Last week I wrote about when a relationship with your land spirits heads south and the problems that can occur with such a situation. For frame of reference, I wanted to write about a peculiar relationship I’ve developed over the years with another set of land spirits and some of the signs that show that my relationship with these spirits has gone right.
I grew up in a tiny mountain range in central Arizona called the San Tan mountains. These mountains aren’t anything special, honestly. Compared to the Superstitions to the north and Picacho Peak to the south- almost no one knows that the San Tans exist. They really don’t catch anyone’s attention (until the housing boom in 2004), but they were my home growing up.
When I was younger, there was almost nothing out in the San Tans. We had no running water (we had to drive into town, purchase water, bring it home and hook it up to a pump to get it into our house), we had nothing but dirt roads, and when we moved deeper into the mountains in high school, we didn’t even have mail service. Needless to say, we were out of the way and pretty much off of the map. To pass the time in such a location, I spent most of my days running around the desert looking at stuff. I used to meander through washes and climb up various rock faces. It wasn’t very long before I knew a lot of the landmarks for the area and I felt more and more comfortable walking further from home. In high school, I spent hours outside every week trying to find some peace of mind with my situation.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was effectively bonding with the local land spirits.
I suppose it should have made some sense, for despite all of my adventures on the backroads of the desert, I always managed to escape trouble. I evaded getting cactus in me (unlike in the Superstitions. I can’t set foot over there without getting cholla in me). I managed not to get bit by any snakes. And when flooding occurred in high school, somehow my car managed to plow through the river of a road to safety. However, I never really noticed that me and the land had anything special going on.
Eventually, progress would seep its way into the surrounding lands. I’d watch as my favourite trees would be cut down for homes and acres of land would be cleared for track housing. Luckily for me, as this was happening, my family moved to another part of the Valley so I didn’t have to watch the destruction of my childhood happen in real time. After college ended, I’d move out of the state all together and I wouldn’t be back to the San Tans for a few years after the fact.
Despite that, I still get dreams of the location.
It’s like even after all of these years, me and that location are connected. Whenever I dream of the San Tans, I know that someone is trying to tell me something. Every time I go there in dream space, its like I’ve traveled to an astral version of the location, and I can watch progress occurring on the Other Side as spirits carve out a living for themselves. It’s been very interesting to watch.
Now that I’ve returned to Arizona, I sometimes go out and walk through some of my old favorites (though I now have to shimmy under barbed wire to get there. Yay, “progress”) and connect with the land I grew up with. I think the area has moved on from the trauma ten years ago, especially since the economy halted a lot of the growth out there.
Now that I live closer to the spirits, I get even more dreams about them. I feel them move and whisper when I go to my grandmother’s house. I also listen to her stories of evading problems with local wildlife and I see her picking up pieces of the landscape and leaving them in her house- signs of protection, as though the spirits are telling me that they are keeping an eye on her for me, even though I’m not around much.
To me, this is the result of being tied to a land and its local fauna. These are signs that I’ve somehow managed to connect with some of the spirits that live in the San Tans. And as a result, they help me out from time to time. I don’t know what I did to garner their support over the years, but I am certainly thankful for it. Every time I head out to the desert in the San Tans, it feels like I’m heading out to see an old friend. It’s a feeling that I wish everyone got to experience.