Working with spirits in witchcraft is commonly known as necromancy; there are different ways to go about working with spirits in magick depending on your ability, expertise, knowledge and comfort level.
Necromancy is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
In this post, we’ll cover how to work with the spirits that are familiar to you, that are often around you and that know you rather than summoning up unfamiliar spirits that you don’t know.
Here we’ll cover:
- Who your (familiar) spirits are and who they aren’t
- How to differentiate between your (familiar) spirits, your loved ones in spirit and unknown/wandering spirits
- The difference between high magick and low (folk) magick necromancy and spirit work
- How to introduce yourself to your spirits
- What offerings to make to your spirits
- Protection needed when working with spirits
- Different types of workings, divination and magick with your spirits
How to Work with Spirits in Witchcraft
Who your (familiar) spirits are and who they aren’t
When talking about who familiar spirits are, this refers to the spirits that are always around you and willing to help you in your daily life and sometimes magickal workings.
If you’re a practitioner or witch who’s used to spirit visitations, you may be acquainted with the spirits that are often around you or that frequently visit.
These spirits (which can be called familiar – not to be confused with familiars which are often as animal familiars – rather these are spirits that you’re used to in some way and aren’t foreign to you) can often be ancestors, people that you’ve known from past lives or spirits that are drawn to you and your type of work or that you have some kind of bond or spirit agreement.
These spirits work to watch over the practitioner or witch, protect them and their home, and can assist with magickal workings if asked and if the spirits agree with the working or magick.
In some cases, you may get the names or appearances of the spirits around you and in other cases, you may not get their names at all.
Names are not as important in the spirit world as names are only really connected to the physical world.
While saints, deities and other mythological figures have names, other familiar spirits may not be attached to their previous incarnate names and decide not to have a name or they may choose a different name that they want to be called.
So if you don’t immediately get a name of your spirits or any name at all, don’t worry too much about it.
You’ll still be able to communicate with them and sense them through their energy and presence.
The spirits that are around you can also be household spirits that help to maintain and protect the home.
Household spirits often work for protection, keeping the house tidy and in order and helping with chores. Household spirits like a domovoy (domovik) require offerings of food and drink and a tidy house otherwise he will get offended, make a mess and leave forever.
Spirits that are worked with in necromancy magick or daily workings with your common or familiar spirits aren’t the same as spirit guides.
Spirit guides work with giving advice, guidance and counsel to help you in your life and carry out the “Master” plan for your life and your life purpose.
To know more about spirit guides and which main guides you have on your spirit guide team, check out Your Guide to Spirit Guides.
How to differentiate between your familiar spirits, your loved ones in spirit and unknown/wandering spirits
Practitioners and witches who work with spirits will rarely feel as though they are completely alone even when they are by themselves.
In times that when they know they are alone with no spirits around, they’ll definitely feel a sense of isolation.
Some practitioners or witches have a connection with their spirits from a young age; many of the spirits are dismissed by friends or family as simply being “imaginary friends” and many who interacted with these spirits at a younger age tend to “grow out” of talking to the spirits.
How to recognize familiar/known spirits
Familiar spirits or spirits that are known to you will have a “homey”, comfortable feeling that you’ll feel at ease around them.
You may not notice them as much as other spirits because you’ll likely have become accustomed to their presence.
You may notice often when one or more becomes more apparent in your presence, but it’ll still feel familiar and comfortable.
How to recognize a loved one in spirit visitation
When a loved one in spirit visits, you may feel a shift of energy in the room as if someone walked in.
You may notice something out of the corner of your eye, light, movement or shadows.
Feel or see with your psychic abilities if you can determine who it is. Sometimes a loved one who is in spirit will have a signature scent or image that they’ll project to you so that you know who it is.
If you’re unsure, ask who it is and wait to mentally see or hear the response. You may get a name, a letter or an image.
If it’s a loved one in spirit that you like and want them to stay, you can talk to them and invite them in.
If it’s a family or friend in spirit that you didn’t have a good relationship with and don’t want them around, ask them to leave.
Next is how to get an unwanted/wander spirit to leave.
How to recognize an unwanted/wandering spirit
When a practitioner or witch does magick and/or mediumship, spirits will be naturally drawn to them.
This can happen in public and through acquaintances that the practitioner or witch knows or even through neighbours who have spirits visiting them.
Unwanted/wandering spirits will sometimes come into your personal space or home and just like you wouldn’t let anyone just walk into your home off the street uninvited, the same boundaries must be applied to uninvited spirits.
Just like a loved one in spirit visitation, you will feel a shift in energy when a wandering spirit comes in to your spirit radar and psychic senses.
However, the feeling or sense of not knowing the spirit won’t go away unlike becoming reacquainted with your loved one in spirit.
When an unknown spirit comes into your spirit radar (your psychic sense, home or field), say “If I know you, you can stay. If not, leave.”
This can give you a chance to scan your psychic senses to see if you know this spirit, if it is perhaps a spirit that someone you know knows (such as a friend of a friend or a relative of a friend or acquaintance) or if it’s a complete stranger spirit that has wandered over to you.
If you’re comfortable enough to communicate with the spirit to get more information, then you can try to do so. However, sometimes you have to set boundaries and tell the spirit to leave.
This is on a case-by-case basis and you’ll have to make sure to set boundaries.
If you want the spirit to leave, stand or sit up as straight as you possibly can, project confidence, clap your hands or ring a bell and tell the spirit to leave.
