Tag Archives: paganism

Involving Kids

Catechism For A Witch’s Child

by J.L. Stanley

When they ask to see your gods
your book of prayers
show them lines
drawn delicately with veins
on the underside of a bird’s wing
tell them you believe
in giant sycamores mottled
and stark against a winter sky
and in nights so frozen
stars crack open spilling streams
of molten ice to earth
and tell them how you drank
the holy wine of honeysuckle
on a warm spring day
and of the softness
of your mother
who never taught you
death was life’s reward
but who believed in the earth
and the sun
and a million, million light years
of being.

This post is long overdue, but being a parent– life often gets in the way of things like blogging. This post was spurred by a few things, namely seeing some other pagans/witches discussing whether or not prepubescent children should be involved in magic and ritual, or even exposed to it at all; and also just based on my own experiences with our toddling son.

In regards to the former, it actually stunned me quite a bit to see people discouraging others from involving children, or even exposing them, to their religious/spiritual/magical practices. But I think that this stance is based in the fact that many of us who consider ourselves pagan and/or witches were raised Christian. Many of us (I could comfortably say most of us) were raised from infancy in the faith of our parents, who in most cases vehemently pressed such beliefs upon us and forbade us (directly or indirectly) from studying and/or practicing other religions. And for many of us, the shift from Christianity (or similar monotheistic, patriarchal, majority-religion) to paganism and/or witchcraft was a rough one. Some of us were lucky and had parents who supported us in our journey (I was not one of those lucky ones, quite the opposite). But the majority of us have been imprinted with this natural tendency to shy away from the idea of ‘teaching’ (read: forcing) a religious or spiritual practice on our children. And I understand this, but I don’t agree with it.

There is a difference between raising a child surrounded by your faith(s)/practices and involving them in it and encouraging their spiritual growth– wherever that may lead them, and telling your children that they must follow these set beliefs, are required to participate in these certain practices, and are discouraged from/forbidden from learning about, studying, or practicing any other beliefs. And this doesn’t just apply to Paganism vs. Christianity. It can also apply to various Paths within Paganism… yes I am talking to those of you who may practice a “white-light, harm none” path whose children may grow up to practice Luciferian Witchcraft, or Voodoo (and vice versa). We should treat our children the way we wish our parents had treated us: raise them in a healthy, open-minded household, and encourage them to learn about other spiritual and religious practices and support them if they decide to follow some such path.

My son helping me smudge some new items from the thrift store.
Our son helping me smudge some new items from the thrift store.

We are raising our son to have a healthy respect and deep reverence for the earth and its inhabitants, to be aware of and connected to the cycles of the world around us and our part in the web of life, to know that magic and spirits are real and encourage his own psychic abilities, etc. We involve him in ritual and magical practice whenever we can– and he is only going on three. He loves to help, and even if he doesn’t quite understand why we’re doing something, or what something means, he can understand some things to an extent, and is being exposed from an early age. When he talks to something that is ‘invisible’ to mama or daddy, or points at things flying about while daddy is meditating with the Owl spirit, we pay attention and listen and encourage him. We don’t tell him nothing is there, or he is making it up. When the dark scares him, we ask why. We don’t say there’s nothing there, just because we can’t see it. When I smudge new items, or give offerings to the Spirits, he helps me. There are so many ways to involve small children in ritual and daily practice. Especially if you yourself can blend the mundane and the sacred, your children are already programmed to be this way. The possibilities are endless. Children can help with their own altar, can learn meditation at a very young age, they can help with smudging (being careful of embers of course) and offerings, they can be taught old folk tales and rhymes (this is common in Waldorf-style education) for everything from greeting the sun to baking bread to talking about the moon or Autumn. You can teach them about the seasons and where their food comes from– and to give thanks for it– from a very small age. Pray over your food with your children, in your own way. Mealtime prayers aren’t just for Christians, and praying over food and water blesses it for your consumption and can be a chance to give thanks. Take your children outside every chance you get, let them touch trees and put their toes in the ocean. If they suddenly want to say hi to a tree in a parkinglot, encourage them. They can sense that spirit, and want to connect with it.
Learn from your children, follow their lead.

