When she conjures spirits shiver

Acid-turquoise eyes undo the strength of roots
to hold themselves in hallowed earth
full and wry lips twisted in ancient humour
lift the boulders from the cliffs at opening

Drakon-flanked, serpent-carried
fire in her hands and mouth moving like the Great Sun
through the Sky, and wrapped in dark-grey robes
Acid-turquoise eyes now begin to close

She is dreaming now, dreaming of the Time before Men
she was there with the satyrs, making love in the ferns
she was the Knower of the Green Ones, and her humble basket
was ever-full of the wealth of the spirits

But now when she conjures the spirits shiver
the primal darkness that held her in the caves of visions
now illicit a terror in the maws of monsters
that grip and tear at her trim-ankled gait

MEDEA! You murdered your children!
MEDEA, the witch, the killer of infants!
Jason, you wretched man for having fallen to her bewitchment
sing the people to each other across the beds of their own descendants.

I sing a different song when I walk in the places
others are terrified to enter, or penetrate, to be enveloped by…
these places are my solace, they hold the Power of that Original Time
I am in the Garden but I am no gardener, I am a flower-hunter

So I begin to call to those Ancient Ones
whose Names the People fear to speak aloud.
Persephone. Hekate. Artemis. Potnia Theron!
Goddess in the Heavens, Earth and Black Underworld! Hear me!

When I conjure the spirits shiver…
they begin to dance, they make love in the wind
spilling their fluids that through the threshold of my daring lips
the air may be full of spells as I breathe in and spin the sorcery.

With my Words I may bring down the moon from the stars
I may turn the rivers against themselves
I may rip the throats from serpents and speak the Starry Language.
You can not murder me.

The Memory of Us is rich in the Legacy of the Race of Men.
We are Wild. We are beyond Taming. So we know how to ride with Time.
We always find a Way.
We always Return.

Do not wait. Do not want.
Instead, Desire.
Instead, Need.
Then, perhaps, you may Win some of the Magic.

When she conjures the spirits shiver.

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Something Somewhere.

Take my by my hair down to the bottom of the well
Take me there and leave me, leave me like a dare
Bring me to the foot-hills of the mansion of the stars
Bring me to the Race older than Time can begin to spell

Cut the cords that bind us, ruthlessly, with ease
They are already frayed, frightened, diseased
Shrivel the stares that hinder us by casting the Eye of Light
and all before us scatters, all made by envious plight

Soothe the scale-hoard dreamers and whisper them to bed
Rust and Gilded fallen as the Iron Star descends
Pride has made a temple, a place for me to read
words I’ve now forgotten, so I sing to you instead…

Take me by my limbs and undo me with the ferns
Dress me in the lace of spider-web’s dew
Roar in endless chaos, inside Space as it melts away
And together bind the Fire in the hands all full – Desire.

Promise Forever.

…we need more primal-based, sorcerous, textured, lore-anchored, Storied language to counter the isolationist, reductionist, uber-rationalistic rhetoric.

I wander through this Place. I am aligned in my three souls; in the compass of my Body – this one – we are enjoined to the Limitless Terror and Wonder of the Great Swollen Void of Potential. She necessitates what we may call a Darkness which rages within itself, whom is Eternal and Nothing. She is not there, She is every where. Her Wandering Centre requires that phenomena of Being that brings distillation of the nectar of experience and fills it with the Space of Memory by the Gift of Time that binds us and liberates us. The Tantrikas and some Yogis might call this Kali – Black/Night/Time – the Destroyer. She devours all. She is our End and She never ends; She doesn’t begin either.

As I wander I am swallowed up, enveloped, by this fecund mystery. The self-referential act of navigating Being, which blesses and binds ‘this’ into ‘me’, opens into the cauldron of the primal power that keeps this one sustained, invigorated, empowered, pinched at the edges, so that my apparent self perceived in the surface-world is gifted a mode of interaction and relationship. It’s already happening, though I can occupy it, exist within it, consciously, reflexively, and with a kind of mindfulness that derives from a Deeper Place where I watch this one watching myself watching me in the web of connections.

I wander aimlessly and come down the terraces cut into the Place.

