Beginner to Advanced Techniques for speaking with Deities

God Talk

Speaking with the Gods

When I was just a kid, I remember my Grandma keeping various candles about the house that she used for different purposes. One was in the shape of a five-pointed star and was green. This was her money candle. These early memories must have influenced me because I’ve always been attracted to candle magic. I enjoy the choice of color, scent, and shape. When developing my own rituals for communicating with deities, candles were a natural choice.

Jay’s Starting Technique

The first step is to choose an entity that you wish to speak with. It can be a God, Goddess, or nature spirit. I won’t go into communicating with the spirits of deceased humans in this article. Once you have selected your subject of interest, do some research on them. Find their associated symbols, read and familiarize yourself with stories about them, even look for related art. Really get familiar with them, and get your mind tuned to their essence.

For this technique we’ll use a slightly ritualistic approach with candle magic. Find a candle that you feel represents the deity you are going to communicate with. Try and find a color, smell, shape or size that reminds you of the deity’s attributes. For instance, I think of Manannan as a storm god, so I chose a black candle that had a very masculine and mysterious scent to it. The shape didn’t matter to me as much and so I chose something practical, but it can be helpful symbolism to chose a 3-sided candle for communicating with a triple-aspect goddess and so forth.

Once you have the candle, it’s good to add some personal touches to its appearance to give it more importance. This can be done by carving a symbol representing the god or goddess into the candle. If you are unsure what symbol to use, there are plenty of books that cover this topic, or you can try searching for information on the internet. If the deity correlates with one of the planets, you can use the astrological symbol. 0e59e842b813d62cab15bc978cf574ee--astrological-symbols-astrology-symbolsIn addition to symbols, you can attach plants and herbs or surround the candle’s base in a wreath of them. A decorative holder can also be used, such as a shining gold base for a sun god, a shallow bowl filled with water for those water related, and the same for Stones, earth, feathers, you name it! Make the candle special with whatever feels right to you and has a strong personalized connection to the spirit you want to speak with.


With the candle prepared, the next step is to imbue it with the energy of your will and desire. This process can be started while you are working on decorating the candle. Think about what you know of their history, their nature, and what you hope to gain by speaking with them. Feel the energy pouring out of your hands as you work on the candle. Do this at a time when you are feeling an appropriate level of enthusiasm. Give the candle your full focus, making sure distractions don’t take you away from the task. This candle is an expression of your willpower to communicate with a higher entity, and a vessel for your personal energy. It may seem like a lot of work, but this is something you will be using over and over again. I personally feel it lends extra power to the candle the more times you use it.

The second step is to plan a good a time and place to make the connection. For Manannan, since I didn’t live near the ocean at the time, I chose to communicate during a storm. Likewise, working with a moon deity is best in view of the moon at night, and a nature deity could be contacted in the woods. For some situations you’ll have to create your own environment. For fire deities, you could try it in front of a fireplace or in a dark room lit by a lot of small candles. The idea is to make you feel closer to the element of that God/Goddess, and to put you in an appropriately mystical mood. It’s not a requirement that you be near a like element at all, only a suggestion to help increase the conductivity. Of course it is also always sensible to find a place or time you won’t be disturbed during the process.

Once your candle is ready and everything is in place, simply sit there for a while and calm yourself. Get all distracting thoughts out of the way (as much as any human can expect to) and get comfortable. If you want to be in a chair, on the floor, or standing, do it. Go with whatever feels right in this situation. As you light the candle in front of you, say the deity’s name out loud like a mantra. Elongate the syllables and really feel the name. “Maa-naan-naaan” or “Briiih-ghiid” etc. Repeat the name while willing the god or goddess to appear in front of you. Make your will and your call a friendly invitation and a hopeful request for conversation. Some people will see a visual signifier that a presence has entered the room, others will simply sense a shift in the rooms atmosphere. There isn’t one key event used to signify that a deity has arrived. Sometimes they will speak first, other times they will enter and wait to be addressed. I usually sense a building of energy in front of me as the deity enters the room. When this build-up stabilizes is when I attempt to converse.

This is the hardest part to describe, as it may be different depending on the person. When I communicate with a deity or spirit, I often speak out loud. If you choose to speak out loud, also be sure to “think” what you are saying loudly. Make sure that as you are saying the words, you are also thinking of those words and what they mean. As humans we have the amazing ability to speak while thinking of something totally unrelated at the same time. Try to maintain a balance of focus and relaxation. After you speak, immediately clear your mind of thought and listen for an answer. Be patient and be open. Some people receive communication in the form of images, others hear the voice respond in their mind, and some receive mental concepts in return. Feelings and ideas can be as effective as words, and you may want to try communicating with those as well. Likewise if you relate to images stronger than words, try communicating by sending images to the god. Experiment and find the method that works best.

I recommend your first communication with the deity to be an introduction and a statement of purpose. Much like when you approach someone in person, introduce yourself and let them know why you’re talking to them. Tell them about yourself while also expressing interest in who you are speaking to. Maintain a cordial tone and be respectful until you know who you’re speaking to better. It is very possible to have a casual relationship with a deity but in the beginning I highly recommend keeping things more reserved. After introductions are out of the way, wing it. Respond to what they say or move the conversation toward your goal.

For some people, success will be instant. For others practice is needed. I find that the more times you speak with a spirit or deity the easier it becomes to hear and communicate. Some people become comfortable enough that they can communicate while walking in the woods or while driving to work. There will be days, no matter how often you practice, that your mind is too distracted or nervous, so don’t give up and don’t let failure get you down! The rewards out weigh the effort by tenfold!

Advance Spirit Bonding Technique

Before we begin with the advanced technique, I’d like to say that this is potentially dangerous. In spite of this I feel comfortable publishing it for two reasons: 1. Too many magic and occult books shy away from anything potentially unsafe or risky, which is somewhat dishonest. There are dangers on the astral plane, from immoral magic users in the form of psychic attack, and negative nature elementals. That’s a fact any active occultist will have to face someday. 2. Not everyone is going to be able to apply this technique, as it requires some amount of experience and skill. If a newbie is able to do this, then their natural gift will hopefully help them deal with the results.

This is more than just communicating with a God. It is sharing your physical body; being a host for the deity’s spirit or soul. Making one’s body available to an outside energy is the basis of channeling, and in my experience there are two levels of this process. The most extreme version of channeling has the host completely leave his body so that another entity can inhabit it. This is not only the most dangerous but also the least useful to the experiencer. Classically in this situation a second person is required to interact with the channeled spirit as the body’s true soul is pushed or displaced to a different location during the session. If you were to attempt this on your own, you would remember only fragments at best.

What I am teaching here allows a very temporary coexistence within your body. Your soul still fully inhabits its vessel and the god or goddess overlaps parts of your soul while partially occupying your body. Let me simply go over a typical session’s requirements and events and I’ll expand on this concept as I do. This should of course be done with an entity you have communicated with frequently and one with which you share a close bond of trust.

I strongly advise doing the advanced communication technique in a well shielded area that you have done magic in previously. Be at your most comfortable and secluded. Ask anyone in your home not to disturb you no matter the reason, turn off your phone, etc. Do whatever you usually do to get yourself into a trance like state. (Incense, dark room, music, whatever.) Call the deity you wish to attempt this with as you always do. You of course want to discuss this idea with the god or spirit as they may be unwilling or unable. I only say unable because of the large range in spirit or deity type, although I believe most all types are capable of this. Once the event is agreed upon, a shift in your will is required. This may vary depending on the type of psychic self defense you have. If you keep shields around you to keep out all outside energy types, you will of course have to lower these or alter their intention. If you have them you know how to do this. Next, one needs to become fully aware of his or her spiritual energies. Quiet your mind and feel the shape of your astral body and the energy that infuses your physical being. Feel the flow of energy and lightly part it in front of your body as if you were opening a door. Mentally/verbally say: “It is my will that (name) enter and share my body.” If you want to alter this sentence to have preset limitations (such as “ body for the next 20 minutes”) it is fine of course, although you may want to question why you have a trust issue. Let the deity’s energy flow into you. Don’t feel like you have to react to it, simply let it be. You won’t have to combine your energy with that of the god, they should be able to flow over and around each other without mixing.

