I have been involved in a few discussions on and off line recently about the possible uses of trance in Brythonic rituals to communicate directly with spirits and deities. In this post I attempt to make sense of my current thinking about this topic.
First a word of caution: if like me you are a polytheist this is not a matter to take lightly. Actually it’s not a matter to take lightly no matter what your path! If you do not have the support and back up of other experienced individuals or training in this area than I’d strongly recommend you steer clear of attempting anything related to this until you do have such back up.
My path has not included such training but I seem to be getting it via direct experience. I am very fortunate in that I have had exceptional support and back up for the more intense and deeper of the experiences I have had with this but even so it has been hard on me (and on those supporting me too I suspect). I am extremely grateful for the support I have received.
If this is something that is done in Brythonic groups in the future (and it may not be) then I feel we will need to have a few explicit guidelines about such practices. The following suggestions are drawn both from personal experience, from reading and from the excellent advice I have received so far.
Every ritual should have a clear purpose and direct communication with spirits should be no different. I do not think it is enough to say we want to communicate with our ancestors for example. I think we need to be specific about why we wish for such communication. Do we have questions to ask? Are we looking for advice on a particular area?
If we are going to try communication with a deity (including invoking their presence into someone) this should be even more carefully thought out.
2) Community knowledge and participation
In my opinion all those taking part in any such ritual should be fully informed about what the intent of the ritual is and be fully willing to take part. If someone present has reservations about the purpose of the ritual they should be listened to carefully. That doesn’t mean the rite won’t go ahead but that person may choose not take part and shouldn’t feel pressurised to do so in any way.
3) The seer/host/medium
What ever you want to call the person who is going to attempt the direct communication they should be willing to do this. In my opinion they should feel able to share any fears or worries about what may take place and any changes resulting from the experience with at least one person there. I think there should be at least one experienced person there who has taken on the role of support or anchor for the one acting as seer or host. This should be someone the seer feels they can trust instinctively and deeply. It would also be a very good idea if the seer was aware of just what they might be asking of their anchor in terms of possible longer term support.
4) The anchor or support role
In my opinion the anchor or support person is perhaps the most critical person of any such rite. This person should be chosen by the seer/host as someone they feel they can rely on. The anchor should be able to observe the state of the seer during and after the rite. They should be able to call a halt to things if they feel there are problems. They should expect that the seer might need their support for a significant period of time after the rite – possibly for days afterwards as they come to terms with what took place. They should know ways of helping the seer recover from the immediate effects of the rite and have an idea about any long term effects the rite may have had on the seer. In my opinion they should also be able to call on every single person that was at that rite for any further support that may be needed.
A further note of caution: In my limited experience the level of trust required for the interaction between seer and anchor may change any previous relationship between those individuals. It will hopefully strengthen and deepen it long term but short term it might (if some part of the rite has not gone very well) result in a level of emotional instability on the part of the seer that might strain any relationship the seer and anchor do have.
I realise for some of those that will read this that these considerations should perhaps be automatically in place but I’m still learning 🙂
I have always learnt more by my mistakes than by those things I get right and my experiences in this area are no exception. I am convinced that if such a rite ever takes place within Brython it will be well planned with a clear purpose and will take place with the informed consent of all taking part as well as with their support. Under these circumstances I am also convinced that many of the problems I have had with my most recent experience simply wouldn’t occur.