Priest/ess is channeling the Deity, there is no rigorous period of preparation and no test for the outcome. The occurrence is accepted as is, and in fact, it is considered disingenuous or even sacrilegious to scrutinize either the manifestation or its medium.

The lack of established standards allows for all sorts of excesses, from outright fraud to manifestations of regressive personas that spout irrelevant profundities. It can even demonstrate the most horrid paroxysms bordering on the epileptic. While this might be acceptable to tribal shamans and other native practitioners (typically done for show), it is not the desired mechanism for either a modern witch or a neopagan. Also, the modern practitioner does not have the deep internal connections nor the ability to transcend the petty ego that the Shaman obtains through his many near-death transitions and personal transformations. The modern practitioner, is, well, modern, and easily succumbs to the mediocrity of a bourgeois existence.

This is not to say that all individuals who channel Deity within Wicca or Neopaganism are aberrant, but without the preparations and testing, who can really judge what they are experiencing? This is a major issue within these new religions, but one that can be prevented with careful practices and safeguards. However, without these preparations and evaluations, many can be led astray or even experience the danger of spiritual hazards. This danger is present to both the adherents of the coven or grove and the clergy who are in charge. While I can’t speak to what goes on in most Neopagan organizations, I can speak with experience in the area of B.T.W. (British Traditional Witchcraft). I also believe that anyone who practices a form of Godhead assumption within their magickal tradition is liable to this kind of risk. They should use every precaution against the performance of an ill prepared and unmonitored assumption.

In most forms of modern witchcraft that meld magick and earth-based spirituality, there is usually a greater emphasis on spirituality, but the means to that spirituality is a praxis that is somewhat magically based. This is the magickal act of Godhead assumption. In many cases, the manifestation of Deity does not go very deep. This is because Witchcraft as a religion is so very new. It has not begun to really plumb the depths of the inner deep structures, and it has not developed a methodology of enlightenment and at-one-ment with the Deity. In fact the concept of Deity is still being developed and evolving, and perhaps in a few decades or a century, it will have the depth and the methodology to deal with the basic theological questions of life, death, humanity and the nature of deity. Certainly, as one of the new religions, Wicca has the potential to unlock mysteries and answer questions that have not been satisfied since late antiquity.

Since the coven structure in the B.T.W. branch of Witchcraft is a place where one begins the training and the progression from dedicant to first degree and beyond, it is presided over by senior individuals who have taken the role of the High Priestess and High Priest. For the benefit of the other less experienced members, they channel the Goddess and the God and lead the others in the practice of folk magick and folk religion. They are the trainers and mentors, performing the tasks of clergy until the members become themselves experienced enough to be elevated to the clergy and hive off to form their own covens. In such a process, the coven is almost always a training ground for potential future clergy, and in some branches it is not a requirement for anyone to be elevated beyond the first degree. In many branches of the BTW, elevation does not occur unless the individual seeks it and desires to lead their own group, otherwise the coven can be perpetually in a state of being led by the same High Priestess and High Priest.

When a woman or a man finds themselves in the role of a spiritual leader in a small intimate group of adults, such as a Wiccan coven, and the rest of the members are not as experienced or knowledgeable, then this condition can lead to a situation where there are no checks or balances against potential tyrannical leadership and personal exploitation. Since the coven members are being served by the High Priestess and High Priest, there is a tendency to accept the group practices and experiences without question as a form of orthodoxy in order to maintain the status quo. This tendency gives license to all sorts of peculiar beliefs and practices, even ones that are very unethical or illegal, and it can set up some strange pseudo family dynamics, which can become quite unhealthy.

Dominance and submission, exploitation and victimization, such relationships are demeaning and degrading. They can be blatantly practiced for all to see or masqueraded behind the uncontrolled excesses of the assumed Deity. When they are masqueraded by an assumption of the Godhead, then the members of the group are put in the terrible situation of either accepting what is occurring without question, or by questioning it, finding themselves in the spiritual dilemma of becoming a skeptic or even an agnostic rejectionist of their own religion.

