Spirit-work, to my way of thinking, could be described as a mystical world-view based, in part, in the spiritist perspective as the doctrine relates to discarnate forms of intelligence and their influence on the living; but more importantly, it can also be looked at as a kind of dynamic animism. Which is to say; the notion that our physical world, our universe and its contents are animated; alive, intelligent and willing - heck eager - to relate to us.
That this world of ours isn't a cold lump of dead stuff or some kind of entropic chemical stew. Rather, that there is a vital spiritual intelligence behind the things around us and that these intelligences can be contacted; relationships formed and thereby we are able to move into profound relationship with our world itself.
This very world. The trees, mountains, rocks and rivers, sure - but also seemingly pedestrian things such as a door, a road, a candle, some dirt. Similarly, discarnate forms of human life, instead of being seen as having gone elsewhere (if anywhere at all), are embraced as having a continued and vital role to play in our story. This point of view is androcentric rather than transcendent in that it is intimately intertwined with the condition of our present life, community and of the world. Its a healthy eschatology that expects a vibrant participation in fabric of life by the forces of death - rather than death being the dualistic cancellation thereof.
At first spirit work seems to relate itself to a practical magical agenda. Oriented to improving our life in some pragmatic material way, or alternatively, as a means of extracting an iota of meaning from our lives as society seems increasingly mechanistic; lost in the the stupor of entertainment, production and consumerism. But with amazement we discover as we move deeper into the dance with the spirits, that while at first it seems we work the spirits, later, it becomes quite clear that in fact it is the spirits who are working us.
We try so very hard to do the work. Great effort might go into changing our state of consciousness in order to hear the spirits; or we strain to learn the methods and devices to call them successfully; we effort to make sense of what they mean when they speak - only to discover that they change our consciousness before we can, that they come before we even call them, that they teach us without us ever even knowing.
We are the ones getting evoked. Inexorably sucked into the slipstream of the numinous.
We find ourselves changing without knowing why, without daring to guess how we could have changed, and in ways we could never have accomplished had we tried to do so ourselves. We discover that we are held, guided and then shaken - at times utterly destroyed - and then remade anew.
This wasn't the project of self-perfection by design. We were never tormenting ourselves with stick-and-carrot game of enlightenment. Yet things became increasingly perfect, even when messy. We noticed ourselves filled with more light every day.
Finally, we begin to recognise we are are in fact deeply, deeply blessed and that we can share that blessedness with others; and that we can be whole and well again in the simplest, yet most profound way.