4 + LESSON: The Weaver & the Divine Trance

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In our previous lesson we reviewed our trance-consciousness keys: the Watcher, self-consciousness, and the Witness, free-consciousness. I also introduced two new keys for trance-presence: the Walker, self-presence, and the Worker, free-presence.    

In most of our lessons, thus far, I’ve given the impression that these keys represent a kind of progression from the shallows of the mundane into the depths of trance. In this context, all depths are valid means any depth is valid. Wherever you’re at in the progression from shallow to deep, there are meaningful experiences to be had there.

But, all depths are valid can also refer to our ability to inhabit all depths simultaneously. Rather than progressing from Watcher to Witness and Walker to Worker, we can enter the free while retaining the self, we can be Watcher and Witness and Walker and Worker.

The ability to inhabit all depths of consciousness and presence simultaneously is essential for journeywork in the Outer Hidden Realms.

That may seem odd if you’re used to thinking of the Watcher’s self-consciousness and doubt as a hindrance to your work. You might imagine the goal is to enter the visions of the Witness, uninterrupted by questions about whether the experience is real or safe or good enough.

But, here’s the thing. If we journey into the Outer Hidden Realms, we may find places and meet spirits that aren’t safe, aren’t honest, and where that nagging fear that we aren’t good enough may be dead on. There are realms that will be way too much for us. And, if we can’t handle the heat, we need to get out of the kitchen. The Watcher is the part of us that asks: “Is it getting hot in here?”

I’ve mentioned before that the etymology of the word watcher is the Old English waeccan meaning to be awake. However, starting around the 1200s AD, watcher also came to mean vigilance and in the 1400s began to refer to keeping watch or standing guard, especially at night.

My point is, if we’re going to journey outside of the fenced pasture in our heart, then we need to keep watch—we need to keep our doubts and skepticism. In the Outer Realms, we want to be Watcher and Witness, we want to keep our self-consciousness while expanding into free-consciousness.

It’s pretty much the same for presence.

The Walker is self-presence. As the Walker, we feel self-confident and self-empowered. We’re tapped into our individual soul. Everything we do and say feels alive and real and strong. In the Inner Realm, this is usually fine. Our soul is the only game in town anyways.

But, if we’re dealing with spirits in the Outer Realm, Witnessing them while only feeling the power in ourselves, well, we might start thinking we’re the only star in the night sky. Ah! I’m the most powerful sorcerer in all of history! I can feel it! If you haven’t spent much time in community with occultists and magical folks, this might sound unlikely. If you have spent time in community with occultists and magical folks, you’re probably thinking, “Wow. That explains a lot of people I’ve met.” I know the popular thing to talk about right now is ego-death, but a pretty common result of strictly self-focused occult practice is unhealthy ego-inflation.

With that in mind, becoming the Worker, free-presence, may seem like the antidote to the ego-trip of the self-present Walker. The Worker connects into the soul all around us. We realize the night sky is full of stars, full of power. We are not the only one.

But, while dissolving into the sea of stars can be lovely, if we’re journeying in the Outer Hidden Realms, it is best to enter the communal soul while retaining our connection to our individual soul.

[ 5.02.03 Spiritual Cleansing Part I: Contaminants & Cords ] “In spiritwork the living relationships between spirits are commonly referred to as cords or ties.”

Our divine soul burns at our center; its name is change. But the personified soul can have all sorts of names and take on all kinds of shapes. That’s because the personified soul isn’t actually our soul. It’s a cord, meaning it’s the living spiritform of our relationship to our soul.

And, (to make it more confusing) when we took our first journey over the hedge, the personified soul took on the shape of an actual cord, a length of shiny rope connecting us to our soul+center.

[ 5.06.04 Riding the Hedge + A Friend in Deed ] “My personified Soul shifts and becomes a cord of light connecting me to the Blaze upon the altar. [ … ] It slithers through my hands and wraps itself around part of my body, attaching itself securely. [ … ] I speak out loud: I am the Walker.”

We might’ve thought that the statement in that working, I am the Walker, referred to the cord of light giving us the freedom to go forth and explore, to take a walk! But, now we know that the Walker is self-presence, it’s about being in touch with our own capacity for change. That is why wearing the cord of light makes us the Walker, because it means we’ve established a connection to our individual soul that will stay in place we journey.

Which brings us back to: why is it best to stay in touch with our individual soul when entering the communal soul? Why do we want to be Walker and Worker simultaneously?  

Well, we might’ve imagined that the cord of light was there primarily to keep us from getting lost and to keep our Hidden Self alive, since the soul is our aliveness. That’s the scuba diver metaphor for journeywork, and it’s a great place to start.

But, when we realize that we can tap into the aliveness of any place, then why do we need to stay connected to the aliveness in our Center? And, while getting lost is possible, is the cord really going to do something that breaking trance won’t do?

So, here’s the primary reason I choose to cord my Hidden Self when working in the Hidden Realms. Recall that:

[ 4.11.02 The Definition of Magical Will ] “Will emerges when our Soul empowers our Desire.”

When I am self-conscious, the Watcher, I can know my will.

When I am self-present, the Walker, I can feel my will.

Recall the Lantern of Desire that we’ve used in a few workings. Perceiving the illuminated path of our will is self-consciousness, feeling drawn to follow it is self-presence.

When I am freely-conscious, the Witness, I can know the will of the spirits around me, at least, I may be able to perceive the rough direction of their will, though I may not understand it.

When I am freely-present, the Worker, I feel the collective will of the spirits around me. And, because I can feel it, I can be changed by it. I can be drawn into it.

