For those spirits who don’t appear spontaneously there is the route of evocation, which basically means calling upon a certain spirit (or group of spirits) to appear to the medium. There are advantages and disadvantages to both the spontaneous and evocation routes. For instance, with spontaneous manifestations we are at more of a risk for inviting in a deceptive spirit, but that isn’t always the case and spontaneous manifestations shouldn’t be thrown out altogether. No, the main reason early Spiritists encouraged the use of evocation is to limit our communication to only those spirits we know will provide useful information. As Allan Kardec put it; it’s like having an assembly of people gathered together where anyone, at any time, can speak their mind, versus having a specific individual there to deliver a certain message. In the room full of people you might get a wise scholar, or you might get a useless trickster. That’s not to say there isn’t a use for the trickster. Spontaneous manifestations often allow us the opportunity to help lower order spirits sort through their baggage and maybe even elevate.
In theory evocation is simple; you call upon a spirit and they either show up or they don’t. Many questions might arise from this theory though. For instance, how does one know the spirit who shows up is the correct spirit? Well, we will look at determining the identity of spirits in more detail later on, but a spirit will most often be identified by their speech. The speech and temperament of a higher order spirit should match their level. If you evoke such a spirit and they come to you as an angry or spiteful entity, you know that the intended spirit has not shown up. With evocation, because it is calling the spirit directly, there tends to be less frauds than with spontaneous manifestations where literally any spirit around might appear.
Another question might be whether evoking a spirit forces them to appear. The simplest answer is no, it doesn’t. For a spirit an evocation is like a little electric buzz, letting them know exactly who is calling, where they are, and the intention behind the conversation. If a spirit doesn’t want to appear, they don’t have to appear. Oftentimes a higher order spirit will send a messenger, a spirit whom they trust, to the medium with a message or a specific time when they will appear to them. Building relationships with spirits is key. Are we, as mortals, more likely to visit and talk with a complete stranger or a friend? The longer we build these relationships with our guardian spirits, the easier it becomes to call upon their aid when we need it. To quote Allan Kardec:
“To recapitulate: the possibility, on our part, of evoking any and every spirit, does not imply any obligation, on the part of any spirit, to come at our call The spirit evoked may, or may not, be able or willing to come to us; he may be able to come to us at one time, and not at another, and through the fluidic assistance of some particular medium or evoker, and not of others. He may come to us for a time; and then, for reasons which he may, or may not, be able to explain, he may suddenly cease coming, after having been for a long period an habitual and assiduous visitor…For the foregoing reasons it is well, when we desire to evoke a spirit for the first time, to begin by asking our protecting guide whether the evocation is possible, or not; when it is not possible, he generally tells us why, and, in such cases, it is useless to insist.”
People also often ask what sorts of spirits can be evoked. Well, any and all spirits, of course, although again, spirits might not choose to appear. Evoking higher order spirits tends to always provide good, solid information to the medium. Whereas evoking lower order spirits nearly always results in the medium being fooled, agitated, or tricked. That is, unless the medium is prepared and trained to help counsel these spirits. I’ve known several mediums who often call in lower order spirits, under the watchful guidance of their guardians, of course, to help counsel them and push them along towards elevation. This is a dangerous route for beginners, though, as many lower level entities are prone to lying and manipulating situations to benefit them. They might appear as an angel, and without the knowledge of how to question the spirit a medium might fall under their influence, thereby pulling them into a level of spirit obsession. Again from Kardec:
“Here an important question presents itself, viz., whether it is, or is not, right to evoke evil spirits? To this question we reply, that this depends entirely on the aim we have in view in evoking them, and on our ability to exercise the necessary ascendancy over them. There is no impropriety in our evoking them from a serious motive, in order to instruct them, and to help forward their amelioration; but there is, on the contrary, a very great impropriety in such evocations, when they are made from curiosity or for amusement, or when we put ourselves under the power of the spirits thus evoked by asking of them any kind of favor. Superior spirits, under such circumstances, sometimes permit inferior ones to do what is asked of them; but only to punish severely, at a later period, the rash fool who has dared to invoke them, thus practically attributing to them a power greater than that of God. In vain would such a one flatter himself that, if he makes only a good use of the boon thus obtained, he will be able to dismiss the spirit when the desired service has been rendered; for the service he has solicited and accepted, however small it may be, constitutes a virtual compact entered into by him with an evil spirit, and he may rest assured that the latter will not easily let go his hold.”
Others may wonder how exactly we should address the spirits we evoke? Kardec has a lengthy section about speaking to spirits in such a way that matches their order on the spiritual hierarchy. Personally I view this as more of a reflection of his 19th century wealthy intellectual viewpoints rather than something that needs be applied to Spiritism. That’s to say; you don’t have to address a higher order spirit as though you were talking to royalty. For me, the use of titles and elevated language for certain spirits is an outdated sense of unnecessary pomp and pretentiousness. That said, do respect all the spirits around you! From the top all the way down, spirits are sentient, just like you and I. They deserve respect, just like all mortal people do. Some spirits, especially those of our ancestors, will talk familiarly with us. They’ll say things like, “Call me grandma,” etc. Others might try and get us to address them in a certain way using honorific titles like “Dr.” or “Lord/Lady” but we need to remember that higher order spirits are free from such earthly notions. So, when a spirit appears with an honorific title, or demanding we perform some ridiculous displays of respect (bowing, covering the eyes, etc.) we can say they are probably not as elevated as they seem.