Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Seeking A Familiar: A Festival Summoning Rite, 8/2018

This August, at the 20th annual Summerland Gathering in SE Ohio I led an operation to allow the
participants to make a personal spirit alliance. I framed this alliance as seeking “a familiar” – that key individual ally that magicians work with to gain wider entrĂ©e among the spirits, and direct aid in practical magic. It was an interesting and, I think, productive effort overall, and I’ve made some choices of direction as a result, for further workings of the rite.

Summerland is primarily a gathering of Druidic Pagans working in ADF and is held in a 4H camp with good facilities. With chancy weather on the day of the rite we chose to use the small hearth in the large, covered pavilion for the rite. This may have reduced the romantic-setting factor, compared to an outdoor firepit, but the mechanics of making rather a lot of offerings were probably improved.

The rite itself is a fairly complex thing, as modern rites go. It is based on my understanding of the patterns of grimoire spirit-arte, adapted for group work. It relies on entrancement and vision to provide the ‘appearance’ of the spirits, but treats them as real and specific entities, whose alliance we intend to make. Let me give a summary outline, in lieu of the full script:
• Preliminary entrancement and centering
• Blessing of the ritual space
• Establishment of ‘the Gate’, and invocation of a gatekeeper God to ward the Gate and the work.
• Preliminary offering to All Spirits, as the Three Kindreds of Gods, Dead, and Landspirits.
• Invocation of the God of the Rite – In this case Dagda Mor, as God of Magic, and especially his person of Ruad Rofessa
• Receiving the Blessing of the Gods – in this case as an anointing of the eyes with blessed water, to induce spirit-sight.
• Convoking the ‘Court of the Willing’ – all those spirits who are inclined to gather at our Fire
• Oath and Binding of the Convoked spirits: Very gently done.
• Individual calling: a litany during which each participant called to an individual spirit, if one would come
• Treating with the spirit: time of silence for individuals to speak or experience the result.
• The License to Depart, and closings as usual.
Once participant described the rite as having ‘quite a few moving parts’, but it took about an hour including the periods of silence and vision.

The work went smoothly, from my side of the fire, with L and I doing a pretty tight job with the multi-stage ritual. Though we worked in a large ‘hangar’ of a room with merchants etc, the ambient noise was both quieted and nicely vanished behind the trance-work, I thought. There’s nothing like live fire and regular oil-offerings to help concentrate attention.

The new and chancy portion of the outline is the transition from the presence of the Host of those who arrive, and accept the Oath (see my other articles onthis method) to the individual alliances, done personally, by each committed participant. I devised a repetitious litany of calling to lead into the trance silence, and recited a quiet charm about alliance while they worked. There was the common wait for the last members to open their eyes and make contact to signal that they had finished, but no specific rescues were needed.

The ideal model for a festival-working like this would be to have briefings both before and following the ritual itself. It can be an imposition in an event’s busy schedule to take that much space, and so I had no de-briefing round-robin of responses from the company. I did have conversations with a number of them, and responses ranged from “I saw the crowd of spirits’ among those less experienced to what seem significant personal alliances. In a festival setting I am always pleased if even a core number of folks really get their button pushed by the work. I will call this a reasonable win on points.

First Steps with a New Ally
In Lieu of a chance for instructions and further work I’ll include some notes here.
• Your memories and impressions of the contact may vary in the hours and days following. Your final impressions should be balanced against your first impressions, as you get to know the spirit.
• Represent the spirit at your home shrine. You may have a sense of the form, or proper image – cards from oracle decks, nature-images, etc may provide options. Relatedly:
• Consider deriving a sigil, if you have not been shown one. Sigils are derived by various occult methods from the letters of the spirit’s name. The sigil can be combined with an image to good effect as a real-world anchor for the spirit.
• Develop a simple yes/no/maybe divination tool, and begin using it to converse with and confirm messages with the spirit. I have used plain and fancy two-sided coins, sets of three dice, short packs of red and black playing cards. Get used to actually abiding by the omens of such conversations, even while you open yourself to direct conversation.
• Instruct the Familiar. Bring them to your shoulder explain to them important things in your life. Do not assume a spirit understands material life the same way you do. This can also be done, together, in vision.
• Assign your familiar simple tasks after explaining the elements and target clearly. Consider using divination to see whether the task is doable.

• A Simple Charm To call the New Ally to You
• Arrange the spirit’s sigil, or contact-item, and have the proper offering, according to the pact.
• Hallow the space with a simple blessing unless a more formal offering is required.
• Speak the Spirit’s name and call it to you in simple words, then recite the central part of the Charm of the Pact. I provide the whole text, as in the rite:
• The Charm of the Pact
So this we swear, we two, and make our pact,
Between my mortal spirit and your own
By my eyes’ light and blood within in my veins,
By flesh and breath, and by ancestor’s bone.

