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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in sense of place

Posted by on in Culture Blogs



 Witches and Other Predators


Like other predators, witches are territorial animals.

You can be a witch and not know anything about Tarot.

You can be a witch and know nothing about astrology.

You can be a witch and know zip about crystals, the I Ching, or Egyptian mythology.

You cannot be a witch and not know your own territory.


The Sybil's Voice


Back when I was taking my first steps on the Crooked Path, I read everything I could get my hands on on the topic. In practice, this meant that I was reading mostly books by the Witchcraft Revival's remarkable First Generation of Priestesses: Doreen Valiente, Patricia Crowther, Sybil Leek.

Why, then—though arguably I got more information from the first two—was Sybil's influence on me so outsized?

Easily told.

Sybil was certainly the best writer of the three; unlike her colleagues, she told stories, rather than just imparting information. But there's more.

Aunts Doreen and Pat were what my friend and colleague Macha Nightmare refers to as “Witches at Large.” Wherever they were from, the Craft itself was their home.

But Sybil was the Witch of somewhere. Even after she had emigrated to the States and lived in Florida for years, she was still the Witch of the New Forest.

Of all those early witch books, only hers had a sense of place.

All witchery is local. You cannot be a witch without a territory.


The Witch of....

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


A couple of weeks ago, I started working on a blog post titled Nine Great Yule Reads. In it, I list nine different books—both fiction and non-fiction—that constitute, in my opinion, some of the best Yule reading around.

It's the kind of post that tends to get a lot of attention. People look to see if their favorites are listed, with the added benefit that you may come across something new and worthwhile.

I haven't finished the post yet—who knows, it may still happen—but, looking over the list that I'd drawn up, I was struck by something both unexpected and profound. With one exception—which I'll get to later—the Land itself figures prominently in each narrative, sometimes to the extent that it could even be considered a major character.

What makes this fact profound is that it's not just a statement about pagan literature; it's a statement about virtually all paganism. All paganism is local. A paganism that lacks relationship to the Land is an incomplete paganism.

In every single one of these books, both fiction and non-fiction—again with that one exception—the story takes place against the backdrop of a particular landscape, and in fact takes place as it does precisely because it is located in that particular landscape. If any of these stories took place other than where they do, they would be different stories.

Any realized paganism is, of necessity, a religion of Place. Anywhere else, it would be a different paganism. You can't practice Hopi religion in Minnesota. Pagan religion is religion that grows out of relationship with a particular place.

As for the exception that I referred to above, Place does not really figure as a character in the same way that it does in the other books because the story is set in an imaginary place.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    That book that you know is set in an imaginary place. If you were not certain that the place in really imaginary; for example tha

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Strange Serenity

The snow has finally arrived here in NW PA. 

It's a mixed blessing for me. I worry about my young drivers, I worry about my husband who drives for a living, I worry about me driving. Icy snowy roads make me nervous, and here I am, living on top of a hill that I have to descend to get anywhere. As well, to get anywhere in this town, you either have to go up or down a hill.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Blut, Boden und Bullshit

A great many Pagan cultures have emphasized the sacredness of place. Even when they have migrated thousands of miles, as did the Navajo, the sacredness of the new place they now lived became central to their identity.  Traditional Navajo today identify their home as between four sacred mountains, known in English as Mount Blanca, Mount Taylor, Mount Hesperus, and the San Francisco Peaks. Other tribes saw the matter differently, because the Navajo’s view of their land clashed with that of the Hopi and Paiute people who claimed some of these places as their own homes, and had been there first. But this tribal dispute is not what my column is about. Instead it is about the sacredness of place and people, that the Navajo, Hopi, and Paiute experienced, and for ourselves, how to experience it, and how to think clearly about it in today’s political climate.

It is also about the bullshit some Euro-Americans are spreading about this issue today.

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  • Mark Green
    Mark Green says #
    Hear, hear! Great article, Gus.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

There’s a chance to deepen our belonging to a place when we move around through the seasons in a circle, or a wheel. We learn our places, our moods and activities as related to the time of year and can map our own yearly cycles. When we are on a straight line, changes from one summer or winter to the next are perhaps not that noticeable, part of a changing scenery that we move through, not necessarily expecting repeats. But when we consciously travel around the seasons we are bound to notice – that the winter we just had was unseasonably mild, that the rains didn’t come when we needed and expected them, that the number of major weather events, worldwide, are increasing year by year.

I came back to the southern hemisphere in spring. I had known it would be spring, of course. On the calendar I knew it – but that’s quite a different thing than seeing it, feeling it, hearing it. 

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A Fourth of July 4th meditation on patriotism

Here in Sebastopol, where I live, someone loves driving around in his pick-up with a huge American flag attached to its bed.  So far as I know he does it every day. I suppose he is making a statement about his patriotism.  Every week on the main corner here in town for years two groups face off, one loudly “supporting our troops” the other more quietly supporting peace.  The first waves flags and to my mind, sadly the second group generally does not, giving the first a visual advantage they do not deserve.  

Among people with more progressive sympathies patriotism has gotten a bit of a bad rap by being equated with those who talk the most aggressively about it, and shove their views in everyone’s face.  It’s rather like religion getting a bad rap because of the excesses of those who make the most noise about it.   I think this is too bad.  Patriotism is a complicated emotion and a complicated commitment, but it is very real for most of us.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_appleblossoms2_sm.jpgThere is an apple tree on our family homestead that is about as old as my mom (80-90 years). The apples are thin skinned and yellow, but pleasantly tart and flavorful, and are perfect apple for sauce or baking. I’ve made more than one trip up to Maine specifically to catch the apples for sauce. Wasting them seems like sacrilege.

The tree grows out of the center of the stone wall the borders the property and has been becoming more and more top heavy while the trunk rots. Apple trees are very tough. As long as one thin strip of bark remains intact, the tree will continue to bare fruit. It needs only sun. Unlike annual vegetables, one cannot grow an identical apple tree from apple seeds. Apple DNA in the seed is diverse, and every new tree grown from apple seeds will be different.

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