I’ve started trying to find out more about the history of the land where I’m going to build the shrines. Looks like it’s part of Croxton Yard, and near the Hackensack River and Penhorn Creek. Before Europeans pushed them out, Lenape Indians lived here. They had a belief system that was animistic, which works perfectly with my project. To read more about how Animism relates to my shrine projects, check out my 2008 thesis paper.
The Lenape believed that there were spirits – called manetu – all around them. They believed that the great spirit Kishelemukong created the world and that evil spirits, known as manetuwak, were responsible for sickness and death. They felt there was a spirit in every wild storm and in each new bud on the trees in spring.
“The Lenape believed that spirits could be helpful or harmful and so they had to be treated with respect. To gain a spirit’s favor, people left small offerings in the place where they thought it lived – for example, near a huge tree, a waterfall, or a strange and lonely rock. The gifts might be a handful of leaves or flowers, carved stick, or some pipe smoke. The Indians were careful not to offend the spirits.”
Certain localities, it is said, were thought to be the dwellings of local genii, to whom offerings were occasionally made, especially such places as displayed curious or unusual natural features, while even certain stones were said to have an animate principle or indwelling spirit.”