THE MAGICAL LIFE
Sun-warmed bark under work-rough hand,
Dry grass swaying on the shifting sand,
Worn-smooth stone wreathed in dew-clad strands . .
Is it possible to live a life of natural enchantment and, if so, does that mean we are
practising a wild kind of witchcraft? Wildwitchery is all about a weaving of celebration,
invocation, visualisation, and our heartfelt intent into our familiar practices.
We weave while respecting and recognising the spirit inherent in each part of creation
and the ebb and flow of the seasons.
The wildness gives our practice an unpredictable element, making sure we are ready
even in the midst of the most tedious aspects of life, like doing the laundry or cleaning,
to interact with our surroundings magically. When we work magic we weave the wild
energy of everything from seasonal energy to spirit energy into our everyday deeds. It
is this ongoing work that results in our life of natural enchantment. The "witchyness"
comes into the equation by means of our starlight vision-our ability and will to perceive
these energies-which allows us to understand and connect with all that is considered
to be mysterious and hidden.
The word "craft" used in wild witchcraft is about intentionally translating that magical
spark into grounded and ordinary tasks, consciously bringing enchantment into our
household chores, childcare, handiwork, relationships, and leisure pursuits. Our craft
ensures that we have the skill-that we know how magic works and have a familiarity
with safe procedures-and the knowledge-particularly of energetic influences, spiritual
attributes, and seasonal meanings-we need for the work we will be doing. It is
true that spellcraft can be practised under a full moon in robes but it can also be
worked whilst baking bread, shelling peas, watering plants, combing hair, or painting a.
room. A wildwitch can create formal spells in a controlled way but chooses to do so not
as an isolated, occasional act but as a part of an integrated magical life in which every
thought or deed can become an act of devotion or enchantment. The key is to see the
potential for each moment to be magical and each act to be a sacred experience.
With complete commitment, awareness, and a sense of fulfilling a vital role in our
modern world, a wildwitch's whole life can become an unfolding, ongoing spirit song
of dedication to healing, harmony, and wholeness. Wild witchcraft is, therefore, not
only something that we practice when the occasion calls for it but something that we
live from minute to minute. Because of this, there are no ordinary, dull moments, only
a seamless flow, a merging of magic into life.
Wild witchcraft is a balance of Earthly (manifest) appreciation and spiritual (ethereal)
understanding; an interaction that is both simple and effective. We are all souls that
need to develop and grow, but we are also humans that need to find meaning in life. If
we are interested in the wild craft we should first consider if our souls are energetically
compatible with a path that empowers through a love for the Earth and that works
with the waxing and waning tides of life for magical, healing purposes. This is but one
of many ways to walk toward truth. The wild way will resonate profoundly with us if
we are willing to commit to a process that not only strengthens and nurtures us as spiritual
beings but also gives us an opportunity to act for the environment and our fellow
creatures in an active, physical sense. It is a way to live well.
It is important that we can feel comfortable with the idea that this balance exists in
the outside world and is found within us; we are a balance of the eternal and the corporeal.
Even though the corporeal seems more solid at this moment, it is actually the
more transient of the two expressions; souls last beyond a lifetime whereas bodies do
not! For wildwitches, there can be no separation between ourselves and the rest of creation;
likewise, there can be no separation between the inner and outer expression of a
wildwitch's own self. One always affects the other. Consequently, we will work from
the perspective of the interconnectedness of all creation, with ourselves as valuable
(although not superior) parts of it. To acknowledge the life force in ourselves and all
fellow beings on a daily basis is known as an Earth-honouring green spirituality.
What we know to be physical and what we understand to be spiritual is the basis to
spellweaving, green spirituality, and wild witchery. We respect the differences between
the physical and the spiritual levels of existence while realising that they cannot be separated
and defined in a black and white sense; they are interwoven, interdependent
aspects of being. Our lives can glow with the interplay of fixed and mutable energies,
the solid and ethereal realities that make up the weft and warp of the wholeness of
existence. Our role as wildwitches is to weave the thread back and forth between the
levels of being for the purpose of magical transformation and to note the patterns, textures,
and hues that reveal themselves to us in this process.
We may find that the role of the wildwitch and our own nature are interlinked,
entwined and bound by promises made long ago or by understandings gained in the
time before time. With this possibility, we are acknowledging our existence as both a
temporal and temporary human being and as an eternal spiritual essence finding
human expression. Consequently, it may seem entirely natural to weave magical understanding
into the very fabric of our daily existence, to become an enchanter or
enchantress, and to see ourselves as actively being enchantment. Indeed, our wild craft
requires such commitment. By applying such dedication we will be putting both
human heart and eternal soul into our wild craft for the duration of this incarnate life.
And, perhaps, beyond.
We shall refer to the duration of our present incarnation as the "Earthwalk." When
balancing the manifest and ethereal, it is important to end the separation between
human existence on this planet and our generous host, Earth Mother. Our Earthwalk
suggests a specific partnership, a relationship between manifest beings and Earth,
which is a complex living organism that chooses to support the continued existence of
all physical beings. The whole ethos of walking as a wildwitch revolves around this
end to apartness; it is vital that we state both verbally and symbolically, as often as we
can, without contrivance, how we honour our connection to the planet Earth.
