Aspecting in the Reclaiming Tradition
Sage is a Reclaiming teacher from British Columbia who learned aspecting with Reclaiming and related traditions. RQ interviewed her for our theme section.
What is aspecting?
Aspecting is a technique which allows participants to experience the presence of a quality, being or deity in an embodied, physically manifest way.
In some ways, aspecting is an enhancement of invocation.* When we invoke, we call energies into the circle, and so into ourselves. Aspecting takes this "calling in" further. When we aspect, we are inviting the energy to use our human abilities (sight, speech, movement, etc.) to communicate and interact.
Aspecting is a way to learn more about the quality we are exploring, or to deepen our relationship with the being in aspect. When a goddess or god is present "in aspect," we explore our relationship to this being, its impact on our lives and the ways that we ourselves carry this energy. Inviting one of the Mysterious Ones (deity) to come to us through aspecting is a wonderful opportunity to receive blessings and guidance and to offer our gratititude through celebration.
Aspecting does not necessarily have to be a public event. I would recommend that you invite someone to support you in the work, as a scribe and/or "wrangler" (see below). But aspecting doesn't necessarily require a large number of ritual participants to be powerful and transformative magic.
How important is knowledge about the deity?
It's important to have a point of connection with whatever you are choosing to aspect. That may or may not mean historical or literary research-type knowledge. Once it is clear that I am "called" to aspect a particular being I might do formal research. And I certainly will do psychic research to build on the connection, negotiate the parameters and clarify with the Mysterious One the intention of the working and why I request their presence.
Aspecting is itself a great way to gather knowledge and build relationship with beings, qualities and deities.
How do you prepare to aspect in a ritual?
First, I make sure I thoroughly understand the intention of the ritual and the purpose of the aspect. I want to know what "tasks" the Mysterious One will be asked to perform — for example: welcome people, tell a story, guide a transition, witness, etc.
I spend time doing my own centering and clearing practice. I want to be as clear and open a channel as I can be. Then, I connect with the quality I will be aspecting and explain the working and what we'd like from "them." I negotiate how much will be me and how much will be the aspect (this is determined in large part by the intention of the work and my relationship with the being that I will aspect).
I like to have a "wrangler" — a person who checks in and supports me, during and after the ritual. I make sure my wrangler knows the plan, has information about the being we're working with and understands what I might need from them when the work is completed.
I will often have a shawl, a cloak or some other item that holds the energy of the Mysterious One. Putting this on helps me to go into aspect.
Afterward, it can be useful to have a familiar object (for example, a watch or a pendant) that the wrangler returns to me to assist my coming out of aspect. Taking off the shawl or cloak also helps me to return to myself.
After I've aspected I need a little time away from people. I need food and I definitely need a cup of strong tea!
How can people look into aspecting?
If you have access to teachers and priest/esses who you feel do powerful, sane and healthy work, take their classes or ask for their assistance.
Work with a partner, a wrangler who can offer reality checks. Ideally this person is someone you trust to have your best interests at heart, and also trust to be honest in their feedback.
Remember that the basic tools — grounding, centering, nurturing your inner "truth detector" — are the most powerful allies in magical work.
Be honest with yourself. If you struggle to move in and out of trance, if you can't actually feel energy, if you want attention or power, if you're afraid to say "no," it may not be the right time for you to try aspecting. (See sidebar, next page, "Are you ready to try aspecting?")
What about power issues?
I've heard concerns about aspecting creating a separation between participants and deity — that the person in aspect is an intermediary and therefore interferes with other participants' direct contact with the sacred.
This is not a problem that I've experienced. I've certainly seen disappointing aspecting which feels like self-indulgence or ego tripping, but I've also been blessed with powerful and transformative experiences in ritual, times I have felt the presence of the Goddess in ways I'd never imagined possible — because a priestess was aspecting Her.
I think the key as a ritual participant is that I never give up my personal authority or discernment. I never sureneder my personal connection to the sacred, no matter what the ritual planners or facilitators choose to do.