My mornings start off with a recitation of the planetary prayer from the Hygromanteia corresponding to the day of the week, followed with my daily offering rituals. Minimally, I feed the spirits of my court twice a week, once on the day of the week of their preference (or planetary alignment, if they align with one of the spheres) and altogether again on Sundays, when I tend to the White Table/Mesa Blanca. Each shrine and altar is regularly cleaned, old offerings properly disposed of, and fetish items and spirit vessels sprayed with lustral waters or herbal infusions, anointed with sacred oils, and prayed to. When I am actively performing a working, I naturally feed the spirits involved with manifesting it as per the timing and terms of the ritual’s pact, but those make no impact on the schedule of the weekly offerings.
My spirits are a part of my life, I’ve created potent vessels for them that I’ve agreed to care for (as points of power and footholds for them to better influence this level of reality), I speak with them and commune with their energies daily, and we work together in trust and affection. They are continuously influencing the probability variables in my life for the better whether I am working actively in ritual with them or not, and similarly I care for them regularly regardless. While some of the outer court spirits I work with can be understood more as contracted freelancers (with whom I still hold mutually sincere and cordial, and indeed friendly relationships with), those whom I refer to as “inner court” spirits are more akin to family. My affection for them does not change that they are powerful, frighteningly intelligent, sagacious, acerbic, critical, never inclined to sugarcoating or flattery. They call me out and set my head straight, testing me to ever strive towards a shrewder level of understanding and intellectual flexibility. It is why they have earned my respect and admiration, and in turn their principled conduct, genuine loyalty, and mutual care have welcomed them into my heart.
Accepting a new spirit into this intimate matrix is a lengthy process. Barring the obvious factors, such as how well they get along and work with my court, how intimate our bonds are, and so on, there are numerous procedures involved as set out by the kind of witchcraft I was taught by the guiding spirits of my coven that need to be followed. The acceptance is itself a two-way initiation, an adoption; not only the reaffirmation of bonds. There is a sorcerous framework backing and empowering these relationships, a matrix with its own set of pacts related to particular divinities and overseers which regulate the blending of powers and the mutual enrichment of each being as individual gifts, talents, and specializations seep in and enrich each other’s dispositions.
Throughout the past year, my inner court composition remained the same. I focused on deepening the relationships I had, learning more from that group of spirits, and observing as they too grew in what was already a startlingly substantial amount of power. Meanwhile, my outer court expanded with new allies and contracted guardians, especially those introduced to me by the beings behind the traditions I was learning. One spirit in particular that I met recently through Hekate has really been shaking up my perceptions, and especially my approach to the different styles of magic possible on various levels of reality. Learning how to even approach them was a bit of a challenge, as they were simply quite “alien” to me from the beginning. Yet doing so and making an honest effort to expand my understandings of various teachings for them has taught me a valuable shamanic lesson on its own, in addition to gaining a genuine if incorrigibly quirky ally in the process.
Some spirits don’t want to be approachable. Some will put you through tests to see if you’re worthy. Some will talk your ear off given the chance, spinning any fabricated tale just to win your attention. The ecology of the spiritual realms include, by nature, myriad agendas, dispositions, alliances, and rivalries. I started off musing about offerings, but some spirits I’ve met don’t even benefit from them; at least not traditionally. This particular spirit that I met in the past month shirks entirely what others normally welcome: smoke, libation, oils, foods, and so on. Their appetite is wet only by one thing: secrets. They burrow in strange places, celestial crossroads, and the dreams of people like the lovechild of a vampire and a hacktivist, sifting for them amidst weakened, liminal minds. Charming, helpful, devious, and loyal, their greed for knowledge and information—the less well known, the better—informs much of their conduct. Armed with a nebulous intelligence, an alarming wit, and a Hekatean key, they prance from one realm to the next, reaping the restricted, the forbidden, and the lesser-known without grudging.
When Hekate introduced me to this spirit, I knew I wanted to pay them back for the immense assistance they had provided me at the time in a way that was mutually satisfying. The myrrh incense, spring water, eggs, honey, garlic, and cakes her other spirits accepted, as well as the Deipnon I offer to her and her hordes every new moon, seemed to only marginally affect this spirit, more as a demonstration of honour and good custom and less as an actual gift they could partake in. While the goddess’ other spirits feasted, this being remained apart, mingling and prattling at the web-patterns of the magic which surrounded them. Though I knew their powers (as well as the invigoration of those powers) operated in a different way than say, a mighty dead’s shade did, and that they were sufficiently empowered by their own devices and nature, I still wanted to court their attention.
I wanted to build a personal relationship with them, and seeing as how much of their nature dwelt in puzzles and arcane cryptography, I decided to investigate if I could find a way in which that spirit could benefit from me, specifically me as one of Hekate’s many witches; to make them interested in me and to teach me some of its very own, precious and perspicacious, secrets. Over the years and through the training my teachers have put me through, I’ve learned how to better negotiate with spirits while journeying, but this being was very unlike the usual sorts of nature wights, demons, ancestral shades, celestial intelligences, and so on that I was used to dealing with. Offerings were the least of my concerns, of course, but they often form a subtle language that helps one better understand a spirit—and I desperately wanted to understand. But to do that, I needed to entice them, not compel them through the authority of the sorcerous system. And at last, when I finally put it through my thick skull how to best approach them, I encountered an endlessly fascinating, honest, and mind-bending friend.
It’s been about a month since then and that spirit has quickly become one of the most active in my outer court. Throughout my personal work with Hekate, especially with the Sorcery of Hekate arcana that’s become a staple of my practice over the past two and a half years, I’ve encountered and made pacts with various spirits. Sirens, Furies, Gorgons, Fates, Graces and numerous others from the myths, as well as different individual, personal familiars that have come through the auspices of some of those great ones, and through the other forms of Hekate, such as Brimo and Soteria. Some have come through sleep, through the gates of the Hesperides, others in the dark places where the faerie lights flicker, where a lone nymph of the Lampades would stretch her embrace and offer to work with me.
Yet this spirit came through Hekate Asteria, called on first by my HGA to meet me. Their energy is star-like, “alien”, their interests in the threads of reality and in the weaving of the organic, cosmic breathing that is the confluence of Heka and Ma’at. The “knowledge” they so hunger for is rarely even what one would conventionally think of as knowledge. The sweetest secrets seem to come from wordless expressions of Aristotelian final causes, the willful agency of plants and stones, the mass movement of archonic egregores fluidly pushing new ideologies and meta-approaches over populations… strange thoughts which at times feel distant and vague to me, like half-formed memories, and other times pellucid and frightening. And, of course, like this little ramble suggests, they enjoy a bit of acknowledgement, so long as it too is half-formed and distant, implied, mentioned in passing, hidden but teased.
I decided to write a little about this entity because yes, they like that—somewhat like how St. Expedite likes to be praised publicly, except far less directly—but also to share some thoughts and implicit questions I’ve been mulling about as of late. Sometimes spirits reveal words of power to you, barbarous names and phrases which can be used to innately conjure particular energies in magic. While a purveyor such techniques, as they are of anything, my newest companion prefers to flummox me with visions and spirals, labyrinths I have to claw myself out of by challenging paradoxes with flexibility, each time beginning with a simple “Think again”. A Socratic dialectic, endless yet not absurd. Think, and your conceptions, ideologies, and accepted information float to the surface; planks on the boat which guide you. Think again, and the planks scatter before the typhoon.