One of the traditional roles of the witch is to act as the bridge between worlds, to mediate between spirits and humans.
This has been a part of my practice since I was a little girl keeping the peace between the ghost who lived in my house and liked to play bored pranks and the rest of my family who were not nearly as amused by those pranks as I was.
I find that there’s a considerable amount of fear surrounding this sort of work, people are afraid of running into “bad” spirits or attracting spirits that have malicious intent. Having worked with my fair share of spirits who, at first glance, appear to be bad or malicious I can certainly understand this fear. From an external perspective these beings are just plain scary!
In my experience this fear of “bad” spirits is the spirit workers worst enemy. And it’s not the fear itself but the judgement behind the fear that causes the true problem.
About a year ago I had a friend who was being plagued by a spirit that had attached to her like a leech, draining her energy and causing her to have an obsessive preoccupation with another person that was quite out of character for her. She had tried many different ways of ridding herself of it but could not for the life of her shake the thing so she came to me for help. One look at this spirit told me something was amiss, this spirit was clearly hurting her but it didn’t seem angry or hurt.
It seemed desperate.
I tried a few gentle methods of removing the spirit to no avail, this sucker was intent on staying attached to her. After several failed attempts we finally managed to remove the spirit through fairly aggressive means and trapped the spirit in a container so that it wouldn’t return to her.
She left, happy to be free of the leech. Many spirit workers would leave it at that, the spirit was clearly causing harm and would stay in the container indefinitely or be destroyed. As a mediator however, one party walking away happy while the other is still seething is not a success.
And so, I set about working with this spirit, trying to unravel its story and understand why it had acted so aggressively toward my friend.
After a time it came to light that this spirit was completely unaware that it was hurting anyone.
What I discovered (and later verified with my friend) was that the spirit was actually the father of the person she had been obsessing over. He had abandoned his son early in his childhood and then later died. After his death this abandonment weighed on him so much that he returned to his son and attempted to prevent anyone else from leaving him. The result was of course disastrous, the son had a string of tumultuous and painful relationships that had left him even more emotionally battered than before but the spirit of his father was so lost in his guilt that he couldn’t see that.
He had regressed, as spirits often do, to a state of hyper-emotional existence. This guilt was so all consuming that it became who he was, his singular motivation, and it blinded him to any evidence that his actions were harmful.
At this point, my purpose with this spirit became obvious, I had to help him see the error of his ways and release the guilt and sense of obligation that had kept him tethered to his son. It took time and effort but eventually I was able to calm him out of his hyper-emotional state and show him the truth of what he had been doing. After this realization the spirit changed completely, he was no longer riddled with guilt and shed the years of internal torment that he had been carrying with him. He appeared and acted exactly as I expected he must have when he was alive. He was rational, a bit apologetic but otherwise very amicable and he quickly left this world for the next soon after.
Of course, not every harmful spirit is like this. Some are simply mean, I won’t deny that, but I would wager that far more of these “bad” and “scary” spirits are simply hurting or misguided.
Judging spirits or magics as “bad” or “evil” does no good for anyone. All it does is assign a preconceived set of assumptions to something that may or may not have any truth to it, thereby clouding the truth and keeping you in the dark.
Witches are seekers of the hidden and secret, we cannot accept falsehoods based on assumptions. In spirit work and in our magical workings as a whole we must strive to seek what is beyond the veil of first impressions and easy assumptions. The truth that hides in the dark, hidden from the world is where true knowledge and power lies.