Drawing Down the Spirits, II (3-5)







The Praesent





Different Riders



Gathering Culture






p. 65 theological reconstructionism

"Some Pagan theologians ... divide the "traditions" ... of Neo-Paganism into five basic varieties :

Traditional British Wicca, Modern Wicca, Wiccan-derived traditions, reconstructionists, and reconstructionist-derived traditions. Of the lot, reconstructionists (... e.g., Norse/Germanic traditions such as Asatru and Heathenry; Roman groups such as Religio Romana; Hellenic groups such as Hellenion; and Egyptian traditions such as Kemet) tend to be the most polytheistic".

pp. 65, 67 literature

p. 65

"One decent book on the subject is John Michael Greer's A World Full of Gods."

p. 67

"In their article "Pagan Deism : Three Views," Margarian Bridger and Stephen Hergest posit ... a spectum of belief ... between polytheism and pantheism ... or between pantheism and archetypism".

Margarian Bridger & Stephen Hergest : "Pagan Deism : Three Views". THE POMEGRANATE : THE INTERNAT J OF PAGAN STUDIES 1 (Feb 1997):37-42.

pp. 68-9 deity-possession in polytheism

p. 68

"for the most part the gods tend to act, when possession is involved, as if polytheism was {is} the truth of their nature. They appear as separate individuals with separate likes and dislikes, and those likes and dislikes tend to stay consistent ... . They recognize people ... who have been involved in long-term devotional activity toward them. ...

To pantheists, divine possession is the overarching god or goddess choosing to show one aspect of his- or herself to the audience."

{To recognize one "overarching god or goddess" is monotheism, not "pantheism". Pantheism is a regarding of everything (including apparently inanimate substances) as divine (a situation more evidently true of dream-worlds than of waking-worlds) -- it would manifest in spirit-possession as entities (speaking through spirit-media) identifying themselves as such inanimate substances. [written Oct 5 2013]}

p. 69

Whenever persons have, by way of deity-possessed spirit-media, "addressed [possessing] gods and goddesses in way that have conflated them with other specific deities, the responses we've seen have been mixed {diverse}, ranging from flat, offended denial ... to tolerance ..., to acceptance ... ."

p. 69 pseudo-atheists and actual atheists in Neo-Paganism

"Modern Neo-Paganism may be a corner accompanied only by Buddhists when it comes to religions with ... followers who are technically atheists.

{Not technically, but practicably, are they atheistical. In the Bauddha Tri-pit.aka, the existence of deities (Deva-s and Asura-s) is admitted, but it is not advised to worship nor to pray to such deities.}

Many Neo-Pagans come to this demographic for reasons far removed from being called by the gods. ... Some are seeking to re-create the traditions of their ancestors ..., and others are drawn aesthetically to the panoply and theater of the various rites and rituals. ...

Some have had psychic experiences and are looking for validation."

{Anyone who hath undergone psychic events, hath done so by grace of the deities; and such divine grace is validation enow.}

p. 72 supreme deities in African religions {All these names are most likely to have been essentially invented by Christian missionaries, if not by Muslim missionaries.}

"The Zulu of South Africa call God uZivelele (He who is of Himself, the Self-Existent One), while

the Masai of Kenya and Tanzania speak of Engai (the Unseen One) and

the Tenda of Guinea speak of Hounounga (the Unknown)." ("GMAR")

"GMAR" = John Mbiti : "General Manifestations of African Religiosity". http://www.afrikaworld.net/afrel/mbiti.htm

pp. 73-4 location of the mythical world, according to beliefs current in Haiti

p. 73

"Upon death, ... the soul goes "beneath the waters." (This most likely comes from the Kongo, where dead souls are said to reside at the bottom of the ocean.) ... the individual ... may be "drawn out of the water" after a year and a day and placed in a govi (terra-cotta container)."

"The slaves who were brought to Haiti ... looked back with longing on Gineh (Guinea, or Africa). To their descendants, Gineh became a mythical holy land, the place where the spirits live ... . ... Gineh,

p. 74

the home of the lwa and the ancestors, is still seen as a place beneath the ocean -- yet when the lwa come ..., it is believed that they come down ... the center pole that joins heaven and earth."

