“I am the Necromancer,
the one who calls forth the spirits.
The spirits that are stirring,
Say now what needs to be said.”
– chant to call forth the spirits
When the word “Necromancy” is spoken, images of a magical practitioner physically raising the dead from the ground to do their bidding tends to come to mind. Stories distorted by christian views, expanded upon in Hollywood fantasy, and instilled in the imagination of the unknowing, have created an unwelcome image of what a Necromancer really is.
Necromancy, at its core, is a practice of communication and working with the spirits of the dead. The distinction of “spirits of the dead” I think is an important one. As magical practitioners, we interact with a variety of different kinds of spirits such as land spirits, Fae like spirits, elementals, tulpa like spirits, and so forth. Each one has a different way of communicating and understanding them in my experience.
I personally love the word Necromancer because it is very specific in its focus. I hate the connotations that have been attached to it though. So, perhaps this year is the time to embrace the word and changing that image.
We are not all the same.
Different traditions, cultures, and tools can influence how a necromancer practices their craft. It is only in recent history have we had the large collection of knowledge to be shared around the world. Before that, people learned from those around them or their own trial and error process. In our sharing and blending though, ideas, tools, and practices have expanded and spread.
Below you will find some tools and exercises that I feel work really well in communicating with the dead, especially those just starting out.
Mirrors have a long history with spirits of the dead.
When a person would die, it was customary to cover all the mirrors so the spirit wouldn’t get “trapped” in them. They are also equated to portals or doorways into our world through them. Even today I see all sorts of “do’s and don’ts” when it comes to mirrors in the magical community – and I probably break them all.
I have mirrors everywhere including around my altar and bedroom. In my experience, when it comes to spirits of the dead, mirrors can be like a window between us. I have yet to have any spirit use a mirror as a portal and cross through the mirror itself. I am not saying it isn’t possible, I have just never experienced that in all my years.
As a window though, I find them to be extremely valuable tools. It allows them to manifest in a way to communicate more visually. They can not only show a more recognizable form but also other images. Fragments of memories and other symbolism can also be common. Now, let’s be clear, in my experience, it is more of shadowy or more transparent type images, not as clear as watching a movie on your tv, but still very obvious and independent of other reflections.
Over the summer I have been experimenting with a different kind of mirror working under the direction of the Goddess Hel and my Ancestors. To bring forth the faces and memories of the Ancestral Soul within me. Below is an experiment you can try for yourself.
Exercise to Try
You will need a mirror, candle, and a dark room.
First, you need a completely darkened room (as little other light as possible). Place the mirror so that it is sitting in from of you and you can see your own face straight on. The candle you want off to the side and not directly reflected in the mirror, but where it illuminates your face enough to see some of the features in the mirror.
I personally like to use the mala technique when calling them forth. Keeping my eyes open and on the mirror, for each bead I will say a simple chant such as “I call forth the ancestors that reside within, come forth and let yourself be known, say what needs to be said, show what needs to be shown.”
If your eyes unfocus, let them. Just relax into it and observe the changes in the mirror. Don’t try to focus in or hold any of the images (this may take practice) but just let them flow. Once it is over, you can write everything down and do reflective and deeper dives into them afterwards.
I found it started with seeing my face change – as if another image was being overlaid onto it. It developed and grew from there. It does take some time and practice but it can be amazing tool, especially when connecting to ancestors.
Feet in Water
You will often hear people say to take your shoes off and feel the earth beneath your bare feet in order to ground yourself. That is a way to specifically ground yourself back into this world, the physical/material plane and its energies. To “ground” – or more accurately walk into the spirit realm – place your feet in water. The properties and modes of water when it comes to magical practice and the world of spirits. So floating in that element also helps us to move into the form of spirit.
I say feet in water because it is the easiest and most accessible for the majority of people to do. The more of your body in the water, the quicker I feel the process can be. I am lucky to live on a lake, so whether it is dangling my feet off the dock in the water, or completely submerging myself and floating in it, I do find it to be incredible conduit for spirit travel.
Exercise to Try
Get a tub large enough to put both feet in comfortably (or a bathtub – a pool – a stream – a lake). Submerge your feet (or float on it for larger bodies of water). Feel the water with your physical and clair senses.
Allow yourself to drift into the feel and experience of the water. We all meditate differently and have different clairs that are strong for us – use what works for you and what your strengths are. As you get more accustomed to do this type of “un-grounding” you can use the experience to develop and sharpen the senses you are not so strong in and try different modes of meditative techniques.
