I have been lucky enough to live near the ocean for the last almost 12 years– as long as I have been practicing as a pagan and a witch– but I have only practiced Sea Witchcraft actively for perhaps the last 4 years about I think. I love living near the sea, I cannot imagine living much farther from it which has made things quite difficult since we’re trying to find land and move from this place.
I definitely agree that ultimately, though tools and herbs and candles are lovely– and useful!– you should be able to practice magic with nothing but your Will and your Breath, and the things you find around you. (Of course it is definitely polite to give offerings when you’re working out in nature!) I love writing runes or spells in the sand, or whispering things into shells and sending them on their way with the waves. This is something I have actually got my toddling son to do– whisper into shells and send our wishes to the mermaids. He doesn’t really say anything into the shells (he pretends to whisper) but he loves the idea of the whole thing.
And she’s right: the Ocean Mother and the spirits there and at the shore and in the storm off the sea– they are Primal (read: really f*cking old) and made of darker things than most of us have (or care to) encounter. I don’t always, but often when I go to the shore I call on Yemaya. We have had a working relationship that sways like the tides over the last few years. And most associate Her as a very ‘light’ and loving diety. Which She can be. But She is also destruction– tidal wave and storm, and Her acts of protection can come on violent and primal like Kali. Hell, one of Her Aspects is Pirate Queen ruler of the predators of the sea.
And I too have heard the Siren’s call…
I work sometimes in the realms of the Sea Folk, I feel very strongly even that one of their lines is in my blood– and one Full Moon night I was down on the shore, walking along and singing. And then the air shifted, and I could hear another song, singing out from in my bones rather than audible on the air. And my eyes drooped and I felt the tug. I felt the incredible melancholic longing, the dire urge to step into the waves– and keep going. I have never been one to swim in the ocean at night. I know we have sharks in the shallows in the day time, so I *know* they are there at night. But I felt this wrenching in my heart, this pull at my ankles, to just keep walking and put my head under the surface and swim and never return. I fought the pull, and kept to the shallows, and forced myself to walk parallel to the beach instead of out into the water. But it was the most intense draw I have ever had– and I have had instances before where I had this melancholic yearning to join the sea, like it was where I belonged. But unfortunately, this selkie lady has not a seal skin to take her past the breakers and into ocean depths unfathomable.
Sea Witchcraft, Ocean Witchcraft and Beach Magick is the most beautiful, at times simplistic, but ultimately the most powerful magick and ritual I have ever practiced. And I miss it!
Let me get this out of the way: if you are lucky enough to live by the sea/ocean/beach, I envy you. I miss it. It’s too expensive to live near water in Sydney (but this is where my work is so here I stay). I don’t like the beaches around here because there’s too too too many people, too much energy flying about, and it’s harder to feel the energy of the land.
Without trying to insult people, sea witchcraft is not for the feint hearted, or for the fluffy. It is a completely different experience to stand at the water’s edge, or knee-deep (or further if you wish) than standing or sitting behind an altar in your room or…
So Midnight and I were discussing further the Re-wilding Witchcraft article and certain points that the author had made in regards to the response (as witches) to the coming doom of mankind. Regarding that, and also spurred by a comment made by one of our readers on that particular post, we decided to talk about our thoughts and musings in a “part II” blogpost, and on (as I affectionately call it), being a ‘wyldling witch’. Please forgive any repeats in what you read below, we both speak on similar topics and I couldn’t find a way to blend both of our thoughts into one so I left them separate.
Essentially, right now… we’re being lied to. Hardcore. We’re being spoon-fed everything and doused in fluoride to keep us complacent in front of our glowy movie boxes and sipping carbonated beverages and espressos while the world around us is falling to pieces. This is the end for us, plain and simple. It is time to acknowledge that there is no turning back for us as a species. Hell, there’s no turning back for a lot of things… we’ve damn near reached Peak Soil and Peak Oil, the oceans are on their way out, thousands upon thousands of other species are going extinct each day… Some of us will survive and live on, but our legacy is coming to an end. There is no stopping it at this point. Those of us who take the time NOW to learn the ways of their local wilds, local edibles and poisons and medicines, the tracking of game and divining of bird flight and weather prediction, of REAL WILD WITCHCRAFT, of communing with the land wrights and the Otherworld….. and teaching all of that to our children…. those few will be the ones who survive. The rest will be overcome, chained, and eventually annihilated, totally oblivious to the world burning outside of their A/C-cooled cookie-cutter homes. And they will be lost to oblivion. And the world will go on without us.
