Spirit Sponsors of Magic
Other powers: your Magic Allies
Should a spirit answer your petition, they will want you to recognize their response. Spirits tend to have specific manifestations: specific shapes they can assume. They also possess what are called attributes: these are the symbols that communicate their power and presence. Neptune is rarely without a trident. The trident alone may signal his presence. Spirits most typically communicate with you via these symbols in your dreams or in what passes for coincidence in daily life. They want credit for favors granted. They want to communicate. They want you to recognize them and will do their best to make themselves recognizable.
A greater selection of spirit allies exist than plant, animal, metal or mineral allies. There are spirits for everything: fishing, specific career goals, artistic ambitions, marriage, animals, women, perfume, beer, pregnancy, you name it. There are even spirits like Hermes and Ellegua who provide increased access to other spirits: they are spiritual gatekeepers. Later as we explore different goals of magic, we'll examine some of the most helpful spirit allies, who they are, what they like and how best to communicate with them.
Some spirits, however, are specifically teachers and sponsors of Earth Magic. Emerging from many continents, they encourage human psychic ability, provide protection and guidance to the magical arts.
Minona dwells deep in the forests of Benin, formerly the kingdom of Dahomey, ancestral home of the Fon people, birthplace of Vodoun. Minona is famed as a protector of women. She imparts fertility to women and Earth. When Minona's mother, First Woman, observed chaos on Earth, she charged Minona with the purpose of teaching women divination using palm kernels so that they could read Earth's omens, and balance could be established. She also creates, inspires and activates the Dahomean charms know as gbo; these are created from metals, herbs and other materials. Minona has no temples or public shrines. She lives quietly in the wilderness, teaching benevolent and protective magic to those women who value her knowledge. In return, women create altars in her honor within their homes, offering her fresh fruits.
Although media attention tends to target the destruction of South American rainforests, African rainforests are under siege, too. In addition to a personal altar, Minona would be pleased by gestures on behalf of her forest home and its indigenous flora and fauna.
Baba Yaga lives in a clearing within a deep Russian birch forest in a hut that stands and moves on giant chicken's feet surrounded by a fence made from human bones and skulls, remnants of visitors who disappointed her. Baba Yaga rides a mortar and pestle. She is a master herbalist and can cure any ailment. She has a slew of magic tricks up her sleeve. She is the protective mistress of the forest animals and loves the wilderness. Baba Yaga has iron teeth and is bone thin, although she has a voracious appetite and is somewhat of a gourmet to boot. She chews up those who displease her but will heal, instruct and reward those whom she finds deserving, albeit somewhat grudgingly and with attitude. Baba Yaga can reveal secrets and produce miracles however she has a harsh personality. Don't expect a warm, cuddly babushka, even if she likes you. Baba Yaga rewards bravery, industry and creativity in men and women alike.
Baba Yaga has a soft spot for Virgos. She is affiliated with the fire and earth elements. Her planet is the sun. She loves all wild animals but her sacred animal is the horse.
Kapo, the Red Eel Woman, was born in Tahiti but soon made her way to Hawaii. Wild and temperamental, like her famous younger sister, volcano goddess, Pele, Kapo was both feared and admired as the matron of powerful Hawaiian sorcerers. Like Minona, Kapo teaches magic that can be used for either benevolent or malevolent purposes: what you do with your knowledge is purely your responsibility. Kapo can also be invoked to reverse any evil magic: to return any malevolent power that has been directed toward you. Like most Hawaiian deities, Kapo assumes many forms: plant, tree, human or animal. As a woman, she is consistently graceful (she is a master hula dancer), beautiful and seductive. In addition to her vast knowledge of Earth's magic powers, Kapo teaches methods of enhancing and controlling women's reproductive capacities.
Kapo loves wild, untamed places. Molokai, the island most associated with her, still remains the most unspoiled of the major Hawaiian islands. Her special plant is the pandanus. Contact her at night, out of doors, especially when it's windy or stormy. You can please her—and maintain access to her—through hula dancing and by working to preserve wilderness wherever you are, but most especially in Hawaii.
Freya isn't interested in little huts in the forest. She lives in a splendid palace, where love songs play continuously. Freya is among the most versatile spirits with dominion over beauty, romance, sex, fertility, childbirth, enchantment, magic, witchcraft, prosperity and war. Freya is the most beautiful Norse spirit and their original shaman; Odin learned much of his skills from her. Her ancient priestesses, known as volvas, provided traveling shamanic services to their communities. Freya is rarely seen without her precious magical gold necklace, which she obtained at great cost. To get it, she had to sleep with the four dwarves who were its craftsmen.
