Tag Archives: Wicca

Grounding: A Foundational Practice for Witches

We Witches spend a lot of time talking about grounding. And it’s certainly a huge part of my own practice. When I ground, I spend time getting in touch with, getting into right relationship with, the roots of the plants that surround me and the mycelia that connect all of those roots to each other.

But what IS ground?

David Whyte has one good answer.

Ground is what lies beneath our feet. It is the place where we already stand; a state of recognition, the place or the circumstances to which we belong whether we wish to or not. It is what holds and supports us, but also what we do not want to be true; it is what challenges us, physically or psychologically, irrespective of our abstract needs. It is the living, underlying foundation that tells us where we are, what season it is[,] and what is about to happen. To come to ground is to find a home in circumstances and to face the truth, no matter how difficult that truth may be; to come to ground is to begin to step into difficulty and through all difficulty.
From the Forthcoming Essay “Ground”
© David Whyte

He’s not wrong.

What is your ground?

Are You the Witch of Your Place?

The Witch of This Place

The Witch of This Place

If you are not the Witch of your place, who will be? Who is better suited to that job than you are?

If you are not the Witch of your place, of which place are you the Witch? What place are you waiting for? How long do you expect to wait?

If you do not arise each dawn and greet the powers, and spirits, and beings of your place, who will greet them? And how long can you stand for them to go unmet? How long do you expect to wait before you live in a place where you cannot imagine rising in the morning and not greeting the powers, and spirits, and beings of that place?

If you are not in relationship with your landbase, why not? What would it take to begin that relationship?

Picture found here.

Learning Wicca

tumblr_me2cr8Waxz1r7fsa9o1_400
I get questions like Anne’s a few times a year and I should do a better job of answering them. In comments to a recent post, Anne wrote:

Hello Hecate. This is “off thread” , I hope you don’t mind. I’m a new Witch and I am trying very hard to practice my craft and learn as much as I can. I read Starhawk and Pagan Square but am now at a bit of a loss about how I can move forward and develop my skills and knowledge. Did you have a teacher? How did you find your coven? Did you have to try many times before you could find women who you could trust and felt a connection with so that you could do magic together? Your blog is a source of good sense and education for me, you are a wise woman and I trust your judgement, so I hope you don’t mind being bombarded with my questions. Many thanks.

If you contact your local Episcopal church and say that you’ve recently converted to Christianity and would like to explore Episcopalianism more deeply, they’ll have a class that runs several times a year for converts and it will cover the basics and culminate in a ritual that makes you a part of the church. And then, in addition to the weekly services, there will be Bible study meetings, prayer groups, classes studying various aspects of the religion (I once took a lovely class on Celtic Christianity from a local church), book lists, prayer coaches, etc. Most organized religions are similar.

Paganism is less organized. That’s both a blessing and a curse. It allows greater freedom and more of an opportunity to follow your own path, but it can also leave you wondering if you’re doing it “right” and what you’re “supposed to do” next.

Anne asks about my path and I have to say that I discovered Wicca/Paganism pre-internet. And things were very, very different back them. I lived in a conservative, rural area where I was a single-mother schoolteacher and I was concerned about even the act of taking certain books out of the public library. So I’ll recount my path, but I think that my path may have limited utility in today’s world of internet resources and greater openness about Paganism.

On one of my semi-annual book-buying trips to Washington, D.C., I chanced, by accident (pace, Dr. Jung), to buy The Politics of Women’s Spirituality. I still think it’s a fantastic place to start and a good resource for new Witches. It formed the basis of my religion and has stood me in good stead for several decades. Then, I went through the bibliography and made lists of books that I thought would be safe to ask for at the library (interlibrary loan, 90% of them, so again, I was careful) and those that I’d look for when I was in the city. Each book that I read caused me to add more books to my list. I spent a little over a decade just reading.

At some point, I found a few magazines such as (and the titles may have been different back then) Sage Woman, Lady Unique Inclination of the Night, Witches and Pagans (for which, full disclosure, I now write), etc. I read those magazines from cover-to-cover, even the ads and the classifieds. I found Starhawk’s books and read all of them, not just the Spiral Dance. I think Starhawk still offers the best basis for Wicca and I’ve loaned my multiple, multi-annotated copies more times than I could count. I recently steered a friend who’d discovered that he was a Druid to Emma Restall Orr‘s books and he found those useful.

