For many people, myself included, Druidry and Animism go hand in hand. Since the Age of Enlightenment and perhaps even further back in history (perhaps with coming of Christianity) Animism has gotten the reputation of being somehow backward, a superstitious and childish view of the world wherein everything is “alive”. This belief is completely biased in that it is totally from a human-centric point of view; those who believe it to be silly would say that believing a stone has a soul is absolutely ridiculous. This point of view is a projection of our human perspective, of what is alive and what isn’t, what is ensouled and what isn’t. It doesn’t take into consideration differences in the metaphysical. This perspective is often derogatory of Animism, yet it fails to actually understand just what Animism actually means, and what living with an Animistic perspective can bring to human consciousness.
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Four years ago, when I first started my Pagan Music Project, I got asked "What's the difference between Witchcraft and Paganism?" That was difficult for me to answer. I struggled with it for a while, and then forgot about it. Now, I think I've got it.
Witchcraft is about energies and powers that be. Witchcraft spells and Witch magick are about working with the energetic machine that the world and universe are part of. It's almost more of a job than it is a religion. Witches around the world are people that "do." Whether good or bad, Witches "do" things....
Recent experiences have shown me that more and more relationships are being described in terms of customer and vendor, even when that application of the commercial metaphor is terribly inappropriate. Where this problem disturbs me the most is in misunderstandings of magical and religious relationships.
Perhaps central to Neo Pagan practices is the petition of Deity. The crudest of formulas for Neo Pagan ritual would be: create a sacred space, invoke deity, pay homage and/or petition, and dismiss. Though some petitions might be spontaneous and overlook some elements of space or decorum ( i.e. Penczack’s “instant magic”), the desires and force of will are almost always necessarily in conjunction with some form of request to a higher power. Linguistically, one could simply put it as; “to petition”, a subject must have an object to call upon. Even in the instance of petitioning the self, drawing forth some sort of believed, hidden energy from the depths of the practitioners psyche, the petitioner is calling upon an “other” to change or work with the “self”.
The Wild Gods I love the word wilderness. It conjures up images of windswept moors and heathland, dark tangling forests and craggy mountaintops. That spirit of the untamed, the uncivilised, that spark that humanity cannot touch, much in the same way as deity is traditionally viewed. For many Druids, that wilderness is deity – it has the power to give or sustain life or the power to kill. It has not and, in many places, cannot be touched by human hands, existing without any human interference. I like to think that same dark spark exists within our own human souls as well, offering us the sanctity of the wilderness within.
The concept of the “untouched” wilderness is an interesting one. I rather wonder if it has anything to do with secular religious views that have crept into our culture predominantly for the last thousand years or so. The concept of the virgin forest, the virgin wilderness – I have to say, I really dislike the term. It is nice to think that there are places in the world where humans have never been – but still, it’s the terminology that is rather uncomfortable. I have been to places where humans have lived with the landscape, and who live there no more – the wilderness has returned. Where stone buildings once stood, nature has reclaimed it, slowly destroying it until nothing remains but the songs on the wind. Virginity cannot ever be reclaimed – and in this regard, I find the term does not work within the context of the natural world. As it works in cycles, what happened once can be undone....