When a person experiences the incursion or brief union with the Deity that occurs during the Drawing Down of the Moon, Sun or Horn God (i.e., Godhead Assumption), and if they assume a regressive hypnotic trance instead of a profoundly humbling and transcendent deep-trance, then instead of channeling Deity in an unbiased manner, they instead greatly inflate their petty ego or the illusory sense of self. This is because instead of having that profound sense of greater other enveloping one that goes with a good Godhead assumption, the medium experiences a personal attachment and over-identification and extension of their mundane self with the imago of the Deity. It makes one feel that instead of merely experiencing the human dimension of the Godhead within oneself (a dimension that we all share equally), a person believes that they are actually the physical incarnation of that Godhead. This causes one to either temporarily or even permanently exhibit a Godhead intoxication, in other words, they experience a regressive God complex instead of experiencing the transcendental transformation of the Deity.

Godhead intoxication has been jokingly called the High Priestess or High Priest syndrome amongst craft folk, but it’s no joke. In this state of illusory self-importance the medium of the Godhead acts as the worst sort of autocrat. Such a state allows for the mistreatment of lesser initiates, inflexibility, exploitation and other forms of abuse. Such a state acts on the personality like a drug addiction, and the High Priestess or High Priest thus afflicted will hungrily seek its continuance and amplification, which requires a continuing availability of blind and willing seekers. It’s like a kind of vampirism, where the bad coven leader leaches off of the members like some bloated tick.

When a leader or leaders in a group succumb to this kind of fall, it creates the classic experience of the “coven from hell.” This is why learning to understand the self and deity and to know the proper way to assume the godhead is important in the practice of Witchcraft and other forms of Neopagan ritual magick. Certainly a test and an evaluation of the Godhead assumption would curb the excesses of this phenomenon, as would a proper period of preparation and devotion to that Deity.

One way out of this problem is to encourage everyone in the group to achieve higher degrees, whether or not they intend to become clergy and run their own covens. Another way is to rotate responsibilities, so that as members become initiated and elevated, they assume more responsibilities in the coven, and eventually, the High Priestess and the High Priest become less important roles as the coven group begins to formulate together a higher and more evolved magickal and spiritual methodology.

Such a group then makes the next evolutionary transition and becomes a non-hierarchical “star” group, where each individual is an equal and important facet, and no one facet is more important than another. Such a group is ruled by consensus. Then their purpose for practicing together is to assist each other in achieving a greater and fuller union with the Deity, through magick, initiatory transformation and through spiritual service. The ultimate goal of magick is perfect union with the Godhead, and this non-dual state requires a complete redefinition of the self and its components.

So, as I see it, the problems of the “coven from hell” is that they as a group never achieved their true potential because those who were in charge did not allow for growth and the transition of authority and roles from the clergy (High Priestess and High Priest) to the members. I think that such a transition is necessary if the coven is to become a magickal star group. But very few B.T.W. witch covens practice their craft and spirituality in this manner. So often, like a family, members have to leave to continue their growth and the leave-taking is often not very welcome or happy events as they should be. This is why some individuals who started out their magickal path in covens prefer to work alone or in very informal groups, since they have no need to be confined again in the formal setting of a traditional coven. They may also have experienced autocratic leaders and saw their group become corrupted and perhaps even fall apart. Autonomy is a very important stage in the development of an initiate, and unfortunately, it is also a quality most absent from many Wiccan covens and Neopagan groves.

As you can see from what I have written above, ego is not the problem, but ego-inflation is, and a good peer review and the usual checks and balances will ensure that ego-inflation is discovered and remedied. However, if the leader or leaders of a grove or coven do not tolerate any kind of critique or checks on their authority and power, then members should vote with their feet and leave that group as soon as possible. Even a so-called benign dictatorship can quickly turn into the terrible abuse of power and authority, and in the intimate settings of a coven or grove, the end result can be devastating. What I am stating here is the worst possible outcome, and I am not in any way judging all Wiccan and Neopagan groups as having these issues with their appointed leaders.

