Altars & Shrines
The Place Where You Practice Your JuJu

Do you have a spiritual shrine or altar you work with on a regular basis? How did you come about that? Was it from a book? A website? An article? Is yours simply a work table meaning you just use it to do readings and perform spells/rituals on? Or do you also work with a specific spirit as well? If the latter, then my friend you have a spirit shrine.
Spirit Shrines VS Altars VS Work Tables
Back in the day when I first started out, no one bothered to tell me that to really fire up the power of my work, I should locate and find a spirit (re: deity, patron, etc) to work with on a regular basis. Book authors typically wrote spellbooks suggesting you set up an “altar” as they referred to it and then “Oh by the way, you can add a statue of a deity if you so choose” as an after thought.
Really??? For book authors, most of these folks were either ignorant or intentionally misleading because let’s face it, nothing supes up your JuJu more than having a spirit on your side. Yes we’ve talked about having the ancestors on your side and if that is all you have then you already have far more than the average practitioner does. However if you’d like a wee bit more juice for the investment offered, you should find a patron or deity to work with on a regular, consistent basis.
I know many prefer to lump altar & shrine together but when trying to explain things metaphysically, I have found it much easier to dichotomize these terms and even add in another, work table. The latter I got from Jean as he prefers to call his working altar by this term. The work table is a basically your working altar from which you perform your divinations, your procedures, spells, rituals, ceremonies and so on. So why not just lump both of those in with the spirit shrine? They’re all the same thing, right? Well yes and no.
If you’re working with ONE spirit, yes. However when you have the ancestors, the dead, and numerous spirits like I do, I have to have more than one place for each to call home. Why? Because my friend, whether you were aware of it or not, spirits are territorial and they do NOT like to share! That means living space (re: shrines), offerings, gifts, liquors, foods, and so forth. One of the most foolish things you can do is lump a bunch of dfferent spirit statues and pictures onto ONE space. Oy vey! There are spirits who do NOT like one another and when you put their icons into close proximity to another one they dislike, havoc can reign in your temple!
Old Grudges Run Deep
This is where many of you make enormous mistakes. It’s like trying to give homes to Cryps, the Bloods, Hell’s Angels, the Outlaws and other outlaw gangs all on the same piece of real estate. NOT gonna happen without big time head aches. You simply cannot do this and expect them to all get along regardless if you’re their leader/boss/whatever. There’s just too much animosity that runs too deep for them to deal with it individually.
So when you think you can put Freda next to her twin sister, the Dantor, you’re a fool because they do NOT get along and will fight continuously causing you no small amount of hassle. Most houngans give each their own room just to keep them OUT of the same room. Not all saints get along either. There are some who just don’t see eye to eye and have to have to be separated as well. I’ve found some of the saints don’t particularly care of Expedite so he has to have his own space.
So how does one learn who dislikes whom? Simple: study their mythologies and the pantheons from which they emerge. Then pay attention. In fact, once you begin working with a particular spirit (or saint), you can not only study what’s written about Them but also pay attention to hunches, dreams, intuition and other factors. 
When In Doubt, Divine
Try some divination as well if you’re unsure. Sometimes your patron may be so angry that It won’t bother talking to you about it. So then you may need to resort to some method of sortilege to speak with you’re your patron. If you don’t have a method, find one. You should have something you can fall back on when your patron spirit clams up because you need to know what is what if They are angry or upset.
Whatever method your patron prefers is the method you should learn. Get that? This means trying to use Tarot cards to work with Norse spirits is rather.... weird? Because the Futhark Runes are their choice for divination. Now this doesn’t mean that Odin, Frey and Frigga may not deign to talk to you through Tarot especially if you’re really good at it; rather it simply means They already have a preferred method.
Not all spirits are picky about how to talk to them or what manner of sortilege is used. I’ve known practitioners who used yarrow stalks & I Ching to talk to Native American Indian spirits so go figure on that one. Preferred does not mean exclusive either but if you’re seeking for a method and shown something in a vision, dream or such, obtain and work with it. You may be pleasantly surprised by the results.
I have used the Holy Astragals, an ancient method of sortilege that was shared with me year ago by Brujo Negro, author of the Voodoo Sorcery Grimoire, and I’ve used it with just about every spirit I’ve run across and have yet to meet one who refused to talk to me through it. This does not mean I won’t run into one eventually but it is a decent method to start. It’s two 6-sided dice rolled towards a 12" circle and you add the number that lands within the circle up and that is your answer. This method is fully outlined on my website at and it is simple while being easy enough to use anywhere. Most of all, it work.