Through the meditation, allow your spirit/ soul to drift. Allowing the feel of your body drift away and start to feeling your spirit drift outward from it. This is one way to start the process of spirit walking/ astral travel. The water itself is acting like a conduit in order to link you to the realm of spirit vs just walking around the physical plane. It is helping to direct which energies you are wanting to connect to and subconsciously programming this act with travel in the realm of the dead.
I highly suggest drinking, eating, and if possible walking barefoot on the ground afterwards. All of these acts are ways to re-ground your spirit firmly back into your body and in the physical plane we live on.
Divination for Conversation
People use divination tools for all kinds of reasons. Most often we hear people using divination to peek into the possibilities in the future. I mainly use divination for conversations. Whether it be spirits, Deities, Ancestors, or other energetic entities, what I tend to want most is knowledge, perspective, their stories, and understanding, so conversation is key for me.
For conversation purposes, tarot/ oracle cards are my physical tool go-to. I do a lot of trance work, but the mind is a tricky place and there are times where I want a more physical confirmation, so I use tarot afterwards to check if the message/ story stays consistent. When first connecting with a spirit, tarot can be a great way of communicating and strengthening the bond. I also find it an effective way to have conversations when I am not in a position or space to spirit walk.
Exercise to Try
“Tell me a story” can be a game changer. No spreads or structure, just asking the spirit to tell you a story.
Pick a deck – tarot works best for this exercise but depending on your oracle deck and its diversity it could also work – I personally love the Seasons of the Witch Decks. If you have the choice between multiple decks, try to pick one that may match the background or energy of the person you are trying to contact. For example, if I am looking to connect with one of my more Nordic ancestors I would use the Runic deck – or for my more Irish/ Celtic ancestors, the Hidden Realms deck works well. Any you have connection with will do though.
Focus on the person you want to speak with. Perhaps even light a candle for them to draw energy from, especially if this is a brand new connection you are making. I find the energy given off by candles can help the dead come through a little more easily. If you know them by name, call them in and welcome them into your space. If you just want to call any of your ancestors, or spirit that has been lurking around but you don’t know who it is – you can do a general invitation to come and speak with you during this time.
Start by asking them to tell you a story about themselves. I find spirits to be really eager to tell their own stories because I don’t think they get asked that often. Usually when being summoned it is because the summoner wants something or to know something specific. Allowing them to tell their own story is an exciting time for them in my experience.
Shuffle the cards until you get a feeling or one pops out to you (even literally). Lay it face down in front of you and continue shuffling – drawn the next – and shuffle again. Do this until you have about 6 cards or you feel they are done. Then flip them all over and look at them as various aspects of a story.
Depending on the spirit it may be right to left or left to right. Try and see the story both ways and figure out which one is right until you get to know them. I suggest writing it down in a notebook, the story you see, or hear along with the cards if you are channeling.
Once you think you have the story right, you can use a pendulum to check what you received. Talking out loud to the spirit, telling them the story back, and asking with the pendulum if this is correct or not. If they say “no” ask if it was the entire thing or just a part of it. If it was just a part – go through each part asking yes or no. If it was the entire thing, clear your mind, take a few deep breaths, and try to see a new perspective of the cards.
Talking out Loud – When dealing with spirits it is important to talk out loud with your voice. Talk with them like you would a physical person you were having a conversation with. If you are a deaf person, sign like you would be communicating with any other person. Our brains are complex with a lot of different thoughts and processes going through it. We can have difficulty navigating that ourselves, so asking or thinking an outside spirit can just doesn’t vibe with me or my experience.
By talking out loud we are being clear in our communication. When we don’t understand something they may be saying or showing us – ask for clarification. If a part of the story intrigues or catches you, go deeper, asking more questions specifically about that card or part of the story.
There are many ways to open the doors of communication between us and the dead. These are just a few.
Necromancy is the act of communicating, gaining knowledge and understanding from the spirits of the dead. We are in the season of time where they are very active because our society and cultures have brought them to the forefront. So it is a perfect time to get started, experiment with new modes of communication, or deepen our connection there.
The experiences, the stories, the knowledge they hold is vast. Learning directly from them can open all sorts of doors for us in this life and along our spiritual path.
In this season of spirits – Become the Necromancer!