The experience at this point will vary depending on who or what you are communicating with. The first thing I always feel is very strong energy flowing into my body. This may be gradual, or it may be very quick. It is the entity merging with your body. Because of the size and strength of most deities, the whole of their essence will not fill your body completely. Only a portion of it will, and the rest will surround your body. My awareness increases dramatically at this point and my perception is very different. Senses like taste, sound, and smell will be most apparently different. An odd combination of divine experience and physical sensations overlap at the same time. Knowledge can be shared very quickly in this mode, although each entity should have control over what knowledge is imparted. The potential at this point is up to you and who you are dealing with. The mutual benefits should be obvious. The energy overflow from having multiple souls in one body, especially one being a deity, is too much to handle for an extended amount of time. If this is the first time you’ve attempted this, you may want to keep it short. Use your own judgment with this. Go by your gut, and if you feel like you should quit or it is getting to be overwhelming, just stop.

The separation process for me has always been a communication to the deity that it is time to stop and the energies have always willfully been withdrawn. Another reason to only do this with a trusted entity that you have worked with many, many times before. Re-shield yourself as necessary. You should find yourself feeling very energetic when this experience is over.

Question and Answer section:

Q. I’m hearing a response when I try to communicate, but how do I know that it’s not me answering my own questions? -or- Are the voices in my head coming from the inside or the outside?

A. Sometimes we question if the conversation we’re hearing is self created. For me it often feels too strong and different from my own thoughts to be doubted. Other times it may seem too much like, and may even be, inner dialog. You’ll reach a point where you’ll know you are speaking to someone else because you’ll learn things you didn’t already know, and get answers to your question that you never would have expected. Sometimes you want to hear an answer so badly your inner-self offers up an answer and blocks out the deity. This is normal. Just clear your mind, take a deep breath, and sharpen your focus. I think a healthy dose of skepticism is great, but a friend of mine advises to simply not worry too much about it and press on. With practice you’ll know for sure.

Other times our inner-voice offers up an answer because it should be listened to. More than once, while asking for advice, I have found that I already knew the answer before the question was finished. This is good too, and shows us in our busy world how little we take time out to quietly do some soul searching.

Q. I’ve tried speaking with (insert deity name here) many times now and never with any success. What am I doing wrong?

A. You may want to try a different technique than mine, or change any technique so that it works better for you personally. Also, you may want to attempt speaking with a different deity. You will find you have better connections with some more than others because of their nature and your own. Just like people in your work place and in your family, it’s simply easier to talk to some people than others.

Some deities are also more person friendly than others. Some don’t feel the need to communicate with humans, or are very selective. Most seem to enjoy it, and welcome the opportunity. You may want to make sure you are making your attempt with respect. Commanding a god or goddess to appear isn’t very effective or cool.

Q. Isn’t speaking to God or whatever a sign of insanity?

A. Ah yes, this classic idea springs from stories of mad bombers and murderers who were commanded by God to commit such heinous acts. My first response is to point out that even if someone told you to kidnap a bus full of nuns, you’d have to be really nuts to simply say: “Okay. Sure, I’ll get right on that.”

Aside from that, no it doesn’t mean you’re crazy. Pagans, Hindus, some Christian groups, and many other religions have some sort of way to communicate with god.

A pinch of skepticism is good, so if you hear something scary or crazy, by all means dismiss it. If the whole topic makes you too uncomfortable, simply don’t do it. If it makes you feel better, they say that really insane people are too crazy to question their own sanity.

Copyright © 2002 by Jay Bell / Temple of Manannan Mac LirVisit the Original Article

What is Possession? (Banishing, Exorcism, and Possession; Part 2) — Arachnia’s Web

Possession is a hot topic in the occult community these days. From Voudoun Lwa (Voodoo Loa) possession to summoning the Goetia through invocation, possessions are gaining popularity as a form of spirit communication. However, some possessions and obsessions are uninvited, or they cannot be banished. The saying, “Do not raise any more demons than you can put down,” is an adequate cautionary when invoking any being. However, there are some possessions not brought on through ritual, but through seemingly insignificant every day actions. The host that becomes possessed may only change a few habits to becoming a whole different person within months; though it can take years before a possession is fully manifested.

What is a Possession?

A possession can be defined as a foreign entity entering a vessel it doesn’t permanently reside in, and then taking over the physical vessel to varying degrees. These degrees may include just “seeing” through a vessel’s eyes to a full blown physical possession. The latter is where the entity controls the physical body’s actions. In this article, I will quickly discuss a few different types of possessions to give an idea of the varying types.

Involuntary Versus Voluntary Possession

The first step in determining what type of possession a person has, is to find out if it is involuntary or voluntary. Next you will determine if there is a parasitical or a symbiotic relationship between the host and the entity.

Involuntary: An involuntary possession means the attached entity did not ask to reside in the host, or was not invited by the host. These can be picked up through extreme emotions (both negative and positive), heavy drug use, trauma, dreamwalking, or visiting the astral. Most involuntary possessions fall more under an obsession that can eventually become a partial possession. Rarely, unless through drug use and trauma, will an involuntary possession become a full possession. This is usually because the host recognizes there is something wrong and is conscious enough to struggle for the physical vessel. Most entities want easy targets, because it takes a lot of energy to push through into the physical world.

Voluntary: This is where the entity is invited into the vessel. This can happen through ritual possession, channeling entities for information, or even accepting a gift from an entity in a meditation or dream. It is a general rule to never accept gifts from entities, especially if they give the gift under the guise of being helpful without some kind of exchange. By accepting the gift, you accept the energy signature of the entity giving you the gift – this goes for any type of exchange with an entity.

Both voluntary and involuntary possession may be parasitical or symbiotic. Some people choose to keep their possessions, as it makes them feel powerful or provides companionship. These types of people may not wish for an exorcism. When it becomes a consensual relationship, I feel it is no one’s business to dictate that a person must be exorcised. It is nearly impossible to exorcise an entity out of the host, if both desire a relationship of some kind.

A warning: there are some entities who try to convince the host that it is not parasitical, when it is. One of the biggest deceptions is when an entity will trigger pleasure centers for emotions like love, companionship, adoration, and validation. While it is possible to truly experience these emotions with entities, most will use this to “feed” off the host, while draining them of their energy. These entities usually feed off the intense emotions it invokes, while using the same emotion to influence the host. Entities, like humans, feed off love, joy, awe, adoration, and other positive emotions, too. This can be a problem when a host genuinely feels better and more positive – but it is the entity deceiving the host. These types of entities will feed and drain its victim before leaving the host.

