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Posts Tagged ‘land spirits’

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!

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I’m pretty plugged in to being the Druid of this Place. I think it’s important to connect to the Earth – both as a global construct and something we should care for, and as a specific thing that we are entrusted with. My yard is my sacred space, and I can make an impact there even when my impact on the global world is so much smaller. I’m intimately connected with the land around me, and I work to make sure my connection to local spirits is strong and respectful.

For example, my yard is pesticide and herbicide free, and chemical free as often as we can manage it (with the exception of fire ants, which my husband and I are both terribly allergic to. I usually try the grits trick first*, but if that doesn’t work, they get poisoned).  As often as possible, we plant native or semi-native plants, to feed and attract native bugs and birds.

Because of the lack of stuff-that-kills-things, my yard is FULL of spiders, toads, lizards (especially lizards), and the occasional earth snake, brown snake, and even sometimes a snapping turtle, as well as having lots of squirrels and birds in the winter. I love opening the door and seeing the baby lizards sunning on the sidewalk.

I also love to garden. I grow vegetables and herbs, and I have a garden specifically designed for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. While it’s much harder with my new job to plant a profound and interesting and finicky garden, I can almost always get tomatoes and green beans to grow without much prodding. I love the act and art of growing things (though like any gardener, I occasionally kill plants), because it connects me so strongly with the forces of Earth and Life and Death. This year for Lammas I was able to cut down the corn stalks (long dead, but left for that purpose) and it was a really powerful reminder of the cycle of sacrifice and rebirth.

This is one of the points where my Wicca training and Druidry conflict a bit, because in BTW, the God is a God of Nature and the sacrifice of Life and Death and Rebirth. While some variants of Wicca (specifically the non-initiatory traditions) often spend a lot of time with the Earth Mother, I’ve learned to identify the energy of growing things, and their life cycle, as an aspect of male divinity.

Still, the Earth itself is easily something I can identify with as female, even if that particular piece of the agricultural cycle is something I associate with a specific God.

Of course, the Nature Spirits and Land Spirits are of mixed genders, so there’s no problem there. I like leaving offerings for them in my yard. I have an old stump piece from one of the trees we lost after Ike, and it sits up like a table in the back near the fence, so that’s where I leave my offerings. Usually I leave bits of food and drink, as often as possible things that I’ve made myself. If I’m going to live here, I think it’s important to have a good relationship with the other spirits who live here, and make offerings to them in return for their blessings on my house and gardens.

I am, after all, the Druid in this Place, as opposed to That place, or Some Other place. This is where I make my home, so this is the piece of Earth I need to truly connect with. Of course it’s important to take care of the whole earth, to be aware of my footprint on it and make sure I’m doing all I can to honor the life I have here. It’s just also important to me that I specifically plug in to my little corner here in the swamp.

*The Grits Trick: Take grits and sprinkle them liberally around an ant mound. This frequently causes some of the ants to get sick and die (as they eat the grits and then die of bowel impaction), which will cause the mound to move elsewhere. This really only works on relatively small, unestablished ant mounds.

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