Genius Loci and Sacred Sites
Genius Loci, also Genii Loci, or the spirit of the place, is a very special kind of Nature Spirit, or even a special kind of faery, again we see how easily the boundaries blur together when we try to define this being.
The Genii Loci is a guardian if you like, a being that is bound to a specific place, this can be a sacred place like a stone circle for example, but also a part of a forest, a mountain region, or a part of the beach near the ocean. Every place on earth has a spirit of the place, even your garden, or the village you live in.
The Genius Loci is the soul of the place, the essential personality, it brings the place to life and it is this energy you will feel, while dwelling at certain places.
Our ancestors were more in tune with the landscape around them, they were more capable of recognizing sacred sites than we are today. They lived in the landscape, and were more aware of the changes and shifts of nature and their survival relied on their senses towards nature.
Whenever you want to connect with the spirit of the place use all your senses; feel, smell, observe even taste your surrounding (No you don't have to eat dirt).
Explore your chosen area in all its details. You can do this everywhere, even in the city.
- What kind of plants and trees are growing nearby?
- What is the color platte of this place?
- What is the most prominent feature ?
- What can you hear, smell, feel?
- How does the light behave in that area?
- If there are any houses around notice their architecture, what comes to your mind?
- Does this place feels welcoming?
- Observe the changes that occur over time, the change of seasons, the different times of day
Write your observations down if you like
These are some ideas to connect closer to the spirit of the place of your own local area. Learn as much as you can about the place you live in. Become aware of the plants that surround you, foraging is a wonderful way to explore them. Maybe you have the possibility to take part in foraging walks, they are offered in many places now. If you have no such offer you could also get a good guidebook on wild herbs and collect the plants yourself. However be really sure that you have the right herbs before consuming them. A simple plant for example that you can gather is dandelion. Everybody knows this bright yellow flower and in spring you can collect the young fresh leaves to make a salad, and the flowers for making dandelion honey, which is so delicious by the way.
Another way to get to know your place better is to take regular walks around your area, again do this at different times of the day, so you might see different people, and you can see how the colors change, and the dance of light and shadow varies during the day. When you observe the people who live at the same place as you, you might find similarities which has drawn you to the place where you live now.
Something else you could do is to visit your local cemetery, I know this might not be everybody's cup of tea, but this is a place of history, a place of souls who lived in this place long before us and you might get some insight by doing this.
Whenever you have a celebration outside, may it be for a full moon, for one of the eight festivals, or just simply a barbecue with family or friends, invite the genius loci to be part of the festivities. Include the spirit of the place in your rituals.
You could for example make a little altar or shrine for it. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, you could just take a plate and put some stones on it that you’ve collected around your house. You could also put a little bit of soil in a jar or on the plate. Gather some acorns or fallen branches from around. Do what seems right and what you feel represents the spirit and the energy of the place around you.
Go to a place that means something special to you, and become still and tune in for a little while.
For those of you who work with, Tarot, Oracle, Runes, Ogham, or any other divination tool I want to share with you a Spread that I’ve created to connect with the Spirit of the place. But if you don't work with any of those tools, please know that you too will be able to connect with the Genii Loci and you can ask questions without any tools. Many times I've visited sacred places and set my cards aside and just fully tuned in, into the energy of the place. The results are just as good and even if you work with cards I encourage you to try it without any tools.
Here are the positions of the Spread :
1. What is the energy of this place?
2. What was the purpose of this place in earlier times?
3. What is the purpose of this place today?
4. What is the best way to approach this place?
6. How can I be of help for this place?
7. What can I not see, what is hidden?
8. What else do you want me to know?
Go to your special place, a place that is well known to you, without any tools, or without anything that might distract you.
Enter this place respectfully with the clear intention that you want to connect with the Genius Loci.
Find a comfortable position and become still and let your breath become slow and steady.
Become aware of the four directions, east, west, south and west. This will give you a sense of direction and a sense of being centered. Listen closely to the sounds that surround you and explore the details of your environment with all your senses, see, feel, hear, smell, and even taste the air around you. Ask the Spirit of the place to open the well to its essence. Wait for his answer, if you don't feel any resistance you can proceed to the next step. If you feel any kind of unwillingness please leave it to another day. Resistance from a Genius Loci is usually felt quite strongly, so if you feel just a bit insecure it is possible that your own nervousness creeps in, take a few deep breaths and try it again, take all the time you need.
Opening the source
If you are ready, open the source of this place by drawing a spiral on the ground, start in the middle and draw the line counterclockwise outwards. Cup your hand and reach into the spring of pure essence that you just have opened. Move your hands over your head and let the essence pour down on you, repeat this as often as you like.
You have bathed in the essence of the place, let your breath become slow and steady again and ask the Genius Loci your questions. Often we get answers in forms of feelings, little signs in the environment, images might be sent to you or you can even hear the answers. This is highly individual, and even if you think it might not have worked, it is very likely that you had a definite energy exchange with the spirit of the place.
Close the spring again by drawing a spiral clockwise from outwards inwards to the middle.
