An Encounter with a Land Spirit
I had planned this vacation for a long time, a very long time indeed. Finding a hideaway in the Bavarian Woods - the largest national park of closed forest space across Europe - that would allow my wife and I to spend weekends out in a completely remote environment. It took me more than three years to find the place we were finally about to visit.
The 300 year old farm house is located in a dead end street that curls down into a remote valley of forests and marsh meadows. A few hundred meter from the house the Czech border cuts through the land invisibly - behind which a huge open space of primeval forests stretches out over the hills. Yet, we arrived late at night and so whole the scenery lay in darkness. All we realized when we got out of the parked car was the starry sky, the wide open night, the birds calling in the invisible woods and our landlord coming down from the house to welcome us...
The house she has refurbished with two guest apartments, a small shop and her own living area is a true treasure chest of good taste and simple, pure design. In order to appreciate this fact, what you need to know about Bavaria in general and the area of the Bavarian Woods in particular is that it is not only the home of some of Europe’s most beautiful nature but also of citizens with the worst possible taste you could think of. In fact this is why it took so long to find this space. It has to be said: in this part of Germany people pay little to no attention to the quality of food they eat or the design of houses, streets and even whole towns they live in. In stark contrast the beauty of nature lives side by side with some of the most crude and distasteful towns and houses you will ever see. Enter a grocery store and you’ll be surprised to find crippled and canned versions of food on sale which not even your grandmother would have touched in post war years. Yet, these people take it from the shelves with a happy smile of relief realizing the ‘great value for money’. Don’t get me wrong: It is not that people here were poor and couldn’t afford anything better. Most of the houses that are still inhabited are actually carefully refurbished to very high standards. It seems rather than from necessity disgrace is born from conscious choices in many of these remote forest villages?
So in order to find our hideaway we needed to hide away not only from the noise of the few towns spread about this remote area but also from its people and many horribly redecorated farm houses. Luckily, this is exactly what the landlord of the Haidl-Madl farm house achieved - and with exceptional quality and taste. Rather than explaining all the stunning things she built into the small apartments I am sharing a few pictures below. What you’ll find is that every room lives from very pure and simple forms, all colors kept down to the whitewashed walls and the natural wood. Inspired by nordic design the whole house breathes simplicity and attention to detail and even the smallest features are kept to the highest quality.
I woke up at 5am on our first morning. The woods were still covered in darkness and fog. I got up and started writing in the small bedroom next door not to wake up my wife. A few hours later the sun had come up and dissolved the early morning fog. It was a bright and stunning day. I walked downstairs, got a coffee and sat down in front of the house overlooking the rest of the valley and the deep forests ahead. After a while of taking in the deep beauty of this place, I closed my eyes and went into the Void. I emerged on the other side and stood on the porch again. The colors were flaring in the crystal light of my vision. I turned around, looked at the huge front of the house and called for the house spirit to emerge.
She approached me without hesitation. Her body was geometrical, translucent and very tall. She stood on a slender foot of light which broadened into a sphere of shining light in the middle of her body and tapered back into a pillar of light above her. When I started speaking to her, a plumage of light fanned out across her sides, enclosing the central sphere in a wheel of rays of light. She was of incredible beauty and incredible calm.
She said her name was Ku****a and she had taken her dwelling in this house. She wasn’t the spirit of the house itself, but she was the spirit who had started working through the substance and nature of the house as her gateway. The work our landlady had done to the house had shaped into a vessel strong enough to carry Ku****a’s forces into the land. She was a spirit of beauty and power and so was the house on a material level. She said she couldn’t be here without the work the woman had done. On my question what particular type of work she was engaged in, she replied to infuse the above into the below and vice versa. The forces of the land were so raw and pure, so condensed and strong in this area, they needed infusion of the power of the sky and air. Just like the soil in a marsh it needed infusion of large amounts of oxygen and fresh water in order not to go toxic and make its ecosystem collapse into death. Equally the sky and air needed the imprint and influences of the land on them. Without these there was no growth, no new impulses in the mental sphere of the land. They needed each other - land and sky - and the spirit living in this house was one of the gates through which this exchange and mutual fertilization was made possible. Interesting enough, Ku****a made it clear that she couldn’t foster this process without the help of a physical structure. May it be a forest temple, a stone shrine at a crossroads, a holy cave or a redecorated 300 year old farm house brought to new life. The forces of the spirit that married the land with the sky depended on man made structure as a medium, just like electricity needs copper wires to flow or just like a river needs a bed to run through.
