Spirit Work - A Beginner's Guide

Spirit Work - A Beginner's Guide

Spirit work is an ancient practice that's been cultivated for ages. Spirits are everywhere, and they always have been. Almost every culture and religion has legends of different spirits!
Spirit work is the practice of working with different spirits. To be a spirit worker, we must understand that spirits are numerous and quite common. We must also recognize how many different types of spirits there are, and how to safely engage with them. 
Since spirits are so common, many people interact with spirits unknowingly. But what happens when a conscious effort is made?
That's when spirit work actually begins. 
Spirit work for beginners
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Queen of the Bad Faeries by Brian Froud
Honestly, I had some reservations about writing this article. Spirit work isn't a hobby; it's a serious undertaking with risks and consequences. 
On the other hand, we live in a world where information (including misinformation) is available instantly. Isn't it better to offer something accurate, thorough, that gives encouragement as well as precautions? 
My opinion is yes. So...here we are. 
That said, let's talk about spirits and spirit work! 

An introduction to spirits

What is a spirit, anyway?
Put simply, a spirit is a conscious, nonphysical being. But like physical beings, spirits can vary in levels of consciousness and intelligence. Both physical beings and spirits are made of energy; the difference is that spirits don't have a body. So spirits are bodyless, but conscious, energies. 
While spirits are conscious energies, not every spirit is created equal. Some spirits operate at human levels (or beyond), while others have the same level of consciousness as an insect. In spirit work, many things are possible. 

Myths about spirits

Spirits are widely misunderstood. The biggest myth, obviously, is that spirits don't exist. Another huge myth is that spirits are either all good or all bad. 
If only it were that simple!
Spirits are represented by the mainstream in polarizing ways: the devil that possessed 12 year-old Reagan in The Excorcist, or the Fairy Godmother granting wishes in Cinderella. But the actual spirit world is much more nuanced. 
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Cinderella and Fairy Godmother by Edmund Dulac
Much like humans, spirits can be good, bad, and shades of gray. Through many years of spirit work, I've found that most spirits are shades of gray. Nothing is all positive or all negative, and spirits are no exception.
Spirits are complex beings with the ability to make choices and take action. The results of their actions can be positive, negative, or both. Even the most benevolent spirit can be responsible for something negative. So it's impossible to categorize any spirit as fully good or bad.
Experiences through spirit work won't be fully good or bad either. With enough time, some kind of negative experience in spirit work is unavoidable. However, this article is written to help you maximize the positive experiences in spirit work and diminish the negative. 

Types of spirits

Like the animal kingdom, spirits come in different species, sizes, and temperaments. Spirits can be predatory, beneficial, insidious, or rare.
Some spirits are found in specific religions, such as the Archangels in the Abrahamic religions. Other spirits are specific to locations, like the aes sidhe of Ireland.  
Regardless of your own spiritual faith or location, it's possible to interact and work with any type of spirit. 
How do I begin working with spirits?
To begin working with spirits, it's important to recognize that, like animals, every spirit is different. An unarmed human shouldn't approach a wild bear. Similarly, an inexperienced human shouldn't approach a predatory spirit and expect to have control over the situation. Some spirits are more risky than others. Some spirits are lions, tigers, and...
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I'm not telling you to be afraid. But I am telling you to be aware.  
If you're new to spirit work, I suggest starting with spirits that aren't much of a risk. There are several types of friendly, powerful spirits that are easy to work with and great for beginners. 

Easy spirits to work with

Anyone interested in spirit work would benefit from working with spirit guides, angels, and land spirits. Each of these groups has benevolent spirits and can help you progress on your spirit work journey. 
Spirit guides
Your own spirit guides are one of the easiest and low-risk spirits to begin working with. Spirit guides have been connected to us since before we were born. Some spirit guides have also been with us in past lives. Overall, spirit guides are benevolent. They have our best interests at heart - that's their job, after all. 
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Spirit Guides by Ruwangi Amarasignhe
Angels are another low-risk spirit. I'm not saying that angels can't bring the smackdown when it's warranted, because they definitely can. But in general, angels are accessible and easy to work with.
Even though angels are more common in certain religions, angels themselves don't actually care what religion you are. Angels' job is to help humanity; they are messengers, healers, and protectors. 
Angelic energy can be intense. Angels are benevolent but extremely powerful. But beginning spirit work with angels will help as you continue working with different spirits. Angels can protect you from other spirits and assist you with spiritual growth. 
For spiritual protection, try calling on specific angels. Any of the archangels are an excellent choice, especially Archangel Michael. 
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Zuriel, Angel of Libra by Peter Mohrbacher
Land spirits 
In my opinion, all spirit work should include land spirits. Land spirits are earth-bound protectors of the land. There are several types of land spirits that are easy to work with: 
  • Tree spirits. Trees are living beings and spiritual beings. Tree spirits are incredibly wise. Some trees are hundreds of years old and have witnessed numerous cycles of history. Because of this, tree spirits are often watchers. They stay rooted to the land and watch over it. 
  • Nature spirits. Like trees, every plant and animal has a spirit counterpart. Many nature spirits are plants and animals that once lived on the land and now guard as spirits. Another common type of land or nature spirit is fae. Not all faeries are nice, and they have a reputation for being tricksters. But generally, faeries respond well to those who show them kindness and respect the earth.
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  • Human land spirits. Other common land spirits are humans. Not all human spirits are friendly, especially on land that's been colonized. However, showing respect and gratitude can go a long way. 

