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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Genii Loci: Communal Spirits of Place

Having returned a few years ago to the general vicinity of my birth, I found myself more than ever considering regional cultus. There's something magical to the land touched by the Missouri River for me; it sings to me about it being my home and blood. I am the 5th generation of my family that has called this space home, and I marked the birth of the 6th generation with my daughter here as well. My husband jokingly refers to this as my spawning ground, but I sometimes wonder if there's truth to that.

I've set to trying to learn what I can classify as the Genii, an ambiguous term for the divine part of spirit in all things with souls. These may be Lares, heroes, natural spirits, or minor Gods; they may be Manes, the spirits of the Dead not quite elevated to the status of Lares yet. They may be somewhere in between, indefinable when not stretched under the pull of over-rationalization that I'm sometimes prone to.

This isn't always an easy task, but it's one I feel is important to undertake. So many times I fall to the trap of keeping my mind intellectually pinned into the space and time that the Roman Empire touched that I build solid walls that trap myself in. So I find myself asking regularly Who are our American Gods? Where do we find Them? And not simply the Spirits and Gods who were here before my European ancestors got here, but those we have created and transplanted as we've settled in this space.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anna Applegate
    Anna Applegate says #
    Wonderful article! I've had experiences both positive and negative working with the land spirits of places I've lived in (not my b
  • Camilla Laurentine
    Camilla Laurentine says #
    I agree most emphatically that not all spirits wish to have anything to do with humans. There are places we really simply don't b
  • Anna Applegate
    Anna Applegate says #
    That's so cool that you used to live by the Marshall Field's building--you have no idea how much I miss shopping there! (Macy's ca

Posted by on in Culture Blogs


Today’s blog is on the di Penates or Penates.  Blog number 9 of my gods of the “graveyard” series.  This one was extremely difficult to write because…well no one really agrees on who the Penates are.  The concept for the Penates and Lares comes from the ancient Roman domestic cultus and were at some point included as part of civil or state rituals.  They remind me a lot of the ancient Greek agathos daimons, which are good spirits/gods of home, family and/or individual.  Everything I’ve read on Penates and Lares boils down to the individual.  I’m including the Lares in this blog because they are often honored with the Penates and very hard for the researcher to tell apart.

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