I can’t sleep.
I never intended this blog to be a “Journal of my Spiritual Life”. I’m a practical sort of person; when they said things like “earth based” and “spirits of Land” and “animism”, I got it, I took it to heart. It’s where I’d always been heading only never had a terminology for it, a process. Because such things are not generally taught in Christian schools. I intended this blog to be an aid to those who, like me, wondered where the land was for all the practice of animistic, earth based Craft on the continent. My continent. Not the Continent, in that white, Euro-centric way people refer to the European continent, as if by virtue of the language I speak there is only one. I am envious of the U.S. who have managed the term “continental U.S.”, but Australians are generally not that sophisticated, “continental Australia” would suggest parts that are not of the “mainland” are not regularly forgotten and left off maps. Rather “the mainland” is a place only non-mainlanders speak of, where there are 24 hour cafés, trains and decent medical and internet services. The upside of that, however, is that, in non-mainland places like Tasmania we have some of the most pristine wilderness in the world.
For an animist practising an earth-based Craft like me, my bemoaning the lack of trains, cafés and internet is somewhat half-hearted (though I admit to always getting homesickness for dirty smogy noisy Sydney around this time of year). The Spirits of Land I call my aids and allies seem more immediate in the absence of smog. In the bushland that surrounds my home, even though it is still visited and changed by people, there’s a tranquillity that makes certain things easier.
I do like a sort of half-way space, where there’s wildlife in the back yard, animals in the house. I like having quiet bushland with sun-baking snakes a ten minute walk away from the kitchen.
The thing about humanity is that I’m deeply invested in it’s well-being. Being a human and all. There’s much non-human that has been lost already, and probably will be before humanity really falters. There are 7 billion of us after all. And I do actually have a great faith in our scientific and technological prowess. At the core of conservationism and environmentalism is a sort of sentimentality that has been on the decline in society in recent decades. There is not a great deal of sentimentality in Nature, nor is it an intrinsic quality of scientific knowledge.
My Craft rests on the triple pillars of Wisdom of my Blood Ancestry, my Land, and my Culture as an English speaking European Australian in 2014. And so that culture is part of a Global Village connected and exchanging 24/7. I spent last evening signing a few petitions, writing letters to various authorities in relation to both asylum seekers and the Great Barrier Reef, and I was left unable to find the calm centre, only the tempest I feel sometimes exists between those three things: The longing for the beauty of the practices of the Ancients, feeling a deep connection to this place, and the knowledge of what the hell is actually going on in the world.
Before the activism, I had this blog post shared, ‘It’s All Rather A Lot Of Bother‘ from Walking the Hedge, and it made me laugh. Because I think it’s exactly on the money in so many ways! House spirits, ancestors, great spirits, land allies, carvings on apple offerings petitioning for other people, what I happen to be working on, what I happen to be working on for those I sponsor in the Craft… There’s a schedule to the week that needs be met. One does not pick up a tool like a toy, it’s offered too, anointed, smoked, and then used. Thankfully, I don’t have to go to work today. But I’ve been there too.
By the time I got to the end of the evening, “the work” I was struggling with was not the external meeting of needs. Instead it was the containment of that tempest, such that I would not emotionally scar my dogs. Trying to write letters without caps lock-screaming “IT’S ALIVE, HAS SPIRIT AND WISDOM, MUTHA FUCKA AND YOU’RE ARSE FUCKING IT!” Or throwing the laptop at the TV news.
The external work serves an internal process; the beauty of the practices of the Ancients is communion, connection and the deep experience of that connection. It’s not actually always so beautiful in the prosaic sense. It’s rageful, conflicting, disturbing, difficult. It’s not something one can just switch off after. It’s there when you read about the dredging of the Reef, only one of the largest single living organisms on the planet, that sentimentality, that connection, the emotional response. Where I live, how I live, how I feel about that, how I think my ancestors and spirit helpers feel about that, what to change, how to change, what I can effect, what I can’t…
I couldn’t sleep.
I never intended this blog to be a “Journal of my Spiritual Life”. I’m a practical sort of person. I wanted to write a post about the process through which I come to write things here, to understand the nature of things I work with. For all intents and purposes, I think I just did. There’s a lot of practices, tried and true, some new, connecting, learning otherness, and trying to bring that into some sort of language for others. I find it difficult to not always be a witch, to separate the parts out. At the core of it, how I come to know this thing or that, use this thing that way, work with this, sign that…?
And it can be a right proper bitch of thing.
There’s a sense of necessary containment which is entirely at odds with the practice of expansion and communion inherent in the Craft. It is not a practice over the top of things, but rather knee deep into them. And so there are giantish qualities that can sometimes get under the skin. Or rather, things become amplified. Or.. Perhaps it is both. Despite that, there is still a need to engage in the world and a myriad of mundane things. Petty things. And you have to not head-butt those petty things. And you also can’t stay locked indoors forever either. Though, I would say many a spirit worker would like that as an option on occasion.
For the sake of sleep and sanity, on occasion, it’s necessary to strip all the work away and get back to the basics.
Quiet. A walk at night. Appreciation for the possums and the pademelons and the silent street void of traffic. A little meditation that has no purpose but the pursuit of quiet. Consciously letting go of things before they impair the ability to engage and work. A therapeutic blog post. A favourite album played on repeat.
I might’ve preferred to maybe detail some of the offerings, the process and practice of working with this thing or that. Something dignified. Something others might be able to repeat and use to some effect. But really, such pretentiousness would only serve to make me gag. Instead, as I look at the unwashed dishes, and think of the unmade bed, and all the bones and wood and stones strewn across the kitchen bench from my crafting, I think, to paraphrase Cummings; wade out, till your thighs are steeped in burning flowers. And then scream it. Until it’s quiet again.
And do it again tomorrow.
Try not to head-butt the petty things.
That tempest is probably never going to be gone, but in order to hear what is needed, the calm centre has to be found.
‘Keepsake’ – from the album Burn the Maps by The Frames
P.S. ‘B’ is for Basics! This post participates with the Pagan Blog Project!