The title of this post is a bit of a teaser. The whole “how-to” phenomenon is a big part of content marketing nowadays, and people type things like “how to [insert skill here]” into Google probably millions of times a day.
So when it came to me wanting to share with you my experience regarding connecting with the invisible world of gods and spirits, it felt appropriate to be a bit tongue-in-cheek with a straightforward “how to,” as if this were something that you could go to a website for, follow a few specific instructions, and poof! Conversation complete.
Here’s the thing: it’s even simpler than that.
I won’t lie to you; I’ve taken courses on shamanic journeying and channeling angels. I’ve done lots of formalized things to get in touch with the spirit world. So I’m not coming at this from a totally novice perspective. What’s different now, however, is that I realized you don’t have to learn a bunch of techniques to do this. Much like learning tarot, or playing jazz, for that matter: first you study all the methods and all the theories and all the ritualized and codified concepts. Then, like Charlie Parker said: “Just play.”
Recently I wrote a post on my website, Sparrow Tarot, providing a tarot spread for the self-employed and small business owners. I was inspired to write that post because I knew I needed to kick start my own tarot practice and was feeling lost about how to do that.
In that spread, I specifically included a card whose purpose was to show me the Spirit that could help me or wanted to help me in my goal. My magical colleagues here at Maelstrom helped me to better understand which direction to go with the card I received. Then Miguel said: Ok. Go talk to her.
What is that supposed to mean? You just dial up a goddess on the phone and have a chat?
That advice really baffled me and I kept asking for more details. But how? Isn’t there some ritual? Shouldn’t I go into some altered state of consciousness or chant a specific series of words? Do I have to build a shrine first?
I’m exaggerating just a bit for effect, but the point is I had always imagined people who “talked” with deities had to do all sorts of very particular rituals and then they’d actually “hear” voices or something. I guess we have pop culture and Poltergeist and stories about haunted houses and Ouija boards and seances to blame for all that.
Here’s the thing: knowing less about what you’re “supposed” to do is sometimes hugely beneficial. You know that phenomenon they call beginner’s luck? It’s because the beginner doesn’t know all the codified rules yet. Although rules and practices do have their place, so does the Fool-like beauty of taking a step into the unknown and opening yourself to what the Universe can show you.
You can devise your own method of contacting whatever spirit, guide, deity, angel, or saint you want to talk to.
People, can we step back for a moment and realize that sanctioned religions do this all the time with prayers?
Somehow it seems illicit in polite conversation to say you’re calling on Athena to help you and give you support and guidance, while praying to Saint Pio and keeping a picture of him on your wall and covering it with a rosary and a few other accoutrements that have meaning doesn’t seem illicit at all.
The fact of the matter is that as human beings, talking with the gods is obviously as old as time, and each and every one of us is innately equipped with the tools we need to do so.
Personally, you need nothing more than your heart, honest intention, and being open to listening for whatever comes through.
Let’s be clear: I’m not discounting the power of ritual or codified practices. They absolutely have their place and serve their purposes. What I am trying to get across here, however, is that you don’t have to necessarily do anything fancy or have anything special in order to communicate.
Here’s the method I devised. Yours may be different, of course, and just as valid. What’s important is that it’s a method that feels natural and comfortable to you and a method that you feel you can honestly engage in and trust the results of without putting in too much over-thinking or mental doubting.
Because I’m a writer both by trade and basically by birthright, it felt appropriate and natural to me to initiate contact by pulling out a notebook and writing.
I opened by writing a small invitation (sort of like a prayer, if you will) to the goddess I wanted to address, welcoming her presence and explaining to her why I was turning to her and what I hoped she would help me accomplish. This was all included in just one brief sentence.
The next sentence I wrote was a direct question, to open the line of communication. I simply asked: “How can I honor you to bring your help into my life for success with my tarot business?”
Then, I closed my eyes and waited for the answer.
I’m not kidding you when I say that I literally just sat there and waited for the answer. No burning candles, no incense, no induced trance, no drumming, no bubbling cauldron or smoking potions.
