What Does It Mean To Ride The Spirit?

Our bodies are temples. Traditional West African spiritualists believe that the body is a conduit that spirit guides use to communicate messages from the ancestral realm. How can we care for our bodies so that we can better hear that guidance?

What Does It Mean To Ride The Spirit?
Via Wikimedia Commons

The Bible tells us,  “your body is your temple.” Many Afro-Diasporic spiritualities regard the body as a spiritual site, too. 

Practitioners of Orisha believe one of the most effective ways to communicate with spirit guides is to sense or feel them with one’s body

This sensing is also known as spiritual possession. Spiritual possession was demonized by colonizers terrified of our ancestors’ spiritual powers and rituals. 

Spiritual possession is one way Orisha devotees speak to their guides.

When a devotee becomes possessed, they enter a semiconscious state as their mind and spirit open to receive the spirit. This process is sometimes called “riding,” as the spirit guide descends from the ancestral realm to mount the person they’re possessing. 

While being ridden, the possessed devotee’s appearance, mannerisms, pain tolerance, and even physical strength can change

The devotee becomes a temporary conduit, relaying messages from the spirit world to other practitioners, who are there to assist and ensure the devotee remains safe throughout their possession.

Spiritual possession reminds us of the importance of treating our bodies with care. Mindfulness practices like prayer, meditation, breath work, joyful movement, and rest help to regulate our nervous system

A regulated nervous system helps us to better listen to our bodies - our holy temples.

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