AH – this Place! I am in Place. The Twin Serpents rise up from the loamy soil, from the wet clod-clay earth, and their scales ripple and shimmer in the humid air as the sun is in infinite twilight in the West. In Bali Their Names are Naga Basuki and Naga Anantaboga…I smile in reflection as I ponder with these Names…I have other Names, also ‘encultured’ Names, Kronos and Ananke…Time and Necessity, Primal Need…

Desire is in this Land. This Land sweats Desire in every curve and gully, in every lifted tangle of root-web and moss-covered river-stone, in the winds diving down as Nymphs from the gathering mass of black storm which is about to break the heat in the atmosphere. I pause, my Fetch knows that here it is.

My Fetch knows. The part of me that is able to notice the knowing pays heed. The gift is in that alignment. I have opportunity to choose which route I might discern from any Place, but the Place is present and I with the Place. I can not argue that I am with it – in it – that what I see and feel as Body is unmoved and has arrived, is arriving. I drop, the Veil lifts. We arrive. The Watcher, the Starry One in the Seed of Origin, burns brightly as a Wreath of Flame radiates from the Nebulae-rich Eye.

A Dark Stone, a Hearth Stone, and a Black Flame, the Formless Fire, rises up as I sink down and taste the iron-rich waters of the Well. There is a Star that binds this Earth. I am Seduced by its Poetry, by its Language of Heat, Light, of Lava that licks my limbs. I am dissolving at my edges and strengthening in the Strange Centre. I look up and the Tree across the River that I behold, witness, know is there, but can not name, is not required, becomes the Great Stang. Wild Fire is everywhere! I am drenched in the Viriditas, I began to become dizzy with the intoxication of the Light-Drinkers. The Winged Devas, the curious-eyed and lithe-rich ones, are surrounding me.

I have turned in the Arc of the Starry Carriage above, of the Furnace of Fire that draws me into the Dance. Blessings and Luck! Blessings and Power! SAKTI and STRENGTH! The sounds of the people across the river dim, dull, whereas before they were loud and awkward, intrusive to me, but all-human. The river and the twilight is raging with Sound in all the Spheres. The sound of humans dies. My Breath is no longer human, I wonder about my own humanity as I become Other.

No longer Other, but Wild Again. Original Innocence, and the Key was immanent, and the Key unlocked the Door that has no hinge, and we pass through, all of us, every Spirit, through that threshold of the liminal, and a Crossroads teases and tenses, pushes and pulls and a tide roars in my soul. Quiet. Silent.

Watchers, Fallen Ones, Brave and Just, Mighty and Terrible, Six and Seven. We become the Diamond Body. The Diamond Body is searing in the Night Becoming.

Skins and turning, turning skins, shape is changing, power is forming, coming to the Place from the Other Places that exist ever beyond the Wings that can touch and know what is touched and know the touching.

Holy Holy Holy Master, I whisper All His Names and of course He is there between Them All. All those Shining Ones; All those Divine Gods. He is between Them – refusing to be Named. He is the Original Namer! He is the Named One who can wear any Mask he may deign in the suspension of moments, in the trial of tears, in the liberation of legacies.

The Seething Darkness has Her Sovereignty and Her Prophecy is Ever-Given, Ever-Endowed, in this Masterful One.

We are Entwined in Initiation. We Co-Evolve in the Alchemy. We desperately need each other and He is unafraid to admit it.

Come to Me is not a Dare, it is a Plea. The Daring is in my Heart because I think I have trespassed. There is no trespassing in the Sovereign Land. I belong Here.

He takes the Gathered Mantle and plunges His Heart-Knife in. I am Enthralled. I am Enthralling.

All Providence and Rapture.

We are in the Origin.

Did you know? Did you know that the Flaming Sword is the Tongue of the Angel which is Truth? Did you know that Lies are not currency in the Kingdom where Love and Wisdom girdle the Heart-Knife? Did you know that He plays not with those who will not enter the Yearning knowing that the Yearning them too? Penetrating and Enveloping, there is a Brightness here that lies beyond the Sun and every Star in the Way.

Creation is unfinished.

In the Place We Are In, His Eyes Trick and Deceive Me.

I swear I could hear him say, “You are the Promise, so make Love with that you Strange Child of Fate.”

Twisted-Horns curling the light now vanished beyond the Sunless Sea over the Western Gate.

