The Rural Spirit Folk
Our ancestors knew much about the spirit folk dwelling in the wild nature. They gave them many names: kobolds, goblins, dwarfs, brownies, sylphs to mention only a view. Shamans are specialists, knowing both realities, the normal and the twilight, and can interact with these spirits. The dawn, the fog, midday or midnight and the solstices are the best times for looking after them and crossing the borders to the twilight. Many beautiful encounters will await the practitioner interested in meeting these folk. However, there are some rules to be observed in contacting rural spirits, otherwise problems on both sides can arise.
People sometimes ask me how I manage it to see the faeries. Honestly, I do nothing to see them. They let themselves be seen by me. Shamans and children can see the unusual and the magic of the nature much easier then the common adult. Their perception is open to the wonderful land of faerie tales and myths. The education has not gripped their gaze and banished the wonders and the ability to wonder, (yet). A dwarf once told me that the human don't want to see them anymore. Often spirits are camouflaged very well and difficult to see if sought consciously. They can become invisible instantly, which doesn't helps against shamanic vision, by the way.
On the countryside many different kinds of spirits are living. Some of them, which I know, I want to introduce to you in this article. The appearance is extremely variable. Most of them are wearing a hat or a cap and a coat. Each colour of skin is possible. The body size ranges from extremely tiny to mind-boggingly huge. Most spirits have some minor or major deformations.
In appearance these spirits resemble very much the plant in which they are dwelling. They are vaguely humanoid and each plant has a different spirit. There are some very powerful spirits of the plants. For example mandrake, which can be summoned for the wild hunt rite or belladonna. Plant spirits know much about herb lore and how to use them to heal. A plant spirit told me that it does not matter if it is being picked up, because the spirit lives in the other plants individual plants, too. Thus picking one singular plant does not harm the little spirit, living in it. During herb gathering these spirits can give valuable hints where to find the most potent ones. Plant spirits cannot move from one place to another, except they are being released (in the case of mandrake).
Very old spirits are dwelling in the trees. Trees lifes can last thousands of years. These spirits are thinking in other temporal dimensions than we do. Powerful arboreal spirits emanate a strong auric field which can be friendly and quite, but also malevolent and unfriendly. These trees are home of wise and old spirits. It takes some time until a tree spirits realizes your presence. If you want to work with a tree spirit, you have to visit and shamanize on a regular base with the tree for a longer period of time (to start with a fortnight is a splendid idea). Then the tree has time to feel and realize your presence. Ancient tree spirits are thinking in years and not in days. Sometimes ancient tree spirits are dwelling in comparable young trees. The spirit is look like a personified tree. The face is in the bark, some twigs are the arms, the crown is the hair and the head and the roots are the legs. In herbal lore it is known that the tree and the human are complementary: The human has its roots in the sky and the crown in the earth, just the other way around. Arboreal spirits can be very powerful friends.
Nowadays these spirits are very rare. In headwaters of rivers and in brooklets the river spirits are quite common, fortunately. They are playful and appear like elfs. Big rivers are dwelling place of spirits, too. Even when humans manipulated much and polluted the river. These spirits are often enraged and bitter ...
Clouds are a famous dwelling places for them. Air spirits tend to manifest themselves in the clouds appearance and can be extremely huge, but somewhat insubstantial. They are aloof and show no direct interest in human affairs. The thunderbeings are an exception to this rule. They appear to me as gigantic black eagles and thus I call them thunderbirds, after the traditional native american terminology. Sometimes these beings choose a shaman and become his tiergeist. These shamans are very powerful and very noticeable persons. Initiated by the lightning they are mad, just like their Tiergeist. The lakota heyoka-tradition is a well known manifestation of these thunder-shamans.
Dwarfs and Earth spirits
In the mountains I meet these spirits very often. They show up for many minutes and watch my steps through the rough terrain. Or they appear in my dreams and show me their treasures. The size of these folk can vary from little to as large as a mountain. It is a strange feeling to stand on the nose of a spirit. Earth spirits are silent beings. Knobby and compact faces and a sturdy body are typical characteristics. Remember, you can stand at the foot of a mountain! In the caves of these spirits the treasures of the earth are growing. Huge crystals (spirits themselves) glow and iridesce with in their own light. Greedy persons cannot see these treasures.
