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Talking to the Spirits

Personal Gnosis in Pagan Religion

Published by Destiny Books
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

A guide to direct communication with the spirits and the Gods

• Offers practices for seekers and groups to learn to hear and respond to the spirits and the Gods as well as what to do (and not do) if you receive a message

• Explains how to authenticate spiritual messages with divination

• Discusses how to avoid theological conflicts when someone’s personal gnosis differs from that of their Pagan group

For our ancestors the whole world was alive with spirits. The Gods bubbled forth from rivers and springs and whispered in the breezes that rustled through cities and farms. The ground underfoot, the stones, the fire that cooked the food and drove off the darkness, these all had spirits--not just spirits in some other dimension, but spirits in them who could be spoken to and allied with. In today’s world we are led to believe that the spirits long ago went silent and that spiritual wisdom can only be gained through established religious doctrine.

Providing a guide for opening two-way conversation with the spirits of daily life as well as direct communication with the Gods, Kenaz Filan and Raven Kaldera explore how to enrich your spiritual path with personal gnosis--asking your Guides for assistance or teachings and receiving a response. They explain how to develop your sensitivity to the voices of the Divine, discern genuine spiritual messages from the projection of internal psychodrama, and what to do (and not do) with the messages you receive. Confirming their own personal gnosis with Northern Tradition Pagan beliefs and Greco-Roman, Celtic, Egyptian, and indigenous hunter-gatherer lore, the authors discuss how to avoid theological conflicts when someone’s personal gnosis differs from that of their Pagan group as well as how to authenticate messages with individual and group divination. Offering practices and principles for seekers and groups, they reveal that the spirits never went silent, we simply forgot how to hear them.


Chapter 7
Judging the Message by Yourself
The Process of Discernment Part 1

There are two parts to successful personal gnosis: discernment and signal clarity. In this chapter we’ll focus on the process of discernment. Let’s say that you have been working on listening to the Gods or spirits, and you think that you have something. A message came, whether in a waking vision or a dream or a voice or just a strong feeling. Perhaps an omen fell in front of you. How do you know if it’s real? Here are the steps to take, one at a time, to discern whether it’s real or your own internal voice, or some combination of the two.

1. Is it consistent with external reality as we know it? Deciding this part could range from “Is it really possible for me to levitate my actual body with my own will, as this spirit tells me I can?” to “Is that person really doing what that spirit says they’re doing, and is that consistent with what I know or can find out about them?” Be extremely skeptical if it does not pass this point. At the very least, check with other sources multiple times.

Mental shapeshifting does not contradict well-supported scientific findings, but full physical shapeshifting from a human into a wolf contradicts known biological possibility. Now, just because something isn’t consistent with known science does not mean I discard it outright--what is scientifically “ known” has been known to change, after all, and could be inaccurate or misleading--but it does mean I am more skeptical and will subject the phenomenon to a harsher scrutiny.
Djeriwepwawet, U.S. Kemetic Pagan

2. Is it consistent with what is already written about that God or spirit? If it’s completely off from all written accounts, that’s another strike against it. By “off” we don’t mean “not written about,” because certainly we don’t know everything about all the Gods and spirits, and they might be telling you something that is not in the sources you can find. We mean that there is explicit writing saying the exact opposite of what you have; for example, saying that a deity had no children when multiple written accounts say otherwise. Be careful to look at multiple sources; Gods were often worshipped differently from one place and time to another, and your gnosis may be congruent with a different tradition of that deity.

3. Is it consistent with what other devotees of that deity say about them? While we’ve stated that every God or Goddess treats every worshipper differently, if you interview a number of people who are devoted to or have worked closely with that deity and they all say, “That really doesn’t sound anything like Him (or Her)--actually, very much the opposite,” then that’s another strike against it. If the reviews are mixed--if some people say that it sounds familiar while others don’t--then you may be dealing with a different aspect of that deity, or more than one of you may be wrong. Ask the deity or spirit in question for more clarification.

4. Does it contradict your own experience of that deity or spirit?
If, up until now, you’ve experienced Deity X as wanting this and valuing that, and now you have something that is entirely different, be suspicious. It may just be that you’re experiencing another aspect of them--deities and spirits are not one-dimensional--or, in some cases, that your former experiences of them were your own mental sock puppets, and this is the real thing. But be careful anyway until you have better corroboration.

If I normally experience Bast as a bright warmth, and then suddenly one day some entity pokes at me saying she’s Bast but feels like prickling saltwater, I’m going to be suspicious, because it doesn’t fit my past experiences of Bast. That doesn’t mean there isn’t an alternate explanation (i.e., a different spirit or one of Her messengers), but I’m nonetheless going to be very careful in my interaction with it.
Djeriwepwawet, U.S. Kemetic Pagan

5. Is the tone and nature of the message consistent with itself and with the worldview of the cosmology it claims to be from? Watch for internal inconsistencies to both the message and the nature of the creature. If a spirit claims to be the soul of a piece of wild natural land and then asks you to sacrifice a chemical-filled Twinkie to it, that’s a problem.

