Wrapping up my thoughts on possession trance for now, I offer some of my personal experiences of possession trance, both as a medium, and watching other mediums. While there haven’t been a lot of painful or dangerous proofs that I’m possessed, there have been some times when the gods have used my body to do things I definitely couldn’t do myself.
- Many years ago, Freyr decided to drop in somewhat unexpectedly to a spring gathering a friend was holding to celebrate the planting season. When they offered Him hospitality, Freyr asked for pork, and when they apologized that all they had were beef steaks, He asked for honey. He then proceeded to drown the medium-rare grilled beef steak in plain honey, and then cut apart a very pale, well-done pork slice covered in a spice glaze. He then fed it to everyone in the room who acknowledged Him, chuckling. The professional chef who was helping ward me was very startled. We’ve been trying to reproduce that spiced honey glaze for years, but I can only ever seem to make it work when the Vanir help me cook it, and They never do it the same way twice.
- On another occasion, while helping with the singing and drumming at the Umbanda House early on, Exu walked up to me on one of the senior mediums and offered me rum. I drank it without thinking. I was horrified to realize as Exu looked at me expectantly that my mouth was on FIRE. He’d fed me the pepper rum, the bastard! Normally that kind of trick would seriously piss me off, but for some reason that day I thought it was hilarious that I’d fallen for it. As soon as I started laughing, so did Exu, and the burning instantly subsided. I did still need the glass of milk I’d begged for to get the last of it out of my mouth, however. I’m very sensitive to even the smallest amounts of capsaicin, unfortunately.
- One day I was visiting the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland for some quality time with Papa Ghede (the Loa are a honored as a major spirit line in AMUH – Umbanda is diverse that way), when I found a bone. It was a fairly sturdy long bone from a small animal, with some gnaw marks – stray refuse, not part of any grave offerings. Regardless, I found a bone! In a graveyard! While serving Papa Ghede! So I took it home to my (then) boyfriend’s house with intent to bleach it clean.
When I got back to the house, I found it full of people, who observed my shadow with amusement. I had been honoring Ghede for a while, but I hadn’t felt much response from Him directly, so I didn’t really notice how wonky I was until I poured the bleach and it looked and smelled like water. I even stuck my nose right down into the cup and inhaled, but the pure bleach had no smell at all. Finally I asked, “Is this bleach?” and got back a loud chorus of YES! from everyone in the room, who were all choking on the bleach themselves. Good thing I didn’t try tasting it to check!
Realizing that Ghede had snuck up on me, I laughed and chanted,
“Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus – Papa Ghede has NO NOSE!”
Those are some of my nicer memories.
I also remember the only time I offered to carry The Morrigan, She left me hung over despite having had very little to drink at all, such that I woke up repeatedly over the following night, at least once to throw up, and finally spent the next day wrung out and disoriented with a strange taste in my mouth and a buzz on my nerves that I couldn’t shake off no matter how hard I tried. Given a choice, I would not offer to carry Her again, but one is not always given a choice.
My worst memories would take up entire posts each on their own, and I may never have the courage to make some of those posts. I’ve been used and abused by some of the gods in the time I’ve been in Their service, and I’ve learned the hard way that not all the gods can be trusted with my body, just as I’ve learned not all mediums can be trusted to carry the gods for others. I’ve watched the gods ignore people’s boundaries not just socially, but sexually, allowing and even encouraging people to do things to the medium’s body that the medium had specifically stated were not acceptable. Blessedly, I’ve never been used that way to abuse anyone else – at least not as far as I know.
I’ve also watched people use the excuse of possession trance to be verbally abusive, dismissive, or just plain rude, and I’ve been told of examples where possession trance, much like alcohol, has been used to excuse worse yet.
You might ask why I am still here? Is it all worth it?
One the one hand, NO, it absolutely is not worth it. We should not be allowing these abuses in the name of making sure there’s room for the good stuff.
On the other hand, YES, I do think the good stuff is worth the effort of fixing it instead of just washing our hands of the whole deal and walking away.