Communicating with Spirits
In Introduction to Spirits: Level 1 we laid a foundation and now it's time to build on it. Let's start with learning how to talk to Spirits.
I wish this were straightforward and 100% foolproof, but it's just not. I wish I had a good explanation for why it's especially challenging, but I just have lots of theories about how I think it all works. Maybe you have theories, too. We don't know what we don't know. One day we are all sure to find out, that much is a certainty. But today I'm OK not having all the answers. We can focus instead on what works when it comes to communicating with Spirits and less so on the how of it.
There's definitely an element of trial and error when it comes to what works and what doesn't. And there's no good rhyme or reason. Spirit communication works differently for each person, and even each Spirit. Sometimes what works today isn't what works next week or even tomorrow. Patience and perseverance are key.
You might be one of the lucky ones who is already sensitive to Spirits or has developed this part of your Spiritual practice. Seeing, hearing or otherwise sensing Spirits might come easily to you. Perhaps you sense them when you do divination. Maybe they speak to you through cards, runes, or a scrying mirror. Others might receive messages or converse with Spirts in dream space, astral space, or when meditating or journeying. If you already have had success with a particular method, keep using it and build that connection until you feel ready to try something new. It's always OK to experiment and add new skills to your practice.
In the next several lessons, we're going to explore many ways Spirits communicate with us and ways we communicate with them. Are you ready?
Divination is a clear winner when it comes to sussing out answers and information to Spiritual matters. There's so many kinds to choose from, I mean, this is real kid in a candy store energy!! Divination comes through when you aren't quite sure of what your intuition is saying, when you don't feel ready to fully rely on your psychic abilities, or when you are just plain second-guessing yourself.
If you haven't taken the time to learn or practice at least one kind of divination, I urge you to start. It's totally worth it. I promise. Yes, it's work and takes practice. Divination is a life-long journey that you continue getting better at and learning from. It's magickal, exciting and did I mention all the choices you have??!
When I teach divination, I teach that the information largely comes directly from you- not some outside force like a Spirit. THIS is one of the exceptions, though.
The fundamentals are basically the same. When we ask, 'Is there anyone here with me right now?' and we draw a card that has a message for us, that, in my belief, it's not the Spirit controlling our thoughts or hands or even the cards. It's that the Spirit is communicating with our subconscious or Higher Self (whatever way you prefer to think of it) directly, and our subconscious translates that information in a way that we can sense or understand by directing our body to choose the card or move the pendulum or 'see' in the shiny surface what is being conveyed.
One benefit of using divination for Spirit communication is it has built-in checks and balances. If you receive a Spirit's message but have doubts about what you think you heard or received, you can check in with your divination method, like your Tarot cards, for example, for accuracy or confirmation.
With most tools, all that is required for you to communicate through them is to ask the Spirit in question to contact you via that tool. Ask if they are willing to communicate with you that way and then cast your divination. If what turns up doesn't make sense or is a solid “no” then try another method.
So which tools are best for Spirit communication?
Tarot and Oracle cards are a great way to get insight into your subconscious and higher self.
This kind of divination uses the subconscious / higher self language of symbolism and archetypes which makes it ideal for both simple and complex questions and storytelling. They can also allow information to come through that we have filtered out or blocked.
Tarot can be used to answer very basic 'yes' and 'no' questions, but I rarely think this is the most effective or reliable way to use the Tarot.
When you want a Spirit to engage with you and speak through the language of the cards, you might find it easier to speak to a familiar Spirit, like an Ancestor or Guide. That's because the symbolism and language Tarot and Oracles rely on is very personal to you. The associations and biases you have would be familiar to most any Spirit with whom you worked closely and had a strong relationship.
An unfamiliar Spirit or a Spirit you just started working with would not yet know that short hand or inner dictionary, and wouldn't communicate in a way that made sense using Tarot.
Take any two Tarot readers with identical Tarot decks and they will each have a different interpretation for each card. They each draw on their own symbol dictionary and archetypal library to read. One reader may read a red card as passion, lust, and sex, while the other may say it's about rage, violence or death. They are certainly both true! Imagine a Spirit trying to communicate through symbols and archetypes when they may be using different definitions and associations than you. Think of how much might get lost in translation. Again, ironically, our familiar Spirits that we already work with can actually serve as mediators and go-betweens when a new Spirit enters the picture, helping translate and ensure we take away the correct message.