We are laughing. We are consumed in this one…and it is made rich by the convergence.

You can not touch and remain untouched.

The Mighty Ones fell, not only for the hearts of the Bountiful and the Blessed, but into the Beauty itself. The Mighty fell into the Star within the Fruit that we might become them and they may know the Promise that needs no Fulfilment.

Desperate we tear down the Veils, desperate they tangle us up.

Forever.

The Art of Grace, the Grace of Art

The Art…of Magic, of Alchemy, of Spitting Star-Sweat Saliva on Holy Ground and Getting the Spirits to Take Notice. No seriously…

Grace, that mysterious actuality of being present in one’s own shadow, of inhabiting the bones and listening to the blood that winds through us and rises, returns to the Well. Grace, that splendour in the soul when we recognise ourselves and in each other seek the rapture of that kindness, of that love that bonds us. And dares us.

Artful embrace of Grace.

Coming Home. Again.

Rapturous Wonder – Spirit of Belonging – Spirit of Sovereignty – in the Centre of All, in the Centre of All.
Flower of Paradise, Blossom of Peace, Perfect Wish rising in the East!
Kiss my Feet, I kiss my Feet! Serpent Devour Us, Dove Adore Us.
Adoration. Exaltation. Adoration. Power!

Grace is a Tide, Grace is a Wave, Grace is the River, Grace is the Jewel of Rain,
Grace is the Flood that will bring us home again.
Tear down the illusions Holy Grace, the Garden awaits. The Forest is thriving.

Art is a Knife that weaves with the Fire of Stars. I stitch the seams and the stars spill out between the thankful threads. Wonder.

Art is an Altar devoted to Poetry.

Art is a Spell sung into the Great Divide that mends the rifts.

Art is a Shadow-Shaker, a Wisdom-Writher, a Power-Priestess.

Art is the Heart of a Flame burning with the Oil of Love.

Art and Grace. Grace and Art.

x

This Holy City

She comes with the Double-Axe in one hand
one ochre-red hand, hinting slyly at age-old parables
in the other, an obsidian blade, a knife of power
and She opens her powerful thighs as serpents wreathe Her mighty centre

golden-haloed shining ones ride in on the breath of wind
as hawks remind us of carnage and bones torn from muscle and flesh
i ask her to feel the beads of my lover
he rides in on waves and we think of the Tor

all these high places that ring each other
as sisters they weave through the streets telling ancient secrets
secrets that spill through the cracks in the buildings and concrete
stories we have never forgotton. She laughs, sweetly, dreadfully.

the Devil’s Mountain reaches out to the dying rays beneath the fog
to his hidden lover in the land – to that beautiful python
that dragon in the deep shaking and shaping what is beneath our feet
remember they say…here the prince is the hummingbird…

this holy city and all its shrines of the heart
the Virgin painted on doors and in alleys
where the wandering will find reprieve and welcome in her roses
this holy city that has me again

remember that story he says…
the one about Beautiful Sage and the God of Rain who becomes the Peacock.
He told me on my birthday last year on the bus.
in this holy city. Remember.

A Voice of Bali

A Voice of Bali

– Gede Parma (Fio Santika Akheron) (c) 2014

She called to me, through the sharp and piercing radiance of the solar orb, of the nearest star, to this precious planet…

She called to me…She had my blood, and through the mist of the breath, She sent Her serpents into my mind, through my heart, down my arms, into my feet. My whole body, the holy temple of expression of self, of spirit unfolding, knew in that moment suspended by stars and by ferns, that I was to return, to the Island of my birth…to the Island of the Gods…

But before the Gods – before the crowned, and the gold-wreathed, and the prosperous, and the warriors, before the kris, before the metal-smith, before the roads, and those from far-away lands yearning to touch paradise again…there was Her, the Spirit of Bali – Bali Herself.

