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The Axis Mundi – Traversing The Realms

The Axis Mundi – Traversing The Realms

the house of twigs thot witch witchschool tree of life

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

~A.E Housman, Loveliest of trees, the cherry now (1896)

Aren’t trees truly magnificent beings? Given the chance they will live for thousands of years, and they give us so much, from food to shelter to fuel. They give us the very air we breathe, they protect us from the elements, and that’s just their mundane qualities. Magickally speaking, the usefulness of trees is so very vast I would need much longer to expound upon their virtues, but even this very brief introduction gives an idea of just how important trees are, not just for us, but for all species we share this planet with.

With this in mind then, it comes as no surprise that the soul of the world, the axis mundi is represented by a tree; the tree of life. You’ve probably seen the symbol yourself, a tree with it’s branches reaching up and it’s roots delving deep, each a mirror image of the other. The hermeticist in me sees this as representing the axiom ‘as above so below’, that the laws that govern the higher planes also operate on the lower. Which is all well and good, but what does this have to do with witchcraft?

For me, the axis mundi allows us as occultists and witches to traverse the realms or planes, to utilise the laws within those planes to affect change on our mundane level and to communicate with others who reside within those realms. Working with the axis mundi can be a deeply spiritual experience that adds depth to your own practise and anyone can do it, indeed it would seem that a celestial pole or tree spans cultures and peoples, for example Norse traditions have Yggdrasil, and Vodou has it’s poteau mitan.

The Realms

Some see the axis mundi as having three parts, but I feel that this is a whitewashing that ignores the underworld because of negative connotations. So the first realm then is the underworld, represented by the roots of the tree, delving down into the dark and fertile soil. This is a realm of death, but here at this level, life and death are one and the same, especially if we consider the natural processes that creates soil; the dying of the old and the birthing of the new from the remains of what came before. Indeed hermeticism tells us that those that are seemingly opposite to one another are really the same, only separated by degree. The underworld represents the unconscious mind, that part of ourselves so secret even we cannot know our own; in this space, thoughts, feelings and emotions are not available for introspection. We have no control here. Magic at this level might include aspects of shadow work, sleep work such as lucid dreaming and experimenting with altered states of consciousness.

The next realm is our earthly plane of existence, represented by the lower section of our metaphorical tree, the trunk at ground level. This is the most physical of the realms, one we explore with our five senses. This plane represents our subconscious mind, the slave of the conscious mind. It is this part of ourselves that constantly deals with everyday matters; the behaviours we do without even thinking about them. These behaviours are very much affected by the stimuli in our environments and so when people find themselves in situations beyond their control or that are unhealthy and toxic, their behaviour can seem, at times, erratic. With that said, magick at this level is often used to affect change in all and any areas. It might even be argued that because this physical realm is ours, and that magick comes from within, that magick then must begin here in the physical.

As we ascend ever upwards on our axis mundi, we come to the next realm, the celestial. This is the realm of the universe, of the sun and moon, the stars and the planets, and though we know that these celestial bodies exist as physical matter, we only know because science tells us so. For the vast majority of us, we can only understand these things as abstract concepts, so far removed are they from our own experience (of course apart from those things we can experience with our physical senses, for example, we know the sun through it’s warmth) and as such, this realm begins to take on a more etheral and otherworldly aspect. This plane represents the conscious mind, the part that is aware and in control, the decision-making part of ourselves. The rational and logical. Hermeticism tells us that the laws that operate on one level, do so on all levels (as above, so below), and it is here where we can perhaps begin to see the interconnectedness of the realms. Magic here can be anything at all to do with astrology from forecasting, to utilising planetary mansions in the timing of workings or rituals. It might include moon worship or following the lunar and/or solar cycles.

And finally, we come to the highest plane, the spiritual realm.  This is the realm of deity, of spirit, of the divine, the all, call it what you will. If we take a moment to consider our tree metaphor once again, then the spirit realm relates to the top part of the tree, the many branches and smaller twigs, reaching up and radiating outwards. This realm relates to higher consciousness, and we can only access that when we ascend to the uppermost limits of the axis mundi. Magickal practise at this point includes anything to do with deity and spirit. If following a more RH (Right-Hand) practise, then this is the realm where one seeks to be at one with divinity; for those who practise a more LH (Left-Hand) tradition, then this is the realm of becoming as a god (not to be confused with the thought’ if the divine is in all, then I must be divine’).

Traversing the axis mundi in your own witchcraft practise means to ascend or descend as necessary to affect the change that you seek on all levels.

As above, so below!

 

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My name is Emma Kathryn, my path a mixture of non-Wiccan Traditional British Witchcraft and Obeah, a blend that represents my heritage. A Devotee of Hekate, my witchcraft is what is needed when needed. I live in the middle of England with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs.
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My name is Emma Kathryn, my path a mixture of non-Wiccan Traditional British Witchcraft and Obeah, a blend that represents my heritage. A Devotee of Hekate, my witchcraft is what is needed when needed. I live in the middle of England with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs.
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