{One way whereby deities may descend out of an ocean above would be from the "waters which are above the firmament" (B-Re>s^it 1:7).} {In the "watery region" (SCN 15) reside "the souls that are united" (SCN 16, fn. 3).}

SCN = Purn.ananda-Svamin : S.at.-cakra Nirupana. with its conmentary Kali-caran.a. http://www.bhagavadgitausa.com/sat_chakra_Nirupana.pdf

p. 75 use of sacred plants in Candomble`

"In Brazil, Candomble` developed with additional influences of Native American {Amerindian} folk beliefs on top of the African cosmology ... . Working with plants is exceptionally important in Candomble`, to the point where some Candomble` groups have a tradition ... of using entheogenic plants in ritual, something that is not found in other branches of African-diaspora religion. ... Dealing with plant spirits takes on a more important level in Candomble`, as well as the local spirits of place, unusual in a diaspora faith and clearly a gift of native locals {AmerIndians}".

pp. 76-7 Umbanda

p. 76

"Umbanda, sometimes modernly referred to as Quimbanda, is the most recently developed of the Afro-Caribbean faiths, conglomerated in the 1920s from African-diaspora deities, native {Amerindian} Brazilian beliefs, ... and more strikingly the Spiritist movement ... . ...

p. 77

In general, Brazilian Umbanda has striven for increasingly more "civilized" behavior ..., forbidding possession by spirits who are vulgar and use obscenities ... . Northern Umbanda, carried by ... emigrants [to North America], ... espcially those now largely run by non-Brazilian members, may allow random audience possession by the orishas, whereas southern [South American] groups reserve this for trained initiates. ... Like the related Spiritualists in North America [and in Europe], ghost-mediumship is a main form of divination in Umbanda, but ... Umbanda ghost-possessions are likely to be as riotous as rides by the orishas."



Different Riders

pp. 80-89

pp. 80-1 durations of spirit-possessions

p. 80

"At a Vodou fet, the lwa are called one by one, both verbally by the congregation and the houngan ... and rhythmically by the drummers who drum specific ... rhythms designed to call each lwa in particular. ...

Since these rites tend to be a fast "roll call" of lwa, the possessions tend to be very short -- sometimes less than a minute ... .

{This is likewise true of Vietnamese spirit-possession caerimonies.}

p. 81

The orisha spirits, on the other hand, tend to stick around awhile. ... in most ... Candomble`

and Umbanda

{This would only be where such "Umbanda" is not pure Kardecism. In standard Kardecism, there are no deities invoked (but instead only ghosts) to do spirit-possession of a spirit-medium.}

groups, if an orisha shows up, they {He or She} may stay ... for an hour. ... Divinatory possessions -- usually less public rites with ... a few querents -- are especially likely to go on for quite a while."

pp. 82-3 account by Heathen spirit-worker G.K.

p. 82

"It starts with me feeling the deity rising up behind me, and then I'm informed that they want to use my body. ... I usually feel Them moving into me from behind, sort of enveloping me and entering ... my flesh from the head/neck area. ... I feel and hear buzzing about my head. ...

Coming out of it ... my vision is usually odd, sometimes over-bright, sometimes fuzzy double vision. ... I may have trouble walking ... . ... I may have ...

p. 83

sensitivity to noise, fits of giggling, bursts of energy and vitality".

pp. 83-4 account by Pagan spirit-worker S.M.

p. 83

"When the deity is ready, I can feel an enormous pressure behind me are all around me ... . ... .

p. 84

... after the deity leaves ..., ... the memories are very sketchy if I have any at all".

pp. 85-6 account by Oloris^a L.ThF.

p. 85

"I normally walk with a cane ... . ... . ... when a spirit enters, ... I can walk easily. ... . ... my body may shake or I might laugh. ...

p. 86

In spirit-possession, I can feel the ... spirit wanting entrance. ... When spirit-possessed, I deliver messages .... ... When a particular spirit enters, my body shakes all over."

p. 87 account by seidkona G.

