The spirits in your neighborhood

We here in Oregon, like much of the country and the world, are on a short leash nowadays. It is even more true for those of us, like me, who do not have cars. As public transit has been severely reduced and is still a danger zone for coming too close to other people, I am now in the position of only being able to visit those places I can walk to.

And so I am very glad that I have spent these past years here building up solid and meaningful relationships with the spirits of place in my local environment. In fact, as some of you may remember, I have often spoke of being called to explore the super-local, starting with my own backyard, and expanding only as far as I can walk in, say, 30 minutes. Fortunately, I am well located in this small city, and that radius includes an old cemetery, a wooded hillside park with many numinous spots, a protected meadow that is home to a stunning twisted willow tree, an oak grove, and most importantly, the ash wood and creek just down the street from me.

The latter area, though small (the wood is maybe 12 acres total, and the section of paths I use regularly is only about a mile long loop), has been the site of countless offerings, rituals, and explorations over the years… I have left elaborate glamourbombs in the trees, crawled into large cement pipes to meet chthonic gods, sacrificed poppets to the waters… I found the entire skeleton of a deer there once, and made a fetish from its skull to connect me back to the place; in fact I have made several art/ritual objects in response to the spirits there… I have led mumming processions down its paths… I have honored almost all of my gods there at one time or another, and met several distinct spirits within its boundaries…. it is a sacred place to me on so many levels.

So now, although I cannot go far, I am still able to visit places of intense power for me, places with layers of memory of past experiences overlaid upon them. Even if I am just out for a “normal” walk, just to get some exercise to replace my previous daily walk to work, I am doing so in a landscape rich with meaning, full of spirits who recognize me, who have been fed by me. I usually bring at least some small offering even on those walks, a coin for the creek or some hazelnuts for the wights in the wood. And I’ve been spending more focused time there, too, more than I did before all this happened – as well as time in many of the other aforementioned areas.

It’s very much brought home for me in a new way how crucial these local, even super-local spiritual relationships are. We can communicate globally, but when the shit hits the fan, we must focus our attention locally. I might have to distance myself physically from other people (not really that hard for an antisocial introvert like me), but I can touch the trees and the dirt and the water all I want. They are what will sustain me through this.

I’m also glad that I had come to a knowledge of my house’s spirit recently, something I had not been able to connect with most of my adult life as I went from apartment to apartment, though I tried. Finally a couple years ago it clicked for me, perhaps partly because I had stayed in one place long enough, and partly because I stopped looking for the brownie or nisse type figure that I was expecting and realized I was beginning to tune in to the spirit of the house itself, right down to the foundation and the earth it is set in. Considering how much time I must now spend inside these walls, I am grateful to have that relationship and sense of presence as well, and for its care and shelter of me.

These are the kinds of animistic experiences we must fall back on when the world beyond becomes unsafe or off limits. These are the spiritual relationships we must not only maintain but deepen during these times of confinement and uncertainty.

~ by Dver on April 2, 2020.

5 Responses to “The spirits in your neighborhood”

  1. i too am so glad that i’ve spent the last few years intensely focused on the local spirits, and only for the last year, discovering that my actual house has its own delightful spirit.
    interestingly, it was The City is a Labyrinth that helped move my groping nymph cultus to an interactive relationship with a bewildering spectrum of land spirits.
    i’m aware that this is Tower Time and that so many are suffering and dying. but on a very personal level, this is just exquisite for me.
    last night i danced a labyrinth dance with Ariadne until i was exhausted. there were so many with us, out there in the moonlight.

    • I’m so glad my book helped you in your spirit relationships!

      I am also glad you are able to enjoy what this time has brought you. I myself have been experiencing a mixed bag – some definite blessings, some definite challenges – but am determined to put this time to best use with everything I have. Whether the end result of this for all of us is a “return to normal” or some terrible dystopian future, I would like to look back on this strange, liminal time and know I spent it serving my gods and enjoying Their gifts as much as possible.

  2. […] a really important post from Dver y’all should read called: The spirits in your neighborhood. Don’t let the government stop you from getting to know […]

  3. This post really resonates with me. I am delighted to be forced indoors pretty much any time, and yet am still able to take walks to the liminal watery places near my apartment that draw me the strongest. I am planning to move to another apartment in my building in the next month, and have been mourning my current unit, which has been the setting for the most magical two years of my life. My spirit beloved assures me that moving will not impact our relationship, but I am in love with the apartment as well, and I just realized that it is probably the spirit of the place that I am holding with so much affection and sadness. This post has helped me see how I could ritualize the move. I had already planned to do a ritual of introduction before moving into #4, but now I am excited make offerings of thanks to the spirit of #3 as well. Thank you for this mind prod, Dver!

    • I love this! I think it’s such a good idea, and will not only help you process things psychologically and spiritually, but honor the spirit of the place you are leaving. Wonderful!

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