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Esu Elegua, Ancestral Spirits


The recent death of my beloved and revered Grandmother (may her soul rest in much deserved peace) sent my thoughts toward my ancestors and the Gods of my greatfathers. I decided it was time to establish a deeper connection with my ancestral spirits and Gods. To see their faces.  I made a simple altar, with a large decorated candle to light in honor of my ancestors, a large decorated candle to light in honor of the old Gods, a plain large white candle for honoring the Lord of the Universe, and a rosary to use in prayerful invocation of all of the above. (This rosary was left to me by my grandmother, and so feels and responds like a charged magical item for me.)  I have a sandstone bowl my sister brought for me from a recent trip to Ethiopia (another family-gifted item, which gave it an air of appropriateness for the intended work) which I filled with big sea salt crystals, a lunar tincture I made and consecrated a while back (which turned the sea salt crystals a lovely purple color) , and a few other roots and magical items gifted by family. This is where I placed my tools--basically the rosary, and a couple of wands made especially for the purpose. One dedicated to working with my ancestors, and one for working generally with the old Gods. I get the feeling they will require individually personalized items.....we shall see).

I cleansed myself, and lit sweet smelling incense before beginning. I performed the Adoration, and then enflamed myself with Prayer. First, I spoke to my grandmother. Interesting thing about ancestors......there are a LOT of them.

When she came to me (much stronger that I expected) she came with a crowd. It felt as if there were a sea of persons surrounding me. We communed-she seemed immense in her understanding. I shared my grief with her, we had a moment of warmth and connection....and then she was gone. She was kind to come and visit...I got the feeling that she was dealing with a lot, that death isn't a simple affair involving rays of sunshine and the like. It was not a negative feeling at all-more like the sensation one gets as a child walking into a room where a circle of adults are speaking; the feeling that there are things being discussed beyond your level or ken, and that you would know them when you were old enough. Or Dead, in this case. She is very newly dead; perhaps there is a period of adjustment. God knows what goes on then.

The rest of my ancestors where about me in the circle, and I could feel their gaze and voice like a weight. They had some very pointed instruction for me-very opinionated folk. Well meaning, and ready to help-but without an ounce of tolerance for foolishness. Perhaps this is a family trait-lot of folks who lived and died hard in the last 4-5 centuries. The image i got was basically that of dark figures, but familiar figures, surrounding me and observing. The sensation of their collective gaze was a bit unnerving-these weren't weak spirits flitting about the aethyr, these were People. People older, in many cases wiser, and in all cases dead-er than I. And now that I had brought myself to their attention, they were not going away. They would not fail to make their displeasure with a given course of action known. Not in a hurtful physical way, but with their disappointment. Like having a cloud of concerned parents hovering about and watching you. It was unnerving to me because I had previously been fairly sure that the actual Spirits of the dead didn't have ready access to this plane; that the energetic shell lingered for a couple of weeks, and that was it. My view was a bit oversimplified. They don't linger about here, but they can turn their attention to this plane if they wish. Dying seems to have an expansive effect on the consciousness. I don't work enough Necromancy to know much about this-this is something I plan on rectifying. Death needs to be addressed.

We had a short conversation, and they receded a bit. Now that I've brought myself to their attention, they don't seem to fade entirely away. I feel as if I am one branch on a living Tree, as if my actions reflect on more than just myself in a way I hadn't considered before. We have no secrets from the dead-shameful events are duly recorded, and wow does that idea suck! There is no such thing as under the rug. One more reason to live well and be well.

Anyway, this subject is very complicated-I'll move on to Esu Elegua. The day I called upon Elegua, he came immediately and strongly. He was a handsome, short, very dark fellow. He wore white linen clothing, a comfortable looking pair of pants and tunic/shirt that had an open color. He had a slight smile, and felt absolutely dangerous. He had the air of the wolf about him; here was no God for the weak. He felt viscerally real. I had the feeling immediately of a sheep called back to the flock-not necessarily a nice feeling, when one considers the true nature of the relationship between Shepherd and sheep. Hmm. This was interesting, because I had not done a full invocation. I had merely intended to say a short prayer in his honor-him showing up was a bit of a shock. I lit some incense, vibrated his name, and he was there. I felt a deep connection to him-unlike anything I've felt with the Egyptian gods i am familiar with, because it felt personal. More like a reunion than an introduction. I spoke to him respectfully, and told him about my aims. He was more than happy to work with and welcome me. I asked him how he wished to be communed with, and he told me through drink and feasting and song and dance. Especially the song and dance. I felt inspired and sang a short song, and before I knew it i was filled with LVX and joy. I was caught in the song. If you've never felt the joy of prayerful singing, you can't understand. It's like a trance, but you're on fire. The song went longer, and I began to move with it, and as I moved, Elegua danced with me.

