I’ve been thinking about doing a blog post on this subject for a while now, ever since one of the beta readers for my novel The Druid told me she couldn’t understand what was going on in a scene, specifically the one where Bellicus performs a ritual and “meets” a mythical hero.
There was another, similar scene in Song of the Centurion and, again, she told me I should take it out as it didn’t make sense to her. She didn’t know if Bellicus was dreaming, or imagining it all, or if it was really happening as it might in a fantasy novel like Lord of the Rings. I was surprised at these comments because I assumed everyone would know what was going on – you may not have any personal experience of performing rituals and conversing with astral beings, but you’ll have seen it in movies surely?
Many people report meeting entities during religious or spiritual moments, indeed, it seems to me that ANYONE praying to a god or saint or whatever is actively looking for such a union. Although perhaps for most people, if it did actually happen that “something” spoke to them either out loud or mentally, they’d assume they’d gone mad and write it off, like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol!
One of Christianity’s most famous events is Paul’s revelation on the road to Damascus where a light blinded him and he heard a voice speaking to him:
As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. – Acts 9
This wasn’t part of a ritual, but it’s clearly some unseen entity guiding Paul.
Similarly, the magician Aleister Crowley’s most sacred text, the Book of the Law, was supposedly dictated to him by a being calling itself Aiwass. Crowley claimed many experiences with similar discarnate entities during his lifetime as did some of his contemporaries such as SL McGregor Mathers of the Golden Dawn, pictured below in Egyptian costume for a ritual.
And, in more modern times you have someone like million-selling author Graham Hancock who claims to have met an entity he calls Mother Ayahuasca while under the influence of certain drugs. He’s been guided by this entity and says it’s made his life much better. This kind of shamanic altered state experience is well known from movies and fiction, where someone drinks a potion or eats magic mushrooms and finds themselves in a new reality.
Another over-used movie/book plot device is the pagan or satanic blood ritual that goes wrong and sees the unfortunate magician possessed by a demon. Of course there are real cases where people have been badly affected by “black” magic and gone crazy as a result, and even the modern day case where Slenderman, an internet invention, “told” two teenage girls to murder their friend.
I am not exactly a religious or even very spiritual person, but I have some slight experience communing with a “higher power” – in fact, if you’ve read my book Rise of the Wolf you’ll be familiar with the whole part where Robin and John travel to London and meet the king. Believe it or not, that was not “my” idea – it was given to me one day when I was sitting quietly in my bedroom, meditating.
Even more impressively, the outline of the plot for Lucia came to me in a flash of insight one day when I was walking outside. These were not moments where I felt like I was plotting things out in my head as I always do – these two occasions were different. It genuinely seemed like the ideas were imparted to me from somewhere outside my Self.
So, to me, communing with otherworldly beings seems quite straightforward, whether you regard such experiences as “real” or imagined. And, since Bellicus is a druid and his society’s channel to the gods, I did NOT take out the scenes where he goes into a trance and meets his astral companions for guidance. I have always been curious however, if more of my readers were confused by those sections. Were you? Share your opinion in the comments below or by using the CONTACT button, I would really love to know your thoughts on this!
As I wrote this the UK announced a lockdown. In these uncertain times I expect many of us will be seeking spiritual guidance and strength – I hope my books and my characters can bring you, and me, some solace, or at least a chance to simply escape the real world for a while.
No, I had no problem understanding what was going on, it seemed obvious to me that Bellicus was communing with his spirit guide, rather than it being a fantasy or dream.
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Thanks Nige, seems most people agree.