The time has come. Finally, it has come. And everything comes crashing down around me with the furry of a storm off the eastern sea. And yet it is not total destruction, it is simply the energy needed to shift the sands and shape the world anew. Our world. The sand beneath our feet. There is a tidal wave rising, swelling, pulsing within my chest, struggling to burst the seawall that it may wash over everything and cleanse it. Bringing with it new life, healing energy, and creation out of the destruction of the old it has laid waste to. Our old patterns, our old life, our old home, is being swept away. But it is being replaced by potential, new starts fresh out of the damp spring-sun warmed soil. It is being replaced by a new home, new plans (or shifting kaleidoscope images of old plans), new risks and new patterns, and new life.
For like the seeds stirring in the dark womb of the earth as the strength of the sun returns and the buds leap forth onto branch and limb, so to does life quicken within mine own womb. For so long I had fought it, for so long we toiled over the labor of preventing life, of keeping my dark earth barren. For so long I whispered to the dark– please, not yet. Please, not again. I made bargains and pleaded, asking for this or that to be in place first. And once the Universe finally dumped those things so unexpectedly into our laps, not a handful of days later did Universe also see fit to set life to stirring in my belly. I suppose I got what I asked for. Funny how those things go. But I am thankful. For it all. For the chaos, for the turmoil, for the sadness, for the joy, for the uncertainty, for the dreams, for life. I am grateful.
And yet, as I look around this place that I have called my home for so many years, I realize that as much as I have fought and reached for a place beyond here… I have made roots here. They have begun to reach deeper into the earth here than I realized. Seeds had even begun to be planted and sprout here. This place is home, and yet now we must say good-bye. To Place and Land and Sea and Home and Spirits and Friend and Family… we must say good-bye. Honey and oil and milk and blood have been given here, we have awoken Spirits here who know us and love us as almost kin… and we must say good-bye. My heart aches with a pain I had not expected nor prepared myself for. My belly tightens with anticipation and fear, and uncertainty. And tears of longing and grief pour from my eyes onto sand and soil. How do you say good-bye? How do you prepare to part ways from a Spirit that has loved your child and protected house and land and has seen birth and death in your family, and stood sentinel for it all. How do you say good-bye to an ocean that has baptized you into mysteries still being unraveled, that has taken your whispers and tears and whishes to its depths, that has fed you and kept you as its own for so long… I don’t know. But it is time to say good-bye.
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
The day was warm and humid, the hot wind tugging at my skirts as I strapped my toddling son into his stroller and set off down the street. We live two blocks from the grocery store and it is a quick trek. As we turned off our street onto the main road, I stopped my trudging through the grass and peered over at a tiny clump of umbrella-shaped white flower clusters a dozen feet back into the field. My son started gesturing towards them, so we went over. What I had thought was possibly a patch of yarrow in my drive by’s the last week or so, was just a patch of very short-statured Queen Anne’s Lace. I asked if my son would like a flower, and after seeing him nodding vehemently I smiled and plucked one for him, the prickly hairs poking my fingertips. He grasped it with wonder and we continued on our walk. Not thirty seconds later, I spotted some tall spindling plants topped with tiny purple flowers. I had seen a picture that resembled them a week before and plucked one to try and identify it once we got home, my guess was vervain. A few feet after that was a patch of tiny white-petaled, yellow-centered daisies. Again my son reaches for them begging for a flower. So I plucked one for him and he traded the Queen Anne’s Lace flower for the daisy. And just after the daisies was a tiny patch of red clover– the first I have seen in the area. For my own enjoyment I picked two and tucked them into the stroller. On we went, and at the turn to the grocery store stood the very large grouping of Queen Anne’s Lace flowers that had been there the last month or two by now, half of which had gone to seed, their umbels drying and curling up towards the sky like little cups full of fuzzy brown seeds. These are the seeds that have kept my womb empty of child the last few months. I plucked one seed-head for my altar and another flower to take home. Interestingly enough, none of either group of QAL flowers had any, that I could discern, with a red dot in the middle of the umbels like the plants that I had seen on the roadside in the larger town 20 miles away. Past the QAL towards the grocery store were more of the spindly purple-topped plants.
Once we got home, I pulled out our region-specific plant field guide and began looking up the plants we had found.
Queen Anne’s Lace (which by now I know well)
And, all of them are medicinal. Of course, it is never recommended to ingest or otherwise use medicinally plants wildcrafted from roadsides. But it just goes to show you that there can be a treasure trove of wild medicinal and edible plants right in your own backyard, neighborhood, fields, and wild places. You just need to know how to look, and take the time to forage. It is vital to know how to properly identify the various medicinal and edible plants and fungi in order to discern them from their poisonous look-alikes (or just to know what is poisonous and what isn’t in general), especially in your area or region. A perfect example is Queen Anne’s Lace, which has a few very deadly look-alikes. Proper identification is imperative. You don’t want to go around picking poison hemlock or water hemlock (both are deadly), which can be mistaken for QAL by amateur foragers. Be sure to pick up a region-specific field guide with color photos, and/or books on medicinals and edibles and their identification for your region. Take it with you on a walk and see how many plants (and fungi) you can identify and find out which ones are edible and/or medicinal near your home, in a local park (beware of pesticides!) or nature preserve. Learn the different identification notes– hairy or smooth stem, shape of the leaves, flower differences, inner sap consistencies, etc. Believe it or not, a smooth or hairy stem can be a very important identification! REMEMBER: Queen Anne has hairy legs! (The hemlocks have smooth stems that are often mottled in color). Don’t forget about berries and trees too. Wildcrafting herbs and foraging for food are wonderful ways to get in touch with your local spirits (or Genius Loci), learn your native plant species, and get a nutritious wild-harvested meal for you and your family. And, speaking of Spirits, don’t forget to take some offerings with you to leave if you harvest anything in your adventures, or even just as a “thank you” for allowing you to come to this place and study and learn about the plants that are under Its care. Who knows, maybe they’ll take a liking to you and teach you a thing or two.