I advocate for every Witch to master using the Pendulum if they can help it. It's possibly the easiest and most direct form of divination in the toolbox. Its instant gratification and quick learning curve makes it a favorite among Witches, especially new ones. Pendulums are known for their to-the-point yes, no, maybe answers, but they are capable of more complex readings.
Like many forms of divination, the real skill in getting dependable, solid answers is the quality of the questions being asked and mindset of the user.
I feel like In my opinion, the Pendulum is one of the worst tools you can use to communicate with a new Spirit. Far too much is depending on your ability to stay objective and discerning.
Unless you have mastered self-control and mindfulness, you are just not going to get consistent, truthful or meaningful answers. I can't say how often someone comes to me scared and needing advice because they used a pendulum to ask a Spirit's name and the name was something like S-A-T-A-N. I would laugh in their face if I didn't se they were really, truly afraid they were being targeted by the devil. If you have even a small amount of fear, insecurity, or nervousness, or if you have preconceptions about this or any Spirit, the Pendulum will fail you and give you false reads as a tool for Spirit contact.
If you tend to be a visual diviner, scrying may be a good way to see or communicate with a Spirit. Just like in our tarot, symbols play a big role in scrying where the images you receive are not always literal. You'll need to know your way around the scrying tool being used to have the skill to decipher what you see.
If you scare easily, this is also not the tool for you. Some images can be frightening or confusing when scrying even without the presence of a Spiritual entity trying to chat you up.
SPIRIT BOARDS / OUIJA BOARDS
Spirit boards and Ouija boards are one and the same. Spirit boards are not different, though they may be designed slightly differently than your traditional ouija board. Both use the same techniques and both work equally well.
I will not use this space to address all the absurd myths out there about this tool. Don't believe all that hyped up mess, Powerful Ones. Suffice it to say that it is my position that Spirit boards are not even a little bit 'evil', don't attract 'demons' or 'evil Spirits', and are by my standards, completely safe, or at least no more dangerous than Tarot, crystal grids or tea leaf reading.
I have used them many, many times, and I have never accidentally opened a portal to Hell in my living room. Think of a Spirit board as an advanced form of the Pendulum. The Spirit board gets a bad rap, having suffered (and survived!) through the Satanic Panic and an aggressive smear-campaign of misinformation brought by Evangelical Christians and New Agers alike. I'm really not here for it.
Just like with all divination tools, your state of mind, expectations and preconceptions all play a role in the reliability and quality of your answers. If you go into it afraid and assuming the worst will happen, you are going to project that outcome. This is where paranoia and delusions can creep in, even for the well-intentioned.
Advice on Using a Spirit Board
1. First rule of Spirit Board use- know who TF you want to speak to. Remember when you were a kid and opened the phone book and randomly dialed someone and they answered? Yeah... Don't do that.
Sooo. Don't crank call folks you don't know. That's 1.
2. Second, when you leave it to chance on who's going to pick up that Spirit phone, it's most likely going to be like when you're home bored and calling all your friends but no one's picking up because they're all out having a good time, and you get to the bottom of the list where all the least fun people are and one of them picks up, and now you are stuck talking to them on your Friday night, and it's gone be real awkward for everybody present.
3. Three, basic Spiritual protocol requires you set up a boundary for that Spiritual energy. If you like circles, set one up beforehand and cleanse afterwards. Alternately you can set up protective wards or Spirit traps for anyone who wants to linger or challenge your boundaries. I promise the majority of Spirits are happy to leave when asked.
4. Spiritual etiquette should be maintained if you do make contact. Treat it like meeting a stranger on the internet- keep your private details private. The Spirit doesn't need to know your government name or your Spiritual/Magickal name if you use one. Not when you first meet. The Spirit doesn't need to know the names and DOB of all your family members, where you went to high school, what your mother's maiden name is... you get it.
5. Spirit boards can be fun, and they can be awesome tools for establishing a point of contact, but they also can be painfully tedious if you are trying to have a real, in-depth conversation with a Spirit this way. Keep it short and use it like you might a singles chat- quick introduction, what brings you here, agree to try to connect again later (or not). I have personally found Spirits do not use complete sentences or fully spelled words. It's like reading a teen's text message and it takes a little decoding to work through.
