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Article ID: 6291
Age Group: Adult
Posted: May 4th. 2003
Series 03 - Three of Spirits...
"Because "the spiritual" is beyond our control, it is never exactly what we expect. " *
I grew up in a world inhabited by spirits. They roamed the land. They lived in our house. They hid our car keys. All in all, they proved themselves to be quite interesting neighbors. Once you get used to the fact that you never really have any privacy, sharing the world with spirits is actually a comforting experience.
Sure, we heard the occasional moaning, thumping or door slamming, but the house ghosts -- and other indoors phantom critters -- were fairly responsive to constructive criticism. Those magical words, "Will you guys just shut the f*** up?" usually did the trick. Worked with rambunctious cousins, too. My mother could actually yell it in four different languages. (When she finally worked herself up into swearing in German, we all knew that we had best stop our moaning and settle down. Right now!) But like I said, this was family and you can get away with a little cursing at your loved ones whether they be amongst the dearly-departed or just some sticky-fingered little pest who was snapping your bra strap. Come to think of it, those last two weren't always mutually exclusive either.
Dad always said that whenever you travel and wherever you decide to 'pull up a seat' that you should always make peace with the spirits of the place first. It took me a while to figure that one out. Before I did, I got scratched by wood sprites, booed by bean-sidhes and pretty much run outta what used to be a town by the guardians of the place. I also got one mean three-day psychic headache from that last one. So one day when we were just puttering around in the barn, I asked him oh-so-casually about that. When he finally stopped laughing...
In my book, there are generally three types of spirits. (Your copy of 'Things That Go Boo In The Night' may vary.) These are: The Milds, The Wilds and The Xenophiles. So let's review...
The Milds: Here you will find most of your non-Pirate of The Caribbean Ancestors and/or the former residents of the place that you now call home. House ghosts pretty much just go about their business and unless you find the sounds of music playing or dishes washing in the middle of the night disturbing, you can co-exist without too much trouble. And if you happen to find a ghost who is willing to wash your dirty dishes along with his/her own protoplasmic platters, all the better. Some sylvan spirits also fall into this category. I have experienced some very good communications with the garden-types. (Nothing makes a slug get out of town like one good flick from an irritated garden gnome's thumb!) A bond of real companionship can develop between humans who care for the lands and trees and pastures and the spirits who also inhabit and love these things.
Here also, one might find the 'Traders' or 'Borrowerers'. Strange objects appear. The ones that you want or need disappear. Yep, you may have a Borrower on the premises. Sometimes, they do it just for fun. Other times -- or so I am told -- they borrow something that you no longer really need and drop it on someone else who does really need it. They rarely ask, but they rarely do any real harm either. Unless you qualify the loss of those two hours of panic spent looking for your car keys only to find them right there on the shelf 'where you left them' as harm. A sense of humor also helps. A lot.
The Ellyllon, The Fair Folk, The Good People or The Sidhe are neither quite here nor quite there. In other words, if you know how and when to address such, mind your manners and take care (Oh so great care!) not to offend, The Folk can be good neighbors. However, the reverse can also be true and woe to one who comes down on the bad side of the Good People. This ain't Legolas that we are talking about here! (See advice below.)
The Milds, while neither courting human contact nor having much real respect for us as a race, can tolerate our presence as long as we behave ourselves and not cause Them any trouble or inconvenience. Don't turn over Their sod, steal Their treasure or (some say) look Them in the eye and you should get along okay. There are a few rare individuals throughout history and lore who have earned the name 'Elf-Friend'. Don't use this term unless you really are one. Good advice considering that in some parts, even wearing clothing of a green color can get you into a pickle.
The Wilds : Pookhas, Piskies and Potergeists..Oh My! Pookhas (Pooka, phouka, puca) appear most often as animals (usually a horse) and are traditionally viewed as malevolent creatures. Some tales and lore however paint a different picture. Here and there a poukha spirit takes over the body of an animal and provides beneficial relief as an untiring draft horse or a fleet steed. But when in doubt, take the bus.
Piskies (pixie, pigsie, pixy, pisky) live up to their 'pisky' name. Meddlesome, tricky, sly and altogether up to little good, Piskies are best left alone. They won't go out of their way to needle you (unless you have offended them in some way. And there are lots of ways.), but we humans can stumble upon them just about anywhere they still may be found. The lore about such meetings is as conflicted as that concerning meeting the Good Folk. Some say you should greet Them fair; other sources state that to even look straight at Them incurs disaster. Piskies would much rather trip you up on the path or drop acorns onto your head anyway. The number one rule concerning piskies is this: Never, never ask one for directions. If you do, your face may next be seen on the side of a milk carton. (See advice below.)
Poltergeists are house ghosts in puberty. If you can survive living with teenagers, poltergeists shouldn't be much more difficult. And like teens, poltergeists usually settle down once the kids do.
The Xenophiles: Here we have the spirits who are really, really prejudiced against humans and their little dogs, too. These will plot and plan and drag folks to a watery (or something else similarly grisly) doom if they can. The selkies, the mermaids and the like don't care for us one bit. Nope, they don't. And when the hair on the back of your neck stands on end, get out. Just turn around and get out. Running would not be an inappropriate response. A scream may also possess some significant strategic value.
The Advice Below: These beings -- the Mild and The Wild -- are not human. With the exception of the house ghosts (and they have their own little quirks), these beings never were human. Whether you believe that all such beings as these exist as actual physical or semi-physical entities or that they are metaphors for psychological elements within the human mind, they are always depicted and written about and revered or feared as something alien to humanity.
Now I happen to think that you can believe both things to be true at the same time. I have had encounters with all three types of spirits and they sure seemed real to me. I am also enough of a student of psychology to realize that if these things did not exist, we would have to invent them. They explain the feared unknown in ways that we can deal with. And if we cannot deal with them, we can avoid them or run away from them. Even an amateur psychologist can figure that much out.
We humans deal with what we can. We avoid that which is too difficult or uncertain. We flee from the too horrible to even contemplate. And that brings us back to my Dad and why he was laughing.
He (much to my annoyance) chuckled as he reminded me of his original advice:
"You should always make peace with the spirits of the place first."
"I never said that you should try to make Them your friends. I said that you should make peace with them."
And then, of course, I understood exactly where I had gone astray. And why now, all of these many years later, I can say -- even as I regale you with tales of pookhas gone bad -- that sharing the world with spirits is actually a comforting experience. Because it is. It can be. If you make peace. With Them. And with yourself.
For we are Spirits, too. And although each of us may be a part of One Great Universal Spirit of Humanity, within each of us lives the three of spirits. One spirit is Mild. One spirit is Wild. And one spirit is even Xenophobic towards our own humanness.
We deal with the traits and habits and feelings that we can. We avoid the ones that are too difficult or uncertain. And we flee from the yet too horrible to contemplate. We may not be able to make all of these 'ghosts and piskies and selkies' inside of ourselves our 'friends' nor readily embrace them in others, but we can make peace with the fact that they indeed exist. From that point, we may gain insights and eventually better reconcile our ghosts with our gnomes and our pookhas with our Fair Folk.
And even if these Spirits Three also exist outside of humanity in the forms that are so well documented in folklore, there are some comforting thoughts to be found there as well.
We live in a mysterious universe. We will never be bored. There will always be new thresholds to cross and new realms to explore. Within us, without us, beyond us. And I can come to peace with them...
Just as soon as They return my car keys...
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Monday, May 5th., 2003
* Ermest Kurtz and Katherine Ketchman, The Spirituality of Imperfection
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