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Nature Spirits

8 9 PoWerS of Place local guardians, gods and goddesses Mankind has always seen divinity in nature, and some landscapes hold sacred status, home to powerful spirits of place. Tradition relates that in our ancestors eyes, hills were the breasts and hips of the goddess, while gullies and ravines granted access to her depths. Mountain heights and sacred oak groves were the domain of hunter gods like Herne and Cernunnos. Dark dense forests were the realms of fierce spirits of the wild, requiring respect and even fear. Devas and elementals, local gods, faeries, animal spirits and ancestors have all coloured the landscape and been the recipients of offerings since pagan times across the globe. Our relationship with them is sometimes carved into stone and sacred objects, even painted upon cave walls. Forests, rivers, and mountain ranges all have their local divinities, such as Tamara, the goddess of the river Tamar, and Sul, the goddess of the hot springs at Bath. The goddess Nemetona, of the druidic sacred grove, was once so powerful that she became the goddess of all sacred sites, her name becoming the public name which protected the hidden or sacred name of local gods which were known only to initiates. Barrow mounds in Wales, known as Cerridwens courts, come under the crone goddesss protection in a similar way, revealing the initiatory role of such structures. The ancestral human spirits, faerie and otherworld beings resident in a particular area, as well as the earth spirits of the place, whilst all retaining their individual awarenesses, also form a collective consciousness. This contributes to the formation of the special atmosphere that such sites evoke, as well as assisting the magic and connection sought by tourists and initiates alike as they visit or dwell in such ancient places.
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