I mean, come on, a demon I had in a spirit pot burned my fucking house down. It's more dangerous than that?
We are talking about the spirits of the dead, right? Dead people.
In my experience with the dead, there are two types, the Powerful Dead who made it to a certain point in their spiritual attainment who became demigods, sort of like the Saints and the Heroes of Greece, and the far more common restless spirits, the shades of the dead, the nepheshim.
The Powerful Dead
Saints and Heroes make for the best kind of necromancy, imho. My main goal as a Hermeticist in this incarnation is to become one of them, in a way. The Hermetic texts teach that we go up through the heavens and become Powers, the same kinds of Powers we work with when we conjure angels and Intelligences and Spirits and such.
Saints... well, they're pretty obviously like these Powers. And the catholics have centuries of history working with them through spirit pots too. They call them Reliquaries. Really, not that dangerous, though I wouldn't steal one from a church.
I wouldn't work with them through a spirit pot. They're saints and powers and demigods. Candles and altars make more sense to me than a spirit pot. A spirit pot is a more personal thing.
The Not-So-Powerful Dead
And then there's the Nepheshim, the far more readily available and contactable type of dead spirit that you'll most likely end up with in your spirit pot if you try to work the dead through the spirit pot instructions I gave.
I speculate that in Palo, you get a spirit the way Agrippa talks about it in Book 3, chapter 42. He talks about collecting bits of the body of the recently dead and using that to get those who died violent deaths or criminals or those who are yearning for a proper burial to do mean things for you. These are the nepheshim, the mortal parts of the soul that are supposed to fade away and turn to dust in sheol, but don't because they find another food source. They can live for a while after the body dies, up to a year according to some Hebrew and Greek sources, but usually they fade after six weeks if no one's feeding them.
And these spirits do mean things for people because they're angry, confused, scared, and all emotional about shit. They just lost their bodies in a painful or disturbing way, and on top of that, they lost their minds. Because their minds are the Ruachim parts of the human soul, not the nepheshim. The Ruachim have wandered on to the Akashic Records or are "asleep in christ" or something like that. They have no need for the body or the nephesh anymore, so the nephesh is all, "I'm abandoned, my body is dead, and I'm scared! and Angry!" Moody bitches, man, moody bitches.
Necromancers trap these spirits and send them at targets, and they'd go be all moody around their targets. Agrippa says they can "kindle unlawful lusts, cause dreams, diseases, hatred and such like passions." That's about what I've seen people in the Hispanic communities use the dead for, pretty much. They can get pretty powerful if they're fed right and taken care of, exercised and built up. They can be developed. But it takes a while, special training, and you really need to know what you're doing. Because they're toxic.
I've seen these spirits banished with as little as the sign of the cross and a Hail Mary. Some needed more careful exorcisms. One time I went to the Divine Darkness to eliminate a tribe that had been sent against someone. None of them that I've met can stand up to some Saturn forces lined up against them personally. I learned from Bune how to make them appear before me and give me their name, and once I've got that, I can engrave it in lead with some symbols of Saturn and bury it, hold a formal funeral, and the spirit's gone.
They're annoying, frustrating, and emotional, and they can cause the kind of damage in your life that you can cause when you act in frustration, anger, fear, or horror. They're really good at causing mental illnesses.
So yeah, putting one in a spirit pot if you don't know the risks can be dangerous. You've got to shield yourself from that shit, because you might think you've got the whole spirit of the person, but really you've just got the nephesh, the emotional survivalist who is more panic button fight/flight syndrome all the time than anything else.
Again speculation here, but I think Paleros and those trained to work with the muerte learn how to make the nepheshim calm and at rest while they're in their spirit pot, and then all upset when they send them to work mischief. I think they empower them and make them stronger too. Exercise them. Build them up. They also know how to keep any of the mental illness or occasional shifting keys and falling iron pans from disrupting their lives too much. One guy I knew cyber-socially mentioned that he just lived with it, called that kind of stuff the dangers of working with the dead. I wouldn't put up with it, personally. My own nephesh causes enough shit in my life, I don't need any other nepheshim buggin' me.
