What type of earth magic exists where you are? What is the local nature of air, fire and water? How do you make magic with the living forces all around you – not as they appear in books, but as you see and experience them when you step outside your front door? Every locality has its own flavours, energies and secrets… and when we work our magic and ritual in alignment with our locality we enter deep into the earth’s living magic.
Magic of Place
Places that are magical and also local to me have a special place in my heart. They become familiar, known not just as special events but in all their moods because I’m able to visit them easily and often, in a variety of conditions. I build up a deep, layered relationship with these places and I feel the magic or ritual I do there is held as part of that relationship. It’s as if these places talk with me, when I visit we pick up an ongoing conversation of the deepest possible kind; where I am a part of them and they are a part of me.
Last week I went swimming in Coogee Women’s Baths. This is one of my favorite places in Sydney and possibly in the world. It’s one of the sea baths Sydney has so many of, set in below the cliffs; oblong pieces of sea bordered by a rock wall on the seaward side but with waves splashing over and the tides washing in and out. The Women’s Baths is somewhere I’ve been coming for thirty-one years. When I first went there the entry price was 20c. Today, still, the entry price is 20c. It could be just a beautiful place, but to me it’s magical.
It’s magical because it has been a part of my personal map for so long; a place where I vividly remember my nineteen year old self; I feel close to her, as if I sat by her side and could share my stories with her. It’s magical because I’ve done magic there; three years ago when we moved to Sydney I went there and asked that place to help me find somewhere beautiful to live, close by. I buried an offering under the turf next to a tree I used to sit under all those years ago, to watch the sea rolling in; and the sea still rolls in. I did find somewhere to live, just five blocks away and for that first summer I came nearly every day to swim at the Women’s Baths.
It has a water magic for me, swimming laps in the sea among the elemental wash of fresh waves and yet sheltered from the beaches, the land, any casual observers. Often I’ve been here in light rain, or after a storm or in the early morning when there’s only one or two othere women; sometimes I’ve been the only one. I’ve sung to myself in that pool, in storm swell and called the magic of sea changes into my life; I’ve whispered spells of daring and mermaid freedom as I forced myself into the water when it’s been cold; I’ve felt old pains and grief wash away from me as I swam in the fresh salt tang of it.
Once I swam with a fish in the pool; once there was a cormorant diving in. There are spikey sea urchins nestled into the 90° angle where the treads meet the risers of the steps as they descend underwater. There’s thousands of little shelled creatures clinging to the walls, seaweed growing on the bottom and last week I swam right up to the cliff where - in the horizontal cracks in the sandstone - I came eye to eye with three crabs, nearly as big as my hand. All these creatures, as well as the ever-changing sea are part of the magic for me; the magic of a place that returns me to myself again and again. I hope I’m still going there when I’m eighty.
Now that I’ve moved I’m beginning to find new magical places in the Blue Mountains but the Women’s Baths are part of my magical map, our relationship created in the time I was local to them. Perhaps you have some special magical places that are local to you…
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