Seeing and Knowing
In order to truly lead a balanced way we must awaken our starlight vision, which we
briefly mentioned in the introduction. To do this, we must combine intuiting and
feeling (sensing the ethereal) with education and hands-on doing (practical, manifest
application). Once again, to sense the ethereal is "seeing" and to understand the
ethereal is "knowing." Therefore we could say that, as wildwitches, we continually
exercise the seeing, the knowing, and the physical magical practices we learn by studying
the wild craft. The physical magical practices include working with healing herbs,
utilising symbolic objects, and practising divination with specific tools. It is important
to remember that there should always be an appreciation of both the physical presence
and the unseen resonance of all that we do.
One such way wildwitches work in perfect balance with the seen and unseen is by
making the divisions between the nebulous and the solid less clear. We can do this by
working with pure sound, scent, and colour in our magic, or by using word sounds
and patterns in chant. The most common of these methods is daily enchantment. Wild
enchantment relies on spoken affirmation and repetitive rhyme, hence the "chant" in
enchantment, meaning to use verbal incantation for magical purposes. We may also use
simple statements for affirmation of our intent at any given stage during our wild
witchcraft. Throughout this book there will be adages in quotations that may help us to
focus on and reaffirm our more general and universal intent as wildwitches. The first of
these sums up what we have talked about above: "We mend, tend, and blend."
Our desire to blend the realms of existence, both the widely considered "seen"
(manifest) and intentionally or inadvertently "unseen" (ethereal/spiritual), ever closer
together is for the good of our own magical development, but will ultimately ripple out
to benefit the whole of creation, bringing greater balance and harmony into daily life.
In other words, as we know ourselves to be living representatives of the natural way-
holding within us the same flame of life force that animates the birds and the rivers, the
distant star and the grain of sand, the millionaire and the beggar-we understand that
whatever we do to ourselves applies to all of creation by direct association. We know
that we can no longer see pollution or destruction as "externals" because they may be
caused by us. By healing our own ailments through inner work and magical practice, we
can reflect this rebalancing and healing outward and onward. The maxim "As within, so
without" is relevant here as it means that what we find to be true and valid within the
microcosm of our own lives is inevitably reflected as a universal principle, and vice
versa, with beautiful simple symmetry.
Also, what wildwitches acknowledge to be authentic and valid in a spiritual sense
becomes reality in the manifest levels, each aspect feeds the other. By having heartfelt
faith in the connection between our own self and the universal whole of creation, we
draw the two aspects ever closer into balance. This is the basis of wild magic. Our acts
of faith, which sparkle with raw elemental energy, are woven into the tides of life and
the seasons of the natural world. We blend our seeing with the knowledge of what we
must physically do and then all of our spells and prayers are focused with this understanding
as a basis. When we have faith in our truth-when we feel it and give it our
energy, and use our practical knowledge and skill to enhance it-then it becomes a
truth in the world. Just as the preparation and cooking of a soup can be dedicated to
our work and infused with intent, so can we act simply and focus powerfully to bring
about positive change in a myriad of other creative ways.
For the Good of the All
Acknowledging the wildwitch's ability to bring about manifest magical change is a liberating
experience but also a responsibility to be taken very seriously as it could easily
be misused. "For the good of the All" (the "All" being all encompassing, all that is)
must always be our primary motivation. In a spiritual way with no absolutes in terms
of tenets, this one heartfelt plea serves as an inspirational principle to work by. To
understand what may be for the good of the All, we always need to first consult with
our companion spirits in a safe astral place. We will discuss companions and astral
place in detail later. For now, it is important to know that our companion spirits can
give us "the overview" (the bigger picture or wider perspective of existence). This
allows us to look beyond our own human dilemmas and enables us to witness the
interconnectedness of all that is seen and unseen. It is a gift bestowed on us by the
spirits so that we may see how our actions affect the whole and how the whole affects
us. In our own search, we also aim to one day see all of humanity look beyond to the
interconnectedness that currently awaits recognition.
To many witches this honourable aspiration is revealed in a popular maxim: "And it
harm none." There is something to be said about this phrase. Although its intentions
are perfectly valid, it is sometimes inevitable that someone will consider themselves
hurt in the process of change that is for a greater good. The whole ethos is never to
deliberately hurt anyone or anything, but it is realistic to acknowledge that to work for
the highest benefit of creation we must sometimes put a few noses out of joint. It must
be understood that we never would do this with a malicious intent. It is perfectly possible
that an oil company could consider itself hard done by if we all switched to using
bicycles and woodburning stoves tomorrow, yet our intention would be to help Mother
Earth, not to harm the individuals of the company. As we are all connected, some
repercussions may be considered inescapable.
Perhaps it is more appropriate to think of an environmental adage: "Think globally,
act locally." With this in mind, we can specifically acknowledge how we can effect
change in the wider world with our homespun gifts of green magic. It all begins with
us and our small yet potent gestures; the stronger our belief in our connection to the
All, the more we are able to influence it. This faith in the interconnectedness of all that
is seen and unseen also strengthens us. How can we not be strong? We are directly
linked to the same life force of vast and enigmatic planets, cascading waterfalls, and
lions bringing down their prey on sun-baked savannahs. We acknowledge elemental
power and therefore acknowledge the power within our own wild self.