My son giving offerings to the Spirits at the Spring Equinox.
My son giving offerings to the Spirits at the Spring Equinox.

This Patheos blogpost has some good information on ‘planning’ (or rather, the lack thereof) of ritual with small children, of following their lead, and ritualizing everyday activities. As children get older, of course they can be actively involved even more. And I feel like this should be normal, and their curiosity and skills cultivated. Children are always learning, and learn by example. Try and surround yourself with other pagan families, and celebrate together! Take your kids on forest-walks together, teach them about mushrooms and trees and meditation. Do pagan-y crafts and child-friendly rituals. Older children can be given roles in ritual. And as they get older, they will grow more curious, and you can teach them about other religions past and present, different, spiritual practices, etc. Take your children to events and gatherings! We just took our son with us to the Central NC Pagan Pride and he did wonderfully, and there were other small children there as well. (However if we go next year to vend and teach, he might stay home with grandma.) There are tons of resources out there and stories/blogs about pagan families and involving children in practice, and don’t be afraid to share yours!

We’d love to hear about how you involve your children in your magical practice, leave a comment below or send us an e-mail. We’re also looking for contributions to the Pagan Parenting column of our newsletter [provide us your e-mail to be added to the mailing list!], and have an on-going blog post compiling pagan homeschooling and pagan parenting resources, here.

To Be a Witch: A Response Post Pt. II

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.

by Margaret Seidler on DeviantArt
by Margaret Seidler on DeviantArt

Isáine:
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.

from edies.farm/tag/rewilding/
from edies.farm/tag/rewilding/

Midnight:
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 thetwistedtree.shoppe@gmail.com

oldreligion

To Be a Witch: A Response Post Pt. I

Tar Pit #3

How tame we have become. How polite about our witchcraft. In our desire to harm none we have become harmless.

Truth speaks, uttered forth, and realization hits. My stomach tightens and my jaw clenches.

I will not be part of this process, because to do so is to be complicit with the very forces that are destroying all life on earth. It is time for Witchcraft not to choose, but to remember which side it is on in this struggle.

A fire burns deep in my belly and my throat tenses. Again, realization hits. We have given up everything– our roots, our truth, our power. We have disempowered, hell even dismembered ourselves in an attempt to be accepted by the masses. I chuckle, a bitterness coating my tongue, as I remember defending my new-found neopagan beliefs to my mother, insisting that it was no baby-devouring devil that I worshipped, but the green beauty of the earth and a loving goddess… Harm None, says the Rede… all the while the dripping of rooster blood onto black feathers and brick dust across the threshold called to me, but I turned away, heart aching, for fear of being outcast.

Ours is a practice grounded in the land, in the web of spirit relationships, in plant and insect and animal and bird. This is where we must orientate our actions, this is where our loyalty lies.

This is where our loyalties lie. With root and rock and stone and beast and bird… Months, no, a year or two ago I spoke of the duty, the responsibility, that we as pagans and witches have to defend the earth. How we claim to be “earth worshippers” and yet we can’t even be bothered to recycle. But I was dismissed, my words brushed aside. Offense was taken, my words faded into the wind that blows dry and crackling with toxic particles that are killing us as we breathe. But here– here I have found someone once more stepping up, and he is being held aloft, his words spread ’round. It’s about damn time someone starts listening to what some of us have been trying to say. But he has a much more terrible, a much more sinister picture he has painted. But it is one that is most needed, I feel, to jar us awake and knee-jerk us into a reaction if we are to save anything, much less ourselves.

No living system that can escape the fate which our actions have bound it to. We are living in the age of absolute ecological collapse. Habitat loss is occurring at a staggering rate, driven by what industrial civilisation has in common with the religions of the Book: the view that nature, like woman, is ours to dominate.

