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Hungry, Hungry Land Spirits

When I want optimum yield from my garden, I feed the soil with composted vegetable matter, old manure and yummy organic fertilizers.

When I am hungry, I make myself something healthy and/or delicious because I know this machine doesn’t run without fuel.

So this time of year, (and really, all the time–who am I trying to fool?) it feels to me as though there is hunger around me in the unseen parts of my world. I feed the land spirits–those non-corporeal energy beings that I refer to as The Cousins–and I feed them first, even before I start lobbing coconut cake at my matronal Ancestors.

They are with me all the time and they are very helpful. I interact with them on an almost-daily basis and they seem to me to expend a lot of energy on my behalf. I don’t keep the Ancestors waiting long but I honor my commitment to these friendly fellers who bring such zest to my life.

I have discovered that the land spirits around here are found of oddments. I bring them alcohol–corn liquor if I have it–and brightly-colored candy. Those gummi hamburgers and fries? They seem to dig those. They also like any kind of Peeps–the brighter the better. I sometimes pour instant coffee out for them and I often will ring a stone cairn in my garden with corn meal, as a tip of the hat to the foods left by the Original Peoples in this region.

They also like shiny things–bits of broken mirror, those flattened glass beads that florists use in cut arrangements, slim pieces of mica. And for reasons unknown to me, they like empty shotgun shells. If I find those when I am out in the woods, I save them for The Cousins and leave them in a special place for them.

I might give them delicious cheesecake but I suspect they wouldn’t appreciate it.

Are your land spirits hungry? Do you feed them actual food or symbolic food? I’ve know people who leave out pictures of food from magazines or plastic food that comes from a child’s play-set. Mine are dubious about all that–or so I understand. They like the real thing–even when it’s full of artificial flavor and color.

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H. Byron Ballard is a ritualist, teacher, speaker and writer. She has taught at Sacred Space Conference, Pagan Unity Festival, Southeast Her essays are featured in several anthologies, including “Birthed from Scorched Hearts“ (Fulcrum Press), “Christmas Presence“ (Catawba Press), “Women’s Voices in Magic” (Megalithica Books), “Into the Great Below” and “Skalded Apples” (both from Asphodel Press.) Her book Staubs and Ditchwater: an Introduction to Hillfolks Hoodoo (Silver Rings Press) debuted in June 2012. Byron is currently at work on Earth Works: Eight Ceremonies for a Changing Planet. Contact her at,


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