I’ve just come from adding to my Glossary, and sitting here editing and thinking on my notes regarding several other posts in progress. I starting thinking on my expereince of nature, of things in general that lead me to consider a thing, a plant or animal, suitable for describing one way or another. This is not a science. Although, I often include scientific knowledge as part of my considerations. But if it is not a science, then what it is?
It is easy to say that the image below is Art. It is even perhaps easy for many to say that it is a Magical Art, or an art that has come from magical work, or art that produces or participates in magical work. It is story art, Dreaming Art, and it is beautiful.
There are other forms of Art, and the art of words is a treasury of magical story, of myth.
Counted in breaths, bones, beads
or hoodwinked breath that burns,
you, pulling out beauty
rushes of words,
like the contractions
of God Herself.
Secrets that unravel
their skin-furred mystery
slowly finding legs
like an infant animal
climbing the bone ladder
of the spine.
You are Awareness without mercy
Love without boundaries
Sacrifice without stint.
The dam breaking mind-flood
that spills all the walls over slippery
with high empty vistas
where bird-shamans take to the wing
from the branches at the centre.
And I behold the heart-in-mouth
star-swallowing disaster of your origin.
this limb-softened, face-flushed rush
makes me pliable
and ready to receive the life-crush
of you, without resistance.
My spine bends in your archer’s hands.
The arrows of your truth zing forth
while the string of me trembles
Witchcraft by no means exists in a void. And words hold a wealth of history and knowledge that we can grow, redden with our expereince of them and work into new stories.
Both the examples above are more recent than the culture in which they grow out from might suggest. Linda Syddick Napaltjarri was born in WA in 1937. Lee Morgan wrote the above late last year. They are new stories, and old stories at the same time. And this is the essence of the red-blooded, vital nature of both Witchcraft and The Dreaming. Neither example is an end point, but serve to inspire others who will pick up these threads and manifest them, weave them anew, into new forms of Art, for me, the Witch’s Art.
But how does that translate in terms of what I am doing here? I considered for a moment that the information I share as reasons I choose to catergorise an Australian native in European Occult terms, very eclectic. From one post to the next, there is little rhyme or reason. Seasonal information, environmental, a cultural reference here, tidbits of Aboriginal Lore there. Besides the bare essentials of being helpful in terms of what the plant is and where one might find it, what use and purpose does the rest have? What does it matter the story the bad banksia men are found in? Does it matter to me that Aboriginal women weave baskets from flax lily?
Yes. It does.
The information I include for each plant is not overly detailed for a reason. It is not meant to be complete, there is something loose there, waiting to be picked up and taken further. Each point, each little piece of information is a signpost. One that has served me, one that I might’ve discovered having followed another, one that comes from a place of expereince that I can not wholly articulate, but lives in a cultural reference or scientific fact. There is no Nine Herbs Charm I can follow here. And this is why, from the perspective of the Old Craft, Australia is truly incognita. It’s waiting to be found.
Not that it is lost. Certainly it is not so. It is already found in the Traditions of the First Nations. But whilst that is wondrous and awesome and powerful, it is not my story. My story is still finding the land here, it is still pulling at threads to see where they lead. Sometimes these stories cross, the one leading me to another. It does work both ways, I have often found some small piece of Aboriginal Lore after following an entirely different thread, that simply reinforces the stitch. Sometimes it is the start point.
Sometimes a continuation of a story, or a more complete picture of where a part of the land features in a story, can be found in the things I craft. Sometimes the story is far more personal and idiosyncratic than I would share in such a forum, nor would it necessarily aid another. It occurs to me that knowing a thing, and experiencing a thing are sometimes, often, not at all the same thing. It is the space in which both exist, knowing a thing and expereince a thing as part of your story, that the Mystery is revealed. In the same way as many people might study the Norse myths, it does not follow that they then experience the story for themselves. Those who do both, who enter into expereince with a deep knowledge, can enter into the vast and living Mystery of the myths.
I’ve often used the term ‘signposts’ and I think this is a very valid word in this context. I have woven these things into my practice of Witchcraft, I use them in ritual and have experienced them in nature, in childhood, in other stories, in the culture I live in, I have endeavoured to learn at least a very basic knowledge of their scientific classification, and these things I unashamedly admit have influenced how I have woven them into my Craft. It is proving to be a task and a half to sort through a lifetime and distill it down into a single post that might serve as a list of the best signposts for someone else to use. And I do not want to limit how a thing might be woven into your story, but I hope to provide a myriad of signposts that might pull the strings of your own sensory experience, pique your interest in the vast knowledge that is available to us. And my expereince is still one that only exists in a part of this continent, and not it’s whole. Our history, European and Indigenous, how these things can and must inform and participate in how we expereince our environment, and conversely, how our environment colours and informs our histories, cultures and experiences is rich and crisscrossing and tangled.
It has to be where both exist in equal measure, approached with both intellect and awe, that the true nature of a thing is revealed. I realise that I can not do it for anyone else, not wholly, not completely, and not here. As much as I love my land, that I live on and that sustains me, so I love my culture, my language, and my Craft, and the European Ancestry that has gifted them to me. Both exist in equal measure. Of that I am sure. To come to a place in which I can say “this is Venusian, that is Saturnian” has come from that space of memory and knowledge, of sense and feeling, in which both have existed in equal measure, and I have experienced something of that Mystery in which they become live in new ways, and inform and form the other anew.
It can not be where the story ends. The impetus to write these things down and share them comes from the fact that this story is a love story. It might not always seem clear when I am writing down as succinctly as possible a list of signposts, but as whole it is a labour of love. There is no doubting that. It comes with a desire to fight to preserve it’s beauty, a need to direct people to look upon it’s face, where it might be hiding in a children’s story, the Dreaming, a memory of my childhood. I am not a wild women, my life is ordinary like the next person, but there it is. Beneath my feet, outside my back door, in a walk with a friend, in funny little rhyme, a memory of being home with my sister. A fascination. Forcing itself into the deep place of my Craft. It’s already woven into the fabric.
And I find it to be very powerful and beautiful, and it’s my deepest wish that one day I might be able to find far more people who are weaving these beautiful and powerful things into their stories, into their Craft.