spirit of tradition

Spirit Houses

I haven’t seen any posts about it, so here goes.

We as people tend to dramatise spirits. (Especially Americans let’s not even lie, there’s a huge culture around occultism and ouija and all that shit that’s been blown out of proportions.)

“They’re all evil! They must be gone, exorcised, banished!” 

“DON’T PLAY OUIJA YOU’LL GET POSSESSED BY AN EVIL DEMON CREATURE.” 

The truth is, a lot spirits don’t even know or care that you’re there, they have a right to be there and were probably there before you. Possessions are really, really rare. Legit ones that is. 

However, minor hauntings, such as things being knocked over, spirits nicking things and putting them elsewhere, banging on walls and such aren’t really a threat, and more of an annoyance. So there’s no need to call the exorcist and put fear and negative energy into it (because the spirit feeds off your fear and only grows stronger.)

Trust me, if the haunting was really serious, it would be much more than banging or losing things.

So! How to deal with a minor haunting without getting your exorcist mallet out? The answer is simple: Build a spirit house. 

Offer the noisy or cheeky spirit a home. A space of their own that they keeps them occupied and content. 

There are tons of methods to build spirit houses, may it be in skulls/bones from other animals, large jars, little doll houses, an intricate structure of thread stretched over a frame, a woven cage of wicker, anything! It depends on what you can provide and also what the spirit may want/need. 

The interior decor varies just as much. From a little zen garden to a shiny little room fill with mirrors, and pretty things, it depends again on what you feel is necessary. The idea is to provide the spirit with something that’ll keep it occupied through it’s beauty, intricacy or shiny qualities. Keep them amused. So make an intricate little doll house, or a miniature garden, or a mirror room, it’s up to you! 

Once that’s said and done, invite the spirit into it’s home and welcome them there. From there, the annoyance should stop and the spirit may even become willing to aid you in your magical workings! 

Next time, consider that before being scared out of your wit and feeding bad energy into it. Sometimes, call it takes is a little compromise! 

Oh, and PRETTY PLEASE send me pictures of your spirit homes! I’d love to see them.

The “Folkloric Devil” is a term applied to the figure who appears in folk-tales and legends and who is often called “the devil”, but it’s obvious that he emerges from a different source than the theological background of Christianity.

Old divinities or diminished Gods that maintained a presence in the minds or cultures of European peoples are suggested (often enough, and for good reasons) as a source of this figure; but beyond that, the pre-Christian societies had spiritual forces and persons that they related to in the sense of “outsider” powers that could be shady or tricky or dangerous at times, but who often had kinds of relationships nonetheless with human beings. These are the main source of the “folkloric” Devil/Devils.

The Folkloric devil isn’t concerned with damning souls, primarily, but he always wants to make deals or pacts to help humans who need things, but so that he can gain, too- a sign of his origin in the older world of spirit-relationship and spiritual ecology. In Christian gloss, he begins more and more to want “souls” for his help, but he is always able to be tricked, himself- and this is very important. Human heroes or protagonists can outwit him. This is something that would be impossible to do to the Theological Devil, who is far beyond humans in power, and second only to God himself in power.

Modern Pop Culture produces surprising emergences of the old Folkloric Devil- Charlie Daniel’s song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” is an appearance of a Folkloric Devil, who can be out-played by the intrepid and arrogant local boy, on the fiddle. There is the Christian conceit of the Devil seeking souls in that song, but that’s just a minor detail, more suited to a Christian audience and born from the imagination of a low Protestant folk singer.

The Folkloric Devil is a being- and a representative of a whole class of beings- who can be engaged with by humans, for gains. They can be harmful, they can be helpful, and they can be outwitted or outdone at times. Sometimes, they become protagonists themselves.

Theological Elites in the Pre-Modern period of Europe saw no distinction between their Theological Devil and the various emergences of the Folkloric Devil. The “Devil” of witch cults and covenants and of individual sorcerers or witches was of the Folkloric variety, though in their own personal understandings, even they may have believed that he was the same as the theological devil, such was the nature of their times. It’s not like there was a neat chart that spelled all this stuff out to earlier people, and folk in Pre-Modern times heard Christian ministers ranting alongside fire-side bards telling folktales, and so the Folkloric Devil/Devils could take on Christian gloss and attributes at times, and the Theological devil could appear in decidedly “folkish” ways.

