Spirits of Place

Energies and spirit of place

Each special place has its own spirit, its own presence, its own consciousness. This is often known as the spirit of place. Imagine or remember being in a particular special place. There is a feeling of particular presence here, a unique presence. This is the natural presence of the place. This is the natural spirit of the place; which radiates its energies, for us to potentially recognize and receive from. The 'spirit of place' includes all of the smaller nature spirits within that space; while each local spirit of place is within a larger, more encompassing spirit of the greater area. (this is further elaborated in the chapter on Deva-spirits).

In pre-modernized, traditional cultures people felt the 'spirit' of a place. They often gave a name to this spirit and would describe the uniquely special qualities of this particular spirit, or its powers. This place would then also become a special place, a sacred place, in which people prayed, meditated, or have their respects. Each special place would be known for its particular spirit present there. Over yonder, somewhere else, would reside a different spirit; so each tribe or village would have its revered local spirit, or spirits, who resided nearby at these local sacred sites. Thus, each of the many villages had its own nearby sacred place with its particular residing spirit, the more powerful nature spirit of that area. And it makes sense that each area has its own particular, special spirit; which was unique in some way, just as each village and place was unique in some way.

In one way of understanding, a place or area can be described by its subtle earth energies. And as already explained, we can even distinguish three important kinds of energy emitting from any place – the energies of its consciousness, its emotional energies, and its vital-life energies. For some people, it makes sense to also include a fourth kind of place energy, which is the power of its beauty. These energies are real and also influential, even though they are 'subtle' to our senses. But in this chapter there is a different sort of view. For instead of sensing and understanding a place by its 'energies', we can sense its 'spirit', its living presence and the qualities of that presence. Thus, spirit of place (the spirit of a place) is one way to understand and describe the subtle energies present at a place.

Of course, one could sense and understand a place in both ways, by its energies and by its spirit-presence. In fact, anyone who experiments enough with sensing to experience the earth energies, and can also open with mind and senses to the spirits of nature, will then discover that earth energies and spirits of nature are really the same. The difference is just in what one is looking for and in how one understands what is sensed. How one experiences the natural world is especially dependent on the ideas, the view and the attitude we bring to the experience.

These two kinds of understanding, the energy view and the spirit view, each bring a unique kind of experience; and yet they complement one another. Thus, it is suggested to embrace and explore both ways of seeing and feeling our natural world. Make a practice to try one way for a time, then the other at a different time.

What is special about sensing and feeling the spirit of a place is that this gives us an opportunity to actually communicate with nature and to make a relationship. For now one is in the very presence of an actual being – a being with consciousness, feelings, and energies. And one is actually in the very home of this being; though really, the whole place is the being. Thus, now we can interact and be here with true respect and also with an openness to what this spirit/place is now sharing with us. So now we have an opportunity to be conscious in this presence and awake to the energies and beauty present. And finally, this is an opportunity to be grateful, to feel grateful, and to express our gratefulness to this wonderful spirit of nature and spirit of place.

Energies of the spirit

Each spirit of place expressively shares four main kinds of energy. These are the vital energy (also known as prana or chi), emotional energy (which will have a particular quality, such as love or peace or some other emotive quality), and a consciousness energy (which also includes its natural intelligence). The fourth kind of expressive energy of a place is its beauty (though there are many kinds of beauty).

These kinds of subtle energy are also the energies of each spirit-presence of nature. So the energies of consciousness, emotion, beauty, and vitality in a place can be experienced as spirit-presence, which is the presence of the particular spirit of this land.

One aspect of the 'spirit of place' is the natural consciousness of the place. It is the spirit-consciousness (the consciousness of this spirit), which is also the presence of this spirit. If a place has a strong spirit-presence, it will often give us a sense of awakening, whereby we awaken more in consciousness, intuition, and wisdom. These can be good places for spiritual visions. This spirit-presence can be felt when we are sufficiently sensitive and receptive. We also have to be quiet enough and clear enough in our own mind, and also open in our heart. Then we can begin real noticing, real seeing, and real feeling.