Terror and a deep sadness I have not felt in a long time weighs heavy in my heart. My chest tightens to match the restriction in my throat like a serpent squeezing tighter and tighter with its soft belly scales cold and smooth on my skin. This is what we have done. This is what we are doing. We are experiencing the largest extinction event in the history of the world– including that of the dinosaurs. And it is all. Our. Doing.

So what does our world look like?
Let me describe to you our power animals.

Wolf carcasses bored through with rifle point. Wet piles of Golden Eagles and Buzzards fed poisoned meat. Sharks long-lined and finned by fishing fleets that have butchered through the Tuna shoals we have fed to our plague of familiar cats. Barn Owls bleeding from their eyes and hæmorrhaging their guts down ghost white plumage due to the warfarin in rat poison. Toads and amphibian life mutating into monstrous pained death, whose gelatinous bones do not float back up the river.

Tears well in my eyes, I bite my lip. Read it again. And again. We say we are earth-worshippers, animists, druids, shamans, witches… Then BE that which you claim to be. DO that which you are meant to do– your charge stands before you cloaked in crude oil, belly filled with plastic. Your enemy stands before you, honey-tongued and black-suited with pen in hand as the resources of the world are signed away, as another 10,000 species become extinct. Your fellow pagans and witches are not the enemy. Nay, in a time as critical as this, there cannot be strife amongst allies.

Seawater so acidic that the shells of molluscs are dissolving. Oceans overfished to the extent that they resemble deserts, seabeds ploughed to destruction, micro-particles of indigestible plastic poisioning bird life and turtles, reefs bleached, plankton populations which are the building blocks of all ocean life disappearing…Water, I bid you hail and welcome.

All life comes from the sea, and without it, we would be nothing. Our tears as acidic as the waters that now cannot hold life nor oxygen enough for us to breathe. Our bones returned to a desert landscape no longer lush and green.

The Earth itself is exhausted, soil degradation endemic, washed with its nitrogen fertilisers into our already poisoned seas. The living Earth is fragile, it takes a hundred years to form a centimetre of topsoil. Farmland is a limited resource and eroding fast… Insect populations will soon not be able to pollinate the crops… The wheel of the year has been broken. Earth, I bid you hail and welcome.

People speak of peak oil, but no one is considering peak soil. Our foods are becoming less and less nutritious as our crops grow in pesticide-laden soil that has been stripped of its vitamins, minerals, bacteria, and fungi. Soon they simply will be unable to grow at all. Bees are dying at an unsustainable rate. Butterflies are disappearing. Amphibians are suffering horrible mutations and terrible deaths. We are growing as a population too fast to support it.

This is where you should feel the knot of fear in your stomach. The CO2 emissions that are wreaking havoc now are the result of what we burned forty years ago. Since then we have engaged in an orgy of denial and consumption. There is no tech-fix in the Anthropocene, the age of manmade climate change. Nothing has been done… Clearly we are being lied to. Clearly something is very wrong. Air and Fire, I bid you hail and welcome

My eyes close, pressing out tears that roll in rivulets down freckled cheeks, wetting lips that may never again feel truly fresh, clean, nontoxic water cross them. Lips that wish to spread wide and let forth a raging cry to the world. But none would hear me, it seems.

Some will be afraid of this knowledge; witchcraft should be liberated by it, liberated from petty concerns to pursue lives of beauty, liberated from the sleepwalking into death that our culture has made for us and our children. So I counsel, confront death. For witchcraft to be anything other than the empty escapism of the socially dysfunctional or nostalgia for bygone ages, it needs to feel the shape of its skull, venerate the dead and the sacred art of living and dying with meaning. We are all on the fierce path now.

