At some point, just about any witch or magic worker encounters a situation where the spirit of a deceased being must be ‘laid to rest’ and encouraged to move along their journey through the otherworld. One may wonder, why the deceased don’t automatically go to their next destination (be it reincarnation, a place of repose, or something else). Sometimes, the dead get ‘stuck’ on their transition. If the death is particularly traumatic, the deceased may hang on to what they can of life because of anxiety about the transition they have experienced. This is also true if the deceased has an exceptional focus upon elements of their life that they refuse to surrender. These two things are the most common reasons for hauntings.1
Laying a spirit to rest is not exactly the same as an exorcisim. An exorcism is a forcible ejection of a spirit from a location usually accompanied with a binding and counter magic to keep the spirit from returning. Laying a spirit to rest has a vaguely similar goal to exorcisim, which is moving a spirit out of a location where they’re not supposed to be. That, however, is where the similarity between the two rites end. In the case of laying a spirit to rest, the main thrust of the ritual is to help the spirit resolve what ever business they have keeping them tied to the physical plane and assist them in continuing on their journey.
The first step in most rituals involving spirits after the general format of establishing ritual space is to invoke the practitioner’s spiritual allies. This can be anything from praying to their patron deities, asking the wights of the location to aid them, calling on their ancestors for help, or appealing to other spiritual beings that are friendly towards the practitioner and willing to assist them in the process. It is important to have help from friendly spirits because it helps to establish your control over the situation. While the force of your will does have a mighty impact upon the situation, the aid of spiritual allies acts as a safety net to help you keep control over the situation. They also provide the service of letting the other spirit know that things are not completely out of control because there are others who have more experience there to show them the proverbial ropes.2
Once the location is prepped and all spiritual allies are in place, the practitioner summons the spirit. Summoning spirits is not something I am keen on but this is one instance where summoning is vital to success. Formal summonings can include offerings to the deceased alongside invocations. All the bells and whistles that you can think of for a ceremonial summoning of a spirit can be used here. Or, you can go with the most basic and just do a direct invocation of the deceased.
After you have the spirit present, it is good to have a conversation with them. Talk to them and learn why they are lingering. Learn what they need to continue on their journey. Learn what troubles them about said journey. If they have desires or requests that must be met before they can move forward, make sure that they are reasonable and can be met. If they can not, negotiate an acceptable alternative. Remember that the goal is to get the spirit to a point where they are willing and able to transition to their next step in their journey after death.
In your discussion, present the needs, desires, and requests of the living who are impacted by the spirit’s presence. Inform the spirit what they can do to rectify problems from their end of the situation. It may be that the spirit has no desire to move out and wishes to remain in the location as a wight associated with it. Part of the goal of the practitioner is to facilitate a smooth working relationship between the living and the dead. To be successful at this, one must keep the non-negotiable elements of the situation in mind and make clear to the spirit that these are points that one will not bend on. Like the living, there are spirits who will take advantage of any perceived loopholes and weaknesses in the agreement to get what they want out of the situation for the least amount of effort.
Now, if the discussion reveals that the spirit needs certain objectives completed before they can depart, establish a plan for having those objectives completed. When presenting the completion of those objectives as part of the agreement for the spirit’s departure, make certain that you make those objectives dependent upon the spirit’s departure. If you present the situation as ‘when you leave, XYZ will be taken care of’ rather than ‘XYZ will be done and you can leave’ it shows the spirit that in order to have their needs and desires met, they must comply with the directive to exit.
Some spirits will depart immediately after this arrangement is established. Others will need some guidance to do so. There are many different meditations that can be used to assist them in the process (spirits meditate too!) but all of them have the spirit moving along some sort of path to a destination. Trust the spirits and allies that you have with you to help the spirit that is being laid to rest along their journey to their destination. Your job is simply to get them on the path. The others will take care of the rest.
With the close of the ritual, thank your allies. Cleanse the area and make a point of restoring it to an energetically ‘neutral’ state. This makes the place less inviting for the spirit to return and take up residence again. It would be like having all of your stuff moved out of your apartment after you left. Living there again would take work to make it comfortable and functional for you. Some also choose to do protection magic to maintain the location as a spiritual neutral ground and keeping unwanted entities out. This would be the equivalent of locking the door to said apartment and arming the security system.
And that is how you lay a spirit to rest, in a very general format. If you need direction for specific cases, message me. I will try to make some posts for the most common situations that come up in the messages. I will also message you back with some suggestions for your situation. Please be patient, however, because there will be some delay in replies right now.
1. I will be giving a more complete discussion of hauntings at a later date. It may be after September, depending on if I have the opportunity to get the work done on the post. This particular post has been in various stages of development since mid-April. If you have any questions regarding hauntings, post them in the comments or send them to me. In any email, note Veiled Witch as part of your subject line, this way it doesn’t get dropped into the spam folder.
2. Not all spirits will be psychopomps but they’ll help the spirit in question to get a hold of one 95% of the time. That other 5% of the time, they do something but I can’t tell you what exactly it is. I ask my guides and they just say that they ‘take care of it’ and nothing more.
Originally Published: 7/23/15