Types of Possessions

  1. Obsession: An obsession is where an entity follows a person. The entity may or may not be attached to the person, but resides outside of the body. However, when an obsession is attached to a person, it may try to invade the physical vessel and become a possession. Common attachments may be guides, “feeders”, even dead loved ones. Before performing a banishing or exorcism, you need to determine what type of obsession and entity it is. This way you’ll know the proper technique needed to get rid of the obsession, if needed.
  2. Partial Possession: These are the most common possessions. This allows the host to be mostly in control, and lets the entity sit in the physical vessel. This may be a parasitical or symbiotic relationship. Invocation of other beings can display as a partial possession, where both the host and the entity are in control. This type of possession may have such manifestations as odd behavior, or a brief change in vocal patterns. However, most long term partial possessions are nearly undetectable.
  3. Full Possession: Full possession is when the entity has complete control; and the host’s soul is suppressed, or pushed out of the physical vessel. This will rarely manifest violently – most full possessions are slow, taking months to years for a complete manifestation. The beginnings of this usually start as a partial possession. There may be odd events in the home, but usually it starts out as an illness. Full possessions can happen even if you do not “allow” an entity to possess you, or even if the entity is not invited into your body. Common ways to gain an involuntary possession is to anger gods who decide to punish your consciousness (the physical manifestation of mind and mental states connected to your physical body), or if you die and your soul temporarily leaves the body. Those with heavy drug use and trauma may also be open to full possession. The most common ways to acquire this type of possession is by using practices that involve invocation and channeling; heavy drug use being the second most common factor for full possession.Symptoms in the beginning of any possession may include lethargy, illness, a foggy-head, and mood swings. Occasionally blackouts and lost memory occur in the early stage, as the entity is invading the host’s mind. The next step may be changing positive habits that seemed to be originally ingrained in the host. A person may go from being fastidious to being a hoarder, for example. The host may also go from being nice and loving to neglecting their family, pets, and obligations. During the time the entity is settling in and overriding the programming of the host’s mind, the host may also express extreme emotional outbursts. The host may begin complaining of cognitive dissonance and feeling out of control. A person may even feel “invaded”.The next step is usually apathy. The host becomes depressed and expresses anxiety without the usual triggers. Their voice will become flat and their eyes empty. The host will feel spiritually dead; at this point the host will either lose all spiritual abilities OR become paranoid because they think they have ‘new found’ abilities that everyone else envies. Another type of paranoia expressed at this time is “knowing” that everyone is out to get them. The host at this stage will be suspicious of people they previously trusted. When paranoia begins to settle in, any current mental illness and physical ailments will amplify. Occasionally, there will be anger coupled with the depression — these outbursts may become violent and physical.

    This is a way for the entity to isolate the host from supportive friends and family. Any time this happens, a host should be encouraged to seek help, as the isolation is not only demoralizing, but also their mental health begins to disintegrate.

    The last step, before full possession, is the last ditch effort for the host to take back control. A person may perk up a bit, and things may seem to start going their way again. They will be overzealous in telling people how much they love their life; how strong they are now physically, emotionally, mentally, and spirituality. They may also exaggerate “awesome new abilities” that they have discovered through a sudden “knowing”. However, to observers outside the situation will know differently. Eventually, there will be a mental break, which allows the entity to fully slide through. This will become a permanent personality. Since the signature of the entity is fully intertwined, it will be nearly impossible to exorcise it out of the physical vessel at this point. The entity will become the new owner of the physical body.

    When the entity becomes a full owner of a body, supernatural phenomena will usually stop. In fact, the person will seem to have miraculously recovered, and the personality may or may not be different. I’ve noticed a lot of these people also claim to suddenly speak with other beings, specifically with angels and Ascended Masters.

Please note that all these manifestations ARE ALSO MANIFESTATIONS OF MENTAL ILLNESS. Because of this, it is always best to get help for a person through mental health services before even considering an exorcism. One of the reasons that exorcisms are violent is because there is no entity, and the person performing the exorcism is technically exorcising the rightful soul of the victim. This is essentially rending the person’s soul from the physical body. It is important to know that mental illness is more common than possession. Mental illness is commonly mistaken for a possession by overzealous, or hysterical, religious and occult practitioners. Always have a person treated for mental illness before even considering that something non-physical is plaguing the “host”.

It is to be noted that while partial possessions are uncommon, full possessions are extremely rare. Most people do not even know they are possessed. Most of the true full possessions that I have seen, the vessel appears very sane and whole in all areas. This is because the entity is fully entwined and settled into the physical vessel.

In the next article, I will explain the differences regarding manifestations of possession from invocation and the possession by one’s own soul.

-Arachnia Stoneskull

April 30, 2017 3:54 p.m.

Photo Credit:

via What is Possession? (Banishing, Exorcism, and Possession; Part 2) — Arachnia’s Web

Tarot- The Minor Arcana

The Minor Arcana cards are divided into 4 suits: Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles. Each of the suits contains numbered cards from Ace to 10, followed by 4 court cards, very much like a regular playing card deck. The Court cards of all suits together are known as the Court Arcana.

The cards of the Minor Arcana and Court Arcana refer to the lesser events of everyday life. Each of the forty numbered cards and sixteen court cards is illustrated and interpreted in each article dedicated to each individual card that will also cover any and all correspondences.


The Aces, which are equal to the number 1, represent the beginning of a new cycle and signify conception and innovation. The presence of an Ace in the beginning of a reading marks the impact of a new beginning and fresh start. At the end of a reading, it can represent another new beginning, or sum up the results of all the cards proceeding it.

Aces also represent seasons in a reading can predict WHEN an even is most likely to occur.

Ace of Wands: Autumn

Ace of Cups: Summer

Ace of Swords: Winter

Ace of Pentacles: Spring

The numbers 2 through 10 in each suit represent numerological influences which will be discussed.

The Suits

The Suit of Wands:


When you think of Wands, think of ideas, because Wands are the conception or “seeds” through which the tree springs forth. They are the original thought, intention, or primary element of growth.

Their key words are: ideas, growth, ambition, expansion. When there are many Wands in a reading, it indicates that conditions are primarily in the realm of thought, or at the very first stages of development.





The Suit of Cups:


When you think of Cups, think of emotions, because Cups are the feeling or bridge between the original idea and the next stage, which is action. They are the glue or cohesive factor in the development of manifestation and esoterically signify the marriage of thought and feeling.

Their key words are: emotion, desire, inner experience, spirit. When there are many Cups in a reading, it indicates that conditions are felt primarily in the realm of emotion, but not necessarily as an outward manifestation.




The Suit of Swords:


When you think of Swords, think of action, because Swords are the ACT. Esoterically they are like the third part or Holy Ghost in the Christian trinity of the father, son and holy ghost. On the Mundane level, the Swords often times indicate struggle, because of the difficulties man has to move through in order to turn a thought into a reality on the denser or physical earth plane.

Their key words are: action, movement, struggle, keenness. When there are many Swords in a reading , it shows tremendous activity, agitation, or acceleration, because Swords are the last stages of effort before the final result.



The Suit of Pentacles:


When you think of Pentacles, think of Manifestation, because Pentacles are the fruits of one’s labor, the culmination of the first three ingredients, the end result or fruition.

Their key words are: manifestation, realization, proof, prosperity. When there are many Pentacles in a reading it indicates that conditions are taking form, or are in the process of being demonstrated.

The Court Arcana

There are sixteen cards that represent  the Court Arcana: The King, Queen, Knight, and Page of each of the four suits.

The Knights have a significant purpose in a reading because they are the instigators of change, marking the beginning or end of a sequence of events, When a Knight appears, a long-term condition will suddenly change.

The remaining Court Arcana serve several different functions in a reading. Each of the twelve cards is represented by an astrological sign, and in their first and perhaps most important function they represent people, the types of people defined by their sign.

Second, because they are represented by an astrological sign, the King, Queen and Page each have months of the year that their sign is related to, the same as in astrology, for example,

King of Wands: Aries

Queen of Cups: Scorpio

Page of Swords: Taurus

…and so on…

Thirdly, They can also depict events and/or the kind of vocation that’s associated with the type of person their astrological sign represents.