6. If this message came from another person but is specifically about me, do I trust the source? How well do you know and trust the individual from whom it came? If you know them well, you might know that they are solid and don’t go around throwing their unconscious opinions out in the form of messages to others; or, you might know them well enough to remember that they tend to be melodramatic. If you don’t know them well, what do other people who know them better say about them?

7. Intuitively, does the message feel right on every level? Does it “ping”? If not, put it aside and look at it again in a few days. If it still just doesn’t feel right, discard it. If much of it doesn’t feel right but something in it somehow pings, then it might have a kernel of truth underneath the baggage. See if you can uncover that kernel, either by a twenty questions form of divination, or by meditating on each part of it to see what does feel right. It’s fine to say, “I think there’s some truth in it, but I haven’t figured out how much yet.”

8. Is it too gratifying? One of the hallmarks of one’s internal sock monkeys is that the message always props your ego in some way. This doesn’t mean that every real message is guaranteed to make you miserable, but if it’s too close to what you already hoped it would be, be suspicious.

About The Authors

Kenaz Filan (Houngan Coquille du Mer) was initiated in Société la Belle Venus in March 2003 after 10 years of solitary service to the lwa. Filan is the author of The Haitian Vodou Handbook, Vodou Love Magic, and Vodou Money Magic and coauthor of Drawing Down the Spirits. A frequent contributor to PanGaia, Planet Magazine, and Widdershins, Filan is the former managing editor of newWitch magazine and lives in Short Hills, New Jersey.

Raven Kaldera is a Northern Tradition Pagan shaman who has been a practicing astrologer since 1984 and a Pagan since 1986. The author of Northern Tradition for the Solitary Practitioner and MythAstrology and coauthor, with Kenaz Filan, of Drawing Down the Spirits, Kaldera lives in Hubbardston, Massachusetts.

Product Details

Raves and Reviews

“Filan and Kaldera have once again created an impressive and necessary work for the flourishing spirit-working Pagan community. In these pages you will find an immediate, earthy, social, and accessible way to approach this dangerous and risky alliance with the Spirits. This book touches on personal gnosis, historical gnosis, Neo-Pagan perspectives and sociologies, and discernment of messages in alluringly deepening ways. It also shares responsible and proactive ways of working with gnosis and revelation in groups and community to achieve whole and integrated spirituality with an ear to the ever interesting, ever bizarre Otherworld peopled with Endless Spirits. As a spirit-worker, I personally attest that this book is a must read!”

– Gede Parma, Witchcraft priest and teacher and author of Ecstatic Witchcraft and Spirited

“In recent years there has been a greater desire for deeper connection with the Gods within a polytheistic pagan framework. Talking to the Spirits is a practical manual for such work, particularly for those relying on their own impressions--personal gnosis--to fill in the gaps left by mythology, history, and established religions. In the same way, this book fills a gaping niche in the practitioner’s shelf. It is clear the authors have dealt with a variety of challenges in deeper spirit work as well as found suitable solutions, and the subject matter is covered in an impressively thorough manner.”

– Lupa, author of New Paths to Animal Totems and editor of

“Providing a guide for opening two-way conversation with the spirits of daily life as well as direct communication with the Gods, Kenaz Filan and Raven Kaldera explore how to enrich your spiritual path with personal gnosis—asking your Guides for assistance or teachings and receiving a response...Offering practices and principles for seekers and groups, they reveal that the spirits never went silent, we simply forgot how to hear them. Personal gnosis lives in a fun, shifting balance/dance with tradition and structure.”

– Branches of Light, June 2013

Talking to the Spirits is a significant book. As the world changes the modern way of living fails more and more people, many are drawn to the old ways. This entails a new way of looking at the world and coming to an understanding of the Gods, how they communicate with us and how we can communicate with them.”

– Robert Black, New Dawn, July 2013

Talking to the Spirits: Personal Gnosis in Pagan Religion provides a fine survey of pagan spirituality and considers daily life, direct communication with the Gods, and how to ask Guides for assistance or teachings. From developing sensitivity to voices of the Divine to soliciting and understanding spiritual messages and understanding personal gnosis, this is a powerful survey on avoiding theological conflicts between Pagan groups and personal gnosis, and provides principles for seekers and groups alike. A ‘must’ for any new age spirituality holding!”

– Midwest Book Review, November 2013

“I would recommend this book to anyone interested in including more active spirit-work into their personal practice, or even to someone curious about how that might look. I don’t think it can be a stand alone one-stop-shop for all things related to spirit contact, but combined with Diane Paxon’s Trance-Portation2 or even some of Kaldera’s earlier books, it a good foundation for not only working with the spirits, but working with what the spirits give you out in the world.”

– Brian Walsh, Spiral Nature, November 2013

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