Recently I started working with Agares and Ronove, two Daemons from the Goetia. I've actually worked with Ronove in the past, but it had been some time back, whereas this is my first time working with Agares. They each have their specialties. Ronove provides help with rhetoric and writing, whereas Agares provides expertise on issues of communication. I decided to work with both of them because of some writer's block and a desire to continue improving my communication skills. That got me to thinking about why people choose to work with spirits and how to actually go about choosing the spirits you work with (unless they choose you, which I'll discuss further below).
I've generally chosen to work with specific spirits that bring with them specific skills that can be applied to situations I'm dealing with, but in a manner that I'm not able to do it. I've found this to be a good rule when working with spirits, in the sense that what they bring with them is a different way of handling a situation and that difference can be useful. However that's not the only reason to work with spirits. In some cases I'm working with spirits to develop a specific system of magical work and getting their insights on that system is useful for what it will allow me and other people to do as a result of applying those insights.
How I go about choosing a spirit to work with involves doing some research around the desired result. Once I've defined the desired result, then I can start looking at possible processes, and one of those processes can be working with a spirit. I'll look into the various types of spirits I could work with to determine which one (or more) seems to be the right fit. Then I'll do the invocation connection working to see if in fact it would be a good fit and from there the magical working proceeds.
Sometimes, though the spirit picks you. Thiede chose me way back when I started working with him. He made it very clear that he was going to work with me and that the work we needed to do together was important for him as well as for some of my own interests. And it seems he was right, as he has contributed to the development of pop culture and space/time magic currents. In such cases where a spirit makes itself known to you, you don't necessarily want to accept it on blind faith, but you also shouldn't reject it out of hand. When Thiede first made himself known to me as a spirit, I was already familiar with him and was able to test what presented itself accordingly. You can do the same, and its quite reasonable to do so in order to make sure that if you choose to work with the spirit it will actually be a beneficial relationship.
While not all of my magical work revolves around working with spirits, it is fair to say they play a significant role in my spiritual work and in my life in general. I think if you choose to work with spirits, it is a good practice to figure how you want to work with them and honor them, because you are forming a relationship that brings with it a necessary appreciation for the efforts on both sides of the equation. Pick who you work with, with care, and make sure you follow through on your end.
Magical Experiments radio show: Interview with Emily Carlin about shadow and pop culture magic.
Book Review: Awakening the Sacred Body by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
In this book, the author shares the Tsa Lung and 9 purification breaths techniques and explains how to work with them. The book also comes with a DVD, so that you can actually see how to do the exercises. I found the writing to be clear and explicit and it made it easy to learn the exercises. Doing these exercises in conjunction with other Dzogchen techniques can help you quite a bit with internal work you are doing around issues, as well as learning how to experience yourself and the world from a place of stillness. I highly recommend this book if you want to learn more about Dzogchen or learn some alternative approaches to meditation.