13 September 2019

Building Relationships with Metaphysical Entities

Having strong relationships with metaphysical entities is the foundation for fluid communication and developing working agreements.  Many practitioners know they should build these relationships, but a lot of them are at a loss as to how.   Be they ancestors, spirits, fae, gods, demons, or anything else: build relationships with metaphysical entities the same way you would with people.  It seems like common sense, but developing relationships with metaphysical entities requires you to push through the mysticism and confusion surrounding them and just treat them like any other thinking, feeling being. 

Be a Good Neighbor

To start building a relationship with a metaphysical entity you need to be appealing to them, to be the kind of person they want to have a relationship with.  For most positive entities this means being polite, respectful, and amiable - treat them as you would want to be treated if your positions were reversed.  (Negative entities are a whole different story, but that’s a discussion for another article.)  No one wants to be friends with the obnoxious neighbor that is too loud at the wrong times, leaves trash all over the sidewalk, and has no consideration for others.  Don’t be “that guy.”  Further, remember that relationships require consent on both sides.  Just because you want a relationship with a spirit doesn’t mean they want one with you.  If you get indications that the spirit doesn’t want to talk, respect that and don’t harass them.  Don’t start relationship building from a deficit. 

Know Your Entity

You approach relationship building differently with potential friends, coworkers, bosses, and relatives (you wouldn’t introduce yourself to a potential employer the same way you would Billy from down the pub); so too you should modify your approach according to the nature of the entity with which you’re pursuing a relationship.  Some entities, like many land wights and spirits, can be approached you would a peer and potential friend.  Other entities, such as high fae, loa, and Gods should be approached with a certain degree of deference and formality.  Take some time to research the entity you’re trying to befriend and learn what type of behavior they expect.  If you’re trying to build a relationship with a known entity, such as a god or loa, there will likely be established procedures for introducing yourself.  If it’s a spirit or ancestor, try to find out if they had particular preferences in life (this won’t always be possible depending on what memories/records are available to you).  Learning, or at least trying to learn, these preferences is a sign of respect.  When in doubt, be more formal than you think is strictly necessary and you should be fine.  

Equal Exchange

Relationships with metaphysical entities are about mutual benefit.  Both parties should get something from the relationship, be it offerings, aid, companionship, affection, entertainment, etc.  You’re not going to get something for nothing - that’s not how it works.  Throughout the relationship make sure the exchange continues to be equal - if you ask for something you must give something and vice versa.  If you’re just making offerings and not asking for anything specific, be sure to acknowledge the value of the entity’s time and the deepening of the relationship.  Keep in mind that friendship and affection are things of value and that they can be the “commodity” being exchanged.  If you find your relationship becoming unequal be sure to do something to balance it out - if the entity resists this, you need to take a deeper look at the situation. 


In most traditions, offerings are the backbone for building relationships with metaphysical entities.  An offering is something given to an entity that the entity wants - given either to build good will or in exchange for specific favors.  Offerings can be almost anything, ranging from a small gift of energy to building a temple.  If you know that an entity prefers particular offerings then that is what they should be given if it’s reasonable for your circumstances.  (An entity’s preferences can be learned through research, divination, gnosis, spirit communication, etc.)  If you’re unsure what to offer, there are many general offerings that will serve until you get to know your entity’s preferences.  General offerings commonly include: incense, flowers, food, water, alcohol, candles, energy, art, effigies, and relevant community service.

Altars and Spirit Houses

If you want a long term relationship with an entity, give them a formal place in your home.  Just as a friend has a favorite chair when they come over, metaphysical entities like something to call their own when they visit.  For ancestors that place is often a photo on a special shelf; for deities it’s often a statue on your altar; for fae and spirits it may be a sigilized patten or a spirit house. These things are essentially a physical anchor that becomes imbued with the essence of a metaphysical entity through repeated visits that make it easier and more comfortable for the entity to remain in our space.  Such anchors become the place where you make offerings and visit with the entity with the greatest ease.  While not required, a physical anchor can facilitate relationship building with any metaphysical entity.

Crisis Relationships

In a perfect world we would always have time to develop strong relationships with entities before calling on them for help, but we don’t live in a perfect world.  In times of dire need most friendly entities will help you out regardless of your relationship.  Think of a Good Samaritan that witnesses an accident: you call for help and they’ll do their best to help you simply because you’re in need and they have the ability to help.  Don’t worry too much about etiquette in this kind of situation.  Most entities will understand that you didn’t have time to build a relationship beforehand and that you’re probably not at your best.  However, once you have a reasonable lull or the crisis is over the entity will expect some acknowledgement and gratitude.  It’s just polite; they were generous so now, within reason, you owe them.  If you want to continue a relationship with the entity afterwards once the crisis has resolved you’ve got something to build from.  The only caveat to this is to use good judgment in from whom you accept help.  There are unscrupulous entities that will take advantage of your distress in order to trick you into owing them more than you want to give. 

Overall, building relationships with metaphysical entities is just like building any other type of relationship.  Treat the entity with respect and make sure the give and take in the relationship is equal.  Know your own boundaries and maintain them.  Just because an entity is something otherworldly doesn’t mean that your relationship should be manipulative, coercive, or otherwise unhealthy.  When in doubt, talk to your friends and get an outside perspective.  Building a relationship with a metaphysical entity can be exciting and, when done well, it can give you a powerful ally in your work.  Treat these relationships with the same care and discretion as you would any other relationship and you should have success.

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