How do you know if you’ve really connected to a spirit (angel, demon, god, goddess, dead person, etc.) you’re working with (generally in evocation, but also in dreams, etc.)? How can you be sure that this is the spirit you’ve called and not another spirit or just your imagination?
The Role Of Skepticism In Magick
When you practice magick, skepticism is a good tool. What? How can a magickian say that skepticism is good?
Easily in fact. Skepticism doesn’t have to mean what most people think it does. It’s true that most skeptics in the modern day are “doubters” of anything beyond science. And some of them are pricks about it. That’s fine for them, but it’s just another form of dogma (scientism). But this fear of skepticism in the occult community is just as dogmatic. Every time I’ve invoked the phrase, “I’m a skeptic about…” people get all kinds of rude or defensive. This is not helpful, makes you look like a fool, and is a denial of the brutal facts: most people don’t believe in the “supernatural” (loosely defined: things beyond naturalism, i.e. things that cannot be empirically verified).
If you look into the etymology of skeptic, however, you’ll find it comes from the Greek work skeptikos, inquirer, doubter. And while the modern skeptic is often a hard-nosed atheist, there are two other meanings of skeptic that are very useful. First, there is the skeptic school of philosophy–mostly an ancient Greek school of thought–that denies the possibility of knowing something or sometimes anything at all! [I don’t want to give you a long philosophy lesson here, but it’s definitely worth looking into how intense these people got. Pyrrho, for instance, defined the wise person as one who doesn’t make any judgements about things, but just experiences…]
But there’s also the much better definition of skeptic: a person who questions or doubts accepted opinions. For instance, as Unamuno writes, “Skeptic does not mean him who doubts, but him who investigates or researches as opposed to him who asserts and thinks that he has found.” [Miguel de Unamuno, “Essays and Soliloquies,” 1924. Quote found in the Online Etymology Dictionary.]
In that latter definition, pretty much all occultists are skeptics!
3 Ways To Tell You’ve Made Contact With The Right Spirit
With that out of the way, we can now admit that we’re all skeptics. We’re seeking to investigate and research our claims and our gnosis. This is why many serious occultists discuss the difference between unverified personal gnosis (UPG) and verified gnosis. The question then becomes not one of faith, but one of correspondence: how do I know that my gnosis is accurate? How do I verify my gnosis? There are a few ways, but there are three that I rely on heavily: expansion of consciousness, correspondences I haven’t heard about, and things changing in your life. By the way, these go in order of certainty. Changes in your life being the most profound.
I’ve never really heard anyone define these terms before, but I notice many magickians use them to verify their gnosis. So, if you know of anyone who’s written about these terms, please let me know! [At the moment, I believe these are things we all seem to know intuitively.]
Expansion Of Consciousness
This one is simple, but as such the one that needs the most skeptical attitude. In a nutshell, by expansion of consciousness means that your gnosis expands your awareness of a certain situation. For instance, while working with (Draconian) Arachne, I asked her about my father and the role in my life that he’d played. [Something I have been very angry and sad about most of my life.] She told me that because he was the man he was (drunk, druggie, abusive, manipulative, disinclined to working, racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.) and mostly absent, I had a model of manliness that I needed to work through and this meant that I could become greater than my material conditions themselves allowed. He gave me the freedom to have more ability to define myself than others. I would never have thought of this myself–especially as I’m disinclined to believe in the “everything happens for a reason” explanations of things. So, in this case, it seems that I made contact with an entity that gave me information I didn’t have and wouldn’t have come up with on my own. Though, it’s still possible that you’ve gotten the information from your unconscious or higher self with this method of verification.
Correspondences You Didn’t Know About
You probably know that I’m a big believer in preparatory immersion. As far as I can tell, it’s a good idea to discover quite a bit of information about an entity before working with them. Though, there are many spirits you can work with that have next to no writing about them. For instance, in the Ars Theurgia Goetia the lesser spirits of most entities are just listed with a sigil. They have no information about them. [Side note, but I find experimenting with these spirits to be super interesting…] And with other spirits, there is a ton of information about them.
So, with preparatory immersion, my recommendation is to leave a few stones unturned. This way when you work with the spirit, you can reflect later on the visions or information they give you and see how much it corresponds to their essence. [This is particularly helpful with pathworking, which is inclined to give the operator visions.]
