Thursday, April 12, 2012

Genius Loci Field Report #3 (Or is it up to #4 now?)

Here There Be Dragons.
Many months ago I dropped my second field report from working towards gaining an understanding of my city on a spiritual level, and it ended with me being pretty dismal about the subject. Since then multiple people have mentioned that they loved what I was writing about it and at least two – Doug Nox and Lance Foster – have posted comments or chatted with me privately about doing their own work along those lines.

This cheered me up greatly.

Following the second field report, I stopped talking as much about that work because I'd finally noticed some issues I had been poignantly ignoring before that time. One of what being that certain “inhabited” locations seemed to dislike my presence.

A few months after this I took a short “vacation” to house-sit for a friend. One day while taking a walk near a pond that bordered his housing area, I noticed something. And it was this: there was certainly “something” living in the pond, and then it came to me like a flash – the natural features, the bodies of water, the houses that are inhabited, are as reflective of the spirit and how it is manifesting as the areas around them.

So I went back and rechecked my research. At least 75% (43 total sites mapped so far, with about 15-17 hostile) of the areas I designated as hostile in my notes were linked to an area of town with rampant poverty, houses degrading, and especially sprawling industrial filth, etc. I began to see the spirits inhabiting the place, the state of the structure or landmark, and how people think about it (e.g. when I describe Sacramento's “Alkalai Flats” as “The Burned Out District”) were linked together with the feedback I was getting. The places that were the most destitute or broken down or falling apart were the ones that seemed to have entities that didn't want me near them at all.

Gazing at the pond, I started to realize that if you wanted to undermine the spirit of the place, the only thing you had to do was poison and ruin the pond. The foothold that the spirit was manifesting under was being broken down, and thus if it noticed you prying about it basically shouted “Go Away, Noob Magician!”

And suddenly the huge chunk of hostile locations made sense. I've been going over ideas of what to do: seedbomb, leave incense, empower other spirits to help out (which may not be such a great idea, all things considered).

But for just as many spots, being noticed as I tried to find the spirits was very odd. To this day I still occasionally have ecstatic, wandering encounters with what I call “The Agents of Space.” I'll settle down and focus on the place, trying to “see” and “feel” it and meditating within it before I try and automatically draw a sigil – and there will occasionally be an instantaneous response: someone will come up, and they will immediately begin narrating bits and pieces of the history of the space I'm in. It's always very curious and odd. Sometimes they'll add, “you know! Someone needs to preserve these places before we lose them all!” (That phrase was uttered to me at what was at least two parks.)

I've begun viewing this as a legitimate way of knowing if the spirit inhabiting the space I'm in actually wants to communicate with me, rather than random prying with what few “psychic powers” I probably do not have, and it's almost becoming a guiding principle before trying to continue magical work in those spaces: before one even has a sigil on hand, some form of contact (and it's really hard to mistake it when it happens) will occur.

Then again, I've yet to hear many people state that they've had such experiences, and so proposing it as a benchmark is not something I want to do.

I have stepped up the work, however. In the last three weeks to a month I've been going over archived maps of Sacramento side by side with personal Google maps, trying to figure out where some of the old Trivium and Quadrivium roads from around 1860-1890 are still preserved. It's been a lot of fun, and I've been quite pleased to discover that most maps from 1890 are available to the public at the downtown library. In the event you want to find some of the hidden “old edges” of your town and work them around midnight, your city library may have similar reference materials to look at for free!


Ps. I've also pretty consistently run across a Roman class of ghost that lived at the Quadrivium beyond civilization that were referred to specifically as Genius Loci, but I've been unable to figure out what they were supposed to do and how they were petitioned. Was it the same as the inscriptions thanking some G.L. for survival that we've found at stopping points on trade routes, etc? Were they considered to be separate? How different were they supposed to be from elementals? I have absolutely no idea. But I would surely love to find out.

Pps. You did not get a sigils from me for the park with Sac Occupyers because they left before I could cement the relationship with the requests made by the spirit I met. Which was very elemental. Water of earth, I think. Presently the Occupy movement has been using a park closer to where I live, where I have already made friends. Sometimes you just gotta wait, I guess. And with the Sac rainy season, few want to Occupy a park. Hopefully summer will revive the Occupying. But who knows?


Lance Foster said...

Jack, there is some excellent stuff on Genius Loci and all the related place entities in Josephine McCarthy's books, in particular "The Exorcist's Handbook." Note for example, p. 76 in "Beings You May Encounter" (mention of the Bell Witch), and the entire Chapter 12, "Issues of the Land and Beings of Nature" (pp, 185-198).

Nigel Pennick's books on geomancy have a lot of good things, Chuck Pettis writes about land entities that attacked him while dowsing for his Seattle ley project, and Barry Patterson's "Conversations with the Genius Loci" is worth a read.

I think pretty much anything can be a contact or sign from the land, whether a wandering person who comes up and starts talking to you about the place, the condition of houses and plants and soil, simulacra in the plants and stones, winds and dust devils, even random bits of trash or newspapers or wrappers can tell you not just about how much trash is thrown there (the condition of the land) but the WORDS can sometimes be put together into a coherent message.

There is a psychogeographic exercise where you take a map of the area of concern, and draw a circle on the map with a template, matching its perceived boundaries as closely as possible. Then WALK the perimeter following the perimeter as well as you can (obviously you can't walk through buildings, or cross some yards, etc.) and look for messages along your way in the form of things seen, heard, street names, signs, scraps of newspapers, etc. Record your journey, either with a camera or on paper, and then go home and meditate on the signs you found to see what the area is telling you.

The validation for this post? "Indorst natesonf" which I read as: "Endorsed, Nativeson F(oster)," a stamp of approval for this advice :-)

Rose Weaver said...

Jack, I've enjoyed your series of posts on this topic and I find this a very timely entry as I've recently been attempting to discover the Genius Loci of certain areas I'm looking at to relocate my home base. I'm pretty familiar with one area in particular, but do have a desire to become more familiar with it due to the weirdness which happened when I first lived in that area. Your posts are very helpful.

@Lance: Thank you for the references you provide. I was searching for material to assist with more information. Thus far, I've been working with my intuition, Guides, and as you describe, walking around looking for messages in various forms. More reference material would be helpful, though. Thanks for the initial list.

Scylla said...

As I said last night - I've found similar attitudes concerning "Foul the water and we're fucked". There is a local man-made lake that was created by damming a river. The spirit that used to inhabit the river has been turned stagnant and angry.
She drowns people and makes not-so-veiled threats at me when I come there to court other, more amiable, spirits.

I give her offerings of clean, filtered, COLD, water. It sweetens her a little - at least for the durations of my visits.