Because of our deep personal understanding and experience of the interconnectedness
of all life, the harder it becomes for us to separate out our witch time-the time
we put aside for inner work, spellweaving, or divination-from the rest of daily existence.
The holistic viewpoint attained in wild witchcraft makes it nigh on impossible
to act as someone who compartmentalises their life into "witchy" and "nonwitchy"
activity. Unless we weave our beliefs and creative magic into all that we do, we are not
living well, nor are we walking our truth as wildwitches. In other words, wild witchcraft
is not just something that we do but something that we are. The wild way gives
us the insight and ability to weave spells by wish and will, with love and care.
The wild way also offers an opportunity for us to work as otherworldly emissaries. Our
craft prepares us to go out on a limb to bring the beauty and inspiration of the unseen
levels long since hidden from the majority of human eyes into manifest existence. If we
are prepared to take the first steps on the wild path, then we need to be committed to
this idea that the "lost" worlds, the enchanted realms that once were much closer to the
human experience, can be brought back into our level of perception. We are speaking
here of the lost worlds of Faery. Reweaving the shining magic of the Faery folk (Fey)
into our own more basic mode of operation is a life's work. We may see little reward in
terms of money or kudos for this work but it will generate untold wealth and satisfaction.
Our work will enrich and empower us on far deeper levels than financial gain or
social praise. Like all ways of the wild craft, reweaving Fey magic is a daily experience.
Even though it is a life's work, it cannot just be referred to on high days and holidays.
It gives definition and form to all our days and colours our experience of the world.
On a wildwitch's path this work is the "Greening," meaning to bring magic back to
life with the energy of verdant resurgence, which may be found in the Fey or unseen
realms. Even though these realms are hidden from the sight of most mortals, the wildwitch
can experience them safely as an intermediary between them and the far denser
realm that we inhabit from day to day. We may journey in a trance state to these realms
and bring to light the enchantments found in our otherworldly interactions, reintroducing
the glorious magics of mythic folktales into the modern world. We embark on
such a trance journey so that we may again dance with dragons and dally with colourful
capering minstrels for the sake of inspiration and pure joy. Through such a trance
journey, we may delve into the greenwood of our unfettered imagination and, led by
the luminous, wonderfully mischievous sprites of our childhood dreaming, access the
living realms that surround us in full colour, shimmer with vibrant energy, and that are
hidden from us only because of our own unwillingness to acknowledge anything that
isn't immediate, solid, and accepted as the norm.
The Greening is therefore an emotive metaphor for a more wholesome, natural, and
infinitely more affecting way of experiencing life. It is important that the concept
moves us as potential wildwitches. When this feeling is coupled with motivation, our
trained ability to focus our will, and our understanding of interconnectedness, then we
have the basis for a real living way, a way that empowers us while ensuring we are both
responsible and respectful.
Through interaction with Fey spirits we are filled by their simple grace and can be representatives
of their energies, sparking with their latent power. We may make the veil
between the unseen levels and the twenty-first-century world more transparent so that
there may once again be peace, harmony, and vibrant creativity on the land. The more we
interact with the Fey the more this process will flow into existence. The possibility of a
Greening for Mother Earth and all of her denizens-be they otherworldly, Fey, or flesh
and blood, the leafy-boughed and mineral-moulded alike-becomes as real as we envision
it to be. Our envisioning, be it part of a daydream or a trance journey, is at the root
of our power. To envision is to access soul imagery for the purpose of greater knowledge
and deeper understanding. When we envision, we enliven our dreams and give birth to
bright imaginings. We also see more than meets the human eye, we look into the beyond.
Uniting the elemental realms of the Fey with the manifest levels of humanity serves
the purpose of healing Mother Earth especially well as the Fey are nature personified,
subtle yet influential and radiant beyond measure or reason. However, to say that Fey
folk are "nature spirits" is to limit them to only one guise. They actually came to Earth,
poetically speaking, on "the backs of the stars" in a time before human domination of
the planet. Rich in paradox and glamorous beyond our human knowing, they defy any
attempt to label or define them. They are generally happy to guide us if we accept
them for the faces that they choose to show to us, and happy to lead us if we are not
vigilant. The Fey are pure natural energy and only take form for our human benefit as
we need a physical shape to recognise them. They can pluck imagery out of the collective
human conciousness and present themselves in the standard pointed cap and
boots of our fairytales. It suits their nature to "dress up" in the form of red-capped pixies
and willowy, watery sprites. They love to entertain, bemuse, and sometimes cause
alarm by the ever-shifting guises they choose to wear for us.
The Fey are both the star-born Shining Ones and the Children of the Earth's Greening.
They are incredibly powerful and numinous yet innocent, playful, and full of
earthy humour. To help bring back their magic is to help keep Earth alive and thriving.
Working with the Fey is but one resource we have to help bring about the Greening.
Perhaps first we can acknowledge the living land and all her inhabitants as allies in the
work. We share a common aim.