Personal Experience With Lilith As An Example
For instance, when I began working with Lilith, it was at the behest of Raziel. He told me that Lilith would be more helpful with many of my goals than he was as he taught me many things, but wasn’t so inclined toward more than teaching. So, as I worked with Lilith, I found out a little about her, but not much. She too mostly taught me interesting things, particularly about triangles of manifestation as doorways, but I’ve yet to find verification for this outside of my own practice.
Yet, when I began working with her as a Draconian goddess, I didn’t do much in the way of preparatory immersion. I just worked with her–as I’d worked with her before, I assumed it was unnecessary to look much more into her and I knew the Hebrew myths about her well, but I really didn’t know much about her correspondences other than blood and sex in a loose way. In the first week I worked with her, I became more masculine and defined masculinity for myself; became less inclined toward my own and other people’s BS; her sigil became a woman free bleeding (menstruating without anything to catch it like a pad); one day the sigil opened to a crater on the dark side of the moon; another day, it turned into a pyramid with the all seeing eye behind The Ascending Flame with the red and black kundalini serpents wrapped around it; Lilith appeared to me with a snake bottom, like a snake mermaid.
So, in this way, I discovered many things about Lilith that I’ve found with more research: she’s heavily into female sexuality, and as such knows a lot about male sexuality (hence my new understandings of self as a man); she doesn’t stand for other people’s BS and will ignore practitioners she’s not interested in (gave me some of that energy); she’s a dark moon goddess, which is basically synonymous with menstrual cycles; Lilith as an astrology symbol is the dark side (back from Earth’s perspective) of the moon; two colors that correspond to her are red and black; in a certain sense she’s the feminine counterpart to Lucifer or Samael (thus, she’s the red serpent) and as the gatekeeper of the qliphothic realms, not only opens your eyes, but in a certain sense is the power behind The Ascending Flame of Lucifer; and given what I’ve said, she’s interconnected with serpents.
A little drawn out, but this is what you’re looking for: deeper information about the spirit that you haven’t received via study, but rather from work with them that you can verify with other sources. Sometimes, this information will come in dreams as well.
Things Changing/Happening In Your Life
There are a few ways this can work out.
First, there are weird coincidences. My cat is one of the reasons I became a theist. At first, I believed this was all psychodrama. Then, I was working a ritual with Raziel and my cat kept banging to get into the room. She walked around, then rubbed her head on Raziel’s knee and responded to him petting her (leaned her head into it, purred). That jarred me out of state to say the least. She did it again with Lilith. She also sometimes looks at things in the dark and when I look at them, sometimes I can see entities I’m working with. And one day, I was going to skip a day of a pact working. She starts making noises from the other room that almost sound like sentences (anyone with a cat knows what I’m talking about: sometimes, they like try to talk to you or just make a bunch of odd noises). I come in to see what’s the deal worrying she’s hurt. She’s walking widdershins (counterclockwise) around the inside of a circle she’s made of socks she took out of my girlfriend’s dresser (she often takes one pair out and brings it to us). She’s never done anything like that since, but it was far out to say the least.
Next, there are reactions to magickal working. For instance, when I was working with Lilith, she told me some things about my sex life. At that moment, my sleeping girlfriend moaned sexually from the other room as if she were having a sexual dream.
Sometimes, as you’re working with spirits, things in the room will shift like dishes will slide in the sink or they’ll be weird knocking in the walls or your neighbors will arrive home as the entity in question arises. These coincidences are odd at first, but as they stack up, you’ll begin to see them as a sign you’ve made contact.
Finally, there are exact responses to the work you’ve done. For instance, after working with Belial and Arachne around some issues about money, I left the ritual chamber and my girlfriend tells me about a job I’d be perfect for. And the most obvious: you get the thing you wanted their help on.
And there are of course other methods for determining if you’ve made contact with a specific demon, demoness, god, goddess, or whatever kind of spirit you’re working with, but these methods are tried and true. Of course, there is always some room for doubt, but that’s good. The skepticism will help you to have a better idea of whether or not you’re making connections. You really don’t want to believe that every single time the ritual is perfect as this can lead to sloppy mistakes and in some cases, being fooled by a different spirit.
If you have any additional methods for verifying your gnosis, feel free to leave them in comments below!