Working with Ordeal

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Forums -> Misc Topics -> Working with Ordeal

Working with Ordeal
Post # 1
The Ordeal Path is most likely one of the most 'scary' paths out of the vast array there is to an outsider, and those who do not practice it or have an understanding of ordeal work.

Ordeal work utilizes the emotions that usually provide a negative image: fear, lack of comfort, agony, distress and torment for the many purposes of which we will explore: cleansing, inducing and returning from altered states of consciousness, to offer to or honor to some spirits or deities, or perhaps even to break down mental or emotional barriers within the self.

The idea of ordeal, with it's conscious use of pain and blood and mess can be immensely triggering and frightening to those who aren't familiar with its actual nature. It's easy to react, to speak and write about things without having any actual knowledge or first-hand experience. It's easy to demonize that which is so obviously ''other.'' It?s far more difficult and takes far more courage to engage with those practicing these techniques honestly, directly, and without the burden of inaccurate preconceptions. More people should try it. We might actually find the dialogue fruitful for both sides.

To some, it can appear truly terrifying, especially with the culture of modern times, of which many people see pain and suffering as something to be averted at any possible chance.

I definitely wouldn't recommend ordeal work for the less magically developed or faint-hearted, and even those who are more skilled need to take care and precaution.

To elaborate more on the reasons behind ordeal work:

1) Many deities perceive sacrifice of the self as respectful or as showing honor and dedication, often involving blood as mentioned in a previous forum post of mine, bloodletting, which I will link at the end of this article (blood is very personal). It also allows the deities to access some of our innermost states. Stereotypically, this seems to be more relative to 'darker' members of pantheons.

The pain is what enables one to do the work. It readies you, marks you (in a way others can see), trains you like nothing else. Pain breaks down our barriers of fear, shame, attachment, ego, hubris, and a thousand other things. It opens us to the immense compassion that the deities have to give. Not everyone is meant to go this route. There are other equally valuable and sacred paths, but for those who are meant to walk the ordeal road, it is an immense investment of time and trust on the part of the various entities we work with.

Ordeals can take many forms; a pain ordeal is what most people think of, but any sufficiently potent experience can be an Ordeal. Even an experience which might be seen as entirely positive for the majority of people can be an Ordeal for a specific individual. Ordeal work proper is about creating a kind of controlled trauma. You choose to undergo something that is beyond your normal capacity to bear, in the interests of breaking down the walls of the self so that you can 'blossom' spiritually.

2) Ordeal work can also help us pass what is called 'shaman sickness'. A member called Personified did an absolutely outstanding post on shaman sickness and what it is about within Northern cultures, in which I will also link at the end of the article.

To describe ordeal work within shaman sickness, I will quote from a site I found while researching ordeal, written by Raven Kaldera, a practicioner of Northern Shamanism.

''When one is literally spiritually dying in order to be reborn again, usually with a physical illness of some kind along with it, a pain ordeal that brings one temporarily closer to that moment of spiritual Death can hasten the period of shaman sickness. It won't make it go away entirely, and despite what some people say you can't do a series of ordeals instead of going through any shaman sickness in order to get to the same point. It is true that some would-be shamans have, in the past, subjected themselves to terrible ordeals that mimic the effects of shaman sickness in order to get the attention of the Spirits and be chosen by them, but once the Spirits have noticed them, it is assumed that they will trigger the actual shaman sickness, and these ordeals are just a preliminary. However, repeated ordeals (with the aid of the Gods and wights that one works with) during shaman sickness can move its course along more vividly, and get the suffering shaman out the other end quicker and perhaps with more of their health intact.''

3) Altered states of consciousness through ordeal- how this one works is quite simple, so I won't go into too much detail. When pain (not always causing injury) is implemented toward the body in a correct fashion, chemicals inside the body, such as endorphins, adrenaline, etc can cause trance states often seen within ASC. This method and those similar have been around for years.

4) Cleansing of the self, whether it be emotional barriers, mental barriers or something as simple as the removal of negative energy. Sometimes it takes an ordeal to get out particularly stubborn aspects of the self that we feel we need to break through.

This can also be a good way to bring a clarity of the mind, almost as if symbolically removing toxins from the self. Of course, there are many other methods that do not involve pain or suffering; and in no way am I suggesting self harm for any purpose other than an occult related focus.

5) Raising energy: you may have heard of something called the 'Path of the Flesh', which is similar to this- however, the Path of the Flesh tends to use sexual energy, whereas ordeal work uses energy from pain. Each uses different sensations in order to attain this energy.

From what I have found, the energy found by ordeal work seems to have a particular pattern in sense - it is strong, fiery, direct and a can be a little too coarse and harsh for more benign purposes, due to this it may be a good idea to plan beforehand accordingly; it can fit well in certain rituals or practices however may not suit others.

6) Lastly in my post, ordeal work can be of use when it comes to feelings of power and courage, and can be preformed as a rite in order to gain aforementioned feelings. Everyone sometimes feels sad, weak, disabled or powerless and may need to remember their own strength, whether mental, emotional or physical within and power through enduring tests and trials within their life or facing their fears.

When someone has been through suffering and they have lived to tell the tale, they may have encountered borders of their own ability and strength that they were unaware that they could endure and tolerate, there appears to be more strength and power available for them to access and utilize.