So, in essence, each King, Queen and Page can tell you WHEN you will start a job, WHAT kind of work you will do, and even the TYPE of person you might be working with.

In the following post we will cover each of the court cards and what they represent.



Tarot Made Easy written by Nancy Garen


Evocations 1 – Classical Methods Explained

“Not all evocations are how the media and movies portray them. They are not to be feared as long as they are performed correctly and the warnings are heeded. In fact, the rituals themselves, and the appearance of the spirit conjured can be very beautiful. Also, I would not advise a novice practitioner to perform this complex of a ritual on their own. Learn all that you can about it first, and seek further guidance.”  ~ lovegodbob

Written by: Rob ( Rob’s Magick Blog )

When we look at classical ceremonial magic, the basic evocation ritual involves a circle and a triangle. Likewise the ritual is split into four parts: preparing the area, evoking the being, conversing with the being, and dismissing the being. None of these methods are native to ceremonial magic. There have always been evocations, even long before ceremonial magic came into vogue, and all evocations attempt to manipulate the same basic principles to bring about results. If we knew the exact evocation rituals of early man we would no doubt find similarities to modern ceremonial rituals, not because there has been a clear line of influence, but because both rituals attempt the same thing, and there is only so much room for variation. Even the rituals in this book, which are advertised as an alternative to the predominate ceremonial methods, have clear similarities. Once again this isn’t because of a direct influence, but because there is only so much room for variation.

Constructing the Magic Circle

The most important part of the classical method is the magic circle. There is no one way to make a magic circle, or even a best way. In fact the best way for you to make a magic circle would be based on your own spiritual beliefs and knowledge. In its most basic form a magic circle is just a circle. It can be drawn onto the ground with chalk, etched into dirt, drawn into the air with a wand, knife, or finger, or it can be drawn on a piece of cloth that is laid on the floor. The circle serves several purposes. It creates an area which exists outside of space-time, it connects the magician to the divine, it empowers the magician, and it protects the magician. Let’s go over each of these four purposes individually and how each is derived.

First off, in order to maximize our success with evocations, we need to be within an area outside of space and time. Not everything will be able to manifest into the available space. The area may be too small for it, or it may be a small creature and the area may be too big for you to see it. It may be of a vibration that cannot enter this world through normal means, or the environment of this world may be too foreign to it for it to manifest here. Likewise the entity’s normal movement through time may not be conductive to communication. It may be moving backwards through time, or stagnant in a single moment of time, or it may be moving too quickly or too slowly through time relative to the magician to make communication possible. It may also, for whatever reason, not be available at the exact moment of evocation.

A circle represents infinity. It has no beginning or end. It encompasses all space and time. When we are inside the magic circle, we enter into a space that is outside of space and time. Inside the circle, space and time may move exactly the same as directly outside the circle. In fact this is how it will most likely be moving when the magician first enters the circle. However once the evocation begins the circle will shift its place in time and space as needed to be conductive to communication. It should be noted that the area directly surrounding the circle may also be affected by these shifts in space and time. A person standing directly outside of the circle may not notice any change (such as the magician moving slowly or rapidly through time, for instance) because they are being affected by the same shifts. However inconsistencies in time can sometimes be sensed between the ritual area and an area that is far enough away.

Secondly we want a connection to the divine, or at least some sort of higher power. And in the next two steps we will talk about why we need that connection. A circle is generally seen as a symbol of the divine, or God, or the gods because it is infinite and all encompassing. Exactly which higher power you wish to draw upon is going to be dependent on your own personal beliefs. Christian mystics will usually draw upon the power of the Christian God or Christ, because they see him as being the highest power in the universe. Others will call upon something called the All or the Is, which is simply the sentient form of the accumulation of all things in the universe, seen to some as the supreme god or creator. Others will use a god or gods from various pantheons. And still others may call upon the power of the angels. Which one you decide to use isn’t that important. What is important is that what you’re using is real, that it is very powerful, and that you’ll be able to draw its power down and access it.

Thirdly the magic circle empowers the magician. In the classical method of evocation power is provided by an external source, and this source is accessed through the magic circle. Your connection to the divine is your source of power. It is important that the magician understand that their connection to the divine is their power source, and also that this power is absolute. They also have to have faith that the power they draw upon is absolute. If the magician does not have an understanding of and a faith in the power, they are projecting weakness instead of strength, and this in turn creates a weakness which can be exploited by the evoked spirit.

Lastly the circle provides protection for the magician. The circle is a source of absolute power, or at least a power far greater than what is being evoked, and this power cannot in any way be breached. The circle is not only there to protect the magician from a direct attack, but also to protect them from more subtle influences that the spirit may have upon the magician. Within the classical method of evocation this protection is essential, because from the beginning the magician attempts to control and exploit the evoked spirit through force which creates a hostile relationship between the two. The magician does this with borrowed power, which only goes to illustrate how weak the magician is without his protections.

The Triangle

The other part of the classical ritual is the triangle. Much like the magical circle, there is no correct way to make a triangle. It can be drawn in the air, on the floor, in the dirt, or on a cloth. Usually the triangle is much less elaborate than the circle. The triangle is often seen as much less important than the circle.

The triangle is the space in which we wish to evoke our entity. Where as we wish ourselves, standing into the circle, to be connected into the highest power and a part of all times and all places, we want the exact opposite for what we evoke. We want the spirit to appear in a specific time and place. Ideally we want it to have a spiritual presence which can be channeled into, an astral presence which can be felt, and a physical manifestation which can be seen and heard. We also want the entity to be contained, so that it can only affect the world in the ways we command it to, and we want it to be weaker than us so we can control it.

It should be noted that the importance of the triangle in the ritual varies between magicians and rituals. Some magicians prefer to always use a triangle, and only evoke spirits into the triangle, so that they always have the greatest amount of power and leverage throughout the entire evocation. Other magicians evoke spirits outside of the triangle, and only use the triangle when necessary to control the spirit, or when they feel they need the added protection. These magicians can use the triangle as a threat, forcing disobedient spirits into the triangle. Some magicians, meanwhile, omit the triangle all together, and instead only make use of the protections provided by the circle.

So why a triangle?

The representation of the triangle is multifaceted. First and foremost, three is the number of the universe. 1 (singularity), 2 (duality), and 3 (triplicity) are the three most powerful numbers in existence.

Three also represents the three realms into which we can evoke spirits. The first realm is the mental realm. Spirits in this realm can be channeled by experienced practitioners in order to communicate and share knowledge. The second realm is the astral or spiritual realm. Spirits in this realm have a presence that can be felt. They are able to move and manipulate energy and affect the astral realm. They can be seen by and communicate with practitioners who are sensitive enough to see and hear ghosts. Finally there is the physical realm. Spirits in this realm can physically affect the world. They can move objects. They can be seen and heard by anyone.

Three is also a number of incompleteness and separation from the divine or complete power. Remember there are five elements. These five elements are represented by the five points of the pentagram. Combined these five elements are considered to be absolute power, which is why the pentagram is such a common and powerful magical symbol. However the number four has the same power. Spirit is often time looked at as the combination of the other four elements, or that the other four elements all spring forth from spirit. Therefor a representation of all four elements also represents spirit. Because it does lack spirit though, four is sometimes seen as being absolute power in the realm of the physical world where as five is absolute power in all realms.

