A recent e-mail conversation with Rose Weaver regarding saint work got me thinking and I would like to post something about the various ways of 'paying' saints for any work they do when you petition them. There is so much information about this on the various social networks and websites and a lot of it can be quite unreliable, frankly.
So firstly before we go into what to pay - it's important that you know you shouldn't 'overfeed' spirits by giving them too much too often (foodstuff and other things). Don't overfeed any spirit. That's one of the first things I was taught as an espiritista. It's counter intuitive because you think that if you ply a spirit with goodies they will favour you more. But for some reason it doesn't work that way. This well-meaning approach seems to make them 'lazy', which is to say, slow to get moving. Why bother if you get loaded with a ton of free stuff anyway, right? It's especially easy to get carried away when you first start with spirit work. I know I did.
You need to find a balance.
Keep it simple but always keep your word. If you promise X, give them X. And it doesn't need to be that extravagant. There will be times that you want to promise something big but that should be for those truly important things. And sure, you might want to make a general show of appreciation by doing or giving them something special once in a while and that's perfectly acceptable - but generally speaking it's better to keep it moderate.
With that side-point about overfeeding out of the way, lets look at the saints specifically:
Some saints certainly do have particular things that they like to receive as offerings (cake, money etc.) It's always good to research the saint you are working with and find out what their traditional associations/likes are and give them those things as payment. It sounds like common sense but a lot of people don't bother. What I see a lot of these days, and find quite irksome, is people simply posting "Thank you St. X!!" as a status update on facebook.
Seriously? You think the saints are on facebook reading status updates?
But I am "spreading their name and fame", I hear you say. Well, actually, only a few of saints are known to find that pleasing. How do we know? It's included in the catholic liturgies and prayers associated with them. I know that St. Expedite likes that, and probably St. Jude because he got a bad reputation due to his association with Judas the betrayer. Unless I am mistaken - there are at best one or two other saints who like publicity as thanks. As for the hundreds or thousands of other saints out there it just doesn't fit.
Also, it's kinda lazy. Traditionally you would publish a notice in a newspaper - but come on - a lousy facebook status update? (That reminds me - you should totally friend me on Facebook. Gordon says the age of blog is almost over and social media is where it's all going. I don't want to miss out). Your petition is fulfilled and all you can bring yourself to do is shuffle over to the computer in your pajamas and post a status update?!
I know I am going to get heat for saying this from all the facebook hoodoos who have popularised this practice but it has to be said: you can do better!
If you are entirely unsure what to offer the saint you are working with, rest assured all saints happily accept flowers. A nice bunch of flowers not only beautifies the altar it also raises the spiritual vibration of an area with its scent and freshness. You really can't go wrong there. Next, considering that these are saints - holy people canonised for their goodness and service - you could consider making a donation to a charity working in the area of their patronage.
This approach is definitely ratified by folk-catholic tradition too. Saint Anthony's Bread is an excellent example. This is a donation collected by churches in the name of St. Anthony and the money is then given to feed the poor. It is said that the practice started in 1263 after a child drowned near the Basilica while it was being built. Desperate, but strong in faith, the child's mother prayed to St. Anthony and promised that she would give to the poor an amount of corn equal to the child's weight if he returned the child to her. After hearing this promise St. Anthony restored the child to life and soon the practice of St. Anthony's Bread began.
Similarly, as thanks for granting your petition you could donate some time or money to a local addiction recovery program in the name of St. Jude, for instance. Or you could donate to a child protection program in the name of St. Michael. There are so many of these worthy charities that I can't think of a more wonderful, and magical, thing than to combine your saint work with kindness and service. Everyone wins!
The idea that a spirit or saint is used for one thing and one thing only is problematic on many levels. Firstly, these are non-corporeal beings. We don't use them. We should discourage this language whenever possible. We pray for their aid, we beg for their intercession, at best we work with them - we certainly don't use them like kitchen appliances.
Secondly, a saint or spirit may be famous for working in a certain area but that doesn't mean that's all they can or will do. This is such a flawed, mechanistic, two dimensional way of looking at these beings - and one that reflects a fundamental misunderstanding about their underlying reality. Moreover, it's rather cynical if you think about it and does them a great disservice.
So I would like to suggest a different approach to this. Instead of looking at a saints 'stats' to see which would be good for your next working - far better, and more fruitful in terms of results, would be to take some time to consider with which saint it is that you have that special relationship and found your work on that. Because, after a while you will begin to notice some of them have a unique and powerful connection to you as a spiritual worker. This can manifest in a couple of ways.
For instance, you may find that contact with a certain spirit or saint comes to you by unusual means: you are gifted a statue; or you find a holy card in the street; you have a dream or vision about them or are otherwise brought into contact with them in some surprising and meaningful way. These kinds of events are special clues that a spirit is about to enter your spiritual framework, and would like to help in your work and establish a relationship with you.
The truth is that in reality the spirits and saints choose us.
You will find that a saint or spirit whom you form this kind of connection with (as apposed to the shopping for cewl powerz route) really moves and gets things done when you petition them. There is a potent flavour to any work you do with them because you know them very personally. What's more is you might find they will work in numerous different areas besides the thing that they are famous for. And they will begin showing you unique ways in which they will work for you alone.
I would like to dedicate this post to the most miraculous and marvellous Saint Joseph. This saint has blessed me by working in numerous different ways over the last couple of years and always startles me with his compassion and power. My his name be elevated in Gods celestial territory!
Prayer of St. Joseph
Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interests and desires. Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.
Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls - Pray for me.
This prayer was found in the fiftieth year of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In 1505 it was sent from the Pope to Emperor Charles when he was going into battle. Whoever shall read this prayer or hear it or keep it about themselves, shall never die a sudden death, or be drowned, not shall poison take effect of them; neither shall they fall into the hands of the enemy; or shall be burned in any fire, or shall be overpowered in battle.
Say for nine mornings for anything you may desire. It has never been known to fail, so be sure you really want what you ask.
I sometimes get asked by curious people - how, exactly, I 'work' magic (as apposed to what methods/systems I employ).
In other words they want to know which inner methods I like to use. Do I visualise the outcome? Do I move 'energy' into the spell-work etc.
The truth is most of my work is done before I ever sew a bag or light a figural candle. I certainly don't visualise things or move energy or use any of those kinds of tricks anymore. I just put the working together using the right materials and techniques (candles, tying, cutting, nailing or whatever), whilst respectfully calling down my muertos - and they do all the work. I'm more like a 'magical event co-ordinator', you could say.
I certainly don't internally 'effort' with it at all because it doesn't make much of difference anymore. I just set up a material basis for a magical working, the so-called 'spell', and they take care of the rest.
My real job is to take care of them.
I feed them. I give them masses. I follow their instructions by creating dolls, pots and other vehicles that express their presence in my life. I activate them and materialise them in this world with dedicated, attentive and consistent service and in return they help me with my spiritual work. They do all the heavy lifting in that department, honestly.
This was the very first thing I noticed when I watched good espiritistas and other spiritual workers whom I admire, working: there was a matter-of-fact effortlessness about the process. The work was put together in a straightforward and often shockingly simple way and stuff was expected to happen. And did!
There was no big drama. A true elegance and economy of effort was plainly evident in the way they did things. And confidence. The relaxed confidence that comes from knowing that the spirits will take care of things because the spirits have been correctly cared for.