Other powers: your Magic Allies
Potentially the most powerful and exhilarating magic involves working with spirits, yet nothing else demonstrates how far removed we are from our Earthly origins. No culture lacks a history of spirit contact and assistance; for most of our history, it's been a common human experience. However, today, when the average human has little personal contact with our fellow mammals, let alone beings of other dimensions, what was once everyday reality can be challenging and frustrating.
The simplest definition is that these spirits are powerful, living entities who resist human efforts to define them. Frankly, Bewitched's Samantha is far more credible as a spirit than as a witch. Witches are resolutely human. Burn them, they suffer and die. The English word “witch” comes from the same root as “wise.” Wise women and men, too, recall the old Earth knowledge that leads to success; whatever extra supernatural power they may also possess typically comes courtesy of their spirit helpers.
Spirits can do the sort of magical tricks we long to do; our limitations don't exist for them. Many spirits are shape-shifters. They can appear in the image of a human, but that's merely a form for them; don't be fooled. Because people have always preferred to communicate with what looks like a person, they accommodate us. The most powerful among them can assume many forms. Although the general consensus is that spirits are not truly immortal, most have life spans so long that for all intents and purposes, they may as well be.
Whether you find spirit allies more or less challenging than animal allies depends upon your personal beliefs. On one hand, animals are clearly alive and present on Earth. On the other hand, spirits typically share our form and most have emotions, desires and communication skills similar to our own. For some people, spirits' very “other-worldly” quality creates an aura of sacredness and trust.
Many spirits are as attracted to humans as we are to them. Like Samantha, many masquerade as people, intermingle with us, even marry and settle down with us. Whatever they are, they apparently have the capacity to interbreed with us, like wolves with dogs. Unlike on television, the children are invariably human (sorry!) but often possess special protection and skills, courtesy of their spirit parent. Spirits and humans maintain relationships based on mutual attraction and mutual benefit.
For many, the initial and greatest obstacle to accessing these spirits is language. Seemingly simple words like god, goddess or gods are actually charged with highly personal meanings. We think we know what we mean by those words but they may mean very different things to different people. The spirits are not identical, their powers, interests and dispositions are far from identical, yet in English we have a very limited range of vocabulary words with which to discuss them.
There are spiritual entities who are Creator Spirits, who claim to have created existence as we know it. Different names may identify the same ones. It's hard to tell. There are also those whom we call gods or goddesses in English whose domains are much narrower, their own origins are described, they are not creator but creations like us, perhaps more akin to an angel or saint. The terms god or goddess unfortunately cause many to feel that they are threatening their initial religious teachings or being disloyal to their faith.
Every people on Earth had contact with spirit beings and developed their own vocabulary: angel, orisha, loa, djinn, daemon, mystére, you could fill a page. In English, we have but a blanket word, spirit, but other languages may have a variety of names to differentiate between these beings. Don't let words prevent you from accessing this power, your birthright. Choose the words that are comfortable for you. Remember, language doesn't exist independently of people. Other humans create language; adjust it so that it benefits you. If you need assistance, the Egyptian spiritual sponsor of both words and magic is Thoth.