Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Witch's Relationship to the Land

[R]oots are essential to the [W]itch. Just as she needs to know human nature if she is to find the freedom to use her emotional energy and that provoked in others, so must she know the natural world around her and its own flows of energy. A [W]itch, then, is entirely committed to her landscape. She doesn't just know how it functions; she aims to know every part of it. In constant relationship with it, she becomes attuned to both its short cycles of change and its long journey of changing.

It need not be a beautiful rural environment; the witch may be happier in the big city, the suburbs, or a place needing protection or regeneration. Wherever she is, she seeks out that intensity of connection with all those who make up the ecosystem. . . . Every action is a potential interaction, acknowledging presence, purpose and communication, and where the energy is strong, her respect rises. It may be with the mountains, the darkness, the forest or deer; it may be with the river of traffic, the wind that moves around the buildings, the sunlight on glass, the scents of anger, hunger and wit. Wherever she is, enthused by the divine hum of creativity, touched by the powerful desire to control, the witch seeks and finds her dark [G]oddess of potential.

Emma Restall Orr in Kissing the Hag: The Dark Goddess and the Unacceptable Nature of Women.

Restall Orr is acknowledging a point we still sometimes conveniently forget: Most modern Pagans live in urban environments. If we're to live our religion every day, and not merely a few times a year when we go on vacation or head for a Pagan festival, then we need to be Pagans, Witches, in the cities where we live. And, as Restall Orr explains, that means being in relationship with the natural world (of which humans are a part) in our cities. We can't just sit inside a sealed apartment and read books about communicating with trees, healing some abstract place called "the land," and imagining the wonderful magic we'd do if we lived in a cottage by the sea.

There's probably a narrow strip of blighted land right next to the parking lot of that sealed apartment. The soil may be crap, made worse by not-well-removed construction debris, litter, poorly-planned runoff, and the fumes of the cars that drive past. There may be a few weeds struggling to grow on the hard, cracked soil and in between the rocks and concrete. Occasionally, a crow may land there, looking for a place from which to fly out and pick at roadkill, in between the cars that whiz past. And it's right there, out your window, every day.

You don't need to travel to it or wait for that far-off day when you move to a bit of land that will call to you for relationship. You can visit that strip of land tonight, when the crescent moon is high and the traffic slows. At first, you might just walk on it, introduce yourself to it, tell it that you want to get to know it. Caress and breathe on the weeds. Go back inside and learn their names. Those are good plants for this land; they can grow there even under bad conditions. Maybe tomorrow night, you can take the land a gift: some used coffee grounds for the soil (Starbucks will give you bags and bags for free), some water that you've blessed for the weeds. Maybe you can do that every night between now and the Dark Moon on the 10th. Maybe one night, you'll decide to pick up the litter. Maybe one night, you'll send the energy of sex magic to that bit of Earth. Maybe one night, you'll notice how much healthier the weeds are looking. Maybe when they go to seed, you'll save some in a small brown envelope that you've covered with runes.

And that's how it begins. What happens to that strip of land as Autumn comes on, as the weeds die? How quickly does its snowcover turn to black from car exhaust? What might you do in the Spring to encourage what were 5 weeds to turn into 15? How will "your" place call forth what Restall Orr describes as your "dark [G]oddess of potential"? How will you call its forth? What will the resulting relationship look like?

Picture found here.


Double Jointed Fingers said...

2 Orr posts. You've picqued my interest and I've ordered the book.

I want to live in your library.

Hecate said...


I think you'll find her interesting. She's not always fluffy and nice, nor even always PC. But she's one of the few people writing books that, at least IMHO, are above the Pagan 101 level. Let me know what you think!

Teacats said...

Right now me relationship with that strip of earth is less-than-friendly after spending hours in the blazing sun (110 degrees here in DFW) cleaning up my garden! Maybe it is more like a marriage -- some days are really good -- and some days are simply a struggle -- even to get into my gardening hat and gloves and get out there!

Jan at Rosemary Cottage

Double Jointed Fingers said...

Hecate, I will. I think the fact that she is not PC or fluffy or "usual" is what drew me to the book.

Thanks for tossing breadcrumbs along the path. ;)