Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Genivs Loci Civitatis

A discussion has been going on on Caer Feddwyd about the nature of magic (spell-craft, that kind of thing) and a point that has been raised is that the spirits of place that can be found in a town or a city are qualitatively different though not without their own potential, and perhaps not as conducive to the practice of magic. Before I moved to London and about six or more years ago I recall having a discussion with someone on the BBC pagan message boards about this and arguing, from my point of view, that spirits were scarce in cities due to their large scale separation from the 'natural world'.

I don't hold with this opinion any longer.

There are certainly genius loci in cities, though of a wholly different quality than open countryside. There are many places in central London which are positively buzzing with the accumulated echoes of history and human endeavour – small alleyways running off between tall buildings on Fleet Street, small overgrown parks within posh housing squares or the mighty Thames itself.

I wonder if the mechanism which is behind the accumulation of, and eventual 'creation' of a genius loci operates equally wherever you are but the net result is entirely different? Out in the wilds of north Wales you will get wild and free genius with no loyalty to humans and sometimes an air of mistrust or trepidation when humans interact and yet in a city where humans dominate you find genius which are far more 'human friendly' in nature? Very much a case of town mouse and country mouse.

p.s and thanks to Bo for latin lessons


Potia said...

I think you are right Lee. There are plenty of spirits of place within cities, it is just that finding them and getting to know them is different and I think more difficult in some ways too.

I think city spirits are more used to humans about but I think they are also more used to not being noticed. connectinig with them can be a bit like trying to get someones attention in a crowded busy room inmy experience. It may take a while but when you do connect it can be just as rewarding as chatting with someone you happen to meet while walking in the countryside.

Bo said...

I agree entirely.
PS civitaTIS! You need a genitive. (Unless you mean, 'The City, as a a Spirit of Place').

arth frown said...

Like your mouse analogy, Lee.

Countryside foxes are different to city foxes. the same could be said of spirit. I don't think it is as easy to connect with the city spirit because of the noise and other distractions.

Dreamguardian said...

I like the way you described the differences, in a way I had never thought of before. I ran way from the big city to the wilds of Wales & can feel the differences.