Just to simplify the opening : lefty loosey, righty tighty 😁
Do this exercise as often as you can during this lesson. Remember to keep an open mind and an open heart, every time you want to connect with the Otherworld.
There are many sacred sites around us, and once again I want to suggest to visit the website
http://www.megalithic.co.uk if you haven't done this yet. You can find all kind of sites and sacred places at this page, such as standing stones, sacred wells, stone circles, burial mounds and much more.
It should be very clear that all these places have to be treated with the uttermost respect. For most people this is very clear, and I don't think we have to mention here not to clutter those sites with any kind of garbage.Yet there are still way to many people who do not understand this, and yes also in the Pagan community. I just give you a few quick examples what I mean. A couple of years ago I visited the famous Oak trees Gog and Magog in Glastonbury, I truly enjoyed the energy to be there. The site of Gog and Magog is quite popular and they are very ancient trees, one of them is dead (very dry wood), and still some worshippers think it is a good idea to let candles burn at this place; unobserved. Of course it had to happen at some point and those two beautiful trees caught fire in 2017. It broke my heart to see the images of the burning oaks, and again we see there are ignorant people in every community.
On other sites you can see how people leave food at a sacred site, in general that’s okay, if you pick it up again on the next day. But you also have to consider what kind of food you leave, as wild animals or even just dogs running free may eat it. Then we also have people who bury crystals under stone circles, because they think it raises the energy. It’s hard for me not to say anything here, especially the New Age scene may disagree at this point, but I mean here we are at a thousands of years old site, with thousands of years old stones, but the rose quartz we bought in an online shop (probably gained with questionable ethics) will balance the energy again. Just please no, don't do it. Respect the place, the beings and the energy.
I do apologize for my rant here, but I find it so frustrating that there really is no respect anymore.
So in general, whenever you visit a sacred site remember : „Take nothing but photos, and leave nothing but footprints.“ Very simple rule.
If you want to work on a sacred place it might be good to know these places are utilized but not „used“. Don’t use the energy at these sites, instead work with it, strengthen it, build it. It isn’t about what WE can get, it is about what we can achieve together.
My favorites sacred sites to visit are standing stones, stone circles, and burial mounds. I always had a great affinity to stones, as I mentioned already, and I can hear them sing and receive messages from them, which I wasn't able to tell anybody for a long time, because I didn't want to be declared as crazy stone lady.
In Folklore we can often read about people’s belief that ancient standing stones had the power to heal a variety of ailments or aid fertility.
A good example for healing is Mên-an-Tol.
For hundreds of years farmers with back pain would crawl through the ring-stone in the belief that it would cure their condition. Another folk belief is passing a child through the ring stone will cure them of rickets but only if the process was repeated nine times. It is also believed that Mên-an-Tol has a special guardian, so again we can find the idea of a genius loci here, it protects the stones and sometimes offers magical cures or special gifts. Some say it is a pixie, others believe it is the spirit of an ancient magician, possibly even Merlin himself. I’ve been at this site a few times now, and even if I didn't suffered from any back pain, I always crawled through as another belief is that you may come out in the realm of Faery 🙂
Another standing stone is the Menhir Kerloas, it can be found in Finistère, France and it is said that newly married couples should visit the Kerloas menhir on their wedding night in order to improve their family prospects. The woman would rub her naked body against one of the humps in the stone, while her husband would do the same to the other hump. When you visit this menhir today you can see that the stone is much smoother at these spots. My husband and I visited this standing stone in our honeymoon, not really for fertility purposes though. It is quite an impressive stone, and now around ten meters high, the stone lost the top two metres or so during a severe thunderstorm 200 years ago. The top part was blasted away by a lightning strike.
In 1976 Dr. Don Robins took some readings with an ultrasonic detector at the Rollright stone circle. He discovered an ultrasound anomaly focused on the outlying King Stone. There was a pulsing sound that intensified just before and after the winter solstice. This pulsing could be converted to an audible noise and on a number of occasions the stones seemed to „sing“.
He also investigated the area for magnetism. It was found that the magnetic field intensity was significantly lower inside the stone circle than outside. Yet at other stone circles they discovered that the site was highly magnetic, so magnetic that the needle of a compass could be made to turn around when held up to the stones.
Because of the magnetism and also a natural radioactivity these sites can be places of psychic discovery as well as healing. Time and time again sightings of ghosts, faeries, spirits, and even UFO’s have been reported. Not everybody will start to have visions at these places, but some people are very receptive, maybe they have retained an ability that most humans have now lost.
The exposure to magnetic and radioactive anomalies can have odd effects on some people’s mind; the pineal gland for example, when exposed to changes in the Earth’s magnetic field, can cause shifts in consciousness and time-slips. Otherwise when the brain is exposed to strong electromagnetic fields, hallucinations, seeing odd lights, a feeling of being watched and of paralysis can be experienced.
In folklore we find suggestions that sleeping at a particular place could lead to altered states of consciousness. One example for this could be Cadair Idris in Wales, it is said that if you sleep on the mountain you will either wake up a poet or a madman.
