by Bob Makransky
Most people rely upon the dictates of their society to know what to
do - what theyíve been taught by their parents, teachers, pastors,
bosses, advertisers, and the media.
Magicians, by contrast, rely upon the
counsel of spirits, at least until theyíve got their own intuition
and intent operating.
In truth, I donít know what spirits are; and this is said after
twenty years of intimate acquaintance with them. The problem is that
we humans tend to impose features of the known upon the unknown. We
want to make the unknown familiar and comfortable to deal with.
Therefore, we naturally tend to regard spirits in terms that are
already familiar to us.
We canít be wholly objective about them. What I will describe here
is my own view of what spirits are, based upon my own interactions
Materialistic science says that spirits donít exist; but this
doesnít mean that spirits donít exist. My materialist friends, who
reject the existence of spirits, do usually credit my integrity.
They donít question my belief that spirits are communicating with
me, but they think that Iím mistaken in my interpretation that the
spirits are outside of me rather than parts of my own psyche.
However, I do make a distinction between
my own thought forms such as inner child, lower self, anima and
animus on the one hand; and spirits on the other.
I really donít know what spirits are, or whether they are inside or
outside of us. I do know that every religion and culture in the
world except materialistic science is based upon spirit
Christians, for example, often forget that their religion is
spiritualistic. Jesus is a spirit; the Virgin Mary is
a spirit; and of course the Holy Spirit, needless to say, is
When Christians say: "Jesus talks to me and guides me,"
thatís what magicians call channeling.
magicians use different spirits, but the technical basis -
communication between spirits and people - is the same
in all religions.
Have you ever noticed how rituals in many different religions have
basically the same accoutrements? They all tend to take place in
darkened rooms with candles and incense smoke, with monotonous
chanting or litanies repeated over and over.
The reason for this is
because spirits themselves like such things:
Originally, and still today in
traditional religions, the purpose of religious ritual was to make
contact with the spirit world.
Participants enter a light trance state
to make them more accessible to spirit messages. Religious rituals
originally were magical acts.
the Roman Catholic mass, for example, bread and wine
are magically transformed into the body and blood of
Recent converts to any religion often experience a high, a state of
grace, which usually doesnít last very long. These epiphanies are
gifts of spirits who have the capacity to temporarily lower peopleís
sense of self-importance and self-pity, which in turn opens their
This often happens when people are at the end of their rope with
nowhere to turn. Itís often at such times of complete desperation
that they open to the Spirit and allow grace to descend upon them.
This state of grace is channeled through spirit intermediaries such
as Jesus, Krishna, or Buddha.
This grace is usually temporary because
the people still have inner work to do in order to embody the state
of grace permanently in their everyday lives.
Spirits can temporarily bestow grace to people who are open to it -
usually because theyíve exhausted their own resources. But itís not
the spiritsí job to carry emotional cripples on their backs forever.
Spirits can reveal a temporary glimpse of open-heartedness to
animate people to seek such spiritual goals on their own. Having
been given a model of what to strive for, it becomes the
responsibility of the individual to continue the work begun by the
Everyone is receiving messages from spirits, both angelic and
demonic ones, all the time.
However in our society "hearing voices
in my head which tell me what to do" means that youíre crazy.
Therefore nobody takes a close look at where his or her thoughts are
really coming from.
Even people who arenít consciously aware of receiving messages from
spirits nonetheless know that they experience hunches, inspirations,
or dream messages that guide them in making decisions. Spirits are
the source of these communications.
Moreover, lots of people are possessed by spirits - both angelic and
demonic ones, but in our society mostly the latter - whether they
know it or not. Spirit possession is not a bad thing when the
spirits involved are 'benevolent,' like Jesus, Krishna,
This possession occurs when people invite a spirit to take
possession of them.
"make the decision for Jesus"
or "invite Jesus to come live
or Buddhists "take refuge in the
Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha",
...they are inviting spirits to take
possession of their souls.
Possession by a good spirit
fortifies peopleís faith and dedication to the spiritual path. It
gives people backbone, something to rely upon in times of doubt.
