11 August 2011

Nymphai and other land spirits

The Finger Lakes are numinous, and I have spent the past week making offerings to the spirits of the land before I make my way back up to Syracuse. A conversation I had last year with someone into New Age actually makes a lot of sense: Ithaca still has its numinous heart, whereas the land around Syracuse just lacks something. She said that the pollution going into Onondaga Lake had tainted the energy of the entire region. I don’t disbelieve her, but I would probably phrase it a bit differently.

The topography of the two different places probably contributes to the differing sense of sacredness, and I knew that I wanted to make offerings when I arrived here. On my first evening back, I took out my old mountain bike that had fallen into disuse. I reset the brake lines, oiled the rusty chain, and aired up the tires.

I rode down a trail to Dryden Lake. The sunlight hit the trees so beautifully that I knew I had to leave offerings there the next time I went, but I forgot. Cue the freak thunderstorm with torrential downpour that lasted about fifteen minutes and left me standing beside my bike soaked to the bone, praying to Zeus. Lesson learned: next time I went, I offered a nectarine to the nymphai, and the time after that I brought sweet hemp milk in a Tupperware container.

The numinous quality of this entire area has made me bitter about the entire fracking situation, along with the following:

  1. If this place is sacred, desecrating it will unleash the wrath of the Erinyes if the land divinities are so inclined. See this post for details.
  2. In twenty years, fresh water will be a valuable commodity. Fracking damages water quality. It is not in Upstate New York’s economic interest to harvest natural gas in that way.
  3. Hydrofracking has been linked to all kinds of problems with farming, and we live in the part of New York where most of the economy relies on wine, natural tourism, and agriculture. Fracking is completely incompatible with this.

But Ithaca is gorges, as they say. The town spills over the hills, broken by gorges, and brushes up against the lake. This, for example, is behind the public library and downtown bus stop.

About two years ago, I told the main gorge in Ithaca that I would offer milk the next time I found it. That didn’t happen due to an unplanned gorge excursion last summer (I offered coins instead), but I fulfilled my obligation several days ago with an offering of milk.

The waterfall is actually much higher than it looks from this distance. Most of the stones in the foreground are quite large.

I took a flat stone back with me because I collect stones from places I love, only I may actually use this one while offering things to some divinities, depending on any precedent I find in sources. It will certainly be a comfort once the winter makes everything impassable.

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