Before I start this post proper, can I just take a moment to say how awesome this comic is? Catherine Mason, inspired by my explanation of sadak and shidak did a great little comic on them. Her presentation of Louisiana, NOLA, and Bourbon Street is excellent. Check out more of her art here. Also there will be more work from her to come in this blog because she’s already hilariously illustrated one of my rants about local spirits, so stay tuned for that.
The last few posts have been a bit more Buddhist centric in their sources (but I’d argue fairly universal in application), but the next two posts will be less Buddhist directly. They will also draw on more shamanic practices, witchcraft, ceremonial magick, and personal discoveries. I just wanted to clarify here so what I mention doesn’t get misrepresented as a Buddhist theory or practice.
Now that I’ve laid the framework about local spirits it’s time to talk about engaging them. The thing that so many people ask is “Why bother?” That’s why you can have competent spiritual people engage every spirit in their area, but miss shidak, they don’t see a reason or method to work with them.
There are many reasons to engage the shidak of your areas, first and foremost it’s just a matter of understanding and etiquette. After all you’re living in and on them, you’re a part of them and vice versa, you should be more consciously engaged with them. Tied into that idea, not all shidak are exactly happy with the state of our civilization, we’ve dug into their land, built under it, paved over it, forced out plants and wildlife (another symbiotic part of the shidak), and more or less ignore it. When you work with the shidak, and make offerings to it, you’re showing that you appreciate it, as well as by giving to it you consciously give it access to your life. By giving it energy you help it sustain itself in a more vibrant way. A great deal of pagan and paganesque folks I know understand this on a global level and give thanks to Gaia in this way, but then forget about the spirit that was disrupted to build their house.
On practical levels (because let’s face it beneficence only goes so far) shidaks are great to work with. You exist symbiotically with them, if they’re happy and healthy it makes it easier for you to be happy and healthy. You know when you’ve been to a house of someone who is unwell and you can just feel it in the air, pulling on you? Now imagine that subtly spread all through your area, it would slowly get to you. If the shidak is sick or damaged (and that can happen) then it will filter into your life, and anyone else in their catchment.
Insurance, if you’re on good terms with the shidak and you do something offensive to it without thinking (cutting down that old tree in the back yard, digging in new plumbing) it is more likely to be understanding. Otherwise it might actually retaliate, and yes shidak can and do attack. I’ve seen them weaken people by draining their energy and making them sick, and classically they’re known to cause people to trip and injure themselves. Though I’ve never experienced that, one of my teachers started a retreat without giving offerings to the shidak (which is a huge faux pas) and in the first day tripped on nothing he could find and managed to break his ankle and had to cancel the retreat. If you’re on good terms they’re less likely to lash out.
Influence, you’re part of the shidak, they’re part of you, and so is everyone else in that area. If you need to work on a neighbour, good or bad, the shidak is a place to start. Rowdy loud neighbour, angry with you for no reason, see if the shidak can smooth over the rough edges, or even remove them from the area. Sick neighbour, along with everything else you can work with the shidak to keep the energy of their area healthy and flowing to facilitate their healing. For more concrete actions (getting a raise, or zoning permission) you might be better off with the drongdak (city groupmind spirit), but for interpersonal stuff the shidak is a great ally.
Protection, a shidak can work as a guardian for you, not in a dedicated sense, but if they’re on your side they might have a sense of who and what to redirect for you. Think of it like a friend, if you’re friends with your neighbours they might do something about someone snooping around, or know someone shouldn’t there when you’re not, or know that you don’t want someone there. The shidak is the same, they’re great at dealing with people in that way. Again the trip hazard can occur, I’ve seen shidak utterly disorient people to keep them from getting somewhere, they can drain/intimidate/weaken people who shouldn’t be there. I’ve had the perverse pleasure in watching a shidak paralyze someone with irrational fear about entering the area (a park) to keep them from me. While visiting a friend of mine I felt psychically dead, in a fog, we realized that their shidak wasn’t sure about me so was dampening my senses/abilities, so I couldn’t do anything, they were protecting the friend by inhibiting me.
In Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism it’s fairly uncommon to do any major ritual without addressing the shidak (and all the other classes that might be lumped as local spirits that I mentioned in the first post). Their influence is recognized as something to be courted, they can help and hinder, either just by presence or intention, so they’re often addressed before a ritual, even if only to say “I’m going to be using this space for a while, please don’t interfere.”
Also with a well-developed shidak (as they can be varying degrees of intelligent and active) they can make connections, so even if it isn’t their area to do something, if they have influence over someone or something that can help, they can direct you to meet.
I’ve encountered a theory that a lot of spirits in Solomonic traditions are essentially glorified shidak, and I think that can extend to a lot of collections of spirits. They’re spirits contacted in a certain place, and out of their element elsewhere. (Not to mention the fact that some gods just seem weaker outside of their regions, is that belief, or are they major shidak stretched too far?) I don’t know if I believe it, or believe it completely, but I bring it up because if it is true it shows the range of abilities shidaks can have. And as previously said, if they can’t handle something they sometimes can redirect you, in the same way sometimes one Angelic type will pass your request on to a more appropriate figure.
One final reason to work with shidak is because they’re accessible and present. They aren’t always as effective or efficient as an angel, a demon, a Bodhisattva, or god, or whatever, but they’re easier to quickly engage in most cases. There is no need to summon, to invocate or evocate, no special tools or ingredients required, because the shidak is already there. It’s as easy (when you’ve developed a relationship with them) as setting out an offering (to be polite) and just chatting about what you want.
I’ll stress this again, because I mentioned how there are so many things they can do, they’re not necessarily the best at the job you want and some other spirit might be a better choice, but they’re there and easy to work with. Your friend might not be the best choice to help you replace the bathroom sink, but they’ll do it for free, and are a simple text message away. A professional plumber is a better choice, but then you have to pay, arrange times, set up a contract, and a variety of other bureaucratic issues. A shidak might not be the best choice to help with a love spell, but they’d try.
Get to know them, don’t underestimate them, but don’t overestimate them either.
Next time, how to actually work with them.