And I am telling you that the answer came.
Here’s another thing I think gets completely lost in the overwhelming confusion generated by an onslaught of New Age gobbledygook: talking to the invisible world isn’t like watching TV.
I’m not discounting the fact that there are many ways people experience the spirit world, and those ways include auditory and visual hallucinations and the like. But what I am saying is that for folk like you and me who don’t have “visions,” it simply doesn’t matter.
The voice you hear in your head, that voice you think is you, that voice that is part you and part spirit? That.
Write that stuff down.
I think what often happens is people think you have to have some sort of psychic superpower in order to open up a dialogue, but in my experience that’s just not the case.
When I was writing down the snippets of words and thoughts that flowed after I posed my written question, I was doing two things, essentially:
- I was “hearing” my own inner voice. It wasn’t like suddenly some spirit possessed my body and I started hearing an otherworldly voice telling me things. Nope. Just me, plain old me, regular voice-I-hear-all-the-time-in-my-brain voice.
- I was trusting whatever came through and writing it down without sitting there and going “Now what the HELL does THAT mean?” I think this is pretty essential. It doesn’t have to make sense. It has to be accepted for whatever it is. And welcomed. And then put into some concrete format as a way of honoring it. For me that was writing it down.
- Don’t force, push, exert, or demand. Allow. It’s much like shuffling the tarot deck. We shuffle, and then, when we feel it’s time to stop, we stop.
I sat for a few minutes and listened to whatever came to mind. I wrote things down. It ended up being a list of 16 brief statements, phrases, commands or nouns. It had a logical flow but wasn’t logical in the sense we would give to a regular, everyday conversation. And just like the tarot shuffle, at a certain point I knew that it was done.
Before I initiated this process I read a little bit about the goddess I was planning to “talk” to, but not much. Just the basics. To my delight, some specific suggestions that came out on my list ended up being directly related to this goddess even though I had no idea beforehand. (I went searching online afterwards, to see if they somehow related).
Spiritual connections are personal and unique. Opening to the idea that you don’t have to have special psychic powers or have anything more than what you already have is really important. Trust plays a fundamental role. This is how you build intuition.
If this is all new to you, I suggest first trying a practice developed by Carl Jung called active imagination. In this practice, you actively engage through writing with a figure you encountered in a dream (or work of art) and ask it what it has to teach you, and then you write down the response.
Here is an excerpt from the link above, written by Jungian analyst Lawrence H. Staples, Ph.D., PsyA., that illustrates the mysterious underpinnings of this process (italics mine):
Isak Dineson, a Danish novelist, had quite a reputation as a storyteller, and following dinner her guests usually asked her to tell a story. She complied, but stipulated that her guests must supply her with the opening sentence. Using this sentence as her starting point, she would then spin tales that were hours long.
She had a way of forming and telling stories that is, perhaps, a microcosmic example of the macrocosmic processes of all creation. I could see that, like a verdant and luxurious garden, all creation must first be seeded before it can produce a crop. In Dineson’s case, the opening sentence given by the guest was the impregnating seed that she took into her imagination to create the story, like an acorn taken into the earth creates a tree. She began with a word (her acorn) that unfolded from itself a string of words connected to each other by some associative bond that produced a coherent creation. It is as if the opening sentence contained all the genetic codes that knew from the beginning where they were going and how they would get there. The mother is not conscious of the code; it operates invisibly and unconsciously once the seed is fertilized.
This example, for me, highlights the importance of trust in the practice of intuition. The storyteller in the example didn’t say to the guests, “Nope, I can’t work with that word, choose a different one.” Instead, she opened herself to the spontaneous and random act of accepting whatever came her way and then using it as a springboard to continue its natural unfoldment process. This is like what we do when we read the cards.
Honor this process within yourself and trust the fact that, just like the acorn becomes a tree, the process knows how to get you where you need to go.
Please share your thoughts on your own experiences in the comments section. I would love to hear from you!