Our troth we give, together, you and I
You by your power, me with offerings true
Come when I call, and aid me as I will
And all due honor I will give to you

If ever I should fail to keep the pact,
Or you should fail to come when I do call
Then null shall be our bargain, done and done
      And each depart, with harm to none at all.

• Greet the spirit and make the offering. Converse as you may.
• Charge the spirit as you will.
• End the session with a polite send-off.

I just posted a longer rite that employs the Familiar for a specific practicalmagic goals by sending it as a herald. That can be a next-step, and a way to work with your ally for more distant goals.

To Ask the Familiar For An Agent.

This is imported from my small, practical book "Pagan Spells", which also contains a rite for making alliance with a Familiar Spirit.

In many cases, when you have a specific need for magic, it can be answered by asking your allies for aid. The Ancestral Teacher can convey many things to and for you, and the Familiar can be your herald or your guardian. But no spirit has every power. If your Familiar should be of the Wise, then martial tasks are not best suited to it, if it is of stone then it might not work the weather. Yet the Familiar is a spirit, free in the realm of spirits, and it can be asked to find a proper agent among the spirits to do as you wish.
            For those with a developed relationship with their allies this can be as simple as an inner conversation, the spirit called by will alone. In moments of immediate need, the simple charms in the calling section of this work can bring the Familiar quickly, without formal ritual. For newer students, it is well to set this request into a ritual format. Even for the experienced, we find that our calling and speaking with spirits takes on a repetitive, ritualized tone. In my opinion that is simply the spirits’ way of communicating with mortals.
            In this simple charm you will need only a simple fire-offering for the Kindreds, and whatever offering has been customary between you and your Familiar. If you are regularly offering to your allies at your shrine, you can simply ask them for aid in honor of your relationship. If you have something more serious or unusual a special offering is best. When in doubt, make the offering.
The Work:

• Find your basic trance, and attune to the Two Powers
• Offer to the Fire, Well & Tree, saying:
Mother of All, Let this Well be blessed.
First Father, kindle magic in this Fire.
Let this Tree be the Crossroads of All Worlds,
That the Sacred Grove may be established.

• Sprinkle all from the Well, and cense from the Fire, saying:
By the might of the Waters
and the Light of the Fire,
this Grove is made whole and holy.

• Make an offering into the Fire, and say:
Keeper of Gates, aid me to open the Ways.

• With your work hand, make a welcoming triskel (in to out, deisil) over the Fire, saying:
By Land, Sky and Sea;
By Gods, Dead & Sidhe;
By Fire, Well & Tree;
Let the Gate be open!
• Turn once deasil, saying:
So the Way is opened and this place is claimed. Let no ill or harm come to me and mine, and Wisdom, Love and Power flow to me through this gate. So be it!

• A short invocation to the Kindreds, with a simple offering, can be done if this is being done formally at the shrine:
Gods and Dead and Mighty Sidhe
Powers of Land and Sky and Sea
A gift I give, from me to thee
Come and lend your aid to me.

Prepare the Offering and envision the Familiar, calling to it both with your voice, if possible, and aloud in your mind, saying perhaps:
O spirit (spirit’s name) O Noble One
I call to you by Well and Fire and Tree
Draw near, and come in peace, I bid you now,
Take you this gift, O (spirit) come to me!

• When you feel the presence of the spirit, greet it with a flow of love and welcome in your heart, asking it your boon, saying perhaps:
Welcome (spirit), to my fire in peace. I would ask a boon.
Can you send a spirit, O (spirit)
Can you send a spirit?
I would work my will, whether you are sent or you can send a spirit.
To: (state intention clearly and specifically)
Do this for me and I will give to you due offering.

This can be repeated, often three times. After each repetition, open your Inner Eye to the Familiar, and seek a response, conversing as is useful. Can the Familiar find an agent? What are your specific needs? – include a time-based deadline if you need to. If you like, use a simple divination to see whether your visions are true. After three repetitions, you may spend some time communing with the Familiar, perhaps meeting the agent that is found for the task, perhaps not.

• When you know that the work will be done, thank the Familiar, saying something like:
Depart now, my friend, O (spirit’s name), and remember your oath, complete the charge I have given you, with harm to none, and come again at the proper time, or whenever I might call you, and I will make to you due offering.

• A Short Closing

Let bound be bound and wound be wound;
Thus all is done, and done, and well done,
And thus I end what was begun.

Make a banishing spiral (out to in, tuathal) over the Fire, saying:

The sacred center has held well,
Now, by Tree and Fire and Well,
Let this gate be closed!

To the Three Holy Kindreds I give my thanks.
To the Keeper of Gates I give my thanks.
To the Mother of All I give my thanks.
Let wisdom, love and power kindle in all beings

The rite is ended!