Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The neglected 'spirits of place'

Modern pagans these days fall into a lot of camps concerning spirits, to my mind a troubling growing number are more concerned with play acting rituals and human social interaction rather than having anything to do with spirits which they find 'scary.' However, perhaps even more troubling is the neglect of the local spirits by those that at least try to engage with spirits. We see a lot of engaging with shamanic spirit guides, with familiars (both the animal and spirit varieties), with deities, and happily with succubi and their cousins (a positive trend indeed). Sure we do have an bunch that happily work with fairies - and these typically do inhabit large swathes of the landscapes, but this also ignores far too many other local spirits. I think what is required is a re-acquainting with just what are 'spirits of place' or Genius Loci in western practice.

The Romans thought of  the Genius Loci as the local god of a specific place, and they worked with the ancestral spirits and the spirits of the roads, of the community to rule a district. This is greatly simplified, but hopefully this gets the general gist forward. Today, Westerners see this as the overall feeling of a place, and to the more spiritually inclined, all the spirits of that place - especially those wielding a spiritual authority within that space.

Honoring spirits of place, first starts by properly 'seating' your ancestral shrine within your home when you move into a region, paying proper respect to your own dead before reaching out to the dead and other spirits of the region.

After your ancestors are happy, you need to keep your senses wide open and walk your new home, feel the energies of the place, and the spirits within those flows of energy. Take your time and become well aware of them, and what they like and dislike. Small offerings of fresh water outside your house protections, offerings of food, and perhaps of wine should be made on a regular basis with the stated recipients being the spirits of this new place you find yourself in. Offerings in good faith, and polite regard, with the goal of being accepted as part of this community. Over time perform divinations to zero in on specific spirits of importance, acquaint yourself and pay respects to the dead of the region. Do all that you can to communicate peaceful intention to coexist and perhaps if you are willing, to be a resource these spirits can come to if they have problems. If the living are also receptive to this sort of thing where you live you can certainly serve as an intermediary between the living and the dead, but this is indeed a lot of work, so don't sign yourself up for such a role unless you are thoroughly experienced in performing in that manner and are continually educating yourself, and perform your divinations on a regular basis.

Working with spirits of a place is a lifelong pursuit, but it is rewarding, and it certainly aids in fitting in better within the region instead of getting that terrible feeling of not being welcome - perhaps not even in your own new home. We are often like careless half blind giants tromping around, destroying homes when we move in to a place. Some care and sensitivity to whose spiritual home it was before you got there is a damn good idea.

Stay well my friends.

The Valeyard

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