Confront death, not by pretending that you have cut a deal with the Elder Vampire Gods invented for you by some internet Dark Witch fantasist in their over-priced books. Confront death, not by pretending that a beautiful Beltane ritual and a blue sky means everything will stay the same. Confront death, not by practicing the magic of ploughmen and wortcunners in your urban appartment believing that it makes you more authentic than any given Wiccan…

Witchcraft has never been about turning the other cheek to this. The witch has been created by the land to speak and act for it… We need to offer the death rites in a culture that pretends that death can be cheated by buying the latest i-gadget or hooking ourselves up to plasma bags of young blood… If you are engaged in witchcraft I suggest that you work on the lament, on your death rites, your eschatology and on your spirit body. There are the examples to emulate of those sensitively lifting roadkill from the asphalt for burial or reanimation, tending the graves of their neglected local cemetery, lighting candles for their ancestors, remembering the lost children.

If you call yourself a Witch, if you call yourself a Pagan, an Animist, an Earth-Worshipper of any kind. Take a look around you. Open your eyes to the world. Open yourself to the Spiritworld. And step across. We need you for this fight. The earth needs you. Leave behind the capitalist materialism and constant hate between yourself and others– the continual attempt to separate us and keep us wary, untrusting, and isolated. Take up your stang, and step into the role you claim. Before it is too late. And, as a final note, I will leave you with one last quote. I encourage you vehemently to go and read the article quoted herein in its entirety. And read it again. And then, once you’ve read it (and hopefully read it at least twice) go and read a response article by Sarah Anne Lawless. And then, go be a fucking witch.

Witchcraft has never been passive in the face of power. Our witchcraft will not be silenced at a time such as this, it will not be polite. Witchcraft cannot retreat to the wilderness, because there is no exterior wilderness left; instead we need to exteriorize our inner wild. We need to wake up the animal in our bodies. This is witchcraft as contagion, as living flame. We witches must however reluctantly return the curse that has been laid upon us all.

manifesto_1

Quotes (and photos) taken from the article, “Rewilding Witchcraft” over at the Scarlet Imprint website. Please read it in its entirety here: http://scarletimprint.com/2014/06/rewilding-witchcraft/

Please read Sarah Lawless’ response post here: http://sarahannelawless.com/2014/07/01/the-witch-and-the-wild/

It is All Connected

Original work first posted at Isáine’s other blog, Witch of the Wyldwood, May 7, 2013. 

This breath that I am taking, this air that I am inhaling, it is the out breath of other living creatures. It is the essence of plants and trees, it is the product of natural processes occurring constantly all over this planet, in the fibers and cells of plants, in the lungs and cells of animals and other human beings. My exhale is the breath that they will draw, the air that they will pull into their pores and the fibers of their being. What I take into myself will feed my cells, nourish my body, and then it will leave my body with my soft exhale and return. And so it continues….

This water that I am drinking is millions of years old. It has been over rocks and crevices, has sustained plant life and animal life and human life, for millenia. It carries in it the memories of All. It carries within it the memory of our beginning, of our happiness and our pain. It has fallen on deserts and mountain tops and run through deep gorges and seen the depths of the sea where no man’s eyes have been. It has been consumed and excreted by land, sea, sky… plant, beast, human. It is our tears, our sweat, our blood. What I take into myself will feed my cells, will nourish my body. Then it will leave my body in one way or another, be rejoined with some larger body of water or evaporated into the atmosphere where it will reform as water droplets in the clouds until they are too heavy to stay there and will fall once more back upon this land, this thirsty land with thirsty creatures upon it. And so it continues…

We are all connected. To the essence of our very beings, the makeup up our cells, what vitalizes our bodies and sparks the mind, we are ONE. There is no denying that. Well, there may be denial. There is plenty of denial. But there is no running from it, hiding from it, or thinking that we can step outside/above the rest and not be affected by what we do to the rest. Because we will be. We ARE being affected.

We are choking on this air. We are puking up this water. Our lungs grasp for any amount of freshness, our cells shrivel, dehydrated and poisoned. The air is full of fumes and noxious gases and poison. The plants are disappearing  They are the filters, the creators of clean air. And we are destroying them. The water is dirty, full of chemicals and petroleum and plastic, and poisons. We are taking these into ourselves. And the rest of the plants and animals on this planet are too. Our cell structures are being damaged, our DNA is being damaged and changed because of these toxins. Water is not a renewable resource. Air is not a renewable resource if we destroy all the forests.

