I’ve written a time or twenty about where I live, and about its importance in my Paganism. While the reality and the reasoning is nuanced and complicated, at its most simple–my land is (part of) my pantheon. As my land is my pantheon, it is only logical that I know its history, its mythology, its characteristics, and its other inhabitants. A nicely succinct guide for getting to know one’s land comes in the form of an old post from Sarah Lawless @ Witch of Forest Grove (she’s recently moved her blog, but all of her old posts are still there) on creating a profile for one’s genius loci.
You might recognize the word locus (plural, loci) from mathematics. Mathematically, it references a point or set of points whose coordinates fulfill a single equation or condition. But, before mathematicians co-opted the word for their own use, it was a term adopted from Latin meaning a location, place, spot, or position. The word locus can also refer to a center of activity or focus of attention.
So, this is my locus. Where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. As a geological feature, the Bay is only about 3000 years, formed by melting glaciers during the last ice age. In the past million years, this is the fourth bay that has formed at this location in this manner. The Bay is one the largest estuary in North America, and is constantly changing with the forces of wind and water. The Bay is home to over 2500 species and its watershed is home over 14 million people. Its natural and human history is fascinating, and the two are relentlessly intertwined (and have been since humans first came to this place).
My locus, as a place, is the center of my (religious) activity and the focus of my (spiritual) attentions. I gather water from the mouth of the bay to make my own ritual salt, I use the shells and sand and rocks and branches and vines from the beach and the woods and the waterways to make my own tools and decor, and I gather edible and medicinal and magical plants from here when and where I can. When I meditate, it is often to the sound of the waves and the pull of the tides. I see the gods in the Ocean, and the Bay, in the Beach, in the Tide, in the Woods–in the genius loci, or spirits of this place.