I've recently finished co-teaching a six week class titled "Elements of Magic". It is one of the core pieces of magic taught in the Reclaiming Tradition. I use the term "core" rather than "beginning" or "basic" for specific reasons. You see, I hold that there's nothing particularly basic about this exploration and I find myself returning to it year after year as a teacher and, more importantly, as a student. It's the foundation of my personal practice, the actual ground on which I base my interactions within the temporal world.
So over the next few articles, I'm going to dive into, dig around under, imagine and re-imagine my relationships with these core forces that affect us all.
It was Monday, January 5th, 2015. I was working on a blog about daily practices when my brother sent me a message on Facebook. It simply and succinctly said "If you want to see dad, you better come now". If you've ever gotten that call or email, you know that life completely slows down and goes really fast all at the same time. I've tried to describe the feeling to folks that haven't had this experience and the closest thing I can compare it to is suddenly finding yourself underwater trying to have a conversation with a world full of people that are still on dry land.
The next twenty-four hours were a blur of phone calls and airports and moments of snatched sleep and worry and sitting awkwardly between two strangers and hurtling through the air at several hundred miles an hour. When I finally breathed fresh air again, I was seven thousand miles from home, in New Zealand, and just like that winter had turned to summer and the east was in the west and the moon was upside down.
Twelve Healing Stars is a yearlong project in cooperation with the Temple of Witchcraft that explores social justice through the lessons of the 12 Zodiac Signs. This is part five.
I live a few miles from Disneyland. We are close enough that throughout much of the year a loud cluster of explosions from the park’s impressive fireworks finale announces the arrival 9:45 p.m. It’s kind of nice, like the old time village criers announcing “9:45 and all is well!” It’s our little community ritual.
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?