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Author Topic: Honoring Land Spirits  (Read 4083 times)

Mountain Cat

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Honoring Land Spirits
« on: August 12, 2014, 04:40:46 pm »
I've lived in this town for several years now and I'm curious about the spirits of the land that may be here. I'd like to make a respectful offering to them but I have some questions. (I've been reading other threads but I keep coming up with questions and I don't want to derail people's discussions.)

A) Who are they? How can I find out? Do I just make an offering and hope they accept it and never know who they may be? First Nations people lived here in the past. Would their land spirits still be here, or would they have followed the people when they left? Is it acceptable for someone not Native to make offerings to beings that may be Native?

Or would they be spirits of the spiritual beliefs that I am leaning towards and starting to learn about? Or would they just be beings of the land that grew organically in this place?

2) What kind of offerings are appropriate?

C) Do I say some sort of prayer? Meditate? Just say out loud what I'm doing?

I don't want to do something wrong and offend a being. I tend to be horribly socially  awkward as it is, I don't need to add land spirits to my list of beings I can't interact with without causing upset.

Thanks so much. :)

a.walker.abroad

Re: Honoring Land Spirits
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2014, 05:52:23 pm »
Quote from: Mountain Cat;155514
I've lived in this town for several years now and I'm curious about the spirits of the land that may be here. I'd like to make a respectful offering to them but I have some questions. (I've been reading other threads but I keep coming up with questions and I don't want to derail people's discussions.)

A) Who are they? How can I find out? Do I just make an offering and hope they accept it and never know who they may be? First Nations people lived here in the past. Would their land spirits still be here, or would they have followed the people when they left? Is it acceptable for someone not Native to make offerings to beings that may be Native?

Or would they be spirits of the spiritual beliefs that I am leaning towards and starting to learn about? Or would they just be beings of the land that grew organically in this place?

2) What kind of offerings are appropriate?

C) Do I say some sort of prayer? Meditate? Just say out loud what I'm doing?

I don't want to do something wrong and offend a being. I tend to be horribly socially  awkward as it is, I don't need to add land spirits to my list of beings I can't interact with without causing upset.

Thanks so much. :)

 
A) The best way to learn who they are is to honor and work with them. It may take a little time, but they will make themselve known in little ways.  Many time land spirits are, for lack of a better word, shy and just a little untrusting.  Humans haven't really given them much of a reason to be trusting lately.

Spirits of the land usually stick to the land.  That's why they are spirits of it.  Just because others venerated them in the past doesn't make it wrong to do so yourself.  You don't get to call dibs just because you were there first.  The First Nations may have a special bond to the place and it's spirits, but honestly, and in my personal opinion, it would be rude to ingore them.  Like refusing to talk to your landlord just because you weren't the first tenent to live there.  

2) (B?)This is going to vary depending on where you are.  A good place to start would be to look to the original natives of the area.  What did they offer.  Land spirits can have very long memories, and may respond better to a familiar offering.

C)  Do what feels right to you.  A something sincere carries more weight than someting elaborate and forced.

Mind you this all my personal insight into the matter, and opinions may vary.

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Re: Honoring Land Spirits
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2014, 06:19:02 pm »
Quote from: Mountain Cat;155514
A) Who are they? How can I find out? Do I just make an offering and hope they accept it and never know who they may be? First Nations people lived here in the past. Would their land spirits still be here, or would they have followed the people when they left? Is it acceptable for someone not Native to make offerings to beings that may be Native?

Or would they be spirits of the spiritual beliefs that I am leaning towards and starting to learn about? Or would they just be beings of the land that grew organically in this place?

2) What kind of offerings are appropriate?

C) Do I say some sort of prayer? Meditate? Just say out loud what I'm doing?

I don't want to do something wrong and offend a being. I tend to be horribly socially  awkward as it is, I don't need to add land spirits to my list of beings I can't interact with without causing upset.

Thanks so much. :)

 
I believe that it's respectful to offer to and honor the land spirits; IMO they are not spirits of a particular culture. With that said, it is important to be respectful of the cultures that lived in and interacted with this land before you - as a.walker.abroad said, land spirits have long memories, and likely remember the atrocities the people they were once friends with suffered at the hands of colonialists.  Because of this, I actually choose not to research and attempt to imitate the practices of indigenous peoples who occupied the place I now reside.  I do not want in any way to risk co-opting a culture that is not my own in trying to build relationship with a spirit.

