Spirit Allies: Relationships Over Collections

Minor Rant

I need to repaint my living room, and I could ask friends or family to help. They’re not professional painters, but they’d get the job done. It’s easier to ask them then it is to hire professionals, or befriend a professional in hopes of getting them to help as a favour.

It’s a sloppy analogy, but I see it all the time in magick.

“My mother just broke her hip, and I want to help heal her, what god should I work with and how?”

“I bought a new house and want to banish it thoroughly before moving in, what god would be a good choice?”

“I’m trying to find a job, which Buddha should I petition?”

Here is my answer: if you have to ask, you shouldn’t be working with them. Aside from an issue with how people collect and toss gods for favours in a manner I find ridiculous and disrespectful, it’s also not an efficient way to handle it.

Our relationships with spirits and gods are just that, relationships, not matters of convenience. Yet what type of relationship can you build quickly for that one goal.

Now before I go on, I’d like to clarify two points. First, I’m obviously not against working with spirits, but when I’ve discussed this before I’ve had people assume I’m anti-spirit work or something. Far from the case, but I’m against inefficient (and perhaps rude) spirit work. Second, we need to draw a distinction between short-term singular goals, and long term goals. There is a difference between being sick, and being chronically ill, or between being unemployed, and perpetually low on funds.

So what’s my issue here? Why do the spirits help us? People claim lots of reasons; altruism, their nature, compulsion, whatever. Yet even if you have a friendly neighbour who would help you do your garden, if you’ve never talked to them, and suddenly pop over and ask for them to help out for a few hours, it’s weird, and kinda rude.

Yet people do that with spirits all the time, they have a goal, and they begin working with a new spirit. This ignores the fact that our spirit allies are far more complicated than many people give them credit for, and this perhaps belies the lack of relationship people have. Why are you trying to build relationships, that you won’t maintain, will promptly forget, just to get a goal, especially when chances are you already have allies who can help.

Again, think of them like real people. I’m not a professional mover, nor am I super strong (but stronger than I look), but if you need help moving something, I can do just that. I’m not a repair person, but I’m smart and good with google, so if your tv isn’t working we could sit down with a computer, and possibly get it up and running. Yet if I were to write a description of my skills I would never think to include “Helps move heavy shit” “Can tinker like a mo-fo” or such, because they’re not my focus…but they’re there. Most spirits are like that, more so the “bigger” they get. Okay, perhaps something like a Goetic spirit is more limited in what it can do (though trust me, some of them are a lot broader than the paragraph says), but when you work with higher order angels, or gods, saints, Buddhas, why act as if they can’t help?

They might not be “experts” in the field, but they can probably help, and more importantly you already have a connection with them, a relationship. If you need an expert, find one, but why go through that effort until it’s actually needed? Your patron might not be listed under “Job magick” in some witchy-cookbook, but there is probably something they can do to help, either directly, or indirectly.

To make another, geekier, analogy think Pokemon. In Pokemon some pokemon are good at somethings, but not others. Fire pokemon are good against Grass, but not against Water. Grass pokemon are good against Water, but not against Fire. Water pokemon are good against Fire, but not against Grass. The trouble is you can only train six pokemon at once. So sometimes you’ll being raising Fire pokemon and you encounter a Water pokemon. Normally your Fire pokemon would be weak against them, but because you’ve been working with them, they’re strong, and if you switched to a Grass pokemon you’ve never used, sure it is technically strong against Water, but it’s so much weaker than your Fire pokemon that it isn’t useful. So even though the Fire pokemon isn’t the best designed for the situation in terms of strengths, it’s still the best choice you have.

I hate to say our spirit allies are pokemon, but I think it’s an accurate comparison here. It’s not so much that working with us makes them more powerful, but perhaps more connected and precise. A spirit that you’re really bound to can influence your world to a far greater extent than most newly contacted spirits. That link draws them into our lives, into this level of reality.

Don’t be afraid to ask your spirits for help, even if it doesn’t seem connected to their abilities. If you’re looking for a job and Thor is your go-to for everything, ask him, the worst case is he’ll tell you he can’t help. Aphrodite might not be the first choice to get you out of debt, but if she’s been with you for years, ask her, again the worst that can happen is she’ll hand you off to someone else. Manjushri might not be about healing, but if you ask he’d do his best.

Perhaps I take my relationships too seriously, but I would rather not engage with someone new for the sake of a task, when I could work with a friend.

4 Responses to Spirit Allies: Relationships Over Collections

  1. Andrew says:

    Oh, man. I feel this deeply. As I currently work through a Druidic curriculum, I’m discovering that my prior work with the planetary powers in a Hermetic context keeps cropping up. I’ve found that the druidic training is making it easier for me to work with, say, the Decanate powers and with the spirits of the Mansions of the Moon, who were already part of my circle of spiritual friends and allies, because the Sun and the Moon are part of the druidic community… but I’m having a harder time working with the Planets, who used to be much closer to me, because they’re not so easily included in the druidic paradigm. And when I do reach out to the planets, I find that they’re more distant. There’s something to be said, not only for working with one family of spirits, but also with one … system…? tradition…? frame of reference…?

    All the same, I appreciate the comparison with pokemon. It’s hard to build up a set of alliances or spirit friendships or communities that extend much beyond our human circles allow. And building up a community of spiritual friends and allies, while valuable… as you say, there are limits on how many spirits can become really, really close friends. We should do a better job of keeping and deepening the friendships we have, rather than going off seeking new friends constantly.

    • Kalagni says:

      Interesting, I hadn’t considered the issues of systems/traditions. I personally don’t find that, but I also work with my stuff constantly, and probably have a smaller court than a lot of sorcerers. If I took a break and didn’t work with my planetary angels for a few weeks/months, maybe they’d be harder to reconnect with.

      It was cheesy, but the layers of the Pokemon analogy were the best way in my head to explain it.

  2. Sierra says:

    Excellent post! This is such an important topic, not just to promote a more respectful way of interacting with the spirits or gods instead of treating them like cosmic vending machines, but also to promote the cultivation of good and strong relationships with specific spirits. It’s something I’ve been working on (if not as much as I’d like to have had time for), and I too have found that a strong and ongoing connection with a given spirit or god (which includes spirits of place – like our own backyards!) has made my work and/or petitions much more effective.

    To follow along with your second-to-last paragraph, also – another approach I’ve found to be useful is to ask the spirit with whom I’ve cultivated that connection to provide me with or show me the tools to accomplish my goal. Sometimes this happens by way of saying ‘I know this isn’t your thing, but could you introduce me to a spirit whose area this is?’ It’s like building up a magickal LinkedIn network, sort of, rather than cold-calling an unfamiliar entity. (Of course, the same approach of respect and making offerings where appropriate still applies!)

    • Kalagni says:

      Cosmic vending machine, perfect. Maybe it’s my radical belief that spirits are people too, but I’d much rather have a deep relationship with them, than dozens of useless shallow connections. Better for us, and just seems more polite/proper.

      I know exactly what you mean, a friend and I were joking that sometimes it’s like gods/spirits chatting at a pub, and one of them mentions your issue and try to get someone else to help out. I’ve had several of my spirits give me a handoff to someone else, and like you said it’s not like your cold calling, there is already a sense of willingness to the work, like you came with a recommendation.

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