I do think that there are multiple aspects that need to be recognized and cultivated here. I agree with the Re-wilding Witchcraft article’s author in his talking about witches rising up, resuming our old ‘face’ so to speak, and re-learning and creating the death-rights and things like that. Bringing back ceremony in all aspects of birth, life, and death. Essentially I think he was getting at this: make peace with the fact that death is imminent. Annihilation is upon us. Get to know death, and yet LIVE. Work with the spirits, work with the land. Work with yourself and your family. I was talking with Midnight about this and we feel like those who will survive will be those who do these things and learn to re-wild themselves and re-wild their witchcraft, then teach their children those skills-– how to make a snare and butcher meat, how to wildcraft herbs and the knowledge of herbalism– particularly for your *local* flora.. this is key here… How to live off the land and be a part of the land, and also to be a part of the spirit world and know how to work with spirits, particularly– as Sarah Lawless puts it– working in the realm of bioregional animism (working with the spirits of your locale, the ‘Genius Loci’).
Paganism is a religion or spirituality (however you look at it) that is broad-reaching, but generally claims to be in some form or another, earth-worshiping. But are we really? Witchcraft and paganism are dark and old, like the deep earth where the roots and bones are lying. Magic comes from the earth, and the Otherworld(s), and from within ourselves. But many of those who would use the title “pagan” and “witch” know very little, truly, of the earth or of the other side of the Veil. We have gouged out our Seeing Eyes ourselves, clipped our own wings and talons and bleached our fields (spiritually and physically speaking) infertile. We worship alien gods, shun the Ancestors and ignore the herbal medicine that is right outside our kitchen door (or worse yet, spray those healing, magical dandelions with bee-killing, water-poisoning Roundup)… We claim to love the Earth Mother and yet we stick our heads into the sand when some seemingly crack-pot conspiracy theorist hippy starts yelling from the rooftops about the state of the world and our part in its undoing. We have forgotten how to make offerings, we have forgotten what a sacrifice really meant to those who came before us– the continuation of a clan line, the feeding of your people from fertile fields and woods, the promise of the sun’s return, survival of mother and babe during childbirth– the blessings from those who had gone before upon those who now live. Life for life, blood for blood. These are the kinds of things that we need to bring back into our practice, into our witchcraft and every-day lives.
Soon the Earth will take her sacrifice by force, and it will be our blood and bones in the dirt.
I think when looking at something of this scale, what’s really important is that we do SOMETHING. We have seen the truth of things, ignorance should never have been an excuse but now it isn’t even an option. Willful blindness is evaporating like so much mist. Our generation is faced with a hard reality now. Perhaps not in our lifetimes but in our children’s and certainly in our children’s children’s, mankind will face an extinction level event. Our situation isn’t a question of rethinking our resource management anymore, now its a base question of survival.
Not survival as individuals, but our survival as a species is in question. We have been at war with the earth. We have poisoned tomorrow’s water to drink today. We have killed and cut and maimed the land in our efforts to further progress.
Now as the world is want to do, a balance will reassert itself. If we do nothing then it will do something, by obliterating us. I think that the author’s message was that we need to first find each other, then reestablish our connection to nature. We need to re-immerse ourselves in it, re-wild ourselves and our magic. Our best chance of survival in any significant way is to be a part of nature, not apart from it. To do this we have to strip away many of the fineries we have donned to fit in amongst and be accepted by the other “recognized and established” religions and modern society as a whole. ( I’m saying all of this as blanket statements with no distinctions between craft or sects because in every aspect I am trying to include all of us… any distinctions we may feel or value between us are irrelevant. To any outsider looking in they see only witches, and in the face of what we are looking at dealing with, any differences are irrelevant in the face of what we all need to become. ) We need to return to being the mediums between this world and the Others. That means knowing death, knowing the wild places, knowing the spirits and how to speak to them, how to garner their blessings and how to live with the wild world. We need to re-synch with our local wilds, learn (y)our sacred places, learn (y)our magical times– not by a book but by living it and feeling it. More importantly still, we need to know how to pass this knowledge on to others, and we need to share it with our children so that they, and their grandchildren, have a chance at surviving.
Our “Part III” post will be a recap and further suggestions, as well as some resources on how to re-wild yourself, re-wild your witchcraft, and be a “Wyldling Witch”. We would love to hear your thoughts and any input, and keep this discussion going and the dialogue open. Feel free to comment below, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org