However, without the proper preparations, testing and evaluation of the Godhead assumption, all leaders are susceptible to the temptation of empowering themselves at the expense of the group, and going awry in the channeling of Deity. Let us then examine what I think constitutes the proper preparations for Godhead assumption, the methods for testing the occurrence of Deity acting through the medium, and the techniques for evaluating the magickal event itself.

A really proficient High Priestess, High Priest or Grove Leader should allow for a critical examination of Godhead channeling and be able to withstand this scrutiny without any fear or apprehension. Not every Godhead assumption is going to be given the highest marks, and even the most advanced priest/ess will occasionally miss his/her mark, and produce a less than stellar assumption experience. Also, the members of the coven or grove should be given the tools and the authority to perform these tests and evaluations. Students should be trained not only in the discipline of the proper preparation for Godhead assumption, but also in the techniques for evaluating such an event.

In my opinion, the most important technique that a group or even an individual should adopt for Godhead assumption is to have a defined aspect of Deity to emulate. What this means is that the medium must develop a concept of Deity that has a name, characteristics, virtues, powers and other qualities that can be identified by others. The imago of the Deity should be something that is built up and known to all. So when the medium prepares for a Godhead assumption, she is targeting a specific known entity. Working with a known entity avoids the situation of an open ended Godhead assumption with no real target, just a nebulous Deity at Large. Open ended Godhead assumptions are quite harmful, easily allowing the personality of the medium to become the operational vehicle of the assumed Deity. Also, an open ended assumption does not lend itself to being tested, since no else will have a clue as to whom they are addressing. Open ended assumptions invite abuses, are difficult if not impossible to verify or control, and too easily allow for the inflation of the medium’s ego, since it may be just a fragment of the medium’s personality and not a bonafide manifestation of the Deity.

Best Practices for Godhead Assumption

The coven or grove works from an established imago of Deity, they also act as the moderators or controllers for its manifestation. Considering the fact that a medium is not always in complete control of her faculties when channeling a Deity, then it is the responsibility for the group to manage, control and organize the event for the medium. It is also not a good idea to mix the role of group leader and medium unless it is unavoidable. If the leader is to perform the Godhead assumption, then others in the group must assume command and control of the ritual working, since the one who is the medium can’t be expected to perform that role and also run the group. The preparations for a proper Godhead assumption preclude the capability of the medium also managing the ritual working at the same time. If such a thing is common in a group and its activities, then either the trance state achieved by the group leader is insufficient (or regressive) to channel the Deity at the optimal level, or there is a certain degree of fraud or self delusion being perpetrated. When we look at the preparation steps that are necessary for assumption, this will become very apparent.

The preparatory steps performed for a Godhead assumption consist of the following operations.

  • The group must set the controls for the working, and these consist of determining the Deity’s name and creating the imago. This target Deity and its imago should be a recognizable entity that is familiar to all of the participants, not just to the medium or the hierarchy of the group.
  • The ritual working in which the assumption is to be performed should have a specific set goal or purpose, and the group should determine this goal without the knowledge of the medium, to add a test or challenge to the manifestation of the Deity.
  • The group should also have shared the knowledge and techniques of judging the manifestation of Deity so that everyone knows what they need to be looking for when it occurs.

With these controls in place, the elected medium goes to a private place alone and begins the preparations for the assumption of the Godhead. These preparations consist of an extended meditation session that may last for up to an hour’s time, where the medium immerses herself in contemplated devotions to the Deity, perhaps even quietly performing a pre-invocation. The medium focuses on the imago of the Deity and seeks to become completely and deeply connected to that entity, feeling it around and even within her. It would also be helpful if the medium would have practiced this meditation session on other occasions before the working, becoming very familiar with the Deity, performing rites of devotion, communion, invocation and even partial assumptions as well. (A good reference article for obtaining and acquiring the correct mind set for a profound Godhead assumption can be found in Crowley’s “Liber Astarte vel Berylii”, which can be found here.)

