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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Honoring City Spirits - Part II

One of the first things I realized when I started honoring city spirits actively was A) how varied and individual their personalities are and B) there is a protocol for engaging with them, particularly as the relationship is first being established. Now that first point should have been a given for me; after all, as an animist it makes sense: spirits are individuals. I don't know why it came as such surprise to me that talking to New York City was different from talking to Paris who was different again from Venice or Washington or Berlin or Köln but it did. I suspect in my case, it was largely a matter of not having had much facility for sensing city spirits for a very long time and then suddenly finding myself able to engage. There was a real moment of cognitive disconnect to realize how much NYC had taken care of me and watched out after me when I'd been all but oblivious to his presence. Then there was the awareness that sometimes there isn't just one governing spirit in a city. New York City for instance has at least two: a spirit of NYC that I experience as male, and the spirit of Manhattan, a very angry (and justly so) Native spirit that reads to me as  female. We'll come back to that in a bit. Then of course each borough has its own spirit and each neighborhood within that.  It's a general rule of thumb in doing this work that the name of the spirit is the same as the name of the city, the name of the borough spirit is the name of the borough and so on.

 

My mentors when I began honoring city spirits were actually a city spirit herself (Paris) and a river spirit (the Seine). They introduced me to the fact that one could engage and gave me an introduction in doing so properly. They were surprisingly gentle (though Paris can be extremely formal and harsh, even dismissive, with those she does not deem worth her attention), perhaps because there was a family connection there through my adopted mom. I actually developed quite a crush on the Seine--he's a flirtatious, playful spirit of tremendous age and wisdom and quite beautiful. Yet he never came across as jaded to me and he was more than willing to chat and answer my questions. It was a good introduction.

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