There is an awareness within the land, or within the area, that knows when we are there. Realize this and learn to make a relationship with this consciousness of the land, this spirit of the land. The land, or place, this spirit, also has its own particular intelligence. It has an intelligence of what is around, and of what is in harmony and what is not. And it has an intelligence of what best to do; so we need to learn how to listen to this intelligence, to hear its special wisdom. Each part of nature and each place in nature has its own special intelligence, as an aspect of its consciousness, so each place has a special wisdom to share with us if we are sensitive and able to hear it.

The spirit-presence also has an emotional component, or we can understand the land as having an emotional energy. The emotional energy of a place is the felt quality of a place. This is the emotive radiance of the spirit, as each spirit of place will have its own particular emotional quality, or 'quality of feeling'. We could also understand this as the particular 'personality of the place'. It is the quality that this particular place feels to be expressing. Each place is somewhat unique, but we could categorize particular places as having general emotive qualities such as love, peace, quietude, solitude, happiness, joy, excitement, mystery, etc. This can be understood as one of the radiant qualities of this spirit presence, as felt in our own receptive being.

However, any quality we attribute to a place is somewhat general and limited by our own experience and also by our vocabulary of expressive words. Thus, often we will realize that a particular place has a unique emotional quality that cannot really be encapsulated by one general word. But what really matters is our own experience, not our description.

The emotional qualities of a place resonate all through that area, like a sound would resonate in us, which affects us emotionally, much like music affects our emotions. The quality resonates through our emotional body. So a peaceful quality gives us a feeling of peace, a joy quality resonates joy, etc. Emotional qualities of a place are very important in our experience of the place, and they also have significant effects in us.

Some places can have very positive effects on us emotionally, especially if we are sensitive in our feelings and come into meditative rapport with them. What we call 'sacred sites', or special places in nature, are these special places where the quality of energy, or quality of presence, is profoundly positive, healing and integratively balancing for our inner being.

One very special quality of certain places is beauty. In some ways, the beauty of a place can be considered an emotional quality, for beauty is emotionally felt, yet beauty could be considered as an energy category in its own right. So whether beauty is really a fourth kind of energy, rather than a quality of the emotional category, could be debatable.

All natural places on Earth have some sense of beauty, or some degree of beauty, even if this might sometimes be an unusual beauty; for as long as it is truly a natural place, there will be some kind of beauty there. Yet certain places simply blow us away with their beauty; so beauty does evidently have an objective power to it.

Beauty is obviously related to both perception and emotional feeling. That is, we see beauty and we even discuss the perceptual features of beauty, but we also feel beauty and the ultimate judgment of beauty seems to be an emotional judgment. So beauty is recognized both in perception and in feeling. Beauty also has its own special enchantment, which feels to be spiritual, or we could even say spiritually powerful. People make life searches for beauty, as they would love.

Experiencing the four energies of place

Being consciously sensitive to the presence of place involves the four energies of place. The Native wisdom says to be conscious of the Earth below, as we stand or walk or sit, and through our feet we can actually sense the living energy of Earth. Conscious breath is also very important, both for sensitivity and for intentional use of these energies.

First, be sensitive to the vital energy of the place, also known as prana, chi, earth energy, or life energy. Our main receptive centre for this is called the hara centre, just below the belly button, yet our whole body can be sensitive to the energy, especially our hands and the soles of our feet. The soles of our feet are especially significant, because they receptively connect us to the earth below. Thus, we can consciously sense the earth energy rising up through our feet, and we can also sensitively ground ourselves through our feet to the earth below.

We can immerse ourselves in and receive the vital energies of a place. Included in this are trees, because many trees have particularly powerful vital energies, which we can receive through touch, or some kind of connection, or by literally hugging a tree. Groups or communities of plants and flowers can also give us vital energies. Even the air has vital energies that we can receive.

Vital energies give us energy-vitality, health and healing. Receive whatever you need. Take as much as you need, just as you can breathe in the vital air as much as you need. Receive what you need from the Mother Earth, because you are loved. Receive the vitality you need and the health you need, for these energies of Earth contain the pattern of health.

Each place has its own degree of vital energy; also called prana, chi, mana, etheric energy, and often this is what is mostly meant by earth energies. This vital energy is a subtle kind of electro-magnetism which has a vitalizing and formative power in relation to physical elements. This is also the hidden causative energy behind biological life. Every living form and even every place on Earth has this etheric-vital energy and cannot exist without it. In certain esoteric teachings this was called the essential fire of life; for it is the subtle secret energy necessary in all living things.

