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.