Spirit Ally
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Basic Information

A spirit ally is, at the risk of stating the bloody obvious, a spirit who is someone's ally. Someone normally being a shaman or medium.

The spirit ally will often act as an intermediary for the worker and perhaps even as a kind of spiritual PA, looking after his spiritual contacts for him and even tracking down specific spirits at his request and performing the ground work in building relations with newly encountered spirits. Other spirit allies may act as guides during astral projection or even as bodyguards, protecting their companion from hostile spirits. In some cases the spirit ally may even possess the worker and use its powers through his body - in some traditions this is how lycanthropy works.

Allies are usually either gained through befriending spirits in the course of your general work or passed on from master to student, often during initiation. When a shaman takes a more powerful spirit as a patron, he may be assigned one of that spirit's followers as an ally … this is somewhat similar to the role played by a familiar, but no-one will thank you for pointing this out. Where a shaman spends a lot of time dealing with ancestor spirits, former shamen are sometimes found working as spirit allies after death. This is probably the source of the cliche of the medium with a Red Indian medicine man as their spirit guide.

In Vodou and similar religions a mambo or hougan (or, for that matter, a bokor) may have a personal loa who fulfils a similar role.

Sources

Bibliography
1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • If a PC is a shaman or medium it would be entirely appropriate for their spirit allies to be developed in detail - at least as much as a living, breathing ally.
  • Likewise, anyone who can see into the spirit world may be able to identify people's spirit allies even if their mortal companions are hiding or in disguise.
  • Spirit allies may occasionally have problems of their own and need the shaman's help instead.
  • The ghost of an ancestor might act as a spirit ally, as in the case of J.E.B. Stuart in DC Comics's Haunted Tank stories, who helps and advises his namesake, a tank commander during WWII.
  • We have the cliche of the "Medicine Man Spirit Guide" … now imagine if some self-taught neophyte medium took on what they thought was the spirit of a medicine man but was actually the spirit of a skinwalker or some equivalent practitioner of the cursing way. For someone inclined to evil themselves, it might form an effective apprenticeship … otherwise it could just mean deep trouble in short order.
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