3 + LESSON: Wandering Presence + The Walker & the Worker
When we enter trance our consciousness contracts. This is the Watcher. We focus exclusively on the spirits of Self. Is that my voice? Is that what I sound like? Is this real or am I making this up? The Watcher is trance-induced self-consciousness.
If we go deeper into trance our consciousness expands. This is the Witness. We’re free to focus on any spirit that we can perceive, and we can perceive any spirit with which we share some degree of common identity. The Witness is trance-induced free-consciousness.
But, wandering consciousness is only half of the story. Consciousness has a counterpart: Presence.
In Phase Three, I shared a definition I received from one of my teachers, Orion Foxwood: Love is Conscious Presence.
[ 3.02.05 Love as Conscious Presence ] “If we look at the stories of our lives, we’ll find that we already knew love was not just a precious thing, but a force of nature…”
Just as consciousness has two unique trance states, the Watcher & the Witness, I’m going to offer names for two unique states of trance-presence: the Walker & the Worker.
But first: What is presence?
[ 3.02.05 Love as Conscious Presence ] “The word presence is from the Latin praesentia, which means: being at hand. It doesn’t mean we’re literally within arm’s reach. It means that our spirit has moved close to another spirit, such that we can be touched, inspired, moved, and affected by the other.”
Consciousness is more about knowledge and identity. While presence is more about contact and change.
[ 5.08.02 Wandering Consciousness + the Watcher & the Witness ] “Consciousness is very much related to Spirit…”
While Presence is more related to Soul.
Although, it’s a messy distinction. In each there is a drop of the other. Consciousness is primarily about spirit, but it is difficult if not impossible to purely observe without affecting what is observed and without being affected by what we observe; so there’s a bit of soul in consciousness. Presence is primarily about soul, but it’s often associated with vaguely identified feelings, sensations. There was a presence in the room. We aren’t sure what it is, but we’re identifying…something. In presence there’s a bit of spirit.
Like consciousness, presence can vary in intensity. When someone with a commanding presence enters the room, everyone feels the change and turns to look. (Remember Rita raising a finger and parting the crowd. Presence is connection.)
Like consciousness, presence can vary between our identities. Maybe my fashion sense lacks presence. Most folks don’t feel changed, challenged, or inspired by my stained, cat hair covered sweatshirts. Perhaps my voice has strong presence. Folks might tell me that my words touched them, resonated, or left an impression. These are descriptions of presence, of soul.
Like consciousness, our presence can vary from moment to moment. Imagine that you and I are sitting and having a cup of tea together. I’m listening to you intently, holding space, and there’s a closeness, a connection: presence. Then, something you say reminds me of my past and I suddenly feel far away. The sense of contact between us is gone. Maybe you break my trance:
“Ren! Where did you go?”
“Oh, sorry about that! I was just remembering this one time when…”
My presence returns, we re-connect.
In Phase Three we did a working where we flipped through a magazine feeling for spirit and soul in the pages. What we said there about feeling for soulfulness could have been more accurately described as feeling for presence.
[ 3.10.02 Soulful Symbols + Logo Listening ] “Does this image, logo, or text reach out and touch you? Does it make you feel anything? Does it feel like it’s trying to change or influence you? Or does it feel quiet, cold, or inert?”
The difference between Soul and Presence is that Soul is the aliveness within all beings and Presence is the aliveness within relationships between beings.
The same goes for Spirit and Consciousness. Spirit is the identity of a being and Consciousness is the identity-awareness within relationships between beings.
In short, consciousness and presence describe relationships. Conscious of who and to what degree? Present with who and to what degree?
So, now that we’re getting familiar with presence, let’s look at our first phase of trance-presence: the Walker.
Our first phase of trance brings us into relationship with our Self. The Walker is about self-presence. Just as the Watcher is about self-consciousness.
So, what does self-presence feel like?
Well, I just said that presence is the aliveness within the relationship between beings. So, self-presence is a relationship with myself that feels alive, vital, capable of change.
Of course, Self has many components. As we enter trance most of the time we’ll start by becoming present with our physical body, our Material Self. Then we may have a few waves where we become present with aspects of our Hidden Self.
To get a feel for the Walker, for self-presence, imagine rolling out of bed and taking a walk early in the morning somewhere you feel completely safe. No one else is around. You’re still a little sleepy. The rhythm of walking starts to induce trance. The first waves are self-presence. You’re focused on the sensation of your body moving through space, of the cool air coming into your lungs. You feel yourself coming alive; there’s something magical about it. You can feel how this early morning walk is changing things. Changing your state of consciousness, changing your feeling of vitality, maybe changing your destiny–how might your day have turned out differently without this purifying walk?
Your self-presence may be joined by self-consciousness, the Watcher joins the Walker: Why am I out of bed so early? Why are my hamstrings always so tight?
If the trance deepens, your Watcher-consciousness may contract further, focusing on the inner, hidden self instead of the physical self. Who am I? Am I imagining this? What does my spirit body look like, sound like, feel like?
Our Walker-presence, too, may shift from relationship with the body’s aliveness into relationship with our hidden aliveness. You touch a sense of your own power that extends beyond the physical realm.
