Genius Locii

Despite being a fairly rational and not superstitious person I too often fall into magical thinking when exploring the lost places I often find myself in.  Blame it on the all the mythology (and H.P. Lovecraft) I read growing up, all the fantasy (High and Low) I’ve read all my life, as well as my nature as a human being to see patterns where there are none and to imbue the inanimate with a mind.

The Romans had the idea of a Genius Locii, the protective patron spirit of a place, be it a forest or a building, a waterfall or an open market.  This spirit was to be placated and honored and the personality of the spirit was divined by the nature of the place.  A forest could have a grim human hating spirit which only wanted to protect the trees and animals, while an open meadow would have a playful spirit that wanted humans to come in and enjoy the simple pleasures of laying in the grasses and watching the clouds go by.   The Genius Locii would help or harm depending on its nature and personality and could be as fickle as any 4 year old human child.

As I scrabble through these buildings I like to fancy I can feel the Genius Locii, and I make up stories not only about the people who once lived or worked here, but about how the building itself feels about being left to crumble and decay, relegated to be forgotten or actively reviled as an eye sore.  Some places crumble and age and fall in a glory, such as the Methodist Church.  Others fall remembering the better days, bitter in their memories of once being a place of importance, or a shelter for families.

Then others embrace their dotage by moving past what they were when first built, they welcome in the pigeons and secret furtive beasts who now shelter in them.

cat on a couch


They shelter trees who spread their branches, reaching for windows or collapsed ceilings, perhaps dreaming of the freedom of open sky.

A Tree Dreams of Freedom


I know that Genius Locii are the creatures of my imagination, yet one cannot help but to feel them there.  Watching.  Ready to help or harm, or merely indifferent to my fate.  All while whispering the stories of the people who have come before me and haunting my dreams in the small hours of the night.

One response

  1. tabularasa88

    Nice post! And not a bad one-two punch themewise, considering we didn’t coordinate ahead of time. Genius locii, eh? Don’t make me get my Latin dictionary out for my next post. Pretty soon this’ll read like a Vatican encyclical!

    March 20, 2013 at 1:50 pm

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