So this vital energy can also be understood as life-energy, vitalizing the natural world. But even the land and the rocks have this energy, and they give out this energy, so it is not just about biological things. The land has this vital energy and gives out this vital energy; and some places of land have and give out more of this energy than other places.

In addition, this etheric-vital energy has a patterning power, a power to pattern the natural world with its subtle electro-magnetic field, which why many things of nature have similar geometric proportions in their inner structures. But behind this patterning power is a higher intelligence of nature. Intelligence precedes natural pattern. And remember that each place has a natural intelligence, which is one aspect of its spirit-presence. The vital energy of place could then be understood as the vital energy of the conscious spirit present there.

Next, it is possible to feel the emotional quality of a place. This is the feeling of a place. Each place will have particular qualities, usually a mixture of qualities but often one quality will be more apparent. Yet don't complicate this with thinking; just feel whatever you feel in the presence of this place. We can feel qualities such as love, joy, peace, and emotional strength.

Third, we can be sensitively open to the spirit-consciousness of this place. This could be thought of as the mind or intelligence of the spirit of this place. Each spirit-of-place has consciousness. So allow yourself to be 'seen', and also be open to hearing any natural wisdom offered by the spirit-of-place, for we can receive nature's intelligence if we listen.

Treat the spirit of a place with dignity and respect, then the spirit will give something back. But most people don't even know there are spirits of nature, so they fail to even bother noticing. Yet if we open up our mind and consciousness to the spirit presence, then at least we'll have a chance at this experience; otherwise, if one already has a preconceived disbelief, or if one is simply not wakefully noticing, then there is no chance to feel or perceive the spirit. The best attitude to have is the best attitude we would have with meeting any new person. If we have an attitude of respect and openness, then the spirit will know this and respond accordingly.

Finally, be conscious of the unique beauty of the place you are in. Open your heart to this beauty, as well as seeing it. Next, actually breathe-in this beauty, and let this energy of beauty fill every part of you. Especially, let the energies of beauty feed your innermost being, your soul. Because natural beauty nourishes our soul. First, it awakens our soul, because through natural beauty our soul recognizes itself as a reflection of this natural beauty.

Beauty can be a very significant influence in our lives. But many people walk by beauty without even noticing it, or sit in a natural place and neglect to see the beauty. This, beauty itself misses out on its recognition and appreciation. But we each miss out, so much of the time, by neglecting to notice and appreciate the beauty around us. If only people realized how important natural beauty is for the soul. Beauty nourishes our human soul. This can be verified by honest experiment. Find what feels to be beautiful, then feel the influence of this within. Beauty touches us in a special place – in our heart, in our soul.

Presences and energies

Native Teachings say that the Earth is filled with Spirit. Everywhere we go there is Spirit, in some form or another, and everything is alive with Spirit. This includes the animal world, the tree and vegetation world, the waters and elements, and the rocks and land upon which we stand. And human beings are also alive with Spirit, even if unrecognized. In essence there is just one Great Spirit, but this One Spirit manifests as a vast plurality of individual spirits.

So, everywhere we go there are spirits of nature. Each animal has its inner spirit, each bug, each plant, each tree, each mountain, each lake, each forest, and each place on the land. In Native Teachings every part of life, everything, is respected, because everything is known to have Spirit; though it is also acknowledged that people have to eat and make homes and tools, which requires sacrificing certain lives, but all of this is done with sacred respect and gratitude.

It is important that we respect the individual being of each natural thing. Each plant, like each animal, is an individual being. This physical life, whether a plant, tree, or animal, has its own individual spirit, as well as being an expression of a group spirit. Recognize this individual being; for the power of recognition awakens their inner spirit. Each plant, for example, can be recognized as an individual. In some native cultures a single plant or a tree might be regarded as a plant person or tree person. The plant and tree species, in general, might be called plant or tree tribes. Respect and thanks are given to each individual being of nature, to this plant or tree person, and one can also give thanks to the Group spirit-being, the Deva-spirit.

In geomancy also, the spirits of nature need to be recognized and respected, because these spirits are an integral part of the planet and its energies. Spirits are the individual consciousness' of the natural world, which should not be ignored, so we need to develop our sensitivity to them.