Suggested questions to ask a new Spirit:
1. Do you have a name? / How do you spell it? / What would you like me to call you?
2. Do you have a message for me? / Is there information you want to share with me?
When you have asked a couple questions or if the communication stops, don't get too greedy. Thank them and release them. Write down your results. I recommend holding space just for one Spirit presence or contact per attempt. Less is more.
Of course you can direct dial familiar Spirits using a Spirit board and have great success, however the reality of the slow way of communication letter by freaking letter is its own frustration and barrier. For this reason, my experience is that Spirit boards are most suitable for quick check-ins, establishing contact, or very short communications. Use other methods and tools for lengthier or more complex conversations.
Also, since Spirits seem to prefer language that is more symbolic than literary, you might find even some familiar Spirits simply will not come through the Spirit board, even if you regularly visit with them without the board.
PSYCHIC SENSES & ABILITIES
I listed several ways to communicate with Spirits using divination. Not all are ideal for all types of Spirits or stypes of Spirit communication, but they can certainly get the job done.
Psychic senses are another way to detect a Spiritual presence and communicate with them.
This works well for anyone who already has a well developed psychic talent. The good news is that everyone has psychic abilities and you can improve them over time.
Just like with divination, there are multiple kinds of psychic ability. Not all are well suited for Spirit work so I'll focus primarily on the ones that are.
When you mention the word Spirit, you probably get an immediate mental image of what a Spirit looks like. Most people think Spirits will just materialize as soon as they are summoned and they will be visually evident in some way. While you might expect to see or hear a Spirit, the reality is you are more likely to detect them with your internal psychic senses.
In the beginning of Spirit work, it will be natural to question yourself and wonder if what you are sensing or seeing is all in your head. This questioning really never goes away, and I consider this to be necessary, healthy skepticism. If we can't at least admit to ourselves that it all might be our imagination, we're doomed. As Witches, discernment is a vital skill to possess. Learning to distinguish reality from fantasy is part of the magickal journey, and a Witch's psychic skills includes learning to distinguish between what is psychic information in the mind's eye, and what are independent thoughts and images. Never stop that process of evaluating and adjusting to keep yourself grounded in what's real.
Many of us have one or two psychic abilities we come by naturally. Perhaps we were born that way, or maybe we were exposed to just the right environment, experiences or stimuli as children that helped us develop those skills unintentionally.
If you already know you're good at something, start with that and build on it. If you aren't sure, check out the list below and see if any of those resonate for you.
'I don't think I have any psychic ability'. I know it may seem like that for some of you, but I promise it's not true. We all have psychic ability, including all the ones listed below, but our brains filter it out and if we aren't looking for it or know how to develop it, we may not realize it's there. All you need is practice.
Clairvoyance "Clear Seeing"
You may see things actually manifest physically. Most, however, just see images in their head almost like a movie playing in their mind.
This is when visions past, present and future flash through our mind's eye, or third eye, much like a daydream. Many of us are highly visual and able to understand an idea best when we see it written or sketched out as an image on a computer screen or on a canvas.
• How to develop clairvoyance:
Be on the lookout for images that pop into your mind out of the blue—they may be intuitive messages. My clairaudience was once my strongest psychic ability early on, and clairvoyance only came along years later. So be patient: Your intuition can grow dramatically over time.
Claircognizant "Clear Knowing"
You just have a knowing about things. For many strong in this gift it feels like knowledge pours into the top of their heads.
This is when we have knowledge of people or events that we would not normally have knowledge about. Spirit impresses us with truths that simply pop into our minds from out of nowhere. An example of this would be a premonition: a forewarning of something that will happen in the future. Claircognizance requires tremendous trust in Spirit because there's often no practical explanation for why we suddenly "know" something.
• How to develop claircognizance:
The next time you are trying to figure something out and your logical brain is stumped—whether it’s your boss’ motivations or the quickest way to get your afternoon errands accomplished—silently ask your intuition to give you the answer through claircognizance.
Your intuition is always listening and could have some amazing answers for you. However, as with all psychic information we receive, proceed with caution- rash decisions are rarely to your benefit. Maybe your psychic answer said your bo