Foundations: 1

Earth spirituality, paganism, Wild Magic

The video was purely for your enjoyment, and was not created by me.  It has elements of sanctity, sensuality and relationship to what is ancient and to what is new.  It’s very beautiful, and reminds me of the enjoyment of our bodily senses that you will use as one of your vehicles for your magic as you learn.  I hope you found it restful and inspiring.  Take a deep breath.  Now take another one.  Here we go…..

Spirituality in general is a huge topic, as are paganism, and magic.  We’re going to work our way through each of these things in time, together.  I’m going to start with some definitions, insomuch as I will be using them throughout our work together.  You will find other uses for these words over time, and that will be okay.  But here are some ways to get us started.

Earth spirituality is the experience of finding meaning and context for our lives within the cycles of the natural world. It helps us to understand the cycles of life and death, how creation happens in our bodies and our creative minds, and how things end and begin again.  Many people who ground their spirituality in the earth are not necessarily pagans, and they do not necessarily engage in magical activity.  One can be a Christian or Buddhist or Witch or anything else, and still see those faiths through the context of nature.  Spirituality in general does not need to have any rules, dogmas, or specific routines.  Practitioners may do this, but they don’t always do so.

Paganism became a broad term for bodies of beliefs that are not one of the” big three” Abrahamic traditions, such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  Ancient Greeks and Romans were pagan, and in their case, they worshipped more than one deity.  Some people who worship just one deity that is not one of the current “big three” could still be considered pagans.  No everyone claims the title of pagan.  In fact, pre-Christian people more than likely did not use that word to describe themselves.  Now in the time of neopaganism (new paganism), the word “pagan” is used by various groups of various sorts as an overarching title to describe a series of religious beliefs not in the mainstream set of religions of Judaism, Islam or Christianity.  When I use the word “Paganism” through this course, that is usually what I will be referring to. Though all of the religions can be diverse, they are religions with teachings, some structure, and usually involve worship of one or more beings, or sometimes the honoring of a life force, such as the Druid concept of Awen, or the force of inspiration itself.

Magic is a practice, not necessarily a religion.  This is an important distinction.  Magic can be attached to a religion, or no religion at all.  Magic is a craft, a vocation, a set of skills.  It is a sort of world view, or a lens through which one lives one’s life. Witchcraft is a federally recognized religion because it is attached to a series of beliefs, standard practices, and some common creeds, as it was registered and as it was presented for recognition.  However, only in more modern days is witchcraft considered a belief system and not a skill set or vocation.  As we work together, we will encounter the names of gods and goddesses from many cultures.  These may be part of magical practices or not, as the practitioner desires.  You are not required to believe in them or worship them to practice magic.  However, perhaps you will be able to see them as symbols or concepts that relate to the spiritual experience or our human experiences on our life journey.  In time, you will decide if you feel drawn to any name of any supernatural force or being.  It is not required.  The Wild Magic concept is something that you will learn to utilize in your daily life.  It requires no faith other than faith in your work and the energies or beings that you call upon to assist you. It is based on what we know about the world around us.  We can harness the forces around us to create change inside ourselves and in the world.  Our world is powerful and full of great energy.  We know that energy is the basis for all of creation, including our bodies, the rocks, water, heat, polarity, our mental activity, and everything else you can think of.  As we dive further into magic, this will begin to unfold for you.  Where some traditional magicians disconnect themselves from nature and work on achieving higher states of consciousness to bond with godforms, spirits and the universe, our magic is focused on learning how to walk in spirit while enjoying this mortal existence, our bodies, our world, our senses, our thoughts, and our feelings.  Our magic has forms and routines that are foundations but are open to adjustment just like our world flows and ebbs like the tides of the sea.  Some of the foundations we build will serve you for a time and then you may  move on from them and branch out like a wild tree that reaches for the sun.

You are about to enter an intimate relationship with the land, the sea, and the sky.

Like all intimate relationships, it will have its peaks and valleys, its quiet times and its celebrations, its joys and sorrows. There will be times where you feel isolated and times when you feel embraced.  There are times of passion and times of numbness.  This is the nature of how the world works, and so your relationship and your magic will go through these periods as well.  Through it all, I hope you will find this long term relationship to feed you, and lend power to your magical practices.

The first step to building your relationship, and to access the world’s magic is to start by being present with it.  No matter what season when you begin this journey, the wilds have something to teach you, and will speak to you.  Building a bond with the wild world is a discipline and a joy.  It begins very simply- by paying attention.

Exercise One:

What you need:

A journal or notebook of any kind.  If you are an artist, a sketch pad or other artistic medium is also acceptable.

What to do:

As many times as you can in the next two weeks, observe the natural world.  You may do this on your way to work, or hopefully, when you have some quiet time to yourself.  Pay attention to what you see.  What is the temperature?  Is there wind? What does it sound like outside?  What does the sky look like?  What are the animals doing?  How do you feel today?  Is it different than how you felt yesterday? What does the moon look like, or the sun?  Any stars?  When it was sunny, did you feel differently than when it was cloudy?  Are you more tired or more energetic?  Sleepy? More hungry or less?  Did you sleep well or poorly?  What did the birds say?  Did you have any dreams?

Journal this each day.  Even if you only have a few notes, bullet points, or word groups, that’s fine. I like to write in sentences, but you don’t have to.

The purpose:

The purpose of this assignment is to start opening your eyes and your body’s senses to the natural world.  We often go through our days not fully noticing the world around us.  We are surprised sometimes to find out how closely our emotional and physical experiences are related to what’s happening in the nature around us.  When you are learning how to do this, you are turning your body into a magical tool.  It will be your sensor and your projector to draw natural energies through you and out into our magic through your intentions.  A second purpose is to build relationships with the spirits of this land, and the wildlife in it.

Exercise Two:

“Spirit of place” refers to the natural spirits, energies and emotions tied to places in the world.  Each place has its own energies and personality.  Getting accustomed to the spirits of your special places will help you create and maintain sacred space, and learn to find places of power that you can use in your magic, and that you can build relationships with.  Most of us have a place that we know in our gut is special.  You have your own, and I have mine.  In your journal, make a list of places you have been that seem or feel special to you.  It may be anything from a corner of your garden, to a special place at a national park.  It can be anything.  For while I feel drawn to Glastonbury in England, I do not live there.  I live here.  Here is where I have to find my holy places.  One of my holy places is Mackinac Island, among others.  I call it the Michigan Avalon.  Where are your holy places?  If you have never thought of such things before, start considering it now.  Make some notes about it.  Your list of holy places will grow as we learn to practice magic that connects you to the wild world.  Start with what you know right now.

Do these journal exercises and be prepared to share them with teacher and/or group when we gather.

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