Saturday, December 27, 2008

Lie Down In That Grass

Via e-mail, a couple of readers have responded with dismay to my post on calendar magic. "That's not magic; that's basic How to Function 101 with some allusions to the elements thrown in!" And, "Liminal spaces are magical spaces, not dead time at the end of the mundane year!"

Which reminds me of one of Hecate's famous Wiccan distinctions: Some people practice witchcraft. And some people are witches. Neither is any better than the other, but there is a difference.

IMHO, Wicca always was, and hopefully always will be, a religion of the people. And as Medusa recently noted to Thorn Coyle, many, if not most, people have a limited need in their lives for connection with the divine. So for many people, Wicca will always be about a tumble in the Spring clover on Beltane, the enjoyment of mead at Mabon, a moment to remember ancestors at Samhein, a spell for a new job or a new love, and the odd connection with "something else" felt almost by random at a full moon or on a beach at sunrise. A good time at a festival. An 8-times-a-year experience. And that's good. That's practicing witchcraft.

Other people have a much stronger need to spend as much of their time as possible living in connection with the Divine, inhabiting their Goddess-selves, walking around aware that it's all just god pouring god into god. My own shorthand for this is "living as a witch." And what I want to do, what I try to write about on this blog, is not so much practicing witchcraft (there are lots of good blogs about that), but living as a witch. I want to explore how to live as a witch every possible moment in this modern world. I don't, no matter how much some part of me may long for it, live in a Ren Faire forest or a Goddess temple or in a cave on an island. I live in a modern urban center, with congested traffic and Starbucks and homeless people on the streets next to the v rich and the v powerful. I work at a large law firm. I get mammograms and colonoscopies in major modern medical centers. I buy my groceries at Whole Foods. My circle does magic to influence political events in the modern world and I spend most of my day -- almost every single day -- on a computer. And I need to know how to live THAT life as a witch, how to dance THAT dance as fully aware as possible of my connection to everything that is, of the fact that I am a manifestation of the Goddess, of the fact that it's all real, it's all metaphor, there's always more.

And, sure, sometimes, I find liminal spaces by fasting, taking a ritual bath in a tub filled with rose petals picked on the dark moon from my own rose bushes, lighting incense in my ritual room, casting a circle deosil with a silver athame whose handle is sealed with a celtic knot made of gold, and traveling along the astral plane to a spot prepared for me both by my own ritual workings and by my Patroness, a serious-eyed Lady with three heads and a large black dog. I go there for a purpose, to change consciousness/reality/myself/the world at will, to work pre-planned magic in a place where all things are in flux and where change is not only possible, but likely. It's hard work, it's exhilarating, it's serious business.

But I don't do that kind of magic every day. Even if I didn't have to get up, put on a suit, and show up on time at work, I couldn't do that kind of working every day. But I still need to live every day as a witch. Sure, I know I'm a witch when I'm wearing ritual robes and burning incense on charged coals inside a circle of spring-green light. But I need to know how to live as a witch when I'm stuck in traffic on the Roosevelt Bridge, when I'm taking a client to lunch at the Palm, when I'd dropping off drycleaning, when I'm firing up my Apple computer to read blogs, when I'm mowing my lawn, when I'm on my iPhone with Son, when I'm calculating whether or not to refinance my home, when I'm trying to talk myself into just five more minutes on the treadmill.

And, thus, for me, the world, the world that we dare to call "mundane," is full of liminal spaces, many of them as yet undiscovered. It's full of serendipity. It's full of elementals and dryads and pixies and Goddesses and genii locii. It's full of metaphor. It's full of magic. Liminal spaces don't only exist upon the astral; adolescence is a liminal space, menopause is a liminal space, pregnancy is a liminal space, being out of a job is a liminal space, living in a country longing for an evil leader to go away and a new inspiring leader to assume his job is a liminal space, every corner that I turn all day, every intersection through which I drive my car is -- you guessed it -- a liminal space. Being aware of the liminality of each of those situations is a big part of what it means, for me, to live as a witch. And looking for ways to use such "mundane" liminality -- figuring out a magical way to use downtime at the end of the secular year -- is probably, IMHO, a more important part of living as a witch than the limited number of times each year when I dress up in ritual robes and do high magic. If I had, Goddess forfend, to give up one or the other, I'd trade my most ecstatic high ritual experiences for a lifetime of everyday magic. So I balance my checkbook with magical intent, I cook and freeze cabbage lentil soup with magical intent, and I organize my calendar with magical intent, and I call upon the elements for aid, and I ground before I pick up my pen.

Rumi said: Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase "each other" doesn't make any sense. That's a liminal space and it doesn't matter where you find it: inside a circle inscribed with the names of seraphim and demons or beneath a full moon on a frosty field or at your desk with your new calendar before you. The important thing is to lie down in that grass.

~Art found here.


Anonymous said...

This is really beautiful. I actually loved your calendar post. And now I've reread this one a few times. Thank you for what you teach.

Anonymous said...

I loved your calendar post too. It goes with your emphasis on grounding. Way heavy magic to find the liminal in DC!

Anonymous said...


Why is it, do you think, that some folks are so frightened of the idea that magic and the gods are everywhere?

I loved you grounding and calendar posts... they inspired me actually to work on my own little calendar...


Anonymous said...

Eloquently said. Your blog is full of wise observation and magical inspiration. Thanks for putting it out there.

Anne Johnson said...

I believe that the unseen is everywhere and at all times. What a wonderful post!

Anonymous said...

Perfectly put!

Anonymous said...

Hecate, you're on a roll these days! I've really enjoyed your recent posts. All of my witchy sisters seem to be on a roll right now-- there's an interesting synchronicity happening.