The following excerpt from Magical Living has implications for a proper understanding of both cognition – the nature of consciousness – and of comparative religion. From the point of view of comparative religion, the common denominator in most religions is channeling information and guidance from spirits. The form of this channeling may vary from place to place; and of course the spirits being invoked vary from religion to religion; but the basic technique of spirit communication and interaction is pretty much the same throughout the world.
For example, the Catholic mass is an invocation of Jesus and the Holy Spirit; and the Jewish Passover Seder includes an invocation of Elijah. It is because the form of spirit communication is mandated by the spirits involved themselves that religious ceremonies the world over tend to be very similar in their rituals: darkened rooms, candles and incense, repetitive litanies, etc. These techniques, which derive from shamanism, put participants in a light trance state to make them more receptive to the spirits’ messages. Trance channeling can be considered a temporary manifestation of spirit possession. Priesthood is an example of benign spirit possession: priests are able to perform magical operations (such as healing and casting out demons) because they can call upon the power of the spirits of their religion (Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, whomever) who possess them to assist them in these tasks.
From the point of view of consciousness, spirit possession is a fact which must be reckoned with in our calculations. Merely because the society we live in pretends that spirit possession doesn’t exist doesn’t mean that spirit possession doesn’t exist. As the essay Channeling Spirit Guides says, all we really are is a flux of thought forms (images, opinions, beliefs, and expectations learned from our parents and society) which is being urged this way and that by spirit forces. That is all we are. The sooner each of us as individuals wakes up to this fact, the sooner we can take command of our lives and destinies. That’s what the practice of magic is all about.