by Slim the frequently possessed

Invocation is the procedure of identifying with a deity until it enters and possesses the practitioner. There are various ways of achieving this end, but lets us first examine the reasons for performing such an operation, as well as the risks involved.

Every pantheon includes a range of deities, each of which can be seen as representing some area of human life. Taking the Classical Greek pantheon as an example, it is easy to see that Aphrodite represents love and romance, and is thus the logical choice for magical work in those areas, just as Hephaestus would be appropriate for things that require physical skill and creativity. Of course, to regard these beings as merely the archetypes of various human endeavors is to miss much of the detail that transforms them from icons into living people. Their iconic, archetypal qualities are necessary for them to be of practical value, but the characterization of the gods is what enables the mage to identify with them.

There are religions and comprehensive mythologies from every place and period of human habitation. It is not difficult to find a good book of Greek or Roman myths and there are many gradations of complexity, enabling anyone to locate and identify a deity suitable for their magick. But why would any sane person wish to sacrifice their mind and control of their body? This is a serious issue, and it easy to understand why invocation is often perceived to be a dangerous pursuit. Let us first consider the benefits. By drawing a deity within oneself, one can for a short time gain the power and knowledge of that deity. There are practical limits; it is difficult to throw lightning around, even though you have invoked Zeus. But the power is real, and can be put to many uses, limited only by the ingenuity of the practitioner. There are gods of love and war and every subtle stratagem. There are gods of healing and of inspiration. When possessed of the god, one can greatly increase the effectiveness of ones magick. One may bless oneself or others to improve their abilities or chances in a certain aspect of life.

As mentioned, there are considerable risks involved in this kind of work. The most obvious is that of uncontrolled possession, in which one loses volition and becomes something of a puppet for the amusement of the deity. Each deity regards different things as entertaining, and these are unlikely to coincide with your own ideas of pleasure. For example, Ares might cause you to pick fights, while Aphrodite, well… As the usual (unconscious) standards that govern your behavior are inoperative, there will be no limits on what you may attempt while possessed. There have been more people than you might expect to have declared themselves supreme ruler of the Universe. The likely outcomes all involve some form of incarceration, though whether this is in a hospital, mental institution or a prison cannot be predicted beforehand.

Besides outright possession, there are more subtle risks. One is that the deity may leave a permanent impression upon your mind. Thus your perception and decision-making faculties may be irrevocably altered. This is not always a bad thing; it is sometimes the object of a working to produce an intentional change in some area of oneself. The gaining of confidence is quite likely to be a natural side effect of successful invocation, and it is also possible to change one’s perspective so as to recognize and take better advantage of opportunities that had hitherto passed one by. However, if this occurs without being desired, it can cause trouble.

The last danger that I will deal with at present is that of obsession. It requires a form of controlled obsession to identify with a deity, but this must be terminated as soon as the procedure is complete. If not, one is likely to regard the deity as rather more than a useful tool, and ascribe to them objective reality. In short, to worship them. I do not care to state that these beings are fully real, for that is the subject of a difficult debate not worth entering here. However, although they are sufficiently real to deal with in the context of a magical operation, it is a waste of time and energy to dedicate oneself to worshipping these gods once the work is done. By all means make offerings and say prayers to them while they are operating in accordance with your wishes, but beware losing control of yourself in this way.

All of the risks I have shared with you are quite real and worthy of consideration. It would be foolish to rush blindly into this kind of work. Still, they can all be safely avoided by good preventative preparation. As always, firm banishings prior to and after the procedure are essential, more so in this kind of operation than most others. A clear and objective record of plans, goals and methods used will be helpful in tracking matters; if you find that your desires after the working do not tally with those who listed beforehand, you may wish to re-evaluate the procedure. Unity of desire is very important, and if you have got this at first but it has disintegrated or been changed following an invocation, you may wish to perform a cleansing, to scour out any remnants of the deity clinging to your psyche. Besides banishing, it is also helpful to ground yourself, by re-focusing your attention upon aspects of ordinary life. Listening to a favorite album is a good way, or calling a friend to immerse yourself in social matters. Just cleaning and vacuuming can also prove most effective.
Having dealt with safety issues, and assuming you’re still willing to proceed with this course (good for you), let’s examine the initial preparation. As with any working, it is important to know precisely what is the aim that you wish to accomplish by performing this operation. When you have that goal, in simple and concise terms, then you must identify a suitable deity. This will require some degree of familiarity with a particular pantheon of mythology. A good way of achieving this familiarity is to purchase or borrow a book of myths and legends, of which there are many, dealing with whatever cultural source that most interests you. I have given example from the Greek myths, because I enjoyed reading these as a child. It is good to go over the stories in a relaxed fashion and develop a firm idea of the characters of the gods, in particular the details that make up your chosen subject.