Two very large gray cats named Bee-gold (Honey) and Tree-gold (Amber) draw her chariot. Freya also owns a falcon-feather cloak that enables her to transform into a falcon and fly. A master shape-shifter, she can take any shape she chooses. An excellent teacher, Freya provides instruction in magic as well as psychic and shamanic skills for men and women. She knows the secrets of the runes, will provide instruction and communicate with you through them.
Freya's sacred animal is the cat. Traditionally she showed favor to those who put out pans of milk for her beloved creatures; this became an old Norse country custom. European cats would eventually be slaughtered in the thousands specifically for their associations with Freya. Military veterans, jewelers and students of the magical arts may consider themselves under her protection.
Hecate, the Queen of the Night, emerged in what is now modern Turkey. She is most famous as the companion of Demeter in her quest to find her kidnapped daughter, Persephone. Hecate is believed to be the unseen witness to every crime; she can be appealed to for justice, particularly when the crime is of a sexual nature against a woman or female child. Hecate would eventually serve as Persephone's handmaiden in her capacity as Queen of the Underworld. Freya and Hecate would serve as the models for European stereotypes of witches, Freya as the dangerously seductive witch, Hecate as the wizened crone.
Hecate holds dominion over life, death, regeneration and magic. She rules wisdom, choices, expiation, vengeance and travel. Hecate guards the frontier between life and death. She serves as intermediary between the spirit world and that of humans. Hecate holds the power to grant or deny any human's wish.
Hecate most typically manifests as a mature woman or as a black dog. Dogs are her sacred creatures. Cerberus, the three-headed hound who guarded the gates of the Greek underworld, may or may not be Hecate in disguise. Hecate has a particularly strong bond with her familiar animal; even when manifesting in human form, Hecate is rarely without canine companionship. On the rare occasion when she turns up alone, there will be some sort of dog reference so that you'll recognize her; she often circles in the manner of dogs. Her attributes include a toad, a pomegranate, a key, a cauldron, a broom, torch or knife.
Hecate is most powerful during the dark moon phase. She only accepts offerings and petitions after dark, the only acceptable illumination being candles or torches. The last day of each month is dedicated to her and is the best time to ask for favors, inspiration or instruction. In addition, Wiccans celebrate November 16th as Hecate Night. Midwives, herbalists and magical practitioners may consider themselves already among Hecate's initiates. Garlic, honey and lavender are favored offerings. Traditionally, offerings for Hecate are placed on a stone or small plate and left at a crossroads after dark. Do not return for the plate or any part but consider all of it part of the sacrifice. (In other words, if you don't want to lose a plate, use a paper one.)
Traditionally, Hecate's followers held dinners in her honor. Devotees feasted and shared their magical knowledge. Leftovers were placed outside the door or at a crossroads for Hecate and her hounds. Cynics scoff that these leftovers were actually consumed by feral dogs or homeless people without realizing that this was Hecate's intent, this is one way she accepts offerings. Her ancient devotees also stained their palms and soles with henna in her honor. She recognizes herself in this gesture. Any action on behalf of dogs, Hecate's sacred messengers, is probably the offering she appreciates most.
Tlazolteotl's image may be most familiar to modern movie viewers as the stolen idol at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark. In that image, she is depicted naked and squatting, grimacing in childbirth. The Conquistadors were amazed and frightened when they encountered other images of this fierce Aztec deity. They thought they had left feminine images like this back home in Europe; riding naked on a broomstick, accompanied by an owl or a raven and wearing a peaked bark hat.
Tlazolteotl is a spirit of magic, witchcraft, healing, love, sex, desire and a protector of women. In her capacity as the Spirit of Garbage, Tlazolteotl cleanses Earth, removing spiritual waste. She cleanses humans as well and is credited with inventing the temazcal, the Aztec sweat bath.
Tlazolteotl offers special protection to midwives as well as female doctors and health practitioners. Her sacred creatures include bats, snakes, ravens and owls. Should she make a personal appearance, her face is often painted: white smeared in the upper regions, a black band around her mouth. Although she is fierce, she protects those she loves and possesses many magic secrets. Tlazolteotl wears a feather bracelet or a turquoise necklace with round gold bells.
