I am, still, surprised when a client who has been sitting at her altar for a few days, or a few weeks, expresses feelings of exasperation or worry about the "results" she is not getting. "Am I doing something wrong? Do the Spirits not like me? Am I being punished?"
Working with Them of the Unseen realm requires:
Think of it this way - long ago, relationship with the Unseen was woven into the day-to-day of people's lives. They were everywhere, and were acknowledged and respected. Since this time, layers of blood and trauma and disbelief, even scorn, have built up between our realms - between the realm of the breath world and Theirs. It takes time and effort to penetrate these layers.
We have also lost touch with the circle of life. In our modern day, we do no see ourselves as part of a greater cycle of life. Indeed, many do not see the greater cycle at all. We have become so imbalanced that we deplete or destroy everything we touch. It is, for many, not an intuitive understanding of give and take. We just take. And many imagine that "the universe" is a never-depleted, always giving storehouse of energy and abundance just waiting for the right magical phrase or thinking to hit the jackpot and have all your needs met - no thanks, no effort, no giving back required.
In the real world - in the realm that exists outside of the human-created - relationship is fundamental and essential. For all that we take, for all that we are given, we MUST give back. If we do not, it is taken from us.
Please understand, when the Spirits take what is owed, it is not a cruelty, not usually. The Spirits function, as does all life, on the Law of Reciprocity. It is as foundational to our existence as gravity. And just as non-negotiable.
So what we do is we show up. We introduce ourselves. We begin to make offerings. We offer for what we have already taken and received. We offer for peace and good relationship. We offer for thanks that we have been listened to. We offer for help/gifts received. When we begin to function in a relational way, we begin to see how very much we are given, how much help and generosity and patience and kindness is shown to us. And we begin to understand the hardships we have faced in a new light. We begin to see how ignorant we have been, how selfish, how entitled, how offensive, and we might feel something like awe that, in spite of our hardships, how generous They have been with us in the face of our ignorance and offensiveness.
Think of a lifetime of ignoring the Law of Reciprocity. Now you can begin to imagine how much effort it will take on our end to prove our commitment and worthiness of Them coming into relationship with us. Right relationship.
And then there is the transformation that takes place. And this takes time. When we begin to work with them in earnest, changes begin to take place in us. We are transformed into beings that can work with them, see differently, think differently, act differently. The fact of being in physical bodies in a modern world adds the necessity of time to this process of transformation. Just as you would not expect to wake up to a lean, muscular body from lifting weights for one day, you should not expect a few weeks of dedication and offerings to suddenly change you, or that They will suddenly begin to show up everywhere. Though They might. They work in Their own ways and how They choose with whom They choose.
With my own clients who start a committed altar practice with their Ancestors, most are surprised and delighted by the undeniable presence of Them. These clients can feel their Ancestors working on their behalf and the love that blossoms in that space of sacredness that commitment and place bring is unspeakably beautiful and real.
I tell people to allow about three months of regular, committed, dedicated time at the altar before they start to see evidence of Them. Many people experience this much, much sooner. Especially with Ancestors.
Be humble. Make a commitment to show up regularly. It may be daily, weekly, or even monthly, but whatever you do, show up when you say you will. And absolutely do not expect anything. The Spirits are much older and much wiser than any of us and They work in Their own ways for reasons we often will not understand. Do not put your limits, imagination, greed, or demands on Them. More often than not, what They do will be far better than anything you could have come up with.
I wish you the best in your practice. Treat this like any very special relationship and endeavor to learn. And give yourself space and time to learn. They know most of us did not grow up with any idea how to be with Them and that we are learning, so just dive in, do your best, be sincere, be humble, make mistakes, listen, keep a journal, and keep showing up, no matter what. Then see what happens and go from there.