This post is a response to a post by Philosophadam on Occult Corpus. Adam, being the swell magus and awesome guy that he is ,( seriously check out his blog http://lightinextension.wordpress.com/) admitted his lack of experience with local spirits. What follows are my responses to his questions. I’m not sure how helpful my insights will be but hey, he got me thinking.
1. How do you go about contacting local spirits?
I live deep in the heart of Appalachia, West Virginia to be precise, and while this may first read like a cop-out its not. I simply say hi to them as I go about my day. These mountains are old. Oldest chain in this hemisphere and one of the oldest in the world. There is a constant presence of spirit here. Visitors to West Virginia often experience mixed reactions. During the day or in more urban areas most folks speak of feeling a comfortable feeling of home. The Earth hugs you here. You are cradled in nature, the fact many valleys feature curves similar to a fetal position is just one of those fun coincidences. At night or in the “hills” there can be a sense of primordial terror. The sheer number of horror films, set or shot in West Virginia are staggering. This land is old and the spirits are closer to the surface if you will. Summoning them is usually a matter of being polite and asking favors of them. I still protect myself. I may love my neighbors but I don’t trust them completely. Different value systems usually. This may sound like lazy magick, but the formal ” high church talk” is still used when manners would dictate. Think of it as the difference between the formal and informal “you” in Spanish.
Honestly, contacting the spirits is simply as simple as speaking to them. When I go out into the woods I know I’m not alone. Once you get past the sounds of civilization and out of your own head, the multitude of presences in the nature is stupefying. Sometimes being polite, present, and listening make the best spells.
2. How do you know when they are present? How do you recognize them?
The spirits are usually seen through natural events in my experiences. Numerous times when speaking with local spirits I’ll come across an animal or witness an out of place natural phenomenon. Common examples include; the wind changing temperature, animals quieting, the sounds of a nearby highway fade away. Occasionally I’ve called out to a spirit and had a deer, groundhogs, and foxes wander a few feet away from me. Yes, rationally I’m in the woods and these critters live there, but this where keeping track of your work becomes handy. I’ve taken note of several actual appearances and certain patterns appear. Example: During Solstice/Equinox rituals I call for local spirits to enjoy the celebration with me. Each time I’ve done this I’ve had a gathering of critters venture close. I don’t want to give you the idea that wild animals snuggle up with me like I’m some Disney Princess, but they do frequently show up during spirit calls.Sometimes I’ve had some very direct encounters. Figures which shimmer in the peripheral vision, moving objects deep in the forest, and the occasional human encounter deep in the woods. Combine all that with a strong feeling of presence and the “fog of spirit” and you might just have an spirit on your hands.
3. For what types of rituals do you call upon them?
Usually nothing more than calling out to them and making a simple offering. When I go into the woods I usually bring some coins, food, or a “shiny” to leave for the local spirits. Depending on how frequent I visit an area I will begin to speak to spirits with less and less ritual. When in the park by my house I stroll around with a nod and a howdy. Comparable to saying hi to a neighbor or a co-worker.
When approaching a spirit formally I tend to be more methodical in my work. I usually start by grounding/centering, I then cleanse the area and settle down to meditate. While meditating I often sing, hum, drum, or rattle. When/if something shows up I address it formally. I state my reasons for calling to the spirits ( I’ve never asked for a service, merely asked for conversation and some simple insight). When the conversation is done, I perform a banishing and leave another offering as a thank you. Lately the ritual format has been the following:
Before leaving the house/camp. :Ritual bath, relaxation ritual, walking meditation.
Once where the ritual will be done: Grounding exercise, LBRP, Adoration of the Lord of the Universe, meditation,offering, musical calling, conversation, divination, Adoration of the Lord of the Universe, LRBP, grounding walk.
4. What powers do they have? What can they do for us and what can we do for them?
Personally I don’t ask the spirits for any major services. My conversations with them have been more focused on getting to know and area and understanding it. If I do ask for something it is protection on my hike and to be seen as a guest rather than an intruder. Occasionally I’ve asked for aid in finding ingredients or materials for projects. If I do find what I need I leave an offering in its place. I’m uncomfortable with summoning spirits for anything other than practice and conversation at this point in my practice. So far I’ve simply used them to understand a place.
What can we do for spirits? Well in my experience respectful company is a great service. I wouldn’t suppose to place human emotions of spirits, but from my own experiences most of them enjoy being noticed. When I am able to I clean up. Outside of a few demands to leave or GET THE FUCK OUT NOW!!!, I’ve not had many requests made by spirits. Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but I’ve not made many demands and had few made on me.