Cultures around the world testify to the existence of spirit beings of many forms, and every major religion and spiritual path has its accompanying otherworldly or supernatural intelligences. From angels to ghosts, demons to devas, despite modern western scepticism, the world to most humans abounds with spirits, seen and unseen, which can effect all of our lives in both subtle and dramatic ways. Of course every culture puts their own unique spin on what these beings actually are, but it can be said that they loosely correspond to three different areas of existence, what modern druidry and the Celtic tradition refer to as the three realms, Annwn- the world below, Abred, the middle world of physical and human affairs, and Gwynfed, 'the white life' the upper world or heavens. All three realms are a natural part of existence and it could therefore be argued that all spirits, including our own, are nature spirits. However , in modern times the term ‘nature spirits’ has become more associated with
the middle and lower realms, spirits connected to the earth and the rural or untouched environment. The reality however, is more complex but also more holistic, as there are spirits of everything, even computers and concrete. Everything in existence has its spiritual aspect, whilst some of these are quite inert, others can be very active. For example the spiritual presence of a storm or a piece of music can be felt by everyone, yet the spirit of a stone is not so obviously tangible. Yet the stone spirit still exists, and has done so for millennia, while the spirit of a storm, despite its clamour, has a brief existence by comparison. Yet it is important to realise that nature spirits do not conform to any single 'type', even when confined to this simple definition. The spirits of a particular environment are as varied as the flora and fauna, and the lines between each form are blurred in a continuous flow of individual choices and developments, evolving to and from the very source of existence itself.
Devas are the sanskrit and now the modern term for beings which are specifically attached to a particular plant or area. As they are connected into the green world of growing things rather than intellectual or material things, they are quite naturally more attuned to Source, and hold in their consciousness the blueprint or memory of whatever they are attached to, in its most perfect form. For example, a bluebell deva, the spiritual being of an individual bluebell holds the perfect sense and vibration of what a perfect bluebell is. In a sense, they have access to the perfect ‘idea’ of a bluebell, which first emanated from the Source before it manifested in physical reality. As the deva holds this energetic pattern, the physical bluebell is influenced and forms in close relationship with this perfect vision of itself. Of course not all physical bluebells are perfect, but the bluebell devas work for the bluebells highest good to the best of their ability. Other influences block the devas ability, such as pollution, the soil quality and weather patterns, as the bluebells existence interacts with everything else, but the bluebell deva remains.
Devas are also collective hive beings via their connection to source, and thus each other. The bluebell deva is connected to all the other bluebell devas and the overarching bluebell deva of which it is part, and it draws its energy and energetic pattern and vibration from these also, its lifespan being connected to the individual bluebell but not limited to it, as it
returns to the collective of the overarching bluebell deva when its flower has died. 'Overarching devas' are simply larger, collective spirits, a single consciousness made of multiple devas. The overarching bluebell deva is in turn connected to all the others and to the larger spirits of place, via larger and larger collectives as well as directly to the god, goddess and source. Therefore, the bluebell deva for an individual flower is also part of the deva of all bluebells, who is part of the deva of all flowers, and the deva of the garden or woodland for example, where the single bluebell lives. Larger collectives still of these spirit beings become gods and goddesses, such as the Welsh goddess Bloddeuwedd the maiden of flowers, or the Green Man, or the goat footed god Pan, who are considered the supreme gods of nature. In some peoples vision there are many ‘Pans’ which are both large collective hive spirits as well as part of the Great Pan himself. This micro and macrocosm of spirit goes on endlessly, from within the atom to the point of universal sized spirit beings and beyond.
Elementals are spirits whose nature and energetic pattern are either solely or largely of one of the four elements; earth air fire or water, all things being in part made of the fifth element, spirit ether or nwyvre. Some are considered to be of one element (as well than spirit) and can be thought of as having the most simple energetic vibrations. It is this type that is often called upon or created in ritual, especially so called 'high' magic. More complex elementals are connected mostly with one of the elements but can have one or more of the others also. For example storm elementals can comprise of a combination of air and water, as well as perhaps fire as lightening. A collective or hive of storm elementals combine to make a greater storm elemental. A larger collective again is sometimes considered to be a titan, the most ancient and vast elemental beings, connected to huge planet scale weather patterns or planetary shifts. Earth titans for example are responsible for and oversee earthquakes, plate shifts and the gradual movements of continents.
Genii loci - Powers of Place.
Nature spirits are sometimes considered to be Spirits or Powers of Place, although they can of course be devas and elementals as well. Powers of Place are spirits particularly connected to a specific area. They can be both devas and elementals, as well as overarching
devas, faeries, animal spirits, collective animal spirits and ancestral spirits, as well as local gods. 'Powers of Place' are not
confined only to areas of unspoilt wilderness however. They can be found everywhere, including the busiest and most polluted of cities and the filthiest of factories. Here they may be working tirelessly to care for and cleanse the earth beneath, the weeds at the side of the road and the polluted air above and all those who dwell in such places. These nature spirits, sometimes called angels when they are drawn from the upper realms, care especially for the wounded places, and the areas of most need. They care for the hospitals and the schools, the sewage works and the power stations, with the same care that they give to the tiniest of flowers. However, sometimes our impact on the environment, physically and psychically, is so negative that even these spirits are pulled into a negative pattern themselves and can also require healing and compassion. This can happen to spirits on all realms and is responsible not only for creating tales of 'evil' spirits, but also for creating atmospheres of fear, disease and dread, together with corresponding responses from humans in contact with them, consciously or unconsciously.
Since Pagan times until relatively recently, especially in Britain and Ireland, these Powers of Place; both collectives of beings, and the local old gods, had received offerings from the people. Forests and rivers, special trees and mountain ranges all have their 'geni locii' local divinities, such as Tamara the goddess of the river Tamar, and Sul the goddess of the hot springs at Bath. Barrow mounds and stone circles also have special powers of place, the stone spirits and their overarching guardians oversee places like West Kennet long barrow and Stonehenge to the smallest circles, being both the ancestral human spirits, faerie and otherworld beings resident in the area, and the earth spirits of the place, forming a collective consciousness, whilst also still retaining individual awareness. Offering to the Powers of Place is a tradition that spans millennia and has been revived by modern pagans today. Today offerings should always be biodegradable and well thought out, and one of the best offerings is to clear a place of human rubbish, and to protect the site from pollution or interference. However these offerings are never made to 'appease' the spirits, rather they maintain a bond of good relationship and interconnection which has positive and far reaching effects both for the individuals and for the wider whole. This was the wisdom of our ancestors, which we do well to remember today.
© Danu Forest 2018