"the god descends on me -- and that's what it actually feels like, a great form, like a bird, swooping down on me. Light, darkness, overwhelming sensation. They move into me through the back of my head and my spine, and I can just vaguely feel my hands and mouth moving without my volition, saying things that I can't hear. Then I'm gone ... . ...

Coming back is the reverse of this -- I get control of the eyes first".

pp. 88-9 differences in European pagan-heathen, vs. African-diaspora, spirit-possessions

p. 88

"European deities ... dance less often ..., and tend to "sit in state" more often. ...

They also tend to stay a lot longer; Western gods have remained at an event for some hours ... . Divine weddings are ... particularly long ... for them.

Another huge discrepancy is that many European deities are willing to be sexual with worshippers (or perhaps even expect it in some cases where it was a major part of their ancient rites) ... . ...

p. 89

Perhaps the biggest difference between the spiritual manifestation of the two cultures is that African deities are accustomed to possessing more than one individual at at time {simultaneously, in the self-same caerimony}. A Vodou fet one may see three or four people possessed by Ghede at once;

an Umbanda

{This would be an African-style of "an Umbanda", not Kardecist.}

ritual may call on Oya

to guard a boundary against evil spirits, and the request ends up with three women stalking the boundary, all chosen and possessed by her."

{These "evil spirits" may be the usual evil-minded ghosts of Kardecism. Candomble` (dealing exclusively with deities in public spirit-possession caerimonies) might, on the other hand, not so readily assume the effective existence of (possibility of misinfluence of caerimonies by) any such thing as "evil" deities.}



Gathering Culture


p. 93 spirit-possessed persons as horses ridden by deities

[Oloris^a L.ThF.] "I am annoyed by the use of the term "horse" in Neo-Pagan {i.e., European} Traditions."

{In Africa, spirit-possessed persons are not called "horses", because keeping of horses is not an native African custom. It is a European, and an <arabian custom; and the earliest use of the term "horse" for 'spirit-possessed person' would seem to have been among S.ufi-s (who are believed to have originated with the >umayyad dynasty in Hispania).}

"Stories like the Athena debacle began to circulate ... as ... tales."

{Perhaps the most renown debacle about Athene would concern the Wooden Horse dedicated to her outside the wall of Ilion-Troia. Riding within this Wooden Horse were many men (who, like possessing-spirits within a spirit-possessed person, brought about a local debacle).}

p. 93 Neo-Pagan spirit-possession

"Deity-possession , in particular, seems to have appeared in reconstructivist and reconstructivist-derived groups at a faster rate than it has grown in Wiccan-derived eclectic groups ... . This is significant".

pp. 95-6 assisting a person to become a spirit-medium

p. 95

[Pagan spirit-worker W.T.] "I have done the soul-condensing for people who are [spirit-media], to make it easier for them".

p. 96

[Pagan spirit-worker A.] "Gods are not puppets to be summoned ... .

{Though sometimes in China deities are figuratively described as puppets able to be controlled by humans.}

Frankly, anyone who ... brought a deity through a human being ..., ... it is with that deity's active aid, then the deity ... did the trick".

p. 98 a Norse Neo-Pagan group practicing ritual deity-possession : account by Heathen spirit-worker G.K.

"Within Asatru/Heathenry, there has been a great deal of ambivalent attention over the years given to groups such as Hrafnar and their rituals of god-possession."

pp. 98-9 account by seidkona G.

p. 98

"I started doing possession rituals for a very small group ... . So I prayed to the gods and asked them a favor. I would create [for demonstrating to a larger Norse-religion reconstructionist group]

p. 99

a possession ritual that was as perfectly researched as possible, with all the correct offerings ... . Please, I prayed, one of you ..., please come and limit Yourself ... to their expectations. ... Iduna {Idunn} spoke up and offered, ... and she did it."


Kenaz Filan & Raven Kaldera : Drawing Down the Spirits : the Traditions and Techniques of Spirit Possession. Destiny Bks, Rochester (VT), 2009.