The whole and entire point of this blog is to encourage people to enter into the Australian landscape with new eyes. To appreciate and point out how unique and blessed we are to call it home, and how doubly lucky we are in this day and age to be able to have gardens full of basil and sage and rosemary and roses next to wattles and grevillias and gums, full of Australian Ravens and Parrots, and our dogs. There’s no part of me that is trying to replace one thing with another, I’m all about my cake and eating it too.
I got to thinking about introduced species and how they play a part in my craft, and thought to share some thoughts regarding how I use them after collecting a host of thorny introduced things for a particular working for a friend. Among them, Hawthorn, Thistle, Blackberry and Rose. None of which has an Australian equivalent. In fact, there is no equivalency to be had. For anything. Some things are alike despite being entirely different, like the Rose and the Boronia. But it is entirely unfair to try and compile a list of equivalencies. That is not the point at all. Besides, I grow roses. It seem pointless to try and reach a place of Australian purity, when it simply no longer exists in my life.
As much as I have come to use Native Australian Fauna and Flora a good deal more than most, it is not driven by a need to replace, but a desire for more. I am not a purist, in terms of indigene, and if I was, I’d be in a spot of trouble walking about Tasmania with a Swedish name, blond hair and all. In terms of what I do, Witchcraft is an exercise in tapping into currents of power, manifest in the world. The Craft itself does not provide the impetus to look to home for those currents, it is connected to it, certainly, but this does not need to be the case for all. I’m driven to look to home because of environmental and ethical concerns, and to be completely honest, because I’m bit greedy. There is a symbiotic relationship between my Craft and these other considerations at work.
Energy, and power in the sense of that which lives in the world, is not infinite. If one imports everything, then eventually, one will need to import everything. This we know. Bluntly, if an environment is dedicated to oil or petroleum production, it is usually rendered useless for food production. In which case it becomes necessary to produce petroleum to import food. If I had a choice, I’d rather live in an aesthetically pleasing environment and directly linked to the life sustaining power of land where I actually live and as such, I try really hard to eat locally produced food.
We are blessed to be able to import all manner of exotic foods and crafts. And I have done so. And certainly, I like to think those in other places might consider my Craft as something a bit exotic. But I would wish, in my personal life, for that to be the exception, not the rule. It seem to me that there is something of a feedback loop to always outsourcing the things we use in our crafts to Europe or America or Asia, or what have you, and we are not reinvesting that power into the place we can plug into in a most direct way. I don’t live in Europe, so constantly pushing energy in the form of money and physical effort into those places seems a little counter productive. Australia is a continent and a single nation. We no longer live in a world were there’s a Witch in ever town selling their wares, and sometimes we must look further afield. That being said, it seems to me entirely ridiculous to look always then to craftspeople in the U.S. or U.K.
Besides our natives, which certainly set us apart, there are other ways to tap into the land beneath us. Land is funny like that. I am, as I said, imported in a sense, but I belong to it, there’s no other home I know. I will one day fertilise, most directly, a small part of it with great pleasure. Flora and fauna are no different. In the same way as I am not Swedish or English, but a new/different type of Australian, so too are the roses that grow in gardens all over, the birch tree at the bottom of my garden, my two dogs. Earth is not at all discriminatory. Things… They become a third thing, re-imagined, when they grow in the soil here, no longer what they were, they take on a new role, new aspects. And our feet, our roots, all like an electrical circuit, plugged into the power source of land.
There are so many things that are non-indigenous and part of the fabric of our land, part of our culture. Being able to source things (and do a bit of weeding in the local area) still allows me to access the abundant power of my landscape, the power of the story of those who have come before me with their roses and thistles, enter into the wisdom that is garnered from the errors of our forebears, and wallow in the fabulous fusion of things that have been re-imagined to the benefit of all, like Australian wines, and olives, Tasmanian apples and lavender. And I use as much of them as possible in many of the things I craft and are available for purchase.
But some things are not so cut and dry. There are somethings found only in Australia, and they define our landscape. There are some things that have been brought here, and like ink on a page write the chapters of European history here, and the stories of the modern era and people who have come from all over the world. And then there are some things Australian, that also happen to be as common as lemongrass. That is, literally an Australian species of a plant that is pretty much everywhere.
There’s actually a host of plants as common as lemongrass. I am not considering them for culinary purposes, so, like in the case of the Australian Lemon Scented Grass (Cymbopogon ambiguus), which is reportedly not as tasty as the Asian versions we have access too, (though edible, and considered ‘bushtucker’) there are differences. But for the most part they can be considered as their Old World counterparts, and used in precisely the same manner. And they are far too numerous to list.
It’s always worth seeing if something familiar might be lurking in your local area already understood inside the context of European Occult traditions, and 100% Aussie. It’s like nature went and did half the work for us. Nature is so awesome for that. Always weaving, always taking advantage of every possible combination. It’s inspired me to extend some of my activities that to this point I’ve not considered doing. There are some things we have here, so abundant it seems almost criminal that to purchase them processed for our unusual purposes should mean importing them from over seas. And abundant as they are, not everyone has the time or is even in the location to harvest from the wild, and process such things. It makes sense that one should be able to purchase Holy and Thistle and Hawthorn, harvested with a sensitivity to those unusual purposes, dried and ready to utilise in your craft, and 100% homegrown.
Perfect sense. Common, even.