I read pretty much anything that I could put my hands on, from silly Lewellyn stuff, to Mary Daly, to some new age Goddessy stuff, to Jean Shindona Bolen, to James Mellart, to Riane Eisler, to the Mists of Avalon series, to . . . . Well, I’m still reading today, pretty much anything that I can find. I’ve long had a notion, and I use it today in legal research, that the best thing to do is to just start reading everything and see where matters go. Some stuff was above me and I ignored it, and some stuff was just bunk and I rejected it, and some stuff was amazing and I adopted it.

I kept reading in those books about Pagan festivals and I kept thinking about going. In the end, my responsibilities (single-parent, working several jobs, no money to spare, etc.) kept me from doing so and I’m now glad. I don’t think that Pagan festival culture is for me (which isn’t to say that it isn’t great for some) and I think it would have turned me off at the time. I did go to a few Pagan “coffee house” events, and they intrigued me, but I lived too far away to get involved.

And, so I practiced as a solitary for many years. The woods were my church, my catechism, my congregation. I didn’t really have any money to buy much “stuff” so, other than a Rider-Waite Tarot deck, a makeshift goblet and athame, and some candles from the grocery store, I didn’t have any tools and I had nowhere to set up a permanent altar.

Once Son grew up and moved away and I graduated from law school, I moved to Washington, D.C. and started a new career. For a few years, I didn’t do much of anything at all except work, basically 24/7, and try to learn my new trade. I remember a few “skyclad” rituals in my giant apartment building, high above the ground. They helped me to get through.

Eventually, I reached a point where I could begin to think about looking for a group of Witches. I was still quite concerned about staying in the closet at work — not many Fortune 500 companies were hiring Wiccans to represent them, certainly back then, and, truly, even now. (Lawyers take an oath to zealously represent their clients’ interests, and I still, today, don’t think that I can do that if a judge looks at me and sees either a New-Age-nut or an evil woman, out to destroy the souls of the faithful. Sadly, that’s still how we’re perceived.) But in the meantime, Al Gore had invented the internet and I began to search, cautiously, under an internet alias, joining a few listserves and watching for a chance. One of those listserves eventually listed an invitation to check out a circle of women in Washington, D.C. and something just told me that it was right.

I was really, really lucky because that first group turned out to be a wonderful, amazing, unbelievable group of women and I practiced with them for almost a decade. I learned from them more about Wicca, and doing magic, and how to practice with a group than I could ever describe. Several of the women from that group are still my dearest friends and their work has a huge influence on mine. Since then, I’ve worked with a growing and evolving circle of women. I love this work and I’d be very sad if I ever had to go back to purely solitary practice. I spent this afternoon with the amazing magical women of my circle and I am who I am because of them and because of the work that we do together.

All of that said, I’d caution Anne and anyone else who’s asking that there are, sadly, a lot of nutjobs and severely damaged individuals in Paganism. Most Witches are wonderful people, really, they are. They’ll connect with you in a heartbeat and you’ll walk on air, feeling that you’ve finally found your “tribe.” But, and I’ve learned this the hard way, it can often take only one seriously damaged member to blow up an entire circle. It takes only one “teacher” with unaddressed shadow issues of her own to turn dozens of students away. It takes only some vague rules about who’s a member to allow a predator into a circle.

My advice is to check out every group that you can find in your area. Witchvox is still a great resource and Medusa Coils is, IMHO, even better. Keep going, keep experimenting, and keep a skeptical eye. When you meet someone who’s “real,” spend time with them, see if they belong to a group that’s open to new members, and learn whatever you can from them. If push gets down to shove, form your own “study group” or “book club,” but be careful whom you admit. Most of us want to help others, but we’re not trained psychologists, social workers, or financial counselors — as I’ve learned from the trained psychologists, social workers, or financial counselors that I’ve met. Be wary of any “teachers” who want sex, or too much money, or your undying allegiance.