The way I went about getting to know my land spirits is this: first, give a generic offering that will actually be beneficial and appreciated by nature.  So instead of leaving something plastic and pretty, for example, pour out clear water for the plants or scatter seed for the birds.  I like to speak my intention out loud as I do this; simply, "hello, I'm here, I'd like to get to know you better," worked fine for me.  Then spend some time there in mindful meditation, focusing on the land and learning about its citizens, its ecosystem, all the interesting little things you'd never notice just passing through.  As you prepare to go, give one more offering and thank the spirits for spending time with you.

After a few repeats of this experience, I found that individual spirits began to stand out and make themselves known to me, and I became very fond of them.  I have an oak tree in my back yard I'd describe as a good old friend, and two mulberries that I think still don't quite like me - it can be hit or miss.  But chances are you'll find something that is willing to connect after a few offerings, it could even be the spirit of the land as a whole.  Good luck!
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Re: Honoring Land Spirits
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2014, 11:54:58 am »
Quote from: Mountain Cat;155514
I've lived in this town for several years now and I'm curious about the spirits of the land that may be here. I'd like to make a respectful offering to them but I have some questions. (I've been reading other threads but I keep coming up with questions and I don't want to derail people's discussions.)

A) Who are they? How can I find out? Do I just make an offering and hope they accept it and never know who they may be? First Nations people lived here in the past. Would their land spirits still be here, or would they have followed the people when they left? Is it acceptable for someone not Native to make offerings to beings that may be Native?


It sounds like you don't feel or sense any actual spirit yet, so you're trying to offer something to see what comes out, right? Is there any place around you that's evocative? I'd start there.

I think it's definitely acceptable to offer to these spirits. I don't think spirit can be owned by anyone.



Quote
Or would they be spirits of the spiritual beliefs that I am leaning towards and starting to learn about? Or would they just be beings of the land that grew organically in this place?


They could be organic spirits that relate to your beliefs or personal 'vibe'.

Quote
2) What kind of offerings are appropriate?


Offer things that are a reflection of who you are, at first. If you love a cup of tea, offer and share tea and in that way 'introduce' yourself.

Quote
C) Do I say some sort of prayer? Meditate? Just say out loud what I'm doing?


I'm usually silent. I don't need spoken words to get a sense from a place and I assume that works the other way around as well.

Quote
I don't want to do something wrong and offend a being. I tend to be horribly socially  awkward as it is, I don't need to add land spirits to my list of beings I can't interact with without causing upset.

Thanks so much. :)


I tend to see the natural places that I connect with as being reflective and in tune with who I am, like kindred spirits.
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a.walker.abroad

Re: Honoring Land Spirits
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2014, 09:14:40 am »
Quote from: Aiwelin;155524
- as a.walker.abroad said, land spirits have long memories, and likely remember the atrocities the people they were once friends with suffered at the hands of colonialists.  Because of this, I actually choose not to research and attempt to imitate the practices of indigenous peoples who occupied the place I now reside.  I do not want in any way to risk co-opting a culture that is not my own in trying to build relationship with a spirit.


 
That is a very good point, and one I had not considered before.  I usually find that land spirits appreciate the effort of an offering that they would be used to, but every spirit in very place is different, and I may have simply been lucky in the past.  I think intent helps, but spirits work under different laws and logic than we do, so there are no real guarantee, especially when past violence is involved.

Mountain Cat

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Re: Honoring Land Spirits
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2014, 03:09:13 pm »
Quote from: a.walker.abroad;155657
That is a very good point, and one I had not considered before.  I usually find that land spirits appreciate the effort of an offering that they would be used to, but every spirit in very place is different, and I may have simply been lucky in the past.  I think intent helps, but spirits work under different laws and logic than we do, so there are no real guarantee, especially when past violence is involved.

 

Thanks for discussing this. I was wondering what the land spirits might think of newcomers, especially if things had gone bad before. I think, from what everyone is saying, that they might respond well, providing the offerings are given with respect.

Everyone has such good advice. It makes sense to me to offer something nice to the spirits, so I'm going to offer a bowl of raspberries from our garden and some water. We have a lovely mature Rowan tree that I love to bits and always stand up for--so many people have suggested cutting it down--so I'll start there.

Sorry to not reply to everyone separately but I've been having trouble with my asthma and feel rather unwell. At any rate, everyone gave me something to consider and meditate on. What a great place this is!

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Re: Honoring Land Spirits
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2014, 07:55:23 pm »
Quote from: Mountain Cat;155683
Everyone has such good advice. It makes sense to me to offer something nice to the spirits, so I'm going to offer a bowl of raspberries from our garden and some water. We have a lovely mature Rowan tree that I love to bits and always stand up for--so many people have suggested cutting it down--so I'll start there.