Now, as spiritworkers, ultimately, we want to do Worker stuff. We want to be in relationships with spirits that are soulful, moving, and transformational. But, in order for these relationships to be consensual, there has to be an alignment or conscious compromise as far as the direction of that transformation. If we are only the Worker, then we can only feel the collective will, so how could we know if what’s happening is going against our individual will? How can there be consent?

This is why we want to embody all of these states of conscious presence simultaneously when we’re doing outer realm work.

[ 0.07.10 The Lantern of Self-Knowledge ] “Do you know what was written on the temple gates at Delphi? [ … ] Know Yourself.”

And, know your will.

So, does this mean we always, ideally, should embody all four states of conscious presence simultaneously?

Nope. If you’re working in your Inner Realm, then the collective will of the realm and your individual divine will are one and the same. And, for that matter, all presence in the Inner Realm is kind of self-presence, so…

Another time you might opt to go cordless, or temporarily release your sense of Self, is when you know the direction of the collective will before immersing yourself in it. If we’re a concert pianist, per the example in the previous lesson, maybe losing ourselves in the collective will of the concert is fine. At a symphony the majority of the spirits are there out of a desire to share in the beauty of live music, so that’s what the collective soul empowers. Losing ourselves can be wonderful in the right time and place.

The thing about spiritwork journeys of the hedge-crossing and Outer Realm sort is that they’re full of surprises. That’s what makes them wonderful. And, that’s what make losing yourself during them very risky.

So, we keep our self while expanding into the free. The four states of trance unite and we are simultaneously, Watcher, Witness, Walker, and Worker. We might even have one foot out of trance in a state of pragmatic consciousness, vigilant of everything happening in and around our physical space.

One of the benefits of doing spiritwork face-to-face with other people is that we’ll naturally be inclined to stay more aware of ourselves and our surroundings while in trance. When we do dark mirror work alone in our bathroom, not so much.

Now, don’t you worry your pretty head for a second that I don’t have a fifth word that starts with W available for us to use when referring to the union of Watcher, Witness, Walker, and Worker. I call it the Weaver.

The trance key that I’m calling the Weaver arises when our self conscious-presence collaborates with our free conscious-presence. The Weaver is the divine trance state, the whole of all possible states, the sum of which is more than its parts. Perfect for Elderhood. 

So, a natural first question: what does the Weaver weave?

The Weaver weaves cords. Because repetition is helpful for learning:

[ 5.02.03 Spiritual Cleansing Part I: Contaminants & Cords ] “In spiritwork the living relationships between spirits are commonly referred to as cords or ties.”

So, the Weaver works with relationships.

Look at the room around you. How many spirits are there? How many of these spirits do you have a relationship with? How many of these spirits have relationships with each other? 

Instead of trying to know the answer, feel the answer. See with your weaving eyes. We are suspended in a dense, fractal web of living relationships. Feel how some of the threads are simple and delicate, like spiderweb. Some are handspun into patterns like tapestry. Some whisper as messages flow through them like fiber-optic cables. Some are thick and gnarled like roots or weathered like the ropes on a well-traveled boat. It is difficult to get a sense of scale. Some cords are tightly wound, like DNA, containing incredible amounts of information. Some look as fine as a strand of hair, singing when plucked like the strings on a harp, and upon hearing that note, we can hear the existence of a whole world inside that thread. Welcome to the multi-verse.

[ 5.02.03 Spiritual Cleansing Part I: Contaminants & Cords ] “A complex relationship forms a complex cord. The cords between us and our loved ones are less like threads and more like corridors or landscapes, great realms of memory and feelings. Imagine all of the different universes that exist between you and all of the folks you know. It’s a beautiful thing, this web of connectedness that we exist within.”

As the Weaver we are the tapestry-maker. Perhaps you have ancestors who made cloth of some kind? Think of the rhythmic, trance-inducing motion of the spinning wheel, or the click-clack of the shuttle in the loom, the tick-tick of knitting needles. The Weaver’s eyes are simultaneously on the smallest movements (gather, loop, knot, turn, cut) and on the big picture (intricate patterns, pictures, even stories emerging). It’s an art that takes many years of practice. It’s an art that requires focus. And, perfect for elderhood, it’s an art through which we can express love, like the blessings that go into a blanket made for baby.

As the Weaver we are also the spider. We spin with many hands and feel the vibrations that travel along the threads of relationship. We see with many eyes and cultivate a composite perspective.

[ 3.02.02 My Stories ] “Spiritwork is: acknowledging that we’re all blind-folded - we’re all interpreting reality through our imagination - so we should touch things as many ways as possible! Wow, this feels different when I come at it from another angle! It is through the composite of many perspectives that we may find something closer to the truth.”

Like the touch of the Dawning Folk, the spider’s web is a subtle thing, easily trampled by those without the eyes to see. But also, for such a delicate thing, how it haunts us. How spider, of all spirits, is something we know is around us all the time; a spirit that might drop on us at any second. In every dark, forgotten corner of our lives: there’s the spider. When we are in the Divine Trance, when we become the Spider, we, too become subtle in our influence and more than a little spooky. Folks observing the trance are likely to get that “somebody stepped on my grave” feeling, that feeling of being in the dark woods surrounded by eyes that see us far more clearly than we see ourselves.

As the Weaver we are kin to the Fates, those divine spirits found in some religions, who are thought to determine destiny. The Fates are said to spin our lives, to tangle and untangle our path, and to cut us loose in the end. We, too, in our Divine Trance can see patterns of consequence playing out across time and space. We, too, can influence the web, can weave chaos like the cob spider or order like the orb weaver. We, too, can tangle and untangle the lives of spirits around us. We, too, can cut ties, can cull, can make hard choices about our relationships and the patterns we allow to emerge in the tapestry of our lives.

Now, it might seem curious that I’d mention fate in a course that’s all about freedom and free will. So, let’s look at that next with an introduction to Fatework.