Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses

Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses

by Judika Illes


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061350245
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/27/2009
Pages: 1072
Sales rank: 100,500
Product dimensions: 7.60(w) x 9.30(h) x 2.20(d)

About the Author

Judika Illes is an independent scholar, educator, and author of several books of folklore, folkways, and mythology. Judika is a graduate of Rutgers University and has a certification in therapeutic aromatherapy from the Australasian College of Herbal Studies. Her books include Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells, Encyclopedia of Spirits, The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, The Weiser Field Guide to Witches, and The Weiser Field Guide to the Paranormal (published under the name Judith Joyce).

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Encyclopedia of Spirits

The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses

By Judika Illes
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2009

Judika Illes
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061350245

Chapter One

Elements of Working with Spirits: A Spirit Worker's Glossary

Working with spirits possesses its own specialized vocabulary. Let's explore and define some of the most commonly used terms and words frequently appearing throughout this book. Not all terms and concepts apply to all spiritual traditions. Some terms are straightforward and easy to understand. Others involve extremely esoteric concepts. Some information is suitable for beginners. Other elements are advanced. If something fails to make sense now, don't worry. Understanding may accompany further experience.


The term derives from the Latin altare, meaning "a high place" (high altitudes were a preferred location for the earliest altars). In its most general sense, an altar is a space dedicated to the veneration of someone or something. The very first altars were spiritual, but in the modern secular world, altars are also constructed to honor pop or sports stars (whether consciously intended as altars or not). Describing a teenager's room as a shrine to a pop idol accurately describes the finished effect.

Altars may be dedicated to any spirit. The concept transcends religious and spiritual boundaries.Altars may be public or private, personal or part of an organized religious institution. Churches, cathedrals, and temples of many faiths often contain individual altars dedicated to specific saints or spirits. Although some spirits are closely identified with specific sites and/or shrines, most are subjects of home altars, too.

Altars are tableaux or arrangements of specific articles. Everything involved in the creation of an altar is carefully chosen. Nothing on an altar is random. Altars may be color-coordinated to suit a spirit. Candles, incense, fragrance, flowers, gifts, food, and drink are offered to a spirit on an altar, in the process becoming part of the altar.

An altar may serve as an individual's tribute to one or more spirits or operate as the equivalent of a visual journal or log of an individual's spiritual path. Spirits, their images, and/or power objects are added, moved, and removed as inspired.

Although it is common to include images of spirits on altars, this is unnecessary. Those who object to graven images may create altars with only candles, flowers, or neutral objects. An altar reflects the spirit it venerates and the needs of the devotee.

Altars come in many styles and sizes. The simplest Spiritualist altars consist of a candle and a glass of water, considered the basic components of spirit summoning, while lavish, complex Vodoun altars are entire rooms filled with lovingly, meticulously arranged treasures. Tiny miniature altars are contained in matchboxes, shadowboxes, or cigar boxes.

Altars may be permanent or temporary. Some rituals or magic spells involve creating a temporary altar. Those making specific but presumably one-time requests of a spirit may wish to set up such a temporary altar: a tableau that exists only for the duration of the ritual or spell or until the request has been fulfilled.

Permanent altars keep the presence and image of the spirit close. Erika Doss' essay, "Saint Elvis" (contained in the 1999 book, Elvis Culture), describes shrines constructed for Elvis Presley within the homes of fans and devotees that become entrenched into the décor of the home itself.

The following people may prefer permanent tableaux:

  • Those who have developed close working relationships with spirits
  • Those seeking to develop such a relationship
  • Those who simply adore a spirit

Constructing permanent home altars for some spirits is discouraged, especially those spirits intimately associated with illness. Disease spirits transmit and remove illness. Appeals are typically directed toward them when healing is desired. Once that is achieved, it is usually considered best not to maintain the spirit's interest for longer than necessary. You don't want them to feel too comfortable in your home.

Altars have a tendency to take on a life of their own. They are not static, but evolve over time with items continually added and (less frequently) removed. A person may maintain one altar for one spirit, or one altar may honor many spirits. Several distinct altars may be simultaneously maintained for different spirits, one spirit per altar. It all depends on the spirits in question and your own spiritual path and needs.

Many, although not all, spirits are gregarious: willing and happy to share space with each other. Exceptions are noted in entries for individual spirits, but a good rule of thumb is that if bitter conflict between two spirits is an integral part of their mythology, it may be best to keep some space between them.

What is the purpose of an altar?

Altars summon spiritual assistance. The components of the altar serve as signals to spirits that their presence is desired. These components traditionally share in the essence of that spirit or consist of items that are sacred to the spirit or evocative of its presence. The arrangement attracts the spirit's notice, beckons, and welcomes them. Altars enable communication with spirits. Essentially, they improve reception. Many people choose to speak with a spirit at its altar or while tending the altar. (However, this is not necessary. You may speak with spirits whenever and wherever you please.)

Altars serve as a forum for communication. By adjusting the items upon your altar, you can demonstrate your needs using symbolic language. For example, let's say that a permanent altar is maintained for the Yoruba goddess Oshun, a particularly versatile, powerful, generous, and gregarious spirit. Different-colored candles may be lit so that you can signal your needs and desires. Oshun's personal colors are gold, yellow, and orange. Candles in those colors are burned to honor her. In addition, you might also burn a blue candle for physical healing or emotional relief or a green one if your immediate crisis is cash. (See the Glossary entry for Colors for a list of color associations.)


