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.
In the depths of Samhain
I planned a beautiful ritual with my magic group for Samhain in the Blue Mountains; at night in the labyrinth, with a fire and masks and an underworld trance. But I wasn’t even there for it – instead I found myself in Northern New South Wales, the place where the Circle of Eight was birthed and I had lived for so long. It wasn’t a time I’d planned to travel, or to travel there in particular; a tenant in my house gave notice and I knew I couldn’t organise the number of things that had to happen from where I live, a thousand kilometres away. I asked my son to drive with me, amazingly he had already taken a week off work, though it wasn’t the week that suited me. It was the week over Samhain.
I have a small tradition I’ve kept up over the years, through different locations and sets of rituals and groups I’ve belonged to, of naming the dead and lighting candles for them during the Samhain ritual. Not all the dead – just those who’ve died in the previous twelve months. I know plenty of other groups and rituals name these dead as well, including San Francisco Reclaiming’s Spiral Dance that takes place at the northern hemisphere’s Samhain. It’s something that for me has grown and grown in significance, each year acknowledging those whose lives have finished, symbolically letting them go and watching the shape of our families and community change and be changed by death. Seeing its impact, every year; hearing how we are all touched by it as friends, family members, neighbours and aquaintances die and we come together, the living, and hold the dead with us one more time.
Death has been a strong theme in my life these last few years, with firstly my mother and then my close friend, Trinda, dying. Trinda, who I did maybe two hundred rituals with; a rough count but certainly more than i have with anyone else. Trinda was such a central part of our Samhain rituals, for years drawing chalk labyrinths of the floor of my house in the near-dark, while everyone else did a spirit journey out in the garden. She would greet us at the door, challenging us to enter and tread the spiral paths into the centre; daring to enter the realms of the underworld, the darkest part of the year, our own places of fear and loss and letting go.
The little house I will stay in is where Trinda lived, for years, while i lived next door in the house with the concrete floors that translated so well into Samhain labyrinths. The ritual I end up attending is not the large public one outside in the labyrinth in the community gardens in the place where I now live, but a tiny, private ritual. These are people who knew Trinda. There's a long process answering questions in rounds, about our own deaths and dying but for me it is all about Trinda. Then we crawl through a cloth gateway into another room, there's a spiral path laid out with candles inthe centre. I crawl all the way, though I could stand up and walk. I light a candle and sing to Trinda, I feel stunned and uncomprehending; she's here but not here. I can't believe she's not here.
The spirals are drawing me in, in and down and through the centre; I didn't plan to be in this part of the world, I didn't plan to be staying in a house Trinda had lived in, I didn't plan to be here over Samhain. I feel literally that I have a foot in each world, that I am walking her to the gate not just metaphorically but here in the landscape where she lived and died. In a house where we had numerous cups of tea and conversations about books and life and rituals, in the garden where she picked the hibiscus flowers and put them on the grass so the pademelons could pick them up and eat them. I do that now, since she's not here.
I create a tiny altar for her, near the base of the tree with some of the flowers of my favourite flowering gum, they’re so high up it has to drop them on the ground for you to get any and it did, a tiny branchlet with 3 vibrant pink fringed flowers. I give them to her, with a small silver moon I made a few years ago and the candle that hadn’t finished burning down from the Samhain ritual and I smash a pomegranate open on the rock and lay it out, eating some of the seeds through tears; now I believe. I believe you are not here though I miss you terribly and perhaps forever.
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