What’s important to remember is that the Theological Devil doesn’t exist except as the shadow of Christian psychology. He is born from the idealistic Christian imagination, as the necessary counter-ideal or counter-force to their idealistic notion of good, the warped good, the fallen good, born in their continuation of earlier dualistic religious tropes that posited a cosmic war between good and evil cosmological forces.

The Folkloric Devil, on the other hand, very much exists, both in the form of a powerful former divinity worshiped by practically every human culture known previous to Christianity, and as a folk-memory of certain spirit-entities (very much tied to this world) that people have always engaged in relationships with, though they are a group of entities who are, in ways, challenging, dangerous at points, and ambiguous.

The Theological Devil is a remnant of idealism and the diseased imagination of absolutists and idealists. The Folkloric Devil is a remnant of ancient spiritual ecology and human relationships to the wilder, stranger Otherworld.

- Robin Artisson

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So consider this.

The first of my weird little ideas I’m trying out. I had said I would try pendulums in the past but I actually decided to go all the way and make a unique little mold for it. Something more angular and pointed screams “pendulum” to me than my gently tapered herbal molds.

This is just the prototype using a tiny Yarrow sprig. I’m working on a couple more using whatever sprigs of Mugwort I still have remaining from the summer - an herb highly associated with divination and clarity.

I’m thinking of trying to find something like a bead cap for the top, or even a fitted little bit of metal, if that’s possible.

So what do you think?

Communing with the Dead

‘Tis Necromancy season! Autumn – the Dying Time – when the lines that bissect fade into a liminal channel. Of course, the Dead are never far from me, but not all share my inclinations. For those of you seeking temporary “admittance” into the world of the Dead, I’ve brought to you a ritual that might allow you to ride the boundary. In essence, it is similar in part to me previous post Walking on Water (about hedgeriding), though with the specific purpose of contacting the Cold Ones.

The process – in theory – is quite simple, though some will undoubtedly find it easier than others based on their own innate talents. Regardless, it should allow for contact in one form or another.


Things You Will Need:

A Shovel/Spade

Mugwort, dried

Wormwood, dried

Mullein, dried

Rolling Paper/Emptied Cigarette

Liquid Oil (of your choosing)

Preparation:

  1. Begin by drawing the following sigil on a square of paper. Burn the paper in a fire-safe dish or your working vessel – such as a pot or cauldron. Collect the ashes and add them to a few tablespoons of oil, mixing thoroughly. If you desire, you can warm the oil and add in some black wax shavings to give it a more robust, black color.
  2. Take your rolling paper/empty cigarette tube and roll or stuff with a mixture of the above herbs. Don’t worry – wormwood has a surprisingly light taste when smoked, nothing like its brewed taste. Feel free to add in lavender, bay, marigolds, or thyme for added flavor and effectiveness. Tobacco may also be added, as it too has connotations with the dead. If you are unfamiliar with rolling, smoking (though this blend – sans tobacco – should have little to no longstanding effects on health, as none are addictive, mullein has even been used to aid smokers in quitting) or prefer otherwise, they can be burned as a loose incense on a briquette – if you choose the latter root, I’d say opt as well for a bit of sandalwood.

Ritual:

  1. When night has set in and you’ve made your preparations, take your oil, smoke/incense and shovel/spade to a nearby graveyard – one that is comforting and secluded being the best, though if you wish to make contact with a particular spirit, it would be ideal to go to their grave (if possible). Pay the Gatekeeper, and make your way to the center or a crossroads if one exists. Once you have found an appropriate location that suits you, take your shovel (this is why seclusion is best – you don’t want to get thrown in the pokey for “attempted grave-robbing”) and dig into the earth. You don’t need to dig far, only six inches or so, loosening the dirt. Remove your shoes.
  2. Center yourself, taking a few deep breaths. Light your cigarette/incense, breathing in the smoke (for those of you who aren’t seasoned smokers, do not breath the smoke directly into your lungs – first draw it into your mouth, then into the lungs… unless there also happens to be marijuana involved, in which case, straight to the lungs). Close your eyes, calm yourself and relax. Don’t let the graveyard intimidate you. When you feel ready – slip your feet into the earth, covering them with the removed dirt. Pat the oil onto the lids of your eyes – using it in moderation. It will makes your eyes feel strange and your lashes stick together – but only momentarily.
  3. Verbalize your request. Ask that you might be allowed (temporary) entry into realm of the Dead. If you wish to speak to a specific person, ask them (nicely) to present themselves. The Dead are not seen with the eyes – remember that. And pay close attention to your intuition. You will feel their presence when they arrive. Trust yourself and your abilities and you should have no problem. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring an offering to leave for their help.
  4. When you are finished, remove your feet from the soil and replace the moved dirt. Drizzle the remaining oil over the earth, and thank them again for their help and guidance. As is customary, take three steps back, turn around and do not look back as you walk away.
To call a spirit into your home