Three however is one less than four. It only represents three of the elements. Anything evoked into the triangle is only allowed to be made up of three elements at once. At any given moment, whatever is in the triangle is missing one of the four basic elements from its being. This means it is within a very weakened state, a state through which it cannot make a true divine connection. This is essential because it guarantees that the practitioner, in the circle, is more powerful than the spirit, that the practitioner has access to a power that the spirit is denied access to, and that the protections provided by the ritual cannot be breached.

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The Four Steps of the Ritual

Step 1 – Preparing the area

Adequate preparations need to be made prior to the evocation. Some practitioners prefer to perform a banishing ritual prior to the evocation so they can work within a clean space. Others prefer to use the existing energy of the area.

Most importantly the circle and triangle need to be constructed. Special care needs to be taken with the placement of the triangle. The triangle needs to be placed in an area that is free from any belongings. Likewise the area needs to be thoroughly cleaned and care needs to be taken that any skin follicles, nail clippings, hair, and blood, of both humans and pets, are not present. These things will provide a link to the practitioner and those close to him and can be used by a malicious spirit to exact revenge.

Likewise all reflective surfaces, including black mirrors like your computer monitor and TV, need to be covered, since they can give the spirit access to areas outside your control.

Energy also has to be raised in order to fuel the evocation. Spirits may need large amounts of energy to manifest, and having large amounts of energy available in the room will help with that. In addition to raising energy you may also attempt to burn candles and use incense to provide additional energy.

With this method, even if a spirit can manifest on its own, it’s considered poor form to be dependent on the powers of the spirit. The practitioner should provide ample energy for manifestation. In fact the practitioner should do everything they can to accommodate the spirit for the purposes of the evocation. A failure to do so shows weakness, and the practitioner needs to be careful to always come from a position of absolute power.

Any tools being used in the ritual also need to be put in their place. If a mirror is being used for communication it needs to go into the triangle. If sigils or rings are being used those need to go into their proper place. All magical tools at the ritual should be placed inside the circle unless there is a specific reason not to. Lastly the practitioner and anyone else attending the ritual needs to be inside the circle and needs to remain in the circle for the duration of the ritual.

Step 2 – The Evocation

Step 2 is the actual evocation. Here the practitioner needs to call forth the spirit by name and command him to come forward. If the spirit does not respond, the practitioner should become more and more threatening, until finally they use the power of the circle, if need be, to pull the spirit forward. During this stage the practitioner should also command the spirit to manifest within the realm of the practitioner’s choosing (either mentally, astrally, or physically). They should also make the spirit appear in a form that is pleasing to the practitioner. Everything in this stage needs to be a command, and everything needs to be done exactly to the practitioner’s wishes. The key here is to establish a position of power and control from the beginning.

Step 3 – Communion

During this stage the practitioner talks with and commands the spirit. If the practitioner has evoked the spirit just for knowledge, then the practitioner should engage the spirit in conversation for that knowledge. If the practitioner has a task for the spirit, they should give the spirit this task. The instructions given to the spirit need to be clear and concise with no room for independent thought or action, and the spirit must be given clear guidelines that this task is the only way they are allowed to affect the world outside the triangle. The practitioner should not bargain with the spirit, agree to repay the spirit in any way, and if necessary the practitioner should force the spirit to perform the task. The task should be performed immediately taking no longer than the duration of the ritual for the spirit to perform its part.

Step 4 – Banishing

The last step is for the practitioner to use the power of the circle to completely banish the spirit from the triangle. This is of utmost importance. The practitioner cannot leave the circle, nor should the triangle be broken, until after the spirit has been completely banished. To fail this step is to put the practitioner at the mercy of the spirit which he has abused and exploited with no power other than his own to protect him.

Pros and Cons

Advantages to using this method

1. With the classical method the practitioner is able to fully exploit the powers of the spirit. Instead of the spirit only doing what it wants to do or is willing to do it is forced to do what the practitioner wants it to do.

2. The practitioner is able to command the spirit and take from the spirit what he wants. The practitioner does not need to bargain with the spirit, to pay back the spirit, or depend on the charity of the spirit.

3. If done correctly and successfully, this method provides the practitioner the greatest amount of protection from not only direct harm, but also more subtle attacks such as being negatively influenced by the spirit.

Disadvantages to using this method

1. This entire method is a hostile act against the evoked spirit. Many normally non-aggressive spirits may become vengeful and violent and look for any opportunity to harm the practitioner. At the very least this method will create an adversitile relationship with most spirits where the spirit is not acting in the interests of the practitioner because it wants to, but is instead doing what it has to do.

2. The practitioner is dependent upon borrowed power for the evocation, control of the spirit, and his protection from the spirit. Although commanding from a position of power, the use of borrowed power shows the weakness of the practitioner. The spirit is controlled by, and possibly afraid of, the source of the power, not the practitioner.

3. All things considered, this method is probably the most dangerous. Although this method uses very powerful protections, it does so because it also creates such a dangerous position for a practitioner to be in. It creates a hostile situation while the practitioner’s reliance on external power advertises his weakness. If everything is done correctly the method is entirely safe. However the smallest error (be it in the preparation, the ritual, the banishing, or even the wording of commands) can prove disastrous.

4. Many people have ethical and moral issues with this method. Many people see commanding and exploiting another, even if it is a spirit, for no other reason than because you can as unjust. Many different religions and spiritual beliefs take issue with this method.

#Note: I may be a bit biased because I am not a fan of this method. I believe that the only reason why this method is so popular is because many people believe it is the only method. My goal in writing this book was to not only explain evocations, but also to provide alternate methods for evocations. I’ve explained this method in such detail because I wish to give a complete overview of evocations in this book, and also because understanding this method explains a good deal of the theory behind evocations and how they work in practical use, and this will also show what has been changed in the ‘alternative’ methods and why.

Additional sources:

The Occult Scrivener

Rob’s Magick Blog

Talking with Plants III: Core Nature, Energetics & Other than Human Language

Feb 04, 2008

The most effective systems or types of herbalism tend to use a system of energetics to understand the way a plant works in the human body. In TCM, terms such as yin or yang, hot or cold may be applied. In ayurveda or humoral theory other terms may be used. Most systems of energetics tend be strongly allied to the language and metaphors of the culture they’re born from. This makes for amazingly intimate and intricate understandings if you happen to be from one of these culture, but for a possibly frustrating quest if you’re not. Here in North America there are remnants of several different systems. The most intact may be the European-rooted humoral system still seen in Appalachian and Hispanic folk medicine. Many indigenous tribes have varying amounts of intact theory, though I don’t meet many young indigenous (or Hispanic, or Anglo) folks in this region with much understanding of any aspect of traditional herbal healing. Many traditional herbalists are doing their best to patch together, record and develop existing understandings, as can be seen in the work of Matthew Wood, Michael Moore, Phyllis Light and many others.

One question I’ve frequently asked myself is just why energetics are so important to successful, practical herbalism. I think the answer to this lies in the human need to see things as symbols, patterns and classifications in order to process, store and understand information. This is great, and we can utilize this tendency in ourselves to better teach each other about all kinds of things. On the other hand, it’s very important not get caught up in the omnipotence of any one system, and to remember they’re just reference points for looking at plants, humans and life, not the ultimate herbal dogma to memorize, regurgitate and swear by.

The benefit of the sense based systems of energetics is that nearly anyone can touch an injured muscle and perceive whether it is radiating heat or not. Almost any one of us can take a nibble of Cayenne Pepper and taste the heat, or rub Mallow flowers between our fingers and feel the slippery sliminess of it. Of course, it suddenly gets more complicated when you ask someone how Peppermint feels in their mouth – hot, cold, peppery, refreshing and numbing. And then you wonder how to fit all that in a category.