I’ll add one other point in response to Anne’s question about finding a group with whom I felt comfortable doing magic. IMHO — and there are certainly Witches and Pagans whose experience is completely different — a small group of committed Witches is better than a larger group of constantly shifting members. The great flaw in modern Pagan practice — again, IMHO — is that most of us are overcommitted. A circle that never gets all of its members together because too many people have other commitments is not a really effective circle. We all have jobs, and family commitments, and homes to run, and lives with other friends, and commitments to physical activity, and classes to take, and art to create and see, and gardens to tend, and . . . . There are public rituals for folks who want to just drop in when it’s convenient. They’re like the Christians who may show up for church a few times a year, when a Sunday without other commitments shows up. But a circle of Witches doing serious magic requires a lot more — more like the core group of the church choir that shows up on Wednesday to practice, that practices drills at home every day, and that shows up all together so that there’s not a missing soprano or alto every Sunday to make the magic happen. I need to know the women I’m working with, to understand their energy signatures, and to develop a place with them on the astral plane if I’m going to do really effective magic with them. And “really effective magic” is the kind that I want to do.

Finally, I’ll say this.

No one else can teach you how to have a relationship with your own landbase, with your own watershed, with your own bit of earth. You just have to ground, center, go out and do it. Go out and sit, even if — especially if — it’s with your own bit of roadside earth, with your own bit of weeds and grasses and seeds growing against all odds in the islands between intersections, or with the bare space on your apartment pots. If you’ll honestly and willingly do that, for even two or three turns of the Wheel of the Year, you’ll be the Witch of your place and you’ll understand what you need to practice. Go be the Witch of Your Own Place. No books or groups will do that for you, but the feel of the dirt will do it.

Readers, what resources can your recommend to Anne? What has helped you to deepen your practice? How did you find a good group?

hat tip: Here.

PS: Such a great discussion! Zann, thanks for your kind words; I think maybe this (or the other post linked in it) might be what you’re looking for. http://hecatedemetersdatter.blogspot.com/search?q=traffic+strip

What Modern Wiccan Theology Doesn’t Care About

Winding Road


IANA scholar of religion, but it seems to me that one large difference between Wicca and many other religions is that modern (at least) Wicca doesn’t look to separate people out into groups. You know: the saved vs. the damned, the elect vs. everyone else, those who are able to reach a state of disattachment vs. those who aren’t, followers of Mohamed vs. infidels, those who are the chosen people and everyone else.

I think that early Wicca — still attempting to imagine a religion different from monotheism, different from the Christianity which was all that most early Wiccans really knew — fell a bit into the trap. Thus, the insistence that one had been initiated into a coven with a lineage all the way back to the Bronze Age. That made you a REAL Witch, while someone who read some books, developed a daily practice, and went into the woods at night to dedicate her life to the Goddess and declare three times, “I am a Witch. I am a Witch. I am a Witch” could never measure up. Thus, people adopting titles such as Lady Moongrove Ravenwing or Mistress Starshadow. It led to some abuses; icky people insisting that you had to have had sex with their high priest in order to be allowed to call yourself a Witch. But it didn’t last long. Lucky for us, Wicca has (in general) moved well beyond that stage.

Modern Wiccan theology simply isn’t concerned about separating the chosen from the rest of the world. Sure, we have different traditions, but you can search far and wide for any discussion of why Witches are going, for example, to the Summerlands while everyone else is going to have to suffer in a bad place or live as a “once-born.” No serious discussions about how you have to believe X or do Y or the Goddesses/Gods will reject you, your landbase won’t know you, the Elements will ignore your call.

I think that’s a step forward for religion. I think that it’s freeing; it allows us to concentrate on developing our own personal relationship with the divine, with our landbases and watersheds, with our covens, and circles, and traditions. I think it emphasizes the deep truth that we see when we wash away from our eyes the enchantment of forgetfullness (who said that? L.M. Duquette?), the enchantment that causes us to imagine that any of us are separate from anyone/anything else. How simple and how easy to be responsible only for our own spiritual development and to allow others to find the path best for them.

Do you agree about modern Wicca? Is this true for other forms of modern Paganism?