Once the preliminary meditation session is completed, the medium, now deeply immersed in the spirit of the Deity, rejoins the group, who have already consecrated the temple or grove. The medium does not need to perform any ritual or liturgical activities that would distract her from the main operation, which is the Godhead assumption. If this is not possible (the participants are too inexperienced), then the medium should perform the ritual activities of the working with a minimal focus on her part so as not to break the focus on the Deity. However, it is better if the medium is relieved of all tasks associated with ritual performance.

In the situation where the magician is performing this rite alone as part of a Godhead assumption to perform ritual magick, then that assumption is not the true goal of the operation and it can be performed as an ancillary rite with only a minimal manifestation of the Deity required. The difference is that a group working whose objective is to manifest the Deity through a medium surrogate has to ensure that the level of manifestation is high in order to validate what occurs during that operation.

The crucial part of the Godhead assumption is the testing that is performed after the Deity apparently manifests. Participants may question the Deity in several manners, but there are basically three questions that should be asked. If the manifested Deity does not respond adequately to these three questions and the entity does not seem to be responding in a manner congruent with the imago, then the participants should perform a license to depart and end the Godhead assumption rite, whether the medium is willing or not. This test is used to protect the group and the medium against unwanted manifestations and makes certain that only the intended targeted Deity manifests. The three questions are:

1. “Who are you?” - The Deity must identify itself. This makes certain that the assumption is not open ended, and that the intended target has at least been nominally realized.

2. “Teach us about your yourself (What are your qualities?).” - The Deity must have recognizable qualities that conform to the imago.

3. “What do you wish to impart to us tonight?” - The Deity must have a limited objective, this also precludes an open ended assumption. In many cases, the objective or purpose are decided beforehand by the group without the knowledge of the medium, adding a level of omniscience to the test. If the Deity exactly states the objective, then the participants can be certain that the level of manifestation  is high.

If the Deity responds appropriately to these three questions, then the participants can proceed with their work, which is the administrating of blessings, divine insight or prophecy, and the communion meal of food and drink. Other types of workings can also be deployed, such as seeking greater knowledge on a topic particular to the Deity or reinforcing a specific kind of working, such as a healing, special divination, rectifying injustice, or other kinds of divinely sanctioned favors.

When the work is completed, then the license to depart is given. The Deity is called by name, thanked for its help and assistance, and gently but firmly urged to depart, returning to its eternal source and place of origin. The medium is then assisted to ground out all of the affects of the assumption and given something mundane to eat and drink. Rubbing the extremities helps, and so does walking around and getting reconnected with reality. The higher the manifestation of Deity, the more time and effort it takes to return to normal. Yet the medium does return to normal. In some rare instances, a medium who fails to return to normal consciousness should be judged as having failed the test for a proper assumption, since neither obsession or possession are part of that process.

After the working is over and the medium has returned to normal consciousness, the group should briefly meet to discuss the assumption rite, give their perceptions about the experience, hear the perceptions and opinions of the medium and then grade the experience. The simplest way to grade the assumption is to use a numeric range from 1 to 10, where 10 is the ultimate experience, and 1 is a barely perceptible manifestation. I will give examples of each numeric level to assist in determining the quality of the manifestation of the Deity.

Level 1. The medium is barely able to perceive or project the manifestation of the Deity. There is no presence of other, and no other type of phenomena is observed. The medium will pass the first question, but do poorly on the second and not be able to pass the third question at all. The medium might have problems maintaining the proper trance state, may go in and out of trance, or may show signs of a regressive trance, such as having fits, rolling the eyes, showing the whites of the eyes, drooling saliva, convulsing, etc. These might be sort of impressive in a disgusting kind of way, but they show a lack of focus, centering and an inability to gain the proper transcendental state. The medium also seems to enter into trance too quickly and easily, and then drops out of it without the need for grounding. Also, what is communicated by the Deity is obviously based on opinions and knowledge that the medium already has, and is not represented by any kind of omniscience.

