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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Circle of Eight in London

Circle of Eight in London

I just spent an evening at Watkins Books in London talking about my latest book Circle of Eight: Creating Magic for Your Place on Earth. As a way of trying to explain how a geographical Circle of Eight might look if you lived in a city I experimented with, placing the bookshop itself as the centre of a Circle of Eight, radiating outwards from there.


The River Thames is in the heart of London, you could say it is the heart of it. Its bridges, buildings and history build up a map of the city. For Pagans, especially, this tidal river brings the water element right up close, even in the midst of industry, commerce and crowds. 

The Thames is to the south, south-east and east of Watkins and so influences that whole arc of this theoretical Circle. It’s closest at the south-east, so that’s the direction I’d align it with, although probably it is also the strongest landmark of all, meaning this Circle would be oriented to the south-east. The south-east equates with the Festival of Beltaine, in the Northern Hemisphere, adding references of fertility and sexuality into the magic, just perfect for a tidal river. It brings an interesting aspect to this particular Circle of Eight, as the Beltaine energy highlights the risks, the randomness and the powerful friction of interaction that exist in a big city. Potent magic is implied…

Directly south of the bookshop there’s a choice of several important places – Big Ben, Parliament at Palace of Westminster and also Westminster Abbey. South is aligned with the Summer Solstice and the element of fire. I wouldn’t want to make a choice between these places until I’d visited them, searching to see if it was possible to do ritual nearby. In the north – direction of the Winter Solstice and the element of earth – is the British Museum; perfect, I think for Britain’s connection to so many different cultures and parts of the world and tracing the emergence of our culture. It also has implications of the Underworld – and all those Egyptian and Sumerian pieces are there… 

To the west lies Hyde Park and the mysterious Serpentine – called a river but actually a lake; beautiful for an alignment to the element of water and the Autumn Equinox. In the east are Covent Garden, Somerset House and then Temple Gardens on the banks of the Thames, which sounds very promising but again, I’d want to visit and make sure it was possible to do ritual there before making a definite choice.

As for the remaining cross-quarters, having given the south-east to the Thames: to the north-east is something called Lincoln’s Inn Fields, it could be perfect for a link to Imbolc and early spring. In the south-west lie Green Park and Buckingham Palace; that would be an interesting commentary on the burning and falling powers of Lammas, past the greatest height of the wheel. And the north-west –the direction that links with Samhain – there is Regent’s Park and even the London Zoo, or possibly Primrose Hill to go a bit further away and for a view of most of the Circle. I wouldn’t make any of those decisions without visiting those places, perhaps many times, at different times of day and night and probably in different seasons. What are they like at dusk, at dawn, under a full moon, in spring and winter? 

Even though it’s so close, I haven’t incorporated the London Eye – which actually is a wheel – into this geographic circle. It’s across the other side of the river and although I love Ferris wheels and their imagery is perfect for the Circle of Eight, it doesn’t quite gel for me that it’s a sacred place. It’s to the south-east, anyway, so perhaps can be incorporated in that general location of the Thames for that direction. 

As for how the elements are present in London, I would work with the rivers – the Thames and maybe the Serpentine, which is actually a lake and apparently supplied with water from the Thames – for water. The earth underneath London has layers of chalk and London clay; both formed under water originally and both important to the development of London as a city. Apparently, because the clay is easy to dig through, the tunnels of the Underground follow the clay deposits, and of course the clay is then used for bricks. The chalk filters groundwater, which still goes into London’s drinking water. It’s a very particular type of earth; chalk and clay and I think would influence the nature of this local magic quite strongly. For fire I would probably pick that all too rare sunshine, which has Londoners rushing outside on weekends and lunchtimes to lie in the parks, walk along the river and sit at outside pub benches. Air – well, I don’t know. It’s often been said that English air is soft… how would that translate into elemental workings?

I started playing with this idea just to have a way to illustrate the Circle of Eight system, but it’s seized hold of my imagination now and even though my talk is done, that Circle of Eight is still beckoning to me. Perhaps someone will go out and work it properly, start to uncover its mysteries in the way that I know happens, as soon as we start to work magic with the landscape. Let me know…

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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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