Traditionally, all peoples of the world connected with the spirit of place where they lived. Deities, ancestors, creatures, and all kinds of seen and unseen beings, were paid homage depending on the culture, need and seasonal, astrological and lunar cycles. They sanctified them in altars in homes or within particular sites and created poems, chants, songs, rituals, holy days in their honour.
Homes, places of work or worship, towns and cities – they all had spirits of place (often there were several) which were the centre of interwoven communities. My PhD details the shift in paradigms that bring us to the situation we are in now.
With different waves of colonisation (cultural, religious, scientific and secular), the spirits lost their place, were re-placed, and were forgotten except by those cultures who managed to retain cultural memory and practice.
Now, when most people think about the spirit of a place, we refer to a sense of a place, the feel of it in general terms. And we certainly don’t refer to the spirits of a place, so the plural form is out of bounds in most conversations.
Not believing in a spirit or spirits of place is fine for some people. The issue comes when, regardless of our belief system, many of us have lost our spiritual connection to the places we live. As a result, the land and our environment have become lifeless, inanimate, devoid of anything except monetary, aesthetic, functional and productive value.
We connect to places if they are helpful, have fond memories associated with them, and bring us wealth or happiness, not because of any more profound relationship. I think this loss has led to damage, both to nature and our souls.
I engage with the actual spirits that inhabit a location or dominion over a site in my practice. I work creatively, economically, politically and spiritually to support those spirits. I do that because they are part of my community, and supporting them helps my soul. But how do you meet the spirits of a place?
It is similar to what I set out in my post about portals, except that the spirits of place can be in your own home, workplace, and neighbourhood. They are all around you. Some are accessible, while some are not. Some you should avoid at all costs; others will feed you and your home with love and goodness if you treat them as honoured guests.
Engaging with spirits is an entire book in itself (which I am working on). For now, start with the location you call home or where you currently reside.
So here’s what you do
Clear anything out that does not feel intrinsically good for your soul: clothes you never wear, books you will never read, expensive pictures filled with hate, appliances that remind you of wasted money – you get the picture. You don’t have to live in a minimalist white box; live in a way that ensures your soul is thriving, not just surviving.
Cleanse by burning incense (watch the fire alarm!), playing sacred music, splashing water (use a branch of a herb, e.g. Basil or just a spritz bottle), by spreading a little salt in the corners – whatever sits well with you. (BTW, you can bless water yourself within many religious practices). At the very least, get out a vacuum or broom and CLEAN your space thoroughly of dust and dirt.
Once done, imagine some protective barriers around your living place (it could be an imaginary hedge, light barrier, guardians, etc.). Make sure to invoke that only those who serve your soul are allowed inside. You can stop right here if you need to – at the very least, you have cleansed the space and protected yourself from spirits you don’t want near you.
If you feel comfortable and have an existing spirit-based practice, bring a/your spirit(s) to mind, create an altar (see my post on this) and dedicate a specific area to honouring them. It could be that you have a thriving plant there, or a particular crystal, or a book, image, or hanging ornament that means something special. Essentially, set up one specific area just for the spirit of your living space.
If you don’t have a particular spirit, write down, or imagine all the qualities you would like in a spirit that protects and nourishes your living space. I have an exercise for this if you sign up for my spiritual mentoring course but for now, list the qualities down: helps you grow, protects your belongings, supports balance in your life, encourages a healthy lifestyle, keeps losers away from you, ensures sex is always great etc.
From now on, support this spirit by sending it love and thanks and keeping its space clean and loved. Keep your living space a location that good spirits would want to frequent.
There is lots more to this, but that’s it for now. Keep your intentions clear, don’t get too complicated and don’t worry about getting it right or wrong. Trust yourself.
If you need advice about shifting energy or connecting more deeply with a place’s spirit or spirits, sign up for my mentoring course or subscribe to my newsletter.
Relationships are one of the important ways you can learn and grow, and so for me, the spirit and spirits of place are critical relationships to cultivate. So please treat them with respect, as you would any dear friends in your life.