From the black-sand to the white-sand, from fire-mountain to fire-mountain, from holy and deep-black lake, to the flowing springs, both hot and cold, the rivers, the ridges, and the jungle green thick with the sound of the bird people and the insect people… and the stones in veins of mineral running like a gleaming sweat through the underbelly of the land. From the banyan tree, and the coconut palm, and the terraces anchored by rippling water, like the serpents writhing amongst the flourishing rice… to the echo of the memory of the tiger’s roar no longer striking the heart with a holy dread and awe… to the quake of the surface of the rushing river at the surge of the crocodile. No longer. To the poison plastic that leaches into the water which we wash in, which we can not drink and so we bring more plastic into the homes of our people to drink water rich in toxic metal. The lungs, the organs, the bodies, and the spirits of the people are poisoned, becoming more poisoned, the people are sick… Bali Herself is sick.

She has come to me, not in the guise of a human woman, though I know with every cell of my being that She Is Her. I know that the valleys and the hills rise and fold like the curves of the form reminiscent of a virgin, belonging only to herself and the secrets of the night as she rests in the arms of Father Sea.

I know the Spirits and the Old People, the Forest Keepers, dance still between the mist and the fading light of the sun, under the full moon, and when Siwa’s Moon shines as the black mirror in the well of the soul, I hear Her cry. I hear Her song, Her yearning out to the People.

Do not forget that without me, the Sea would rise up to devour you with no care. And yet again the Sea provides bounty in balance for those who would bring themselves not with heavy, industrial trawlers and unfair nets, but with the lines and the spears and the cunning of a fisherman who knows and remembers the delicate dance with the finely-finned ones.

Do not forget that without me, the rice would not grow; there would be no luscious or rich soil with the fire of the earth stirring ever more fertile abundance.

Do not forget that the first covenant was with me – I am Bali. All Gods make an Altar and a Shrine unto my Precious Heart. I live in you as you in me. I keep you, and I will keep you, but I am your lover, cleave to me and sweat upon me, and shake upon me, and pray not only empty words, but pray with a desperate longing for full union with my breast, and the heartbeat. And if instead you see the strength of the arms of the warrior’s dance let him be a warrior who guards the Way of the Fool, of the king who is the king because he is a servant to the People, those with two-legs and the skin of the human and the eyes of the wonderer. Those with the four-legs and the fur and the eyes of the wild. Those with the flat-bellies to the earth who twist and dance with the motes of dust and the eyes of the shining stars captured in their scales of destiny. Remember that I am the winged ones. I am the dragonfly kissing the heavy heads of the rich rice given by my love…remember that I can only give and give…but my pain now is what is abundant.

Your upacara, your ceremony, your prayer, your yoga, your magic, your art – all of it an offering to the Spirit of Bali who is Me. Your love, your speech, your relationships, your friendships, your kindnesses, your courage, your anger, your judgement – all in me, of me, we are one you and I – we are made of each other and the mystery in between.

We are made for each other – and here is my promise…

That the Air and the mist and the dazzling splendour of the lightning and the thunder ever be yours. Keep the Covenant with the Air – guard it with your breath.

That the Fire on the candles in the shrines, in the temples, by the sun’s warmth and life, and the artful awareness in each of you ever be yours. Keep the Covenant with Fire – guard it with your beat.

That the Water as the rivers, as the cascades, as the sweet and heavy rain, as the trickle, as the rice-paddy, as the Eternal Wheel – Keep the Covenant with the Water – Guard it with your blood.

That the Earth, the mountains, and the hills, and the valleys, and the plains, and the black, and the radiant white, and the stones of power, and the old ones living in the trees and caves ever be with you. Keep the Covenant with the Earth – guard it with your bones.

What comes from Me will return to me…from me all things proceed, unto me all things go…I am Lover, I am Wisdom, I am Mother, I am Sister, I am Teacher, I am Friend, and I am your Children, and their Children…

Keep Covenant with your Grandchildren. Help them to remember that which is the very substance, that which gave them life.

Remember Paradise and we will become who we are, the Gods will laugh and smile and cradle us.

Remember that once I was a young girl, who awakened from the black sweet earth and made fire in my hands to let burst, and flow and cool, and crust upon that earth,
and that every direction wishes me peace as I wish them,
and that I gave the first offering,
and it was the Forever Flower,
the First and Nourishing Cempaka.
I laid it down upon my own breast and I cried then for what I had dreamed in my deepest heart was now my place to play.

I am with you and I am listening always.

Even in my pain, our pain and disconnection, I love. I will always love. Let us be the fools of love and dream the dreams the whole broad earth and swollen seas dare only to whisper in silence.