An alternative to the use of ancient myths for the acquisition of a viable godform is the modern media. Although there is a consensus among magicians that it is better to evoke spirits and invoke gods, it is also possible to invoke any fictional character who is archetypal of the quality you desire. Any of Arnie’s movies provide warrior heroes who can be utilized for militaristic concerns. Detective thrillers offer models of high intellect, determination and pragmatism. Romance novels or ‘weepy’ films display the whole gamut of human qualities pertaining to love affairs. All you need do is locate a suitable character, one that appeals to your sensibilities and has the attributes that you wish to make use of, and design a procedure around them.

Invocation requires more effort than most types of magick, as the state that it requires one to enter is literally alien to ordinary consciousness. For this reason, it is important to prepare as fully as you are able before you begin the actual working. This means studying the subject of your invocation, listing all the information you have about their personal characteristics, including the clothing they are portrayed as wearing, their favorite colors and types of music, speech patterns behavioral quirks. It is best to clear out the space of your working, to remove all things that do not coincide with some aspect of your subject. Everything in this space should serve to remind you of this character or deity. Traditional gods have personal incense and perfumes which should be used. If there is an item that is strongly identified with the subject (like the favored weapon of a TV heroine), get one like it and display it prominently in the working space, or else hold it yourself. Dress up in the right kind of costume and practice thinking like the character. This is not to fool yourself into pretending to be them, but to draw their influence to you. Sympathy between like things is a fundamental theorem of magick. Get as many appropriate signifiers as you can, and set the space up in a way that reflects the personality of the subject; some gods are austere and favor a Spartan temple, while others are luxurious and take delight in a scene of comfort. Take the time necessary and get it right. Excessive haste can tip the work into ruin.

Assuming that all the preparatory work is complete, you have your gear laid out and ready, and you’ve managed to get your home (garage, tree house, cardboard box…) free of distractions for a few hours, all you have left is to summon that god! It’s common to feel somewhat nervous, but that will pass as you get involved in your actions. Just a reminder: everything you might look at should cause you to think of some aspect of the being you are calling upon. Set? As ever, begin with a banishing.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, it’s a good idea to work out how you intend to attain that one-pointed state discussed earlier. Unlike simpler forms of magick, this is difficult to specify for the purpose of invocation, as the methods used need to relate to the nature of the being invoked. The general rule is to pray with all your heart until you are spontaneously overwhelmed by the presence of the deity. This is fine for some workings, but it is not suitable for all. In particular, while there are many Biblical prayers and orisons extant (such as the Psalms), there are rather fewer for the divinities of the archaic religions that have been driven into the shadowy realm of legend. It is possible to find some excellent poetry by ancient authors such as Homer and Ovid that will serve for Greek gods. The poetry of Aleister Crowley is also quite good in this respect, his “Hymn To Pan” is an electrifying example of what is needed. If you are dealing with a character from fiction, it may be possible to collect appropriate quotes and arrange them into a monologue that can act in the role. It is often most useful to produce your own prayer or chant. This need not be high poetry, just so long as the reading of it is done in the best possible manner.

Writing an invocatory chant is not so very different from writing one for an evocation. The important difference is that although you begin by addressing the deity and listing its attributes in a moving fashion, you go on to identify with the being, so in earlier passages you would say: “Oh Hermes, thou who art messenger to the gods…” (it need not involve such archaic phrasing), then proceed to speak to the god in personal, intimate terms: “My Aphrodite…”, and end by speaking as the god: “I am Zeus, master of Olympus…”

