A Pagan View on Possession

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Pagan of any description speak of being “possessed” – at least not in a negative sense. The only “possession” Pagans usually experience is ritual possession, as in Drawing Down the Moon – and that’s generally a very positive experience. It’s also a temporary experience, presumably because our deities are busy and have better things to do than hang out inside us once they’ve delivered whatever message they wanted to deliver.
I have experienced ritual possession, once. It took a perfect atmosphere, a circle of trusted friends, and a skilled priestess to get me to relax my control enough for the Lord of the Animals to speak through me. Even while it was happening, it was all I could do to stay relaxed and not close myself off. And I didn’t want to close myself off – it was an awesome experience.
If it took this perfect setting to allow a possession that I wanted to happen, what chance would an entity that I didn’t want to let in or whose existence I prefer to ignore have to possess me? I’ll admit I’m more of a control freak than most people, and I like to think I have a stronger will. But I’m not that unusual. Remember: neither our gods and goddesses nor the demons of Christianity are omnipotent.
What I have heard plenty about are troublesome spirits and discordant energies. They tend to be isolated to a specific location, and although some do pursue an individual person (think back to the Greek Furies) they don’t possess them.
Thus, the likelihood of a Pagan leader being asked to perform something resembling a Christian exorcism is pretty low.
What we are asked to perform – and what every magically-oriented person should learn to do for him or herself – are cleansings, banishings, wardings, and spells of protection. There are many good references on these topics. Although she used a lot of Judeo-Christian imagery, Dion Fortune’s Psychic Self-Defense (1930) is a classic everyone should read. A more modern reference is Kerr Cuhulain’s Magickal Self Defense: A Quantum Approach to Warding (2008).
There are many others – these are my favorites. These skills are not hard to learn, but like all skills – magical and mundane – they require practice to learn and much practice to learn well.
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About John Beckett

I’m a Druid in the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I’m an ordained priest in the Universal Gnostic Fellowship. I’m the Coordinating Officer of the Denton, Texas Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans. This year I’m also serving as a member of the Board of Trustees of CUUPS National. I’m a member of the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

I write as a spiritual practice. It helps me organize my thoughts and work through ideas and concepts. It helps me evaluate my beliefs and practices against my core values and against what I know (or at least, what I think I know) to be true. It helps me interpret my experiences (religious and otherwise) in ways that are both meaningful and honest.


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