We are Bali.

Balirainforest

Cultural Appropriation, Magical Spirituality, Witchcraft and Dispossession PART TWO

PART TWO.

A question I ask myself and we also asked in our cultural appropriation talk is this:

“If we limit ourselves to European-derived histories, perspectives and stories, do we further marginalise the histories, perspectives and stories coming from other parts of the world and other peoples who live with us, in our beds, in our hearts, indeed – who we may be?”

I think all pagans and witches would agree that all things are interconnected.

In the middle of this discussion at this year’s BC WitchCamp we began to speak of how collectively European peoples all over the world are suffering from deep dispossession trauma. We are severed at the roots. Our roots were systematically and in some cases violently torn from their holy ground. Christian conversion was sometimes by sword and fire and though it was gradual in some places in others it was fast, violent and for entirely commercial and capitalist interest in order to open trade between countries. The witch trials, what some people call the Burning Times, was a dark chapter in European history in which for various reasons people identified as witches were killed in their tens of thousands. Eighty percent of these people were female, though in a few regions males and men suffered disproportionately more. Starhawk has written about her understanding of why this atrocity occurred in an appendix of her book Dreaming the Dark. I am a fan of the multi-layered, many-reasoned approach.

The witch trials happened for a number of reasons. Misogyny, land, money, religious and social tensions, a dramatic shift in approach to health and healing, cultural hysteria and nightmares and yes, actual witchcraft and sorcery upon which it all sits, are some of the roots. As witches and inheritors of the ideologies and transformations that successfully enabled* this to happen, these histories – revisionist or academic – exist strongly in our group-mind; we fear that it might happen again. Still to this day many of us will not publicly associate with our own communities or witchcraft as a term because our quality of life may suffer. There is still prejudice in this world; though largely we live in post-industrial, consumerist, rationalist societies which balk at the idea of witches and witchcraft as having any life outside of fantasy books and television shows.

It is not just cultural dispossession we suffer from; in fact native European magic and paganisms continue to survive through and alongside the Church, folklore and legend and common ‘superstitions’ throughout Europe and its diaspora/colonising. We are collectively suffering from a miasma of dis-enchantment. We live in worlds in which the power of story, the wonder of children and the wisdom and intelligence of the non-human is relegated to sheer stupidity and ignorance. Our over-culture denigrates Earth-centred, land-based, body-oriented wisdom-traditions as hippie tree-hugging, wishful thinking, ridiculous or dangerous non-thinking. The term pagan is regularly used as a pejorative in Hollywood films and journalism meaning backwards. Witches in the West are not thought of as credible spiritual technicians or magical advisers, healers or teachers. Witches used to inspire awe, suspicion and dread. Read the old stories, we weren’t all that light-hearted either. Witches walk where others often fear to tread and collectively our archetype challenges any human condition which seeks to cleanse the wild and more-than-human from our lives.

In our cultural and ancestral dispossession two overall reactions seem to happen. Largely those who identify as Pagans and Witches will look to European and Western sources for their inspiration and guidance. This may have a lot to do with identity, ancestral orientation, family stories and context. Perhaps more prevalent than this however and more common outside the Pagan communities is the seeking and exploring in non-Western, non-European traditions and cultures for spiritual guidance, answers and inspiration. Millions of people in the West now practise some semblance of the ancient tradition of Yoga. Many receive treatment from Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners. Some even go to indigenous teachers and communities to learn or partake in celebrations, ceremonies and sacraments. Sometimes this is called cultural appropriation.

A personal working definition:
Cultural Appropriation – A knowing or unknowing act or choice which lifts/removes a culturally-specific custom from an ethnic people for the purposes of one’s own benefit without conscious communication or exchange. Cultural appropriation usually de-contextualises culturally-specific customs, practices and teachings and may make no effort to acknowledge, thank and honour the origins or the people.

