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Introduction to Spirits: Level One



Introduction to Spirits & Spirit Work


I’m posting this course in September as we have just passed the Autumn Equinox and enter into the season when many Witches do the majority of their Spirit work. New Witches especially tend to think about Spirit work around Samhain time more so than during the rest of year, so it’s on everyone’s minds through what I like to call the Season of the Witch.


Season of the Witch runs September-ish - November-ish. It’s not very scientific but just go with me here. For those of us who work with Spirits all year, this is still an especially auspicious time to dive deeper into Spirit work. The atmosphere that exists during the Dark half of the year is quite amenable for all things mysterious and otherworldly.


As a community leader and shop owner, I hear stories frequently on the topic of Spirits and it’s often discussed with quite a lot of fear and misinformation. In this course, we'll be taking a look at beginner level Spirit work, dispelling misconceptions, learning how to stay safe while working with Spirits, and getting into some easy introductory Spirit work that anyone can do.


For those of you who are ready to jump in feet first, bear with me. This course may seem like a lot of prep work, but the foundation it lays will ensure that you can work with bigger and more exciting Spirits when you feel ready.


If you're not sure if you even want to tangle with Spirits, this is also a good course for you! Knowledge is power and knowing how to protect yourself and understanding how Spirits function can give you peace of mind and allow you to maintain your boundaries effectively. A huge part of being a witch is claiming your power over your experience of the world and that includes how and if you interact with Spirits.



Attracting Spirits


DOES MAGICK ATTRACT SPIRITS?


One of the major fears that people come to me with is the idea that acknowledging any Spirits will attract more Spirits. This “if I open the door, they will all show up” idea is easy to understand. Popular media definitely likes to play on this concept because it’s great entertainment and delivers an awesome fear factor, and when you've seen it so many times in movies, books and TV shows, it can start to feel like the truth.


So does practicing magick attract Spirits? I’m sure depending on who you ask you’ll hear a different answer, but my personal belief is that hell yes, like attracts like, and magick attracts magick, so it makes sense to me that Spiritual beings, entities, elementals, and other magickal creatures will be drawn to you if you throw up a regular magickal beacon.


I have personally encountered what I call ‘transient Spirits’ who are just ‘passing through’ my home or popping in out of pure curiosity. They aren’t there to make a fuss, cause problems or ask for anything. My home has even served as extended stay accommodations for wayfaring Spirits a time or two. I believe the magick I work in my home and on my land attracts them to my vicinity. It’s like seeing a lit Ferris wheel or hearing music in the distance and following the lights or the sounds to see what it is. Once your curiosity is satisfied you move on. I have found transient Spirits like this do the same- they move on, some almost as quickly as they came, others after a brief layover.


So when they show up in my space we generally acknowledge one another as friendly strangers in passing and go about our own individual business and lives. Sometimes they get a little chatty or want more interaction but I decide how much of my attention and energy they get, which is usually very little to none.


I have wards and spiritual boundaries that keep any uninvited or transgressive spiritual guests from freely roaming through my home. They can’t just pop into my bedroom, for example. In fact there are designated spaces in my home where they are permitted to observe or ‘hang-out’ and that’s where they stay unless explicitly invited inside the protected boundaries.


When you keep your magickal defenses maintained properly you never need to worry about rogue Spirits entering your dwelling and causing problems or attaching to your person. In my experience, it just doesn’t work that way.


But practicing magick is just one reason why Spirits might show up for you. It’s just as likely that when people start using magick and then find themselves seeing lots of Spirits it’s because the Spirits were already there, they just didn’t know it. As we become more aware of the Spiritual side of our reality, we begin to see and interact with it more easily, this means that things we previously weren't aware of suddenly become obvious.


While this can sound scary, it's actually a very good thing! You can make better decisions about your experience magickally and protect yourself more effectively when you're aware of what's already there.


Lest we get ahead of ourselves and start worrying about Spirits lurking here and yonder, know that most Spirits you would typically encounter, errant or otherwise, are harmless. Remember you are the baddest Bitch here. A non-physical entity’s (NPE) ethereal or energetic force is no match for the densely packed power you embody as a physical entity on this Earthly plane. The NPE on our plane is coming in with a massive disadvantage because it’s out of sync with us. There is significant effort to interact with the physical world when you are no longer a part of it. Earth is our home turf, at least as long as we wear the meat suits.


Non meat-suit wearing mofos don’t hold a candle to our strength and dominion here. This knowledge alone is almost all the armor you need to protect yourself. So don’t let that fear and doubt creep in- stay confident and remember how powerful you are.


