Transition States in Non-Humans: What Happens when Man initiates the Gods?
We already know that transition states lead to re-presentation of the initiate. What isn’t as readily discussed is the effect ritual has on the deity. After all, ritual is an interaction. In the past, the deity has enjoyed a central place in this interaction. As Bastaire & Bastaire have remarked, non-humans had a central place in theology, in spirituality, in rituals, and of course in art which they have almost totally lost. Nowadays, a crisis of representation has nearly left the deity completely out of the ritual equation. Uncertainty about adequate means to interact with these non-humans has led many religious systems to forget their presence entirely. The ritual may be performed without god even in mind. When the process becomes mindless, re-presentation doesn’t occur and the ritual fails.
Moreover, ritual interactions are the most successful when both the ritual specialist and the non-human connect personally. I don’t mean pure anthropomorphism although the deity may take on human or animal qualia. I refer to a metaphysics of presence that functions as an ontological foundation. This gift of presence is consciousness. And it is this presence, this re-presentation that forms part of the paradigms that make up social reality. Until now, we have viewed the present crisis of representation as one distinctive, alternate swing of the pendulum between periods in which paradigms, or totalizing theories, are relatively secure, and periods in which paradigms lose their legitimacy and authority-when theoretical concerns shift to problems of interpretation of the details of a reality that eludes the ability of dominant paradigms to describe it, let alone explain it.
We have conjured a reality where non-humans exist but lack any ontological ethos. We are quick to assert that god exists but ascribe no autonomous status to the concept. Our interactions with non-humans are without any interaction at all. Yet it is us that provide meaning to the deity. We imbue it with qualities and characteristics and even a personality. We give it presence and in so doing, renew its importance in reality. The same concept is used by quantum physicists to describe the position and momentum of particles in the universe. These postulated entities are defined and given meaning through the techniques used to measure them. Like deities, they wait on us to give them an ontological situation.
And we have many ideas as to what makes up the qualities of our deities. Some cultures say that god resides in caves, others in forests; for many, god is in the sky while others suggest underground. And still others would persuade us that god is a form of consciousness while their counterparts argue for an entity outside of the human universe. The prevailing thought is that either god is out there or in-here. We call this relationship transcendence and immanence.
Transcendence refers to our deities as being outside of human influence. God then, is beyond anything that is other than god. This form of thought is indicative of monotheistic religions. However, polytheistic and ‘nature-religions’ also experience moments of grace or enlightenment characteristic of transcendence. A transcendence deity is beyond thought, ‘above’ physical things and apart from the world we live in. In the Kantian sense, transcendent means beyond all the forms and categories of experience and knowledge: space and time, as well as quantity (unity, plurality, or universality), quality (reality, negation, or limitation), relation (substantiality, causality, or reciprocity), or modality (possibility, actuality, or necessity). All these things are the preconditions or presuppositions of human experience and thought. Hence to imagine creation (causality) and creator (first cause) of the universe is only to project the categories of human experience and reason beyond their field.
On the other hand, Immanence refers to the divinity being near or within. In eastern orthodoxy, it is hypostases or energies of god. Immanence finds god in this life and in the world around us. According to Joseph Campbell, the immanence of god is in the faces, personalities, loves, and lives all around us, in our friends, or enemies, and ourselves.Furthermore, immanence takes place in the mind and is entirely subjective. Perhaps the best way to understand the immanence of god is in its experiential qualities. When we experience the divine or what if feels like to be the deity.
One is also reminded of the subject object relationship in philosophy. The subjective immanence seems to sit in stark contrast to the transcendent object until we realize that a unitive experiential understanding of the divine dissolves any distinction between immanence and transcendence. Spetnak remarks that what is emerging now is the nondualistic understanding of immanent and transcendent long seen as opposites in western cultural history, transcendence is coming to be understood as “beyond” but not “above” the material plane we can see in everyday life. Our minds will never be able to map the endless networks of what I call “relational reality”, so spirituality that seeks to commune with either immanence or transcendence now sees that they are no apart. This realization is not new to eastern philosophy or indigenous cultures, of course; we were simply late coming to it in the modern west because of our dualistic and mechanistic worldview. Understanding god as both immanent and transcendent was also proposed by Plotinus when he asserted that “we should not speak of seeing, but instead of seen and seer, speak boldly of a simple unity for in this seeing we neither distinguish nor are their two”. And also by Flemish alchemist Theobald de Highelande when he says that “this science transmits its work by mixing the false with the true and the true with the false, sometimes very briefly, at other times in a most prolix manner, without order and quite often in the reverse order; and it endeavors to transmit the work obscurely, and to hide it as much as possible”.  We understand then that the deity and what it feels like to be the deity are one in the same. Just as the object and subject, seer and seen, even god and man enjoy a unitive relationship, we can expect that a rite of passage would effect the deity equally as much as the neophyte.
