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To Know The Spirits of The Land:

One does not need to call upon or work with deities and spirits in the traditionally understood sense. There are many other kinds of entities that are infrequently discussed. It is easy to find instruction on petitioning deities, forging pacts with divine/infernal spirits, speaking to the dead, and communication with animal totems. However, one can also work directly with the spirits of the land itself.

As a heavily animistic practitioner, the natural world is my temple, my sanctuary. The desolate places where the wind howls are where I perform my sacred shrine dances. The plant spirits themselves are my familiars. I craft my own tools from bones and feathers. I revere nature, have a deep bond with the dirt and all the life it supports.

It is an ancient practice to work directly with the land. Just like with humans and other entities, a relationship requires time, consistency, respect, and affection. Get to know the energies of the land. Has it been untouched by the greed of humans? Has the land been soured, defiled? Familiarize yourself with the terrain and all its features. Spend time there wandering and meditating. Show your care by keeping it clean of any trash and respecting the creatures who live there.

Speak to the land and listen for an answer. Silence yourself and observe the signs around you. Did the wind suddenly pick up? Does it whisper through the grass and leaves? Did the birds start singing? Are other creatures vocalizing their presence? Did a bat or owl fly overhead? Did a moth land in front of you or on your arm? Did you find a feather or strangely shaped stone? Look for the signs and be patient.

Nature is a powerful ally to those who love her and treat her with kindness. The opposite also holds true. When in nature, never curse her! Tread on her gently and be a polite guest in her house! I recall this one time I went hiking deep in the swamp with two friends. The first friend, a shaman, has an intimate relationship with this holy place. He glided through the treacherous terrain without any effort and butterflies circled his head. The second friend kept tripping, and every single branch that could slap or thorn that could ensnare did exactly that! The entire time, this friend had been cursing at the earth! The earth responded in kind.

I return time after time to my beloved field of nightshade. I am compelled to visit this place-it calls to me like a beautiful woman asking me to dance. I cannot resist her! I bring offerings of water, tell her of my joys and sorrows, and dance with her alone under the moon. I admire her star-shaped petals and succulent-looking berries-she is a beautiful, long-lost lover! When I come to her for aid in preparing my oils, I always give a gift of water or scatter her fruit that she might multiply. I never take from her without leaving something in exchange. I always ask permission and say a prayer to give thanks for every single clipping that I take. I never take too much-only what I need. I ask her to bless the workings of my hands and empart her gifts to my creations. She assists me in my craft and my practice like the dearest of mentors. I call on her for aid in conjuring spirits, crossing the veil, and for assistance with my darker works. She is my teacher, my ally, my familiar, that spirit of the nightshade.

Are you troubled? Ask the river to wash away your obstacles and sorrows, to carry them far from you. Were you wronged? Ask the swamp to bind your enemies and drown them in the mire. In need of abundance? Ask the ocean to share her bounty with you. Nature is a powerful and loving ally. Love her, and you will be loved in return.

-Elana Lee


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