It’s easier if we remember that categories can are artificial and that plants and people don’t belong in boxes. Great Lakes herbalist, Jim McDonald, once explained to me that it’s not that Catnip is diaphoretic, sedating and emmenagogue as separate categories, it’s that all these actions can happen in the body because of Catnip’s overall relaxing qualities. So if tension is disallowing peripheral circulation or normal moon cycles, well then yes, Catnip will act as a diaphoretic and emmenagogue. Jim’s rather genius like at understanding the underlying natures of each plant, and this is something I’ve been focusing on a great deal in my own practice. Once we understand that underlying nature, we’re able to see what the herb may do for the human being. I think that this looking to the core nature of each individual plant is the root of energetics, and that the systems are merely ways of naming and categorizing the natures of all these plants and all the ways the life energy manifests in the human being.

Once we understand the core nature of plants then labels become an entertaining shorthand, but also a sometimes annoying limitation or misconception, especially where those labels contain all the anti prefixes. It seems infinitely more useful to me to know how a plant acts rather than what it kills or prevents. Just knowing what a plant kills doesn’t tell you much about the rest of its effects, but knowing how a plant acts tells you MUCH about all the actions it may potentially have, including the effect it may have on bacteria.

So, how do we get to the core nature of each plant? I’ll start with two answers 1) remember that plants are people, 2) remember that plants are not humans. Plants have personalities, tendencies, sentience and a miraculous intelligence and ability to adapt. However, plants are not humans. Those of us who grew up with disney-fied fairy tales or even saturday morning cartoons often have odd notions about the plants. We may think that if we’re really in touch with the plant world then they’ll appear to us as green nymphs in flower petal skirts or old tree men with twig-like fingers and rough, barky noses. That they’ll speak in the syntax and language of words. And that the ultimate manifestation of any lifeform is as a human with human expressions and gestures. When we slip into this kind of thinking we miss out on the amazing complexity of other than human language, and the ways in which the plants are already speaking to each and every one of us, right now.

Despite many sweet cartoons and fanciful stories to the contrary, nature is not made up of humans in leafy or furry clothing. The myriad living creatures around us are not waiting for just the right moment to surprise you with their great grasp of modern English. They are, in fact, communicating with us, each other and the whole world at every second. These communications may be in the form of scents, textures, sounds, energy or any other number of sensation based stimuli.

All this time, they’ve just been waiting for us to remember the call of river song and the lullaby of sun-warmed grass. To recognize the warning of sharp edges and the call to awareness of barbed tips. And in a narrower sense, this is just what energetics are here to teach us – to give us a reference point for communication between plant and person.

Sometimes the plants may speak to us in our expected way, in the guise of human skin, but that’s because that’s the form we desire and need in order to hear them not because it’s their truest expression. I myself have had many of these experiences, in dreams and other out or ordinary experiences. I’m not denying their power and validity, for they’ve had an immense impact on my perceptions and understanding. I do notice, however, that the further I delve into the realm of plants and bugs and frogs and mosses, the more I am aware of their essential otherness as well as my own innate kinship with them.

I think it’s a necessary step in human evolution to realize that we can have relationship with the world without making it look like us. And if we can come to grips with on a gut level, we may yet have the capacity to stop destroying everything we can’t control or make like ourselves. Domestic dogs are forever safe as our allies and help mates while wild wolves slowly (or quickly) go extinct as threats to our mandated world order. Not because wolves eat our children but because they represent a fierce, unmanageable aspect of the natural world that we can’t make look like us. Socio-political commentary aside, many of us as herbalists, activists, gardeners and cooks represent the plants to the rest of a world that has lost intimate contact with that realm. As their emissaries we have a responsibility to accurately transmit, to the best of our ability, the true magic and mystery of the plants to those willing to hear.

So we’re back to where we began, and to the origins of all relationship and communication. Reach out, touch, feel and give back to the beings we’re surrounded and sustained by. It’s really as simple as that.

Wake up and smell the dirt.


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The Core Nature of Plants

The *Core Nature of Plants
by Kiva Rose


Our relationship to the plants is an ancient one, and we humans are well designed to engage the magic and medicine of the living earth we are a part of. All we need is right here – the vast and verdant world of the plants that speak to us, the extraordinary capacities of our senses with which we listen and the complex cognitive processes that let us learn on a whole body level.

As herbalists, a good portion of our work is in becoming intimate with the living plants that are the vital medicine of our craft. Rather than seeing a plant’s properties as disparate lists of constituent-based properties, we’re usually best off looking for the essential, core nature of each plant. This is not ever only one thing, and just as we cannot accurately define another human being by a single characteristic, it is equally fruitless to attempt to peg a plant as an “anti-inflammatory” or even an “immune stimulant”. No plant is only either of those things, despite how they are marketed on glossy pages and Walmart shelves. When we choose to ignore the other aspects of a plant, we fail to recognize the herb for what it is and thus severely limit ourselves as practitioners and the plant as a potential medicine.

I have yet to work with any plant that has only one use or one defining characteristic. Some plants, especially that are strong with a nearly drug-like action, such as the overt anti-cholinergic effects of some members of the Nightshade family, can easily seem so at first glance. However, upon closer examination and direct experience with the herb we will notice how far-reaching and complex these actions can be in the human body.

Every herb is a living, intelligent, ever-adapting tapestry of response, behavior patterns, unique abilities, and individual quirks that result in a specific personality. This is why a Verbena acts very differently (in our bodies an in the plant community) than say, an Artemisia. Make no mistake, each plant is an individual, even within the larger headings of their botanical families and medicinal properties. Learning to see an herb’s individual nature can help us to understand how it may act as a medicine in any given circumstance and how it may be most applicable without necessarily knowing its exact properties or actions. This is the single best way to learn, on an organoleptic level, the properties and actions of an herb.


Let me be clear that although the core nature I am referring to is reflected in most (if not all) other aspects of the plant, I am specifically referring to it here in relation to the herb as a medicine for humans. Just as when we are speaking of a plant being warming in herbal energetics, we are not saying the plant itself is warm (careful, don’t touch that plant, it’s hot!), we are saying that it has a warming effect on our bodies. Thus, we must constantly keep in mind that we are dealing with a terminology of relationship, and a perspective born of connection rather than isolation or categorization.

The core nature of an herb is made up of its botanical family, habitat, place in an ecology, growth habit, taste (as in acrid and spicy) and other sensory impact (scent, appearance, etc.), energetic tendencies (as in hot, dry and diffusive), vitalist actions (as in circulatory stimulant and diaphoretic), as well as its expression of the uniting anima (or vital force) that animates and enlivens the herb.

Interpretive elements, such as the doctrine of signatures and intuitive impressions are also of use here, especially when they are taken within the context of the whole rather than isolated as the single defining characteristic. Like mainstream medicine, we could attempt to break the nature of the plant down into biochemical components, but the end result would come up just as lacking as if we had tried to understand the whole plant based only on the doctrine of signatures or a homeopathic proving. This is not to belittle the relevance of understanding constituents since they can, especially when keeping the context of the entire plant in mind, provide us with unique insights into the behavior and makeup of herbs. My point is only that, as practicing herbalists, it is in our own (and our clients’) best interest to retain a view of the bigger picture, of the whole of the plant.