It is not really clear how these ancient sites were used, but communication with spirit and ritual was part of it. I’ve had a very strong experience at Carn Euny myself as I connected with the Genius Loci. You can find a Bonus Video of this place and another one at the end of this lesson.
I will not go into detail, but I’ve received a glimpse on how our ancestors did their rituals. It was wild, it was very free form, and immensely powerful.
My hubby caught me while doing very serious Underworld work ;o)
It is now widely accepted that long barrows are not simply graves. An interesting fact is that the bones of the dead were brought long after the bodies had been decomposed elsewhere. The bones were then distributed amongst the chambers, while large bones were collected together, and similarly skulls and finger bones were sorted out into discrete piles.
It is thought that the bones were removed for ritual purposes and returned afterwards. It has been suggested that a gifted person of the tribe had the power of the oracle and could hear voices, perhaps from the skulls of the dead.
Recently I listened to a speech from Paul Devereux, an important author for Earth Energies and Ley lines, he mentioned that during his research and work he figured out that the Preseli bluestones ( Stonehenge stones for example) have the usually rare property of being “musical”. That is, they can ring like a bell or gong, or resound like a drum, when struck with a small hammerstone, instead of the dull clunking sound rock-on-rock usually makes.
There can also be other sonic properties to archaeological sites. Sometimes, they can be manifested by wind, water or heat expansion sounds issuing from crevices in the rocks of natural sites (which then became venerated and often marked by rock art), or by blowing into holes in venerated rocks. Also, the architecture of some temple structures appear to have been deliberately designed so that percussion or wind would produce sounds providing weather warnings or even quite sophisticated “acoustic symbolism”.
The physiological and mental effects of sound, on the assumption that one of its ritual functions was to generate altered mind states to aid visionary experience. In one acoustic experiment at the Orkney chambered mound of Maes Howe, Keating reported being put into a state in which his body became relaxed but his mind alert, an initial stage of deep trance.
A beautiful site I’ve visited a few times in the past is Boscawen Un in Cornwall, even if magical is a bit of an overused word when it comes to sacred sites, this place is truly magical. Apparently it is a very popular spot for the local Pagan community to hold ceremonies, but I don't think it is a very popular place that tourists visit, this is just an observation from my own experience though. Every time we went to this stone circle we had the place for ourselves for a couple of hours.
I’ve been there this year again and made contact with a very warm spirit of this place.
This site is in excellent condition.
The energy is incredible high at this place, you feel like it is flowing effortlessly through you.
So if you ever have the chance to visit Cornwall and you don't know what stone circle you want to visit first, this one is definitely a must-see.
Another very popular site in Cornwall is the Merry Maidens Stone Circle. This one is well visited as you can park your car right next to it. Legend has it that the stones of this circles are the petrified remains of women having been turned to stone as punishment for dancing on a Sunday. Even though folklore seems a bit harsh this site feels very warm, and well, merry.
Not far from the merry maiden we can also find two standing stones, called the Pipers. One legend tells us that the two pipers who were playing the music nearby the Merry Maidens tried to flee when they saw that the maiden were turned to stone, but they didn't get far and so they turned to stones themselves. Another legend tells us that the stones were placed to mark the position of two opposing chieftains during a battle in the 10th century. The battle was said to be between the Cornish Celts and the Saxons.
One of these stones has the reputation to be a healing stone and the other one is a bit darker, it has the reputation to be a burial marker for a massacre that happened 1500 year ago.
Here are two pictures of the stones, can you guess which one is which ?
There are so many different sacred sites, and each one of them will have a unique quality and energy, and they will always be surrounded by their local legends and folklore. Many of these places are connected to the Faery Realm or our ancestors. A lot of them were or still are used for ritual practices and you can observe many different phenomena at sacred sites. The energy of these places will always be closely connected to the Genius Loci and it is worth working with this special kind of spirit.
I wish you much fun working on this lesson and here you can also find the two Bonus Videos :
Your Faery Homework
If you work with any kind of divination tools go to a place to communicate with the Genius Loci. This can be any place you like, from a hidden nook in a park, to a sacred stone circle. Enter this place with respect and with the intention to communicate with the Spirit of the Place. Become still and tune into the energy of the place. Then shuffle your cards and layout the spread as discussed before. Write your answers down and feel free to share your results with me.
- Tuning In
For those who don't work with any divination tools, and also those with divination tools.Perform the exercise as discussed before. Write down what messages you’ve received and feel free to share your results with me.
- Opening the Source
Sometimes we don't necessarily feel the urge to communicate with the Genii Loci, maybe we are to tired, we don't feel receptive, or we feel that we don't have enough time. If this is the case please know that you can do the exercise by just opening the source, bathe in its essence and close it again. This way you can still connect with the place. Try this out first in places you are well aquatinted too, and after a few times you may try this out in places that are unknown to you.
Write about what the differences were for you, if there were any at all, how you felt, and write
about your general experience with this exercise.
Work with the suggested activities to explore your local Genius Loci
- Sacred Sites
Explore your local sacred sites, or do some research about sacred sites you want to visit in the future. Read about the legends, the sacred geometry or just about the archeological history.
Ley Lines - The Greatest Landscape Mystery by Danny Sullivan