Here in the northern hemisphere we have officially entered the Summer Tide. Summer brings its own blazing virtues that often leaves people feeling energized and humming with sensual power. The bees are buzzing in the garden and the trees are crowned in their full leafy glory. As such, Summer is a time when the land spirits are particularly active – making it the perfect time to connect with your local Genius Loci. Simply put, a Genius Loci (Plural Genii Locorum) is the protective spirit of place. The place which a Genius Loci protects can be as small as a stretch of woods or as big as an entire city. But the Genii Locoroum are more than just tutelary spirits, they are the land itself. While the Land Wights (or nature spirits) inhabit the trees and rocks, a Genius Loci is the total sum of those spirits.
Connecting with your local Genius Loci is an incredibly important task, especially if you’re a Witch. We are given so many gifts from the natural world including shelter (that wonderful ozone layer that protects us from ultraviolet radiation) and food. Yet we rarely give anything in return – taking and taking without consideration for the environmental impact. Now this is a slight over-generalization as many of us are eco-conscious and do what we can to help heal and protect the planet. But there has been irreparable harm done to the natural world at the hands of humankind and for this reason connecting with the Genius Loci can be quite difficult. Whereas Land Wights are generally more curious and approachable, the Genii Locorum tend to be reserved and defensive (especially in areas where there has been significant environmental trauma). However, this doesn’t mean that your local Genius Loci is unreachable or that you should ignore them altogether. In fact, you should do just the opposite – spend time opening yourself up to the spirit of place, demonstrating your dedication and appreciation.
To begin connecting with your local Genius Loci, venture to a natural outdoor space. This might be your backyard or a local park. While there, greet the Land Wights and the Genius Loci – either out loud or in your mind. Take a couple of deep, calming breaths and feel yourself becoming rooted to the ground beneath your feet. Express your intentions to the Genius Loci, informing them of your desire to connect. The Genius Loci may not respond right away, and it may take several attempts before you’re acknowledged. That’s okay! To bolster your efforts, try implementing the following practices:
Pick Up Trash: One of the easiest ways to show the Genius Loci that you care is by picking up trash while you’re out and about. When going on walks or taking a hike carry a small trash bag with you in which you can collect garbage. By picking up litter you not only help keep the natural world clean but you demonstrate a deep level of respect for the Genius Loci.
Grow Native Plants: If you’re lucky enough to have a yard or garden-space, try growing native plants. Even better, grow plants that help support pollinators – especially bees! If you don’t have a yard, try growing a window box or a pot or two. When I had a large garden bed I enjoyed growing Meadow Sage, Bee Balm. and Anise Hyssop which the pollinators absolutely loved! Again, this is a way of giving back to the natural world and helping support your local eco-system.
Buy Local Produce: Many cities and towns have local farmers’ markets which are excellent places to obtain fresh produce for low-cost. Not only are these foods typically grown without harmful pesticides and fertilizers but also under conditions which strip the earth of it’s necessary resources. Furthermore, buying local supports farmers and the community at large.
Leave Eco-Friendly Offerings: While leaving offerings to the Land Wights and Genius Loci is a nice gesture, it’s going to be completely negated if what you’re offering isn’t eco-friendly. Make sure that what you’re offering is bio-degradable and free of toxic chemicals. Additionally, be cautious when leaving offerings of food as they can negatively impact the local wildlife. When giving offerings to the land, my go to is always water or organic fertilizer. These offerings are both safe for the environment but also support plant life.
These are just some of the ways you can start to establish a connection with your local Genius Loci. As you adopt these practices, remember to continue reaching out and speaking to the Genius Loci – even they don’t respond right away. It takes time for them to become trusting and open to a human, but having a genuine commitment to environmental conservation will go a long way!
Additionally, as a shameless plug, if you are interested in learning more about Land Wights and the Genius Loci, check out my upcoming book The Crooked Path: An Introduction to Traditional Witchcraft.