Getting To Know the Spirits of the Land
If you’re new to animism, one of the easiest ways to begin to build a connection with spirit is to start with your local spirits. These are the spirits of the land.
Spirits of the land inhabit or are associated with trees, springs, mountains, and other land features. Sometimes places like battlefields or churches harbor spirit protectors or dwellers.
If a family or community occupied a land area for a long time, you may feel spirits of the land there. Old buildings may also have spirit dwellers – particularly around the hearth as that is generally considered to be the heart of the home.
Of course, everything in animism has a spirit, but the spirits of the land are those who really give the personality to the local area. If you live in, or frequent the area, it’s a good idea to get to know the spirits who share this place with you because they are around you all the time.
How To Get To Know the Spirits of the Land
You might begin by doing a little research. What local stories do the old folks tell? Who got married under the old oak tree? When was the old church struck by lightning? Who drowned in the well? How did the town get its name? What cultures lived here? How did they get here? How did they leave? Stories are the lifeblood of a culture.
What do you know about the nonhuman inhabitants? What plants and animals live here? How was the land used? Did any significant events occur here? What type of rocks are here? What is the soil? Are there any water features?
Don’t forget manmade things like windmills, marinas, or factories. We can overlook these things because they are not Nature made. Manmade things are just as alive as a birds nest, right? They have personalities too! If you have ever seen an abandoned amusement park, you know what I mean. The soul of the place still lingers there.
Now, gathering intel isn’t essential. You may be traveling and stumble upon something that makes your hair stand on end and you don’t have time to whip out your phone and ask Google for the backstory of the place.
I just find that it’s interesting and easier to go big picture then pare down to the details. You may prefer to go from details to big picture. You could also forget all research and just go on intuition. Do what works for you.
Now that you have the “head stuff” to create a foundation, it’s time to do the heart work. If you are sensitive, this will be easier, but if not, don’t worry. It’s possible for you to tap in too.
First, let’s do some grounding and protection. I hope you do this as part of your daily practice because you never know what may come up. This is particularly important when you intend to reach out to the Otherworld as you don’t know what you may find there. Everything isn’t love and light.
If you sense that a place has a “different” energy, you could sit in silence with an open and inviting mind and see what you can notice. What is the energy like? Does it have a gender? An emotion? A personality? Does it seem open to you? If so, you may wish to greet it, thank it for its attention, and say that you will come again. When you return, bring an offering. Then use your intuition to continue building the relationship.
Not all spirits will want your interaction. If that is your impression, respect the boundary and don’t engage. Keep an open mind, and trust your gut.
Humans can sometimes think that we have a duty to serve the environment, trees, animals, and spirits. Relationships are a two way street. If someone doesn’t want a relationship with you, don’t force it. And be open to having the type of relationship that evolves. It may look nothing like what you imagine.
Go slow. You may want to keep a journal. This can help you validate whether your impressions are supported by local lore, others’ impressions, repeated exposure, etc. As you gain confidence, you will begin to know by feel what is imaginal and what is imagination.
Keep Your Feet On the Ground
We’ve all seen people who always have a story about “Spirit said this” and “Spirit said that…” It’s great to get acquainted with all types of spirits – your ancestors, the spirits of the land, elementals, etc. But don’t forget to keep it balanced. We still have to maintain a grounded existence with other humans in the apparent world.