Oracles are Wingdings

22 Sep

Wingdings – Happy Birthday by ~MidnightSurprise

Alternative title: The Nature of a Trance
Alternative title #2: Trancework Will Make You Its Bitch

I recently read a post by Tess Dawson about Cradling Oracles. In this post, she suggests a number of actions to be taken when working with oracles, visions and dreams. Above all, the message seems to be that in order to be able to experience the “kiss of inspiration” that an oracle brings, you must be clean and gentle.

After reading the post, I mulled over how it is I interact with oracles and visions and I came to the following conclusion: I don’t really think that oracles, visions and dreams are something you cradle. They cradle you (to put it nicely or poetically).

To be more accurate, they drown you and suck you in. You feel the wave of the vision rushing towards you, and before you can even think to run away you’re dragging in under the tide. They take you and claim you as their own.They hit you like a tidal wave and take the breath out of you. Once you finally finish and are able to resurface to get a gasp of air into your lungs, you’ll find that they burn like fire because you’ve succumbed to the water for so long, you forget what air feels like.

And once you’ve finally got some of your sense back to you, you’ll be left wallowing or basking in the feeling of the whole thing, dumbstruck and wondering what the hell you just experienced.

In short, visions are not something you control. While its true that some vision work will allow you minor control (starting or stopping the vision, rewinding the vision, possibly the ability to move around in the vision space), you shouldn’t go into them expecting to control them – if you’ve even got enough of your wits about you to even consider control once you’ve fallen into the oracular crack pit. So much of vision work involves a loss of control, and many of the methods behind seeking out visions (or receiving them) involves you not really being yourself or overly present anymore. The whole point is to let your brain go so that you can take visions in.

It is quite literally like falling into an ocean and hoping that you can get what you need out of the ocean before you run out of breath.

Hell, in Japanese tradition, oracles are so taxing and consuming that you need a second person present to question the person channeling the kami in particular. It’s taxing to take this amount of information into your brain all at once. And considering that the imagery is often very traumatic or mind blowing, it can leave you feeling spent for days after the fact.

Not to mention that many visions and oracles are in another language. I call Osiris Mr. Wingdings for a reason- he speaks in visions and symbols. He speaks in a language that I can’t read- and most visions are the same way. You fall in, receive a host of symbols and gestures and hope to the gods you can piece it all together once you’re done. It’s not clear cut, and there is a lot of room for interpretation.

And unlike interpreting runes or tarot cards, reading animal entrails, or interpreting the flight patterns of birds- all of which are forms of interpreting omens, one does not usually consciously interpret an oracle (or get a choice in experiencing an oracular session or vision). Oracles and visions are direct communication with the spirit world and are not something one can control and observe from a safe distance. The word “oracle” comes from the Latin verb ōrāre, “to speak,” and refers to a person in an altered state delivering cryptic prophecy, often “possessed with the voice” of a God. When one is delivering an oracle, the God or spirit has seized the individual and is forcing the message through that person, whether they’re ready for it or not, whether they understand it or not.

Or to put it succinctly, reading omens are like having a god sit in front of you and tell you XYZ. Delivering an oracle or experiencing a vision or trance is like having the deity barf those ideas onto your head and down your windpipe.

And this really does follow along the lines of another idea I’ve been mulling over lately. You see, when it comes to Pagandom or polytheism at large, it seems that everyone thinks in two categories. You’ve got people who are laypeople and people who are priests or clergy. But I feel like this discussion about oracles and vision questers and astral travelers really hits home for me that there is a third category of people that we need to discuss.

These are the people who mingle in between priesthood and laity. They are the folks who are close to the gods because they’re sat and talked with them, been drowned by them, and been led on crack-infested adventures via visions and dreams. To use a Kemetic metaphor, I would expect these people to be the ones whom people would consult for assistance with problems and remedies. They weren’t the purified priests who spent their days in front of kar shrines and offering tables. These were the people who lived on the edge of town, and in between day to day tasks, they would get led off into no-man’s land by various spirits.

By modern terms, these folks might considered shamans, mediums, or something similar. I know that most people who fall into this category classify it as “woo folks”.

But these people are the people who live in the mire that is visions and oracles. They speak and breath in oracular visions and dreams of crack laden donkeys. These are the folks who pay the price to get the visions – not necessarily out of choice, but because sometimes your head is broken open.

These people don’t cradle an oracle. We know that cleansing and purifying before a vision questing session is a futile effort because we know that getting to the meat of such a beast is a dirty job. Perhaps the method for a priest is different when attaining these things, but to speak in such absolutes as the OP did (in my opinion) gives this unrecognized third category no credit to the work that it does (and has done in the past).

Interacting with the spirit world is messy business. Even if you start out clean, you’re going to end up dirty. And in my experience, you don’t hold onto anything in the process of watching a vision, you get laid out barren by the entities at hand who are showing you these things. You’re reduced to a passive watcher who has no choice to be take note of the images playing across your vision.

If anything, I think that the advice to be given to folks who deal in oracular visions isn’t that you should “cradle” the vision- oh no. That’s about as effective as cradling a cactus. The vision is its own living entity and much like a god, it doesn’t need cradling. Instead, I offer this as an alternative:

Cradle yourself.