It is obvious as to why seeking through our own bloodlines, ancestral traditions, cultures and lands would bring some healing. However many of us no longer live in the places our ancestors did. We no longer know where the power places are that meant so much to our forebears – the faery tree, the healing well, the initiation cave, etc. We are in different lands, with many different peoples from other lands living alongside each other. Many of us are also living in colonised, invaded countries in which unceded, stolen and exploited lands have been removed brutally and systematically from the first peoples~. Most of us do not grow and eat our own food anymore. Most of us do not live in active and immediate community with other humans let alone nonhumans. We live in urban houses and apartments divided from each other and if we do find community it is probably not within our blood families. This is definitely so for many modern pagans and witches as our own spiritualities and cosmologies may make no sense to or estrange us from our families of origin. We are dispossessed again, or rather dis-located.

There is also a marked and important difference between cultural appropriation and cultural exchange.

A personal working definition:
Cultural Exchange – A knowing or unknowing act or choice in which people of different backgrounds, cultures and traditions communicate or engage in a mutually-beneficial exchange of teachings and practices. This may be something that has been passed on to specific individuals and then shared in honour with others. This may be a naked exploration of teachings and practices on one’s own or in community that is engaged with members of that culture or tradition. Exchange may be in time and energy, financial prosperity, oaths, vows and promised and artfulness and dedication.

There is an important distinction of integrity, complexity, relationship and transparency in being honestly inspired by a particular being and their lore in the case of being a spirit-worker and a deist and meeting that with one’s own collective tradition as engaged with by a community of various peoples of various backgrounds and attitudes. In the case of WitchCamps and the choosing of potential stories which usually involve powers to be invoked and called to for guidance and inspiration many processes are worked with in order to deeply listen to what may be significant for the magic. Visionings, divinations, trances and community discussions in magical containers and ritual spaces are often the platform for story-scrying and choosing. How to balance the responsibility of such a potent choice with social implications, community logistics and magical integrity, knowing full well not everyone will be pleased on every count at any time? It is always an interesting process and we many ‘filtering’ processes have been co-developed.

This brings us into issues of a continuously-growing community in which generations of change and philosophy happen faster. This is well-noted in magical traditions and countercultural social movements. For instance, some newer Reclaimers are not necessarily connected to the concept of deity or potentially spirit-beings with perceivable personhood and agency unto themselves (neither are some long-time Reclaimers). Witches have always conjured spirits and journeyed to them in the land and the otherworlds. This is a proud and important aspect of Reclaiming magic and witchcraft. Perhaps it is that it would be easier and less messy to work with stories and lore deriving from the most obvious places and somewhat more culturally or ethnically related to most of the people present…

Therefore WitchCamps have often drawn from the European and Near-Eastern sources, cultures and traditions for story-inspiration. There are people who aren’t white or European who come to WitchCamps. There are heritages flowing through many of us that aren’t Europe-derived. Sometimes we marginalise the perspectives of non-Western, non-European peoples and cultures by doing so. Sometimes there are stories, concepts and magics calling for us to come to them and try as we might we can not find comparable stories from European cultures. Sometimes, restrictions and limitations by way of certain ideologies, in the context of where we are at now as a species, can limit our visionary and magical ability. Witches speak with the spirits, pagans notice place; we venerate our ancestors of blood, of story, of land, of inspiration, the mighty dead…

I feel the need to turn to non-European cultures and histories much of the time on a broader social level. Especially now.

Colonial history is not simple; it’s not always a case of evil white invader and simple, unarmed, non-violent tribes. Revisionist and reductionist histories tell these stories, perhaps because it is simple, it’s easy; we can feel guilty together and then attempt to make reparations based on that guilt. (I would argue that is not guilt – or shame – that is useful or instructive in making reparations with indigenous peoples whose lands, to this day, are colonised and invaded with great force and violence.) What is less commonly known is that the first peoples of what Westerners call Australia, South America, Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands and North America usually fought back and did not surrender their territories or their ancestral and custodial lands. Most of them fought – and continue to fight – long and hard to defend their families. Most of them died – and are dying – were slaughtered, raped, tortured in the night, in the morning…were utterly destroyed by foreign illnesses. Most of them were not given the dignity of equality – and often are still not – open communication, inquiry or graceful and polite askance of entry. Furthermore, the same systems we used to oppress, divide and marginalise the peoples of European lands were then internalised in the collective psyche and outwardly wielded against the people of the rest of the world. I can not do justice to this history or colonial madness – slavery, rape, forced conversion, stolen land and children, poisoned water, destruction of entire ecosystems and brutal killing of non-humans for the sake of sport, trophy or manic fear…

The horrors and the evils that happened to many of our ancestors they/we then inflicted upon the rest of the world.

