Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Work of Invocation - Seeking Audience with the Gods

This an excerpt from the short instruction on invocation in the second month of the Initiate's work book. I have lost the citation for the lovely art at left - if you know of it lemme know, please...

One of the key skills of spiritual ritual is invocation. Invocation is the work of effectively calling the attention of the Gods and Spirits to our rituals and temples, and also of drawing their blessing and power into our personal and community spirits. In the respectful religious approach of our rituals we do not ‘summon’ the Powers, the Kindreds except in rare cases in which we have authority. When we light a good Fire, and arrange the proper symbols, when we make fit offerings and recite fair hymns of praise we know the Gods can hear us, and give blessings.
This mythic perspective is our starting place, the outward form that we bring to our public and personal rites. Like all pagan work there are layers within layers of symbolism and practice within the basic public outline of the work. These layers are what might be referred to as the ‘esoteric’ (for the few) or ‘occult’ (hidden) aspects of the rites. While we hope to encourage all our members to learn the basics of these skills, it is a key part of the work that leads to initiation. In the work of Invocation, for instance, focused vision work, proper use of natural symbols, and consecrated images can add greatly to the clarity and power of our contacts with the Gods.
By using focused spiritual practices we seek to move outward from our normal awareness toward a spiritual world that can be understood as outside of our common minds. Invocation brings the boundary closer and opens the door for that journey. Invocation is also used to bring the divine and spiritual powers into closer attunement with our individual spiritual natures. By bringing the Gods who exist in the greater cosmos near to us, we intend to awaken their reflections in the little cosmos of our Grove and our hearts.
Basics of Invocation
First, of course, you must attend to the common skills of ritual. Be prepared, have your text or outline firmly in hand and mind, approach the work with poise and a focused mind. From there we find several specialized techniques that are useful.
1: Natural CorrespondencesMost rites require the proper sorts of natural things to be used as offerings. In order to choose the proper offerings it is important to spend time in study of the Deity you intend to invoke. By that study you will discover symbols and reflections of the deities that will suggest proper offerings.
By bringing the right symbols and objects into your Grove you can make the place more fitting for a God’s presence. The right wood for the Fire, the right silver for the Well, the right herbs for offerings all make an environment that allows a full manifestation of the power of a Deity. It can be made like a well-shaped lens that, perhaps, allows the Gods to see us more clearly.
2: Visualized ImagesThe deliberate use of imagination to create mental environments and symbols is central to effective spiritual ritual. Just as we prepare a material temple we can create interior spaces and visualized images that are designed for our work, and attuned to individual deities and spirits. These spaces become a Threshold for our mental and spiritual access to the Otherworld itself.
Invocation can be greatly enhanced by the use of clear and detailed visualizations of the deities. Such shapes may not be their ‘true forms’, but it may be that they have no single true form at all. As we approach each of the invocations in this work we will offer suggested elements that could be included in a visualized image. These are only suggestions, and should ideally be only a supplement to your own research. It is your task to devise personal forms and visions of the powers, based on your own understanding aided by this advice.
This work is, in essence, the creation of an Inner Idol, an image of the sort that the ancients made for their temples. Where the ancients made images of oak and gold and silver we can craft in vision, color and light, in every hue and substance, even in flesh and motion and voice. It is simple enough to ‘make’ such an image move and speak, but less simple to use that ability wisely.
3: Material Images
In a polytheist and nature-positive spiritual path like ours there is little room for the idea that the divine disdains to dwell in forms made by mortal hands. History shows us that from the dawn of human material culture we have used our power of shaping to create depictions, dwellings and even bodies for the Gods and Spirits. Images, marker stones, spirit houses, anthropomorphic eidola, and fetishes all have their proper place in traditional pagan worship and spirituality.
Most Druidic Pagans may wish to use small images, idols or tokens of the God that is worked with in any given rite. We will begin by opening awareness to the Earth Mother and the Gatekeeper. You may wish to begin by finding shrine images that speak to you for a regular place on your shrine.

The Work of InvocationSo we find in these methods a formula for the practice of invocation. We begin with the conception of the deity, drawn from our understanding of the lore. From that conception we create or choose both a poetic hymn of praise and calling, and a visualized Threshold Eidolon of the deity. The rite is prepared with the proper offerings and natural things, used to create an atmosphere attractive to the spirit. If you have found the proper image or idol you might complete the calling down by grounding the presence of the spirit in the image.
In the ritual performance itself you will begin, perhaps, by offering a bit of the proper incense or oil or herb onto your Fire. Deepen your trance and compose an Inner Eidolon of the Deity. See it as though it were a perfect statue or image in your Inner Grove, though you need not rise into the Inner to do so. You can envision the image in the light of the Gate, as it were, above and within your material nemeton. As you complete the invocation you can see the Inner Eidolon wake to life. This is the first moment of audience with the Power. You behold the God and the God beholds you.
The receiving and drinking of the Blessing offers the opportunity for a special moment of union with the Deity. There are many ways to envision the power and presence of the Deity entering the Blessing. You might see the Blessing as a color, perhaps chosen by the omen. That color might flow from the Inner Image into your Vessel and from there into your body, suffusing your form. You might see the Image
reflected in the waters of the Vessel, then taken within physically, to be present in the body itself.
This is the second, and greater, moment of ‘audience’ with the deity. In a solitary ritual, perhaps focused on meeting and knowing a specific God, you should then take as much time as you wish to in contemplation of the presence. If you find yourself leading group High Day rituals it becomes your task to help this communion happen for the whole group. When you recite a final blessing in such a case the folk will truly be blessed.

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