 
That sounds like a great start!  Good luck to you - it may take some perseverance, depending on how open the land spirits are, but with a good attitude and good intent it's likely that some will eventually warm to you :)
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a.walker.abroad

Re: Honoring Land Spirits
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2014, 10:37:32 am »
Quote from: Aiwelin;155713
That sounds like a great start!  Good luck to you - it may take some perseverance, depending on how open the land spirits are, but with a good attitude and good intent it's likely that some will eventually warm to you :)

 
Yes, best of luck! :D:

Ferelia

Re: Honoring Land Spirits
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2014, 11:29:00 am »
Quote from: Mountain Cat;155683
It makes sense to me to offer something nice to the spirits, so I'm going to offer a bowl of raspberries from our garden and some water. We have a lovely mature Rowan tree that I love to bits and always stand up for--so many people have suggested cutting it down--so I'll start there.

This sounds great to me :)

Maybe one of my thoughts about offerings is also useful for you. I am often a bit irritated when pagans buy products (like apples from a store) or cut down flowers to give them to nature, god or spirits as a gift. I often think about what I would like if I was the nature, god or spirit or whatever, and in this case I would feel like someone who is visiting me just rips out a flower in my own garden as a gift for me. As for bought products, even if they are biodegradable they have caused a lot of negative impact to nature during the production, transport and so on.

So I always try to avoid "natureown" things or products which caused negative impacts and instead give something personal, like time and effort, for example by arranging pebbles to a nice pattern, drawing something in the sand on a beach or with chalk on a stone, singing or making music (careful at the beginning, we don't want to put the spirits to flight ;) ) and so on. And of course every action to preserve nature is a great gift and honoring of the nature and local spirits! This could be standing up for the rowan tree as you already did, or even collecting litter in the forest and so on (although this doesn't sound very witchy-fluffy ;) ).
« Last Edit: August 15, 2014, 11:31:41 am by Ferelia »

Materialist

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Re: Honoring Land Spirits
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2014, 05:47:48 pm »
Quote from: Mountain Cat;155514

A) Who are they? How can I find out?  First Nations people lived here in the past. Would their land spirits still be here, or would they have followed the people when they left? Is it acceptable for someone not Native to make offerings to beings that may be Native?


I take a very literal approach to land spirits: each individual plant/animal etc. has its own spirit, with each species having a representative. A leader, so to speak. Distinct areas of the land also have their representatives: a garden, river, hill, etc. Places that have been given a name.

The neo-pagan concept of land spirits doesn't compare with the spirits of First Nations tribes (in Illinois, anyway). Their interactions with other beings revolved around gaining help in hunting, warfare and medicine mostly, along with the totemic clan system. The rituals involved in these interactions are particular to the religion of the nation in question, and each tribe had it's own set of spirits. Granted, in the small space of Illinois there are a lot of similarities, but there are also no doubt a lot of little differences in what they symbolize and are prayed to for.

Basically, it's not the same thing you're talking about. "Land spirit" shouldn't be used around First Nations' mythology in my opinion. But, let's just say, in a slightly different world, that the two concepts are the same, and that they're also the same as angels and apsarah. Christianity and Hinduism have been here a lot longer than neo-paganism, would you be as willing to adopt the hypothetical land spirits of these other religions into your practice? Or does the suggestion automatically make you jump back and say "oh, no, those belong to those religions, I would never think of using them."?

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Re: Honoring Land Spirits
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2014, 06:54:36 am »
Quote from: Ferelia;155801
I am often a bit irritated when pagans buy products (like apples from a store) or cut down flowers to give them to nature, god or spirits as a gift. I often think about what I would like if I was the nature, god or spirit or whatever, and in this case I would feel like someone who is visiting me just rips out a flower in my own garden as a gift for me. As for bought products, even if they are biodegradable they have caused a lot of negative impact to nature during the production, transport and so on.


Do you think it is wrong to offer food or drink to the gods, then?

I have a bit of a taboo over being ethical in my offerings. I'm supposed to think carefully about where I get my food and other items for offerings, what their carbon footprint (and other ethical issues related to them) is, and I shouldn't offer too much (in an effort to reduce waste). But I really don't think that my gods are opposed to me buying whiskey or fruit to offer them. As much as I prefer to give them the apples from my garden (which would fall from the tree anyway), those aren't always in season.

I also return my food offerings to the earth, after checking that they don't contain anything that will harm the earth. I have a sacred compost pile in the corner of my garden for this. :D:
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Atehequa

Re: Honoring Land Spirits
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2014, 08:05:55 am »
Quote from: Mountain Cat;155514
I've lived in this town for several years now and I'm curious about the spirits of the land that may be here. I'd like to make a respectful offering to them but I have some questions. (I've been reading other threads but I keep coming up with questions and I don't want to derail people's discussions.)

