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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in land spirits

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Landwight

This land is home now. It's the place where the land spirit protects me, and where we exchange gifts and mutually grow stronger, and happier. It's the place where my neighbors' children swim in my pool and their dogs obey me. It's the place where I delight to see butterflies on the flowers with a simple joy that blots out all other thoughts. It's the place where I can go outside and harvest food and know that it's healthy and free of poisons and a product of my love of the land and the land's love for me. It's the place where my old cats are buried.

When I first moved from my old apartment in Las Vegas to our house in Henderson, I wanted to do an Asatru land-taking ritual when I moved in. I wanted to walk the boundaries of our land and mark out our property line as an innangarth (inner yard.) But, while moving, I had attempted to carry a couch down the stairs from my old walk-up apartment and injured my knee. As I sat in my room thinking about how to walk the boundary when I couldn't walk, I looked out the window and saw my cat Shadow walking the boundary for me.

Shadow understood territory, because she was a cat. So, I started out on this land by working with nature via nature, in the form of a cat and her territorial instincts.

Gradually, I became aware of the being of this place, the genius loci. I decided to contact the land spirit and see if I could communicate and start a formal gifting relationship with it. In Asatru we call the land spirits landvaettir or landwights, and there are traditions about what a landwight might like, but those traditions were developed in Europe, dealing with the beings native to that land. Since this land is in the Nevada portion of the Mojave Desert, I thought the local landwight might be used to dealing with humans within the traditions of the local Native American tribes, so I approached it by offering corn. It liked the corn. But it turned out the landwight wasn't particular; he just wanted some of whatever we were having, only plant matter, and only what would otherwise go to waste. The landwight here is a vegan and a freetarian. I began offering to the landwight by putting things in the compost pile, and the landwight accepted these gifts and returned gifts of rich, dark soil. Yes, this is how compost normally works -- I see the magic of the return of a gift for a gift operating and simultaneously understand that this process can be explained by science, for that is what nature is for me. It is both the science and the magic, both the logic and the joy.

The photo at the top of this post is my front yard in October 2011. I designed this garden, and went through the approval process to get the local water department rebate for replacing lawn with xeriscape. I grew both the squash in the foreground and the mimosa tree on the side of the house from seed. I started the lavender bushes and Australian racer in the middle ground of the photo from cuttings; the lavender cuttings came from the back yard lavender bush, which originally came from High Country Gardens, and the racer from my grandmother's garden in Arizona. The squash seeds came from Native Seed Search, an organization for the preservation of heritage Southwest Native American food crop seeds. It's a Tohono O'odham Ha:I which I have nicknamed "the squash that ate Las Vegas" because it is rampant.

After some years living here, as my relationship with the local landwight deepened, he decided he wanted to be represented by a garden gnome statue. He does not actually look like a gnome; he is a vast power, and his true form awes me. My mom chose the gnome statue. I positioned it in the garden near where I give the landwight the "Presents for the Gnome." I distribute the gnomic blessings into the planting beds-- that is, I shovel compost-- and the garden flourishes. The garden nourishes me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It takes care of me, I take care of it, and the cycle continues. The the mimosa and pine trees that I started from seeds in little pots in my apartment are big trees now. Their roots go down deep into the ground, and so do my psychic roots. This is my home.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

This blog post also appears in print with more photos in Sacred Hoop Issue #85.

Central Albuquerque, New Mexico USA. Seen from the sky. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

"Look wide, and look far. Look upon your city. This is your community. These are your people, all of them. The people you know and the people you will never meet. Even the ones you don't like. Good or bad, rich or poor, status and class and family don't matter. Politics don't matter. They're still all your people.

