Dangers of Horsing

by Lydia Helasdottir
excerpt from Wightridden: Paths of Northern-Tradition Shamanism

As to the dangers of horsing...well, I don't think that people should do it at all, not unless they're forced to. In Western magical tradition you've got this concept of "assuming a god-form", which is a mild type of horsing, where you identify with a god-form and invoke that particular kind of energy into yourself, and embody that energy. It's not the same, but the danger even from doing that is that people forget to divest themselves of the god-form, and they get stuck in that space being that entity - first of all, to the exclusion of all else, and secondly usually to the great annoyance of the people around them who are tired of them being Ra all day long. It's just not good.

The halfway stuff is actually the most dangerous, where they are only there about 40% and you attune the other 60%, and the attunement stays even when the deity leaves - as opposed to a fuller possession where the deity often takes everything with them. The obvious dangers are that they'll do something with your body that damages someone or is illegal. "Oh, cool, it's a car? Is this like chariots used to be? Yes?" and they smack you into a tree, or run a red light, or have unsafe sex, or make you ingest things you're allergic to and don't take them with them, or beat someone into a bloody hospital-ready pulp. I think there's also a psychological danger from sharing mind-space with a deity. They're so huge and you're only so big. If they come forcefully, and you're not ready for them, you can tear. It can rip your soul.

It definitely causes problems with the relationships of people around you because when the God speaks through you, they may or may not accept that it's the God, because it's your mouth that is saying hurtful things to them, things that are arriving with such force that they can't defend against them. They're either going to say, "Well, this god stuff wasn't real anyway, you just made that up so that you can say these nasty things to me," or "You colluded with that nasty god, and that nasty god said these nasty things to me, and you're an asshole for letting it happen. Why didn't you stop it?" And then, there are certain truths that as a human being you don't necessarily want to know, and the god will come out and tell them to someone who needs to hear them and you'll say, "Oh, no, I didn't want to hear that!" It can be emotionally quite painful, as well as physically quite wearing.

You can get addicted to it, as well; you see that in the neo-Voudoun crowd sometimes - you get a rush when the deity comes, and you want that rush all the time, because it makes you feel important or because you love the clean, heavy deity throughput energy. It's sluicing out your whole system, and it's great, but you have to have some method for doing that yourself, not just horsing deities all the time.

Another danger is how do you know which bloody god it is? And how do you know it's even a god at all, and not some other bottom-feeding entity that can dress up as a god? That's a problem for people who just openly horse whatever comes. A patron deity can screen them out, and if you don't have one to look after you, perhaps you shouldn't be horsing. That's an unpopular, elitist view, and perhaps an overly paranoid view, but for me it's a very realistic view. Most of the horses that I know started out as divine energy channels, where they were used to it being a controlled circumstance, under certain conditions and for a particular reason - and then they go away again and give me my fucking body back. So we are used to setting boundaries. What worries me more is the kind of "Let's open up and see what wants to come in and jiggle with me" sort of people. Because that's a way into it, for sure - you can get possessed by trance-dancing, or any other kind of trancework.

Regarding the controversy of whether to put limits on the Gods: When you do public ritual, and you set rules as the price of entry for a deity, with the implication that if they don't like the rules, they shouldn't come, you aren't really setting limits on them. If they want to come and possess a person, they're going to do it anyway whether you like it or not, because human beings in general are not powerful enough to stop that from happening. But the effort involved for a deity to come and possess someone who isn't open and actively seeking it is huge, and not worth it. It's painful for them to manifest down here; that we know. It's not a walk in the park. They have to make quite an effort to get this dense.

And anyway, most Gods want to come down where they are wanted and honored, or at least where they have jobs to do. They don't come down without a purpose for all that effort, and if you can set things up so that they get the honor and ability to work that they desire, it will be worth it to them to come by appointment rather than randomly. The one exception might be trickster gods like Loki, where all bets are off, but they're a separate problem. Most Gods would rather be welcomed than fought off. Wouldn't most people, as well?