Necromancy is a word often feared but it is simply magickal workings which involve "the dead" or "the deceased". This does not necessarily involve digging up bodies from graveyards or attempting to re-animate corpses, (i.e. bringing someone back from the dead) as is often thought and shown in pop culture.
The word necromancy appears to originate from "the Greek words for death (necro) and divination (mancy) and most properly refers to prophecies and predictions by means of the dead."
Necromancy in History
Early necromancy most likely evolved from Shamanism where Shamans or initiated tribal leaders would enter a trance-state, often through the use of psychotropic substances and brews, such as the infamous Ayahuasca which is a brew made from Bainsteriopsis caapi. Once in these altered states the Shamans would call upon and commune with the ghosts of their ancestors.
Necromancy in Greece
The oldest literary account of necromancy is found in Homer's Odyssey. The Odyssey's passages contain many descriptive references to necromantic rituals, some of which could be quite elaborate.
Necromancy in Rome
Compared to the Greeks the Romans had a much more negative view of necromancy. Although the dead were believed to be useful for binding curses against the living it was thought that if they ever escaped the grave, they would be likely to terrorize the living, in fact they feared the spirits turning and terrorizing the living so much they would hold large festivals to appease them. The Lemuria festival is a good example of this as it was held on the ninth, eleventh, and fifteenth days of May to keep harmful spirits in check. "The Lemuria derives it's name from the "Lemures", the ghosts of those who died without a surviving family, or who were evil or harmful in nature". Another Roman festival of the dead worth mentioning is the nine-day "Parentalia" which was held to honour the ancestors.
Necromancy although still widely practised today is often not endorsed or considered acceptable by many. Often even in religions with a strong necromantic theme/ current it still remains somewhat taboo or even outright banned among certain denominations of faiths such as Christianity, which I find amusing given the religion basically revolves around a dead person (Jesus Christ) coming back to life.
Practicing Necromancy Without A License
When I talk about practising necromancy without a license I don't simply mean applying to a local government office in order to speak to your deceased relative. Having said that it did surprise me to find out that some states in the USA (such as Massachusetts) require a psychic medium to apply for and obtain a psychic license in order to work in that state.
What I really mean is necromancy and working with the dead is acceptable for one type of magical practitioner (the Clergy or Priest class) and not another (the Cunning Folk or local Witch), or that it is only acceptable to communicate and work with a specific "Class of the Dead", an example of this is in Christianity or more specifically Catholicism, It is only acceptable to pray to or work with "The Saint's" and that attempting to contact your Deceased Father, Mother, or Step Brother for help would be considered unacceptable even though you would think a member of your family would be more willing to help you given they probably Knew you in life and have a vested interest in you and the continuation of their family line.
What Can They Do For You?
While some Cultures consider the knowledge of the dead to be limited, ancient Greeks and Romans believed that individual "shades" knew only certain things. The apparent value of their counsel may have been based on things they knew in life or knowledge they acquired after death. Ovid writes in his "Metamorphoses" of a market place in the underworld where the dead convene to exchange news and gossip.
Most frequently necromancy is used for the following reasons:
- Finding lost information (Where Grandma hid the Will)
- Research into the afterlife
- Reconnecting with those who have passed away (Not letting go!)
Spirits in general are reported to cause a number of phenomena including, apparitions, cold spots, unexplained sounds, shadowy figures, movement and misplacement of objects including the throwing and breaking of objects, mental disturbances, nightmares, and even interference with electrical items / technology.
How Does it Work?
Necromancy is usually accomplished with the help of an intermediary such as an oracle or in modern times a "Medium" but this is not necessary you can do it yourself (please see "Solitary Working" below).
Types or styles of Mediumship can differ considerably but they general involve channelling information from a spirit or allowing oneself to be taken over by a spirit (possession) completely or partially. Most mediumship is mental so the medium is in an altered state but less common styles are that of; the "Trance Medium" which requires being in a much deeper state and letting yourself be possessed by a spirit, and also of the "Physical Medium" where physical manifestations occur, such as ectoplasm a strange substance exuded from the medium's body.
Necromantic practices which don't rely on or rely on a lower level of psychic ability include the use of tool's such as a Talking Board or Pendulum.
The Tools of Necromancy
The true power of the Witch or Necromancer lies within however as with most magick especialy whilst taking a ceremonial or ritual aprouch there are many tools often used for contacting the dead.
I have attempted to list a few of the most popular and widley use tools for necromancy below although I could not possibly hope to cover all tools used in all forms of necromancy in this blog post.
The Spirit / Talking Board more commonly known as the "Ouija Board" is perhaps the most used item in modern times for attempting to contact spirits of the dead. This device is used by so many different people from professional Witch's & Paranormal Investigators to groups of teenagers looking for a thrill.
It was originally introduced commercially by Elijah Bond in 1890 and was marketed as a parlour game and a patent was granted in 1891. Production of the Spirit Board was later taken over by William Fuld in 1901 and eventually Trademarked as a "Ouija Board" and was later sold to the "Parker Brothers" toy & game company, both the Ouija and Parker Brothers brand it is now owned by Hasbro Inc.
