the spirit of things

It seems that a great part of the polytheistic spiritual experience is not only the reverence and worship of the gods, but also includes a recognition of the spiritual beings within the world and living in a reciprocal relationship with local spirits and divine beings . This often includes honoring local spirits, nymphai, river divinities etc. In my own experience that may often be a natural attraction in which an individual may feel a kind of connection to their locality. This has happened only a few times to myself: in Alaska (where I was born and raised), in New Orleans (where I lived until Hurricane Katrina reared her head….and I am quite thankful to whatever benevolence granted that my family and comrads were found in time when our car broke down in the middle of nowhere on a highway through the woods of Mississippi after evacuation…it was just by chance that the sheriff’s department found us while doing their last rounds before the hurricane hit), and now upon entering halfway into Florida I felt a sense of welcome, a loosening of the chest, and something within me gratefully reach out towards the landscape and the occupying spirits. I felt the internal attraction which has occurred to seldom. And it brought peace and comfort to me. Something for which I have felt quite grateful after living in a place that I was turned off of on many levels. Over time this spiritual connection to the land will expand to establish familiarity with local flora, fauna and water features.

Aside from this there is another aspect to my spiritual life which should not be confused with magic practices/witchcraft/etc. As I recognize a spiritual presence in the world at large, and all things which naturally occupy the world, it is not unnatural that I would develope such relationships with certain flora. This is not uncommon of course, as we see that many plants are mythically associated with certain lovers of the gods. I have grown hyacinths in my garden, for instance, to honor Hyakinthos. There is such a wide number of divine beings that are immortalized and represented on earth by their plantly substance, which in turn is associated with those gods that they loved and were loved by and often bestow the divine benevolence by virtue of their presence. Perhaps the most common example is the use of the laurel (the transformed Daphne) that is associated both with providence of oracular work and purification. It is therefore not unnatural that one would gather such plant materials in order to accomplish specific functions on a spiritual level. This may include ritualized processes of gathering the plant material (as we see in the Stepteria festival of Delphi in which laurel was gathered and brought back to Delphi supposedly to be used in the Pythian games).

In this manner ancient Hellenes had laurel beside their gates beside the representation of Apollon Agyieus, and myrtle wound around altars of Aphrodite etc. Therefore I see adorning my home or otherwise incorporating certain plants in the features of my home to be part of such a spiritual relationship. I also prefer to grow my own plants when possible that I can harvest from and appropriately give offerings in thanks to when I remove the material. I include this not only in decor but also sewn into things like small sachets where such blessings can be contained, or placed into vials, which allows the material to be transportable and easier to keep.

All of this is part of an extended spiritual experience that is a natural part of polytheism but for which some may choose to avoid because it is connected so strongly with ideas of magic. I hope I have shown above that this is not necessarily the case. A connection to spirits of the land, to establishing the use of certain flora etc is found within many polytheistic traditions and something that is potentially rewarding and enriching of one’s spiritual life and practices in the oikos.


4 thoughts on “the spirit of things

  1. you should be carefull with such flowers associated with mythological figures, as in some cases the name has been used for another plant in the past… I believe hyacinths today where originally “Narkissos”, or modern Narcissus was actually “Hyakinthos”. I’m not sure which of the two it is, but there was something like this which I still remember.

    • I have heard alot of different explanations for it…including larkspur which tends to be a popular idea. I have always thought Narcissus (aside from there being a mythical figure by that name) was the flower which attracted Persephone that allowed Hades to snatch her up. See now you are getting me all confused lol!

    • I think that would be quite an interesting addition to ones garden if you can find it. I am not familiar with the reference made by Ovid myself. Let me know what you come up with….or even provide the quote from Ovid, because it may very well be interesting šŸ™‚

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