Although we may not always have a spiritual home on this planet and we too may
have a soul birthplace in the stars, we have chosen to be present for an Earthwalk now
at a time when we are needed here. How are we needed? Well, not only to bring about
the Greening, a spiritual resurgence of beauty and enchantment to replace the pall of
destructive greed that endeavours to grip the planet, but also to work in a more physical
way by recycling, gardening organic food, and campaigning for more ethical treatment
of animals, people, and the land. All of these acts, from writing a letter of protest
to investing time and energy in an allotment of land, can be imbued with magical
intent. Every positive gesture has the potential to become a spell. When we envision a
healed Earth and work toward that outcome, weaving our imagination and our actions
together with magical intent, we practice a wild craft.
Mother Earth deserves willing representatives prepared to champion her cause on
all levels; all pertinent green issues can be woven into our craft. Therefore, it is central
to our wild work to be able to make a sincere and deeply felt pledge to support Mother
Earth, in any way we can. Put most simply, we can show our intent by walking gently
on her, with affection and respect, and acknowledging her as a beneficent and
immensely powerful being in her own right. To clarify, she does not need our healing,
she goes through her own cycles of growth and dying and may choose to shrug us off
her verdant shoulders, like fleas off the back of a dog, at any time. However, we are her
guests at this time. Rather than being fatalistic and selfish, it is far more appropriate to
respond to our generous host with kindness and caring.
We just briefly mentioned trance journeys in our discussion on the Greening. We
spoke of travelling to meet the Fey and, indeed, our trance journeys are the most valuable
way to interact with the unseen levels of being. We achieve this by entering a light
meditative state. Soon we will look at our wild journeys more closely.
A trance journey is the most obvious expression of a wildwitches inner work. It is
not a physical outward journey but a journey into deeper inner mystery. That deep
mystery within leads us to all that is immanent. We can specifically focus inward on
the purpose of our Earthly level of existence. We can then journey to bring about
desired change in the manifest world, for what we do in the inner realms is reflected in
the world and vice versa. "As within, so without."
Generally, we trance journey in order to converse with spirit companions safely,
meet with our animal helpers, call up troublesome presences to be banished, and to
find inspiration and information pertaining to our craft.
We will learn specific reasons to trance journey soon. For now it is important to
understand that when we journey we enter another way of being. The places we journey
to our very different than ordinary reality. As with all aspects of wild witchery it is the
intent and symbolism we use manifestly that helps us to journey to otherwordly places.
Wild and Alive
Wild witchcraft gives life lustre and meaning; it is never an obligation or something
that we turn to only when we feel in need of a boost, support, or entertainment. One
cannot contain the migration of birds in a box, nor can we grow healthy sunflowers in
a cupboard. All things need space to spread their wings and the conditions for growth.
Our craft is a living thing in itself, a never-ending ramble through the wildwood of our
being, a fascinating exploration, a learning curve. Therefore it cannot be put away, artificially
contained, or given sporadic stimulus.
Our craft is alive when it is expressed on a train journey as we create a spontaneous,
repetitive, healing chant in our minds for the owners of the passing farmsteads. Our
intent for the chant may be to cease chemical spray use on the crops for the better
health of the All. The rhythm of the train forms the measure of the chant. It is also
expressed when we buy a paper bag full of wonderfully irregular and muddy parsnips
at the local organic market whilst making a heartfelt plea: "As we support the need for
wholefood with our purchase, so may all food be uncontaminated again for the sake of
the Mother and all her children." Each apparently average moment has magical potential
within it; yet, it is also expressed at the dark moon when we sit in deliberate contemplation,
weaving a preplanned spell to banish our fears with paper and pen, fire
and water. Whether we act spontaneously with sacred intent or whether we plan a
more formal rite, the magic exists just the same.
To be a practising wildwitch one must live the life. This cannot be stressed enough.
To reduce the way to a handful of random acts, however well our intentions may be, is
the equivalent of damming a healthy freshwater stream and working with a trickle
rather than a steady musical flow. We can still drink the water, and it will still refresh
us for a time, but the energy it contains has been lessened and the life it supports has
Religion or Spiritual Way?
Wild witchcraft is not a religion. Religious ways hold seekers within preordained human
frameworks. Wild witchcraft aims to free, not restrict, individuals and the whole. As with
all things in the wild craft, as in nature, there are cycles and spirals linking all in a nonhierarchical, magical continuum. Even the root of the Latin word religare (religion) means
"to tie" and therefore it is wholly inappropriate for a way that claims to be unrestrictive.
As wildwitches we do not wish to subscribe to a way that makes us feel omnipotent
or dominant, nor do we desire to belong to a chosen clique above the rest of society (or
above other magical spiritweavers who do not share our qualifications or ideology).
Being a wildwitch is not about "power over" or even solely "power within," but is more
like being a part of a "power circuit," where everything involved is equally important
and we are acting as receivers and transmitters while engaging in the vital energetic
process of interaction and exchange.
