Stories Return Us to the Land

This is probably part of an ongoing meditation on story, myth, and land based spirituality, as it is something I’m really reflecting upon lately.

We are 5 days before the summer solstice and on the verge of a thunder storm as I write. My house is humid and grey as the clouds pass in front of the sun; light breaking in through the dense overcast sky as the winds push the shadows across the lush greenery outdoors. My house is well insulated, with no air conditioning, so the dampness creeps in, despite everything being closed, as I wait for the rains to arrive. My first year in this region, 22 years ago now, I was surprised by the humidity, the thunderstorms, and the ways the summer heat creeps in here. I had anticipated the cold, but not the heat. It took many years for my body to acclimatize to different weather patterns than those I had always known.

I have no connections to this land other than the ones I intentionally foster. It has taken me a long time to find meaningful ways to make this land home, to hear the spirits of it, to become attuned to its voice.

The land here is marked by fire and ice, snow and heat, deep winter winds and humid summer storms. And the stories that bring this to life are the stories that honour that type of knowledge.

Let me give an example that might make more sense:

The Witte Wieven*, a Dutch folk legend about the Wise Healing Women who dance in the Fog and Mist, feel right in this space – this field you see in the photos of this post. The morning fogs of autumn, the steam coming off the winter snow, and the warming mists of spring, have helped bring the story of the Witte Wieven to life; reconnect me to my ancestral narratives; and foster a connection to the land in ways I never expected. As someone who loves stories, this reconnection to land through story has been a gift and has driven home some of the Indigenous Ways of Knowing that I have been learning through my work with Indigenous communities, but in non-appropriative ways that feel respectful.

I think that remembering that our language and stories carry the land in them is vital for this age. We have lost so much connection to the land, that even the simple reminder that the word Earth comes from the Goddess Eartha, the Sun – Sunna, and the Moon – the God Mani, can be a way to reconnect to place. We are literally walking on the Goddess, and looking up at the God and Goddess. The old Gods are animistic and of the land. We have somehow, it often seems, made them too abstract and remote, losing sight that gods like Thunor (Thor) is the thunder and rain and lightning strike of energy – the hammer that strikes to create the spark of heat we need to survive and the rains our crops need to grow. When we remember to see Donar (also Thor), as such, we see why he was a god of the people. The people need him because he is the heat and waters that we need to survive, to craft, and to grow.

I believe that remembering the animistic roots of our deities helps us rebuild our connection to place. The gods aren’t abstract. They are alive and well, just as the world around us is.**

Stories are the way we remember them. Finding the right stories that sing to you and help attune you to the land – that’s magic.

The longer I spend contemplating the anxiety of settler identity and connection, the more I come to realize that the way forward, for me at least, is intimately connected to finding a way to use the wealth of my own stories, respectfully, in this land, in a complimentary relationship with the stories I am gifted, as I go along. The land does not belong to us, only the stories we tell do. And the stories are the keys we can use to help us unlock the land’s (if the land is willing) mysteries just enough that we can build new stories, together with the land. My greatest hope is that I will gift my son and community with enough meaningful stories about the land, that they too will feel the deep, reverent connection that I so cherish and that the land that they walk upon always knows their gratitude.

*Depending on the lore the Witte Wieven are also seen negatively in the lore. But I choose to embrace the identity of the healing ancestral women because it fits with my experience of them. This isn’t to say they can’t also be dangerous if disrespected.

**Ultimately speaking of course, given the current environmental crisis being one that the earth itself will survive and the various permutations of that information.

Eos: Unpacking the Mythic

Eos’ fingers are slowly spreading across the eastern sky as I write this, warming the landscape as the air fills with the cacophony of birdsong. When we first moved to this house, I was startled by the intensity of the spring morning birds here. They start at 4am and being the light sleeper that I am, it took some getting used to. Today though, as I watch the sun rise, I am thankful for the soundtrack that greets the dawn.

