Spirits of the Land

/ posted in: Religion

I’ve been thinking lately about the spirits of the land. So much in paganism seems to be based on the spirits of European lands. For those of us not in Europe that seems a bit strange. Why aren’t we focused more on working with our local area? Most writings I’ve seen on the subject are against it. They consider it to be usurping of Native American culture. In other words it is ok to usurp European culture but not American. But I think we need to look more at the places we live for inspiration.

I grew up near Lake Erie. Long before I ever identified myself as a pagan I knew that I was drawn to the lake. I have a favorite beach that I loved to go to because it was calming. I happened to mention to my father once that I had never been there during the summer. He asked why and I didn’t have a good answer to that. Somehow it didn’t appeal to me when it was packed with people. I liked to have it to myself in the winter with the cold wind whipping up off the lake.

When driving north from my parents’ house you are gradually heading uphill. Eventually you get to a point where you can see the lake. I never noticed this until I was in college. It was fascinated me ever since. If the day is clear there is a line on the horizon. Above it is the blue of the sky. Below it is the slightly darker blue of the lake. Just lake and no shoreline. I think that I never noticed it before because it is subtle. Even more so if it is overcast. From here if you keep driving north you get glimpses of it through the trees as you head downhill until finally it disappears until you reach it. It is slightly dangerous to keep watching for the lake while driving here because it is highly congested and a moment’s distraction could easily cause a wreck. That adds to the allure.

When I first came to look at the land that we would eventually build on it was a blustery day in January. I arrived about 15 minutes before anyone else. I sat and watched three pheasants walk around. I was filled with sadness about stealing their home to build mine. All my environmentalist guilt welled up over those pheasants. Now three years and much construction later they are still here. I honestly don’t think they’ve noticed. They still strut around here like they own the place and are totally unperturbed by anything that goes on around them. I think of them as the embodiment of the spirit of this land. They help serve as my conscience about what I do here. Some people ask, “What would Jesus do?” I ask, “Will this bother the pheasants?” Since they are still here either I am doing an ok job or nothing bothers a pheasant.

Both the lake and the pheasants give me a sense of place. An anchor that connects me to a place and makes me feel connected to the life around me.

pheasant

Not the best picture because I had to use maximum zoom and he was looking the other way. Pheasants don’t bother themselves with pesky humans wanting them to pose for pictures.