 

I don’t subscribe to the notion that the world is riddled with troublesome Spirits out here trying to prey on the naïve or get their jollies scaring folks. That’s some carried-over Christian culture bullshit and I want no part of that mess. I know plenty of wanna-be Witches and even Spiritual leaders who would tell you otherwise, and would affirm that scary ghosts and demonic Spirits are around every corner and hiding under your bed ready to pounce, take over your free will, scare the shit out of you, or drain you of your happiness or Soul.


Psshht.

Witch, please.


In my experience these fake weeyotches are not speaking from personal experience, they are at best well-intentioned parrots repeating what they’ve heard and read from others or they speak from a place of paranoia and fear of the unknown rather than Knowledge and Empowerment, and at worse it’s an act of self-importance steeped in self-appointed authority that they hope will make them sound like they have all the answers - attention and Power seekers. People like this often manipulate and use fear to get others to perceive them as special and I’m really over it. I have no time for these folks and I hope you'll think twice before you give them any of your time, as well.


That doesn’t mean those types of Spirits don’t exist, but they are exceedingly rare, and on their best day they still aren’t as powerful as you are on your worst day.


The hype at this point is legend. These types of entities, the kinds that have some small influence in this world, are so rare that it would be the height of conceit to believe you were actually important enough for them to notice you, or powerful enough for them to want what you got, or that they even cared about your human life, boring AF as it is.


Yes, we are all magickal, beautiful, fabulous people here, but we are not special, and out of the billions of humans on this planet we need to take ourselves off our high horse and recognize we are just like everybody else when it comes right down to it.


So while we all like to believe we are extraordinary, on the grand scale of existence, the reality is we’re just not that big ‘a deal. Certainly not enough for influential entities to take notice of us without our explicit invitation.


You are almost guaranteed to never have a run-in with a Spirit that actually means you harm or wants to use you for its own agenda. So please hear me on this- we are not Christians operating under the belief that Satan is down in Hell with an army of demons and the goal is to win as many souls as possible in the war with God. That’s a fictional story used to control the masses. It’s not real. Neither is there any kind of battle being fought for your Soul.


Your Soul is impervious to harm and can’t be taken from you, with or without your consent. You are simply not vulnerable to this bullshit.

Yes, bigger, tougher, scarier Spirits are out there - including many not formerly human- but they are unlikely to wander into your home uninvited (how likely is it Keanu Reeves or the President would show up at your door?). Due to the power that these beings wield, lots of people want to work with them. They don't have to go find people to bother, typically people find them.



Making a Choice


DO I HAVE TO WORK WITH SPIRITS?


You don't have to do anything in the craft that you don't want to, although some things are heavily recommended.


Spirit work can add a lot to the craft but not everyone engages in it. Some people only work with certain Spirits. For example, a Green Witch might work exclusively with genius loci and plant Spirits but not with the Spirits of the departed or anything else. Some people avoid Spirits other than their gods. Some people work exclusively with Ancestors or the Mighty Dead. Some people choose to avoid Spirits altogether. Spirit work takes effort to maintain, a relationship with a Spirit is like a relationship with a friend or acquaintance, it takes time and consistency to make it an enriching experience for both parties!


Why you might choose to work with Spirits:


  • There are one or more Spirits that interest you

  • There's a type of magick you want to access that would benefit from the help of a certain Spirit

  • Some Spirits are easy to work with and keep other Spirits away

  • Spirits can teach you new magick that you can't find in books

  • Spirits can lend a lot of power to your magick

  • Spirits can give a sense of community to isolated Witches

Why you might choose to NOT work with Spirits:


  • You don't like the idea of invisible beings in your house (btw- they are around whether or not you choose to work with them)

  • You don't have the time to devote to maintaining Spiritual relationships right now

  • You aren't great at maintaining personal boundaries and don't want to be taken advantage of

  • Your discernment/divination skills aren't great yet and you're not sure you can tell helpful Spirits from unhelpful Spirits

  • You just really don't want to


Regardless of where you fall on this spectrum, I want you to know that the rest of this course WILL be useful to you! Don't write this class off because you don't want to work with Spirits.


We will definitely be discussing ways to create and maintain effective boundaries with Spirits if that's what you want.



Over 1,000 Types of Spirits


WHAT IS A SPIRIT?

In the book, Encyclopedia of Spirits, by Judika Illes, there are over a thousand Spirits listed and described as everything ranging from love goddesses and disease demons, guardians of children and guardians of cadavers, to Celtic goddesses and goddesses of the Kabbalah, female Buddhas, African Powers, Dragon Ladies, White Ladies, Black Madonnas, the Green Man, the Green Fairy, lots and lots of ghosts, djinn, mermaids, fairies, and more.