However in our society demon possession is much more common than is
possession by a benevolent spirit. Itís easiest to see that someone
is demon-possessed when they get old, since by that time the
demons have eaten up most of the peopleís souls and left uptight,
angry or depressed, self-pitying, burned-out hulks in their stead.
Life is a bitch, no question about it.
However it tends to mellow out people who are not demon-possessed.
Demon-possessed people, on the other hand, tend to get worse and
worse the older they get. When people are still young, thereís
usually enough of the original person left there so that you canít
see the demons as readily.
As the people get older, however,
the demons eat up more and more of their souls and their joy.
If, as people age, they get lighter and more joyous, then theyíre
not demon-possessed. On the other hand if they get more uptight,
nastier, depressed, or more self-pitying as they age, then they
probably are demon-possessed.
This is why itís so hard to deal with
those old people - youíre not dealing with the person anymore, just
with a demon.
People call demons in to possess them when they feel especially
vulnerable and in need of drastic protection. For example, a baby
may call in demons at birth to protect against abusive parents.
Demons can be called in at any stage in life, usually unconsciously,
to alleviate pain or sorrow by providing a protective shell of
hardheartedness or self-pity. Luckily, itís not that hard to cast
out demons. The hard part for demon-possessed people is wanting to
cast them out in the first place.
Weíll discuss this subject in depth in a
When we channel spirits we usually receive the information as
thoughts or feelings. This is because thoughts and feelings are all
we know. We donít know how to process information in any other
fashion. Therefore, we interpret the communications we receive from
spirits in terms of thoughts or feelings.
However, that is not how the spirits themselves view this
communication. Spirits see it as a mingling or bending of light
fibers - an interaction within the aura, or shell of luminosity,
which surrounds every being. In other words, spiritsí cognition is
very different from humansí normal, socially-conditioned mode of
For example, spirits see time in terms
of potentialities rather than concrete events.
Moreover it is undoubtedly anthropomorphic to believe that spirits
have sex (male or female) and personalities (jolly, somber,
laid-back, strict, etc.). However, that is how they appear to most
My own spirit guides are rather indulgent and soft, probably because
I am indulgent and soft and get riled unless I am indulged and
On the other hand
Mescalito, the spirit of the
psychedelic peyote cactus, is cold, hard, and detached. I find him
terrifying, in fact, although I still go to him on occasion.
Mescalito doesnít indulge anybody.
In other words, spirits have different personalities, just as people
do. They are not amorphous energies or something of the sort.
Possibly it is a feature of human cognition that we humans apprehend
spirits as having sex and personality, rather than that sex and
personality are properties innate to the spirits themselves.
This is similar to
Carlos CastaŮedaís conundrum
about psychic apprehension, what he termed seeing, being so visual,
when it had nothing to do with vision whatsoever - whether his eyes
were open or closed. But to him it seemed visual.
His teacher Don Juanís explanation of
this was that we humans come to magic as adults, with our perceptual
biases already formed.
Therefore when we learn a new form of cognition we tend to try to
fit it into a familiar mold. Similarly, we tend to experience
spiritsí communications as thoughts or feelings, since these are our
usual forms of communication.
We relate to spiritsí personalities
because we are accustomed to relating to others through their
In actuality spirits are not as individuated/separated as we humans
fancy ourselves to be. For example, my efforts to get Mayan priests
to explain exactly whoís who in the Mayan pantheon have always
failed because itís not that simple - the various deities overlap or
join together: theyíre not separate entities per se.
On several occasions during ceremonies I have felt the presence of
the Mayan earth divinity Tzul Taka, Mountain-Valley, as a male
The priests have told me that this is my
interpretation because I am a male, that Tzul Taka is neither male
nor female, nor is even a single entity but is a union of entities,
or a link between the Heart of the Earth and Heart of the
In other words, to the Mayans the
divinities are ineffable, or at least canít be pinned down or
defined by mental constructs.
The easiest spirits to communicate with are your own spirit
guides - what some people term "angels".
If you are serious about becoming a magician, then this is where you
should start. Itís actually quite easy to learn to channel (easiest
during lunar planetary hours).
The chief function of spirit guides is
to act like corner-men in a boxing match.