Picture found here.

Wild Nights Should Be Our Ecstasy

Now the winds are picking up and my old trees are swaying dangerously back and forth. I’m an old, risk-averse woman with a bum ankle and I’ve done pretty much (little enough) everything that I could do to prepare for this once-every-thousand-year storm. There’s now No Way Out But Through, and we’ll see if we’re in still in Kansas anymore once we’ve gotten through.

And, so, in my comfy, well-stocked basement, I’m thinking about what it means to be the Witch of This Place in the middle of this kind of storm. One of the things that first attracted me to Witchcraft was the statement (and I wish that I could remember where I read it or who wrote it) that “A Witch Takes Responsibility.” I’ve never understood that in a Carolyn-Myss-New-Agey-The-Promise-If-You-Got-Killed-By-A-Tsunami-Your-Higher-Self-Wanted-To-Learn-A-Lesson-From-The-Tsunami kind of way. I understand it to mean that, if you’re going to walk between the worlds and do between them what may affect them all, then you’d better be well-informed enough to take responsibility for what you’ve done, you’d better be ready for it when your own little node on the web reverberates, you’d better be responsible for your own reactions. I made, almost a decade ago, a sacred pact with this small cottage and with this Bit of Earth. I’m responsible for it and I’m responsible for what I’ve done to contribute to the global climate change that is now wracking it mercilessly. And I’m responsible for being grown-up enough to acknowledge and accept that the Universe is often random. Sometimes, shitty things happen to good people and it’s not because Jehova hates gai people. It’s because randomness (that most liminal and Hecate-blessed quality of the universe) is absolutely necessary (“Hail,” as someone once wrote, “Eris, full of Grace, Holy Queen of all this place,”) to everything else. That’s all.

Another thing about Witches, and I think that T. Thorn Coyle may have been the one who said this, is that we’re not afraid of the dark. OK, maybe, tonight, I am kind of afraid of nature’s dark and destructive power, but I am still willing to recognize it, to appreciate its role, and, even though I am scared, to ask it to come in, sit down, and help me to pay attention to it, because paying attention is a very large part of my own spiritual work.

And, so, today I am asking Sia’s wonderful question: “What Are Witches For?” and adding (you know, the way that you add “in bed” when you read a fortune from your fortune cookie, only not like that at all) “during Hurricane Sandy?” At some point, the power is going to go out, except for the generator that will (Goddess willing) keep the sump pumps, refrigerator, and an outlet on, and I’m going to just stop, sit with the storm, and try as hard as I can to be present instead of afraid. And then I’ll be present to being afraid. Because even when all that I can be is afraid, I will still be an afraid Witch and, thus, I will take responsibility for paying attention to my fear. And I will not forget what my Bene Gesserit sisters have taught me:

I must not [fear; that’s the word that Frank Herbert left out, fear: “I must not fear fear,”] fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Facing fear and allowing it to pass over me and through me seems, to me, to be another way of saying “being present,” of saying “paying attention.” And, once I’ve actually done that, only “I” will remain and “I” am both the observer and the observed.

Samhein’s coming. This year, it is not coming gently. I can hear the Wild Hunt’s horns and it’s not yet clear for whom they blow. My dreams are increasingly intense. My ancestors and descendents (genetic and spiritual) inhabit my dreams. I will lie down tonight — underground, beside and enwrapped within the roots of my beloved old trees, under a Full Moon in Taurus, beneath a raging storm — the Witch of This Place. Maybe She has something to say to us, this Storm. She’s certainly yelling loudly enough. And I will lie down and listen and dream with a willing heart because I want to say, like Jefferson, that:

[L]ife was freakish
But life was fervent,
And I was always
Life’s willing servant.

Maybe we could do it together. Maybe you could set an intention tonight to learn what this Storm is trying to tell us. Maybe you could tell me tomorrow what you learned. After all, if we’re going to hunker down, we might as well do it with purpose.

And, of course, I can’t help but be reminded of a poem by E. Dickinson:

Wild nights – Wild nights!
Were I with thee
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile – the winds –
To a Heart in port –
Done with the Compass –
Done with the Chart!

