Local Magic: Creating Magic in Your Locality
What type of earth magic exists where you are? What is the local nature of air, fire and water? How do you make magic with the living forces all around you – not as they appear in books, but as you see and experience them when you step outside your front door? Every locality has its own flavours, energies and secrets… and when we work our magic and ritual in alignment with our locality we enter deep into the earth’s living magic.
A Winter Labyrinth
It snowed in the Blue Mountains, where I live. It's always colder here than in Sydney, the mountains - which are not really mountains at all, but a plateau pushed up from the sea one hundred and seventy million years ago - are a kilometre above sea level and have their own weather. Which means that, although it never snows in Sydney, it does sometimes snow up here.
I was coming back from Sydney, on the train and I watched as the rain drops falling outside the window somehow seemed to get lighter, to become blown about by the wind, I watched them becoming snow as the train moved higher and further west. It was late afternoon and out the window I saw small dips in the land filled with ferns carrying a delicate blanket of snow on their fronds, like icing, it was truly magical. I stared and stared.
When we got to my station it had stopped snowing but white was everywhere. I rushed to my car, which was covered in several inches of snow. I've never had to deal with that before, trying to clear the windscreen with a take-away plastic cup, scooping snow off and onto the ground, scooping away snow from over the door so that when I opened it, it didn't all fall inside. The light was beginning to fade and I was in a hurry to get to the labyrinth. I wanted to see it in the snow, I wanted to see this face of it.
I drove there - it isn't far. The battery in my phone died, so I don't have a picture, except inside my head and whatever words I can paint here. I parked and crossed the tiny wooden bridge, slippery and wet. There was one set of footprints leading through the avenue of apples, bare branches in winter with a crisp white carpet laid beneath them. As the labyrinth came into sight I saw its familiar bricks and mosaic tiles - it stood out in a landscape of white, whatever snow had fallen on it had melted, but all around it the snow lay on the ground.
I stepped onto the path that leads to the centre. It wasn't long after the winter solstice and although the ritual we did then involved walking out of the labyrinth I'd been too concerned with the mechanics of what was happening to feel into the process as deeply as I wanted. I had imagined that ritual would be the symbolic turning, of me walking out not just of the labyrinth but of my two years of grief and mourning. I did feel a slight lightening in that walk, a relief, a breath of air and maybe a promise, but I said to myself that I would come back later, alone, and do it properly.
And now I am here. I begin walking, singing to myself. Every turn of the path I look out across the gardens, winter white; I've never seen them like this. It's as if we've reached a furthest point on the fulcrum, it's swung as far as it can go. I'm alone in the labyrinth in falling dusk, surrounded by snow, walking the path. Trinda - I think Trinda would have liked it. I hear her, feel her almost whisper past my cheek in approval, admiring this ritual, the scenery, my walking a path she can no longer walk. I keep singing.
When I reach the centre I stay there for a bit but it's too cold really and I turn and begin the journey out. I have been in this labyrinth in blazing summer, gentle spring, autumn with the leave falling of the trees and slushing on the ground; I have been here at dark midnight on a new year's eve and early morning, later afternoon when the bricks held the warmth though the air was cold with coming night. But this, in snow - not snow on the labyrinth though that was what I was prepared for, expected - but snow all around it, in every direction, I would not have imagined it like this, could not have guessed this is the self it would show to me, I am fiercely glad to be here and still singing on the path out, born out of the dark of the year and I do feel now, in this moment, that there's hope for that and not just hope, it's necessity. My steps take me out.
I am being born out of my dark places. After winter spring will come and I'll return to the labyrinth for the next ritual, and the next one but I'll remember this secret, snow-surrounded self of it, I'll remember it standing here revealed and offering itself. I'll hold this walk distinct in my memory and it's forged another link between us, being here alone today and the light falling; there's that one other set of footsteps but no-one else here, now, it's my own moment. I feel that the labyrinth and I hold a secret together, the secret of this late afternoon; it's shown me another piece of itself and in that, yes, I can be reforged.
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