That night, after a long walk through the primeval forests, when I got to bed early I asked Ku****a for a favor. I asked her to explain to me in my dreams how specifically the work happened she was fostering. How exactly did she marry the forces of the sky with the powers of the land?
At 2am I awoke and wrote down the following dream-answer:
“There once was a demon caught in the earth, striving to come through on the material plain. He pushed against the surface of the earth so that his features became visible for short moments before disappearing into the ground again. After a while the demon learned that he would never pierce through the veil of the material plain without some help. Even though he was possessed by the idea of taking a material body he wasn’t made to achieve it on his own. He was lacking the key. The key he needed was of human nature - as humans formed a natural gate between the plains which he could use to step through.
Thus the demon lay in hunt, waiting for humans to cross the land where he was living. But the humans had learned about the demon in the land already and grown full of fear. They knew the demon would try to strike a mischievous pact with anyone who would try to cross his land. Whatever he’d offer in return for using their bodies as a threshold to step over would not last very long. As becoming a living shell through which the demon could pass back and forth meant there was little space left for oneself in one’s body...
Thus the humans reacted like they always did under threat: they tried to manipulate the natural power balance between the realm of the earth and their own in their favor - and tried to close down the gate between the earth demon and themselves for good... -- It didn't take long and a war over power had begun that both parties were determined to win at all costs. The subtle gate where powers were supposed flow and transcend freely had been locked in a fight between the beings of two different plains - leading to greater and greater imbalance for all realms connected to it.
This is the work Ku****a is trying to complete: to end the fight over personal motives between the forces of the land and the human realm. To stop both parties from abusing the powers they had been given - by artificially expanding their reach into the other’s realm. Instead Ku****a tries to open a space, uncontrolled by humans and demons, free of any personal motives, where the vast and unbound forces of the land and the sky can flow through the human realm, intertwining and exchanging their messages with each other.
Ku****a is working to heal the land - by stopping the demons of the land to become something they weren’t mean to be. And by stopping humans to shield their tiny realm from huge powers of passing through it, for that is what it has been conceived for. Our human realm is a gateway that has to be worked with. It is a passage between the realms. Yet, it is not for us to control which beings pass from one realm to the other and exchange their learnings, their influences and messages. It is for us to allow the guardians of the land to do this job - through us and through our human realm.”
This is what Ku****a taught me that night in my dream. I guess it’s a lesson about keeping the balance by giving up the desire to control and predict on our limited level? A lesson about blending into the natural grid and flow of powers by becoming what we already should be: deeply human. It is also a lesson about not limiting ourselves by our fears, but by trusting into the spirits that have been assigned to us to perfect the natural flow of powers between the sky, the land and the human realm.
In his Inner Traditions of Magic William Gray once said: “We do not have enough power at our own disposal to do anything very wonderful." The encounter with the land spirit reminds me of Gray's words. The work we are a small part of is so much more important than what we are as humans. The work we are involved in by nature is about the marriage of forces from many different levels and consciousnesses within the material sphere. As humans we are conduits, mediums, delivery boys of powers if you want. We don’t hold enough power ourselves to be anything more important than this. We are a tiny part in a truly wonderful equation that generates, maintains and rebalances the forces that flow and mingle between the skies and the lands. What a humbling job to fulfil.