As wildwitches it is important that we know ourselves and are honest about our
own inclinations. The reason we do this is not to become self-obsessed or to consider
ourselves special or exalted, rather to be better able as healed, whole beings to do what
needs to be done at this time, for the good of the All. Therefore, we cannot package
our craft up and get it out on Sunday evenings, the rest of the week reverting to people
who are impervious to subtle energies. We are either open and connected, or resistant
and unready to engage. Unlike other practices, it will not satisfy us to perform one act
of worship, or attend one ceremony per week.
To some, even having a title such as "wildwitch" may seem separatist and elitist.
However, titles are important in our current stage of evolution because as humans we
need some sense of who we are and what we do. For example, labels-like plumbers,
cakemakers, and dentists-can be useful to identify those we can approach with a
problem or need. These terms do not describe who people really are, but only reveal
the manner in which they choose to express their skills and make a living in the world.
It would be a little strange to suggest that someone had the soul of a plumber, but by
this title we can acknowledge a human skill. To have an awareness of the difference
between what we do in the manifest sense and who we are internally and eternally is
important. What we do in the world is not the sum total of who we are as it denies a
spiritual level to being incarnate. However, what we do in the world may well reflect
who we are inside if we have chosen our career or vocation well. Perhaps in time we
will feel no need to call ourselves anything, simply being on the path, openly and with
grace, will be enough.
It is more appropriate to view ourselves on a personal path than to think of ourselves
following an already existing path designed by a pre-existing religion. With this in
mind, the title "wildwitch" may actually be more than a temporary Earth title. For
some of us, it may be a soul label. If this is the case, the witchcraft we practice will
reflect our soul nature. When we practice witchery without applying ourselves, body
and soul, we are simply using learned skills.
At the same time, to practice a sincere and
natural form of wild witchcraft is no more impressive than practising good dentistry
and it is certainly just as useful, even if mainstream society hasn't recognised this yet. It
will be a marvellous day when those with the seeing and the knowing are considered
as vital to a healthy society as all the healthcare professionals, shoemakers, farmers,
and so on. Without actively courting acceptance and craving respectability, we can all
do our bit to work toward this day by being as down-to-earth (as befits our practice)
and as open as possible. Although we often work alone and in secret, dealing directly
with the eternal mysteries, we need not foster drama that can often lead to what we do
as being sensationalised as some dark art or trivialised as pantomime. By being ourselves,
true to our magical soul nature, we can be revealed as balanced members of a
society that desperately needs what we have to offer.
At present, we live in testing times-the spiritual or unseen dimension has been
either shunned in favour of immediate material gain or buried under layer upon layer
of human fear, need, and greed. Humanity is very adept at couching a spiritual message
in dogma, gilding it with a veneer of superiority, and layering on pomp and ceremony,
all of which obscures the original meaning. When the material overshadows the
spiritual it is easy for all ethereal truth to get lost in the desire to possess, dominate,
and control information in a very temporary human sense. Hence, truth becomes religion,
yet another monolithic Earthly structure that removes us from experiencing and
witnessing the Otherworlds for ourselves at a deep personal level. As wildwitches we
stay true to our very personal and independent soul nature despite the clashing fundamentalist
approaches to spirituality that the churches and society pressure us with on
a regular basis.
As we have just explained, the wildwitch's soul is driven by instinct and guided by selfknowledge, personal spiritual connection, and hands-on experience, whereas religious
people tend to operate within the preordained perimeters of a third party's making. To
follow such a religion, one does not need to have direct experience of the central character
or theme. In wild witchcraft there are no central characters in terms of figures to
be worshipped, only spirits that are encountered in very personal situations and with
whom we have committed and intimate relationships.
It is all too often assumed that by saying we have a spiritual impulse we mean we
have a religious allegiance; it is entirely possible for us, as individuals with a strong
sense of conscience and a positive internal morality, to self-regulate our own experience
of what is holy. It seems ludicrous to suggest that all apple trees should look to one
authority for commandments on how they should grow and it is similarly unnecessary
for the wildwitch to need such a restrictive code to live by. To have faith in the cycles
of nature, in ourselves, in the guiding spirits, and in the universal energies is all we
need to walk along our wild spiritual way.
This is not to say that we should revile or undermine other paths that claim religious
status, for any road may take us a little closer to truth. The healing and nurturing
aspects of all religious disciplines must surely be beneficial and acknowledgement
of spirit, in any form, is certainly worthwhile. However, the divisive and dogmatic
approaches of religious groups may be seen as entirely unhelpful in a world already
burdened with ideas about supremacy and dominance. Further segregation, based in
non-negotiable doctrine, is unnecessary in our age. Such beliefs lead to further suspicion,
separation, and violent conflict and are entirely in opposition to the wildwitch's
firsthand spiritual approach, which favours unity and peace whilst encouraging freedom
This is yet another reason why it is important to relate to our self-imposed labels
with a sense of the poetic rather than with a need to be marked out as part of a regulated
body or clan that has a need to be acknowledged as remarkable, absolute, or correct.
To be empowered we do not need to be elevated or set apart. It is an acknowledgement
of ourselves as vibrant and worthwhile cells in a functioning whole that is
more desirable. Wildwitches see themselves as a part of creation, fulfilling a natural
role-one more pure, true note in the symphony of life-no more and no less than
this. If we know who we are in soul terms then we can walk our wild way more effectively
within this whole.