Show them to door and tell them “out”.
Proceed then to cleanse your home spiritually and protect it also in the way you see best.
Next, we’ll look at how to open up a connection and working relationship with your spirits for magick and everyday life.
Difference between high magick and low (folk) magick in necromancy and spirit work
Quite simply, high magick is very ceremonial and formal with detailed steps and rituals that are step-by-step and often use choreography, exact correspondences, etc.
Low (folk) magick is more simple, less structured, often steeped in customs and traditions that are associated with local culture and customs.
This post here focuses on the low (folk) magick with familiar and common spirits.
The spirits worked with are a partnership and relationship and rather than commanding and demanding a spirit to do the work, this is more a mutual agreement and partnership that the spirits have as much free will as the practitioner / witch does.
High magick often requires specific training and technique while low (folk) magick is rather simpler and less formal.
To know more about techniques of spirit conjuring which has influences of high magick, check out Spirit Conjuring for Witches: Magical Evocation Simplified by Frater Barrabbas.
Later in the post, we’ll cover workings and magick that can be done with your spirits from a low (folk) magick perspective.
What offerings you can make to your spirits
Making offerings to your spirits is one of the best ways to keep an open dialogue with your spirits and to keep them happy.
If you’re unsure at first what kind of offerings your spirits want, ask them in meditation and wait to receive an answer.
You can make the offerings on your main altar or create a separate altar.
A note on household spirits / your spirits and the altar:
When working with your spirits and/or household spirits, you can choose to have a main household altar that is set up in the main room of your home or a room in which you and/or family spends the most time in.
If you’re unable to have more than one altar or keep on in open view in your home, you can set up your altar someplace private and make your spirits offerings there.
An altar doesn’t have to be elaborate and can be simple.
For more about altars, check out How to Create an Altar.
For more about dark goddesses such as working with Hekate, the Queen of Witches, witchcraft and necromancy, check out How to Create a Dark Goddess Altar.
Now back to offerings to your spirits.
These are some suggestions of offerings that can be made to your spirits depending on what they prefer:
- Alcohol – e.g. vodka, rum (gold, silver or spiced), rye, whiskey, bourbon, gin, white wine, red wine
- Food – e.g. cake, bread, fruit, etc.
- Tobacco / cigarettes / cigars
These offerings can be placed on your altar and given to your spirits.
The usual amount to leave the offering on the altar is 3 to 4 days and the offering can then be disposed of either by throwing it outside (but make sure local wildlife or animals can’t get it) or burying the offering on your property.
(If you have pets or young children, it’s best to keep the offering in a container or some place on a higher shelf that they can’t reach.)
Next, we’ll cover about the necessity of protection if working with spirits.
Protection needed when working with spirits
Protection is always needed when doing magick and/or working with your familiar or unfamiliar spirits.
This can be done by using protection dust/powder, oil, salt, incense, protection sprays, Florida water and other protective methods to create a protection barrier around you and your home.
During the autumn months, it’s especially important to continue to use protection magick around yourself and your home as the veil thins from the the month before Samhain until the month after, as Samhain being the time when the veil is the thinnest.
Crystals can also be used for protection and the darkest crystals (often black) offer the most protection such as black tourmaline, black kyanite, jet and onyx.
For more about these crystals and other protective crystals, check out The Ultimate List of Crystals for Protection.
Wear a protective crystal at all times (including to bed if possible or under your pillow if safe to do so that no pets or young children will get it) and create a protective barrier around your home with salt, Cascarilla or protection dust such as at doorway entrances, window sills and gates leading to your home or yard.
Different types of workings, divination and magick with your spirits
Necromancy is described as any magickal working done with spirits which can be from spells with your common spirits, summoning to graveyard magick.
If you have a working relationship and open communication with your spirits, they will be watching you when you perform your rituals and/or spells and magick.
Your spirits will assist you when they feel your magick is appropriate and they may block you when your magick isn’t in alignment with what should happen or they may block your magick or spell to protect you from repercussions (especially when doing hexing, jinxing or cursing work.)
Your spirits will always be looking out for you and often know what’s in your best interest better than you and will assist you when it’s appropriate and may refuse if they don’t agree with what you’re doing.
Working with your spirits can be done for any type of spell work or magick as long as your spirits agree and accept the type of working.
This can be such as money spells, love spells, work spells, protection spells, etc.
You can also work with your spirits in divination and communicate with them about a variety of different things including knowing if a spell or magickal working will be successful or how to go about doing a spell.
There’s a previous post all about communicating with spirits and tarot right here: How to Communicate with Spirits using Tarot.
Graveyard magick is a topic that’s much different than what’s detailed in here from working with your familiar and common spirits around you.
This type of magick requires a lot of attention to detail and precision, including caution.
To know more about graveyard magick, Grove and Grotto has a post about graveyard magick.
To know about cemetery magick from a Slavic perspective and tradition, including spells, check out Slavic Witchcraft: Old World Conjuring Spells and Folklore by Natasha Helvin.
While working with spirits can be rewarding, it requires a great deal of respect and understanding of your spirits and what they will and won’t assist you with.
Building a relationship and connection with the spirits around you will help to keep your magick flowing, and can offer a great deal of protection and safety when needed.
The simplest advice to start working with your spirits is to communicate with them every day whether through meditation, talking out loud or through divination or tarot.
Start by building a connection and open line of communication with your spirits and create a stable and mutual relationship first before moving on to working with your spirits in magick and spells.
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