A Question for my Readers Regarding House Spirits

I have a question for my readers if anyone would like to share their thoughts. I’m assuming that most of my readers are some form of Pagan, Polytheist, witch, etc. Regardless, most of these traditions are animistic. I know that many of the Pagan bloggers I follow live this worldview, approaching the world as filled with many and varied spirits.

So when you know that everything is enspirited, and you have a relationship with the spirit of your house (not simply a household spirit like the Lares or Penates) or with a piece of land, How do you let go when you are forced to move? Do you say goodbye to your old house, or have a ritual to thank and honor it for sheltering and protecting you? It’s not likely that the new residents will do the same, after all (although with Marie Kondo stubly sneaking animism into middle-class American culture, who knows). How do you build a relationship with the next house, knowing that you’ll only be there for a year or two as well, and that eventually you’ll have to abandon that one?
This is one of the things about our culture I hate most: the impermanence. I long for rootedness and permanence and to have a lasting, decades-long relationship with the same plot of land, no matter how small. It hurts me to develop a relationship with the spirits around me and then be forced to leave them. I still remember a particular treespirit I talked to when I was a teenager and how much I missed her presence when my family moved. The lack of a rootedness and a family home is something that a lot of people in this culture, or at least my lower-class bracket of it, suffer from, and I think we are worse off spiritually for it. It does contribute to a sense of drifting and disconnection from the community around us (both flesh-and-blood and spirit community) and it contributes to a sense of isolation and even a lack of spiritual discernment – I cut myself off from connecting to plant spirits for YEARS because it hurt so much when my family moved and I lost my tree friend. Yes, I was a lonely teenager. You can call me crazy if you want, but if more people thought of trees as friends, maybe we would not have wrecked the planet like we have.

I’m sitting in the parking lot in my car (named VAN-nessa, by the way, because yes she is alive and our cars are our modern steeds), and I’m about to go into my “mundane” job, so I probably will not respond to any comments until lunchtime. But this is something that has been weighing on my mind as fall approaches, since I will have to be moving in all likelihood.

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4 Responses to A Question for my Readers Regarding House Spirits

  1. Well Lars and Penates are more than house spirits. But I do get your point. Actually, Claude Lecouteux wrote a splendid book about houses and house spirits called “The Tradition of Household Spirits.” It will probably help you with your leaving.

    From the book blurb: Examines how the ancient customs of constructing and keeping a house formed a sacred bond between homes and their inhabitants
    • Shares many tales of house spirits, from cajoling the local land spirit into becoming one’s house spirit to the good and bad luck bestowed by mischievous house elves
    • Explains the meaning behind door and window placement, house orientation, horsehead gables, the fireplace or hearth, and the threshold
    • Reveals the charms, chants, prayers, and building practices used by our ancestors to bestow happiness and prosperity upon their homes and their occupants
    Why do we hang horseshoes for good luck or place wreaths on our doors? Why does the groom carry his new bride over the threshold? These customs represent the last vestiges from a long, rich history of honoring the spirits of our homes. They show that a house is more than a building: it is a living being with a body and soul.

    Examining the extensive traditions surrounding houses from medieval times to the present, Claude Lecouteux reveals that, before we entered the current era of frequent moves and modular housing, moving largely from the countryside into cities, humanity had an extremely sacred relationship with their homes and all the spirits who lived there alongside them–from the spirit of the house itself to the mischievous elves, fairies, and imps who visited, invited or not. He shows how every aspect of constructing and keeping a house involved rites, ceremony, customs, and taboos to appease the spirits, including the choice of a building lot and the very materials with which it was built. Uncovering the lost meaning behind door and window placement, the hearth, and the threshold, Lecouteux shares many tales of house spirits, from the offerings used to cajole the local land spirit into becoming the domestic house spirit to the good and bad luck bestowed upon those who seek the help of the “Little Money Man.” He draws on studies and classic literature from old Europe–from Celtic lands and Scandinavia to France and Germany to the far eastern borders of Europe and into Russia–to explain the pagan roots behind many of these traditions.

    Revealing our ancestors’ charms, prayers, and practices to bestow happiness and prosperity upon their homes, Lecouteux shows that we can invite the spirits back into our houses, old or new, and restore the sacred bond between home and inhabitant.

    • Yeah I’m aware that the Lares and Penates are more than household spirits. I was simplifying due to lack of time. I learned my lesson there too as well – when I lived at the cabin on the housestead my intention was to stay there for the rest of my life, so I painted and drew my lararium right onto the wall. Meaning it couldn’t go with me when I moved. Now I’m working on a canvas painting (actually I’m mostly usually using oil pastels, but you know what I mean) with a similar design, so it can go with me.
      And I have that book!! It’s really good, but I only got a few chapters in before I got distracted by something else. Unfortunately I am like that and I have about 10 books in various stages of being read. It’s still sitting next to my bed. I guess this is a sign that I should get back to it. Thank you

  2. There are cultural traditions, like my Serbian one, where the house spirit is invited to accompany the family upon moving. If you don’t already have an object like a spirit house (these may look like wooden bird-houses but can also be bottles or even dolls) that the spirit is coaxed to inhabit while it’s currently living with you/on your property, you can create and consecrate a house and invite the spirit to enter and have it accompany you to your new place. If the spirit can’t accompany you or is somehow understood to be more attached to the land itself, I hold formal ceremonies of thanksgiving and farewell. Dream incubation techniques, wherein in a pre-slumber ritual I ask the spirit to reveal itself to me with a message (even if it’s just a yes/no answer to a query of “Did you like your offering? Do you require something else?”) if it so pleases the spirit, almost always yield fruitful results. It’s true, our perpetually mobile culture can make establishing roots in a given place for an extended period of time very challenging. But think of the adventure of getting to know and grow your network of Helping Spirits as you move from place to place. 😉 Best of luck to you and many blessings for a safe and stress-free transition, not just for you but for your spirits as well!

    • Long, long ago I had a beautiful latern that I used as a spirit house for my ancestors. I don’t know what happened to it. I think it was in one of my storage units that I lost. 😥 I have been through so many damn moves, I am ready to just settle down like a rock and never budge lol. I never considered seeing if I could take the house spirit, but I’ll see if I can get the one here to come with me, because it’s such a gentle, nurturing presence. Thanks for the idea.

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