The first step in starting a conversation is deciding who you wish to talk with. This, in my opinion, is where many people find trouble. Rather than striking up a conversation with one of their ancestors or someone they have researched, many instead start off simply by inquiring if there is a spirit nearby who wishes to speak with them.

This approach is somewhat like randomly texting a stranger, then expecting them to tell you the secrets of the universe.

This is not to discourage such a practice entirely, indeed, Jane Roberts (1929-1984) is said to have met her spirit helper Seth in this manner, a relationship that led to the publication of several books and inspired the New Age practice of channeling. Nevertheless, I advise starting out by working with known ancestors or spirit guides you have knowledge of.

Choosing an ideal condition is important, particularly regarding time and place. The veil between the worlds of the living and the dead are said to be thinnest at certain times, such as twilight and midnight. Harsh daylight is said to provide an uncomfortable atmosphere for spirits.

Pay attention to the mood that is being set, as this will influence your experience, and that of your spirit visitors. Ideally you should feel secure in your environment.

Some folks go further, setting protective boundaries such as circles of salt to work in. This is often done to protect against evil spirits, though personally I am more concerned with the meddling of unwanted mortals in my space than with bothersome spirits.

For many though, protection against evil spirits is a concern. Leaving your bible open to Psalm 91 is a traditional and simple way to avoid trouble.

Similarly, a silver coin placed on the board is said to protect against bad spirits.

In much the same way that you might offer something favorable to a visitor, spirits are likewise said to appreciate hospitality. If you plan to call on your grandpa, and you know that he enjoyed chicory coffee and cornbread, then those would make for a splendid offering. Short of something so personal, flowers and a glass of water are commonly offered (it is said that water draws spirits and helps them to manifest in the realm of the living).

Offerings are often placed beyond the top of the board. Be sure they are not set in such a way as to get knocked over, especially if you are working as a group with folk sitting in various positions. You can work on the floor or on a table, whichever you prefer.

Along with offerings, if you have a personal concern belonging to the spirit about to be invoked, say a picture or old hairbrush, place it with your offerings.

Assuming I’m not calling on someone who I know had issues with alcohol in life, I favor using a shot glass in place of a pointer (set upside down, rim against the board, fingertips resting on top), then filling it with whiskey as a thank you after the session has been completed.

Once everything is in place, verbally call the name of the spirit you wish to invoke. To get the pointer started, I like to use my own energy to move it continuously as a sideways figure 8, known as a lemniscate pattern. Eventually, when the spirit I have contacted is ready to speak, the pointer will waver from that pattern and begin spelling messages.

I find it best to have a recording device turned on, and to say aloud each letter, as this help to later decipher longer messages.

©2019, Chas Bogan