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Thanks. I enjoyed the description of wandering in the hills near Albuquerque. I spent several years there and have hiked extensiv
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    You're welcome. Thanks for responding. Sounds like a fun wedding, Greybeard! And Jemez is gorgeous.
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Thanks, Kimberly! I'd love to read those if you decide to share.
  • Kimberly Glaser
    Kimberly Glaser says #
    So beautiful! Makes me think of my own journal entries about Cerridwyn

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
New Years Resolutions

I hope that 2014 finds you and your loved ones well. I don't usually post New Years' resolutions because I find them silly, but to my surprise, this year I actually have one. I'm cutting as much plastic use out of my life as I can. I live in Florida, as y'all know, and it's a peninsula, so even inland, you're never really far from the ocean. And my vaettir care about what goes on there; Florida has been above and under water off and on over time as glaciers have risen and receded. I have white Florida beach sand in my yard, even this far inland. Plastics are polluting our oceans and killing animals.

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  • Liza
    Liza says #
    This is one of the bottles I use. Easy to clean, they'll replace parts if needed... and insulated. While I don't live in 80bazill

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

In recent months, I've been lucky enough to witness some fairly ancient traditions replayed by modern folk in my local community. Rather than taking the cynical, culturally-superior, post-modern 21st-century approach, villagers across Derbyshire have delighted in the creation of Well Dressing ceremonies and presentations.


Well Dressing is thought to be pagan in origin, but now crosses social and faith boundaries in the simple act of creation. An offering is made from natural materials - such as petals, seeds and leaves - ostensibly to celebrate the local community and the various groups within it. But it is known that Well Dressing was also an act of thanks and celebration, to honour the spirit of the Well for providing clean water to that community, allowing it to nourish and thrive.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    That is very, very cool. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
In Praise of My Land

I sleep in the belly of the mountain: mount Beacon, whom the Native tribes here once called Mattewan. His eyes are old and wise, this great dragon of the mountain, and he has seen eons of human folly tumble past. Once he was the glory of this valley, he and his brothers and sisters; now he is crawled upon by tourists and hikers who don't even bother to learn his true name. he doesn't seem to mind though. I think he likes people. He's friendly and being of mountain etin stock, I can tell you that's not always the case with mountain spirits. I've met mountains, these ancient memory keepers, whose power, ferocity, and grim anger at man has driven me to my knees. They're right to be angry. 

Mount Beacon, for all his age, is kind to those who seek him out. He honestly seems to like people. I carry his bundle and when chance arises, as it often does with spiritworkers, I introduce him to other mountain spirits. I give other spiritworkers a token from his bundle to take to their mountains, to facilitate the connection, and they do the same for me in return. We tell our mountains about their kin in far away places. We facilitate the connection. This is what our ancestors did and its time that communication between powers was fostered again. 

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  • Daniel FitzGerald
    Daniel FitzGerald says #
    This article made me smile so much, expecially because I've got close ties to the Hudson Valley. My wife lived in Fishkill for ye
  • Elaine Blakely
    Elaine Blakely says #
    I am a Cliff Dweller by the Sea Ripped from the Woodlands by Wyrd; Cocooned that I may Heal from that ungentle surgery - Rootless
  • anita edmonds
    anita edmonds says #
    I am just outside Asheville, in the Blue Ridge mountains—an old, old land, filled with spirits and the most beautiful place I’ve e
  • Tim Schneider
    Tim Schneider says #
    The land I live on is in the middle of everything but nestled near to farmland. Behind us is a great expanse of land, and we have
  • Brandie Flowers
    Brandie Flowers says #
    This is something I am currently working on. I am not really rooted as of yet anywhere. So I am doing my best by things. Learning

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.


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


This is going to be a two, perhaps three part article series on honoring city spirits--something that's become a significant part of my own practice of late. In fact, having just recently taught a class in honoring the Holy Powers of the Northern Tradition, it struck me powerfully that in the end, so much of it comes back to honoring the ancestors (into which the Gods may, technically fit) and honoring the land. These little epiphanies are amazing--I find myself wanting to smack my forehead and wondering why on earth it took me so long to grasp what seems, in the end, so essential. I can't help chiding myself for not seeing these things sooner! I'm sure we've all been there at one time or another. Anyway, I've been doing quite a bit of work recently with city spirits and I wanted to talk about some of that with you, my readers.

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  • Hugh Eckert
    Hugh Eckert says #
    I can't remember whether I've recommended this song to you... it seems very relevant to your post... "The Local Gods" by Shriekbac

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