Take a step back and really think about all of this. Think about your place in this world, your interconnectedness to the All, your place in the weave. And what is your impact? And What are you going to do to CHANGE it? To help others to change? To save this planet before it’s too late, to save ourselves before it’s too late?

We Weep, We Weep, for the Forests of the Dead

Original content first posted at Isáine’s other blog, Witch of the Wyldwood November 13, 2012 [Some revisions from the original have been made]. 

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

The words fell from my lips, uttered over and over as I took in the landscape around me. I fought back tears that threatened to erupt from my eyes and run down my cheeks to mix with the rain that kissed them, falling in a steady drizzle from the gray November sky. But maybe I should have let them fall. I should have wept for the fallen. My feet made barely a whisper of sound as I trekked through the soft sand, stepping over and into the deep scores left marred there by the tracks of the machines of Man. For it was Man that had done this. Like the tears, I battled the urge to drop to my knees in the scarred sand and place my hands and face into the dirt, but maybe I should have given in to the need. Instead I trudged on, taking it all in. A feeling of utter misery began to rise like bile inside me. My soul screamed. This was murder. This was sacrilege. This was… words can barely describe the sensations bubbling up in my soul-mind, of the energy of the place, of the pain that resonated from it.

My nose caught wind of the scent of decay just as my eyes glimpsed over a flash of white against gray sand and wet, partially-burnt wood. The partial carcass of a young deer had been caught up in the mess of broken stumps and snapped limbs. The skull had been broken into pieces, each tiny antler button in a different place, the jaw bones still partially connected to skin hung from a log protruding from the pile, part of the hide stretched out over the logs. Much was missing. I knelt then, and taking two still-joined vertebrae into my hands I began to whisper… “We weep, we weep, for the forests of the dead.” It became my mantra as I walked. I returned to gather what bones I could to take home and consecrate, to release the spirit, and cleanse the parts for use in ritual, if They wished to be used thus.

I walked on. The piles rose at least a story tall in some places. Many of the trunks were wider across than I could have wrapped my arms around. All the bark was gone and the heartwood shone through, wet and smooth, glistening with rain. Roots, trunks, branches, it was carnage. The spirits cried out, the wailing echoing with the pattering of rain softly falling on wood and sand. I blinked through the rain drops like tears and stepped closer here and there, placing my palms on the dirty, wet logs feeling the pain, searching. I took pieces here and there and set them aside. I rounded a bend and found a pile full of gnarled, red wood. I thought it cedar, but wasn’t sure. I placed my hands on the solid hardwood and when I pulled them away it was like blood on my hands, rust-red. I wiped it across my face. Blood of the fallen. Marks of a pledge.

Around another bend I spotted a gnarled head of red wood and fought to free the log weighing at least as much as myself, if not twice as much. It was caught by other branches and when I finally freed it, in my mind’s eye flashes of images flitted by: a post, standing sentinel, fetches draped over it, bones and blood, milk and honey and mead poured into the earth at its base. I drug it from where it lay to take with me. My coven-mates who had gone with me were hesitant, unsure. They felt it best to leave it. “It is unforgiving,” Midnight said to me, unease etching the manner of his face. “It remembers the manner of its death. It remembers Man.” They both stood on either side of me looking down at the log. “You must take care of it,” the Bear says to me. “Spend time with it every day, work with it, give it offerings.” I nod, not sure of myself now. But when I thought of doing those things, the images returned to my mind and a feeling of “this is right” settled deep in my belly, and I took it home with the bones of the young stag.