Shaman Sickness;
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Re: Working with Ordeal
Post # 2
In addition, please excuse any typos I may have made in this post. I was typing a little too quickly for my own good. :P
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Re: Working with Ordeal
By: / Knowledgeable
Post # 3

Great post! thank you for sharing. I've done a little bit of ordeal work, plan on doing more after reading this.

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Re: Working with Ordeal
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 4

Definitely adore this post and all the information you provided. I know you and I have shared personal experience on working with the Ordeal Path- but I think it's good to share it with the public as well. It serves the purpose of clearing up any misconception or unneeded fear about the path in and of itself. Like you said, for people who have little dealings with/understand of the Ordeal Path it looks like one of the scarier paths. But I think a lot of the time they imagine it blown out of proportion and don't consider the entire path, instead they get fixated on the pain aspect or the blood aspect.

Just like blood offerings, ordeal work is very personal and very much an enlightening experience for the person using it to either reach the desired altered state or use the energy as an offering. You described it as "controlled trauma" which I like! I think people automatically assume that ordeal means blood and sharp pointy objects. In reality, the goal of Ordeal Work is actually non-injurious pain .Severe amounts of pain are not desired, because that would be counter-productive and distract the worker from the ultimate goal. The amount of pain needed is only as much as that specific person needs to stimulate their body. As everyone has a different pain threshold, some people might require a little more stimulation than others.

However, keep in mind that ordeal work also deals in offerings that use fear, the dark and being blindfolded in an unknown situation, unexpected surprises, being put in an uncomfortable or awkward situation, being yelled at (this is actually a tradition practice, believe it or not! They used to "scold" a person, which literally means screaming at them and otherwise altering their awareness through the stimulation of their body, adrenal glands, etc), or simply endurance! Climbing a tall mountain, trance-dancing for a long period of time, working out or pushing yourself physically is also considered a branch of ordeal work. And this type of work is just as important and powerful as the painful and bloody aspect! So it's not all pins and needles.

Of course, there are some branches of ordeal work that are a little more intense, and this is what people generally find to be "scary": cutting, branding, flogging, bruising, tattooing, scarification, whipping, cutting, piercing, etc. However, not all of these are often used and it is important to note the dangers with using some of these. Safety is a must! Rubbing alcohol, sterilized equipment, someone with medical training, etc should be used. A person doing these types of workings should be skilled and practiced in them. There isn't some special book or six-week program you can go through to learn the processes and safety techniques required in something like this. It has to be learned from experience. I never suggest doing this type of intense ordeal work unless you are in the presence of someone with proper medical training.

I totally agree with all of the reasons you gave for why a person would use Ordeal Work, and I think you did a fantastic job of summarizing this whole thing in a productive and positive manner. I'd say that your first point really hits home especially for certain practices and cultures. Ordeal Work is very traditional and honored work in the Northern tradition. This is because a lot of the main deities have gone through ordeal work themselves, and so symbolically we act this out as a form of dedication and devotion to those deities. From the Northern tradition alone there are quite a handful:Odin himself went through several ordeal trials: hanging himself on the tree and suffering to learn the runes, Odin who tore his own eye out for knowledge from Mimir. Frey who teaches self sacrifice and willingly goes to die for fertility. Loki, who has constantly suffered on his path through various means. Fenris and Tyr, who both underwent bloody trials to gain something. There are many, many more deities and stories of the sufferings they underwent in order to achieve something. I imagine from your own experience and practice you could point out deities who have done similar things.

You quoted Raven K, so I will quote him as well to point out something:

"Of course, just because a deity goes through a sacred mythic ordeal, willing or unwilling, does not mean that everyone who works with that deity ought to do the same. This Path is not for everyone, or even for most people, and that's as it should be. On the other hand, if an ordeal is necessary, there is greater power in linking that ordeal ritual to the paths blazed by the bloody footprints of a God in pain, if only by doing it in their honor. Linking it in this way draws divine power into it, gives it greater depth, and can take you much further than going there alone." (Raven)

All in all, this is a fantastic article and I am super excited to see this topic brought into the public so that people can better understand what this type of work is, why it is done, and how it is done. I think it will clear up a lot of misconceptions about the people who do this work as well. So thank you for writing such a thing, and doing it so well! You seem to know a lot about it and you know I wouldn't mind swapping more personal experiences with you. :) Awesome work, Aph.

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Re: Working with Ordeal
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 5
This is a great post. Thanks for the share. This gives broader understandings and possibilities of working with the ordeal path.
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Re: Working with Ordeal
Post # 6
Thank you all for the praise! :)

Thank you for the contribution as well, extra information and sharing a little about your culture at the same time, Person. I definitely agree the ordeal work is blown out of proportion nowadays and people do fixate on the pain and blood aspects of it, distracting them from the true purpose.

Again, my many thanks for everyone's praise! I appreciate it and would love to see this topic being 'brought out of the dark' so to speak.

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Re: Working with Ordeal
Post # 7
I just got a question via mail that might answer any thoughts:

''Are the 6 purposes for ordeal the only purposes that ordeal work can be used for?''

No. There are many more- however in this post I listed what I would consider to be the main, more common reasons.
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Re: Working with Ordeal
Post # 8
This is an awesome post thank you, I am going to try this with some Egyptian deities and also for the self cleansing, very well written, well done =]
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Re: Working with Ordeal
Post # 9
Glad you liked it, thank you! I would be curious as to know how you get on.
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Re: Working with Ordeal
Post # 10
I will definitely let you know =]
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