Get up three hours before sunrise, and ring a bell. Say this to yourself three times: “I didn’t forget anything.”

Then walk through your darkened home with a black candle, looking every room over, and opening each window, except the room you started in, saying “Hallow’d Hobb, dost thou see through glass? Hallow’d Hobb, dost thou serve the earth and devil? Hallow’d Hobb, wouldst thou like to be thy house-guest?”

Then return to the room you started, and sit and stare out the window into the inky blackness, and close your eyes. Imagine that something new appeared in the inky darkness beyond the window. Say this to yourself: “It was there, I simply didn’t see it before”.

If you see a face in your minds eye, that is the spirit will now inhabit your home. Now go to sleep. Keep note of any dreams you have.

A familiar is different from a pet. Unless the witch spoke the language of the animals, she would not know what information a pet retrieved for her, if it even bothered to retrieve anything at all. So it is more likely that the animal’s body is actually a vessel for a familiar spirit, which would not be the natural spirit of the animal, but an invoked spirit to perform the tasks assigned it.
Tapping an object’s memories

After receiving a bunch of old Algonquin goodies from a mutual friend, I figured I’d throw this one up here!
This spell’s good for bones, headstones, and little pieces of history.

First, you’ll give the object a voice. Blow on the thing three times, emptying your lungs each time, giving the object your breath. Immediately after the third breath, sharply inhale through the nose. “Breath to breath, memories speak, life to death, remembrance I seek.”
Sit with the object in hand, or touching the object, and listen. Let it speak to you and show you its memory.

Creating a Spirit Trap Stone

If you’ve got problems with a nasty ghost, a wicked spirit, or an enemy witch’s familiar, this is a possible avenue to take.

Find a small stone near a large building or tree. Take it home and cleanse it with running water (could be a creek or a faucet). “Hollow heart, empty prison”. 
Dry it and mark on one side a diamond with an ex through it. On the other side, hold it above a flame and let it turn completely black. “Keep in that which I bring to imprison”
If you know specifics about the spirit, write them down and burn the paper. Set the stone on the burning page. 
Leave a fingernail or a strand of hair on top of it until the spirit is trapped. 
Burn the stone and bury it to get rid of the spirit. Keep it to serve you, if you can command it. 

To Conjure a Familiar Spirit

I regularly get quite a few asks in regards to recommended books – asking if I have a list, etc. – and I always have to go into an explanation about, while learning from books is perfectly fine and fitting for some (I dare say even many) the true body of my practice comes not from books, but from teaching spirits. Yes, I can’t deny, I’ve read plenty of books, but they never stick with me like the lessons learned through spirit. Of course, I’m also the person who is always saying: Just do it.

Witchcraft is a continuous learning experience and sometimes you have to just trust yourself to get things done. There always seems to be a lot of fear-mongering in the community: words of warning, deterring and mysterious statements – all of which I’ve never bought in to. I’m all for pushing you into the pool – sink or swim – and if all else fails, I’ll throw you a line and drag you back out (with an wink). Fear is the Witch’s worst enemy: fear of the Unseen, fear of the Unknown, fear one’s true nature, and it is in the deep and dark recesses that one might find truth. Do not give into the fear – overcome it – for when the mind is poisoned by fright, the frightful things come knocking.

I digress. Familiar spirits: the wise and knowing (occasionally mischievous) dead – be they devils, discarnate witches, Ancestors, it matters not! For the Witch and the Familiar are a dynamic pair!

