I normally write about daily rituals and devotional practices, the kind we all do or all can do if we are so called to. Today, however, I'm going to focus on one of the largest, longest running public rituals I know of or have ever had the pleasure to participate in - Reclaiming's 35th Annual Spiral Dance.
Ask most folks how a pearl is formed and they'll tell you something like "A piece of sand or grit gets into the oyster's shell and then the oyster coats the grit and hey presto! We have a pearl"
It's a lovely story, but it isn't quite right. The coating part is accurate, but the "piece of sand or grit" isn't. Actually, the irritant is usually a parasite and it begins to eat at the lining of the oyster.The oysters immune system then begins to secrete two substances that form a nacre and then it basically entombs the parasite and its host, killing it and protecting itself. The byproduct of that self-preservation is a pearl.In cultured pearls, the oyster is actually wounded and it's that wounding that begins the healing process, eventually forming a pearl.
Local Magic isn't just dependent on what's around us - it's created by our relationship to what's around us. It mostly doesn't come from books, or even from careful thought or cleverly crafted ritual; it comes from going out and relating to what we find. To hills from which we can see the moon rise; or to streams that can only be glimpsed where they briefly emerge from beneath the concrete that covers them; to local parks or backways; special trees or seasonal events such as seedpods, flocking birds, particular flowers.
I just spent a week at California Reclaiming WitchCamp in the Mendocino Woodlands north of San Francisco teaching Local Magic with Tarin Towers. We taught a form of localised magic that - while we practiced it in the beautiful redwoods - could be picked up, taken home and put down in any environment; suburban, city, desert, farmland or another forest. This is the whole point of Local Magic - it's local to where you are and although the system, or structure can be taught, the content is all dependent on what's there.
"The truly great ones become less creators of art than conduits for the wild art that exists at large in the Universe."
That line is a joke. Literally. It's spoken by a character in a play of mine, an actress pretending to be an author. It usually gets a big laugh. My playwriting is an integral part of my spiritual practice, part of honoring creative freedom, as we say in the Principles of Unity.
I was backstage during a performance of that play last month, and I thought, What if it's true? What if I am a conduit for the wild art that exists at large in the Universe?
Who is this flower above me, And what is the work of this god? I would know myself in all my parts. ~ Feri Flower Prayer
My work of late has been focused around surrender, specifically, surrendering to the moment and surrendering to the Gods. And first and foremost, I have to surrender to my Self, specifically, to my Godself.*
We stand in a circle beside the enormous maple branches that lie across the road, a sort of honor guard to a fallen land Wight. Claire, on whose lot the maple stands, greets each newcomer by name; Susan, who lives across the road and has a gas stove, offers coffee to folks without power.
Scarlett informs us, with a seven-year-old's precision, that the kids (seven at last count, though the number fluctuates as neighboring families walk or cycle past, witnessing our changed landscape) have collected ten earthworms. They've all been presented to us as holy offerings before being released back to the greater Mystery that is the rain-soaked boulevard. Summer has arrived with a bang.