When youíre completely exhausted and life has really knocked you for
a loop, theyíre there to say:
"You can do it! Youíre doing great!
Just get back in there and go another round!"
How spirit guides teach depends on the
person they are teaching.
Sometimes they hand out information for
free, particularly when they spot an opportunity that must be
grasped at once. Because they see things with such clarity, guides
can give detailed explanations of everything you might want to know
about your life and relationships.
Generally spirit guides are there to encourage people to figure
things out and take responsibility for themselves. In my own case my
guides use a lot of trickery, encouraging me to make an ass of
myself, since this seems to be the only way I really learn anything
Different spirits communicate in different ways.
For example, my own spirit guides talk
to me via automatic writing, in words in my head. Itís just like
having a conversation with another person, except that itís written
rather than spoken. I can only hear my spirit guides talking to me
directly when theyíre yelling at me for having screwed up somehow.
My wife, who is much more psychic than I am, is able to hear them
talking to her directly when she channels them. Another friend of
mine, who is even more psychic than my wife, is able to hear them
conversing amongst themselves.
I am a priest of the nine Mayan gods. When they have a message for
me, they normally communicate with me in words in my mind, as my
spirit guides do. But sometimes not; sometimes I just "know" what
Iím to do; other times I just feel their mood (especially when
However, when the message is for someone else - for me to give to
another person, or for me about another person - then they usually
show it to me indirectly, by means of omens.
Omens are odd, unusual occurrences that have a symbolic meaning. My
benefactress, the person who gave me the Mayan priesthood, has
dreams in which the nine Mayan gods appear. She has told me that
they appear to her as longhaired hippies. The only time one of the
Mayan gods ever came to me in a dream he was wearing a three-piece
However, Mescalito, the spirit of the peyote cactus, interacts with
me on a much deeper level than my spirit guides or the Mayan gods
do. I just know what Mescalito is communicating to me, even though
thereís nothing verbal about it. Somehow or other it comes from what
I take to be a very, very deep level.
The one time the Virgin Mary appeared to me I only felt her
presence. I didnít get a visual, nor did she speak. I had been
looking for land to buy in a remote Mayan village, and as I walked
around the village I was getting a lot of suspicion and bad vibes
from the locals.
My spirit guides suggested that I go to the marketplace and buy a
candle, and light it in the village church before the image of the
Virgin of Guadalupe. I was to ask her to make a place for myself
amongst these people.
When I did so I suddenly felt myself transported into the presence
of a young woman - perhaps 20 years old at the most. This being was
totally loving and compassionate, and she filled me with a sense of
complete acceptance, nurturance, and joy.
Ever since that day Iíve prayed to her every morning to help me open
my heart, even though Iím nominally Jewish. I was taught to reject
Jesus, that that would be the ultimate betrayal of my roots,
but nothing was ever said about the Virgin Mary.
On various occasions religious statues in churches and temples have
come to life momentarily before my eyes. Indeed, that is precisely
what religious images are designed to do.
If you are interested in communicating
with spirits, praying to statues or images representative of the
spirits of your religion can be a fruitful place to begin.
There are also nature spirits, such as mountain spirits, cave
spirits, water spirits, tree spirits, and so forth. These spirits
can be the most helpful of all to budding magicians. Where spirit
guides guide, nature spirits can actually transform us. This is the
crux of the spiritual path, the difference between momentary
inspiration and real, permanent change.
It has been said - for example by Buddhists and by
CastaŮedaís teacher Don Juan - that real transformation,
true spiritual growth, is impossible without the help of a living,
enlightened guru. This is true, but itís not true.
Near-death experiences can do this for us in sudden fashion; and
nature spirits can also do it for us in a slower, more relaxed
manner. Nature spirits can actually get in there and work on us on
our deepest, light fiber level, gently dissolving our lower selves
and liberating our true feelings.
Nature spirits, particularly cave and mountain spirits, often have
powerful personalities. They should be approached with the greatest
respect. Although every cave and mountain has a spirit, not all of
these spirits are useful to humans. Sometimes such nature spirits
are indifferent. At other times they are inimical to humans.