Conjuration

In the night, collecting your items which you will take with you to the cemetery: Chalk/Pemba, a black/white/red candle and a few offerings that echo who you are. These offerings – paired with later spoken words – will attract like-entities who jive with who you are and what it is that you seek. You may bring a vessel with which to house the spirit, or – as I recommend – you may wait and create a vessel befitting the spirit, with touches of personal flare. These offerings need not be extravagant. Things like: beads, coins, spirits (as in the alcohol kind), food, fabrics, and anything that you think sums up who you are.

Once you arrive, locate a place such as a mausoleum, a brick gate-column, anywhere with a wall on which you might draw a door. It’s best to choose a place where no one person is interred, but a variety or none at all. This is so that you don’t get stuck kicking it with whoever happens to be buried there and disturbing their “peaceful rest” or what have you. In regards to the door, don’t be afraid to personalize it as well! I’ve always been favorable to the pointed-arch, but do what you feel fits.

Arrange your offerings before its mouth and place the candle at its center. Take a moment to collect yourself and focus on the kind of person you wish to bring through. Don’t dwell on minor details, just construct a general energy or set of principles. Alternately, you can ask for someone who will give you what you need and not what you want. This is for those who wish to grow and grow quickly, accepting the obstacles that come along with growth. When you’re fully prepared, light you candle and place your palm on the door.

Make a plea. Ask (aloud is best) for a spirit to come – one willing to teach, one glad to teach (and perhaps one that is patient, if you happen to need that!). Again, don’t get bogged down in the details. Be specific enough, but receptive to what Spirits come. Knock three times – Beetlejuice, anyone? – and wait. It may take a few moments (I like to blame in on the traffic) but you will know when they have come. Having the Sight helps, but so long as you are attune, their presence will be clear. Introduce yourself – if fitting your abilities, allow them to introduce themselves, as well. Sometimes names are a little tricky to make out – for me, anyway – so it may take a while before you get their name down completely. If you cannot hear them, you may give them a name: you’ll know whether or not they like it, don’t worry! If they don’t, keep spit-balling until you get one that sticks.

Spend a few days getting to know them – it may work out, it may not. Be amicable, you can always repeat the process if you don’t jive quite right. If you get on nicely, however, you should construct a Spirit Vessel! It offers them a physical attachment to our plane and thereby allows their energy greater access to this world. After that – I can’t say, as all relationships are different and all have different lessons to teach and values to instill. It can be a very personal experience and you may find that keeping a journal of their teachings valuable, and it’s always fun to look back on the how far you’ve come.

For more useful information on a similar subject, I recommend checking out my post: La Muñeca de Tutela!


In retrospect, I suppose this doesn’t have to be done at a cemetery – that’s just where I’ve always done it and is most probably a reflection of who I am! So, by all means, mix up the locale! Go to your witchy place – even if that happens to be a bedroom (chalk comes off of most walls just fine – trust me, I know).


photo: Witch of Endor, Mikolaj Ge

In early modern Britain, disbelief in the existence of spirits was tantamount to atheism. The overwhelming majority of people, whether rich or poor, educated or uneducated, believed in the existence of a countless number and variety of invisible supernatural beings. Different types of people were concerned with different types of spirits: for the devout Christian, angels and demons stood centre stage; for the elite magician, spirits originating from classical cosmologies could be equally significant while the uneducated country people placed a greater emphasis on the 'fairy folk’. Trying to make any hard and fast distinction between categories of spirits in early modern Britain is impossible because supernatural beings were labelled differently, depending on geography, education and religious perspective and definitions overlapped considerably. The term 'fairy’, for example, is a misleadingly broad generic term which, in the period, covered a wide range of supernatural entities. On a popular level there was often little difference between a fairy and an angel, saint, ghost, or devil. We find the popular link between fairies and angels, for example, expressed in the confession of a cunning man on trial for witchcraft in Aberdeen, in 1598. The magical practitioner, who was identified in the trial records as ‘Andro Man’, claimed that his familiar (described by the interrogators as the Devil) was an angel who, like Tom Reid, served the queen of the fairies. The records state 'Thow confessis that the Devill, thy maister, quhom thow termes Christsonday, and supponis to be ane engell, and Goddis godsone, albeit he hes a thraw by God, and swyis to the Quene of Elphen, is rasit be the speking of the word Benedicte.’
—  Emma Wilby, Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits - shamanistic visionary traditions in Early Modern British witchcraft and magic