Subordinates Talk
Another thing is to ask your patron early on for a familiar spirit. This is a subordinate spirit of sorts that you should have a home for in your temple. This spirit is always in direct contact with your patron and if the big Guy/Gal is honked off for any reason, you can find out why from the familiar post haste. However if you have a familiar spirit that you work with regularly, It should forewarn you of stepping off the path or doing anything to upset your patron (It’s parent). 
Okay now you have a sortilege system, a subordinate spirit, a patron, and the ancestors... what next? You have quite a bit to work with and explore for now. The key is to maintain level headedness and remember that the shrine or any space dedicated to the spirit does NOT belong to you - that space belongs to the spirit!
Sacred Real Estate
There are a LOT of people out there trying to give you all sorts of guidance about how to do A B & C with your altars and shrines when it comes to workings and procedures. However nary a one of them bothers to explain that those dedicated altars and shrines do not belong to you and therefore you should never, ever go taking photographs of them let alone sharing them on the Internet.
Spirits own the real estate they’ve been asked to commune with you on whether that’s a floor space, a chunk of tile, a shelf, a box, or a handmade marble shrine. It’s just that you fail to understand that wherever you plant their icon be that their picture such as a Catholic saint or a statue of any pantheon’s god/dess, and you perform a ceremony inviting Them to come and be your patron, you have stepped over the line. It’s like asking the Federal Government to step in and help you but They come with both expectations and restrictions.
Remember, once you give something to a spirit, anything, that immediately becomes the property of that spirit. Be that money, liquor, food, toys, weapons, a room, a shed, that place is theirs. “But what if I have to move?” you ask. Okay you can get the spirit to abandon that real estate in favor of better just like you’re moving to some place better, right? If not, ask your spirits to help you get a better place to live. Keep at Them because They will tire of you asking and give in to help you get one which means THEY will get a better place as well.
Common Sense Reaffirmed
Dealing with spirits is not rocket science however you must remember They are Non-Physical Entities each with Their own personality who have all manner of attitudes, prejudices, desires, phobias, mannerisms, rules, beliefs and so on - JUST LIKE YOU AND I HAVE. Spirits are much like people and when you stop pretending They are some sort of stupid psychological construct from your mind, and a real independent being capable of existing without you, then you begin to realize how important They are.
Unfortunately today, we have people who refuse to admit they don’t know everything and these people have created labels for everything, every nuance of human emotion, human frailty, even to the point of labeling normal behavior. They play at a game called psychology they believe to be science yet is nothing more than a joke to real scientists because you cannot science away the human experience albeit you can look at the brain and neurology as scientific but the processing of information that the brain does called “mind” is a joke simply because replication of that data virtually impossible in true scientific methods.
So we get metaphysical authors who call themselves atheists which is fine yet these people quickly dismiss spirits as living entities and relegate Them to portions of their brain. LoL Very Freudian because Crowley tried that rubbish in his day and it didn’t work then either. However today the trend has become a huge part of occultism where people believe Jungian psychology to be the pinnacle of occult understanding. Seriously? If that is so, then why are you wasting your time with the occult? Why not just go get your Ph.D in psychology and then you’d be an adept, eh? Instead of fiddle farting around with wands, daggers and Tarot cards you could study the mind, objectify everything experienced and be your own Merlin of sorts?
I have YET to meet an occultist, who claimed s/he practiced psychological magicK, and could get anything practical done - especially for anyone other than themselves. Certainly they can with some self-discipline for themselves but aside from that? What’s the point of the grimoires and candles (or props) as they call them? It’s just a bunch of hogwash and they’re pretending to play at something they do NOT understand nor will ever understand using that sort of background.
There are no psychological magicKians found in Haiti. Oh maybe a university scholar or two but regular houngans don’t play that nonsense. They summon the spirit and call forth the primal essence of life - the spirit! A spirit answers the call, mounts the horse i.e. possesses the trained (and willing) recipient, then the spirit is questioned face-to-face first hand by the houngan. Then the spirit can be fed, given gifts, treats and so forth.
Ultimately It’s Your Practice & Your Success
Of course you can choose to work viewing spirits as nothing more than psychological constructs of the mind and as I said, I have yet to meet any of these practitioners who began working this way and succeeded using it. However I have met numerous folks who have invoked varius gods, goddesses, demi-gods, saints, the dead, ancestors, land wights and others in their attempt to master the world around them who DID succeed in many ways.
However remember that when dealing with the spirits and their real estate, it does not belong to you but rather it belongs to THEM and you should be respectful and courteous in your dealings even if you feel They aren’t real. Try it for once as IF They do exist and note what happens. Bite your pride, Mr/Ms Wannabe Psychologist, and work with the spirits as if they are the real deal for 45 days. I challenge you. Give it a shot.


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