I have spent most of my life living in suburbia hell. You know the setting- tract housing that all looks the same. Tiny little postage stamp yards filled with grass and shrubs. It’s pretty much the standard for Arizona after the housing boom of the late 90’s. Almost everyone lives in tract housing or shoddily built apartments that have paper thin walls.
This is probably also a standard living situation for most Pagans. I know it is for me.
When you live in such a cookie-cutter setting, how does one find the land spirits that are around them? Can you even find local spirits inside of a subdivision?
I believe that the answer is yes, you can. You just have to know where to look.
Luckily for me I have spent 20 plus years in the Valley of the Sun. I’ve driven thousands of miles on this city’s roads and I’ve learned the ins and outs of the land. And I do believe that even here, in even the most suburban portions of this city, land spirits do still hang around and mess with your sprinklers when they’re bored.
They exist within the very streets you drive upon. They get their kicks screwing with the traffic patterns and watching people get angry over it. They show you that they love you by giving you green lights when you need them most.
They exist in the monotonous landscaping that lines our streets and dots our medians. It’s the land spirit that leaves a $5 bill on the sidewalk where you happen to pass every day, or the sneaky little spirit that guzzles up the remains of the soda in the Thirstbuster that got thrown out of a passing truck.
They exist in the reflective surfaces of the windows that make up our office buildings, and they make faces at you when you use the window like a mirror to pick food out of your teeth. They bask by your pools in the summer and topple over your snowmen in the winter (except not in central AZ. We just bask by the pool year round down here).
You can see where they gather the most- around the person’s house with all of the birds outside of it, and you know that the lady with the big flowers out front probably has some spirit that fancies her- because they help to keep the plants growing strong. You can see them mourning when a tree is felled by a storm or when some stupid human decides that that tree is not in an ideal spot and cuts it down for no reason.
They play in fountains that adorn apartment complex entrances and harass your dog as you walk him at ten at night. They play baseball in empty lots in between buildings and stop kids from chasing balls into the street.
They are all around us, and most of us never even realize it.
Every day I walk a stretch of pavement that is about a mile long. Every day I pass by the same gravel, trees, and houses on my way to where I’m going. Every day I can see and learn about how the local spirits are doing purely based off of what I see around me. They leave me little hints on the ground in the form of dropped papers or knickknacks (my astral companions are guilty of this, too). Its almost like divining based off of what I find on the side of the road.
They also leave me goodies that I can use in my practice. This can be in the form of feathers, rocks, critters or random stuff on the ground (mirrors, cordage, spoons, hubcaps).
As I walk, I can see problems with human design affecting the land spirits and lay of the land by watching where traffic buckles and where wildlife tends to get hit. And I always make a point to stop and say a piece to anything I come across that has met its end by the side of the road.
I nod as I walk by a tree that was felled in a storm last year, but hasn’t been cleared away yet. Something still hovers over the corpse of the tree, watching as people golf nearby and traffic rolls along without a care. I often catch a glimpse of the “locals” at the community pool as they stare at their reflection in the blue turquoise of the water.
There is a coyote that sometimes can be seen meandering through the subdivisions of this neighborhood. I always make a note of when I see him- because I feel like its important somehow.
It’s the little things, the little movements of suburbia that give away where the spirits are and whether they are happy or not. A place that has spirit activity usually has some amount of wildlife activity. The plants grow and the traffic isn’t filled with fatalities every other week. You can stand at the end of a subdivision street and look at the houses and watch where your eyes drift. Odds are, where your eyes go- so too do the spirits.
While we often think of them as being only in the wild places like woods with no cell reception, the truth is- they do still hover around us. We just have to open our eyes to them.