This has been a question that I have seen float around the Public Chat and the Forums for a little bit and thought I would answer it.
I was originally going to write this to be specfically about familiars, but the use for Familiars is rather general purpose, so I will cover this topic in a general sense.
Spirit Vessels, what are they?
Basically, a Spirit Vessel is a physical object that acts as either a container or 'bed/house' for a Spirit - however, this definition does split off to also meaning created anchors for spirits that you're working with - these would be physical tokens or representations of them, as well as Spirit traps, objects created to entrap a spirit (Either for personal use - which falls under the term of Spirit Keeping which is seen as morally wrong or to trap a spirit so you can release it back into the wild - like catching a wild animal that has strayed into the neighbourhood).
You can purchase these vessels, but they are better to be crafted either completely from hand or putting some objects together (Such as a Jar, some wool etc). When making these Vessels, general rule of thumb is - one vessel, one spirit - how would you like to be cramped into a small space with 5 other people? And how would you like it if you had to share your bed with another person, alternating who gets to sleep comfortably?
How do they work?
So, depending on whether or not you are using this vessel for working or to capture a spirit to release it - affects how they work, I shall cover it from both view points.
- To Capture - it's like fishing, you construct the Vessel with a Lure, different beliefs have varying ideas on what lures a spirit in - generally Shiny Objects/ Silver (Cliche I know, but it is apparently what works) the lure brings them in, and your enchantments seal it shut, preventing the spirit from exiting the vessel - you would then deconstruct/open the vessel far away from your house/where you placed it originally and open it in the wild.
- To House - It's like making a little hotel room, so how this vessel works is that its supposed to be a bed for the Spirit to stay in, something comfortable and welcoming (and clean!) If the spirit is going to be a permanet resident, you give them a bigger vessel. You tuck these away or leave them on your Altar so they can work their mojo on the place.
Vessels have to be inviting, either with a lure or with creature comforts with some food (food doesn't mean it has to be actual food, but could be a feeding of some kind of essence or essential oil) Some vessels however, aren't so inviting and are designed to be like cages - I will not cover these for I do not use them and I don't want newbies trying to cage spirits for Horned One knows what.
In short - Vessel is like a Bed for the night, somewhere for the spirit to rest its head.
How do I make one?
Spirit Vessels can be made in different ways, it could literally be a small carved cradle if you and spirit so desire. There are guides on how to construct boxes, containers etc but I will cover a basic list of equipment to make a vessel with a brief description on how to make something basic. Generally keep it as natural as possible - Boxes be Wood, Jars and Bottles be Glass.
- Bottles - Despite what a lot of people say, you can stick a spirit in a bottle, it has been done for centuries. I like bottles because I can get something decently large, especially if I am going to have a permenant guest or someone who stops by often.
- Jars - great for keeping a lot of spirits, not all in the same Jar, but several little Jars to use for multiple guests and they don't take up much room.
- Bags - particularly Satchets, fill it up with some nice smelling herbs, something to rest on and you can hang it up or tuck it out of sight for the spirit to live in and work what you desire (You basically combine Spell Bags with a Spirit and Ta da)
- Herbs - something that smells pleasant, inviting and represents what the spirit will be doing for you.
- Wool - Sheeps wool is excellent for being a bed for a spirit, different breeds provide different textures/comfort - find the one that works for the spirits you are working with - however if you can't get Sheeps Wool, any other wool will do, even if it's Stuffing or clean remains of a Jersey.
- Food - either Oils they like, actual food or some of your blood (Depends on the relationship or spirit).
When constructing vessels for a spirit to live in, you can lay some enchantments onto it to protect the spirit, to bless it for comfort and to cleanse it of any residual energy so its fresh for the new spirit.
One method I would do to construct a vessel would be this.
- Discuss with the spirit an appropriate size for their home, what it should be made from - be reafirm what you can and can't get them.
- Wash the vessel - just be careful with wooden vessels - and then dry it off.
- Cleanse the vessel - clean off any residual energy of people who have touched it etc
- Fill the vessel with Herbs that the spirit likes, objects that represent the spirit.
- Lay the bed in, place it on top or if the spirit wants to be warmer, layer it between the Herbs and objects.
- Lay protections and blessings for comfort.
- Invite the spirit in.
- If the Spirit wants you to seal the vessel, then do that (It all depends on what your relationship is)
If the spirit leaves you/no longer wishes to work with you and you end the relationship, either gift them the vessel and take it somewhere in the wilderness that they'd like, or respectfully dispose of the fillings and wash and cleanse the bottle for a new visitor.
Treading the Mill - Nigel G Pearson
The Black Toad - Gemma Gary
Traditional Witchcraft, a Cornish Book of Ways - Gemma Gary
Wicked Enchantment, History of the Pendle Witches and their Magic - Joyce Froome
Mrshadowbwoy - Youtube - I can't remember the exact video, but he has one on Familiars and how he made his Vessel.