Rowing in Eden –
Ah – the Sea!
Might I but moor – tonight –
In thee!

Moor your spirit tonight someplace where it wants to be. And then see what the wild night has to say. If anyone can fly along wild October winds and enjoy them, then surely, we.

You Need to Stop Everything and Go Read This. No, Really.

What Coyopa Said.

Seriously. Now.

And, in the end:

Look at that world beyond your door. Your life is on fire. Run. Dive in, though it surely means death. Taste the streams, the heather and the gorse and the broom. Hold the river stones. Sleep with the waterfall as your pillow. Braid yourself to the horse’s mane. Sing the great lament of your own lost life. In time, scar yourself with fire and stone. Immerse yourself in such immovable darkness that the lightning cracks you in two. You were never more lost than you are now, if you cannot reach out, touch the wild earth and weep.

Picture found here.

Digging* Ditches


Here’s a wonderful article about how children develop an attachment to nature and a sense of place. The entire thing is very well worth a read.

Most environmentalists attributed their commitment to a combination of two sources, “many hours spent outdoors in a keenly remembered wild or semi-wild place in childhood or adolescence, and an adult who taught respect for nature.” Lots of time rambling in neighborhood woods and fields and a parent or teacher who cared about nature were frequently cited as causal forces in the development of their own environmental ethics. In his autobiography about growing up in Denver, lepidopterist Robert Michael Pyle describes the urban semi-wild place the inspired him.

“My own point of intimate contact with the land was a ditch. Growing up on the wrong side of Denver to reach the mountains easily and often, I resorted to the tattered edges of the Great Plains, on the back side of town. There I encountered a century-old irrigation channel known as the High Line Canal. Without a doubt, most of the elements of my life flowed from that canal.

From the time I was six, this weedy watercourse had been my sanctuary, playground and sulking walk. It was also my imaginary wilderness, escape hatch, and birthplace as a naturalist. Later, the canal served as lover’s lane, research site and holy ground of solace. Over the years, I studied its natural history, explored much of its length, watched its habitats shrink as the suburbs grew up around it, and tried to help save some of its best bits…Even when living in national parks, in exotic lands, in truly rural country side, I’ve hankered to get back to the old ditch whenever I could …

Even if they don’t know “my ditch,” most people I speak with seem to have a ditch somewhere—or a creek, meadow, wood lot or marsh—that they hold in similar regard. These are places of initiation, where the borders between ourselves and other creatures break down, where the earth gets under our nails and a sense of place gets under our skin…. It is through close and intimate contact with a particular patch of ground that we learn to respond to the earth, to see that it really matters… Everyone has a ditch, or ought to. For only the ditches—and the fields, the woods, the ravines—can teach us to care enough for the land.” (Pyle, 1993)

Did you have a ditch? I had a small creek that ran through an undeveloped area about a half a mile or so from our house. On weekends, after I finished my chores, I would walk down to the creek. It was, yes, a place for an INTJ to be alone, as I was almost never alone in my crowded home, but it was also where I developed a special relationship with nature and the first “place” with which I developed a strong relationship.

[A]nthropologist Edith Cobb reviewed the autobiographies of 300 European geniuses and found that many of them described similar kinds of experiences in childhood.

“My position is based upon the fact that the study of the child in nature, culture and society reveals that there is a special period, the little understood, pre pubertal, halcyon, middle age of childhood, approximately from five or six to eleven or twelve, between the strivings of animal infancy and the storms of adolescence—when the natural world is experienced in some highly evocative way, producing in the child a sense of some profound continuity with natural processes. . . .”

It is principally to this middle-age range in their early life that these writers say they return in memory in order to renew the power and impulse to create at its very source, a source which they describe as the experience of emerging not only into the light of consciousness but into a living sense of a dynamic relationship with the outer world. In these memories the child appears to experience a sense of discontinuity, an awareness of his own unique separateness and identity, and also a continuity, a renewal of relationship with nature as process.

As the linked article goes on to explain, such experiences aren’t limited to geniuses. Many children between the ages of 7 and 14 experience a relationship with the natural world — often with stones, trees, rivers, sunlight, etc. While children, many lack the vocabulary to describe what they experience and, to be honest, many adults struggle with this, as well.