I'm a Western Magician. We generally don't dance. I took to this dance, however, like a duck to water. I've always sung my rituals, but no dancing. Amazing experience, but concerning, because I didn't formally invoke Elegua, and he didn't seem to care two shakes about that. When he danced with me, he danced WITH me, using my feet! When I asked for instruction on how he would like to be communed with, he spoke through me instead of at me. I made it clear that I am a Magician, and not a practicioner of Voudon. He doesn't care-his blessing is based on relationship with him, not religion. He said all magicians are his children, and he was happy to work with me, using symbols that I understood. He gave me a ritual to use to invoke his blessing, framed in ways that I was mostly familiar with. I was very honored. He is very Mercurial, and seems to serve the same purpose as the gods Mercury and Thoth-Hermes in our tradition.

This was not an entirely pleasant development, but it was very educational. Couple of lessons learned:

Lesson 1: The Orisha don't mess about.
Lesson 2: Gods are not just abstractions.

That second lesson might sound a bit stupid, but I think with worship of the Great God that is the root of all,  the understanding of the immensity of the multiple "little" Gods never fully blossomed within me. They are treated in many ways as abstractions within our tradition. They are invoked and communed with, but they have never seemed to be Persons, if you know what I mean. Can you imagine dancing with Thoth, or Osiris? It feels like blasphemy to even consider-it feels like they would find it offensive or strange. They are big and somewhat ephemeral. Even when they are invoked, and you are concentrated upon them, it rarely feels as if they turn a considerable portion of their attention on You. It is as if they are communicating from very far away.

Not so with Elegua. He was not far; He was present, he was fully there, and he wanted to interact. It felt as if I could reach out and physically touch him. He was actually concerned with my human affairs-the Egyptian Gods feel to me as if their eyes are turned inwards, or perhaps upwards. Elegua feels as if he more than sees people, he sees through them.

It's going to take a while to internalize all of this stuff, I think. It has made me aware that there is a huge section of magic I've mostly neglected (namely Necromancy-not that Hollywood nonsense involving entrails and the like, but sacred communication with the dead), and that Gods in different pantheons may have similar correspondences, but are not interchangeable. That personal relationships can be had with them, and that the old African gods are eager to make my acquaintance. I'm going to be focused on my new gradework, but will take the time to honor my ancestors and Elegua. It seems to be very important. This short interaction has deepened my spiritual life in interesting ways.




  1. Greetings again,

    For the record, I noticed your GD posting from another blog. I come here, post a comment and see another posting about Esu Elegua! That is very auspicious for you... I am an ATR (African Traditional Religion) practitioner myself. As I progress in that I see benefit to structured training, i.e. GD because the Loa/Orisha/Nkisi are so powerful. Powerful in the sense that their current is very close to this plane and very palpable. When they 'claim' you (as we in the southern U.S.) would say, they let you know. I could tell you stories, but will spare you. Suffice to say that I began to have dreams and lucid experiences that I had no reference frame for at all. People were brought into my life that were able to lay that out for me and help get me oriented. It is a fascinating current because once they come to you, they are so close to you- as close as your own breath!
    I also relate and would like to validate your ancestor experience. It is totally in line with my experiences, particularly as a spiritist medium. Without fail, whenever I have had occasion to read for someone of African heritage in particular, two things stand out. The first would be the sensation or vision of a large number of ancestors (relative to the individual, obviously). In once instance, I reported "acres and acres of them". Secondly, there is always a matriarchal figure. They by no means fade away quickly after physical death. I have noticed that this seems odd or anomalous to ceremonial magicians/WMT practitioners. What they are doing is forming and maintaining a spiritual 'chain' of support and contact. In American southern spiritist parlance (not sure if you are American, British), the ancestors form the basis of one's 'chain of spirits' and there is a hierarchy there. Beyond the level of ancestors, it is accepted (and for me, experience and observation holds this out) that particular Orisha/Loa/Nkisi that have affinity for a person based on that person's destiny. I could rattle on...
    At some future point, if you would like to discuss these or other matters further, drop me a line.


  2. Ave Soror,

    Thank you kindly for sharing your personal experience-there aren't many people involved in the ATR current in the circles I travel in, and it's nice to here from someone with wisdom about it. I'll definitely be throwing some questions your way as they arise!


