Spirit Beings - Great Mystery: Touching the Soul

Kindling the Native Spirit: Sacred Practices for Everyday Life - Denise Linn 2015

Spirit Beings
Great Mystery: Touching the Soul

Stand facing a mountain such as snowcapped Mount Rainier in Washington State or the renowned Mount Fuji in Japan, and you cannot help but sense the living spirit of the mountain. It feels alive. To an indigenous person, every part of creation is alive, and it’s essential to honor and communicate with the individual spirits of nature. There are Wind Spirits; Sea Spirits; Lake Spirits; River Spirits; Forest Spirits; Bird and Animal Spirits; Tree Spirits; Thunder and Lightning Spirits; Rock and Mountain Spirits; Storm, Rain, and Cloud Spirits; and more. They are sometimes given names. For example, to the Maori, Rôamoko is the spirit of earthquakes and volcanoes. To the ancient Oyo people of West Africa, Shango is the spirit of storms and thunder and lightning. (Honoring him, when thunder is heard, is thought to empower your drumming and your dancing.) To the Shona people of Zimbabwe and Mozambique, after the harvest of millet, the ancestors and the Spirits of the Land must be honored before any of the millet can be eaten.

There is great value in taking the time to honor the nature spirits. If they’re around your home, they’ll help keep you and your family safe and protected. A home surrounded by strong land spirits feels very different from one in which the nature spirits have receded. There will be fewer break-ins, more goodwill, less anger and upset, and fewer nightmares and illnesses.

Simply taking the time to offer a small blessing, as is done in tribal cultures worldwide, will invite the nature spirits to shower you in turn with blessings. When you honor and respect each of the elements in nature, the place inside of you where they dwell is also blessed.


Blessing water sources is traditional in almost all indigenous cultures. One of the most moving ceremonies in which I have participated occurred in Thailand, less than two months after the devastating tsunami in 2004. In Thailand, thanks are given to the waterways and rivers, with floating flower offerings, once a year in November during the full moon. But this was a special blessing ceremony in February because of the tsunami. Standing on the bank of a stream, high in the mountains, a Thai holy man offered prayers to the Water Spirits for blessings for the waters of the world. He humbly asked that the Spirit of the Stream (which would eventually flow to the sea) bring soothing, healing energy to all the shores that it touched. We then took candlelit offerings to float in the stream with the intention that our offerings would bring healing to the areas touched by the tsunami.

It’s not uncommon to gift offerings to the Water Spirits. In India it’s a regular custom to offer food, fruit, and clothes to all lakes and wells once a year to honor the Water Spirits. In some cultures a small amount of water is placed in a hollow gourd or pottery vessel, and the water is blessed with prayers or by singing into the water. Then, ceremoniously, the water is poured into the lake, stream, river, well, or sea.

Wherever you are, taking a moment to honor the spirits of nature can enrich your life. Here is an exercise to help you learn how to do so:



1. Believe: The first step to honor nature spirits is to believe that they exist.

2. Greet the Spirits in Nature: The second step is to go out into a place that is wild and uncultivated. Be still. In your mind (or aloud) greet the spirit of the mountain, valley, lake, creek, trees, or wind. Your words don’t need to be ceremonial. It can be as simple as saying, “Hello. I’m honored to be here.” (If you’re in the city, under all the concrete is the earth, so you can still connect and communicate with the Earth Spirit beneath you.)

3. Make Offerings: Since we share the planet with the spirits of nature, we need to be in the right relationship with them, especially as we take so much. When we continue to take from the earth without giving something back, it becomes depleted.

The offering is a way of giving thanks for the spirits who maintain the energy of the land upon which we depend. If you’re unsure what kind of offering to leave, use the rule of “similar.” For example, if you want to honor a mountain, then the gift of a stone or pebble is good. If you’re honoring a tree, then a gift of a seed or an acorn is great. If you’re honoring a volcano, “firewater” (alcohol) is often used as an offering. Of course, you can leave any kind of offering, such as fruit, berries, wine, alcohol, bread, stones, tobacco, cornmeal, a bit of hair, or even money for any of the spirits. As long as it is done with an open and loving heart, it will be gratefully received.