Level 2. The medium maintains the trance state throughout the manifestation of the Deity, and gets two out of three questions correct. There is a little sense of the other in the manifestation, but otherwise it is pretty normal and not very exceptional. What is communicated is also pretty mundane, but the medium maintains control and establishes an adequate connection to the Deity.

Level 3. The medium not only maintains the trance state but shows a great deal of self control. Additionally, a  sense of the other is starting to be perceived by the participants. There may also be the beginning affects of psychic phenomena sensed by the participants, but the medium still gets only two out of three questions correct. This is the usual level experienced in a Godhead assumption rite, using a medium of adequate training and experience.

Level 4. The medium starts to exude a stronger sense of the other, and the Deity seems to be more present than the personality of the medium. More phenomena is experienced peripherally to the assumption rite, but it is still subtle. There seems to be something or someone barely perceptible that is present besides the medium and the participants, although it may not be perceived as coming directly from the medium.

Level 5. The participants begin to strongly sense the presence of the Deity, even though the personality of the medium has not altogether disappeared. Phenomena is more observable, and is now obviously emanating from the medium. The entity, although present, still does not get all three questions correct. However, the insights presented by the Deity and the blessings bestowed are very thoughtful and relevant.

Level 6 through Level 8. Variations of the intensity of the presence of the Deity vs. the observable personality of the medium, which begins to recede until it does not appear to either interpret or flavor the manifestation of the Deity. At level 7, all three questions are answered correctly, and at level 8, there seems to be an obvious numinousness emanating from the medium. All works performed by the Deity at this level seem to be charmed, empowered, and profoundly significant.

Level 9. The personality and even the facial or bodily characteristics of the medium disappear and are replaced with those of the imago of the Deity. There are obvious occurrences of psychic phenomena, disembodied voices, celestial music or tones heard, unaccountable feelings of joy, bliss and happiness. The personality exhibited by the medium is completely immersed in the imago of the Deity, and nothing of the medium’s own personality seems to be active. Blessings and prophetic insights that are dispensed by the Deity at this level are deeply meaningful, profound, and far reaching.

Level 10. The medium can speak without moving her lips - a voice seems to emanate from the mouth, which may or may not even be open. The medium has completely transformed, however briefly, into the imago of the Deity, and any physical contact with it seems to convey a sense of profound inspiration and even rapture. Any working or application of the Deity’s powers at this level produces results that are inexplicable and wholly outside of the realm of possibility (miracles).     

As you can see, the average level of the manifestation of a Godhead assumption is a 3, so that means that the higher levels are more extraordinary and unusual. A level 9 or 10 manifestation is probably beyond the realm of possibility for most mediums, and a level 7 would be so significant as to be sensational to those who experienced it. So with that in mind, as long as the assumption does not exhibit signs of being at a level 1 regressive trance, then the participants and the medium can judge their encounter with the manifestation of Deity with a certain degree of cautious certainty. The higher the level, then the greater the significance and impact of the experience.

When the medium and the participants have discussed, evaluated and judged the manifestation of the Deity, they should journal the results, making certain that they take the average of all opinions to arrive at a numeric level that represents the consensus of the group. It will noted that the journal will show over time that the mediumistic skills of the members of the group will grow and the significance of the insights and blessings will also become greater, providing yet another source for occult lore and the accumulation of spiritual wisdom. By using the methods of rigorous preparation, testing and evaluating the results, the group will avoid the excesses and hazards of performing open ended assumptions, maintaining a level of objectivity so important in the practice of sane occultism. Such a regimen will also avoid the pitfalls of ego inflation and the abuses of power that it promotes

Frater Barrabbas


  1. I'm not sure if this is how you intended it to be read, but from the first few paragraphs it sounds to me like you are slightly mischaracterizing Crowley's method.

