Over at Gnostic Conjure, Balthazar posted about working with the dead and the dangers of making spirit pots for muertos. I pretty much completely agree with him on this.
Frater RO posted a post on his own blog about the types of Spirit Pots he uses in his practice for spirits of the Grimoires. I also like that post and more or less agree with the tech he is espousing.
Yet, Balthazar noted that he thought RO was dumbing down the situation, Rufus responded, and they seem to be hammering it all out like gentlemen, as is normal for our blog Cabal.
The thing is that Frater RO and Balthazar are really talking about two VERY different types of operation concerning two very different types of spirit.
See, very often people want to just lump all non-physical entities together like they are all similar. They aren’t. Some of the tech used to communicate with them might seem the same, but that doesnt mean that every channel you tune it to is going to be similar.
The largest difference between making a spirit pot for a Muerto (or a lot of nature spirits for that matter) is that those spirits are localized. They literally occupy space. Not in the same way that we do, but still and all, when one of them is around and you can sense it, they are generally somewhere that you can point to.
Angels, Goetic Spirits, Gods, etc tend to be non-local beings. They may create localized manifestations of themselves (indeed this is what evocation pretty much is all about) but they themselves are not tied to a specific place.
What difference does this make with a spirit pot? Simple. If you are building a spirit pot for a non-localized being, you are making a place where it can manifest and work with you. It is a tool for the being to get a foothold into your world and a tool for you to interact with the being through. If however you are making a pot for a localized being, that is where the spirit lives. It is bound to that house by oath or by magic, and sometimes by physical chains.
Both operations are dangerous, and I will side with Balthazar a bit here and say that after reading RO’s post, even his follow up, he doesn’t quite get the danger aspect across well enough. That said, making a permanent home for a localized spirit is WAY more dangerous than making one for a non-local spirit.
The most famous examples that everyone points to is of course the prenda or nganga in Palo. I have been lucky enough to have a friend who showed me his handwritten instructions for this, and to walk me through the process. This was done with the express understanding that I was NOT going to make a Nganga, but study some of the tech and processes used. It was a very rewarding study. That said it is not the only example.
In Voodoo, a lot of really powerful magic is done through the use of djab’s or household spirits. Again, you can think of the Loa as non-localized and the djab as localized. There are oodles of stories about pwen (houses, usually bottles or govi jars) that bring disaster and death to a family that does not do what the Djab demands.
These types of operations however are NOT unique to the ATRs. They exist all across Asia. In Tibet for instance once can make a Wealth Jar that is blessed to Dzambhala or Vaishravana, etc and have very little or no problems as long as it is constructed well. A Naga Khang can look almost exactly alike, but it is completely different because there is a Naga that is bound to it. It needs very specific offerings on ONLY the dates that are safe according to the lunar and elemental calander. It needs to be extremely clean at all times and cannot share an altar with other items, even buddhist items. If you leave your home on vacation you must have someone come take care of it, and it has to be the same person each time because the Nagas wont trust too many different people. Persnickety bitches those Nagas can be…
There are jars and bottles for housing the spirits of dead babies in Thailand and called Guman Thong. In Malaysia, spirits of the unborn are used to make Toyol.
Anyway, the points I wanted to make is that giving a spirit, ANY spirit, a large foothold into your life is dangerous. Giving a very nearly material localized spirit that foothold is even more dangerous. If you cannot do the magic to guarantee that you are getting the right spirit to an environment that is suitable, you have no business doing those operations. If you have designs on taking a stab in the dark at actually replicating something from an initiatory tradition based on what you read in books and on the internet, than I can almost guarantee it will blow up in your face.
Anyway, just some thoughts on the matter.