Isis, world-renowned as the “Mistress of Magic,” is the most famous spiritual teacher of magic and bears a unique relationship with human beings. Among the most ancient and consistently worshipped of deities, her saga has been retold for at least five thousand years. At the peak of her fame, Isis was venerated from the depths of Africa, throughout Western Asia and Europe as far as England's Thames River.
Magic, both its gifts and its limitations, permeates Isis' myth. Magic enters Isis' life from her very first breath. Because her mother's pregnancy breaks a spiritual injunction, a curse is laid upon her so that she cannot give birth. Luckily, Lord Thoth, baboon-headed inventor of enchantment, secretly loves Isis' mother. Determined to provide assistance, he creates dice and gambles for high stakes with the moon god, controller of the calendar, and is thus able to magically rearrange the entire calendar year so that she can safely deliver her quadruplets. Thoth will also become something of a godfather to Isis, instructing and encouraging her until her magic outshines his.
Isis determines to become the most skilled magical practitioner of all time. She succeeds, until ultimately, the only magic that remains out of her grasp is that requiring knowledge of the Supreme Creator's hidden name of power. By creating a snake from earth and spit, she forces him to reveal that name, so that she emerges as the most powerful presence of all.
This is a good thing for Isis because the saga of her life story contains all the drama of a soap opera or a telenovela. As her story unfolds, she's rich, beautiful, talented and kind, happily married to her true love, her twin brother Osiris, with whom she fell in love in the womb. Unfortunately she also possesses a very dysfunctional family, leading to a terrible crime, resulting in her early widowhood.
Using her knowledge of magic, Isis manages to locate her beloved's body, not once but twice. The first time Isis located Osiris' corpse, all the way up the Mediterranean in Syria, it was still intact. She brought it home to Egypt, hoping to be able to resurrect him somehow.
Unfortunately, the murderer, their brother Seth, was also an esteemed magician. Determined to prevent this resurrection and possess Isis for himself, Seth, hot on her trail, locates the body as she searches for needed botanicals, chops Osiris into fourteen pieces and scatters them along the length of the Nile. Refusing to submit to despair, Isis assembles a coven of powerful friends and allies, searches out the pieces and manages to magically put them back together one by one, with the exception of one crucial piece, swallowed by a fish. Luckily, Isis' magical skills enable her to construct a functional gold penis. With the help of her allies, she's able to resurrect Osiris just long enough to conceive the son she's destined to bear.
Of course, there's always a catch: having conceived her son, she must protect him and herself long enough for him to grow up and avenge his father. In constant danger, with Seth's henchmen searching ceaselessly for her, Isis hides out in the Nile swamps, in something akin to a witness-protection program. Despite all her knowledge and ability, Isis is now unable to use her magic because, as in Disney's Sleeping Beauty, those are the clues that will betray her location and identity.
Although she can't practice magic, Isis' education continues. She learns the value of girlfriends. Her most powerful magic, the resurrection of Osiris, wasn't accomplished alone and her buddies continue to protect her ever after. The formerly pampered princess spends years hiding out in the Nile swamps, giving birth secretly in the bushes, begging for charity and subsistence, toiling as a laborer, afraid to use either her name, her skills or to access her waiting fortune.
Isis learns what it means to be human, the hard way. No television fantasies for her, à la Bewitched's Samantha: Isis' biggest problem should only be a nosy neighbor and an embarrassed husband. No middle-class illusions for Isis about the charm of doing housework by hand; she knows that being human is likely to mean poverty and powerlessness. Isis knows the realities of single motherhood, about literally begging to provide food for a child, about humiliation, about giving birth in less than ideal circumstances, about depending upon neighbors you barely know to assist with the safety of your beloved child. Her human neighbors didn't fail her. Throughout her saga, Isis receives assistance from plants, spirits, crocodiles and scorpions but human power counts too and is given due credit. Isis learned to love and respect people and when it was finally safe to reassume her power, to provide for them.
Isis is considered the most benevolent of all spirits. She is particularly protective of women, children and single mothers. There is no area with which she will not provide assistance. There is nothing you cannot ask her. There is no secret that she does not know. There is no shame because Isis already knows the hidden secrets of your heart. She accepts any offering given with love and respect, although she is partial to the fragrance of myrrh. Her colors are usually given as black and blue. Her talismanic mineral is bloodstone. The herb vervain is believed to have sprung from her tears.