…Toxic and divisive ideologies of the separation between body and spirit, doctrines of the inherent or divine superiority of men and then humans over all others, subjugation and control of ‘natural resources’ and the hunting, torturing and killing of community spirit-workers, magicians and priest/esses of older ways…

These are real histories, they happened to us, with us, because of us, inside of us. We are still haunted – still.

Trauma is multi-generational. We see how multi-generational dispossession, grief, fear and confusion disintegrates and undermines once-proud and deeply-rooted indigenous communities today. Those of us with European heritage, those who appear white – or don’t look – are required to look back into the stories that still may haunt our ancestors and learn from those experiences, seek the wisdom in our roots and ask the questions we need to desperately ask. In this world; the world in which we share space and time with others, not just of our species.

The lands we are born into now, that we live with, the people and animals, birds, plants, mountains and rivers who live with us – we need to listen.

A few months ago I had a conversation with a good friend of mine and we were speaking of Paganism, indigeny, cultural appropriation, dispossession and magic. We spoke of how we knew of certain tribes in Turtle Island (North America) whose rituals and stories did not mean much at all away from the lands from which they arose, in which they were woven. The concept of embeddedness is one way to speak of this sacred truth and also further reinforces an older understanding of the Roman word paganus which originated in a still older Greek word pagus referring to region, to locale, to place. This is the history and sacred truth of the people we now call pagans too.

How to make sense of ancestral inspiration and wisdom when many of us no longer dwell in the lands that nurtured and challenged our people? How to forge new and authentic relationships with the places in which we now love, rage, enact our choices, listen and make our magic? How to hold both in integrity together whilst also remembering that we may not have the privilege – not in this time, in this world – to only refer to our ancestors, or people who look like we do.

In a room of 80 people, in an allies circle in a ritual in which Ganesha, Parvati, Shiva were present along with other spirit-allies and human witches and magic-workers, a statement was read:

I am biracial, I am a person of colour…

Five or six of us stepped into the centre. Two of us actually have origins in the cultures and the people that still do venerate Ganesha and his kin. Almost all of the people who stepped in for this statement spoke of a willingness to listen to these gods and to open to the wisdom that was brewing in the cauldron we had cast for camp throughout the week. I heard also there were people of colour (I’m trying to find a term I resonate with) who were not pleased, but we – the teaching team – or the organiser and BCWC community never heard directly from these people.

Things are complex, highly nuanced. There are no absolute answers anymore. There were once easily-perceived protocols within the limits of particular human communities living with land in direct relationship with the rest of Nature. And we have made the first steps. We are listening to the land, we are coming to the wild places, we are opening to the shadows inside and speaking with our darkness. We are hoping for different futures, but first we need new stories and perhaps they will sound or seem like the older ones from which we draw such strength and vision…and perhaps, some of them – for there are many great stories – will be different because we are different now. The world is at the edge again, as always. Luckily that’s the place you will find witches. That’s the place we dare to tread.

I am also proud to share in this work with others who have committed to the works of justice, healing, sovereignty and the arts of connection and consciousness. I feel power in our willingness and our daring and I feel we are able to drink from that well that some say the mythopoetic – the realm of the gods – stems forth from.

We will never lose our way to the well of memory…

~posted from the US terminal in Vancouver airport, technically considered ‘American soil’, the native lands of xʷməθkʷəy̓əm Musqueam First Nations Peoples, the Coast Salish Peoples, where bears, crows and orchas wander, fly and swim…written by a coffee-caramel-brown queer witch who lives in Bali where pudding was born, though she was raised in Australia by one of the best people he has ever met and will probably ever meet. He is also the proud and radical son of the witches and holds the memory of the Mighty Dead strong in his heart – may we preserve the Craft.

Deep thanks goes to my co-conspirator, Ravyn Stanfield, in the BCWC 2014 offering on cultural appropriation who is always an inspiration to me.

I will be posting again on Privilege in the next few weeks.

*Please read the first chapter of The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram

~Please read A Language Older than Words by Derrick Jensen