It’s hard for many to accept this basic occult principle. The tendency is to see god outside of ourselves or as something greater than us. We grant him extraordinary powers and omniscience. We are taught that man is flawed or wicked and must be separated from god. At least for now. And this separation is the definition of hell. Our dualistic frame of mind places us, by default, in an experience of eternal punishment by refusing to acknowledge the one-ness or at-one-ment of god and man.
This wasn’t always the case. Scotus Erigena discussed divine ignorance in the 1800s when he stated that there is yet another kind of ignorance of god, inasmuch as he may be said not to know what things he foreknows and predestines until they have appeared experientially in the course of created events.  Just as the initiate must undergo experientially the rite of passage that confers a new state of consciousness, so too the deity must wait until events play out in order to know what the ritual accomplished. Erigena goes on to say that there is another kind of divine ignorance, in that god may be said to be ignorant of things not yet made manifest in their effects through experience of their action and operation; of which, nevertheless, he holds the invisible courses in himself, by himself created, and to himself known. Just as man has nascent potentialities that must be unlocked via ritual, so too the deity is ignorant of things not yet made manifest. A rite of passage must unveil or bring to light aspects of himself.
Furthermore, sometimes the rite of passage involves man awakening nascent potentialities in the deity. Carl Jung one stated that, “For the alchemist the one primarily in need of redemption is not man, but the deity who is lost and sleeping in matter only as a secondary consideration does he hope that some benefit may accrue to himself from the transformed substance as the panacea, the medicina catholica, just as it may to the imperfect bodies, the base or “sick” metals, etc… His attention is not directed to his own salvation through god’s grace, but to the liberation of god from the darkness of matter”. 
Here man acts as initiator to the deity. Object and subject although unitive are also autonomous entities that reveal parts of the whole to the other. It is a paradox. Object- subject immanence-transcendence, man-god are both unitive and separate. They are mutually exclusive yet inseparable.
This classic example of religious of religious paradox is best seen in the idea of light in darkness and darkness in light. When consciousness becomes unitive or objectless, we are left with a consciousness not of anything. It is a pure or “cosmic-consciousness”. There is nothing empirical in this state of mind. Unitive consciousness is both something and nothing. Sometimes it is described as there and not-there. Merleau-Ponty has remarked that this state of being is experienced not from the depths of nothingness but from the midst of itself.
Religions have many names and describe “cosmic-consciousness” in a myriad of ways. Christians identify it with god. The bible calls it a “desert” or “wilderness”. Dionysius the Areopagite stated that god is “the dazzling obscurity which outshines all brilliance with the intensity of its darkness”. Buddhism also recognized this paradox by labeling it the void. The Tibetan Book of the Dead speaks of “the clear light of the void.” It is the darkness of god. It is called darkness because all physical distinctions disappear. It is the same as the Indian Brahman and identical to the Atman. Object-subject distinctions simply dissolve. Therefore, we can’t say that there is a light in the darkness because there would then be no paradox. The light is the darkness and the darkness is the light.
Philosophers have also identified with unitive experience brought about by a metaphysics of presence. Schopenhaur called it the ‘Will’. He stated that,
“Up to now, the concept Will has been subsumed under the concept force; but I am using it just the opposite way, and mean that every force in nature is to be understood as a function of Will. For at the back of the concept force there is finally our visual knowledge of the objective world, i.e. of some phenomenon, something seen. It is from this that the concept of force derives…whereas the concept Will, on the contrary, is the one, among all possible concepts, that does not derive from the observation of phenomenon, not from mere visual knowledge, but comes from inside, emerges from the immediate consciousness of each of us: not as a form, not even in terms of the subject-object relationship, but as that which he himself is; for here the knower and the known are the same.”
The Will then, is without empirical content. It is pure “cosmic” unitive experience. This is not a new or radical concept. It is simply experiential. Our metaphysics of presence is one in which personhood is granted to the deity. In other words, there is not one deity in the mind and one in the physical world. As Neils Bohr once remarked in terms of the Quantum, “Theorizing should be an embodied practice, rather than a spectator sport of matching linguistic representations to preexisting things”.  When we unite object-subject, we unite matter and meaning and man and deity.
That’s not to say that the deity is solely a part of man. Again, they are mutually exclusive yet inseparable. When we experience the deity, we experience a corporeal or bodily component to experience. At the same time, the object(body) gives us access to subjective or numinous experience. And in this state, we cannot articulate the experience because we are embodied by the deity. You could say we are possessed. Mystics are used to this idea. As Stace remarks, “the mystic, of course, expresses thoughts about his experience after the experience is over, and he remembers it when he is back again in his sensory-intellectual consciousness. But there are no thoughts in the experience itself”.Philsopher Merleau-Ponty also states that “He who sees cannot possess the visible unless he is possessed by it, unless he is of it”. Those who possess the numinous cannot see it because they are, at that second, part of it. They are experiencing the unitive.
This is exactly what is occurring as man and deity undergo the rite of passage. But there is once crucial difference. Whereas man embodies the unitive and experiences subjectively what it feels like to be the deity, the deity itself is re-embodied. While man is transcendent and immanent undergoing a change of consciousness, the corresponding deity is also unitive yet because of their inherent divinity being renewed through the ritual. Anthropologist Arnold Van Gennep identified three stages to the rite of passage. First, the initiate is separated from his or her group. This separation is also one in which they abandon their previous social niche and head into the unknown. This unknown is a state of liminality. Here the initiate is betwixt and between or without any social status at all. It is during rites of liminality that the initiations actually occur. The rite then culminates with the neophyte being reintegrated into society. They return a new person with a new social role and identity.
The deity also experiences a rite of passage as the initiate undergoes a change of consciousness. During the ROP, the deity is sent into a liminal state and is also betwixt and between. However, this liminality is unitive or at-one-ment. The deity cannot transcend or enlighten because they are already transcended; they are already enlightened. There is nothing for the deity to become for the deity has already become. The ROP is a renewal of the numinous. In it, the deity is ‘made anew’ or ‘re-embodied.
Furthermore, a deity is both a determinate and self-determining. As well as being able to decide their own course of action or fate, the deity is also a fixed or distinct symbol. For example, the goddess Demeter is a mother to Persephone, daughter of Cronos & Rhea, and part of the triple goddess manifestation. She is spatially identified with Greece and the Telesterion; she is temporally identified with the Thesmophoria and the festival of Chthonia. But Demeter is also a mystery. She is the goddess of the harvest and responsible for the frigid winter months. When she is renewed or re-embodied through a rite of passage, the harvest is also renewed. Her determinate qualities are inherent and a part of her, and they too become re-embodied through the ritual. In this way, man’s transformation that occurs as part of the ROP also acts as a renewing agent for the harvest and agriculture. Moreover, as his state of consciousness changes, man renews not only the transcendent qualities of the goddess but his own immanent determinate symbols.
Discussing non-human characteristics has many more implications than just anthropomorphism. As Latour has remarked, “Non-humans have not been emerging for aeons just to serve as so many props to show the mastery, intelligence, and design capacities of humans or their divine creations. They have their own intelligence, their own cunning, their own design, and plenty of transcendence to go on, that is, to reproduce”.Although many nonhumans do have human-like qualities or tendencies, they are autonomous entities that have their own trajectory and hold their own agency. Attributing only anthropomorphism to deity production is like trying to play a three-note guitar chord with only two strings. Although there is a familiarity with the sound, something is missing. This something in terms of nonhumans is evolutionary and experiential. It’s essential to understand how our deities can be changed when we interact with them.
 Bastaire & Bastaire 2004
 George E. Marcus and Michael M.J. Fischer, ed. Anthropology as Cultural Critique: An Experimental Moment In The Humans Sciences. 2nd edition. University of Chicago Press. 1999. Chicago.
 Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Creative Mythology. Penguin Arcana. 1968. New York.
 Ibid pp 578
 Spretnak 2011
 Plotinus reference
 Theobalde de Highelande reference
 Scotus Erigena 1838. 594c.
 Ibid 596c.
 Carl Jung, Psychology and Alchemy. Trans. by R.F.C. Hull, Bollingen Series XX, vol. 12. Pantheon Books. New York, 1968.
 Merleau-Ponty 1968. pp 113
 Schopenhaur, Die welt als Wille und Vorstellung, II 21; Samtliche Werke, Vol. 2 pp 152-153
 K. Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham, NC. Duke University Press. 2007.
 Walter T. Stace, “Subjectivity, Objectivity and the Self”, Religion For A New Generation 2nd edition. Ed. Jacob Needleman, A.K. Bierman, and James A. Gould. Macmillan Publishing Co. New York. 1977.
 Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible. A. Lingin Trans. Evanston. Northwestern University Press. Pp134. 1968.
 Bruno Latour, “Will Nonhumans be saved? An Argument in Ecotheology.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. (N.S.) 15. pp 459-475. 2009.