CHAPTER 4: CONTEMPORARY STORIES OF SPIRIT MARRIAGE
We share our planet with many other species and beings--both seen and unseen--from the bacteria that live at some of the smallest units of measurable life to the celestial forces and powers that shape our solar system. These “invisibles”--although most often unseen, unheard, and untouched--have long been held by many spiritual traditions as integral to human development, and on occasion they are believed to make themselves known and available to the worthy individual. The wisdom traditions of our planet have long held the practice of spirit marriage to be a powerful means for the cultivation of extraordinary powers, acceleration of evolutionary development, and progression of humanity. These practices are esoteric and often shrouded in mystery cults and shamanistic initiations.
The calling to a spirit marriage comes in many ways and affects each individual differently. As such, the procedure and journey vary from person to person. Whereas one person may have self-medicated to shut out this extraordinary experience, another may have been encouraged to seek this union from an early age. Each person’s path to spirit marriage is unique.
This is why I believe it’s important to openly share our stories of extraordinary intimate spiritual contact, so that we may frankly discuss what appears to be a thriving practice amongst a not-insignificant portion of the population. To that end, in this section I’ve chosen to highlight the individual experience of those who have participated in a spirit marriage, rather than just give you an overview of the practices. I call this form of extraordinary, experiential storytelling normalizing the paranormal.
In the following pages are first-hand testimonials of spirit marriage practitioners whose marriages are an integral part of their spiritual practice. Front and center to their experience is the fact that most of these practitioners sit outside the scope of mainstream religion. They are witches, shamans, mambos, seers, tantrics, and more--all situated within a variety of edge-walking spiritualities. Their stories contribute to and elucidate on the contemporary practice of spirit marriage as a potential means for spiritual growth, personal development, and planetary evolution.
These present-day practitioners of spirit marriage have been trained and initiated into a form of ongoing relationship with an entity and they illustrate the power and vitality of engaging in intimacy with the Otherworld. These interviewees, in many ways, are sharing intimate and, for some, never before revealed details of a form of spirituality that might raise a few eyebrows in more traditional religious circles. So I encourage you to set aside any distaste you may feel about the edgier content in their stories, and give them the respect and honor one would give any holy person--for this is who they are: mystics, visionaries, and ministers in their respective traditions who hold spiritual power and religious influence. Nothing less than that was required of me.
For example, as I sat with each practitioner and collected their story, I was changed in ways that I am in awe of and deeply humbled by to this day. With each interview it was as if an extrasensory energy had been introduced into my nervous system. I left feeling expanded, altered, and sometimes as though my psyche had been in some way reconfigured. It quickly became clear that the interviews were more than just a process for data collection. I was encountering extraordinary beings who were now part of my constellation of spirit contacts.
Frankly, I was wholly unprepared for the intensity of that experience. Stepping into dialogue with the spirit spouses of my interviewees was consciousness-changing. My sensitivity became heightened to extraordinary ways of knowing, to perceiving subtle changes in the natural world, and to the nuances of emotion and thought in others. Many things in my life began to shift and reconfigure. My health, relationships, and career all underwent significant upheaval. The interviews I collected became more than just stories of a spirit spouse relationship. They became a kind of psycho-spiritual attunement and recalibration of my own mind, body, and spirit. Collecting the interviews altered me and affected how I interacted with beings in both the seen and unseen worlds.
It is my hope that by reading this book you may also experience some degree of that recalibration yourself. There is a mystery here. Perhaps you’ve experienced something like it before? You’re reading a book and suddenly your perspective shifts, the intelligence of the book takes you under its wing and opens new vistas of possibility, new portals of awareness. Non-ordinary beings are talented like that. They have a way of attuning us sometimes simply by our becoming aware of them.
It is my hope that the practitioners’ stories below will weave with my own to offer an illuminating and transformative experience for you. I have communicated--with great respect and honor--the stories of these sacred relationships that have been entrusted to me. In doing so, I am following the long-standing tradition of Earth-based spiritualities. By telling a story, a series of stories, I hope to illuminate both the unity and diversity within which we undertake intimacy with more-than-human consciousness. I see my role of scribe and coresearcher as a bequest from the spirit of this book to bring greater tolerance and diversity into the discussion of Earth-based spiritual traditions and subaltern spiritualities.
This is but an overview of how much variety and also how much similarity may exist among traditions that may have never been exposed to each other heretofore, ultimately giving these traditions and their practice of spirit marriage a common voice with which to share their message with the world. It is my hope that as a result of this work, spirit marriage practitioners--and those who feel called to undertake a spirit marriage--develop a greater understanding of their calling and a vision for how better to support others who walk this path. I hope they cultivate resources and form alliances with others who have similar experiences but are in different traditions, thereby feeling more supported and understood in a realm that can sometimes be isolating and confusing. It is also my hope that this book will stand as an exhortation towards more awareness and tolerance of oppressed spiritualities.
Ultimately, it is my fervent hope that this book will broaden our understanding of what it looks like to live with integrity in a world populated with extraordinary beings that extend far beyond the current anthropocentric worldview. In reading it you may find yourself opened to the possibility that perhaps humanity has had help from interceding entities from the very beginning of civilization, and that perhaps we continue to be guided and loved by these beings today. It is to this end that I hope this research will stimulate a discussion of how and where the continued practice of spirit marriage may take us collectively as a species and as a planet.
Telling Our Stories
Grounded in my own story and initiation into this practice, I have collected and compared the personal stories of ten practitioners of spirit marriage in the traditions of Haitian Vodou, New Orleans Voodoo, an African Traditional religion, Faery Seership, Witchcraft, Hermetic Magick, and Shakta Tantra. My goal was to learn more about the practices and experiences associated with spirit marriage and to determine commonalities, variations, purpose, and desirable outcomes among the practices and practitioners. I invited each person to go “on the record” with their story or to maintain anonymity. Two decided to go public, the rest have been given pseudonyms.
I chose to use a method of collection called organic inquiry, which involves the tools of narrative interviews, autoethnography, and feminist and indigenous praxis. Organic inquiry honors the sacredness of the researcher, participants--whom organic inquiry designates as coresearchers--and subject matter, and acknowledges the potential for transpersonal forces to guide the research. I consider the coresearchers to be both the human beings interviewed and their spirit spouses, who were involved in the interviews by nature of the dual consciousness believed to be held by those participating in a spirit marriage. I also adopted organic inquiry because the phenomenon of spirit marriage is reported to take place primarily in an altered state of consciousness, via intuitive and somatic means.
I asked my coresearchers open-ended questions in a conversational manner designed to help me understand the following: What is the purpose of this practice? Who is called to this path, and why? Why is it predominantly a subaltern practice? What are the benefits? What are the cautions? The guiding question of each interview was always: “How do contemporary practitioners of spirit marriage experience their relationship with an otherworldly being?”
Organic inquiry also allows for the idea that the innate intelligence of the research--the spirit-being that guides the research, what I refer to as my research daimon--would speak through the researcher. Through this method a co-creative story is told--a story of firsthand experience and knowledge of this practice from both the perspectives of the embodied human being and the spirit-being.