One 40-year-old woman described her experience this way:

“When I was about eleven years old, I spent part of a summer holiday in the Wye Valley. Waking up very early one bring morning, before any of the household was about, I left my bed and went to kneel on the window-seat, to look out over the curve which the river took just below the house…The morning sunlight shimmered on the leaves of the trees and on the rippling surface of the river. The scene was very beautiful, and quite suddenly I felt myself on the verge of a great revelation. It was if I had stumbled unwittingly on a place where I was not expected, and was about to be initiated into some wonderful mystery, something of indescribable significance. Then, just as suddenly, the feeling faded. But for the brief seconds while it lasted, I had known that in some strange way I, the essential ‘me’, was a part of the trees, of the sunshine, and the river, that we all belonged to some great unity. I was left filled with exhilaration and exultation of spirit. This is one of the most memorable experiences of my life, of a quite different quality and greater intensity than the sudden lift of the spirit one may often feel when confronted with beauty in Nature.”

I’d be fascinated to see a study that compared how many Pagans had such experiences as children with members of other religions. I can’t help but think that, for many of us, the discovery of Paganism provided a language to describe what we knew to be true and a validation of experiences that, especially as they often go undiscussed or are even actively discouraged, we didn’t even know other people had.

*To dig: Understand, enjoy, really get into. It’s true, I’m old and no longer hip. But I’m happy to be in that company with Langston Hughes who wrote, “My motto, as I live and learn, is: Dig and Be Dug In Return.” I like to think that the creek dug that odd little girl as much as she dug the creek.

Picture found here.

The Art of Magic — Part the Second


Of course, wiser women than I have made the point that having access to imagery plays an important role in causing change according to will:

Imaging creates the possible. It is a necessary first step in our efforts to bring about social change, particularly for those changes that most radically depart from our present condition. It is a powerful tool that we do not fully understand or use in our daily lives. Even those of us who want change, sense its urgency, and are working toward it have difficulty in comprehending and encompassing the enormity of what we are doing. We are attempting to radically change our material circumstances, our values, and our way of knowing. If we sometimes lose heart or become discouraged, we must realize that there may be resources we are not using. For many of us, imaging may be one such resource we have not yet discovered.

We have all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words; it may also be worth ten thousand numbers. . . . Humans handle visual information by intuitive processes and handle it better than words or numbers. So, if one is designing a new car or a new society, working with an image makes it more understandable.

. . .

Balancing commitment to new visions and receptivity to still newer ones is not easy. Helen Lynd, a noted sociologist, has pointed out how difficult it is “to give everything one is to supporting all the truth that one can see at any given time, with full awareness that there are other possibilities and that further knowledge may enlarge and revise the hypotheses on which one has risked everything.” Feminists [and all magic workers] creating new visions of a better life cannot avoid the inevitable tension between the desire for certainty, stability, and a well-earned rest[,] and the elusiveness of truth. We must honor process in the creating of our images and in the way [that] we hold and act upon them.

~ Juanita Weaver, “Images and Models — in Process,” in The Politics of Women’s Spirituality: Essays on the Rise of Spiritual Power Within the Feminist Movement, ed. by Charlene Spretnak

What magical result are you attempting to create? Do you know what it looks like? Would a walk through a museum or art gallery, even a virtual one, help you to create a powerful image of what the world would like like (of who you would be) when you are successful? Should you begin to collect useful images, when you find them, in your Book of Shadows? Can a picture be as useful as a combination of herbs or an ancient chant?

Picture found here.

The Art of Magic


I don’t know about you, but if we break the human population down into Visualizers and Verbalizers, I fall pretty far over on the Verbalizer end of the spectrum. My primary approach to the universe, INTJ that I am, is a verbal, analytical, logical approach. With Gemini ascendent, my default setting is what some traditions refer to as Talking Self.

Yet, effective magic depends upon an ability to activate Younger Self, that part of the self that responds to symbols, complex meanings, feelings. I suppose that’s one of the reasons that poetry is so important to me. Poetry uses a medium that feels familiar and safe to me — words — in a way designed to activate Younger Self. What good poetry does (and I’ll include here good musical lyrics) is to slip unnoticed past the sentry that guards Talking Self so that Younger Self can recognize a truth beyond the literal meaning of the words.

