When Land Spirits Go Right

09 Nov

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.

San Tan Mountains by Garry Wilmore via Flickr

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.


Posted by on November 9, 2013 in Land Spirits and Urban Spirit Work


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7 responses to “When Land Spirits Go Right

  1. Aine Rayne

    November 10, 2013 at 2:10 am

    Probably the clearest instance of feeling the land and land spirits that I can remember was the week I spent in the Poconos with my friends and boyfriend. We really didn’t even get to do much outside because it kept being cold and rainy, but the accidentally all-day hike was fantastic. I had never “heard” trees so clearly. It was so obvious they were whispering to us, and a particular tree helped all of us climb the steep ridgeline while we were trying to get back. Like, it was practically talking to me when I touched it after my friend and boyfriend had hoisted themselves up by it. “Here, hold here, come on.” My friend noticed it too, though less so. At a wilder part of the ridgeline I could sense that the trees were rather angry and nasty. A lot of them swatted at us and tripped us, and the bramble and blackberries were biting and tripping. One blackberry bush bit me hard because I mentioned wanting to eat its berries. Even though I pushed its thorns completely out of the way I managed to get caught right across both legs. Yay for jeans.

    There was also this tree in front of my grandfather’s old house. He was a hackberry tree that my sister and I adored. We were always talking about this tree, and to it. Its roots drove my grandfather crazy because it had warped and broken the concrete path from the front to the backyard so often that by the time we got old enough to marvel at it he had stopped trying to cut the roots and repair the path. We would pick up and play with its leaves and twigs and we loved to touch it or climb the porch railing to grab its low branches. We made games of trying to jump from the steps to pull branches and leaves down. We tried to climb it, but that always failed lol We always got upset when it got cut, even though we knew why it was getting cut. I think about Hacken the hackberry quite often, especially whenever I go past that neighborhood.

  2. meriset

    November 10, 2013 at 5:13 am

    I always feel a connection to the trees where ever I’m at. Our new area is pleased with many huge (by Arizona standards) trees, and I feel glad to see them. I like to think the trees ‘feel’ my love, too. There is something in them, they are alive in some way, and perhaps they have a sort of spirit.

    • von186

      November 10, 2013 at 9:00 am

      I would tend to agree on both accounts.
      I have an affinity for Palo Verde- esp in the spring when they are all in bloom :3

  3. melodykittie

    November 10, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Oh Hacken, that dear tree. Aine, you forgot the three trees in front of the Gm’s. They’re looking forward to Xander, and they always manage to shield that spot from the rain. Our grandmother also has plants all over her house, and while they aren’t loud or very talkative, I can always feel their presence. I’m a bit more in tune with urban land spirits though. They actually like all the noise, the hustle and bustle, although they still get irritated with pollution. What greenspace and fountains and such that are around they share, especially if the surrounding buildings have some bit of natural stone being used, like marble or granite.

  4. Sharon

    November 13, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    Heh! My first thought was, “You didn’t have running water??? How old are you?” Just kidding. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m probably old enough to be your mother. Anyway, my second thought is that it’s no wonder you grew up to be interested in the unseen world. Spending your formative years out in nature, able to explore with few limits…what a gift!

    • von186

      November 14, 2013 at 9:44 am

      haha my grandparents still have to haul water ๐Ÿ˜› It’s certainly a different mindset to be raised in. You really understand where your water is going and the effort it takes to get the water to your home.
      I never really considered it that way- I guess I thought it was normal for people to go run around in nature, but I suppose it probably was a different way to be raised, and it probably does effect my worldview in ways I don’t entirely understand or realize. :>


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