So it pays to get them right. Unfortunately, summoning isn't like riding a bicycle. You can lose your knack if this isn't something you do regularly. (Or, at least, this has been my personal experience.)
But it's no biggie. Safe summoning practice is easy, fun and enlightening.
I keep my eye in by regularly dabbling in a little necromancy lite™ so that's what this article is going to focus on.
If you're new to magic then that's no problem. Using the steps outlined below to contact the dead is simple. It requires no prior experience. You can technically contact the dead with little (or no) equipment whatsoever; simply making the things you need when they are required. But it is so much easier if you have a few things on hand:
- Ouija Board. Just buy one. They're cheap on Amazon. (But don't get a used one!)
- Candles. Any kind. I'm not a candle snob. I'll explain later.
- Incense. I'll explain this later, as well. You can get what you need from your local supermarket. Don't fret.
Below is a guide specifically designed for summoning the dead. If you're planning on summoning non-human entities then I would still suggest you give this a try. Think of it like weight training before boxing. There is a big crossover in the muscle groups that you will go on to use. Besides, this process can be easily adapted to suit a bunch of non-human entities.
When I describe this as 'easy', I mean it in the sense that humans have been interacting with the spirits of the dead as far back in the archaeological record as we can see. Neanderthals built magic circles, buried their deceased with grave goods, etc. Connecting with spirits is 'easy' in the way something like fishing is 'easy': We have been doing it for tens of thousands of years but
- Some people are better than others at it.
- Practice makes perfect.
1. Make Yourself Scared
When you think about it afterward, you'll realise it is kinda creepy.
But then, I find long life milk kinda creepy. (Because it is! Refrigerate it, already!)
Anyway, this is why we need to take the wind out of those fear sails beforehand.
Perform these steps on any night prior to the summoning. Not on the same night.
- Pick a night when you can be alone in the house. Or go somewhere where you can be alone.
- Turn off all the lights and sit in the dark. You can light a couple of candles for mood if you like.
- Picture people you can't see. Some guy lurking outside the window, an invisible person standing right behind you. Imagine scary ghosts from movies you have seen. Really go to town on this.
- Listen to the sounds around you. Floor boards creaking, trees swaying in the wind, the heating kicking in, whatever. What was that??
- Listen while scared. You will realise that 'quiet' in a domestic setting is actually really quite loud.
- Just sit scared for a while; listening and imagining.
Does Step 1 sound like a horrible thing to do? Why are you even doing this, you ask? Well, this is what is known as a 'standard control component' in placebo-controlled clinical trials.
It's important for you to understand that random, unexplained sounds are normal all the time... It's just that we don't usually notice them unless we're anxious. Why this is important is because, in an abnormal setting, your mind can play tricks on you.
You really have to be okay with this, because during evocation it will be you playing tricks on your mind. Determining this difference is the key to long term successful results.
Pause to consider how many initiation rituals throughout history rely on the use of fear to alter the aspirant's state of consciousness.
2. Play With Yourself
I'm not above making a low-brow masturbation joke.
Before we move onto external entities, you're going to practice on yourself. (And that would be another one.)
Now, it might sound strange that the first being you 'summon' will be yourself but chances are, you aren't scared of yourself. You probably aren't scared of your spirit guides, either. So they're a good place to start.
- Wipe down the ouija board and planchette with a damp cloth rinsed in warm, slightly-saline water. (Do this every time you use it.)
- Go someplace where you won't be disturbed, light some candles and set up the board.
- Pray or invoke as you see fit. The simplest way of doing this is to visualise yourself bathed in white light from above. Then picture this light being absorbed into your body until you can see yourself glowing so brightly it is almost too difficult for your mind's eye to focus on it. Then feel this light expand out from you to the four walls, floor and ceiling where they 'lock'; leaving you in a safe, sanctified space.
"St Nicholas of Tolentino, light the lamps. St Christopher, light the lamps. With the permission of the IAO SABAOTH, we make safe and sacred this space that we may traffick with the Honoured Dead. Beloved St Nicholas of Toletino, shepherd my guides and helping spirits to this place. Be with us here and speak through the medium of this board. Indicate your presence here by moving the planchette to 'yes'."
- And now you wait until the planchette moves to 'yes'. Sometimes it may move somewhere else first. I've had spirits that needed to do a lap of the board to get their bearings. Whatever. You'll know when it happens. Go with it.
