Mortal Possession

Table of Contents

Because of the rules the gods have to follow while in the mortal realm, they are limited in the ways in which they can interact with it. The main rule is to not let loose their power and destroy big chunks of the realm or big numbers of people. In order to follow the rules but still have fun, the gods have to act indirectly.   The first solution is to talk to their mortal followers and tell them what to do. Unfortunately, mortals are both stupid and have this annoying thing called self-determination. And if you burn them all to a crisp or drown them in punishment, this does not make their corpses more obedient. Thus, when the task needs a more delicate handling, gods will take matters into their own hands. This is done thanks to possession.  


Gods choose their mortal vessels with care. You will never see them⁠—or at least admitting to their presence⁠—in a not aesthetically pleasing body. They will also always prefer nobles, so that they can be given the respect they think they are due, even when not proclaiming their presence to everyone. Their favourite will always be the priests leading their own Church, such as the Church of the water god or the Church of the forging god.   To possess a mortal, gods take an immaterial form and superpose themselves with the mortal's body. They then shift their form so as to take hold of the body with their magic and inhabit it. Because of their power, a god's will always supersede that of a mortal, allowing them to move the body around without problems. Mortals stay perfectly aware of what's going on and what their body is doing, and they cannot escape into unconsciousness.


Mortals do not feel the emotions or thoughts of the god possessing them, but the gods are aware of everything going on in the mortal's mind at the time of possession. Unsurprisingly, it is very easy to anger the god by thinking something inappropriate. Even less surprising, few mortals survive their first possession. One need to have a very particular mindset in order to stay forever grateful for the god's presence, or excellent training in the control of their thoughts over long period of time.   Another danger is that the gods have to be constantly in control of their powers while inside their mortal vessels. This is very difficult to maintain over even an hour for most of them. If they slip a tiny bit, this never ends well for the mortals. While the gods certainly understand this basic fact, they tend to forget it every time they are roused up and attempt to use their full magical powers.   Beyond such drastic consequences, possession that lasts for too long leaves the mortals drained of energy afterwards, in some cases barely able to move for months. This is not because their body was damaged, but because it got used to working on a lot more energy and cannot cope anymore without it. Nevertheless, if they survive this first hurdle and recover, the mortals will then become very healthy and gain enhanced magic sensitivity and magic control. Most people let themselves be blinded by greed and think these rewards make it well worth the risks.
Worship of a god by grandfailure on DepositPhotos
Divine possession turning badly by grandfailure on DepositPhotos

Opinion from the archives

While not everyone can notice gods possessing mortal vessels, for people sensitive to magic, this does make a subtle glow similar to the Brand gods sometimes let on mortals they have touched. Gods can go through more or less effort to dim that glow, especially if they want to go undercover to do something twisted. Nevertheless, many gods do not really bother to do much beyond insuring that most commoners cannot see them and bother them.   For those of us able to notice their presence despite those efforts, the gods are everywhere and inescapable. This makes it even more obvious that our kingdoms and politics are nothing but a game for them and us their puppets. And even whatever illusions of control we have could be taken away from us at any moment...

Cover image: Divine possession turning badly by grandfailure on DepositPhotos


Author's Notes

Inspired by TJ Trewin's prompt "A harmless condition feared by many", except that I twisted it to be a dangerous conditions not feared by enough people XD

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2 Aug, 2022 14:31

I love your take on the prompt making vehicles out of mortals! It certainly doesn't sound fun being possessed by a god in your world. It makes me wonder how possession like this might work in my own -- if it's possible at all! Either way, fantastic article :)

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Amélie I. S. Debruyne
3 Aug, 2022 07:48

Thanks :D I wasn't enthusiastic about a vehicle prompt at first, but I got really inspired with twisting it to make possession fit XD The article is written from the POV of someone who doesn't like the gods, so she is very negative about it. I'm sure many of the most hardant followers of a god would think it a high honour to be possessed by them and would not struggle to much to only think respectful thoughts XD

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4 Aug, 2022 13:53

Wow, terrifying article! I like how it's written from the POV of someone who doesn't like the gods. How common are possessed mortals? I know it says that they are everywhere and inescapable, but I'm curious about *how* common they are xD

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Amélie I. S. Debruyne
4 Aug, 2022 20:30

Thanks!   And great question! I guess Cécile is exaggerating "slightly" when she says they are everywhere, because she's very annoyed at the situation. If you leave in the capital and frequent the court, you will probably see at least one on most days. If you're a commoner who is not rich and does not have an important job, you can probably avoid them apart from when you go to big festivals or public events.   As an archivist and a member of a noble family (even if from low nobility), Cécile sees them at least once a week I'd say. Which is already far too much for her XD

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4 Aug, 2022 14:41

It's such a fun take on the prompt and I really love the snarky tone you've adopted with this world. The author/MC is very clearly fed up with all this divine nonsense, and I'm here for it. :D Great article!   One thing I am wondering about the possession - is it forced? Does the mortal have a choice in the matter, or can a god just take over any mortal they chose? :O

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Amélie I. S. Debruyne
4 Aug, 2022 20:26

Thanks :D   The possession can be forced, but in those cases it requires more power and focus and so it's more easy for the god to slip up and kill the mortal. So the gods typically ask for "permission" - or at least announce their intention - and most mortals know better than to object.   The only one who really have a choice are the nobles as they gods are forbidden from possessing them unwillingly. And the royal family is untouchable from the moment the king/queen is elected to his/her death and a new king with a new royal family is chosen.

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9 Aug, 2022 01:00

I did not realize you had twisted the prompt slightly but I am a fan of your take on it! Your take on the divine is super interesting, it speaks to beings of immense power that suffer from all the worst of human foibles and the world can suffer for it.

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Amélie I. S. Debruyne
11 Aug, 2022 09:42

Thanks! Yes, the prompt is "slightly" twisted because I find most vehicles very uninspiring XD And yes, my gods are really not nice people regarding mortals and have a lot more in common with children throwing a tantrums than with rulers and advisers full of wisdom (which does not prevent them from presenting themselves that way XD)

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