Will o' the Wisp or Jack o'-Lantern
When I am walking in the forest I can see many hundred of them. Most of the time they are blinking just a glimpse of a second and disappearing again, and sometimes they last even for a closer look. Following these lights means loosing the path. In some places in the forest or swamp there are not encountered at all. Sometimes I can see a little sylph flying with a lantern through the air or they ride a glow-worm. They have much fun. Once I visited a power place in the forest in the midst of October (!) and found hundreds of glowing worms on the ground, glowing. I dared not to make any further step, not wanting to harm any of them. Sometimes these spirits meet at certain places, and I stumbled in one of such meetings.
Elfs and Fey Folk
The little folk is part of many fairy tales and legends. Humans are meeting these spirits very often, in past times and again in modern times. If I want to meet them I ask my poweranimal to carry me to one of their places. They can be encountered at old power places, on dragon lines or in the deep forest. Of course on any other place, too. They look like handsome humans, sometimes with pointed ears. The fey folk is tiny in size, and sometimes I think the Will o' Wisps are just fey folk, too. Elfs are as large as humans and more. Elfs and the fey folk are a dancing and singing folk.
Kobolds and house holding spirits
There are a lot of different names and spirits known in the tales. Sure signs that a householding-spirit is nearby are disappearing little items like pens, credit cards, safety pins and the like. They can be very helpful and very irksome at once. The legendary brownies are kind and friendly roomers. More problematic are poltergeists, which are most of the time souls of the deceased or offended brownies.
Some remarkable individuals
The highest king of the elfs is being known under the name Oberon. It is said that he was being cursed that he has to remain dwarfish in appearance the whole of his life (which is lasting long). The master of the forest is an interesting being, too. His appearance ranges from a walking dung-hill to a tall man with antlers. Each forest has its master which is to be asked for allowance and safety if you want to enter the forest. An old woman washes the cloth of the recently deceased human souls at the river. In shamanic journeys you can meet her to receive a geas (a quest for a certain time period). If the geas is too difficult to fulfill an easier one can be obtained easily. Some examples: "Every time you are healing a client, give him a present" or "For a year and a day make a journey every day at least once in shamanic ways". Don't fool around with this ol' granny, or your cloth is next to be washed in the waters of the river ... At springs you can meet the guardian of the spring. They are kind spirits. Spirits dwell in old mines and in grave mounds, too. Circles of mushrooms (in german called "witches circles") are best for stepping into the other reality and meeting fey folk.
There are some things you must know, when dealing with rural spirit folk. The tales and legends are being told not necessarily from a shamanic perspective. Many events and bad endings can be explained by the unknowing actors of the story. Then the shamanic practitioner has to know by heart that these spirits are ancient and very old. They were here before we arrived and they will last far beyond our humble existence. Asking them about solutions for our mundane problems should be avoided. These spirits often had no contact with humankind for many hundreds of years and don't want to hear stories about broken homes. The best way is to ask them what they want to know or talk about. They are friendly and open hearted most of the time and invite you to feasts occasionally. These feasts don't mean any danger to you, on the contrary. Don't be hurt by some jokes. They are common among the spirit folk. Perhaps they wanted to show you your own problems on a different way. Little sacrifices like a little dish of milk or some flour, fresh apples or pears, some water or alcohol sprinkled in the four directions to honor the spirits, coins or smoke are serving your ends. Don not enter a powerplace like a mushroom's circle without a little rite of honoring the place.
I don't know why elfs sometimes have intercourse with humans, obviously in need of humanoid life energy. After a visit to the spirits it can happen that you have a surprising guest in the night. The spirits don't mean any harm to you in any way, it can be a lot of fun, instead. Typical some fey gifts are found at the following morning like fog, snow or leaves.
Some rural spirits are not benevolent and friendly to us mortals. Some of them tend to make bad jokes (think of the changelings). To protect yourself from these bad jokes there are some ways known to me. During the night these methods are helping well:
Wear clothing inside out
Iron nail in medicine bag or on the floor of a door
Open scissors over a child's bed
bred, flowing waters, salt, rowan berries, St. John's wort
shoes at your bed, with the front looking away
an old sock under the bed (They drive off humans, too. Think of the smell).
A knife under the pillow (Ouch, but in a scabbard tolerable)
This little article about rural spirits is ending here. Much more can be said but the best thing you can do is to meet them on your own. May Oberon watch your steps!