The quality of the writing is not as important as the feeling that is put into them by your speaking. Hopefully you will be able to generate an emotion suited to the deity and by your chant inspire that emotion to its highest potential. However, if this is too difficult, it is good practice to speak in as loud and deep a voice as you can manage. It is also best not to read too quickly. Try to set a steady pace and develop a strong rhythm. Do not think about what you are saying, just concentrate on the words themselves. It is helpful to have memorized your lines, but not to the point where they are delivered mechanically. Remember, you must feel what you are doing as much as you must do it.
In addition to performing your chant, you may like to act out some actions that are in the character of the deity. Ares might make thrusts with a spear, while Pan might dance in a frenzy. This is optional, and you should take care not to get carried away in the wrong sense. However, it does add something to the procedure, and for those who are not of a verbal bias, it is exceedingly useful to have some physical component to the operation. It can also be worthwhile ingesting a sacrament suited to the deity. This will be dealt with later in more detail, as it is a subject in itself. The point here is that while the general method of invocation is to achieve god-consciousness through exultant chanting or prayer, it is important to avoid reading aloud while wearing a funny costume. If it helps you to perform a dance or hold some bizarre pose, then do so. There are no absolute standards in this field, so do whatever it takes, so long as it does not involve foolish risks.

At some point during the invocation, if all goes to plan, you will find that your sense of self begins to alter. You may continue to speak the words but find that it is no longer ‘you’ that is speaking. Your body may shift into an unfamiliar posture and you may begin to act or think in quite alien ways. This is not a cause for alarm, so do not react with shock. You are on the edge of achieving your goal; it is not a good idea to stop at this point. If you feel certain that the goal of the working is worthy of this effort, then the deity should recognize that and agree to do what you have called upon it for. Once the deity has entered you, make not attempt to force it to act in any particular way, unless it becomes apparent that you are in physical danger because of its actions. You should have prepared your statement of desire in clear and concise format, and have it handy. Hopefully it will be fully memorized, and spontaneously communicated to the deity once it has arrived. If not, it may be necessary to remind yourself by looking at the request. When you, as the deity, have recalled or understood the request, you can then direct your energy to that goal. This should be an instinctive act for the god, but if not, then concentrate on the request until the god absorbs the information and discharges its power. If the invocation is for knowledge, you may find yourself speaking or writing automatically. For this reason it may be useful to have writing materials and a recording device at hand. This should be activated before you begin the working.

Once the immediate goal of the operation has been accomplished (either power has been accessed and directed, or information has been gained), it is important to make sure that the deity leaves. This is likely to occur after some time in any case, as the effort required to make contact cannot be maintained indefinitely. However, you should not rely on this possibility. Instead, thank the deity for its aid, and ask it to withdraw in peace. Relax and wait for the sensation of presence to dissipate. If this does not occur, you must make a further request, as firm as you can. By their nature, you cannot call upon a higher power to command a god, but as the master of your own universe (the microcosm that is your mind and body), you do have authority over yourself. If faced with a possessive deity, though it requires every reserve of energy you have left, you must force the being to withdraw. Visualize the pentagram as vividly as you can and draw it inwards, imprinting itself upon your body. See it flaming inside you, burning out every residuum of the being you have summoned.

When the work itself is over, you must banish. This is vital in the case of invocation. There is a greater danger of insanity with this kind of magick than with any other. For this and other reasons, you must be certain beyond a doubt that you are again in full control of yourself, and that you remain so. Banish and do it again if you feel it is necessary. Don’t get hung-up on banishing, and don’t be afraid to go to sleep later on, but make sure you really have finished the procedure. Also, write up everything that has passed. Try to be as thorough as you can in the record you keep of invocations.
Having performed the operation, clean up the space (unless you are carrying out successive workings) and go off to relax. Forget about the magick. It may be hard to do this, so do not try and force your mind onto other things. Instead, just get involved in ordinary things. Talk to your friends, see a film or play Chess…whatever you do to enjoy yourself. It doesn’t matter what you do, so much as it ‘grounds’ you. You have to be able to deal with normal life if you want to practice magick. Try not to be nervous and edgy as you await the results of the working, assuming there was a further objective. It does not help to do this, so just get on with things.

If you experience signs that the being summoned has stayed with you to some degree (unless you desired its aid/blessing), or if you experience spontaneous possession, it is necessary to perform a full cleansing and banishing. This will be dealt with fully later on.

To conclude this section, invocation is one of the most powerful operations that a magician can carry out. If you look hard enough there is a god for every conceivable area of life. Everything is susceptible to such power, if sufficient effort is made. However, the greatest magick has the greatest risks. Invocation, as I hope I have shown, is both effective and potentially deadly. The decision to use it should not be made lightly. Once made, though, you should remain true to your path. 

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