Sigils and Servitors

practical experiments in chaos magic

Conversations with mud

October 21, 2020 — Glyn Faulkner

When I started learning Finnish, I was advised to learn the words for “snow” and “mosquito”, because “we have one of them all winter, and one for the other three months of the year.”

Finnish mosquitoes don’t typically carry any nasty diseases, but that’s about the only good thing you can say about them: they’re three times the size of their blood-sucking cousins in the UK, are distressingly hard to kill, and worse: they love foreign food.

Me, for example.

So it has been that summers here have ended up with me covered in golf-ball sized bites that itch like hell.

Despite the craziness that is 2020, this summer I was lucky enough to spend a week sailing with friends in the archipelago off the south-western coast of Finland. An hour or so after arriving at the island of Gulkrona (having already sustained two bites) I was reminded of something Gordon White of Rune Soup wrote in his book The Chaos Protocols about engaging with spirits-of-place. So I found a quiet rock to meditate on, silently introduced myself. I asked for hospitality for the duration of my stay, and promised to respect the island, its habitat and inhabitants. Then I went about my day.

It wasn’t until we were departing the following day that I realised that I hadn’t sustained any further bites, despite spending some hours the previous evening exploring the island in warm, calm, mosquito-friendly conditions.


With child-like curiosity (and perhaps a little cynical self-interest), I tried the same at the other places we visited, with similar results.

Upon returning home I did the same with the marshy forest near my home in Helsinki – initially just so I could take a walk without getting hassled by bugs, but has morphed into cultivating a relationship with the place where I live. In the process I’ve discovered some beautiful and peaceful hidden places, found stretches of ancient shoreline now far-inland, and removed several kilos of trash left by previous visitors…

Experiment: talk to your places

Try this, particularly if, like me, you live somewhere you don’t have ancestral connections. In times of uncertainty there is value in having a positive relationship with the place where you live.

  1. Meditate outdoors near your home – your garden is perfect if you have one. Sit somewhere quiet if you can, otherwise a walking meditation is fine.
  2. Greet the local area. Introduce yourself. Be polite.
  3. Pay attention to what you can see, hear, smell and feel. Note any plants, animals, insects, fungi, soil, visible bedrock… that you perhaps haven’t spotted before.
  4. Return home, making a small offering as you leave: a little food for the birds, pick up some litter, sing…
  5. Note your impressions: did you feel your greeting was well received? Did you get any message in return?

Somewhere wild and remote probably isn’t this easy to befriend, but in urban, suburban and touristy places you just have to get over the very low bar set by most other people. Be especially careful if you are in a place where traditional spirit-contact customs are still respected – getting an established protocol wrong might be worse than not trying!

Some tips: * Don’t make binding agreements, but always do your best to leave the place better than you found it. * Repeat often: you can say “hi” while waiting for the bus or walking to your car. * Do the same thing in local parks and other areas of your home locale that you frequent. * Research the history of the place. Let that inform your offerings and approach.

Tags: experiment, spirit contact