All of which is a long-winded (see?) way of explaining why it can be so important for Witches and other magic workers to spend as much time as possible with any and all of the visual arts (dance, sculpture, painting, garden design, etc.) One of the classes that really changed my life for the better was an Intro to Art History class that I took near the end of my high school career. It gave me a schemata that allowed me to do more than just look at the surface of a painting and say, “I like it,” or “I don’t like it,” which was fairly unsatisfying for an INTJ. And ever since that class, I’ve been pretty serious about bringing as much visual art into my life as I can. (I credit Andy Goldsworthy, Patrick Dougherty, and, most recently, Sally J. Smith for teaching me the precise extent to which landscape can also be real art.)

Luckily, I live in a city of free museums and incredible civic sculpture. And I live close enough to New York, Philadelphia, and, nowadays, I’d add, Baltimore to get to enjoy the art in those cities, as well. And, while I’d always prefer a live viewing, the internet has made it possible for all of us to experience art that we may never get to see in person. Having an internal library (or an emotional museum) of images can make it easier to do effective magic.

To that end, I was struck this week with an image posted by one of my favorite modern artists, Rima Staines. If you scroll almost 3/4 of the way down on the above link, you’ll see an illustration that Rima’s done for a new journal called Earthlines. I’m hard pressed to imagine a better visualization for home protection magic, although I will say that when I sat down to work with this image, another creature, not a bear, came to me. And that’s where being in touch with your landbase and having a visual library can alchemize into something truly magic.

Literata recently posted some images that can be helpful when visualizing magic for the planet. I use this web site to help me visualize political magic, as well as images such as this. This image, this one, and this one figure in each of my daily meditations.

Are you more visual or more verbal? How do you incorporate the alternative approach into your magic? What art do you incorporate into your magic?

Picture (by Christopher Vacher) found here.

Watching the Future


Literata linked to this great video the other day, explaining that:

Kellianna performed on Friday night, and when she took requests, a young girl asked for “I Walk with the Goddess.” Kellianna said, “I’ll sing that if you, you, you, you, and you get up here and sing it with me!”

. . .

I didn’t know any of those girls, but I was so moved that it’s hard to express. I nearly cried with joy at the knowledge that they are being brought up with a vision of the divine that explicitly includes them, their bodies, their selves.

I came to Wicca and Goddess religion many years ago when I first read The Politics of Women’s Spirituality: Essays on the Rise of Spiritual Power Within the Feminist Movement, edited by Charlene Spretnak. In an essay entitled “Why Women Need the Goddess,” Carol P. Christ wrote:

Religious symbol systems focused around exclusively male image of divinity create the impression that female power can never be fully legitimate or wholly beneficent. This message need never be explicitly stated (as, for example, it is in the story of Eve) for its effects to be felt. A woman completely ignorant of the myths of female evil in biblical religion nonetheless acknowledges the anomaly of female power when she prays exclusively to a male God. She may see herself as like God and affirming God’s transcendence of sexual identity. But she can never have the experience that is freely available to every man and boy in her culture, of having her full sexual identity affirmed as being in the image and likeness of God. In Geertz’ terms, her “mood” is one of trust in male power as salvific and distrust of female power in herself and other women as inferior or dangerous. Such a powerful, pervasive, and longlasting “mood” cannot fail to become a “motivation” that translates into social and political reality.

In Beyond God the Father, feminist theologian Mary Daly detailed the psychological and political ramifications of father religion for women. “If God in ‘his’ heaven is a father ruling his people,” she wrote, “then it is the ‘nature’ of things and according to divine plan and the order of the universe that society be male-dominated. . . . The images and values of a given society have been projected into the realm of dogmas and ‘Articles of Faith,’ and these, in turn, justify the social structures which have given rise to them and which sustain their plausibility.”

Looking at the faces of those girls in the video, watching their body language, I can see, incarnate, the truth that rocked me so many years ago. What a gift to live to see this difference.