30 September 2016

SSBH: Spirits and Magic of Place

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This round of the Strategic Sorcery Blog Hop is focusing on the spirits and magic of place, an absolute favourite topic of mine given the major emphasis on working with and honouring land wights in my witchcraft practice. Last Blog Hop I discussed how relationships with spirits, especially those of the land near and on which you reside, can swing the odds on your side and assist you in procuring potent magical links. As I also wrote a little about my beloved house spirit relatively recently, today I would like to discuss something I did over the month of August: the creation of a "spirit map" for my immediate community and overall city.

As a university student in Toronto, I travel a lot via public transportation, especially the subway. We all have our "hotspots" which we gravitate to and naturally spread our time among throughout our cities: for me, it's my home, the forest closest to it, two parks, my school's campus (which is so large it should really be subdivided into its own hotspots), favourite stores and cultural centers, friend's homes, and of course restaurants. Given that I also do plenty of my sorcery outside and in nature, I've gotten to know the local land wights, elemental beings, nature guardians, and egregores fairly well in those areas. There's also rarely a huge need to stretch out beyond them, out of convenience and immediate accessibility, so if you plotted my weekly travels you'd see that there isn't a lot of deviation from the highlighted fields.

Inspired by some of the discussions over in the Red Work course I'm taking alongside the suggestions of my spiritual court, I decided to break out of those comfort zones and explore as much of the city as I could over August, taking my notebook with me and scribbling down all the different "spiritual wildlife" I encountered. We went to all the major touristy locations the majority of Torontonians rarely actually go to, the cultural centers and pockets where people actually do hang out, more remote parks and forests where the city slips into silence, and the business districts where nothing and no one sleeps. I explored Casa Loma, took a boat ride around the Harbourfront and the islands, went in and out of different galleries and exhibitions, and strolled through different parks and neighbourhoods I had never been in before, all while giving something of a tour to the relatives I was hosting for the month's period.

The patterns we uncovered were really quite interesting. My familiars helped point out what eluded my psychic perceptions, and I used a quick method of divination to double-check and confirm what it was that I was seeing with my astral sights. Naturally, institutions, churches, libraries, and so on have their own egregores that reflected the vitality and spirit of the place. Some looked absolutely drained and abandoned while others appeared remarkably bloated or even hyperactive; filled with the stress, pressure, and anxiety of the people who worked within its guardianship, which it in turn fed to them creating a toxic loop. Some places of worship were absolutely glimmering with their connection to the Divine, peaceful, loving, and open to all, while others gurgled with inner disputes, scandals, and bigotry.

Egregores aren't to be the only spirits that reflect and internalize the atmosphere of the life-forces around them. We noticed that certain landmarks or places where lots of people would concentrate tended to have social spirits as well; from our brief interactions we found that they're essentially of the kind that enjoy attention and the exchange of ideas, being highly mercurial in nature. Usually when I think of "earthy" spirits I would imagine those attached to rivers, particular sites of power, fairy rings, and so on: but human concentration and places that see a lot of emotional, creative, and intellectual power coalesce to become the same thing essentially. There were certain wights that I only saw in Chinatown, Little Portugal, and Greek Town and nowhere else. Other tricksters and messengers where virtually everywhere.

In some places where I felt a psychic "ping" and tried to call a being forth, I instead found a myriad of impressions and traces left by other people who were there and had touched the same statue/graffiti mural/other noteworthy mark instead of an independent intelligence. Sampling the energy prompted a series of flashback-like episodes, consisting of arguments, kisses, bags being dropped and their contents spilling, shoving, gleeful phone calls, and stressed out waiting. Other times these were the places that formed the perfect highly-charged environments for smaller spirits to inhabit.

Certainly my offering practices, animism, and witchcraft have already introduced me to plenty of these "sights" thus far already, but this was really the first time I had ever actively gone through such a broad and diverse selection of areas for the purposes of observing the spirits and energies present. Often when I'm out and about I just can't help but notice if there's something or someone there, but this was of a different level of purposeful intention and scope. My goals were threefold: to introduce myself to neutral and friendly wights, to see if there was anything I could assist with as a medium, and to chart out and map areas of note for future reference. As an aside, my HGA had instructed me to do the same thing but for the astral "Lower Worlds" as we call them—the plane of ancestors, animal spirits, wandering daemons and crossroads deities—and to this day I still have a "map" of particular landmarks that I often end up going to whenever astral journeying. Those worlds are of course ever changing, and the concept of "directions" have almost no bearing on them, but simply sketching out and making a list of the places I had visited, made spirit contacts and allies, and found myself coming back to again and again was extremely useful.

So, during this physical journey I came prepared with things in my bag for offerings of good will. Just as I make an offering to local land wights to secure an agreement for outdoor rituals ("I'm going to use this space for X purpose and I would appreciate it if I were not interrupted. Please have this in return to enjoy while I do this and once I'm done I'll banish and you can come back,") so too do I like to pitch in a few gifts when making myself known and asking for the friendship of the beings there. The funny thing was that for the most part I barely even used what I brought. The requests I received from the spirits were almost always to clean up litter as an "offering", and so I did.

People can be notoriously messy downtown. The best part by far was that occasionally bystanders who saw me picking up coffee cups and wrappers and putting them in the garbage would actually stop and help out as well, thus participating in the "offering".

And the end of it all I transferred my notes into a real "spirit map" in my grammar. Whether it's types of dirt, plants, nuts, or vines I need for spells, institutions I do and most definitely will interact with in the future whose egregores I'd like the favour of, or simply the companionship, insight, and helpful "tips" on where to find what from local beings, this map has been a real boon for me. I've come into a fair bit of luck every time I've stopped by those locations since, with whatever business I needed to do there proceeding smoothly and without any hiccups (especially in regards to transportation and tardiness). Naturally I still don't visit the more remote and completely out-of-my-path locations often—we're always going to gravitate towards our hotspots—but I always give a a salute with my left foot and dispose of any junk on the ground when I see it whenever I'm there.

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