Each individual spirit has three main kinds of energy, as reflected from the One Spirit. These are vital energy (also known as prana or chi), emotional energy (such as love or peace or other qualities of being), and consciousness energy (which includes intelligence). Also in all things is a fourth aspect, which is creative beauty. In any of these energies, or aspects, each individual has a certain portion or degree, some more and some less.

Trees are the easiest form of the plant world to feel their spirit presence. Each tree has its own individual presence, which is its spirit. Older trees have even greater presence. And remember that some trees have been around for many hundreds of years. Each tree registers in its cellular memory the vibrational emotional qualities of those around it, and there are older trees that have memories of the local human history.

So, each tree has its own presence, which is the radiatory consciousness and emotional quality of its spirit. Or we simply say that the tree presence is its spirit, and its presence is also the radiation of its consciousness. These terms all generally mean the same: spirit, presence, consciousness. Another term that some people use, which also has the same basic meaning, is energy.

Energy is a very general term, used to describe a whole lot, but it can mean basically the same as the spirit or the presence of a natural form or place. For example, one might talk about the subtle radiating energy of a tree or of a place, which is describing the same phenomena as another person talking about the spirit of the tree. The same is true of 'spirit of place', for one could understand this as the overall spirit-presence of the place, or understand it as the subtle earth energies of the place. There are, of course, distinctions we can make between the exact meaning of spirit, presence, and subtle radiating energy; but really they all refer to the same reality. It depends on what one is 'looking for' and the way one prefers to describe it. Generally, a more modern geomancy will speak about earth energies, while most traditional cultures will speak about the presences and energies of natural spirits.

Seeing nature spirits

Nature spirits have been described in the traditional literature of all so many cultures, in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the Outback. So let us consider the possibility of seeing a nature spirit. Of foremost importance is the feeling of a particular place, or spirit of place. First feel the spirit there. Feel the presence. Then feel the overall quality of this presence. Feel what it is to you. It is alright to be subjective and trust in what you feel. If someone else feels a different quality, then this is because the place has more than just one quality, and some people feel/sense one quality, while others feel/sense other qualities. Most places have a few related qualities. Also, feel the love and beauty that is there. These are the most important experiences.

Next, perhaps, open your mind to seeing the spirit-form of this place. This is the form of this particular spirit-being -- how it looks. This seeing will be somewhat subjective, because each person sees it somewhat differently due to their particular imaginal mind, but nonetheless this is also an objective seeing a real spirit being of nature, and we each have a capacity to see these spirits of nature. And once we see the spirit and feel the spirit, we can then embark on developing a personal relationship with this, which has too many possibilities to mention.

So, the spirit of a particular place can be seen as a distinct form or image, and to do this we need to use our spiritual imaginal mind. We say here it is imaginal, because it requires the imagination. But the imagination is simply our mental tool for seeing a spirit form. We see this in our mind, using our imagination. But it is not merely an imagination, in the meaning of imagining what is not real. This is real. The spiritual form is real, but to mentally see it requires the imagination. So this is not a false imagination, but rather a necessary use of the imagination to see the spirit-form behind the obvious physical form. So this is an experience of what is real, though it is subjectively experienced.

Elemental fairy spirits

Also in nature and especially in special places we can find little elemental spirits. These nature spirits are usually called elemental spirits or little spirits.

Each area or place has its own spirit of place, sometimes called its guardian spirit, or sometimes the main spirit embodying this place. This spirit of the place enfolds and permeates the whole place/area, like a whole being-presence. Yet within this area, and within this overall Spirit of the place, are many elemental spirits, the spirit-elements of the overall nature in this place. The little spirits of a place can also be understood as the spirit children of the overall Spirit of place, so they will have the same general qualities as the encompassing Spirit of the place. Yet they also have their own degree of individuality.

The little spirits are very often happy little spirits; unless human beings come along and start messing up the energies and feelings of a place, or begin cutting down all the natural beauty. Some may think it's silly to talk about happy little spirits, but this is how they are in their natural state, when humans aren't bothering the place. They are simply happy being who they are, living where they are, and doing what they do. And what is really great is that they give out a happy vibration, quality, feeling, and resonance. In other words, their happiness can make us happy, if we are sufficiently present and sensitively-feeling. So, these little nature-spirit beings emit happiness, or sometimes even joy or love. They dance and sing and are naturally merry. Some people think that happiness is trite and superficial, but happiness is a great quality of being.