Nonconformist of Yesterday
Some feel that it is important to remember that there is an age-old enmity between a
certain monotheistic religion and witchcraft in general, in terms of the Western world.
This is due to the past subjugation, ill treatment, and murder in the Middle Ages of
anyone who did not conform to "the one true way" of medieval Catholicism and
post-Reformation puritanical Protestant behaviours. Conforming meant sublimation of
the personal will to the men who controlled both church and state, on pain of death.
Because of the unpleasant nature of this period of history, it is easy for most people to
get carried away with righteous passion and indignation, believing that the desire to
eradicate the influence of witchcraft, and all subsequent crimes against those accused
as witches, were validated because of the genuine evilness of the craft. On the other
hand, when we know witchcraft is not inherently evil, it is easy to be intolerant of the
organised religions that once sought to exterminate fellow magical practitioners and to
be resentful, if not downright hostile, toward Christianity in general.
For vast swathes of our society today, the medieval woodcut imagery of the menacing
hook-nosed harridan with her broomstick and strange familiar spirit is still how
witches are perceived. The propaganda of the emotive witch hunts that occurred in the
Middle Ages is so influential that witches are still frequently dismissed as ludicrous,
hideous figures with no relevance to real modern life. One may also detect a frisson of
uneasy fear at their mention. Clearly this image has no correlation to the thousands of
people who claim to practice a form of witchery today. And it probably had no real
bearing on those who practised a form of nature spirituality in the past. So were those
accused of witchery in those terrible times really witches at all?
Usually, those branded as witches were simply nonconformists. To be a nonconformist
was a crime punishable by degradation at best, and torture, hanging, or burning
at worst. This was legalised via the Papal Bull of 1484, which sanctioned "inquiry"
based on the wholly abhorrent Malleus Maleficarum. This is a book named "Hammer of
the Witches," but aimed to hammer anyone who was not orthodox, not in active support
of the church, or any who were considered to be religious heretics or antisocial.
The persecutions of the Middle Ages were just as frequently about money, power,
and misogynistic hatred as they were about any green-spirited or folk beliefs among
the populace. It was often the widow or lone, elderly woman sitting on some property,
which a greedy landowner coveted, who met an untimely demise; it could easily have
been the wife that talked back to her husband or failed to bear a healthy child; or the
poet, the fool, or the dissident. To keep the people poor, both in terms of knowledge
and influence, and to keep the women subservient and without hope, dependent spiritually
as well as financially, were the core aims.
As the majority of those practising any form of folk art from midwifery to herbalism
were poor, uneducated, and by and large women, there are no real written records of
just who was doing what for us to consult. In fact, the majority of what was considered
to be "solid documentary evidence" used to label one as a witch was actually derived
from the sensationalist, blatantly falsified reports written by those who sought to eliminate
witchcraft. These reports were accepted as official despite the obvious prejudices
at work. Although we can observe remnants of folk customs and pagan ways in most
regions today, witch hunts were widespread, resulting in precious little evidence of the
real day-to-day practices and beliefs of the so-called witches of the past whom we associate
with nature-based celebrations.
There have always been those who walk between the worlds, the healers and seers
going quietly about their gentle arts, living simple, magical lives in close harmony with
the land and serving the community in unique and inspiring ways. In the Middle Ages,
these people may have been no part of an organised witch cult; perhaps they had never
even seen another magical practitioner save their own hereditary teacher. We will never
know for sure. What we do know, is that they were picked off, one by one, thousands
of them, and all because they failed to fulfil a social, economic, or ethical criteria set by
the all-powerful church and state.
And what of those folk who did practice their earthy witchery? Can we claim to have
a direct knowledge of their spiritual ethos? Again, the truth is lost to us as written
records are not forthcoming. Using guesswork, it is probable that the primary sort of
witchcraft practised was hereditary, the oral tradition serving as a means of recording
and transmitting; solitary, due to the isolated nature of many country dwellers; and
steeped in the local lore of the area, as most poor folk had little opportunity to travel far
beyond the nearest village. Their festivals and celebrations would have been guided by
intuition and continual observance of nature's shifting patterns, as there would have
been little reliance on calendars and clocks to regulate the annual high and holy days.
These hereditary witches would independently work their craft by discovering the qualities
of a particular full moon, reading omens, and listening to inner voices in equal
measure and with no hard and fast rules, as flexible yet structured as nature herself.
Nonconformist of Today
Perhaps as wildwitches we would recognise the lilting and deeply experiential craft of
our ancestors as akin to our own. But our frames of reference are so vastly different-we
cannot pretend to come from an age without cars, mass market books, the Internet,
and specialist shops-that it is stretching the definition of tradition to say that we have
a direct lineage from rural practitioners of the Middle Ages and earlier. Therefore, to
take up a hereditary crusade on their behalf seems somewhat presumptuous, as who
knows what they would make of our ways today.
We can only empathise with the plight of those who died for their beliefs, whatever
they may have been, remember them as our brave ancestors, hopefully honour them in
our own earth-based practices, and strive to ensure that freedom of spiritual expression
is the norm for future generations. This includes showing tolerance of those who
choose to follow monotheistic religious paths. Harbouring any resentments about
incomprehensible massacring at this stage in our journey will not serve our need to
bring deeper understanding, concord, and equanimity.
