Skryclad: Clothed In Visions

Observations of the light and the dark of what is, was, and might be in the Pagan community's expansion and evolution.

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Seasons & Reasons

 

We live in private worlds mostly of our own creation, and though you may take that metaphorically or metaphysically, in this case I mean the physical conditions around us. I would wager that most of you that are reading this blog live in homes where you have the power of day and night by clicking the lights on or off. You, or someone associated with your home, probably controls the seasons of your home through heating and/or air-conditioning. Water comes to you through a faucet, and the roof keeps the storms at bay. If you so choose, and you have the coin to pay with, the fruits and vegetables of almost any climate and season can be brought to your plate. Unless you are in dire straits or have chosen an ascetic life, these domestic powers are generally taken for granted. Not that long ago in the grand scheme of things, they would have been seen as marvels to be only found in Fairyland or in a wizard’s keep. All magick has a cost, even the very tame magic that is brought about by wires, plumbing, and pistons. Although it is true that our creature comforts have economic, political, and ecological costs, it is one of the costs to our psyche that this blog will explore.

 

In the broader world outside of our homes, the length of day and night is constantly changing. In the broader world outside of our homes, the weather is ever-changing, and the air is filled with the smells of the alchemy of life. The colors and the shapes of the landscape dance with the quick tempo of seasonal growth and decay. The colors and the shapes of the landscape also change with the slower dances of growing trees and the carving power of sinuous streams and sharp winds. To understand these cycles and powers that repeat without ever repeating the same way requires immersion and communion. This is much more than what occurs when you look out your window, or you take stock of the weather as you walk from your car or mass transit stop to your home. Those brief encounters are like taking snapshots of the dance of the world.The way that most of us live makes it very hard to remain connected to the broader world around us, and by broader world I mean the one that we did not engineer.

 

Perhaps you've had the experience of staying in a home, a vehicle, or a workplace long enough that you know what every little sound means. The sound of the plumbing that tells you that someone is upstairs taking a shower. Another sound tells you you should be going to the garage for some service. Or perhaps you can tell at a glance by the way the light slants through the windows that it will be time for a coffee break. Or that someone has arrived earlier than you to work because the space does not feel empty though you have not yet seen your coworker. We know what is going on in our environment when we have paid attention long enough in a given place. Don't ask me what is long enough, it can't be answered in an abstracted or generalized way. I am fairly confident in saying the processes are understood through experiences and not snapshots. Movement can only be understood by its motion. It is also more than duration, or being present through all the phases of a cycle, it is also about specificity of place. How many people do you know that truly have a deep and intimate awareness of the natural world where they live?

 

A goodly number of the Witches and Pagans that I know, state that being connected to the flow of the natural world is one of their goals or desires. It is also probable that the bulk of these individuals also spend more time indoors than outdoors. Unless your life conditions permit it, or your work conditions require it, most of our time is lived indoors in places out of sync with the natural environment. To be honest, I really don't like being cold, and I do like to read late into the evening so it is not likely that I would give up those comforts. If I want to keep my home warm and lit, and want to maintain the sort of relationship to the natural world that gives me awareness and connection, then I must work to do so. All magick has a cost. Since I cannot spend most of my time outdoors, then I must increase the quality, the intensity, and the focus of my experience of the time I am outdoors so that it will have a greater value. There is no substitute for actually being out in nature. As an example, a pathworking that takes you deep into the forest may be good for you, and may prepare you for working with nature, but does not actually connect you to nature. This sort of internal remembrance or invocation of nature is helpful as a follow-up to time actually spent in nature. You can improve your piano playing or your tennis game through visualization, but only after you've actually practiced and played.

 

Let me share a few things that I do to renew my connection to the deeper and greater world of nature. Depending upon your circumstances, your path, and your practices what you do will be different, but I hope that these will spark some ideas for you.

 

Try to make it a daily practice to spend some amount of time outdoors with all of your senses open, your physical senses and your subtle, inner, senses as well. Make the most of the time that you have, and if it is brief then pick one thing and experience it fully. Look at a tree with the same interest that you would take in reading friend’s face. Look up at the sky and see how many layers you can see, as if you were looking through the layers of someone's aura.

 

Whenever you can, put your fingers into the soil or water. If it is the right thing to do, and you have access, plant something and make a pact to watch it grow. If nothing else then feel the texture of the soil, smell it, and look closely to see how many colors are really there. Whether it is a stream, the sea, or fountain in a park, touch the water and feel how it reflects and remembers everything around it. Catch some rain, sleet, or snow in your hand, and then let your eyes follow the path up to the clouds and find the roots of the weather.

 

Take advantage of seasonal celebrations, of the changes of the seasons, and the phases of the Moon. Please do enjoy and revel in whatever customs or cultural traditions you follow in these celebrations, but take a step beyond the pale of these conventions to actually experience the turning of the tides. Expand your awareness to include all that would be occurring in that time, and in that specific location even if no human were observing it. Try to be mindful during seasonal celebrations. Do not allow repetition and familiarity to obscure the incredible power and majesty that is occurring at the turnings and the change points of the cycles.  If there is nothing else that you do, find a way to honor and to experience the change of the seasons.

 

Some say that there was a great forgetting when we began this thing that we call civilization. A forgetting of the deep names and the secret virtues of a myriad of plants and animals and stones around us. A forgetting of the difference between the scent that means gentle rain, and the scent that means thunderstorm. To be kind, it may be that it was necessary that we focus upon each other, upon humans, for a time. In many new relationships, for a time we become so engrossed in the relationship that we forget our friends and our family. Perhaps this large and complicated relationship that we call civilization, has gone on long enough that we can look up and see again our friends and our family that are not human.

 

I do not know if we are collectively ready, or primed, to begin the great remembering. I am certain that each of us as an individual can make the choice to begin the process of remembering nature, or getting to know to it for the first time in this life. The season has always been the reason. As long as I can remember that, I take a step closer to being whole and remembering who I am.

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Ivo Domínguez, Jr. is a visionary, and a practitioner of a variety of esoteric disciplines who has been active in Wicca and the Pagan community since 1978. He serves as one of the Elders of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, a Wiccan syncretic tradition that draws inspiration from Astrology, Qabala, the Western Magickal Tradition and the folk religions of Europe. He is the author of Keys to Perception: A Practical Guide to Psychic Development, Practical Astrology for Witches and Pagans, Casting Sacred Space: The Core Of All Magickal Work; Spirit Speak: Knowing and Understanding Spirit Guides, Ancestors, Ghosts, Angels, and the Divine; Beneath the Skins with other books in the pipeline as well.
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