The first spirit contact I can recall was with a “totem” spirit I came to call Daemon Wolf.
As many of you may recall, animal totems (or, spirits, phenomena, and identifications we called animal totems) were a HUGE THING in the mid-to-late 1990s. Ted Andrews was fucking everywhere. People looked to their totems not just as spiritual guides and masters, but to explain and shape their very personalities. For example, many “Cat totem” people I knew meowed and tried to purr and gleefully used their identification to invade (or avoid)ur personal space; people with “wolf totems” cast themselves in roles of leader or tragic outcast; “bear totem” people set themselves up as the “cuddly bouncer”. But I digress.
In this atmostphere, as I began to transition from my earliest period of studying magic, the occult, and the paranormal, to actually practicing magic at aboout the age of sixteen, one of my first rituals was aimed at finding my totem animal and/or spirit guide. (Other people may have been clear on the distinction between those things in 1997/8, I was not.) I wish that I could reproduce or cite that first ritual for you here, but alas… Although I had access to a small collection of friends books at that time (I think my library still consisted entirely of the Simonomicon and maybe a Cunningham encyclopedia), I preffered the rituals I learned from people on IRC chat and in FTP archives. Six computers later, unfortunately, those files are long gone.
The ritual as I recall it was simple. I set myself up in a comfortable chair, with a candle and glass candle holder. I put on some nice, quiet Celtic harp music. I cast an elemental circle. I carved my personal sigil, a bindrune I had designed, into the side of the candle, and imbued it with my desire to know my totem animal/spirit guide. I dropped the candle in the holder, lit it, and tried to slip into the trance. The candle holder, which I have to this day, was round and convex, with red dragon’s tears affixed to an inner layer by some sort of grey-green ceramic. As I tried to enter and maintain the trance, I turned the candle holder around and around in my hands, gazing into the back-lit dragon tears and waiting for an image to appear in my mind.
This ritual would be my first firegazing, and possibly my most successful to date. I saw the image of a snarling, black-furred wolf with flaming red eyes. Even at that young and tender age, I could tell that this was not the spirit of all wolves. There was a darkness about it, a savagery outside of the natural wild. I called it Daemon Wolf. (Yes, the penchant for high drama goes way back.)
I remained in contact with that spirit off and on for years, but I could not “hear” it. I could tell that it was attempting to communicate, but, I couldn’t grok whatever signals the spirit was trying to send. It began appearing to my friends in IRC chatrooms (some of whose animal spirits came to investigate me in return) and my more magically experienced local friends to relay messages and relieve its boredom. The spirit in question also had a penchant for melodrama.
On a particularly notable evening, 31 October 1998 – one of my earliest surviving joural entries, in addition to one of my earliest clear spirit contacts – I was hanging out in the coffee shop with my friend Medea and one or two other friends. I don’t remember what we were talking about, but as the conversation progressed the sese of someone sitting close to my right side grew stronger and stronger. But I couldn’t see anything … not clearly, at any rate: just a vague silhoette crouched on the floor.
After a while, it was too much for me, and I interrupted my own train of thought to demand if anyone else could see the thing sitting beside me.
“Wolfie,” Medea idetified the spirit for me, laughing and using the nickname she’d given Daemon Wolf in previous conversation.
Things changed trajectory after that. My spirit-senses did improve, slowly. It did become easier for Daemon Wolf to contact me. It was clear, however, that there was a lot it wanted to convey to me that I just wasn’t picking up on.
As my practice escalated over the next few years, more spirits began appearing in my life. I couldn’t hear them any better than I could hear Wolfie, but it … appeared to resent them. It very clearly resented that I was not pursuing my relationship with it as dilligently as it desired. Frankly: focus is not my strong point in the medium term. Short term – jewelry repair, a single ritual, a lover – I am a laser ; long term – college, my novels – I am relentless; medium term … that’s where the distractions live. And I had a lot of distractions, as I was rotating through whole circcles of freinds about every 12-18 months those first few years out of high school. Contacts with Daemon Wolf grew increasingly sporadic. When I did make contact – or, more accurately, when it made contact – it was increasingly cross with me.
Eventually, the spirit I called Daemon Wolf lost patience with me. I wish I had the xact date, or could find the record — I know I wrote about the event, somewhere, but … I’ve mentioned before that my journalling is not the best. Some time before I departed Lawrence, KS, for what would become my failed life in St.Louis, it made final contacct and told me that it was giving up and moving on.
This is one of the few places where I wish I had done things differently back in the day. I don’t think most people have spirits take that sort of proprietary interest that early. It’s not unheard of, of course, but it’s an opportunity not everyone gets … and I blew it. I also wish I’d kept better journals, so I would have more wheat from which to sift chaff. Still, my relationship with Daemon Wolf taught me one essential lesson: relaitionships between mortals and spirits are opt-in, for both parties. Either party can leave when their needs are not being met, or their goals are not being achieved.