The very people making accusations of witchcraft in the Middle Ages were often as
ignorant and fearful as those arrested for their real, or more often imagined, crimes
against the church. It was a time of great confusion, mistrust, and debilitating panic.
The prevailing air of hysteria probably meant that as long as someone else was being
accused, another was safe, and this surely must have lead to spurious accusations in
order to be left alone. The doctrine of the dominant religion of the time was steeped in
images of torment and we can only assume that it was dreadful climate to exist in, from
any perspective. It is easy to revile those who sought to warp the spiritual truths of
their religion in order to inflict a reign of terror, yet, hard as it may be to comprehend,
some of those involved believed passionately that they were doing the right thing.
Within their frame of reference they were acting out of love and saving the souls of
those they murdered by purifying the bodies with fire. It was believed that by burning
the bodies of the sinful, the souls of those sinners would be acceptable before God.
One of the most beautiful tenets of true Christian belief, as taught by Jesus, is to have
compassion for an adversary. Perhaps it would be beneficial for us to express this by
feeling an immense pity, as well as the lingering shock and distaste, for those who acted
in a brutal fashion during the witch hunts. If we can be gentle with the mistakes and
oversights of others then we are better equipped to know how not to do things in our
personal lives as well as how to proceed on our Earthwalk with love and forgiveness.
Why is it important to look at this issue? Well, it always crops up in our explorations
of what it means to use the label "witch" and how we feel about the idea of religion
and religious allegiance. We are bound to encounter people who wish to bear
grudges and have enemies and so it is valid for us, as fledgling wildwitches, to see how
we feel about the issue. When our choice to walk the wild way is questioned, it is for
us not to rally against such religious structures, rather to explain that we are concerned
for the world in terms of spiritual nourishment and that we are simply doing our best
to make sure our own lives reflect the relevant principles we hold dear. To reflect on
our common goals and similarities and to focus on how we wish to develop and grow
does far more to strengthen our connections to the All than to continue dwelling on
what is wrong with another's way of seeing the world.
If we are sure of our purpose as spiritweavers and fulfilled by our work as wildwitches,
then we have precious little need to focus on thoughts of revenge or hate. Also,
if we have a healthy respect for our own abilities, we can recognise that our negative
thoughts, if given enough of our energy, can influence the web of life around us and
cause harm. Our aim is never to use our abilities for selfish, wanton, greedy, destructive,
or intrusive ends. A tall order perhaps but something to aspire to in a realistic way.
To spread a positive spiritual regard that fosters joyful renewal for the one we have
most respect for, Mother Earth, and all her children is our primary concern. Without
her, we could not have an Earthwalk in order to learn, grow, and experience. Her wellbeing
must be placed at the heart of all our work. Therefore we may never practice
cursing, ill wishing, or harmful "hexing" as to hurt even one of her inhabitants is to act
against her and to introduce yet more angry, bitter, and vindictive energy into a world
overcrowded with such detritus. It would go against all we hold dear. In the same way
we know we are reflections of the All, so do we acknowledge every other living being
as such. For example, we may be afraid of spiders but if we accept that they are divine
expressions walking in a different way to us, then we cannot simply obliterate them for
our own sake. Nor can we curse them for offending us. It is a huge responsibility, a lifechanging
realisation, but once we have fully taken on board that in effect whatever we
do to any part of the All, we do to ourselves, we begin to live well.
Finally, we will look at our practice compared to other witchcraft. The wild practitioner
is a solitary one. This is to say we do not work with other humans but in essence we are
never alone in our craft for we work with spirits and the forces of nature. This is not due
to any prejudice toward covens-an integral part to most witchcraft-as they are certainly
places to gain much in the way of magical support and energetic input, yet the
intrinsic nature of those of us drawn to wild witchcraft dictates that we would find it to
be restrictive to contain our free-flowing way of relating-which is based in a very individual
experience of the sacred-within a structured group situation. Indeed, the whole
idea of structure may cause us wildwitches a few problems, being that generally we feel
more comfortable with spontaneity and accessibility, and prefer to practice the craft at
any time the mood comes upon us.
The structure found within covens may even remind us of the religious ways that
we discussed earlier. In fact, within the coven structure there are official roles, most
notably the high priestess and priest who have earned the right, through experience
and application, to act as spokesmen at any rite. They are taking on the responsibility
to channel divine energies on behalf of their group, which consists of people who act
as support for this sacred action. In wild witchcraft this would not be appropriate as
personal and direct interaction with energies is essential and to have anyone else, no
matter how knowledgeable or capable, acting as a channel on our behalf would seem
entirely frustrating and completely unnecessary.
Obviously within the coven there are levels of operation and these restrict individuals
from moving beyond a certain grade of responsibility, even when one has proven to
be of a sufficiently high standard at the work. When we work alone there has to be a
great deal of self-regulation and self-knowledge and direct communion with companion
spirits, who will guide our judgements, in order for us to perform at suitable levels.