Now these aren't the ancestor spirits. These are wandering ghosts who haven't been properly shriven, who need to be put to rest, and who can be used for nefarious purposes if that's your schtick. Personally, I can do all the shit they do without using them. Ask my wife if I can cause mental illness, she'll tell you straight up I'm a pro.
In his Abramelin Ramble, Bill Heidrick talks about working with the nepheshim of ancestors. Good stuff, I won't repeat it here. It's chapter five, under the heading "Kitty just ate the neighbor's dog." Heh. I love Bill Heidrick.
Now remember, I'm not trained in any ATRs, and this is just speculation, but from the way I understand the whole death process to work, the spirits of the dead that you're going to get in a spirit pot are most likely going to be nepheshim. Even if you get the nephesh of the family member you want, it's still not going to be the whole person, their mind and memories and personality. It's going to be the part of them that kept them alive, that felt the deepest, most passionate feelings. It's little more than an animal consciousness.
The part of them that you want to talk to is their Ruach, and it's moved on to better places. Contacting it and getting it to take up residence in a vessel for you is possible, but to do so properly would take skill and training, and magical experience. And permission to do that kind of thing. Saturn can grant access to these halls, and that path has dangers of its own to face.
So, y so srs?
All those bad things the spirits of the restless dead do that I talked about earlier? That's the worst case scenario that I know of that could happen to you if you try to make a muerte pot without proper training. Your kids will hear voices telling them to "cut the bitch's head off." Your cat will go insane and try to attack you (happened to my uncle after a ouija board experiment gone wrong). You'll hear all kinds of shaking and rattling. You'll be risking your sanity and the peace of your home and your family.
Biiiiiiiiiiig fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuckin' deeeeeeeeeaaaaaaal.
You're a freakin' magician. Wake up and smell the asafetida. This is exactly what you signed on for, and these are the risks that come with it. Whether you're putting together a muerte pot off misrepresented spirit pot instructions from a blog you read or conjuring your HGA, there's always a chance that you're going to pick up a nephesh with all these powers. This shit is risky. We're like archaeologists who found some ancient Greek instructions for building something cool, but we don't know for sure what it did, or how it worked, or whether it was some kind of mana machine or a microwave antenna that will fry our balls off. We're working off intuition, and trusting in an invisible hand that put us on this path to keep us from creating a Three Mile Island meltdown in our garage.
People who never practice magic risk getting these kinds of spirits. They are as common as dandelions. You know all your friends on anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, and mood stabilizing drugs? I'm not saying all of them, but more of them than you think are suffering from nephesh-created or nephesh-exaggerated symptoms of mental illness. Whether they caused it or recognized it as a free food source, you can bet they're around, and it's part of your job, magician, to clean that shit up. The LBRP will get rid of most of them, that's part of why you learn it first in the Golden Dawn, because they don't need that shit hanging around their temple on the noobs. It's like teaching someone basic hygiene so they can be around other people without getting them sick.
Prayer, having them acknowledge Jesus as Lord, or return the right grade signs of the Golden Dawn, or recite parts of the Book of the Law, or intoning YHVH at them, or tracing the seal of the Archangel Michael over them will reveal them to be what they are and drive them off. And if you can't get rid of them, you've got a mentor somewhere, someone with a shared interest you can check with for help. And if they won't help, you've got your HGA, or your Angel of the Nativity who will get them off you or bring you someone to help.
And that invisible hand that put you on this path hasn't stopped meddling in your life either. He who called you is capable of keeping you. Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all this shit will pass by you, and only you will remain. I promise.
And you've got one more thing going for you: common sense. Well, probably not if you're as human as I am, but if you're lacking that, you've at least got a sense of self preservation. If you feel like putting together an ancestor pot is too dangerous, it really is for you right now. You'll be increasing your chances of getting a nephesh spirit by a huge exponential if you put together a spirit pot without enough experience.
But I firmly believe you'll end up learning how to deal with it. I think that's a good thing, and I think you're up for the task, with all the forces available to you. This magic stuff is dangerous.
But as Bilbo said, "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."