Equally important is the realization that plants are not humans, and that it is both unwise and unhelpful for us to pretend that they act, speak and feel as we do. However, plants are complex, sentient, responsive organisms that deserve our respect and attention as we ally with them in the healing process. When I speak of a plant’s nature, I am not referring to some etheric, intangible spirit. The core nature of the plant can be (and is) experienced by the senses and cognitive processes of our body. What we often imagine to be some sort of extra-sensory perception is usually a type of cognition or sensory input that we are unfamiliar with or unpracticed in its use. The capacity and sensitivity of our senses is far more acute and far-ranging that most of us either expect or experience. This is in part because of how underused they are now that many of us live without the pressing need for tracking, hunting, food gathering, hiding/running from predators and other awareness enhancing and once common activities. Additionally, for those of us in urban areas (or who spend much time in front of the television), the massive overstimulation we receive can cause us to shut down a significant percentage of our sensory capabilities in order to cope.

The physiology of perception and sensation does vary from person to person, but any healthy child can learn to recognize the basic properties of most medicinal plants through careful observation, organoleptic experience and practiced awareness. And anyone at all can practice and grow their existing sensory abilities, leading to a greater level of acuity and understanding.

The distinction between sensory perception and so called extra-sensory perception is important, because when we realize that energetics (and thus, the very language of plants) is transferred through our senses, we are then able to fine tune and deepen our physical awareness. This allows us to become ever closer and more aware of what the plants, and the natural world as a whole, is imparting to us in every moment.

Six Simple Steps: How to Immerse Yourself in an Herb

There is no one set way for all people to understand the all plants, but there are certainly some common and accessible avenues that frequently work for most people and most plants. I have arranged my suggestions in the order in which they seem to naturally occur for the majority of people. Don’t get stuck in any one place in the process, keep moving as feels appropriate and realize that you may have to repeat all the steps several times over before you have a feel for the plant or the process. Also realize, that in this miraculously dynamic and complex world that we are a part of, that we all have different strengths and predilections. Rather than remaining solely dependent on these, work to develop all parts of your perceptual and

It can be useful to initially go through these steps with the herb as a living plant still growing in its environs and then go back, repeating the process with a (or several) form(s) of the medicinal plant preparation. This can be especially important if the plant is very new to you.

A few tips:

  • Attempt to leg go of your expectations and assumptions while remaining grounded in reality.
  • Forget what you think (or imagine) you know but do utilize available tools and skills.
  • Approach the plants with wonder. And common sense.
  • Above all, pay attention. Then pay attention some more.


Principle: To intently pay attention to and gather information on the many different factors and characteristics that make up a plant, both in its living state and as a prepared medicine or food.

Try to do this without making assumptions or judgements about why or how at this point. Gather information, especially the botanical name of the plant, what plant family it belongs to, what the plant looks like, feels like, smells like, and (if non-toxic) what it tastes like. Examine its growth habit, what flora and fauna it tends to grow in community with and preferred habitat. Spend enough time with the plant that you can observe how it acts under stress, in ideal conditions, how it interacts with its surroundings and how it changes through the seasons. Observe other plants in the same botanical family if available. Much understanding can be gained about the personality and traits of most herbs by getting to know their close relatives.

Have I mentioned how important it is to pay attention? It is!

Pitfall: Don’t limit your ways of gathering information. You will find your learning curve significantly less steep if you take the time to learn at least the basics of botany. Seeing the patterns that exist in plants and noticing the similarities within plant families can be extraordinarily helpful to your practice as an herbalist. It will also save you a whole lot of time when trying to identify new allies. If you rebel at the very thought of learning a seemingly scientific approach, keep in mind that nearly all traditional peoples had/have their own systems of plant identification, classification and terminology. And thus, botany, which is not book smarts but rather an intimate, detailed knowledge based on the observation of the natural world.  It’s certainly not the only way of understanding plants, but it’s an incredibly valuable one for any herbalist who wishes to have a personal relationship with the herbs. Likewise, a basic grasp of the anatomy and physiology of the human body will tell you much about how plants work and about our relationship with them. I do not limit my definition of this to the Western biomedical model of physiology, but also include Traditional Chinese Medicine’s organ systems and other similar well-developed models. What is most important here is the exploration, observation and study of life (and here, specifically of the plants and of our bodies) that increases our knowledge of the work we do and the lives we live.

Sensory Experience

Get closer than just observation, immerse yourself in the plant.

Work with all applicable senses (which means if it’s poisonous, don’t eat it, but find other ways of working with it on a sensory level), to whatever extent is appropriate. For any relatively non-toxic medicinal plant, this will mean tasting, smelling, touching and seeing it over and over again. This is a sensory immersion, so even if the plant doesn’t taste (or smell) pleasant to you, part of the process is becoming intimately familiar with every nuance of sensory input the plant can provide. It is for this very reason that I recently ate several whole Elecampane roots over the period of a couple days. I certainly didn’t find it to be a very enjoyable experience, but it taught me an enormous amount about how the plant works and thoroughly familiarized me with the exact texture, taste, scent and sight of it. This isn’t practical with every plant, but an attempt for some approximation should be made.

As with people, we get a much better sense for the overall personality of the plant by investing ourselves in both quality and quantity of time. Herbal one night stands can be productive in that they may result in the desired end (healing of whatever discomfort), but they rarely reveal the plant’s deeper nature.

Pitfall: Avoid depending completely, or even primarily, on one sense to inform your experience. Most people have a dominant sense for experiencing the world and a dominant cognitive process for understanding the world. Don’t let your natural proclivities (and strengths) become a weakness, seek out depth through diversity.

Emotional Response

Principle: Notice and engage your emotional feelings and reactions to the plant.

This can be as simple as recognizing the fact that you have strong feelings of like or dislike for the plant in question, and both ends of the spectrum are worth exploring, both for what they teach us about the plant as well as about ourselves. Emotional and nervous system response to ingesting a medicinal herb are important to note, especially I the experience is repeated.

Emotional response is valuable for the very reason that scientific inquiry often discounts it, because it is essentially unquantifiable, uncontrollable and to a large degree, even unnameable. It is wild by its very nature. In this way, our emotions allow us to access unique information and experiences not otherwise available to us. Permitting ourselves to feel deeply in relation to the plants (and people) we work with can teach us about ourselves and the herbs at a depth only achievable through emotion and attachment.

Pitfall: Keep in mind that in order for emotional response to result in knowledge and wisdom rather than simplistic reaction or self indulgence it is best balanced by a developed sense of self and finely honed discernment.

Secondly, refrain from assuming that because you have a negative emotional response to (or negative experience with) a plant that it is somehow evil, malign, has ill intent or is otherwise “bad”. Such value judgements rarely have any basis in reality when applied to anything besides humans. As mentioned before, projecting human emotions on non-hominids is just that, a projection, and will severely limit your ability to get to know any member of the more than human world.


Principle: Engage you observations, sensations, thoughts and emotional responses to the plant on a whole body level, allowing the cognitive process to aid in your overall understanding of the herb and its effects.

Cognition is gathering, processing and incorporating information through experience, the senses, emotions, thought and other perceptual avenues. It includes within it all the steps previously spoken of but is a more complex phenomenon in that it is not simply taking in sensation (or feeling emotion) but is also its synthesis, deconstruction and transformation into a useful and usable knowledge.

There are many different levels and types of cognition, all of them holding some value and applicability. They range from careful analysis of collected data to dream-initiated understandings to combining information in new ways to reveal previously obscured patterns. Intuition and other preconscious processes are also included under this heading and can provide invaluable insights into plants (and people) when taken in context with other understandings.

I have chosen not to isolate conscious thought from cognition as a whole because of our culture’s already overriding tendency to do just that. When working with the plants (as well as other people and the natural world as a whole) it is often most effective to incorporate thought as an integrated aspect of cognition rather than that voice in our heads that never shut up. It is possible and usually preferable to understand with our whole bodies rather than our isolated parts, as useful and informative (if overused) an exercise as dissection is. I have thus placed my emphasis on the aspects of perception most neglected by Western culture and most in need of reincorporation. Cognition allows us to see and feel in new ways, to explore and learn and perhaps best of all, to understand and act upon our experiences and feelings.

