Witch Life

Land Spirits: Vaettir and Gaest

Sometimes honoring the spirits of the land and honoring the spirits of the dead becomes so intertwined that its impossible to focus on just one or separate them in your veneration at a particular time. That was how it was when my family and I went to the park yesterday.

Nearby Sanders Ferry Park is where we often take our son to walk around, play on the little playground, and, occasionally, watch boats and RC planes. We’ve noticed a small graveyard near the entrance of the park several times. It’s within the park’s limits and the area around it is well kept but is nestled right against an area of trees and vines. It keeps catching our eye so we decided to finally pay a visit.

Now we try to honor the park and the land we walk on as much as we can. We acknowledge that we need it and this park is where we gather black walnuts and where our son makes memories so it’s important to us in ways big and small. We pick up trash when we see it and pay homage to the spirit of the place.

When we went to this little cemetery, we weren’t sure what we would encounter. I brought bread to leave as an offering and sometimes, when a place is neglected, the vibe around an offering can be ravenous and frenzied. This was not. Instead the overall feel the whole time we were there was of 2 things:

  • Wariness with the question of “Have you come to gawk at us too?”
  • Curiosity as to why were there when we had no ties to these dead.

We walked among the headstones carefully and my husband, who is a reader of energies and connects with spirits much easier than I can, immediately pointed out that there were more dead here than marked. Of the markings there were 2 in-tact headstones and 2 that have seen enough damage that I can’t read them.

The smaller headstone reads:

To the memory of Franklin Sanders
Son of James (and?) Hannah Sanders

The larger headstone reads:

Giles Jones
Dec. 17 1810
July 17 1869

Find a Grave says Franklin Sanders died in 1801 but that his birth is unknown. It goes on to say:
“While there are no dates on this marker, historian Walter T. Durham, in his book, “Old Sumner, 1805-1861,” (published 1972), writes (pg 14) that Hannah and Franklin, two infant children of James and Hannah Dyer Saunders, were buried in this cemetery in 1801.”

Find a Grave has a lot more to say about Giles Jones. He was born in South Caroline and:
“Giles was the son of John Jones and Ms. Nancy Trigg he married Apr 2, 1835, Rutherford County, TN., Ms Zelphia Phelps, daughter of Joshua Phelps and Rachel Harris.”

While I took photos of the site and kept an eye on my son, Damon went into the trees just behind the grave site. When he came out we picked up glass and trash and walked back toward the main park area.

Damon later told me that he saw at least 3 human spirits, one female, as well as the spirit of a dog that guarded the area. We both felt similar vibes of wariness, that at least one person there isn’t a fan of being a sort of side attraction of the park but they were otherwise at rest and kept to themselves so long as they were not bothered.

I feel like honoring these graves, acknowledging them in a respectful manner rather than seeing them as a morbid side-attraction, is in line with honoring the spirit of the place itself. They are laid to rest there, some of them still remain for better or worse, and the spirit of the land is intertwined with their presence. By keeping their place clean and nurtured as well as the rest of the park, we honor the land.

I share this experience to encourage you to connect with places around you. Don’t just go to see what magick you can glean like gathering nuts and herbs and spoky photos for your witchy aesthetic. Go and connect with the place and give back. Send healing energy, pick up trash, and acknowledge the spirit(s) there with respect. You cannot have witchcraft without spirits and its better to build relationships with them rather than only call on them when you need something.

Many blessings,