I’m to the point in the Dedicant Path where I’m working on some of the bigger, meatier essays about things like my personal religion and my relationships with the Three Kindreds. It’s a bit daunting, especially now that I’ve finished writing my virtue essays (which will get published here over the next week or so). I’m going to tackle the Three Kindreds first, since I think that’s going to be the most challenging of the remaining essays for me to write – and if I’m going to take that approach, I may as well start with the one that gives me the most trouble. (That used to be the Ancestors, but I’ve been doing a lot more work with them, so I’m feeling much better connected there lately.)
Nature Spirits are a big category for ADF Druids – they are one of the “Big Three” divisions of spirits that we work with for our magic and our worship. They are a multitude of different types of spirit, from elves and wights and trolls of lore, to place-spirits and house-spirits, to the spirits of animals (particular animals and as guides). They generally occupy the middle world with us humans, and our magical workings cause us to run into them on a regular basis.
I don’t know much about this class of spirit, but I’m attempting to learn more. I’m currently reading Elves, Wights, and Trolls (Kveldulf Gundarsson) in an attempt to learn more about how my Norse and Germanic ancestors would have viewed this class of spirits. They are, by and large, an extremely diverse bunch, from friendly house wights to dangerous and trickster types who work against humans and against the Gods. Much like humans and Gods, some of them are considerably more cooperative than others. (Though I found his initial explanation on what to offer and how to behave around them very interesting, as they are quite different than the Celtic Sidhe/Fae that I’ve been more accustomed to in mythology).
I hope to incorporate them more into my practice as I learn more about them. The book is a little dense at times, but I think it’s been a good introduction to all the different roles that the different types of Spirits can have – from Jotuns/Ettins to Land Wights to Water Wights. I’m only about half way through at this point, but I think I’ve learned a lot.
I do try to keep a working relationship with my house spirits and the spirits of my little piece of earth. I don’t leave offerings as often as I should, but I try to make offerings of food – especially baked goods – and make sure that I do my best to make my home and yard a welcoming place for animals and spirits. I have several “wild” areas for bugs and birds, and I like to leave out food offerings. I also regularly thank my local house spirits when I’m cleaning my house weekly, asking to make sure that I don’t disturb them with loud things like the vacuum cleaner and sprinkling cleansing herbs and essential oils in my vacuum bag to help keep the house nice-smelling and pleasant for them. (It helps keep it nice for us humans too!)
I have several animal “spirits” that I have an affinity with. I wouldn’t call them guides, so much as presences that I’ve noticed in my life. I turn to them for advice at times, or just see them frequently in my Mental Grove workings. In particular, I see Owl, Rabbit and Toad, and occasionally Stag. I have the closest relationship with Owl and Rabbit, whom I have spoken with and gotten wisdom from, but I hesitate to call them true “guides”, other than that they have acted as guides for me in trance meditations when I am out exploring the worlds around my Mental Grove.
One ritual I do consistently is a note of respect to the dead that I find. This usually means I’m doing the ritual in my car, so it has to be a quick ritual, but I find that I get a feeling of comfort from it. When I see an animal that has been killed on the road (or other places, but most often it’s on the road), I kiss my hand and say a prayer of comfort and release for that animal, willing it to be at peace and to travel onward toward its next life. I should actually write up a prayer to say for this, in light of yesterdays post about writing more prayers.
I have a strong working relationship with Nature herself, as a gardener and as someone generally concerned with the well-being of both the planet and of my little patch of earth, but working with the particular personal spirits that make up this Kindred is something I don’t have a lot of experience with yet, and it’s something I hope to grow and encourage as my practice deepens. I would especially like to create relationships with particular plants and trees around my home. Perhaps it’s time to start making more offerings, hugging more trees, and lighting more candles!