The Three Kindreds of Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Shining Ones are the cornerstone of ADF's cosmology, and over time, they have also become the cornerstone of my own personal practice. I see the world as populated with spirits from these three Kindreds, as well as the occasional liminal character (outdwellers and other powers) that defies classification.
Ancient magicians would often coerce or try and weasel a deity into performing an action for them. This is not necessarily the only modus operandi used by magicians, but it was common. As it stands, when I seek to perform a magical act, I rely on the relationship I (or, ostensibly, my Grove) have built with the power in question.
The phrase from ADF ritual best describes how I relate the Kindreds to my own magic: "Gatekeeper, join your magic with mine!" Rather than acting on my own, or asking the Kindreds to act for me, I seek a joint partnership with the Kindreds. I suppose that, in the back of my mind, what I want out of magic itself is a closer connection with deity.
It should be noted at this point that I deal differently with deities when I think of them "magically" than I do when I deal with them "religiously". This is a mental shift, not a shift in actual belief or perception. It's just a different manner of interacting with them.
This manifests itself in many ways. I see the Ancestors as guides on this path, as well as messengers to the lower worlds (though, if working in a Vedic worldview, they become
emissaries to the heavens). I also, magically, see the ancestors as ghosts in the Greek sense, and thus as
knowledgeable. Religiously, I don't have a lot of room in my theology for ghosts, but they work fine for me, magically.
The interesting thing about how I interact with the Ancestors is that I do not find that they are any more versed in magic than the average person. In particular, I see the Ancestors much as the ancients did: they retain the skills they had in life, rather than growing in skills after death (see Homer's Nekia for an example of Tiresias
[Odyssey 11.12-224], who has the abilities of a seer not because he is dead, but because he was a seer in life). Because few of my ancestors (at least recently, as for the past 2,000 years or so, they've all been Christian) are not well versed in magic in general. I should note, though, that I am still able to incorporate them, either as messengers or as communicators of knowledge I cannot otherwise discover.
The Nature Spirits I also see as guides, but also as the classical magical daimones of Greek lore. They are real beings, often invisible to us, who can move quickly across great distances, and who have agency of their own. In general, I respect them as equals in the magical realm: they are immortal spirits with a lot of accumulated knowledge, and as such, they are far more likely to know something of magic than the Ancestors are. I might approach the Nature Spirits for a variety of reasons, from sending messages to learning from them.
The Deities I generally see as protectors and patrons of my work. They are teachers, and they come from a definite position of knowing more of magic than I do (unlike Ancestors, who may know of magic; or Nature Spirits, whose magical abilities are similar in my conception to those of your average magician). I can learn of magic from any deity, and often that is the position I relate to them from. This causes me to approach them in a manner of request, rather than any vain attempt at coercion.
But my relationship in my personal magical work is based off the concepts of reciprocity and
*ghos-ti. I consider the work I do with them to be work they are willing to engage in because of our long history of devotional worship (from me to them) and blessings (from them to me).
ADF cosmology also rests on the concept of reciprocity. Often, when addressing a Gatekeeper, we mention "keeping the old bargains." There is an implicit understanding that our relationship is long-established, and that we keep our part and the Gatekeeper keeps his or her part, and that is why we work together so well.
The reason, I think, that we depend so much on this relationship of reciprocity in magic is because as magicians, knowledge is our bread and butter: each of the Kindred brings us different teachings and perspective, and our curiosity and interest in those teachings and perspectives cause us to seek to deepen these relationships. It doesn't hurt that reciprocity is so deeply ingrained in the cosmos that building those relationships brings the reward of being able to manipulate it.
Apuleius, Apology. http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/jod/apuleius/
Betz, Hans Deiter. The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation: Including the Demotic Spells:
Texts. University Of Chicago Press; 2nd edition. 1997
Frazer, Sir James George. The Golden Bough
Graf, Fritz. Magic in the Ancient World. trans. Franklin Philip
Luck, Georg. Arcana Mundi.