How to do spirit work

Before you begin working with spirits, have a daily spiritual practice. It will prepare you for just about anything in spirit work. 
Working with spirits is a lot like building a friendship. The first thing to do is introduce yourself and show a gesture of good will. With spirits, a gesture of good will is an offering.
When you introduce yourself to a spirit, giving an offering lets them know that you're a friend. Offerings also help build relationships with spirits over time.
An offering to a spirit is a gift without strings attached. In my experience, spirits are more responsive if you take the time to build a relationship before asking anything of them. 
Types of offerings
Spirits can favor certain types of offerings, but in general, it's the thought that counts. Don't worry too much about giving the 'wrong' offering. Most spirits will appreciate your effort. 
The following offerings are usually very well-recevied: 
  • Water. Water is a universal offering for any type of spirit. It's simple and widely available. You can dress up a simple offering of water in a nice cup or pretty bowl to make it special. 
  • Food. An offering of food, especially food that YOU love to eat, is a lovely gift for all types of spirits. 
  • Fresh flowers/herbs. Another universal offering. 
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Communication with spirits 
All relationships rely on communication. Relationships with spirits are no different. Saying hello to spirits, giving them a compliment, or sharing your day are all simple ways to begin communicating. 
The relationship you build with spirits will evolve and become strong. They'll be around you to help more often. Spirits may also come to you for help! 

Safety protocols for spirit interaction

These safety protocols for spirit interaction will help ensure good experiences when communicating with spirits.
1) Create a protected space.
Cast a circle, perform the Lesser Banishing Ritual, or use another method to establish energetic protection. 
2) Set a firm intention to communicate with a particular spirit. 
Being specific about who/what you're talking to opens the door for that particular spirit to communicate, and limits the access of other spirits. Speaking to anything that can hear you is a bad idea.  
3) Be in a calm state of mind.
Don't attempt spirit communication when you're anxious.
 4) Work with low-risk spirits at first. 
Working with low-risk spirits helps ensure that your spirit communication goes smoothly. As you gain more experience, you'll be able to work with other types of spirits and worry less about mishaps. 
 5) Use common sense.
Use common sense when communicating with spirits. A spirit should never tell you to hurt yourself or someone else. They should never make promises that seem ridiculous or ask you to make promises. 
If something questionable arises, cease communication and cleanse. 
The essential practices for spirit work also help keep spirit communication safe. 

Essential practices for spirit work

Along with daily spiritual practice, these essential practices will help create positive experiences with spirit work. 
Cleanse yourself and your space regularly. For best results, do a small amount of cleansing every day. 
Smoke cleansing with sustainably-sourced sage or other herbs is very effective. Salt baths are additionally helpful.
The more spirit work you do, the more you should cleanse. The more risky the spirits you work with, the more you should cleanse. Cleansing is an act of spiritual health and self-care. 
Boundaries are another form of spiritual health. Placing boundaries in your living space puts an energetic barrier between what is yours, and what is not. The following wards are excellent boundaries that will protect your space: 
  • Iron. Iron objects, like railroad spikes or horseshoes, ward against many types of spirits. Particularly the dead, malevolent fae, and demonic spirits. 
  • Black salt. Placing black salt in front of thresholds, like windows and doors, prevents spirits from entering without permission.
  • Red brick dust. Place red brick dust around the boundaries of your home to form an energetic brick wall of protection. 
There are more advanced forms of warding, but I'll leave that for another time. The above boundaries are more than enough if you're working with low-risk spirits. 
As you develop your relationship with spirits, you can also call on them to help guard your boundaries. 

Becoming a spirit worker

There may come a time when you grow beyond what this article has within it. Spirit work may evolve beyond practice and into a way of life - that's when you become a spirit worker. 
What is a spirit worker?
A spirit worker is a human ally of the spiritual realm. Spirit workers maintain established relationships with spirits to create change in the physical and spiritual worlds. Spirit workers are the protectors, warriors, and peacekeepers between humans and spirits.
A spirit worker can have many different names and roles: 
  • Psychopomps (moving spirits to other realms)
  • Witches
  • Healers and energy workers
  • Mediums and oracles
  • Necromancers
  • Exorcists
You may wear multiple hats as a spirit worker and your methods may change over time. Many years ago, I was only a medium. Through spirit work, I became more of a psychopomp. 
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Samhain Harvest by Iren Horrors 
Spirit work is a way of life. It's not an interest or a hobby, even if it begins that way. Spirit work can become a necessary part of who we are. Those who are really called to this path may not actually choose it willingly. Sometimes an intense experience can bring us here. 
The important thing is to allow our experiences with the spirit world to grow us. Any experience, whether positive, negative, or shades of gray, can bring us closer to who we truly are and who we're meant to become. They can awaken us to our abilities, gifts, and destinies. Spiritual experiences are no different.
May this article bring tools and clarity to those who seek it. Many blessings to all on your spirit work journey! 
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