Animism & Spirit Work

animism the house of twigs spirit witchcraft emma kathryn thot

I love the woods at this time, the tail end of autumn when the world, or at least the northern part, is readying itself for its winter slumber. There’s a coldness to the air, a tang that tastes of wildness, and the trees have almost finished the shedding of their leaves, that colourful parade of death that is dazzling to be behold.

The woods are alive. The rivers and streams too and all of the wild places, anywhere where Nature has given a part of herself.

The whole world is alive.

All is spirit.

I am an animist. It took me a long time to realise this about myself, perhaps because I didn’t always realise what it was. I felt connected to everything, to the trees in my garden to the ones I pass every day, to the birds and the critters and even the crawling things. That connection is the recognition of spirit – my spirit connecting with theirs.

Animism is the recognition that everything has a spirit, a soul. 

This is the very beginning of spirit work, the recognition of spirit.

When we talk of spirit work, we automatically jump to images of ouija boards and conjuring; of working with the spirits of those who have passed from this life. And whilst that does indeed form a part of spirit work, it is not all that there is. 

Genius Loci

Have you ever found a place, the woods perhaps or a secluded grove, or even a section of the street that somehow feels different to other places? When I was a kid growing up on a poor council estate, there was a group of trees known locally as the monkey trees (because all of the kids would climb them, glorious yew trees whose branches caressed the earth). I always felt that this place was different, magical almost, but then, back then of course, I had no idea what animism was. I didn’t need to, for kids don’t care for labels and names. Children are more accepting.

The genius loci, or spirits of place play a large part in my own witchcraft practise. But this relationship has taken years to garner. It is not something that is instant, but instead creeps and grows and it’s not until you look back to the beginning of your journey that you realise how much you have grown.

So where to begin? Well start with where you live. Build a relationship with those beings around you. Make an effort to go out and interact. It might be as simple as sitting beneath a tree in meditation. Do this daily or weekly and you begin to see things from a different perspective. You’ll be surprised at all that you notice, things that you never even realised or noticed before. Leave offerings of water and food that the birds and beasts may enjoy or tidy the area and dispose of any detritus.  The important thing is that you commit time and effort. Sitting once or twice is not enough. Do it daily or even weekly. Do it over days, weeks, years. 

You will never stop building that relationship with your genius loci, and though you may be thinking that it is too much, that you just don’t have the time to commit, that doesn’t matter, just start small. It won’t be long before you realise just how beneficial it is, in the mundane as well as in the magical. Indeed there is no distinction for all is spirit.

  • Author Posts
My name is Emma Kathryn, my path a mixture of non-Wiccan Traditional British Witchcraft and Obeah, a blend that represents my heritage. A Devotee of Hekate, my witchcraft is what is needed when needed. I live in the middle of England with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs.
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My name is Emma Kathryn, my path a mixture of non-Wiccan Traditional British Witchcraft and Obeah, a blend that represents my heritage. A Devotee of Hekate, my witchcraft is what is needed when needed. I live in the middle of England with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs.
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