Indeed, wild witchcraft as a solitary experiential pursuit requires a certain amount of
falling down on the job, at least at first. But again, the nature of those who deeply wish
to practice a solitary, earthy, and wholly unrehearsed craft will be those who enjoy
hands-on learning and who are motivated and disciplined enough to carry it out with
success, and perhaps even with a certain degree of style.
So it is that the wild craft is largely practised alone or with one or two like-minded
people who may come together informally to celebrate particular occasions or to mark
the seasonal cycles. Anything other than this complicates what is essentially an informal
way of being and not a ritualistic manifestation of spiritual belief. The very simplicity of
this unpretentious craft is more akin to embroidery than religious ceremony; one needs
to be focused on the act with a certain degree of skill and a developed sense of what
makes a beautiful piece of work. It is a calling, an art, and a heartfelt way that can never
be explored or expressed adequately in the formal setting that any group requires. Coven
witchery is important in its own right but it is not what this work is about.
We may not adhere to a religion or the structure found in covens, preferring a gently
unfolding way based in personal experience, but we need not condemn those who do.
That is not the intent behind our discussion on religion or religious people. As long as
we seek what is holy and enduring, searching for truth and union within the heart of
our being, then we will find it in a way that is appropriate for us at this time.
Worship or Reverence?
Wild witchcraft is centred in our daily experience of the sacred. It is a continuous honouring
of life and the divine life-force energy that animates each aspect of being. Yet
with this ongoing sense of interaction, with energy that is eminent and imminent, do
we need to worship? Can we praise creation by living magical lives or do we need to
use a more formal manner in reference to a deity?
As wildwitches following a spiritual way we have a profound respect for the universal
energies, Earth powers, spirit companions, and archetypal beings we encounter, but
we do not deify them. Nor do we feel the need to be overly deferential or sycophantic
in their presence. To encounter such spirits in an honest, earthy way we only need be
awe-inspired and fired with a passion that burns deep in the very root of us. There is a
real sense of working with these forces of nature as supportive partners rather than
needing to placate, beseech, or overtly adore them as is customary in the devotee-godhead
relationship. Respect is the key rather than out and out obediance as there is no
need to feel subservient or to petition for favours if we honestly regard ourselves as
functioning, valued, and unique parts of an integrated whole. We can feel empowered
by our own sense of connection and by our own understanding of the dance of life
rather than relying on a distant and unbalanced relationship that views people as needing
to placate and appease a deity in order to get by in life.
We measure our relationship with the divine not in terms of religious rites but in terms
of how much praise and acknowledgement we find within us at any given moment. It
is a spontaneous and immediate response, an integral part of our craft. And the wild
craft we are discussing is not Wicca, which is often taken as the only form of modern
witchcraft. In Wicca there are God and Goddess forms to be worshipped. Having a
Goddess of equal if not superior power to a God in modern Wiccan belief obviously
helps those long conditioned by patriarchy to overcome a limiting, unbalanced world
view. Yet, perhaps we can celebrate the male and female principles and energies without
deifying them. As wildwitches, balance and egalitarianism is the aim. This said, in
wild witchcraft there are no Gods or Goddesses; instead, such great beings are archetypes,
representatives of universal principles in human form, beings who once again
deserve to be respected and acknowledged. They are unique and powerful spiritual
essences who can be called upon to shed light on specific issues for us.
Reverence for All
As wildwitches, we see each tiny scuttling beetle and each perfect yet vulnerable daisy
as beautiful, individual expressions of life-force energy, just as we see ourselves. If we
are expressions of this energy then we are a part of it, as is the greatest and the smallest
created being. We all share the same essence as the Creator, or the source energy of life.
We are all expressions of the divine. It is hard to perceive a separate deity figure when
this is your perspective.
A wildwitch would find it difficult to build a hierarchy based on one aspect of creation
being better than another. Who may equate the attributes of a wren to those of a
mountain and judge one lacking? Are both not successful, succinct ways of revealing
the sacred? With this in our hearts, we find no real need to elevate any one spiritual
being above ourselves. Nor do we hold our own being in higher importance than any
other. It is a truly egalitarian way, one built on the understanding that we are all vital
strands in the weaving, serving an express purpose; we are complementing and supporting
each other as teachers, guardians, and companions on this life journey.
There is an exchange of ideas and energies that arises from this way of relating. It
means that we both give and receive openly and do not use any other being as a
"resource," a thing to be tapped into at will to enhance learning. Nor do we surrender
our autonomy or deny the responsibility we have as sentient beings. When we engage
on this level, we have access to previously inaccessible information; the powerful
unseen beings and elemental forces freely offer their spiritual guidance. And what do
they receive in return? Not worship but our promise, as fellow beings, that we will
express their will, their way, and their wisdom to the world. We are incarnate and they
are not. We can make manifest change while they are not able to express themselves in
a way considered substantial. We have the means of making a difference while on
Earth whilst they may be given little credence in the modern frame of reference. Yet for
all the disregard they are accustomed to experiencing in human realms, they have that
which is most valuable to us: greater access to truths, to that which is hidden from our
mortal eyes at present. They are once removed from this dense level of being and consequently
become our link to the mysteries beyond the mist of human vision. They
have the overview.