The precursor to the talking board was actually a form of planchette used for automatic writing. A pen or pencil would be placed through a small hole in the planchette, which in turn would be placed on a blank piece of paper, People would then place there hands on the planchette and let there hands drift eventually and hopefully resulting in the ink from the pen spelling out words or drawing pictures.
After the release of the hit film "The Exorcist" in 1973 Spirit boards have now got a reputation as being dangerous and have been a favourite to include in Horror films ever since. I would like to note that the spirit board is no more or less dangerous than any of the other tools in this list.
Click here to download our pdf Spirit Board Template and make your own
A pendulum can be made from many different materials but like the name suggests it's simply a piece of material usually a crystal (most often clear quartz) suspended from a cord or string.
Pendulums are very simple devices to use and work on the same ideomotor response principle as the Ouija Board. All you need to do is hold the pendulum cord between your thumb and forefinger in whatever hand you feel comfortable using, Simply ask the questions, "Show me YES", "Show me NO", "Show me MAYBE", "Show me DON'T KNOW". After you have determined what directions the pendulum swings in you can start asking simple YES or NO questions.
Incense not only creates an atmosphere but many believe it helps to carry your will and intention into the realms of spirit.
Bones have been used for centuries in necromantic practices especially skulls and it's clear to see why given we all have them and they are the last thing left after our bodies decompose. Many see skulls as a literal gateway to "the spirit world" and although all bones could be used to connect us to the other side, human bones particularly are said to connect us to "the great river of DNA" and our ancestors.
The Bronze Dagger
Unlike Iron or Steel which is said to repel spirits Bronze has a much softer energy which is more conducive to welcoming spirits although it is often still used to "Cast a magick circle of protection".
Altars of the dead or "Ancestral Altars" provide both a focal point during ritual for communing with the dead but also a practical purpose in that they provide us a place for tools used and to leave offerings for spirits.
If you are committed to a necromantic path I highly suggest creating a permanent ancestral altar even if it is something as simple as a side board with mementoes, fresh flowers and pictures of your beloved dead after all not all necromantic alters need to look like a stereotypical scene from a horror film with skulls and spiders all it really needs is to be a place you put aside for "them".
Belongings & Heirlooms
Anything that belonged to a deceased loved one can help you commune with them and would be a great item to place on your ancestral altar.
Graveyard Dust & Dirt
Used by some practitioners (myself included) graveyard dirt has a very strange ethereal quality to it and is something I recommend for adding to an ancestral altar. I should like to note that stealing dirt from random graves is not exactly what I suggest unless perhaps if it is a specific grave of someone you know or want to work with in which case you should always ask permission of this spirit and leave an offering of something (I like to leave old coins).
Although used more for paranormal investigation some witch's have been known to en-corporate technology developed for use in contacting spirits such as the "Ghost Box" sometime called a "Franks Box", a device which scans radio waves and produces words and noises.
Technology such as the ghost box is especially interesting when combined with other tools such as the talking board when used in paranormal investigation as when the planchette spells out a word, the word can sometimes also be heard coming from the ghost box.
Ritual is not something which should be entered into blindly, simply reading from a book does not make you a necromancer. Books can help you learn and give you ideas for creating your own rituals but if there is a part of a written ritual you don't understand just don't do it at the best it simply will not work at the worse who knows what might happen.
Rituals don't need to be over complicated at there heart they are just very well structured spells.
Contacting the dead isn't just for professional Medium's / Psychic's anyone can do it on their own, the most important thing to keep in mind is to just be open. As I have recommended earlier in this post setting up an Ancestral Altar is a great way to start and will help in psychic development.
Dreaming of the Dead
So many people have stories of relatives and loved ones bringing messages to them from beyond the grave in their dreams. Dream journals can be a great way of helping record and get your subconscious mind to start getting used to re-calling dreams, over time it will also help to programme your unconscious mind to pay attention which can help give you more control over your dream state.
Exorcism & Banishing
In the very act of working with the dead you are in essence opening up a door way and although it is not my wish to scare anyone, much like a literal door way things can come through which maybe you don't want to connect with or are not expecting.
Psychic self-defence, Exorcism and Banishing are huge subjects in themselves and before starting out both in necromancy and other forms of magick you really need a good foundation in.
There are many forms of protection from Charms & Amulets to Rituals & Spells others prefer to invoke Spirit Guides, Ancestors and other Deities for protection. Basically to protect yourself from spirits be they human or not you realy need to focus on four things:
- Be Strong & Assertive - It is surprising what a person with a strong enough will can accomplish in the none-physical world even without much practice or experience.
- Cleanse & Purify - both yourself and your environment before and after ritual, this can be done using off the shelf inceses, candles, etc that you charge with your will or by simply using your energy to clear the area and close any doorways.
- Make you Intention clear - You want to be clear before beginning a ritual working what it is you are trying to accomplish or connect with.
- Show Respect - Just because the person isn't alive doesn't mean they shouldn't be treated with respect, upsetting a spirit can have disastrous consequences so why go out of your way to upset one.
Always remember to maintain your boundaries and keep your psychic shields up.
Highly recommended books:
- Solitary Seance - Raymond Buckland
- The Witches' Book of the Dead - Christian Day
- Psychic Self-defense - Dion Fortune