Preventing Possession

excerpt from Wightridden: Paths of Northern-Tradition Shamanism

Negotiating with the Gods is a hard thing. As we've mentioned elsewhere in this book and in others, our Gods may be bigger, wiser, and more knowledgeable than we are, but they are not omniscient or omnipotent. They may not know, for example, that right now is not a good time for a possession, because you're sick or in charge of small children, you’re having sex with a partner, you’re in line at the deli, etc. You need to be able to say No, politely but firmly, and not let it overrun you. Deities in general are not particularly concerned with your daily routine, although some are better about it than others. Usually, when this happens, the normal thing to do is to mentally say This is not a good time; I will take you on later in the direction of the Power that wants to move in.

Of course, that means that you had better make an appointment and fulfill it, or you may get in trouble. I had a longstanding habit of putting off possessions and not coming through on them, largely for reasons of fear, and one night during a gathering I went to sleep, and woke up four hours later by the fire wearing strange clothing, with people standing over me and saying, "Are you back?" It was an object lesson: if you want to be able to negotiate time and place, don't give us short shrift.

If you feel a god-possession coming on and just saying No isn’t working, there are things you can do to snap yourself out of that early trance state that opens you for being ridden. The idea is to change your consciousness so that it is firmly grounded in your body and the real world, and not doing anything repetitive or hypnotic. These techniques can also be used for anyone who feels that something is trying to “move in on” their consciousness, whether it is positive or negative.

1. Cold water, a lot of it, especially on the back of your neck. Step into a cold shower, as cold as you can stand it. This one has never failed me. Follow it up by eating and drinking something, which will ground you back into your body.

2. Drink a glass of cold salt water. You may not be able to get it all down; swallow as much as you can stand. You may vomit. That’s all right; vomiting will bring you quickly back into your body and close off the channel. The salt is grounding, and salt water is the best way to get a lot of it down your gullet at once. Follow it up with clear cold water, and food if you haven’t vomited and can stomach it.

3. Eat something extremely hot and spicy, like a swig of tabasco sauce or a spoonful of black pepper. Please have lots of water on hand to wash it down or rinse your mouth.

4. Worst case, if nothing else is working: Tell a friend to cause you abrupt physical pain - slap you, pull your hair, whack you on the rear end with a wooden spoon, whatever you think you can take. Avoid injurious things, please (see the safety issues around pain and injury in the Ordeal Path chapter). The pain should be fast, sharp, and you shouldn’t see it coming. Doing it yourself is not recommended; self-inflicted pain can actually have a hypnotic effect on some people.

5. After you’ve successfully slammed the door shut, do some mundane activity that requires all your concentration yet is not monotonous or repetitive. An example might be doing your taxes, or baking something from scratch with a difficult recipe. It should be complex enough to require your full attention, with many changes of activity. Don’t play music or sing while you’re doing it; have a friend talk to you instead, or put on talk radio. Don’t do anything rhythmic, like pace or drum or tap your fingers or jog; move around randomly. One particularly effective thing is to have someone talk to you about something that makes you angry, or at least something you feel very strongly about. The subject should have nothing to do with spirituality, god-possession, or anything ruled by that deity.