A) Who are they? How can I find out? Do I just make an offering and hope they accept it and never know who they may be? First Nations people lived here in the past. Would their land spirits still be here, or would they have followed the people when they left? Is it acceptable for someone not Native to make offerings to beings that may be Native?

Or would they be spirits of the spiritual beliefs that I am leaning towards and starting to learn about? Or would they just be beings of the land that grew organically in this place?

2) What kind of offerings are appropriate?

C) Do I say some sort of prayer? Meditate? Just say out loud what I'm doing?

I don't want to do something wrong and offend a being. I tend to be horribly socially  awkward as it is, I don't need to add land spirits to my list of beings I can't interact with without causing upset.

Thanks so much. :)


As a person who does a lot of camping, sometimes at places I've never set foot upon before I try to get a feel of these locations by applying what has been taught to me by others since childhood. In my interpretation of these land or local spirits is that a good many of them can be both hospitable and inhospitable depending upon the human/s who enter their realms. For me, that is if a location is chosen to make camp, appeasement is necessary. Years ago my grandmother and a great aunt who were very much traditional taught me that making offerings is the best course. They said that even though a particular spirit may not be able to use such an offering, like humans, it's the thought that counts. Food, tobacco or even  strings of beads are acceptable. They also advise me that on the first evening at camp to make a small fire using black walnut wood as fuel as it not only appeases such friendly spirits, but serves as protection from the not so hospitable ones, those not noticed while a campsite is chosen. Yet there have been times when we have later noticed our not being welcomed and moved camp, sometimes miles away.
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beachglass

Re: Honoring Land Spirits
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2014, 10:25:40 am »
Quote from: Naomi J;156044
I have a bit of a taboo over being ethical in my offerings. I'm supposed to think carefully about where I get my food and other items for offerings, what their carbon footprint (and other ethical issues related to them) is, and I shouldn't offer too much (in an effort to reduce waste). But I really don't think that my gods are opposed to me buying whiskey or fruit to offer them. As much as I prefer to give them the apples from my garden (which would fall from the tree anyway), those aren't always in season.

I also return my food offerings to the earth, after checking that they don't contain anything that will harm the earth. I have a sacred compost pile in the corner of my garden for this. :D:


I still haven't figured out how to handle this, myself. I am pretty sure there are some land spirits (city spirits?) somewhere under all this asphalt, but while I'd like to leave something for them, my neighborhood has rat and roach and litter problems. So I'm at a bit of a loss for offerings that don't contribute to any of those.

I've considered our composter, but it's secured against the critters so it really feels like a trash bin and that doesn't seem right to me.
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Ferelia

Re: Honoring Land Spirits
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2014, 10:30:44 am »
Quote from: Naomi J;156044
Do you think it is wrong to offer food or drink to the gods, then?

 
I can only speak for me, and for me it is. By offering bought products, I destroy a little part of nature, and by offering products from "my own" garden, I just give nature or its spirits something which already belonged to them (because for me, I do not own the appetree on my garden - I just take his gifts, the apples).

I know that our whole life consists of consuming things and thus destroying nature, because besides self-subsistence there is no way to avoid negative effects - just some ways to keep these impacts low. Offerings are something I give to say thank you for everything nature already gives me every day, so it feels wrong for me to thank her by consuming even more, even if it's not much. But it's a symbol, that's why it counts much more for me.

Of course it depends of what everybody sees in his/her god(dess/s). For me, gods are part of nature. For let's say christians, their god allowed them to "exploit" the earth (I don't know how it's translated in the english bible, in the german one it's said that men should subdue the earth). So in this case it's perfectly fine to destroy nature for honoring the god.

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Re: Honoring Land Spirits
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2014, 01:00:19 pm »
Quote from: Ferelia;156074
I can only speak for me, and for me it is. By offering bought products, I destroy a little part of nature, and by offering products from "my own" garden, I just give nature or its spirits something which already belonged to them (because for me, I do not own the appetree on my garden - I just take his gifts, the apples).

I know that our whole life consists of consuming things and thus destroying nature, because besides self-subsistence there is no way to avoid negative effects - just some ways to keep these impacts low. Offerings are something I give to say thank you for everything nature already gives me every day, so it feels wrong for me to thank her by consuming even more, even if it's not much. But it's a symbol, that's why it counts much more for me.

 
I don't particularly understand how taking apples would be filed under 'destroying nature'. The apple tree developed the apple so that it would be eaten by animals (including people) so that we can literally shit the seeds out elsewhere. There's not really any 'gift' to it.  Making a nice snack for us is not the goal of the tree. The apple tree has ulterior motives.

Taking an apple isn't destroying nature, it's doing nature's bidding. Leave the apple on the tree and you're wasting the tree's time and energy.
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