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.

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Listening to the Local Earth

We sat in a small circle on a slab of rock, looking down into the dramatic valley and across to the sunset. There was a cold wind but the view and the place were worth it. Usually we begin by checking in, listening as one by one we speak, telling of what’s happening in our lives or strong for us at the moment. After it was suggested we start the check in we fell silent, waiting for someone to speak. 

We fell silent but the world around us wasn’t silent. I heard birds chittering and calling out as they gathered in bushes, getting ready for the night. We heard insects, buzzing and humming. The winds in the valley swept up the sides of the cliff and we heard them as a whole soundscape. The longer we stayed quiet, the more and more we heard. It stretched out. Still no-one spoke and still we heard more and more. There were a dozen or more different birds calling and singing, choruses of them; themes that continued with commentaries that circled round and returned, notes that were sustained and sounds that interrupted, before fading back to be part of the whole.


No-one spoke. No-one checked in and yet – it was as if we were listening to the most fascinating check in ever, as it deepened and circled all around us. The birds checked in, the insects, the winds, stretching out my senses I felt the sunset was checking in, the trees in the valley below, the rock we sat on. We listened and listened. It became far more fascinating than listening to a person would have been at that point, it was as if a spell were weaving all around us and we were privileged to hear it, privileged to be listening. Our small circle of humans was surrounded and contained by a much larger circle and as our quietness intensified and focused into this listening, the landscape showed us more and more of itself.               

Every time we meet outside I feel less and less like importing anything there; I’ve gone off casting a circle when it always seems we’re in a natural circle, I’m certainly off lighting candles when we have the sun or the moon or stars, I’ve gone off invoking presences who don’t seem to belong to that place naturally, or already be there. For a little while there it even felt like speaking – not our presence, just disrupting the place with human talk – was a detraction from the natural magic happening in our presence. This event was like being in the middle of an orchestra that was playing Late Summer Dusk, Blue Mountains. It had the effect of widening our circle immensely; from a small, huddled group of humans to the largeness of the cliffs, the valley below us and the bush on the plateau.

Local magic is based in relationship and like all relationships, we can’t be talking all the time. We have to listen. Sometimes listening is easy and obvious, when we’re next to a waterfall or a flock of parrots. Sometimes it’s not easy at all, when thoughts and concerns fill our head, when we have to learn to listen in places that may seem to us very quiet, or that are shadowed by industrial or human soundscapes. Sometimes it’s not obvious we should be listening, such as when we’ve brought our magic or ritual to a sacred or natural place and we may be filled with energy and have an agenda, a script or a pre-defined ritual.

But when we do listen – when we go out there with an intent to listen, or when it just happens and we find ourselves listening – then we get a chance to respond to what we’ve heard. I can think of no better way to recover ancient understandings of the earth and its cycles, to rediscover the roots of paganism, than this listening, hearing and responding. Listening is more than just listening, of course, it’s also a metaphor for paying close attention, using all our senses. Tasting the air on our tongues as if we were snakes, watching the gradations in light and the tiny movements of the beings who live in the place we’ve come to, smelling all the different levels of smell; down near the ground, up close to the vegetation, after rain, in different seasons.              

Perhaps we will sing back to the dusk chorus our own song of nearing the end of the day. Perhaps, hearing that sense of natural community all around us, we will draw closer to those we came with, seeking our connections and sharing even more deeply with them. Perhaps we will be inspired towards art or music, healing or community. Perhaps we will enter into dialogue with the natural places around us and begin to hear from them what’s important, how the natural world works and how to be part of that. Local magic is not something we have to invent, or import; it is there, just waiting for us to listen, to engage and to offer ourselves. 

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Jane Meredith is an Australian author and ritualist. Her books include 'Journey to the Dark Goddess', 'Aspecting the Goddess', 'Rituals of Celebration' and 'Circle of Eight: Creating Magic for Your Place on Earth', about Local Magic. Jane's latest book, co-edited with Gede Parma is 'Elements of Magic: Reclaiming Earth, Air, Water, Fire & Spirit'. Jane offers workshops and distance courses and also teaches in the Reclaiming tradition. She is passionate about magic, myth and co-created ritual, as well as rivers, trees and dark chocolate.


  • Susan B. Chandler
    Susan B. Chandler Tuesday, 24 February 2015

    There are many times, especially when I am hiking alone in the forest, that the place will, upon rounding a bend in the trail, call out to me to fall silent. I know that I am in a holy place. The earth has so much to speak to us if we will but become silent and try to listen beyond words.

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