Home > Spirituality > Multiplicity and the Spirit-Worker, Take II

Multiplicity and the Spirit-Worker, Take II

This is a follow-up to my original post on the issue. This was mainly brought about by a number of thoughtful questions that Dver brought up. Multiplicity is a huge issue, and not every group or system functions in quite the same manner. Rather than exhausting my time in reinventing the wheel and addressing every single subcategory and such, I’ll simply be writing from my perspective, as a spirit-worker and as someone who is a member of a multiple-system. For context, the original comments where I’m lifting Dver’s questions from can be found here.

Is this similar to concepts in therianthropy, and possibly also like people who are intersexed?

In the sense that there can be certain members who do not identify as the sex of the body, or who may identify as a therianthrope. In my own system, there are two who are female-to-male transgender, and the third who identifies as asexual and nongendered/null/neuter. Since the three of us identify all as separate people, our experiences vary, as do our interactions with our physical body in which we share. We are not “multiple sides” so much as multiple people, each with our own attendant multiple sides, or facets.
(Though then again, some would argue that, depending on the situation, being intersexed or being a therianthrope isn’t a facet, but an integral part of who you are! I know that, although I’m very androgynous, I am all male, and there’s no other facet of me that’s anything else–but that’s probably a side-tangent!)

Do you feel that it is a spectrum, from those who might feel somewhat distinct personas within themselves but not necessarily identify as multiple, to those who are absolutely autonomous entities occupying one body – or is the former situation not really the same thing?

I’m not ruling out the idea that personas can become autonomous over time, so I suppose it can be a spectrum in that sense. I don’t think that one automatically leads into the other in every case. I’d say the former situation overall isn’t really the same thing. For example, in our case–each of us, as people, have our own “personas” and moods and other such things, just like everyone else. But they’re not separate people. We wear them like masks to get by and cope with certain situations and things, but it’s really the same thing that everyone does. For example, the you at work isn’t always the same as the you out partying with friends, and so on and so forth. The same goes for those of us here. We have our “work-masks” and our “out-with-friends” masks (and yes, most of our local friends do know, and have known for years, and interact with each of us in turn as individuals and such). But it’s not the same thing. It’s not a separate person, just a persona or mask that’s worn to adapt to a certain situation. But we don’t wear the same “work-mask” for example, each has their own, just like mine wouldn’t be the same as my supervisor’s. Am I making sense?

If I understand you, you’re saying it’s *not* a situation of there being one core or original, human personality, and perhaps some others that are more like spirits that permanently possess that body simultaneously?

Yes, you’ve pretty much got it. At least, that’s how it is in my particular, ah, “living situation”. To add a little more clarity, myself and my twin brother were born together within this body. This isn’t an unheard of condition–we’d be called a “natural multiple” in this case. Then we picked up a walk-in on the way, who permanently established himself in here. Essentially, he grounded himself within the body on a permanent basis. We do have others that hop in and hop out, they are equivalent to our friends and family, and they always remain very close. They also interact with a select few other folk here, through our body.

To explain it in metaphor, it’s like having three admins on a protected network of sorts, while certain others having established “user accounts” they can log into and make use of if needed. We definitely don’t do an “open door” policy sort of thing–these fellows we’ve been working and dealing with for years and we’ve developed a real close relationship. Interestingly, this phenomenon isn’t unheard of–Mircea Eliade documented numerous instances of shamans and other spirit-worker types with spirit-spouses, families, and many other different types of relationships–some of which interacted with the physical world by use of the shaman’s body.

I think there is a big reason why some spirits and entities, namely Gods and greater beings like certain Elemental spirits and such, cannot be horsed (or channeled, borrowing the newage term) on a permanent basis. And well, I’m probably stating the bloody obvious here, but anyway. This is mainly because, well, they are so much bigger than us. Any horse will tell you that channeling a deity can and will fry your brain. Same could be said for varying other situations where people have such close interactions with these great entities, many of which have consciousnesses which are far greater, or even alien, than our brains can fathom or meatware can even process (I think it’s one of the reasons why “shamanism” and “insanity” tend to walk hand-in-hand at times).

Anyway, thank you again for your questions, and I hope I managed to address them properly. I’m always open to thoughtful and intelligent discussion on this. I know some people have approached me curious about my life in a multiple-system, and were worried about asking questions which may be offensive. Please put your thoughts at rest on this, I’d be more offended if people didn’t ask and simply assumed certain things about me and those other folk I share a mind and body with, than those who ask out of genuine desire to learn more and expand their knowledge base. There is quite a lot that is assumed and stigmatized about multiplicity, and I think the only way to dispel those myths is intelligent, honest discourse. Thanks again to those that ask and give me that opportunity.

  1. May 13, 2011 at 12:29 am

    This is going to sound incredibly insensitive, possibly, given how long we’ve interacted via LJ, and our mutual friend in Paleo… But I had no idea you were a multiple. I am, as well. I tend to use the “soulbonding” terminology rather than the multiplicity terminology, just because I came across it first and most of my bonds are “fictional” characters (both insourced and outsourced). But I have been a multiple for as long as I can remember – and yes, it does factor GREATLY into my spirituality and my practices as a shaman.

    I’m also a dire wolf therianthrope, which I think you knew. When I say “I”, I’m referring to the primary inhabitant of this body – Tyger. There’s never been a question in my, or any of my bond’s minds, that I am the primary. My fiance is, in some ways, in a polyamorous relationship – with me, and with many of my bonds who are also in love with her. She actually met them first, which is an interesting twist in our story.

    However, learning that you too are multiple, it… feels like a strange sort of validation for me. I’m not the only shaman who lives with this condition and with people popping in and out of my head sometimes on a daily basis.

    Again, thank you SO very much for this post, and the previous one (I have no idea how I missed it before, but I’ve read it now!). It’s been very… validating.

  2. May 13, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Thank you for taking the time to answer these! Very interesting. Really clarifies things to understand that each person within also has their own sides to their persona, just like anyone does – rather than being semi-autonomous but somewhat one-dimensional facets of a main personality, which is how it often comes across when reading about DID, for instance (whether that’s accurate or not for DID, I don’t know).

    Speaking of which… how do “transitions” work for you? E.g., in DID, usually a person will transition between their personalities, often involuntarily (like as a stress response, for instance), in a very obvious way. In cases of full (but not permanent) possession/horsing, it’s usually deliberate and in any case very dramatic. Are you (all) in control of who “fronts”? Can you make that transition at will? Or am I using the wrong terminology all together, and you (plural) simultaneously use your body? Are you all conscious and experiencing the material world at all times?

    Hope this isn’t too many questions – it’s not to be nosy, but more because I am fascinated at how this fits into concepts of self, soul, and possessionary work.

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