Maybe it is time to talk just a little about spiritualist praxis? There are some emblematic tools and practices that can be used a lot of different ways. I have hesitated a little because I do have some concerns about people misusing spiritualist practices, but I suspect that is a bit silly on my part. There is nothing that can be talked about on the web that couldn’t be found a dozen or more ways by the curious. It might even be useful to give the techniques some context so folks aren’t just blundering around.
First, remember that spiritualism can be bad for you. Be smart, pay attention to yourself and those you choose to work with. (Really, if you plan to read the rest of this post, read that link first and keep it in mind.)
Second, keep in mind that what follows is my ‘personal blend’ and that if you engage with established spiritualist communities, they surely practice and think differently. You know that old joke, right? Put 4 [insert religious denomination of your choice, most often ‘Jewish’] people in a room and you’ll have 5 opinions? It’s worse with spiritualism–after all, spiritualists don’t just have their opinions, but the opinions of their spirits.
And the spirits of a person have a big impact on how their practice takes shape.
Okay, caveat, caveat, here we go.
Spiritualism has a very simple premise: by working with your spirits, you strengthen them. When your spirits are strong, they support you in your life. When you are supported, you live a better life. It is more about managing relationships, rather than getting what you want. Or, in the words of the inimitable Rolling Stones:
Spiritualist work favors layering and mixture, simple ingredients brought together to make a nourishing stew or casserole. The most basic ritual ingredients are cool water, a sweet scent, a candle, and prayer. You can do this by yourself, but you will find there are benefits to doing it with others. Two people can do this just fine, especially if they are simpatico, though most agree that more people equates to more energy.
(If I had to guess, I would say that the work is best either in pairs or in groups larger than 5 people but fewer than 30, but your mileage may vary.)
Put the cool water in a bowl, add the sweet scent (Florida water is the classic perfume for this), light a white candle beside it (you can put the candle in the bowl if it won’t tip easily), and start saying prayers. When working with just two people, the bowl and candle should be between them. With larger groups, it begins to make more sense to treat the bowl and candle as an altar, set up in front of the group.
If you are doing an altar set-up, you will probably want more than just the bowl and candle. Cover the surface with a clean white cloth. Extra cups of water (usually nine), extra candles, white flowers, pictures and symbols of the dearly departed, and symbols of spiritual allies would be appropriate on it. If you are torn between adding something, ask yourself whether it is cool and refreshing. If it is, put it on the altar. If it isn’t, leave it off.
Don’t get fixated on paraphernalia, though. The most basic and essential element of the work is a prayerful attitude. The candles, the flowers, the pictures, even the prayers themselves, only serve to amplify this. Open yourself to a higher power, invite its influence into your work, and let that influence overflow into the spirit world around you.
As you begin praying, you should clean yourself. Like the rest of the work, this begins with a shift in attitude, of setting yourself toward the work in a prayerful fashion. You then deepen this by engaging with the tools before you. You can do this easily by dipping your fingers into the water and, starting at your head, sweeping them downward to the floor. Do this for your front and then for your back. For extra punch, white flowers can be dipped in the water and used like a brush.
Then you just begin praying. When you are working with a group, you should pray the same prayers at the same time. You can assign someone to direct the prayers or you can let the prayers come organically, with anyone allowed to begin a prayer when one prayer has stopped. All that matters is everyone prays and prays together.
Mediumistic phenomena usually occur during these sessions. Most commonly, this is a sense of having a message for someone in the work from a spirit associated with them. Share these during the work but don’t focus overmuch on them and don’t make a point of seeking them out. While you want to pay attention to them, making the messages central distracts you from the point of the work, which is strengthening the spirits.
The sorts of spirits that are eager to give advice and messages aren’t necessarily helpful or good. If you focus on strengthening your spirits, they provide stability to the work. They help keep out unhealthy spirits or control those that you need to help so that they don’t cause problems. Strong spirits are better able to manifest when needed and the advice they offer is more likely to be helpful.
(There are some basic tools that facilitate mediumship, but mediumship needs to sit on the strong foundations of service to spirit. To emphasize that, I am going to give this post to the foundations. I’ll do a mediumship post a little later.)
There is no fixed time for this work. The work ends when it feels right to end it. Generally, the smaller the group, the shorter the time, though even the shortest working generally takes more than an hour from preparation to completion. When the work is done, you should clean yourself again, thanking the spirits for their time and attention. Generally, it’s a good idea to eat and socialize, transitioning from a more spiritual environment to a less spiritual one.
And that’s it. Simple, right? Like many simple things, it can be complicated and pushed in different directions. Sometime soon, I’ll share some basic principles that assist with that sort of modulation. This is enough for one post!