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Working With Spirits, Saints, Gods, and Incorporeal Beings
The other day, I briefly touched on working with spirits (in the case of graveyard dirt). I wanted to go a bit more in-depth on working with spirits in general. A bit of advice that doesn't often crop up in metaphysical literature is caution a practitioner should employ when working with incorporeal beings. If you were to believe half the crescent moon publications on the topic, gods, saints and spirits are just hanging around, eager to grant your wishes at the drop of a hat (or the burning of a candle of their favorite color).
A good rule of thumb is to compare your actions in the Other realm to those in the physical realm. If you were to pick a random person in the phone book and ask them to come fix your car, clean your gutters, help you find a job or a lover, most likely you would get, well, nothing. Maybe a derogatory commentary on your mental health and a string of curse words. This is the equivalent of picking a god or saint from a table of correspondence and invoking their aid. Sure, love or money may be their specialty, but that doesn't mean that they have any cause to help you in your endeavors. It is infinitely better to build a relationship with a being before asking for favors. Even if your need does not fall into their field of operation, they will pull strings and try harder for you than a random stranger. Just because I'm not a mechanic does not mean that I won't come to rescue a friend whose car has broken down on the highway.
How do you know which beings to build a working relationship with? Again, much like the mundane world. Never work with a god that you couldn't have a beer with. If they were wrapped in flesh, could the two of you hang out and get along? Do you have similar life experiences to them? Do you have a fellow feeling with them and enjoy their personality? Can you relate to the way they handle situations, if only in the sense of role model, not necessarily a personality duplicate of yourself? Most importantly, can you be relied upon to honor them even when you aren't asking for favors (keeping an altar to them in good shape, clean, and fresh)? No one likes the friend that only calls when they have a problem. Don't be a user.
Remember that this is but one branch of magic, well worth experiencing, but not strictly necessary to the practice of casting spells. In magic, as in life, you can go it alone. Still, the ride is sweeter for some company along the way.