As I sit and write this, because I had to, I think of all the trees cut down, of it all around us. These trees were clear-cut, bulldozed, and burned. All to build houses. In this particular area, the first time I had driven by and noticed that the forest was gone and seen the piles from a distance, it was as if something had wrenched my mind and my eyes from my control and made me look. The spirits wailed in my mind and my breath hitched in my throat. I had thought that was bad, but it was nothing compared to being there, being among it, touching it. It marked my soul. The images are burned in my mind and I feel like screaming with the spirits killed there, trapped there. I know not how the people who do that job can live day to day performing such acts of destruction. How are they not affected? How can they not see? Feel? It makes me think of the book I’m reading, The Legacy of Luna, about a woman who sat in an old-growth California Redwood tree for two years living on a tiny platform 180 feet in the air to save the forest, and the tree they called Luna. Of how reading the story, and other stories like it, it all seems so distant. It is bad, it saddens us, we say that we want to help, that we want to do something, but we don’t really feel the conviction that we feel after being there, of experiencing it first hand. Many of them were old, old trees with more than just a simple life-energy. They had sentience, spirits. And they were destroyed in an instant. Cut down for nothing other than greed with no regard for the consequences or who or what would be effected after.

Blood of the fallen smeared across my cheek. Mark of a pledge made while surrounded by death. “We weep, we weep, for the forests of the dead.” A mantra. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” Words that cannot change what happened. But maybe, we can stop it from happening again, and again. We say that we are Pagans, Witches, that we work with the energies and spirits of the land. That we are “protectors” of the natural world. That we follow “earth-based” religions or spiritual paths. But how many of us are actually what we say we are? How many of us step up and step into our roles as stewards of land and beast, as woodsmen and [true] pagans? Maybe some of us recycle, sometimes, or do things that we think make us “environmentalists” when we find them convenient, or when we “have time”. The time is now. The place is here, there, everywhere. The person to do something is you, don’t wait for someone else to step up.

Be the change you want to see in the world, says Ghandi. In the words of the Witch of Forest Grove,“Recycling does not make you an environmentalist. Choosing the beef jerky that wasn’t made from cows herded in clearings that were once part the Amazon rainforest does not make you an environmentalist. Having a garden does not make you an environmentalist. Do you want to help? Do you want to apologize? For real? Collect garbage from your local green spaces and clear out invasive species. Join a committee or board of a local park or area. Plant trees after first learning how to do it properly. Donate money to conservation efforts or volunteer to help. Volunteer at wild animal rescues. Vote for laws in your municipality to protect trees from being cut down and to protect parks and green spaces from development.”

Take up arms. Do spells, leave offerings, get physical. Connect with your local nature spirits, find a tree to work with. Leave offerings outside, do a spell to stop a building company or logging company nearby. Do something. Work to save this planet that is your Mother. Work to save and honor the trees that you call your brethren, and animals your kin, the elements your gods. Or there will be nothing left.

EDIT: 11/15/2012

After having multiple conversations with practitioners of various pagan paths and reading an article I found on Eco-Paganism, I have realized that my use of the term “true-pagan” was incorrect. Pagans have varying levels of interaction with nature and nature spirits. Some are more “esoteric” and focus more on spiritual growth than working with the environment, though they may consider the Earth a sacred body containing Spirit. Then there are others who are more Animist, more “field” pagans in the words of Dr. Adrian Harris and are more concerned with the environment and taking care of and working with the Spirits found there. I acknowledge this difference between the many paths of pagan, but I still stand by my belief that if you claim to follow an “earth-based religion or path” and believe Nature is Sacred, that you should try working with your local nature spirits, leave offerings at a particular tree or grove, get active in your community and state legislatures involving environmentalism, pick up trash when you see it (which we ALL should do regardless of religion), etc. as a part of your spiritual practice as well as your duty as a pagan and/or witch to protect the Earth Mother.

Here is a good article on Eco-Paganism:

http://tidesturner.blogspot.com/2011/08/eco-paganism-101-by-dr-adrian-harris.html?m=1

Land Guardianship Article:

http://sarahannelawless.com/2012/03/25/land-guardianship/