  3. The Orishas are always very present. I know what you mean about the Egyptian gods, and to a lesser extent unless you really work at it the Greco-Roman Gods are similar. I think some of it has to do with the fact that the Orishas never had a lag in worship or connection. The Old Rites were still practiced, and still are practiced for them. That door always stayed open.

    Some exceptions are in group working and when a practitioner has a very strong connection to a God. When the Gods become like friends, instead of superiors or private contractors the experiences get much more visceral.

    I think it also has to do with what way you are working with them. If you work with them mainly on the spiritual side then they will seem more lofty and distant, but if you are rocking out on the more visceral side, then they are very human. I think it's a healthy balance to work with both the Manifesting and Liberating currents, that way you get a balanced taste of the Gods.

    The Celts, oddly, are always very visceral, mischievous and sexy to me. The Norse, similar, very practical raucous Deities. Like the Orishas and Loa, I think it is because they were always very close to their people, and in many cases there was no stopping in worship.

    Many of the Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Gods went into the European Witchcult, and many were memorialized as Saints, so the doors stayed open.

    The Asir never stopped getting worship in Iceland, which was the last Northern country to get converted to Christianity. Many kept the old ways, or just covered it over with a Christian varnish. There is a great movie about the "Hidden People" of Iceland where you see that Christianity had to give a lot of ground to the Icelandic peoples experience of the spirits of the Land and the Old Gods.

    Both have always had a very close, intimate connection with their people, and both very concerned with the practical day to day doings of life. Also, no real mention of escape from the material world. Or that the world is in any way imperfect, or messed up. The world is the world, and it is full of savage beauty, now here are those sheep you wanted, Olaf.

    Ancestors don't mess around either. Whenever I've done Psycho-pomp work for deceased relatives (I am rarely at weddings, but almost always at funerals)I usually lead them to an Ancestral Hall or to the Gates of the Hall of whatever religion they chose to profess during life. I've found if they weren't particularly pious, and also haven't done a lot wrong that they feel they need atoning for, they choose the Hall of the Ancestors.

    A really great post, Brother!

  4. "I got the feeling that she was dealing with a lot, that death isn't a simple affair involving rays of sunshine and the like."
    That's really insightful.In fact your entire post is full of useful observations.It's the best you've ever written.It also has a very personal quality too it and it must not have been easy for you too share it.Discussing experiences with Egyptian God forms and Enochian always seem abstract.Like your observing.By contrast this seems more like you were intimately connected to both family and the Gods.

  5. Care FRa A.I.T.

    First, I am sorry for your loss. May your grandmother rest in peace.
    Then, I assume one aspect why you did connect so well was that in a way this wis part of you. Even if it was not an obvious part. I mean, who of us can really say that there is a familial connection or tradition within the family when it comes to addressing Egyptian Gods? As much as we work within our tradition, there is no real personal link. Also these gods were not known to be very personal. I have no real idea about the ATR but from the little you can see it looks as if the Gods and Spirits in general have a rather "personal" contact to individuals. For us here, the connectin to our Gods usually are rather abstract.
    However, I always had the feeling that I have such a personal connection to GOD or Jesus. Not in the way that I think I am special or proivileged from others or that I am fundamentalist (they always claikm to have a direct link to God)... I just think that a lot of people even do not dare to think that they can have a contact to their God which is like that to a friend rather than to an authority you have to fear and respect. Maybe it is my crazy mind but I even have been joking with God while arguing with him. And it was as if he fully participated. Maybe just my brain, maybe not...

    Thanks for this very personal insight. I hope to read more about your experiences with the Orisha and Elegua...
    In L.V.X.

  6. Fra. Peregrin commented "

    Care Fr AIT,

    Please accept my condolences for your loss and my wishes of a successful journey through your grief.

    Thank you very much for this post. It is indeed a wonderful, personal story that details a big area of lack in the western traditions. My experiences of ancestral work within a western Land tradition are similar – but it took many, many years to establish such a deep connection.

    The discussion around the lack of visceral connection with deities from the classical and Egyptian pantheons is interesting. My own experience is whatever deity you personally work with, worship, develop a strong relationship with, spend time with and not ‘use’ for their correspondence to the magical aim in question, becomes visceral. This however is a different approach to most GD people who, quoting John Michael Greer, see the Gods as “formulae”.

