Local Magic: Creating Magic in Your Locality

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.

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Taste of the Earth

I often marvel at the difference between humans and trees. In particular, I wonder how it would be to spend your whole life in one place – and I don’t just mean one locality, I mean one exact place, like a tree does.

What would it be like to learn the angles of the sun, never moving but only by them moving past you? To offer a refuge to birds, animals and insects that isn’t fleeting, temporary, but will last as long as your life lasts? To deepen into the earth gradually, over years, learning the precise geography of the land beneath you – it soils and clays and rocks, the exact bands and patterns of them – to seek water not as some temporary, immediate need but as a life long commitment, learning exactly, precisely where it is to be found and anchoring there. 

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I learn a lot from trees. I like how they are – clearly, obviously – each unique. And yet, when one dies, no-one tries to say that that exact tree will be reincarnated, to exist again in its essence for another lifetime, somewhere else. Instead, if it stands in an undisturbed forest, we watch as it gradually rots down to earth again, the very stuff from which it was born, its body feeding the rest of the forest community, its share of sunlight and water ceded to others. This, really, is my sole argument against human reincarnation, that it would be patently silly to apply it to trees. And I never thought I was that different from a tree, apart from all the obvious ways. And those obvious ways – I didn’t think, and I still don’t think, that they make me worth more, in the eyes of the cosmos or the planet, than a tree.

I sat on a piece of land recently, a local piece of land. I had been visiting it over six months or so, wondering if I would put in an offer of money for it, to become what we would term its owner.  I had visited many other pieces of land in the meantime; some I had returned to but none more than two or three times. And yet – I was not quite ready. There was something I didn’t have yet. I went one cold morning, shortly before I was going away. I took some offerings I collected along the way, a twig of yellow wattle, a feather I found, a flower I picked up.

The wind was fierce, painful almost, so I huddled on the ground, within a group of twisted scrub gums. I realised I did not want to invade this land with my desire for it, make a decision and force it to come along on the journey with me. Instead, I started creating ceremony. I called to the water, running at the bottom of the slope in a small, clear creek. I called to the sun, a winter sun but still shining onto this piece of earth, feeding us with warmth. I called to the air, cleansing and fierce in the wind. I sang. I whispered to the earth beneath me, Do you want to be part of a journey with me? Shall I live here with you and you be my beloved? 

I gave my offerings, threaded the wattle into a nearby bush, placed the flower at the base of a tree trunk, tucked the feather into a small hollow within that tree. I sang a song that came in the moment, its words didn’t exist before and I didn’t take them with me; I can’t remember them, I like to think I left them there, on the land. I took a few strands of my hair and gave them to the wind. And then, after a while, I took a few crumbs of the black crumbly wild soil and put them in my mouth. I ate them. It was gritty and moist; it’s easy to say they were earthy but we don’t have words to describe the taste, the taste of that exact soil. But I remember it, my mouth remembers it.

That was one taste. The tree which I had given the feather to had sap, amber-red in drops running down the north-west side of its bark. I took a few little pieces of it, like candy, and placed one in my mouth; cautiously, I’ve eaten sap before and it does something very strange to the mouth. It seems to invade the whole mouth, more or less instantly, drying it out numbing while spreading a sharp, acrid, alien taste not across the surface of the mouth like oil might, but penetrating into the cells so it takes over the whole mechanism of taste, for quite a while. This sap wasn’t too severe, it had all those affects but not invasively, quite playfully really, so I took a second crumb, just so I could really give myself to it. 

I waited a while, sung my song some more while I waited for its most immediate impact to subside and then I picked a few tiny needle-leaves from the tea-tree bush I’d given the wattle to. I’ve never eaten tea-tree leaves, but they can’t be poisonous in that amount. I think of the smell of the oil and imagine eating that, sure enough when I put them in my mouth and chew them up it is like eating that smell, bitter and pungent and absolutely cleansing. I thought of my human body sitting there on the land, ingesting parts of it. I thought of the decision of committing to it, with documents and money but some part of me had already decided, we’d become a part of each other in the song and the exchange of offerings, in the human tasting the earth.

Those three flavours in my mouth: earth and sap and leaf of tea-tree, they’re the flavour of that piece of land for me, they’re the first note in a song I might sing over years, of finding and belonging, learning a landscape not broadly, but intimately. This one place.

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Jane Meredith is an Australian author and ritualist. Her books include 'Journey to the Dark Goddess', 'Aspecting the Goddess', 'Rituals of Celebration' and 'Circle of Eight: Creating Magic for Your Place on Earth', about Local Magic. Jane's latest book, co-edited with Gede Parma is 'Elements of Magic: Reclaiming Earth, Air, Water, Fire & Spirit'. Jane offers workshops and distance courses and also teaches in the Reclaiming tradition. She is passionate about magic, myth and co-created ritual, as well as rivers, trees and dark chocolate.

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