Pitfall:  All perceptual organs (from skin to brain to heart) are best understood within the context of the whole body/whole person rather than isolated or given a hierarchal (and artificial) designation. Thoughts can provide profound understanding of a plant, as can intuition, sensation, dreams and emotions. All are necessary for a maximally balanced and accurate relationship. All are gifts and all meant to work together as a united organism in connection with the greater whole of the natural world.


Principle: Purposefully putting together the previous steps until a pattern or picture begins to emerge.

This may happen all at once, or more likely, occur over a period of time. Sometimes it will be a profound ah-hah type of moment, but more often it will be a slow process of realization and comprehension. The more diverse your means of inquiry and the more depth to your experiences with the plant, the better chance of really understanding the plant you have. It’s really not so different from getting to know people, although our means of communication with other humans is more standardized, while many of us are just beginning to (re)learn to speak with the more than human world.

For many people, the best way to integrate information and understandings is by expressing them in some way, either through talking aloud about the plant to someone else, by writing about it or whatever other way the individual might find helpful. Generally, this helps tie up cognitive loose ends and begin the process of integration. Ingesting or otherwise using the herb is also an essential part of this process, since only by doing and experimenting do we truly experience and not just think/feel about the plant. When you learn something in your body, organoleptically, it makes everything you know about the plant much less likely to be forgotten because it’s been absorbed and integrated on a broader level.

Pitfall: Don’t obsess. The process of integration may not happen immediately, or even after years, depending on your and the plant. You may go through these same basic steps over and over with the same plant for a decade before you feel like you have any true grasp of the personality/nature of the herb. With some herbs you may never get anything beyond a rudimentary look at certain herbs. And that’s ok, because we’re not here to become intimate with every single person or plant on the planet, or even our own backyard. Be persistent and discerning in your quest to connect to the plants, and you’ll likely find the ones best suited to you and your practice over time.


Principle: Apply your understanding to your work/relationship with the plant.

In truth, we’ve been applying our knowledge and understandings all along, but this is the part where the focus really shifts to consciously incorporating what we’ve learned in a significant way to our everyday lives. Application, or consistent utilization/work with the plant helps us to gain confidence in the relationship and cements the other steps as we confirm, adjust, reconfirm and readjust our understandings and knowledge. I strongly suggest working with the plant primarily on its own for a long period before adding it to formulations. Experiencing and working with the herb on its own in other people will give you much needed information that might otherwise be lost in the mix.

Pitfalls: This is what many of us want to do first, to jump in with both feet at our initial impression or first intriguing bit of information, and very often end up frustrated that the process of understanding every intimate detail of the plant isn’t automatic and effortless. Have patience and take the time to move through the process, just as you would with any meaningful friendship or other relationship.

On the other hand, some people get stuck right here, too nervous or insecure about their knowledge or abilities to go the final step and really work with the plant on a regular basis. Just remember that we’re all practicing, and nobody has it all figured it out. So listen carefully, learn well and proceed with common sense and you’ll likely be fine.

*I believe I owe the term “core nature” to jim mcdonald, from a conversation several years ago having to do with the patterns and personalities of individual herbs. )

Finding Your Animal Totem

Using Dreams and Meditations to
Discover and Communicate with your Animal Totems

Working with our animal symbol or animal totem (the terms are synonymous) is a process that will aid in our self-discovery, and also teaches us about life and the world around us.

Animal spirits often reveal themselves to us through our subconscious during sleep and meditation. During these sessions, animals indicate valuable information about our past, present and future, as well as help us with situations we are dealing with in our lives.

Animals also show themselves in our dreams and meditations to simply identify themselves as our spiritual guide, and thus our animal totem. This requires us to pay attention, and learn more about what this animal represents so that we can work with our animal totems.

Animals tend to have a keener sense of purpose, and instinct. These are valuable traits we can learn from them by asking for their guidance, and observing their behaviors in our dreams and meditations.

Meditation is simply a state of conscious dreaming, so you can use the following steps to help in identifying animal totems through both dreams and meditation.

1. Start an animal totem journal. Have this journal and a pen by your bedside or around the area in which you meditate. This is because you will want to record your experiences upon waking each morning or returning from deep meditation.

2. Go to sleep or meditate around the same time of day/night each day/night. Your subconscious is a creature of habit. As you settle into a routine, it will be easier to relax, and animal symbol identification will come more smoothly.

3. Make sure your environment is conducive to relaxation. It’s tough to meet our animal totems when we leave the TV on, or if we have piles of laundry nagging us to be put away. Simply put a little order to your sleep/meditation area – it doesn’t have to be a big deal. The subconscious loves order, and will be more cooperative if there aren’t any distractions or nagging nuisances hanging around in your space.

4. Begin your sleep/meditation session by setting your intention for animal totem identification. You need to set forth a firm directive to both your subconscious mind, your spirit, AND the animal spirit realm that you wish to contact your animal totem. Silently to yourself, repeat your intention to meet your animal spirit in your dreams. You can use the following phrase, or set your own intention:

“This moment, I receive the gifts of animal sight.

This moment, my animal spirit takes flight Reveal to me what I must see.

This moment, my animal totem connects with me.”

By repeating this or a similar invocation, you will coax your ego and chattering mind to relax, while your intuition and spirit begin to “warm up” to the goal of contacting your animal totem. Eventually, you will find yourself drifting into sleep (or alpha state of meditation). Relax, and roll with it, your animal totem is ready to reveal itself to you!

5. Upon waking up or rousing from meditation, write down your experience in your animal totem journal. This is critical. It’s tough to rely on our memories with such delicate experiences. Dreams and meditations can be so elusive, and like the wind, the can disappear on us. It’s important to record our experiences so that our minds can further digest the events surrounding our animal symbol. Writing these events also gives us apoint of reference when determining the characteristics of our animal symbol, and helps us interpret the messages our animal is conveying to us.

6. Be sure to write each detail. For example:

  • What was your animal doing when you saw it? Flying? Swimming?
  • What exactly did it look like? Healthy? Sick?
  • What color was it? Natural color? Unusual?
  • What were the surroundings? Rain forest? Desert? Murky water?

7. Take a break. After awhile, a few hours, or even a day, come back to your animal totem journal and read what you wrote for that session (See Animal Totem Meanings). Begin to do research on the animal that revealed itself to you. Begin to piece these characteristics together, along with the other details surrounding your animal’s appearance during sleep/meditation. Eventually, you will begin to piece together a beautiful tapestry of deeper understanding of yourself, your life and your reality.

8. Repeat this process for continuous messages, and deeper understanding.

By continually following this guideline, you will become stronger in your interpretive abilities, and trust your intuition more in working with you animal totems. Furthermore, as you grow in this process, the animal spirits will show themselves more frequently, as they will sense your confidence as well as your respect for their presence.

DO NOT get discouraged if animals do not appear to you the first few times. This is aprocess, and like any other process, it may take a little time and patience to get underway.

Be diligent, and know that your animal spirit is just as eager to communicate with you as you are with it.

Also, DO NOT get all tangled up in these guidelines. If you find a better process to identify or contact your animal totem – by all means use it! This is merely a guide to a very personal experience. Ultimately, YOU are the one calling the shots!

Lastly, this process is a cooperative one. We must respect the animal world, by asking our animal spirits to come to us, and thanking them when the do appear.

There are so many other methods out there as well, but this is what has worked for me and those I’ve worked with.

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