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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Great Outdoors

          One of the things I have commented on several times about Luminarium, and which my test group noted as well is that it is, to a degree, modular. The texts presents at once a system which can be used, more or less, as a stand-alone approach to magic or an example of adaptation which allows for additional adaptation.
          The entire system of preparation is presented ala carte with an invitation to bring your own. The tools are somewhat minimalist, but they can be adapted. The system presents conjurations for angels and aerial spirits, but with a little adjustment it can be used for other purpose as well.
          If you sort out what each piece of the conjuration ritual is doing, you could easily substitute equivalent functions from a preferred spiritual system or a preferred magical text.
          It’s setting up a model for a system of conjuring – a framework; as much as it is presenting a grimoire you can roll out of bed and chat up some cosmic powers with.
          My intention over the next few posts is to present some of these adaptations. The first one is inspired by a friend, who was one of the testers, who is spending a few weeks out in the wilderness. While thinking about him out there I considered suggesting he try out Luminarium in a more natural context, but realized he might not have some of the stuff he would need for the standard context. This got me thinking of how to change things.

The Ancestors

          The big thing that would be missing if someone were on the road or in the great outdoors and wanted to use Luminarium is the ancestor altar. The shrine to the ancestors essentially consecrates a temple space and becomes our in between space for working in the spirit world without needing a circle set up. It also sets the grounds for a particular sort of spirit leverage and connection.
          In my case I have a handmade rosary consecrated to my ancestors, Mary, Hekate and St. Benedict. If I wanted to work in a context similar to working at my ancestor shrine I could wear the rosary or I could place the rosary on the ground and put the bowl and other implements within the loop of the rosary. The space it outlines would be a hallowed space dedicated to those powers so long as the rosary was laid open in that spot.
          Another approach I might take is a spirit candle. While I light candles on my ancestor shrine to help make contact with them, I also have a pillar candle which I used for working with a particular ancestor before setting up my ancestor shrine. Once I began working with the shrine regularly I used that candle to ask that ancestor if I could work with him and his candle as a link to my ancestors over all if working in an instance where placing the candle in my working space made more sense than working at the altar.
          So if you have some tool along those lines which is portable and which you take with you then you could simulate the space of your ancestor work while working away from home.

The Nature Spirits

          The possibility of not having some sort of ancestral link – other than yourself – could easily come up during unplanned workings while exploring the wilderness for an extended period. So, with that being the case, maybe recontextualizing amid the spirits in your locality makes sense.
          I think if you approached from the perspective of engaging the nature spirits it would kind of shift a few things. In my experience, nature spirits are good at connecting you with other nature spirits and spirits who interact with them closely, but perhaps less so with a broad range of spirits. So, their ability to create leverage to help call upon spirits and bring spirits to work on your behalf might not be the same as when working with ancestors. Nature spirits also are not human, so they don’t have the same inside track as to what human needs and experience are like. They’re not your family so there is not the same natural investment.
          On the flip side there are benefits to nature spirits as a context to engage for this work. If your goal is to work with some natural or elemental spirit, or to conjure a faery or a dead person then nature spirits might be very useful in helping facilitate that connection. Nature spirits have influence over the spaces they protect and the areas of nature they connect with. So, while they might not guide things from a human perspective, they may be able to help influence what will and will not easily manifest within their spaces. Nature spirits are sometimes depicted as frightening and dangerous, but other-times as loving caregivers, guardians, and providers for the human communities within their environment. I believe a lot of this has to do with what kind of relationships humans are maintaining with them. With this in mind they may have an investment in your – albeit of a different sort than your ancestors – if you’re maintaining a good relationship with them.

Building a Relationship

          If you’re going to work with nature spirits as your context, which makes a lot of sense if you’re working out in nature, you need to build a relationship.
          The first step in this process is going into natural spaces and introducing yourself. Once you’ve introduced yourself, sit and listen. Appreciate the space. Be a part of the space and accept and adapt to it rather than trying to make it adapt to and accept you. Once you’ve done this, make offerings. Water, incense, appropriate food. Be mindful that your offerings don’t damage the space. Be a good steward, clean things up, take care of things in the space, don’t be part of the problems damaging the space. Make more individual introductions, meet the rivers, the trees, the rocks, the wind, whatever else makes up the space. It’s not just the spirit of the overall place, or an over all guardian spirit of the place, but the lives of the myriad pieces that make up the environment with whom you will need to engage.


          If you’re working in nature, find a spot that seems conducive to your work, get to know the spot and anything in it. Build a connection. You don’t need to consecrate it so much as you need to awaken your awareness of its life and bring that awareness into engagement. You could build up ritual structures, but if you can find a place that is naturally suited that’s better. If you’re building, ask permission to do so, and ask permission to use the natural materials you need. Ask those materials to be your working partners and part of what you’re doing.


          You might streamline the tools some. Maybe just the lantern instead of the candles. Maybe a natural pool of water instead of the bowl. Maybe a spot on the ground or a rock instead of a table. You’ll have to look at what you have available, what the space provides, and what feels right and make those three influences work together.

The Ritual Itself

          Most of the ritual would remain the same. The ancestor service might be replaced by offerings and work with the spirits of nature, but there should still be a point where you at least call on and acknowledge your ancestors. When you get to the conjuration that might shift if you’re shifting what you’re conjuring. Maybe you want to talk to the guardian of that space? Maybe you want to call on a faery, or a dead person connected to that space? The conjuration prayer you write would focus on the powers of nature and show respect to those as well as to whatever you’re calling. If calling angels, aerial spirits, or demons, you might not have to adjust anything except using the rite for the nature spirits instead of the ancestor service rite.

Try it out and let me know how it goes!

If you’re curious about the method being discussed pick up my new book – Luminarium: A Grimoire of CunningConjuration

If you want some help exploring the vast world of spirits check out my first book – Living Spirits: AGuide to Magic in a World of Spirits

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