I say demonic possession, you probably think of the Exorcist and a girl masturbating with a cross and calling Jesus “daddy.” I say angelic possession, you probably think of the human vessels in Supernatural that usually end up with crispy angel wings or, of course, Castiel calling Mark Pellegrino an assbutt. I say spirit possession and your immediate thought is the horses or chwals of Voodoo, Ifa, and Santeria and maybe that really inaccurate depiction of Papa Legba in American Horror Story: Coven and Marie Laveau writhing with snakes in fetishized portrayals of valid religions.
Since the beginning of time, shamans and even laypeople in tribal communities have channeled spirits for spiritual communication with the divine. Mediums do it today with archangels and the deceased, African diasporic religions have a rich history of invoking the lwas and orishas into the flesh, there is the Drawing Down the Moon ritual of Wicca, and of course the famous Lourdes possessions and fascination with demonic possession during the Satanic Panic a few decades ago. These are all valid examples. What is rarely talked about, however, is milder states of possession that allow a devotee to share a headspace and body with gods, spirits, angels, demons, the dead, and everything in between.
It is a step above channeling in that you can feel the spirits’ emotions, sometimes hear their thoughts or speech as a kind of inner voice, perceive them in your third eye, feel their touch, rushes of tingling and goosebumps and electric energy, or focus on certain chakras or damaged parts of the body as a means to healing. There is full-on possession, wherein the devotee becomes a vessel for the spirit in question and most times blacks out and has little memory of what happened, whether as Ogou they drank a bunch of rum and waved machetes around, or accidentally invoked Artemis into the High Priestess instead of some nameless Great Mother Goddess and excuse you, but Artemis wants nothing to do with sex as she is a virgin. Eyes can change color in the devotee, speech can change, entire mannerisms, even knowing other languages.
I want to talk about shadowing, or soul-sharing, when you are the eyes and ears and tongue and hands – the sensory organ – of your spirits in the physical world. You share a headspace, can feel the spirit’s emotions, their physical touch, hear their thoughts, and in meditative states or astral travel, see through their eyes and even possess them in turn. Samael has done that many times with me – letting me see through his eyes – and demons aren’t the only ones who possess people. As a dumbass teenager I invoked Michael into my body by chanting his name, my eyes rolled back into my head, a hurricane was in my mind, I blacked out, vomited, then drank a glassful of salt water to ground myself.
It’s dangerous shit to mess with especially for budding pagans, but allows gnosis that is unimaginable through regular divination: imagine having a direct connection to the gods, being able to hear their unfiltered thoughts, feel their marvel as they react to the physical world, whether it be a demon tasting chocolate through your tongue or an angel stroking your hair when they are trying to comfort you. It makes spirits undeniably real. You are in their head, they are all up in yours, you can touch them when you project out of body, but when they are being channeled, they can touch you, speak to your heart, you can feel prayers as energy, the chakras churning inside you as different energetic centers react, feel their laughter as bubbling champagne in your breast, feel their sorrow as a heavy weight on your shoulders. Soulsharing is beautiful and painful at the same time.
Personally, I’ve always been like this, before I even understood what spirits were. Feeling the energy rushing through me, like I’d been plugged into a socket. I thought they were aliens when I was 7. I would mix souls with Archangel Ariel in dreams in the third grade and feel divine ecstasy. I was a really strange kid, and it didn’t help my imaginary friends were Ariel, Uriel, Samael and Metatron. I’ve always been what the Voodoo community would call a horse, but shy away from full on possession and mostly just use channeling for communication purposes.
I think it’s something you have to be born with – you kind of have to have your head broken open, a shamanic awakening – and I definitely advise against soulsharing if you’re not supported by a spiritual elder and know exactly what the fuck you’re doing. There are a lot of different ways to do it – I’ve found imagining sigils in my mind of the respective spirit and just chanting their name does the trick. Sometimes spirits and gods give you calling cards – two proto-Hebrew taws on your hands for Samael, for example, though I think that’s probably just something that works for me alone, not in general – to invoke them into your body. Words to focus on, song lyrics, chants, you name it.
Also, if you are to engage in possession as a means of communication, make sure your shadow work is in check as it can be. You don’t want to bring negativity into this, especially with spirits of vengeance, because this is opening a very deep line of communication and then they’ll start bothering you about brushing your teeth more (I joke) or confronting your deepest fears to overcome things limiting you, and if it’s a demonic or chaotic spirit, that confrontation will be brutal and humbling (not a joke.)
It is a very effective means of communication, but as with any spiritual endeavor, be cautious, prepare, and plan. You may find untold levels of kinship, or you may get radio silence, but make sure you have a support system in place. I didn’t for most of my life and experimented with various levels of possession and energywork without consciously knowing what the hell I was doing and no, elementary school Allies wearing tin foil hats doesn’t make pesky angels go away.
Other than that, it’s quite an interesting mode of spiritual connection. I think I’ve said enough for now. Might elaborate on this in further posts.