Excerpted from Encyclopedia of Spirits by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The information and details provided by this book are outstanding. It provides a good general overview of a spirit with a information block at the end. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in folklore, paranormal, or paganism. I am highly satisfied with my purchase.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like some of the author's work HOWEVER it concerns me as a practitioner of both Santeria and European spellwork techniques how carelessly she mixes the two. I do not mix them and for good reason - they will often conflict with each other. For example, she says a good love charm involves pink and red roses but if one wants to appeal to Oshun to use yellow. Do not. In European tradition (where the charm is from) yellow is representative of infidelity. Mixing simply does not work. She urges people to appeal to the orishas in ways I cannot help but think she flat out made up. It is insulting to true practitioners of Santeria. I am of European descent and was not born into it. People have died protecting their traditions and the orishas have been very spevific in how they want to be honored. Her making stuff up is at best disrespecful (could she not find a santero to ask?) At worst it is dangerous. She describes the "orisha model of worship". ??? The orishas are not gods, and they are venerated, not worshipped. Further it is unlike other traditions so why try to draw a parallel? I hope she was honestly misled and not doing some cultural appropriation based on feeling entitled to do so....reading this made me think of the Orientalists.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have the print edition and it is very helpful and enlightning, A lot of my friends call and ask about these topics and I have the answers...wanna know if demons really are here....get the book and find out! GREAT REFERANCE BOOK
gypsy24 More than 1 year ago
Just finished reading this book and it is amazing! Judika Illes books never fail to amaze me with the information and knowledge she has on this subject and others. If you need any information on Spirits, Goddesses, Fairies etc. this is the book to get. You won't regret it.
EverythingSHE More than 1 year ago
I am enjoying everything I've read thus far. I find Judika to be very thorough and certainly much more informative that I am when it comes to spirits. I like the way she references each spirit, etc. To me, this is truly a wonderful piece of work. And to know that there are quite a number of entities not included in this book, there are more than a thousand pages to help learn about those that she did mention. I appreciate her hard work and bringing it forth for those of us who want to know more about the occult; a highly interesting existence. Thanks, Judika.
CrazeeInAz More than 1 year ago
It is easy to find what you are looking for and contains a lot of interesting information.
JanetBoyer on LibraryThing 2 days ago
"Here's an open secret: spirits do more than pervade literature, advertising, games, myths, and movies. They also walk among us. Some may find that statement shocking or surprising, ludicrous or laughably absurd, but for many people, all over Earth, coming from all walks of life, unconventional and conventional alike, it's a statement of basic, obvious fact." - From the Encyclopedia of Spirits Quick: What do the following have in common? * Wednesday * Lyon (city in France) * Versace * Yu-Gi-Oh! * Santa Claus * Babalu (Desi Arnaz's trademark song) * Maneki Neko (Japanese beckoning cat) * Nike * Hell (Hel) * Orpheus * Swan Lake * Jupiter * Mermaids All of the above are spirits, named for a spirit, or filled with references to deities. The world of spirits--gods, goddesses, fairies, genies, ghosts, patron saints, dragons, demons, orishas, Djinn, devas, genies, and so on--permeate everything around us. From planet names to corporate emblems, literature to all manner of song, the world of spirit (and spiritual references) are literally everywhere. Renowned independent scholar and researcher extraordinaire, author Judika Illes has created yet another comprehensive and utterly fascinating tome with her newest book The Encyclopedia of Spirits. At 1056 pages, the Encyclopedia of Spirits serves as menu or a roadmap, a handy reference or a creator's muse, a spiritual phone book or a recipe box for wish fulfillment. Truly, this engaging, informative compendium encompasses all these uses for those seeking to meet, converse, or collaborate with spirits, as well as individuals wanting to investigate, learn, or draw inspiration from the spirit world. In the first 65 pages of this book, Ms. Illes defines the realm of spirits, covers their public (and private) faces, explains why they help humanity, points out where they're likely to be met, instructs how to work with them, teaches how to find spirit allies and much more. She addresses the common question "Are spirits dangerous?", as well as the conundrum of unanswered prayers and petitions. In addition, Ms. Illes offers a Spirit Worker's Glossary and helpful advice on how to use the Encyclopedia of Spirits. However, the bulk of this exhaustive book is the A-Z guide to spirits. From origin to iconography, manifestations to offerings, attributes to hallowed days, sacred sites to favored people, a wealth of information is graciously shared with readers. Symbolic associations such as number, color, metal, sacred days, planets, times, creatures, planets, direction, and element are also provided for each spirit, as are extensive cross references for related mythos and beings. An absorbing tour guide to the world of spirits, it's honestly difficult to stop reading the Encyclopedia of Spirits once you get started! Intriguing sidebars are scattered throughout, too, offering additional glimpses into the scope of influence effected by the spirit realm. Here are just a few of the many sidebars that are peppered alongside the meaty spirit profiles: * There are many man-goat spirits, including Faunus, Krampus, and Ordog but references to the goat god usually mean Pan. * During his fourth labor, Heracles stopped to party with the centaurs. Very drunk, he accidentally wounded Chiron, his old friend, with a poisoned arrow. As an immortal, Chiron didn't and couldn't die but suffered excruciating agony. To relieve him, Zeus placed him in the heavens as the constellation Sagittarius. Chiron is the archetypal wounded healer who heals everyone but is unable to help himself. * The October 5, 2007 issue of The UK Times Online listed the Lord God as the number-one top ranking of the forty most memorable aliens. * The floats, masks, clowns, dancing, public drunkenness, and erotic theater that characterizes modern Carnivals and parades are descendents of Dionysian rituals * Babalu was the signature song of Cuban singer, actor, and television producer Desi Arnaz (2 March 1917- 2 December 1986). According to legend, Desi
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Soooo ... i can stay ? What do we do here ?