For example, the
San Pedro volcano on Guatemalaís
Lake Atitlan has happy, loving vibes. The town of San Pedro just
beneath it is a light, happy place.
next volcano over, Atitlan, is cold
and hard and forbidding. The town of Santiago, which lies beneath
it, is kind of an uptight place - famous for its black magicians and
sorcery, and the scene of several massacres during and after the
recent guerrilla war.
In order to make use of water spirits, it is first necessary to find
them. This is not that hard to do. In an arid or semi-arid area, any
water hole or spring will house a water spirit. Ponds, lakes, and
oceans in their entirety can be considered to house one large
Along rivers and streams you frequently find water spirits residing
at spots where there are deep pools, waterfalls, rapids, or at bends
in the river where there is a change in the vegetation or rock
Water spirits also reside at spots that are particularly lovely,
different, attention-getting in some way or other. You find them by
feel. Water spirits are used for washing off our self-importance:
bad moods, self-pity, and negative vibes that other people lay on
Rock spirits are found in a similar way: by the feel of the way they
The vortices around Sedona, AZ are a
good example. Rock spirits can stabilize you and give you strength.
This is good for athletes training for a contest or soldiers going
Rock spirits also give fortitude - good
for women who are weak in pregnancy. They also buttress your
discipline, staying power, tenacity, and self-confidence. Itís good
to go to rock spirits when you need to be bolstered somehow; whereas
water spirits are most useful when thereís something you need to
You should feel an attraction to the place where a nature spirit
resides. If you donít feel an attraction for the place, donít use
it, no matter how extraordinary it may look. Itís not that going to
the wrong spirit will hurt you, although there are evil spirits out
there. Itís just that if you donít have an affinity with the spirit
- feel a definite attraction or good feeling about the place - then
it wouldnít be able to help you much.
A doctor may be an excellent
practitioner, but if he doesnít have an affinity with the patient
then thereís not much he can do for him. The same is true of
The physical appearance of the spot where a nature spirit abides is
a useful check, but it shouldnít be allowed to be the only criteria.
Just because a place looks gloomy or frightens us a little doesnít
mean we shouldnít use it.
Powerful spirits are always a bit
frightening. They command respect, and will righteously punish
disrespect. They can actually knock us around if we approach them in
a casual or offhand way.
A good friend of mine, a magician, was once climbing a spirit
mountain with his baby daughter in his arms. Evidently the mountain
spirit felt that his mood was disrespectful, since near the top
there was a sudden clap of thunder out of a blue sky.
My friend understood at once that he had blown it. He lost his
footing and tumbled down. Since he was trying to protect the baby he
couldnít protect himself, and he broke his collarbone in three
places. Since then he hasnít been able to windsurf; and formerly he
was the windsurfing champion of Central America.
The point isnít that we must be in dour, super-serious moods to
visit power places and nature spirits. Rather, we must approach them
with respect. Thatís all.
When you have found a likely nature spirit, i.e. when you feel that
youíre in the right place, approach the spirit by making an
obeisance. Approach it as you would a wise old person whom you are
asking to help you.
You can take it a little present, such
as flowers or some object meaningful to you.
Try to feel the personality of that spirit, sense its energy.
Is it an active, dominating male
presence or a receptive, soothing female presence?
Does it seem to be young and
vigorous or old and placid?
Some of the feeling is usually reflected
in the physical appearance of the place.
The spirit will tell you what to do
there. Whatever it is that you feel you should do, go for it.
Pay close attention to all your thoughts and feelings when you are
in the presence of a spirit. In the beginning itís difficult to tell
which are our thoughts and feelings, and which are the spirit
talking to us.
After a bit of practice itís not hard to tell which is which. If you
are in a relaxed, open state of mind in the presence of a nature
spirit, then probably any thoughts or feelings you have are
communications from the spirit.
You would probably have regarded them as
your own thoughts and feelings unless this fact was to be pointed
out to you at the moment.
However, it doesnít really matter if you can consciously channel the
spirit talking to you or not. This is actually a sidetrack, since
the real healing work that nature spirits do has nothing to do with
thoughts or feelings. They deal with us on a much deeper level than
thoughts or feelings.
So if you go to a nature spirit in good faith, with an open heart,
the spiritís power will heal you with every visit.