Learn to take care of yourself, because gods know that this line of work is going to do its damndest to chew you up and spit you out. Instead of worrying about the oracle’s needs- consider your own. Build up your own network of entities and people that can assist you so that when the next batch of visions and prophecies beat you upside the head, you have the means to come back from it alive and not in a million pieces.


Posted by on September 22, 2013 in Astral, Crack, Hypnosis & Inner Work, Rambles


Tags: , , , , , , ,

14 responses to “Oracles are Wingdings

  1. briarrose44

    September 22, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    In what I do I have minor control–I can pause what I’m seeing or rewind and watch it again, but no more than that. I’m wondering if this vision questing stuff is worth it, seeing so many posts about the price to pay (though nothing has been asked of me yet). But I’ve gotten sucked into the cycle of mirrors so what choice do I have?

    • von186

      September 22, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      Sometimes you don’t have a choice, sadly. I have finally come to terms that I think its worth it- for me. Though I completely understand if its not worth it for other people. It’s definitely a difficult position to be put in :<

  2. Beth

    September 22, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    This is so very true. I tried for many years to fit myself into the priestess category, only to have it driven home to me repeatedly that I am, in fact, the witch who lives at the edge of the woods and talks to shadows. I don’t lead group rites, but I’m here, and when people really need my help, they find me.

  3. Beth

    September 22, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    Reblogged this on Wytch of the North and commented:
    True words on the nature of trance work, oracles, and seership. It is not a gentle or pretty process, folks–not in my experience (7 years and counting now) with seidhr, anyway…

  4. moonfire2012

    September 22, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Reblogged this on Tried by Fire and commented:
    When I think of the random spontaneous visions that have been thrown at me, this makes sense. It’s even scarier when the visions come true, like the one I had before going to bed of the burning house. The best analogy I can come up with to compare it to is waking dreams.You’re awake, and yet this VIVID vision superimposes itself right over your own eyeballs, and it’s scary and fascinating as hell. I’m glad the waking visions don’t come that often, because it’s a shock to your system and the writer is damn right when saying “Take care of yourself.”

  5. naiadis

    September 22, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    This is an awesome, awesome post. I’m involved in oracular work (though, I thank the gods that I’m not the seer, just a humble warder and space-holder) and, yeah, this is pretty spot on in my experiences.

    I too like the distinction of the third category, between laity and priesthood, though I suspect a number of people fluctuate between the two, or the three, or more, during their lives. I don’t know where the idea that one has to be a priest to be a real pagan has come from, but I don’t much like it, and I rather wish we didn’t have it.

  6. shezep

    September 22, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    We might not have any certified academic proof that this was how it was done back then, but such people certainly do exist now! I’ll just be over here with my crack donkey and my house cleaning and my errand running and my amulet making. 🙂

  7. rlbfitzy

    September 22, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    It amuses, baffles, and even irks me at times at this notion that everyone within the “pagan” and “polytheism” communities need to be a priest or priestess….There are a whole host of roles that people tend to miss out when they blind themselves to them when all they see and feel this entitlement to be in such a position because its something that’s been sort of engrained into them by others.

    While I have participated in such a role when it comes to rituals in the past, and Gods be willing hope to do so at least one more time in the future as its a beautiful thing to serve one’s community in one sense, I find great fullfillment in this fluid “second” catagory atat times….Something that is a slight mirror and hold over from a past life. There are so many roles needed in the spiritual community and I think many are missing out or worse feeling like they don’t belong because of what they have been engrained into them by others.

    Though I don’t like the term “Woohoo.” as it raises my hakles for some reason. I find that I tend to be caught in a middle ground of sorts at times: Too simular to “woohoo-ness” for some of my more recon friends and fellow practioniers, and too “non-woohoo-ness” for some of my friends who could be considered “woohoo-y”

    • von186

      September 22, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      I’ve never seen the term “woohoo” used, only “woo”. I’ve written on it in the past, and continue to use the word because currently, no such better label for the category exists- which is largely why, while I brought up a third category- I didn’t label or name it, because I don’t know what else I would call it at this point. I know the term woo gets a lot of people’s hackles up, but until there is a better term, I dont’ know what else to use.
      But I can relate being stuck in the middle sometimes. :3

  8. rlbfitzy

    September 22, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    Reblogged this on Country Road and Maple Leaves and commented:
    Sometimes trance work can be quite “gentle” but most of the time, especially when you weren’t the one who chose to go into the trance in the first place, it hits you hard and completely overwelms you with the only real way of riding it out is through good solid training and practice; with too many ways of mucking it up or harming yourself for not doing it properly or having the right mindset when it sweeps over you.

    While I have had some good experiences so far with such estatic and visionary practices, I have also experienced rough moments that left me groggy and weak without any energy for a while afterwards….As I’ve written about briefly before.

  9. Jiniri

    September 23, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Oh, man… All of this.

    Incidentally, thank you for recognizing that there are people that exist in the middle. More often than not, I suspect, its not a chosen place to be, and it can be pretty damn lonely.

    • von186

      September 23, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      Yes, I would agree. Esp since most people in the third category don’t really fit nicely into either of hte other two categories.
      I hope to expand on the necessity of more labels and/or categories in the future. I hope that it catches on and we can begin to acknowledge these overlooked parts of polytheism/paganism.


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