Many of these Spirits really only exist in folklore, stories and in the imaginations of those with the inclination. Of all the Spirits that do exist, the ones you are most likely to encounter or work with include ghosts, or Spirits of the Dead, Ancestors, Deities, Guides, Astral Entities, Underworld/Lower World Entities, Elementals, Daemons, Hearth Spirits and other Land Spirits. These are the most common among magickal practitioners. Not all entities you will encounter used to be among the living, which is why there’s no one-size-fits-all way of communicating, working with or banishing a Spirit.



Daemon v Demon


The term ‘demon’ is such a loaded word in the magickal community. We could, and possibly will in the future, have a whole class about them. Right now I just want to share an overview and clarify a couple things.


Daemon is often an alternate spelling of Demon, used to distinguish the difference between these types of Spirits or entities. Wikipedia writes that the two are subtly different:


The words daemon and daimon are Latinized spellings of the Greek δαίμων (daimôn), a reference to the daemons of Ancient Greek religion and mythology, Hellenistic religion and philosophy. Daemons are good or benevolent "supernatural beings between mortals and gods, such as inferior divinities and ghosts of dead heroes" (see Plato's Symposium), and differ from the Judeo-Christian usage of demon, a malignant spirit that can seduce, afflict, or possess humans.


In this sense, a demon is believed to be solely a ‘bad’ spirit within the Judeo-Christian pantheon. Daemons, on the other hand, are considered ‘good’ or helpful and not of the Judeo-Christian belief system. Daemons are often welcomed and considered lucky to have one working on your behalf.


Note that the terms are from different religious backgrounds, and so they would not "coexist" in the same context. Because they sound the same, many people don’t make a distinction, but this is based in ignorance. As a non-Christian practitioner, you have no need to fear working with Daemons if you choose to.



Spirit or Something Else: How Can You Tell?


You THINK you are encountering a Spirit but aren't sure. How can you know? There are several things people often mistake Spirit activity for that are rooted in the mundane world, not the Spiritual one. A necessary skill for any Witch is discernment. In this case, it's knowing how to tell the difference between a Spirit and something else. So so so so sooo so so so often, folks ask me for advice about a Spirit problem or suspected curse, and 99% of the time it's neither of those.


That's right, my pretties. The vast majority of suspected 'paranormal' or Spirit activity (again, in my experience) is not anything of the kind. Once you stop knee-jerk blaming ghosts and curses as the root of nearly all your problems, you'll be more likely to find those problems' true origins and discover there are more effective ways to address the 'symptoms' of what you are experiencing. While there are plenty of times it could be a Spirit presence you are encountering, take the time to rule out the most common mundane culprits first before jumping to conclusions or making a determination.


Many things attributed to Spirit activity are actually life-threatening or may be causing you or your family physical harm. If you assume Spirit activity and go straight to banishing before addressing the other potential sources you delay or miss out on getting the actual help you need that could save your health, or your life.


Here are some common mundane problems and their symptoms that should be ruled out before you start taking Spiritual action against the problem.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning


Signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include:


• Dull headache

• Weakness

• Dizziness

• Nausea or vomiting

• Shortness of breath

• Confusion

• Blurred vision

• Loss of consciousness

• Red lips

• Pink skin

• Lack of muscle control

• Fatigue

• Chest pain

• Abdominal pain


Carbon monoxide poisoning can be particularly dangerous for people who are sleeping or intoxicated. People may have irreversible brain damage or even die before anyone realizes there's a problem.


Depending on the degree and length of exposure, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause:


• Permanent brain damage

• Damage to your heart, possibly leading to life-threatening cardiac complications

• Fetal death or miscarriage

• Death


You can read more about carbon monoxide poisoning here.



Gas Leak / Natural Gas Poisoning:


A gas leak can have the same or similar symptoms as carbon monoxide poisoning. A gas leak might not have physical signs or smells. You can find a damaged gas pipe, dead houseplants, and if a smell is present, it'll be rotten eggs and sulfur. Near the gas line, you might see a white or dust cloud, and a whistling or hissing sound. If you aren't looking for a gas leak or realize you have gas lines in your home or building, some of these signs can lead someone to believe there is a Spirit present.


Gas leaks cause a reduction in oxygen which can lead to certain physical symptoms.

If you're experiencing natural gas poisoning you might experience:


• Ringing in your ears

• A reduced appetite

• Pain in the chest

• Nosebleeds

• Blistering or pale skin

• Flu-like symptoms