From the Mouths of Gods
We all have had times where we felt very lost and confused. We'd ask our friends and family for advice, but it isn't enough. We search within ourselves for the answers, but can't see through the mists of confusion. When it seems that there is nobody on Earth who can help us, it could be a good time to use the power of invocation and ask a deity for help.
To invoke a deity, power, or spirit is to allow yourself to become a “tube” that passes energy and wisdom though your body so that others may receive it. It is a very powerful experience whether you are the one invoking or someone who is listening to what's being said.
Invocation is used in many rituals in the Hellenic Alexandrian tradition. It can be a planned part of the ritual or it can be an unexpected gift from a deity or spirit. When planned, the person invoking (generally a priest or priestess who is second degree or higher) will ask either aloud or internally for the deity or spirit to come and will then allow themselves to be completely taken over by it. Sometimes, a spirit or deity will choose a person and will ask him or her to let go and allow it to speak through them. It is up to the person to decide whether they will allow the channel to be opened, as it is a person's divine duty to always act with Love in accordance with their own True Will.
Invocation is a technique of divination that is not to be taken lightly, as it can cause great harm to everyone involved if not handled properly. It is important to know whom one is about to channel. If one doesn't know, then they could end up channeling a very dangerous and malicious entity. This can have grave consequences if the person is not able to expel the entity. It is important also to not use invocation as a toy. Gods generally don't like being asked trivial questions and can respond in unpredictable and sometimes undesirable ways.
On the other hand, if the person is experienced at invocation and the spirit or deity is known to the channeler to be benevolent, then it can enhance the connection between the channeler and the entity. This connection will develop and grow over time through continuous worship and ritual such that the person can speak to the deity at any time when they feel the need. It also helps enhance a sense of oneness with the gods, a deeper understanding that, “There is no part of me that is not of the gods.”
There is a certain sequence that generally occurs around invocations in the Hellenic Alexandrian tradition. The space is banished well and a strong circle is raised. Invocations are never done outside of a good circle, as uninvited spirits may choose to take over. A temple guard also watches over the ritual to ensure that the energy is maintained in the desired state. The transition from the priest-being-himself to the priest-being-the-entity can be very subtle or abrupt and almost violent, depending on the circumstances. Since we know our priests very well, it's not difficult for us to know when it's not them looking through their eyes. They take on the demeanor of the deity, whether it be extremely calm, very giggly, powerful and regal, or angry and violent. Since deities have multiple aspects, it can be difficult to predict what aspect will appear unless it is specified during the invocation and the aspects and cycles of the deity are well known to the people involved.
The invoked spirit will then normally look and survey those present. Sometimes they identify themselves. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes they simply say that we already know who they are (whether we think we do or not). It is important that when one is attending an invocation that they have either a photographic memory or paper and pencil handy. The words spoken can sometimes seem very cryptic and can only be understood with further study and meditation on them. Sometimes a lot can be said that will be difficult to remember. Taking good notes is essential (to the point that I'm working on learning shorthand for this purpose). These notes must then be included in one's magical journal to ensure they are not lost.
What is said can vary widely, depending on what the circumstances are. It is common to ask questions, but whether the entity answers them is up to them. Sometimes it is not appropriate to know the answer at this time. Sometimes it is simply that one really already knows the answer and the entity does not feel the need to repeat it. When the answer is given, it can be straightforward, but frequently is not. It is important to know that it isn't the entities' purpose to make life easy for us, so we may need to work to understand the answers given.
It is important to keep in mind that deities do say things openly, so one must feel perfect love and perfect trust with all others present in the circle. The things said can become very personal, intimate, or upsetting and that everything said in the circle must never be spoken about to others who were not actually there at the time. Violating this rule breaks the trust and can be particularly hurtful if the deity discussed details of someone's intimate life. If an invoked deity speaks about intimate aspects of your life, remember that they are not doing that to hurt you in any way. They are telling you things you need to hear to grow. Maybe the secret they are talking about is a fear that needs to be dispelled in order to evolve.
Invocation can use up large amounts of energy, so in our circles, we make sure that we are prepared when the entity departs from the channeler. If the channeling priestess is standing or sitting up, she can fall and we need to catch her. The people helping her also work to ground her back into her body, since she may have been absent for a long time. It is very common for the priestess to not know anything about what was said, so we frequently need to fill her in on what was said.
I have received many of my most powerful revelations from invoked gods. Since attaining my second degree, I have also had the experience with invoking into myself and found it an experience that teaches me about myself and my place in the universe, and especially that there is no part of me that is not part of the gods.
(Note: This article was first published in October, 2002 at The Witches' Voice)