Tracking the Animus Loci
A few words of advice for these times
Published for the students of the College of Psychic Studies
I like to think that the practice of Seidr is a fruitful combination between art, ideas and myth. When we find ourselves in uncertain circumstances, as we are living today, our personas and relationships are revealed in higher definition. Due to this, much creativity and magic can be discovered and worked with. What is being revealed is often the difficult and neglected part of ourselves; our fears, our self-cherishing, or self-serving behaviour. As Epictetus says: “Circumstances don’t make the man, they only reveal him to himself.”
Any initiatory work worth its salt begins when we are ready to step up to serve something bigger than ourselves; to serve a community, a river, valley, or garden. Traditionally the first being to turn to when times were hard in the homestead was the “Tomte,” his name in Scandinavia translates as "land or plot.” Many children still see him easily. He usually wears a red hat and is the embodiment of the animus loci (the local spirit). The first steps of Seidr is learning to create a braid of relations between oneself and the local spirit. This relationship can be worked with whether you are in the city or in the countryside. If you did some research you will be surprised as to the number of stories and strange beings that reside in your area; giants, dragons, elves and land wights. The Tomte is a land wight which does not want the earth to be abused, a guardian of place and community associated with growth of the land and its fertility. As what we eat comes from the land, this relationship is also closely linked to our own health.
My recommendation is to locate a place where you live which speaks to you deeply and there begin to give some of your gifts. The gifts can be words of praise, poems, letters, fruit you have grown, or anything else that you make by hand. What you create and give out becomes “spirit currency” between yourself and the otherworld. The idea is that within this “currency” lies the opportunity to make beauty within a broken world, to clear up a part of an area, however small, that has been neglected. To make it flower, both metaphorically and sometimes literally. The result of this practice can be that you end up transforming emotions and alchemically turning them into gifts to the spirits of place. This relationship is a sacred undertaking and a life-long learning: it lies at the heart of the old Heathen custom.
The work of Seidr begins and ends with keeping this relationship well balanced and contributing to the health and happiness of the human and other-than-human community.