For the past few weeks I’ve been traipsing down a rabbit hole. I’m sure you’ve all done this. You find a fascinating concept, which leads you to another, and still another. At some point in your happy flight you look up to find you’re perched on a tiny little branch, so far from your starting point that you can’t even see it.
Which is pretty appropriate in this case, since my seed subject was dérive (pronounced “day-REEV”), from the French dériver, meaning to drift. Usually, the term is applied to a specific, aimless walk of discovery, and touches on how cities and their components attract, repel and affect the emotions of pedestrians.
However, after reading an article on “The Drift: Using a Hoodoo Method in Traditional Sorcery,” by Jongiorgi Enos in The Crooked Path Journal, I recognize that drifting is something most of us have done, perhaps even unconsciously, in a magical context.
In his article, Jongiori Enos recommends using the Drift to locate magical ingredients in our own surroundings, which are then imbued with the resonance of the journey taken to find them, and filled with personal meaning (as opposed to referring to someone else’s correspondence table, and then buying ingredients). As an added bonus, the act of Drifting builds a stronger connection between witch and working environment.
Sounds excellent, right? So, after working with it for a while, here’s my personal primer for Drifting:
Pick your starting point. If you’re looking for a lost article, start where you think it might be. If you’re looking for magical ingredients, you could start at the sidewalk by your front door, the wild countryside, or downtown. You pick.
Center and ground yourself, then let yourself enter a light trance state. Let your boundaries thin a bit and your energy flow outward to interact with the seen and unseen environment around you. Exchange some of your energy with that environment — in much the same way you would with a hug — energy exchange with a small “e.” Wait for a feeling that Something is aware of you, as though you’re being watched.
Vocally or silently, make a clear statement of what you want to find. Use all your senses to describe it, and engage your emotions for why you need to find it. This is obviously easier if you’re looking for a lost item you’re familiar with, but just do your best. This process becomes cleaner as your rapport with the spirits of place develops.
Hold that picture for several breaths, then let it go and wait several breaths for a response. It could be “No” (or even “Hell no.”) It could be “Ok, maybe.” If you’ve done this enough times to develop relationships with the spirits of place, they maybe happy to see you and glad to help.
If you get a non-negative response, disconnect your thinking mind and start walking. Walk about aimlessly until a course correction or place to check pops into your head. Do this without argument or rationalization.
If you’ve every danced while someone else leads, the sensation will be familiar to you. You can follow lead and dance only if you don’t think about it. If you’re having trouble dancing, it helps to stand closer. If you’re having trouble Drifting, relax and thin out your filter a bit. Soften your gaze; items that pop into your consicousness can be considered meaningful to your Drift. If you’re not sure, go with your very first impression; it will be the right one. If you’re having trouble with that, do the psychic sensitivity exercise What’s in the Box? for a few days, before trying another Drift.
If you’re looking for your own lost item, you’ll know it when you see it. If you’re looking for a magical ingredient, it should feel like a bell going off; a feeling of recognition that makes no logical sense. If in doubt, try turning away from the object. Do you find yourself drawn back to it again? And again? If so, that’s it.
When you’ve reached the item: Take it up formally. Thank the spirit(s) formally. Ask if there’s something you can do in return. Wait to hear what that may be. Often I get a sense of confusion at this point, as if the spirit isn’t sure what I’m able to offer. So I usually run through the senses — Would you like something with a specific taste? A certain smell? Something that looks shiny or pretty? That sounds a certain way, or has a specific texture? That has a certain magical resonance to it?
Be polite, but use your common sense. If an offering’s suggested that gives you pause, politely answer “I cannot offer that at this time” and keep scrolling. Apply some common sense and basic psychic hygiene — generally if it’s not safe behavior to engage in with a complete stranger, then it’s not safe behavior to engage in with a strange spirit.
With your offering, you’re reaching for a sense of balance and closure, just like the leave-taking between potential friends. When you make your offering, do it formally — identify who it’s for and why, identify what it is and why it’s a good offering. For instance:Spirits who have helped me find my lost keys, Who heard my plea and answered my call, I light this sweet smelling incense for you. May its fragrance please you, And honor the time and work we shared. May there be peace between us.
If you work with this particular spirit often, your relationship, just as your knowledge of it, will develop. Your formal offering may reflect that, such as:Leaping One. You of shadows coat and quick, graceful movement. You who are curious and clever to the ways of this place. You who came to my aid when I asked, And guided me to these lost keys, I give you this raw milk with honey, for your pleasure and health. May it strengthen our ties. May there be friendship between us.
I hope your experiences with Drifting are helpful. Please, feel free to share.