Home > paganism, shamanism, Spirituality, The Natural World > Spirits of Nature, and Action

Spirits of Nature, and Action

You know, I’m not big on the Internet. I much prefer doing what I normally do, aside from work: hike through the woods, clean animal heads, go fossil-hunting, hang out with a couple close friends of mine. Above all else–communicate with my spirits and my gods. They take up a huge amount of time. My presence on the Internet takes last place. My Divine Employers keep me very, very busy. This weekend, I have wood to clear in the back, altar-spaces to set up. I have to go on my yearly cleanup-walk along the powerline-trail behind my house. I have a long and very close relationship with the land-spirits in my area. They’ve protected me when I was a child. I’ve grown with them, even suffered with them.

Cultivating an active relationship with land-spirits, be it nymphs, daemons, landvaettir, yokai, or whatever you wish to call them as pertinent to your tradition, are a very important part of my spiritual practice. They should be of anyone’s. Personally, I don’t think you can be a proper spirit-worker without that sort of thing (hoisting the “strong opinion flag” here!). You can even do it in the dead middle of the city. They exist there, too. Anyone who claims they don’t aren’t looking hard enough, or just not paying attention. I’ve cultivated some very strong bonds with land-spirits smack in the middle of cities, both here and abroad in Germany (I’m partial to Hamburg and Frankfurt myself).

However, when I do long online and bother to go onto some of these websites with pagan writings, I see some writings on this and similar topics and scratch my head. It makes me wonder if the pagans writing these things actually get outside and do anything in nature, other than step out their front doors and leave the prerequisite human offerings (food and a libation). Now, leaving offerings is all well and good–I do that as well. But here now we get into the “orthopraxy” versus “orthodoxy” thing. I hear a lot of talk about what people believe, but really, what the fuck do you do? How do you put those beliefs into action?

I notice too a lot of those pagans who talk much about what they believe and not what they do are notorious at anthropomorphizing spirits of nature and the land. Why? Because they don’t take the effort to get up close and dirty with it. Really learn lessons from it. They’ll pray, and they’ll leave offerings, and they’ll donate money, but they won’t do much beyond that. Leaving the comfort of civilization is a bit too much for them, but it’s the only way to really get up close and personal, the only way to really understand the truly wild spirits that are out there in nature.

Pagans always come at the attitude of Nature as the ultimate victim, and we humans as the primary aggressors. They fail to realize that Nature and nature-spirits can be cruel, random, selfish (both towards us as well as within itself–within other nature spirits), and even stupid at times. Just as I complain that so many spirit-workers and pagans will only believe in spirits and the gods until it comes to a point where it is no longer convenient or comfortable for them to do so, so does this also work in the reverse–that Pagans and spirit-workers will resort to religious fun-duh-mentalism when rationalism and/or science becomes too uncomfortable for them (like the idea that Nature/nature-spirits aren’t omipotent, omniscient, or equally destructive to and within itself. I mean think about it, humans are a part of nature, too).

It’s also best to actually…get out. And get to know the land-spirits, before making lofty claims about what they want, need, or even think. The sheer number of pagans who will harp on this, but hardly leave their computers and comfortable homes to actually experience this for themselves, astounds me.

Thankfully, there are a small number of folk out there who do get out. They pour their sweat and blood into the land. They live with the spirits in the land every day in mutual cooperation. Their stories inspire me. There are those who go out into the wilds to learn and love and worship. I encourage this. This needs to happen more often. This is where true fellowship, true cooperation and, above all else, true understanding, can occur.

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  1. June 9, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    You won’t get any complaints from me. Too many people have scant interaction with the natural world any more.

  2. Elizabeth
    June 9, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Nature is a brutal bitch, and people who claim to be worshiping it ought not to romanticize it the way we so often do. Our pagan ancestors celebrated the hunt and harvest because they knew exactly how precarious their positions were — at the mercy of drought or flood, wildfires or plague — and they had no illusions about the natural world. As pagans, we ought not to have those illusions, either. As much as I love and value technology and the advances of the modern world that have made it possible for us to do so many incredible things, I hate the way it’s given humans a false sense of omnipotence where nature is concerned. We’re only an asteroid, or a tidal wave, or a drought, or a crop failure away from disaster. That the beauty and wonder of nature exists alongside the danger shouldn’t deter us from acknowledging it.

    So, yeah 🙂

  3. June 9, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Working and getting down and dirty with the spirits, and my Gods has taught me a lot. When I stopped a fast, I realized, both from a friend helping me to see it and Odin’s clue-by-four, that doing the orthodoxy bit more than was more a distraction than it was helpful to me. When I took her advice, and listened to Him and did orthopraxy, going out into a wild place and communing with Odin vulnerably, things clicked in a huge way.

  4. June 9, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Hence why I’ve spent more of my “shaman time” hiking and gardening. I needed that grounding quite a bit, and it’s been worth the shift.

  5. June 10, 2011 at 6:27 am

    “Personally, I don’t think you can be a proper spirit-worker without that sort of thing (hoisting the “strong opinion flag” here!).”

    That’s a strong opinion I share.

  1. June 14, 2011 at 3:32 pm

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