[ 5.05.05 The Fourth Soul Key + The Blood & The Blessing ] “The Blaze becomes the Blossom when we identify with our Soul in the physical and the Otherworldly realms.”
Now the Walker and the Watcher are synchronizing, we are in a state of Self-Conscious-Presence. Self+Love. Am I? I am. Can I? I can.
Although this isn’t a rule, I find it interesting that many folks experience something kin to doubt with the Watcher (Am I? Can I?), and something kin to empowerment with the Walker (I am. I can.). In their union as Self+Love there is a reconciliation of these opposites.
So, moving on, we know that in trance the Watcher, our self-consciousness, may be followed by the Witness, our free-consciousness.
The same goes for presence. The Walker, our self-presence, may be followed by the Worker, our free-presence.
The word work is from Proto-Indo-European werg meaning to do. Work is what we do, our craft, our labor, our occupation. Generally, work is soulful. It is creation or facilitation of change. So, in trance, the Worker, our free-presence, is our capacity to do things in the Hidden Realms—to create, to touch, to influence, to make change.
To get a feel for the Worker, for free-presence, think about the trance you might enter as a concert pianist. You sit down at the keys and at first you feel like the sole source of aliveness in a quiet room. The audience sits in anticipation. You feel the energy as your fingers move over the keys. You’re self-present, the Walker. Then, as the music fills the air, it comes to life. You and the song are two distinct spirits, but your aliveness and the song’s aliveness are as one. This is the Worker. You are creating the song and the song is creating you. Some in the audience will close their eyes in order to focus on the feeling, in order to join in the communal soul of the concert. You, the pianist, are moved by the audience’s intensity. How you play is influenced by their presence. Everyone is dissolving into the shared experience. Every spirit in the room contributing its presence. Like a beehive, the place is humming with energy. And you are all simply worker bees, sharing in the hum. Influencing and allowing influence. Changing and being changed.
At this point your free-presence may be joined by free-consciousness; the Witness may join the Worker. You might start to have visions of the song as a landscape or a personified spirit. You might feel like the music is a conversation, but even though you’ve played this song a thousand times, the conversation feels new. The connection is a transcendent agony, tears of insight, your consciousness and presence touching Depths and Heights.
[ 5.05.05 The Fourth Soul Key + The Blood & The Blessing ] “The Blossom becomes the Blade when, in the physical and Otherworldly realms, we identify the edge of our Soul.”
[ 5.02.06 The Third Soul Key + the Blade ] “…blade comes from an Old Norse word, blað, which means the leaf of an herb or plant. We still speak of a blade of grass, yes? Leaves are like the fingertips of a plant, and the Blade is like the fingertips of the Soul. Its touch can be soft as sage or hard as holly.”
If we grasp the Blade and identify with our Soul’s edge, that means we can be conscious of what our soul is touching.
[ 3.08.07 Baneful Magic: The Maker is Made ] “The toucher is touched.”
And, of course, conscious of what is touching us. When we grasp the Blade, the Worker and the Witness synchronize, and we can enter a state of Free-Conscious-Presence. Free love, free spirits! Possibly the hippiest thing I’ve ever said in this course. And that’s saying something.
But, I don’t mean free love as in love for everyone, I mean the capacity to choose who and what we love, where we focus our conscious presence.
Thinking back on some of the workings that you’ve done in this course, do you feel like you’ve experienced free-consciousness? How about free-presence? Have you ever felt both at the same time?
When we worked with the Book of Shadows, for example, connecting through consciousness might’ve allowed you to perceive details about the book’s form or nature. Maybe the book gave you some good ideas. Connecting to the Book through presence would’ve allowed you to touch the Book and influence it with your touch. For instance, opening the book requires presence. And, once it was open, could you feel the Book touching you, influencing you?
Most of us live in a very consciousness-oriented society, so it’s not unusual for folks to feel primarily like they’re imagining their spiritworkings (the Witness) with waves of doubt about the reality of it all (the Watcher). However, we are certainly in a community with plenty of folks who identify as empathic, some of whom may be primarily presence-oriented. They’re very connected to their feelings (the Walker) and after spiritworkings will often be confident that something happened. They could feel the contact, the energetic exchange (the Worker). The spirit was really there. They just didn’t get a good look at it, didn’t hear a clear name, and don’t know what it means.
[ 3.11.04 They Opened the Door + the Soul Keys ] “If we do not connect soul to soul, then we connect with the spirit in stasis. We connect to a frozen moment. Connecting only in spirit, versus connecting spirit and soul is like the difference between looking at a photo of the ocean and standing on the shore.”
Likewise, connecting only in soul-presence and not in spirit-consciousness is like standing on the shore and seeing, hearing, and feeling everything, without being able to identify any of it? Was that sound a bird or a wave? Am I on the sand or in the water? I don’t even know what water is, but I’m feeling something powerful!
Moving forward, after spiritworkings, take some time to reflect upon the mix of consciousness and presence that you experienced. Our long-term goal is not the ability to open the consciousness and presence floodgates whenever we enter trance. The goal is freedom, the ability to modify the mixture as needed depending on what we’re working, where we’re working, who we’re working with, and so on.
Elderhood is a time for reflection in service of refining our work and the many ways we connect with other spirits.