    Your post reminded me of an entry from the diary of Christine Campbell-Thomson of the FIL during a phase of working with Pan where she described dancing with him, concluding with the words, “Darling Pan!” Yours and her connection are not formulaic to me J

    There is a modern tradition of Tuat (Underworld) Walkers based on ancient Egyptian mysteries – or modern interpretations of them. This tradition has more visceral connection with the old Egyptian gods, or at least the ones in the Underworld. There are also some revisions of Ancient Egyptian names and chanting that approach a more “shamanic” or earth based mystery rather than the ethereal, light-filled view we inherited from the Victorian era. See for example, the Ast-Usari chant of Neil Douglas-Klotz. I am ASSUMING more of this type of information and how the Egyptian gods can be contacted in a earthy manner will be available in Nick Farrell’s forthcoming “Egyptian Shamanism”.

    Thank you, again.

    May All Beings Be Well; May All Beings Be Happy
    Peace; Peace; Peace

    Peregrin :)


  7. Fra. Balthazar wrote:

    Greetings Frater!

    I have never been able to successfully comment on your blog for some reason. Whenever I hit send I am unable to enter the google verification code because the field is invisible. In any event I wanted to comment about your recent post and thought to send it in an email instead, because it's important:

    Great to hear you are having such an affirming experience with contacting your ancestors! I think the notion that it necromancy is really a matter of world view. From the traditional african perspective ancestors are really enmeshed with the world of the living and certainly deeply involved in the affairs of their offspring. There is such blessing and power in working with them, they form our roots in the spirit world and are very powerful.

    With regards the ellegua/exu/legba I would want to caution you not to conflate these spirits. They are not one and the same, but rather distinct spirits with their own agendas and likes and dislikes. Sure they have similar intermediary function but is a function alone and not a characteristic that makes them the same spirit. Western magicians have the tendency to conflate gods and spirits based on function and I would not do that with this spirit. Even Elegua himself has many different roads, some dangerous some playful, other serious. Who knows which one you talked to?

    Secondly, be very very careful with this spirit. If you have not been introduced formally by a priest it can be very unpredictable and turn your life upside down. As you noticed it has its own distinct will. The spirit can turn vengeful if it feels slighted. I dont mean to put a negative spin on it for you and I am sure you had positive exchange, I am just giving you the advice my vodou mother gives everyone about this matter. One needs to know how to handle it, how much to feed it (or not feed it) and what it wants. In the beginning at can seem to be friendly and helpful but sometimes it just plays with people like that. Imagine a super powered toddler, happy and playful minute but if it doesn't get its way...Her advice has proven to be very accurate.

    This is why I will not encourage people to petition Legba as some have been doing, even to help Haiti its not good for people who cant handle the Lwa to call on them. The ancestors however are just potent and they are yours alone.

    St. Balthazar"

  8. Care Fra St. Balthazar,

    Thank you for the helpful advice! I am very aware of the trickster nature of Elegua...and tread carefully. I could feel his nature when he arrived.

    Again...the old Gods don't mess about.

    Historically, it has been argued that these (Esu, Elegua, Papa Legba) are three faces of the same root entity, that evolved as practice moved from Africa to the western continents with slavery-I'll take the word of practitioners over that of scholars any day however, and will approach them as separate entities henceforth.

    As for dealing with Papa Legba-here in the states, he is dealt with and petitioned quite frequently. Sometimes, if you wield a sword, you will be cut.....but sometimes only a sword will do. I think that the strong connection the people of Haiti have with the Lwa make them the best choice when it comes to prayers for assistance. The Lwa are personally invested in them in ways other entities may not be; a simple prayer for their assistance isn't likely to turn out ill in my experience. Still, I respect your position on that.

    I do appreciate the warnings about the mercurial nature of Elegua. Rest assured, I take them-and Him- seriously.

    In LVX,


  9. Care Fra. Mike,

    Thank you kindly for the comment and compliment!


  10. I have to say that I have experienced at least three different deific entities in the way you describe, besides my own Yeshua.

    The first one was Ganesha, the second was much more recent and was Ra. The third one I am not sure was a deity perse but was a authoritative Mother Power relating to the whole Enochian Tablet.

    While the powers of the squares are "abstract" as you say, certain of their entities where definitely Identities and not just Enochian Entities. :)

    IMO each diety and pantheon represent different paths, manifestations and so on. But they can each be experienced in that way it has to do with wether you are capable, energetically amicable, and wether or not it is appropriate along with their own desire as seperate Beings.

  11. My mother passed away 3 months ago and I don't know what to do with her Elegua and Guerreros. Someone please advise me on what to do.

  12. Loved your post. I Am very new to this but old at the same time. I Am a child of Elegua and just want to say how I appreciated your writing prose as well as the eloquent way you described your experience. Love and light to you


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