Somewhere along the way, humankind lost its connection to the spirit world. The majority of modern magical theory is based upon the magic as a science concept, with much less emphasis upon spirit work. This is likely born out of a mingling of the interest in presenting magic as a little-explored science, the schools of psychology that reduce the spirit world to nothing more then concepts and archetypes, and that the idea of genuine contact with spirits, daimons and deities actually frightens some folks, even those who profess to work with sorcery, witchcraft and magic.
It hasn’t always been this way however. Witches and sorcerers in antiquity frequently called upon the help of the spirit world for their magical workings. The Greek Magical Papyri, the name given to a large body of spells, rites and curses from Greco-Roman Egypt, contains a number of formulae for the conjuration of various deities and spirits, witches employed the familiar, a spirit that formed a symbiotic relationship with the witch, and elements of Hoodoo and Rootwork call upon the power of the Saints to intervene and lend their aid.
A World of Spirits
Spirits can be found anywhere in any place. The forests are filled with dryads, the sea with undines and the mountains with oreades. Graveyards are home to spirits of the dead, as are places where battles were once fought and lost. Your home may be a refuge for brownies or pixies and your garden houses spirits associated with plants. The spirits of your deceased loved ones may be close to you, especially on special dates, such as their birthdays or the date of their death.
Spirits also dwell in the Otherworld, one or more astral planes of existence, and may be called from there to receive an offering or make a bargain. Contrary to one popular belief amongst some magical practitioners, spirits mostly don’t object to being called from their dwelling place, if done so respectfully and made suitable offerings. The 17th century grimoire, The Lesser Key of Solomon, lists formula for evoking demons and angels and is still very much in use today. Magicians and sorcerers aren’t stupid, if something doesn’t work it’s soon abandoned. The popularity of the Key of Solomon is a testament to long and successful working relationship between magicians and spirits.
Working With Spirits
How does one work with spirits? If you are more ceremonially minded you can purchase a copy of the Lesser Key of Solomon, or the True Grimoire, or any number of reputable grimoires and follow the formulae for conjuring up the spirits listed. If you find trance and altered states of consciousness easier then you can engage in astral journeying and soul-flight to visit the spirits on their own ground.
Nature spirits can be approached in special places, though rarely on well-trodden paths. Go deep into the woods or find a sheltered cove, take offerings for the spirits that live there and make contact with them. Nymphai in particular seem to enjoy sweet things, like honey, mead and fruit. Other wights may prefer milk, beer, or bread and cake. You’ll soon get a feeling for what is acceptable to them. Don’t ask for anything initially, simply make your offers and sit, getting them used to your presence. If you receive a strong feeling of rejection, don’t force yourself upon the spirits. Respect their wishes and search for other spirits.
Ancestors are spirits with the most invested in us personally. We are of their blood and while there are always difficult family relationships, generally speaking ancestors have our best interests at heart. If you have a deceased loved one then set up a shrine in your home with photographs of him or her. Add candles, flowers and make offerings of their favourite food and drink. The dead want to be remembered and to be fed with attention and offerings. Make that connection and they can give you their help.