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Human Dynamics And Their Potential Impact Within The Ritual Setting

Within the ritual space or when taking on the role of Priestess we can all safely assume that at some point we may encounter a variety of psychological concepts first hand, either within participants or within ourselves.

Awareness and a willingness to self-reflect are key to managing these tricky or difficult sides of the human psyche.

So lets take a look at some of these psychological concepts that we may encounter.


What Is Projection?

Projection is a psychological defence mechanism which allows individuals to avoid uncomfortable or unacceptable attributes within themselves by “projecting” them onto another person.

In our every day lives we might see this in such examples:

A. A partner who is having an affair might accuse their partner of


B. Someone driving a car might abuse another driver for not

indicating as they themselves turn the corner without indicating

These examples seem very clear and straight forward, however often

the person who is projecting onto the other is unconscious of the fact

that they are doing it, the blind spot within their own behaviour is


However within a ritual space projections might be much subtler or

more difficult to identify.

Example of


Samantha has been asked to Priestess for a ritual for an event.

Within those that have gathered to participate is Janette who has also

been in the role of Priestess at this event previously but who has actually had less

experience in embodying the role of priestess throughout her life.

During the ritual Janette makes remarks about Samantha not

following correct protocols and speaks to others after the ritual about

how she felt Samantha was an inexperienced Priestess and that

someone else should have been placed in that role.

Janette’s inability to except her own growing edges and need for

more experience was too uncomfortable for her to acknowledge and

therefore projected these characteristics onto Samantha.


What is Ego Inflation?

Ego inflation is explained as the effect that expands the ego or

“conscious mind” enhancing one’s regard for oneself, leaving the

individual feeling more confident, superior or arrogant. During this

consciousness state it is normal for people to feel as though they are

more important, more intelligent and more capable than those

around them.

“An inflated consciousness is … incapable of learning from the past, incapable of

understanding contemporary events, and incapable of drawing right conclusions about the

future. It is hypnotised by itself and therefore cannot be argued with. It inevitably dooms

itself to calamities that must strike it dead. Paradoxically enough, inflation is a regression

of consciousness into unconsciousness. This always happens when consciousness takes too

many unconscious contents upon itself and loses the faculty of discrimination, the sine qua

non of all consciousness.”

JUNG - Psychology and Alchemy

Example of

Ego Inflation

Kate has been playing the role of the oracle within a monthly ritual,

within this role she allows herself to enter a trance state and speak as

the oracle. Over time as she embodies this archetypal energy, her

ego begins to become inflated and she starts to identify with the

oracle, forgetting who she is in her ordinary life and believing that she

is an oracle.

Kate then finds she is often channelling "messages" for people that

she works with, without their consent and within an inappropriate


She has lost touch with her actual self “Kate” and is no longer capable

of differentiating between her identity and the role she embodies in



What is Transference?

Transference is usually experienced within psychotherapy, where the

feelings the client had about their parents or primary care givers are

unconsciously transferred or redirected onto the therapist or current

situation. It usually involves emotions that were originally felt in


Transference can also occur in situations outside of therapy and may

be one explanation for certain relationship patterns in everyday life. It

can be positive or negative in nature and can also occur within the

ritual setting.

What is Counter-Transference?

Counter-transference also usually occurs in psychotherapeutic

setting and refers to when a therapist has an internal reaction

(either conscious or unconscious) to a client who is transferring onto

them based on the therapists own psychological needs.

Transference and Counter-Transference can occur within any

relationship, within group settings and also within the ritual setting.

Example of Transference &

Counter – Transference

Jennifer is a young person who attends monthly full moon rituals. The

ritual is facilitated by an older female Priestess called Isabella.

Jennifer offers to assist her getting up the hill because she reminds

her of her mother who passed away many years ago.

Jennifer reminds Isabella of a problematic student she once taught

when in a teaching role at a local high school. This student often

made dis-respectful remarks about her age and would frequently say

things like “Would someone help that old bird?” and the other

students would snigger behind her back.

When Jennifer offers to help Isabella, Isabella snaps at Jennifer “I’m

perfectly capable of walking on my own.” Jennifer is visible upset by

this and Isabella is irritated, however the two are not conscious of the

fact that they are involved in an example of Transference and



When humans gather, we gather with all of ourselves. We bring with us our "stuff". Imagine a suitcase full of all the experiences you've ever had, all the conversations, all the hurts, the successes, the joys. Now imagine that you are the Priestess for a ritual and 10 people are gathering to participate in it, bringing with them all their "stuff" too. It is only natural that every so often these human dynamics can often play out, either consciously or unconsciously. Having a sense of awareness around how you are showing up within the ritual space can help to minimise the impact of these potential risks. However you cannot be prepared sometimes for what others bring with them, nor indeed how you may react in some situations and sometimes seeking out a elder or more experienced Priestess for advice in these matters can be a vital tool in your own personal development as a Priestess.

Shelley Tansley


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