So find places that make you feel happy, then look and feel for the little happy spirits of the place. When in beautiful places in nature, become sensitive and perceptive to these little spirits. If you cannot see them, then at least you might feel them. Use your inner natural senses, your inner sight and inner feelings. For we each have inherent natural senses for sensing natural spirits and energies. Then, receive and fill up with all these beautiful, happy and joyful energies.

These little nature spirits are also known as fairy spirits. Most people think this is all myth and children's tales. But fairy spirits are real. The fairy spirits are also known as dancing little lights, or as sparkling lights. They love to sing and dance around flowers, little growing things, and little rock areas, but they could be anywhere.

They have qualities of innocence, childness, and playfulness. Thus, children are especially sensitive to them, attracted and drawn to them; especially happy and playful kind of children. But adults can also see or feel the little fairy spirits, especially adults who are playful and not too serious. So let us enjoy being in the presence of these little spirits, and may the fairy spirit happiness be felt by all those who can feel it.

Become naturally innocent and playful in yourself, for then the little spirits will emerge and you'll be able to see and feel them. The fairy spirits will hide away if visitors are not in the best attitude, or not open enough to beauty and joy.

So leave behind all the complicated worries and plans of life, and return to playful innocence. In this way, we can enter into an attitude or state of being, whereby we are in tune with the little fairy spirits and their natural innocent happiness of being. Let go of all concerns, and just enjoy being presently here. This is how one can enter into natural innocence.

We can even play with these little fairy spirits. We can playfully interact with them, sing with them and dance with them. So find a natural place to feel free and playful. Then the little spirits will come out to play and dance with you.

These places of the little spirits are great areas to quietly sit and appreciate the beauty all around and the feelings of love. They are good places for meditation, for painting or other quiet arts, for loving, and for small social picnics. But we should be careful in these areas to avoid being too loud or too chaotic, because the fairy spirits scare away quite easily. They can be our friends, sharing their happiness and joy, but only if we are respectful enough and in recognition of them. These are spirits of happiness and joy, but rowdy partying or obnoxious behavior will cause them to flee and hide away.

There are three basic kinds of the little elemental spirits: the builders, the maintainers, and the protectors. All of the little spirits are naturally playful and happy, especially the maintainer spirits – unless people or circumstances are wrecking the place. The builder spirits are naturally happy, but they can be somewhat serious when involved with their 'building work' – or better described as their job of growing things. These are the growers, the little spirits with the know-how and the concentration to help natural things grow. They tend to keep their mind and efforts on the growing tasks at hand, and their job is to build greater diversity and beauty, as much as possible. So even though the little spirits are essentially happy, the builder spirits can be more serious and focused, than the maintainer spirits.

The protector spirits are also essentially happy, but they can get a bit mean if visitors are disrespectful of their place, and they can get very mean if visitors are actually harmful to their place. So these nature spirits are not so easy-going nice as the maintainer little spirits. For when they feel there is a threat to their place, they will do what they can to protect the area. In fact, these protective spirits tend to be suspicious of people, until they gain a trust, and often they would rather have people stay away. So they can be unfriendly at times and might try to lead you away from the more sacred places. But this is simply their job as protectors, sort of like the police of the area. And for those who are disrespectful or threatening to the place, they can meanly send troubles towards that person. So we need to be careful and respectful around this kind of nature spirit. Yet, if we show respect and show them that we can be trusted, they will then trust us and be friendly.

Thus, if you feel or sense mean or scarier energies, then the protective spirits are probably around. If you feel this, then the safest advice is to stay away. However, it is possible to befriend these protector spirits and show them your love, respect, and trustworthiness. First give them recognition and respect. Recognize that they are here to protect, so give them your conscious acknowledgment and respect. Then they will respect us and trust us, and they'll know that we are not a threat to this natural area and will respect its sacredness.

So if we enter a natural area with sincere respect and with acknowledgment of the protector spirits there, then they will feel our respect and know that we come with good intentions. It is helpful to keep holding this respect and good intentions in our minds and hearts, as we walk through any special area, so that the spirits will know the kind of person we are. Then, when they trust us, they'll become friendly and welcoming. Make friends with the spirits of nature, with complete respect and sincerity, and then they will show you some secrets.