Thursday, June 24, 2010

Conjuring the Genius Loci

As part of my practice, I developed relationships with the land I live on by contacting the spirit of place. Contacting a spirit of place is perhaps better than conjuring to describe my practice, but conjuring has more of a magical feel to it.

Anyway, developing a relationship with the over-arching spirits of where I live, work and play is a way of developing spiritual allies who can help with a variety of problems. Not only do I think they are protective, but they also help with finding resources and help that you need - from parking spots to friends to jobs.

So how do you go about developing these relationships? Well, there are as many ways as there are witches and magicians mostly likely. But for you, dear reader, I will share my personal recipe. First, get to know the city you live in. Walk around and open to your intuition. Get a taste of the energy and feel of the spiritual atmosphere. Once you know the spiritual feel of the place, look for a place of power. Again, some folks use their intuitions for this, which is a good plan. Personally, I use my knowledge of history and mix in a little witchy lore.

I live and most often play in the City of Ferndale. For Ferndale, the place of power that I used to develop my relationship with the spirit of Ferndale is the crossroads at the heart of the city. There has been a monument built to the history of the place.

9 mile and Woodward in the 1920s:


9 Mile and Woodward today:

Artwork and a crossroads celebrating the history of my hometown? Jackpot! And the statement of "drive safely, walk right" with the police uniform - definitely a protective spirit.

It's a very busy intersection, so I never felt very comfortable doing any major ceremonial work there. So I left offerings that I could drop easily like coins or small bits of food I introduced myself and asked to be in relationship with powers and spirits of Ferndale. Over time, I began to get a feel for it. I don't have conversations with spirits so much as receive impressions or insight (when I'm lucky). The physical offerings helped to start that process as did the walking and feeling out the city itself.

Like many relationships with spirits, if you take care of them then they'll take care of you. For me, taking care of the spirit of Ferndale means taking care of Ferndale. I take care of it in a few ways. I try to be a good neighbor and keep my home in good order. I support the local businesses that keep the downtown vibrant by shopping and eating there. I walk the land: I walk, ride my bike and run for exercise through the neighborhoods. I clean up litter when I see it. I support my local library. I vote in my city elections.

It's a host of (on the surface) non-magical actions. But honestly, it cements my relationship with the genus loci as much as leaving offerings ever did. I said earlier, that if I take care of my city then it takes care of me. So what does being taken care of by the city look like? Like a lot of the magic I do, it's subtle. I believe the spirit takes care of me by generally protecting my family and my home. I also think it works by synchronicity and helps be find opportunities and good circumstances my way. I also think it helps me get a read on my community in more intuitive way.

I have similarly started a relationship with spirit of Detroit. I similarly chose a statue in a historical place - the aptly named Spirit of Detroit. Helped, I believe, by success with the work I did with the spirit of Ferndale. I started here by leaving offerings as well. I don't do as much for Detroit as I do for Ferndale and I don't feel like the relationship is as strong. Still, it exists and I do believe that Detroit looks after me a bit too.

After a relationship is started, I don't think tending the place of power itself is critical. My connection with the spirit of Ferndale has led me to believe that the spirit is ominpresent in the city (which makes sense). The place of power is a good place to start and if I had a major petition, I make do some work there as well. But the important thing is to tend your community. Making offerings of your time, money and energy in any part of the city is just as valuable on doing it at place of power you found. Finally, I firmly believe that if you're dialed into the spirit of place, one of the things it will ask you to do is to be a good neighbor and active community member. If it is asking for crazy or antisocial stuff, you may want to banish and start over. (That's true of any spirit that you might be working with.)

So there is my simple and straight forward way to work with the spirits of where you live. Get a feel of it. Determine a place of power. Invoke the spirit of place. Leave some offerings. Be open to hear what it is saying. Tend that relationship (by tending the community itself most likely). Ask for help when you need it. Repeat as needed.

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