Greeting New Spirits- There is a Protocol
And oh how I wish I’d remembered that tonight!
It has been a very, very fruitful Yule season. As part of that, there is an ongoing cycle of gift exchange and my family gifted me with several ongon, spirit infused ritual pieces. They are beautiful and the first two were welcomed into the house with all the decorum new spirit allies should receive. The second two …um…not so much. There is a lesson here and one I am both grateful for but should really know by now.
Two of them sat in a box for a week, maybe a little more. They’d arrived right before our solstice ritual proper, and we were only expecting one. They were big spirits and I knew that it would be very important to place them properly but we don’t really do divination during the ember days, at least not from Modranacht till the New Year, and we all knew that div would be required to determine the proper place for them to live. All of that would have been fine, but we didn’t properly explain it when we packed them away, and then new problems arose tonight when we did our first divination of the year.
We got it sorted out, but at first it was really aggravating. They wouldn’t respond to any of the divination systems we use. I kept getting “go to divination” but they weren’t familiar with our systems and we didn’t know theirs. It took much, much longer than it should have done and it wasn’t until the whole thing was over and done with, and I was placing one of the spirits that he explained to me what we should have done. I’m sharing that here for any of you who might find yourself in the same boat. Let me just say, I’m grateful for the patience of these two new spirits, tremendously so.
Firstly, we should have greeted them and made small offerings right away. It was fine not to divine for a week or so, but rather than keep them in a box, we should have welcomed them and incorporated them into the household rituals. That way, they would learn about us, we about them, the household spirits would get to know them and vice versa, and it would be easier to figure out how to forge a functional relationship. They’re not things. These are living spirits. It was like I kept a super genius cat locked in a box for a week because I wasn’t sure where to put his food! Or like grandma came to visit and you kept her locked in the bathroom for a week! Both working with spirits and divination involving spirits is a matter of learning each other’s languages, symbol systems, mental metaphor and image maps, of figuring out how to most efficiently communicate with each other. We lost out on an opportunity to do that early on and we were unintentionally rude too. What’s more, had we let our house spirits get to know the new spirits and vice versa, our own spirits could have better facilitated this whole process.
Secondly, when we sat down to divine tonight, we should have started by inviting the new spirits in, welcoming them again, making offerings and most importantly of all, explaining the systems we use, how they work, etc. THAT is what made the whole thing so aggravating. They had to figure that out on their own because it never in a million years occurred to us to make that explanation before we started.
Everything worked out well in the end, there were apologies and offerings made and the situation was properly sorted but we made it a lot harder on ourselves by not having a set protocol instituted as a matter of course when welcoming new spirits into the cadre. I have a set protocol for divination from which I never deviate and I instituted that after a horrible experience where I was tricked by an unhappy and sick spirit, a recently deceased ancestor of the client who was jealous and angry that my client had a life while the spirit, who had died of a drug overdose, no longer did. It was nasty, messy, and never would have been so had we stuck to our protocols. That time, I was convinced to skip them. Never again. Now, I have learned another valuable lesson about first contact protocol (lol) and it’s not one that anyone in my house will neglect from here on out.
One caveat: because we are so familiar with the Gods and spirits that form such a strong and beloved part of our Household cadre, we tend to forget to be properly formal (and hospitable, because that is what these protocols are, in part) with new spirits.
I hope this is helpful to those of you reading this who likewise have spiritwork concerns. I receive a lot of questions about how to engage properly with Gods and spirits, about my own protocols, and I find that sometimes pointing out where one falls short, and the lessons learned from that can be tremendously valuable. We learn, by Gods we learn. It sure as hell isn’t always pretty though.
Posted on January 3, 2021, in devotional work, Divination, Esoterica, Heathenry, Holy Tides, Lived Polytheism, Polytheism, Spirit Work, Tools and tagged Devotional Work, Divination, Heathenry, Holy Tides, Lived Polytheism, Northern tradition, northern tradition shamanism, ongon, Polytheism, practicum, protocols, Spirit work, spirits, spiritwork, Tools. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.
Thank you, Trailblazer, for sharing this experience.
Gods/spirits in boxes is not a desirable combination! I remember not long after I’d moved into my home, I scheduled my Godfather in Ifá to come over and properly bless the space and placate the spirits that were already there, transition the Ones I’d brought with me from my former home, and set up wards against the constantly roaming hordes of the spirits of the restless dead. (My home being built over a paupers’ graveyard made the latter company inextricable from the property.) By the scheduled date of the on-site blessing, I’d mostly unpacked and set up the altars for my various Holy Powers…except One. When we performed another reading to determine if Ifá gave His blessing for us to begin, the immediate response was a resounding *no* because there was an angry God in my house Who would clearly sabotage things! This God was very upset with me! I then remembered the cardboard box that housed one as-yet-unpacked altar and Deity image and quickly set about arranging His altar space and making deeply apologetic offerings at having had Him boxed up for more than a week after my move. Thankfully, I had choice VikingsBlod caraway-infused mead to spray on the image’s face! Afterwards, we approached Ifá again and we were given the green light to begin the house blessing. It was a powerful lesson I’ll never forget!
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very helpful thank you so much for sharing!