This post will admittedly be focused on beginners’ practices, as I’ve had questions on how to work with Angels, Saints, and spirits in general. Some are new to devotional work entirely, and others are looking to reevaluate their path and practice. I suppose this blog has turned out to be more of a why than an how, as one train of thought seems to provide some answers to the other. These thoughts and recommendations come solely from my own views and practices, and reflect only my own personal opinions and not those of any particular path or Order. Keep this in mind and take from it what you will.
Firstly, find yourself a suitable system and/or pantheon to use and stick to it. Working with an entity or set of entities can be life-changing as the real work that comes with it at the core will be to make changes in yourself and the world about you. What resonates closely with your interests? What kind of spiritual path are you on, or what religious practices have you had that may affect your future choices on who to work with and how to do this? These are questions that should naturally be given suitable time to answer instead of giving yourself a mere week or two to decide. It may be helpful to write these things down, as silly as it may seem. Many times I’ve found myself able to make clearer decisions easily when pros and cons are laid out before me in black and white. In this case, you may want to make a journal entry in your magical diary about your analysis.
The key here is twofold; first take appropriate time for some serious introspection about why you want to start making spiritual connections with a given entity/pantheon, and secondly, you must realize the gravity of the question of if you are ready to make the sacrifice of sufficient time and effort to make new relationships.
The word “relationships” can be taken in either its mundane or its metaphysical contexts here, because in my humble opinion, the spiritual relationships you develop should be just like your regular ones: your bonds with friends and family need to be treated with serious respect and kept alive with constant care and attention in many ways. Why should spiritual relationships be any different? Would you more likely do a favor for a close friend/acquaintance or for someone who makes a demand of you without much of a connection at all?
This brings me to a central point. Many who begin devotional work at first on the magical path will approach the spirit world with a shallow view that they are owed something, that they will get responses and results merely from a few rituals and offerings, or worse, that they think the whole of the spirit world is subservient to their desires simply because they have found themselves within a self-empowering paradigm of magical practice.
Now, I cannot and will not be able to speak for the spirits themselves, but frankly it seems to me there may be an easier way to work with the spirit world than randomly making requests or demands whenever you need it and not bothering to develop any connections. This reflects a give and take inertia of karma, and may be akin to the act of praying only when you need something and never at any other time. In my view, working with the spirits in this way is like randomly writing to a celebrity and asking for a favor out of the blue.
Just because your path affirms you as the center of the magical universe and that your will has any given dominion over this or that does not mean that the spirit world will recognize you as such. Waltzing into a court of royalty making demands does not guarantee your success just because you were told that you may do as thou wilt or that by virtue of nothing being true that everything is permitted, no matter how fancy you dress or how eloquent your words may be. If this is the way you treat the spirits then there may be a danger of the wrong entity at the wrong time being unable to take your demands seriously, and you might be subject to some nasty backlash.
In my mind, the most important questions present themselves rather obviously: If you want something from the spirit world, how much work have you already done to form a genuine relationship founded on wholehearted respect or admiration? How much work will you be willing to do in the future, most especially if you achieve the desired results? Will you give up easily if your initial requests do not get immediate results? These are points you should seriously consider, because both the devotional act of ritual and dedication to a particular entity or pantheon in general becomes a central part of your magical life, and should not be only the aspect that gets shit done only when you need it.
If you’ve read any of my other blog posts, it should be obvious that I am a strong advocate for developing strong relationships with the Angelic beings. This is something that I am still working on and finding various ways to integrate into my life as a modest practitioner, my methods evolve and grow as I learn and I do not claim to be an Adept by any means. It just seems evident that the spiritual world doesn’t owe us shit, no matter how important we claim ourselves to be.
When I call upon an Angel to help me with this or that, it is because I feel I have made some sort of progress to further my relationships with the Hierarchy through appropriate practices, and in my case this has consisted of making tools specifically for Angelic devotion and forming prayers that draw on their influence by virtue of my having made efforts to unite my will with that of the Divine. When I enact a ritual, I do not expect it to work when I have not made suitable progress to further a life devoted to learning and living a spiritual life. When I call upon the Saints, I only expect my requests to be considered if I have made an effort to enliven my regular friendly and familial relationships with a certain amount of spiritual love and respect. For me this means living an esoteric Christian life, which will take me the rest of my life to perfect. For me this means implementing spiritual Freemasonry into the moral development of my life and all those I meet, which is another lifetime of learning and living. Mistakes are made and as I learn to forgive others for theirs, so will I eventually get the chance for redemption, just as it is stated in the Lord’s Prayer, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. This only reflects my own path and is only here as an example of the point I wish to make.
For you, this must be your task; how does your life reflect the path you wish to follow? How can you contribute to forming genuine relationships instead of letting them be reduced to shallow transactions that evolve into a mindset of selfishness, entitlement, or instant gratification?
On to the how:
If your dedication to this work is serious, you’ll set aside time to make offerings or at least make regular prayers/invocations. You’re more likely to make genuine connections this way. I chose to make my own prayers to the Archangels based on the Virtues of the Sefirah they are connected to, which in turn is also connected to Planetary and Elemental forces, you can find them here. You may wish to do something similar.
On the other hand, consider tapping into the built up egregore of traditional and time-honored words used by many over the years with Angels and Saints. Also consider working with the myriad of invocations used to various spirits and pantheons of gods and goddesses in the different spiritual paths or from the grimoires. There is a wealth of material out there to choose from if you cannot create your own, though personally I think anyone can make their own devotions if their intent is pure. I am of the opinion that doing this may also have a bigger impact on the connections you wish to make, just like you’d never buy a card for a loved one and simply leave it blank or rely only on the pre-written message, no, you’d personalize it somehow with your own words and they are appreciated for your effort and time. I believe this is the same with adding your own material to the invocations used in ritual. Some are even creative enough to form their own ceremony rather than using a template, and this hard work might just be the catalyst you need to forming the relationships that are necessary that will eventually get the results you desire when the time comes to ask for something.
Even if your ritualized devotion consists of a simple offering of water, incense, and a short prayer, this is something you may do weekly or daily, and can get the spirit’s attention through repeated efforts.
It is also important to make space for a suitable altar, even if it is not a permanent one. To this day, my most effective “altar” set up is simply the space I’ve made on my windowsill, decorated with a few candles and prayer cards. You don’t need to complicate these things, which is an easy mistake to make when first starting out. Not everything needs to be a grand ceremony. Prayer from the heart and/or a deeply emotional invocation can sometimes be the best way to form the desired connections no matter what system you are working with.
Some have no desire to make these connections at all, which is their own prerogative. I’m not here to act holier-than-thou, but the small number of readers that I have for material I have written are on the magical and Mystical path of Judeo-Christianity and students of Qabalah and Alchemy. In these paths there is a need, much more, an ideal thirst, for genuine spiritual progression. Working with entities in a respectful manner therefore should be a natural discussion for us and I hope that I have at least stimulated some thought on this subject.
Long story short: YOU’LL GET MORE BEES WITH HONEY!