Local Spirits Part 1: Intro
[Disclaimer: This is based on my experience and you may have different experiences and opinions.]
(Subsequent parts will be done in collaboration with @norcal-animist)
Local spirits, as I am defining them for the purpose of this post, are the spirits that are constantly around us, in the forests, on the beaches, in the schools, in the homes, etc.
When a human begins to practice magic or spirit work, the local spirits usually can take notice of this. Some may find it rude, some may not care, while some may want to “get in on the action” and not in a sexy way. Overall, however, it is useful to build respect with them so that you may learn about any local customs or rules that they may expect you to follow. For example, the land spirit by my parents’ house prohibits non-native spirits from interacting with the native ones. Now imagine if I didn’t know that rule and I brought in spirit companions who then went out and messed with the native species. Even if their meddling wasn’t malicious, the local spirits might not be very happy. This is especially important with companions that may need to hunt local spirits for food. This can also come into play when collecting tools from nature such as water or plants. The spirit of that body of water or the spirits that work with that plant might have specific rules surrounded how you can harvest it and they might resent you for breaking those rules even if you didn’t know.
But working with local spirits isn’t only about you not wanting to upset them, they can make great allies and friends. In my opinion, learning about and working with the environment around you when practicing magic is a very important skill to have. Local spirits usually know the environment pretty well and would be able to give you tips and maybe even hands-on help with your practice. They can also help you if you ever need extra protection. For example, imagine you’re walking down the sidewalk next to a lake when Zerg, the destroyer of worlds decides to attack you because he can. You’re outside of your safe zone and it’s hard to fight without your tools but luckily your friends with the eldritch abomination that is the lake spirit so she helps you fight him off. That’s actually not too far-fetched of an example but local spirits can help you in many other ways such as: warning you if danger is spotted, healing you, telling you what other local spirits might be dangerous, giving you tips on working with other species, etc. But you shouldn’t work with local spirits just because of what you can get out of each other. It’s entirely possible to strike up bona fide friendships with them that are just as strong as the bonds you make with spirit companions.
Meeting Local Spirits
[The following section will be assuming that the reader understands the importance of protection, knows how to create wards and the like, and has effectively employed them. Failure to create and upkeep sufficient protection when working with spirits can lead to the reader or anyone around the reader, humans and spirits alike, being harmed. This section will also assume that the reader has adequate knowledge for banishing and actively protecting themselves from a spirit that seeks to harm them. Basically, don’t attempt the following unless you feel like you have a sufficient mastery over protection and banishing. (By “sufficient mastery” I don’t mean elite pro, I mean that you’re at a level of proficiency where you feel comfortable and ready.)]
One of the biggest differences between local spirits and spirits from companion shops is that local spirits are usually a lot less interested in working with humans. In fact, some species or even single entities will want nothing to do with humans and they’ll make that very clear. Others may be averse or even aggressive at first only to warm up to the human with time. The important thing is that the human needs put in the time and effort to build respect with their spiritual neighbors. Respect can be built very simply by leaving out offerings for the local spirits and inviting them to enjoy them. In general, offerings of water, alcohol, incense, and bread can be used. This method can also be used if you want to connect with a certain type of spirit, say local bird spirits, you just would need an offering that suits them.
Parts 2 and 3 will go into detail about meeting and working with local animal and human ghosts, and nature and city/urban spirits. Check out this tag (x) for the other parts.