    Crowley did not advocate choosing a single personified godform to assume, but rather used a method similar to the bornless ritual to invoke the ultimate godhead as part of his preliminary invocations. Once that was accomplished, the magician could then go on to call upon whatever specific godform best corresponded to the work at hand. So for healing or communication one might call upon Thoth (Mercury), for acquiring wealth one might call upon Ra (Sun), and so forth, as laid out in Liber 777.

    As far as "ego inflation" goes, in my experience identifying one's personality with the godhead is not the source of the problem, at least not on its own. The problem is univalent identification, which is all too easy for anyone raised in a monotheistic culture to slip into - the idea that "I am the incarnation of the godhead and nobody else is." In fact every individual is a particular manifestation of divinity, and from what I've seen abuses arise from denying this truth to others rather than recognizing it within yourself.

    And maybe this is another quibble, but I don't think that a "profoundly humbling" experience is a sign of a successful godhead assumption. The realization of the godhead should result in the subject/object distinction between the magician and the deity falling away, whereas it seems to me that anything experienced as "humbling" could only perpetuate this distinction.

  2. @Ananael - Yes, I would consider your comments to be probably a form of quibbling. However, I do consider you an expert from the standpoint of AC and his work, but his many followers have blurred the fine line between higher self and specific godhead, including myself.

    "It makes one feel that instead of merely experiencing the human dimension of the Godhead within oneself (a dimension that we all share equally), a person believes that they are actually the physical incarnation of that Godhead."

    I believe that this comment says it all, however which way you define it, a person believes that they are either the "only" or the "incarnation" of a God or Goddess are pretty much analogous phenomenon.

    As for "humbling" - the awe that one feels and the power of the manifestation of the sense of numinous "other" does cause one to feel humbled later on when the effect of the trance wears off, which is what is meant by that sentence. I have felt these emotions when successfully channeling the deity, and there is little sense to them unless one undergoes a similar analogous process.

    Thanks for your comments, regardless.

    Frater Barrabbas

  3. Thanks for those clarifications. In the future I'll try to come up with more substantive comments.

    This is a good article as was the last one, my quibbles notwithstanding...

  4. You've outlined here a lot of the problems I had with my first coven, and pretty much every question I've silently asked myself about how the practice of deity invocation in Wicca can be improved.

    I think your suggestions would be considered very radical by the vast majority of covens, particularly the idea that the person acting as a medium should not be leading the ritual. Evaluating the quality of the manifestation would be novel enough, but I find it hard to imagine most groups would be willing to change the dynamic in which the acting HP/HPs does the invoking.

    I'm all for it, however. On the occasions I've prepared myself to lead ritual, I could be positively humming with divine awareness, until the time actually came to invoke. By that point, I had become too occupied with orchestrating the rest of the ritual to get into the right state. So I've never gotten good at it. I think it must be a hard obstacle for many beginners, especially.

    And I'm all for everything else. I would be ecstatic if people began implementing these practices. It would do the craft a world of good.

  5. One problem in most traditional covens is that only the higher degree members are likely to have the training to manage a 'drawing down', and the Third Degree members are almost certainly the coven leaders. The common hierarchical model makes it unlikely that a BTW coven will want to use a student as a medium, especially to recite the Charge, the central mystery moment of a Gardnerian rite in some ways.

    My own experiences in this were all pretty thoroughly safe and sane, my initiators having a solid background in ritual magic and treating the drawing down as a very formal and ritually-boundaried event that didn't bleed over into the personality of the priestess. Having worked that sort of thing as a priest for some years, it always seemed very clear to me when the God was present in (seeing with) my eyes, and that God never felt much like 'me'. I've certainly seen cases of ego-inflation in Wiccan priest/esses, but wonder whether this isn't a basic social mechanism more than a result of their skill at drawing down.

    In any case your model for best practices makes good sense, and matches what I've seen done in more experimental groups of relative equals, rather than in a teacher-student, degreed coven.