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People of Wheat and Corn

Once, years ago, a local Indigenous Elder told me his people were People of the Corn (or maize if you prefer). He went on to explain the statement with information about agricultural and ceremonial traditions to contextualize it culturally. It stuck with me as a teaching.

But while I understood his nation’s relationship with corn and a little about how corn was part of ceremony, I confess, I didn’t truly understood this viscerally as a teaching until this winter. I don’t think it really became a “knowing” for me until I realized that “my” people are also people of corn (in the more broad definition of corn: the Germanic/Dutch root meaning grain. My people (modern and ancestral) are People of the Wheat. And yes, I appreciate the irony in that (white people of European descent often being represented by the wheat emoji). But let me clear: I don’t think that being a person of wheat or corn is about race. I think it’s about ceremony and relationship to land. I think it’s about how you or your ancestors build sacred relationship with harvest, abundance, and security in relation to the land.

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Why We Should Make a Few of Our Tools

First, a disclaimer: I know that not everyone is adept at crafting and that we can make an argument that handcrafting tools might be ableism. I would like to preface the text that follows with this caveat: making your own tools can be a significant learning experience but it does not mean that purchased tools can’t have their own value/significance in differing ways. The work is merely different.

Making tools is a labour of love. The hours poured into a handcrafted tool will inevitably help foster a bond or story of origin between you and the tool you craft. Making a tool from scratch requires planning, intention, and patience. It requires a willingness to sit with imperfection, yours and your tool’s, and love it anyways.

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Creating Your Own Magical Language

Explorations in building a new personal system.

If you’ve been reading between the not so hidden lines, I’ve been thinking a lot about cultural appropriation and western esoteric traditions and ways to unyoke my practice from systems that seem problematic to me.

One of the areas that troubles me the most is the need to exoticize our magical languages by appropriating other cultural terms and words. To make that more concrete: in my own tradition, we rely heavily on Qabala (western esoteric take on Kabbalah), a Jewish informed mystical system. I know this is blatant appropriation but given how deeply embedded it is in western esotericism, I’m not sure how easy it is to remove it. Too much of Christianity is tied to Judaism (you could even argue that Christianity is appropriation…) and too much of our western occult traditions have come up through Christianity (even if we reject Christianity many of our practices and worldviews have been deeply informed by it).

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Planetary Deity Work

This post is a reflection on workings done from the book “Planetary Magick” by Denning & Phillips. I have not read the book in its entirety, I’ve only drawn from the sections relevant to this practice.

A few years ago, I, along with several of my then coven mates, did planetary invocations of deities associated with the planets based on exercises drawn from the above mentioned text. We spent a week invoking Egyptian deities, according to their planetary hour, and then another week doing the same for Greek deities.

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Wicca-lite

Disclaimer: the moon is in Cancer, I’m feeling feisty, and the public pagan-o-sphere has gotten me mad again.

I practice Wicca. Or at least, I was trained in Wicca and I’m currently re-evaluating the teachings I was given. But in the meantime, I can say, despite all the questionable colonialism inherent in Wicca, that the teachings I was given have provided me with a great deal of insight into my character, the world, and life. I am, despite my questions and issues with group dynamics, beyond grateful for what my teachers imparted and the experience of having worked in a coven. My experience in my old coven and my training has help make me the person I am today, including the person who wants to decolonize her practice.

That said, pardon my language, but WTF is up with people gravitating towards Wicca-lite? The lack of discipline and structure? The inability to understand that any esoteric practice is a practice and thus, requires work?

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Dancing with the Elements

In the past year I’ve done a lot of experimenting to figure out what I want to keep or let go of in my practice; how I want to adapt things to be mine outside of the coven practice I was taught. The change I have loved the most in my practice is learning to dance with the Elements.

Dancing ecstatically around a fire is my ultimate witchy fantasy. That and having an herbal apothecary full of drying plants and herbal remedies. I’m doing pretty well at fulfilling both #witchgoals these days!

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