- During the ritual, once the planchette stops on each letter be sure to speak that letter aloud. It seems to be the universal sign for 'understood and onto the next one'.
- Classically, you're supposed to have someone else playing scribe who can write down all the letters. This really isn't necessary at this stage. But it's useful when communicating with the dead.
Oh my God, its moving and I'm totally not doing it! Well, yes you probably are, as a matter of fact. It's called the ideomotor effect. You are moving the planchette yourself but you aren't conscious that you're doing it. It's how the planchette moves. Doesn't mean it's not "working". You're communicating with your unconscious, after all. You shouldn't be conscious of the movements. If you are, then you're not doing it right.
Being familiar with the ideomotor effect, alongside general 'scary background noises' is extremely important. These are the baseline conditions you need to be aware of so that if/when something else happens (curtains moving in a room with no draft, books falling off shelves, etc) you can safely say "well my brain was moving the planchette and the tree was making the sounds but I don't know what moved that book."
Now you're ready for some dead visitors.
3. Scrub The Decks
Just like it sounds.
- Wash the board and planchette as described above.
- Use your fingers to sprinkle some of the warm salt water around the summoning space.
- Light some fresh candles. (Always use fresh candles for each summoning.)
- Light some incense. Sandalwood is good at lifting the vibrations of a space without influencing the results in an undue manner.
- Perform the white light exercise listed above.
4. Pick Someone Nice
The key to a good, broad summoning is to clear the space and make sure whoever wants to show up is actually nice and helpful. Think of a broad, untargeted summoning like Chatroulette. You could get Ben Folds playing an impromptu gig, or you could get an old Romanian man masturbating at you. If you want to aim for the former rather than the latter, then here is how you do it:
- Open the gate. Invoke some aspect of the great cosmic Gatekeeper. St Peter would work at a pinch but I get the best results from Hermanubis:
"Hermanubis, Keeper of The Gate, Lord of Hidden Road Between Life and Death, I call on you. Hermanubis, I summon you. A follower of the Old Ways calls out to you. Open the gate between the Realm of the Living and the Realm of the Dead for I would traffick with the Peaceful Departed."
- Now get yourself some spirits:
"I call upon the Peaceful Dead. If there are any among you who would speak to us this night then be with us now in this sacred space. Indicate your presence and readiness by moving the planchette to 'yes'."
- Relax and enjoy the flight.
- A few tips: If you can't understand something that is communicated then say so. Also, you will usually get the spirit saying 'goodbye' when it wants to but if you want to wind it up then thank them for their time and bid them peaceably depart.
Which bring me to my last point. What if they don't leave?
5. Have A Fire Blanket Handy
Best laid plans and all that, huh? It's important to know what to do in the event something goes wrong or in the event something wrong doesn't leave.
Note that this has never happened to me when I have followed the above outline (although it has in other instances) but that doesn't mean I don't prepare for every eventuality.
As mentioned elsewhere, I am all about using readily obtainable ingredients. There's something about a magical practitioner gloating over silly obscure components (which were purchased online, anyway) that seems lonely and sad. Like they're collecting stamps or something. It's great if you're the proud owner of a fully-stocked sorcerer's chest. But having a giant collection of teensy little packets of freeze dried ingredients doesn't make you some awesome swamp witch. It just means you have a hobby. Good for you.
Me? I go for fresh and multipurpose. Like stocking a cocktail bar:
- Crush equal parts star anise and cloves in a mortar and pestle. This is a really good, cheap exorcism incense that will do the trick but won't completely blow out the energies of your house or temple. Of course, you will also need a charcoal briquette. (If you need a nuclear option, go with dragon's blood. But be prepared to rebuild the energies of the space you use it in afterwards.)
- Should you have need of it, light the briquette and drop some exorcism incense on it. Say:
"I banish you from this space and this realm. Return from whence you came and trouble the Living no more."
Just keep repeating this until the space is cleared. Then open a window. The exorcism incense will make your neighbours think you are opening a combination Thai restaurant/meth lab.
Rinse and repeat.
This article is pitched broadly enough to be helpful to the absolute beginner but I like to think there is something in it for the advanced user, as well.
Let me finish by extending the muscle group analogy. Olympic Gold Medallists still do push ups. Learning how to clear, summon and banish is all about practice, all about getting your hours up. Hopefully, you will also be privy to some spirit-based learning as a pleasant and exciting side effect.
Definitely can't say that about push ups.
One final note: You may also benefit from listening to this episode of the Rune Soup podcast about Spiritism: