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Animism, Witchcraft & Spirit Work

Animism, Witchcraft & Spirit Work

animism the house of twigs samhain dead spirit fall autumn season of the witch

“Witchcraft is part of a living web of species and relationships, a world which we have forgotten to observe, understand or inhabit.’’

~ Peter Grey, Apocalyptic Witchcraft

“She had so deep a kinship with the trees, so intuitive a sympathy with leaf and flower, that it seemed as if the blood in her veins was not slow-moving human blood, but volatile sap.”

~  Mary Webb, Gone to Earth

It’s dark in the morning now. Cold too.

I slip into the garden, snuggled in an oversized jumper, my hands drinking in the heat from the steaming mug of coffee clasped between them. The waning moon is bright in the inky darkness of the sky and hundreds of stars burn in its dark depths. The air is crisp and cool. Fresh. I breathe it in and close my eyes.

This is my favourite time of the year, my favourite time of day. It’s funny isn’t it, that in our younger days we relish the lateness of the hour, the depths of night but then as we grow older, we see the appeal in the early morning, the simple pleasure of being awake while the world still sleeps. Perhaps the two are not so different, after all, there is a magic in each part of the day, each moment special.

The blackbird has already awoken and his song echoes through the darkness, the dawn chorus muted this late into the year compared to the full orchestra of spring and early summer. The sparrows must still be sleeping for the ivy is quiet, their charming chatter not yet begun. I can hear the hedgehog in the undergrowth, no doubt seeking the last succulent morsels before the days slumber, each meal important before the long sleep of hibernation.

Beneath the boughs of the trees, it is even darker. Though it is too dark to see, I know the leaves are beginning to turn yellow. Soon they’ll be a kaleidoscope of reds, yellow, oranges and browns. The elder has already started to shed her leaves.

The dew covered grass soaks my trainers and my feet are damp within, cold just beginning to pinch the tip of my toes, but it doesn’t matter. It’s a familiar feeling. I sip my coffee as the sky begins to brighten in the east, closing my eyes and letting my spirit connect with the spirits of this place.

It is alive with spirit. 

This garden, and every living and dead thing within it. The earth, the grass, the trees, the soil, all alive and filled with spirit and as I immerse myself in it, my soul soars, my spirit rises and rejoices, connecting me with everything and everything with me.

The autumn has truly arrived in my small part of the world. I adore all seasons but perhaps autumn is my favourite. The cooler, crisp weather means warm oversized jumpers. Woodland walks, always a favourite, are transformed as nature shows us that winding down, slowing down, is beautiful and as necessary as the busier times of growth. And for us magical practitioners, the darker months bring with them the spirits of those who are no longer with us. One of the most anticipated holidays in the witching calendar, Samhain, is little more than a month away and many of us will begin to focus on honouring, revering and worshipping our beloved dead. But spirit work encompasses more than just the spirits of the deceased. Animism and connecting with the spirits of place, the genius loci, the spirits of land, of fauna and flora all fall under the umbrella that is spirit work and can add such a depth to your own witchcraft practice.

I am an animist and so for me, the whole world is filled with spirit. Perhaps that’s why these early mornings in the garden are so meaningful, are more than just taking my morning drink outside. Before heading into the world of man and work, the grind of the everyday, these precious moments give me the chance to connect with the spirits that reside in nature, in the land, are a reminder that I am part of it. It strengthens my soul and makes the day ahead more bearable. In the stressful moments that will no doubt occur throughout the day, I can close my eyes, transport myself back into this world, this place I often think is the real world, and draw the strength to persevere through whatever troubles I may face.

Many people feel as I do. Perhaps they felt it but didn’t realise it had a name and that’s okay too, after all, labels rarely do justice to that which they try to name, and how can they when we talk of spirit?

And so my fellow witches, as we head into the cold, dark embrace of the autumn and winter months, why not get to know the spirits that reside where you do. You can build up a practise, day by day, but you won’t go far wrong by just venturing outside and sitting quietly beneath a tree. Slowly but surely, the spirits will make themselves known to you. This is the very beginning of building a relationship with the spirits of the natural world, and perhaps the most important, for we all must start somewhere. You don’t need anything beside yourself and a little time, that and the willingness to open yourself up and see what has always been.

Spirit work is an important part of my witchcraft practice and so as Samhain draws ever closer, I’ll honour my beloved dead and the spirits that reside in nature. Both are always with us.

‘‘Animism is not embedded in the natural world, it is the natural world. Our witchcraft is that spirit of place, which is made from a convergence of elements and inhabitants. Here I include animals, both living and dead, human and inhuman. Our helpers are mammals, reptiles, fish, birds and insects. Some can be counted allies, others are more ambivalent. Predator and prey are interdependent. These all have the same origin and ancestry, they from from plants, from copper green life. Bones become soil. The plants have been nourished on the minerals drawn up from the bowels of the earth. These are the living tools of the witch’s craft. The cycle of the elements and seasons is read in this way. Flux, life and death are part of this, as are extinctions, catastrophe, fire and flood. We avail ourselves of these, and ultimately a balance is sought. Our ritual space is written in starlight, watched over by sun and moon.’’

~ Peter Grey, Apocalyptic Witchcraft

 

                                                                           

  • Author Posts
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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