When I talk to other spirit workers about local spirits, many bring up animism, the idea that everything–from rocks to streams–has a specific spirit. But even cultures that didn’t have animism still believed in local spirits. In Rome, they were called genius loci, protective spirits of specific places.
I’ve seen a lot of people recommend working with local spirits, but few mention how to do so. Let’s break this down into steps.
Research Local Folklore
The first step is to research the folklore of your local area. This includes stories of hauntings, religious spots, holidays, and urban legends.
For many people–especially Americans–this is easier said than done. Some areas, like Salem, Massachusetts, are rich in history and folklore. You won’t struggle to research folklore there. But other areas are not known for their local legends. What do you do then?
Here are some places to start:
If you want to learn more about magic and folklore, check out this blog post: Choosing Which Folklore to Study for Your Craft.
Locate Power Spots
When it comes to spirit work, doing is often better than studying. But where can you go to find local spirits? Find what author Gemma Gary calls “power spots.”
Power spots are areas that spirits like to frequent. I mentioned some of those locations while discussing haunted locations earlier. Every town, no matter how small, has a power spot or two. Experienced spirit workers can find them on their own; see the Starting Spirit Work post to learn how one senses spirits.
Yet again, folklore can tell us where to go. Although every culture and location is different, these areas frequently appear in multiple folklores: bridges, crossroads, wells, caves, cemeteries, rivers, isolated/dirt roads, abandoned buildings, churches, and other sacred or spiritual places. For more ideas, see Real-Life Locations That Connect to the Underworld.
This should go without saying, but remember to put your safety first. Don’t enter anywhere dangerous, like a cave, unless you have experience. If the area is off-limits (as many abandoned sites are), don’t trespass. Same with entering churches and cemeteries at night.
Now that you’ve entered a power spot (safely), what do you do?
Offerings tell spirits that you acknowledge and appreciate them. Many spirit workers give offerings to stay on good terms with spirits.
There are two ways to give offerings to local spirits. One method is to place the offering outside, either near your home or at a power spot. If you do this, make sure that your offering is environmentally friendly: no plastics or food that might harm wildlife. Water, herbs, breadcrumbs, and certain fruits may work.
The second method is to give offerings at the hearth. The hearth–which is not necessarily a fireplace, but the center of the home–is where people give offerings to local spirits and Gods. You might have heard of a “standing offering,” a semi-permanent offering that spirits can enjoy as they pass by. This is a similar concept.
If you don’t want to leave offerings outside, do so at the hearth or at your altar. Offer them to local spirits. Incense, food, candles, and herbs are all on the table.
Anything I Missed?
Is there anything that I missed in this post? Anything you want expanded in a future post? Let me know in the comments below.