General Blog Description: Exploring Southern Hemisphere neo-pagan practice and culture from the point of view of a progressive witch living south of Perth, Western Australia.
The Quest for Connection Down Under
For many witches and pagans, one's practice is deeply connected to the land. It is in this that the oft-used, and sometimes contested moniker of 'earth-based spirituality' originates, and whilst I have a lot more to say about the idea of what 'earth-based' actually means in the context of witchcraft, for many, it has literal interpretations.
The turning of the Wheel and the observations of the Sabbats as framed by contemporary neo-paganism is one that links in movements that are both solar and earthly. Cultures live and die by the weather and the elements, even today in our world of modern conveniences, and this is something that many neo-pagans seek to tap back into, in order to weave meaning into our lives and to join in the dance that strums throughout the All. We gather on the Sabbats to celebrate the changes and to honour the deities who stride the land with us, and we feel and honour a connection that is deep and sacred. The waxing and waning of the planet matches the waxing and waning in both our lives and in the cosmos; in the Beyond, and Between. As the veils shimmer and lift, rise and fall, we dance in our circles and break bread with each other and with our Gods, however we view them to be.
The ubiquitous Wheel, however, takes on quite a different face when you are no longer in the Northern Hemisphere. Travelling Down Under, the Gregorian calendar no longer lines up so neatly if one chooses to continue to work with the land. Unease and disconnect inevitably arises and different pagans seek to take up this challenge in different ways. Horned creatures are not found in the wilderness, our moon crescents are backwards, our sun moves around the other way... we are looking at it all 'upside down' with a vague sense of colonial displacement.
Whether we like it or not, the majority of pagans in Southern Hemisphere are white and middle class, and our cultural heritage was, and continues to be, hostile to the land and the original inhabitants of it. To reconcile this is a challenge. Our skin burns in the sun and the elements are famously harsh. To over-active imaginations, poisonous creatures and sharp toothed monsters lurk under rocks and in dark corners, in our oceans and in our rivers. I have heard many relate an anger or even aloofness that is sometimes felt by people from the spirits of land itself, or simply a lack of connection altogether; as many yearn for the cooler climes and rolling green hillsides that their ancestors may have reigned over in a Mists of Avalonian-like romantic time of centuries gone by. Most of us have never seen snow. Our elemental hardships usually stem from when our air conditioners break down in the heat of summer. Framed in this context, the Wheel of the Year is rendered a hollow shell, yet another meaningless cultural relic alongside the snow globes of Santa and his reindeer that we bring out with the rest of the plastic wreaths in the 40° C heat at Christmas time. Unless we choose to do something about it.
Australia has a rich heritage when it comes to the neo-pagan movement. Our landscape is huge and incredibly varied in climes and habitats. We have risen to the challenge of working our craft in the Southern Hemisphere in a variety of ways, and through this blog I wish to explore some of these. It is impossible for there to be one unified brand of 'Australian Witchcraft', but it is my goal to document what some of it might be. Our pagan community has a lot to offer the rest of the world and I seek to share some of this, as well as occasional insights into my own practice. I am a bit of a syncretic mongrel, who practices transdeist rubbery polytheism or quite simply, witchcraft. I feel strongly connected to both the landscape and the community where I live and it forms an intrinsic component of my spiritual work. I look forward to contributing to the dialogue here at PaganSquare!
The West Wind
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