On Re-Wilding Our Practices
I'm an animist at heart. And from my perspective, authentic sorcery is place-based.
The spirits of the Land, those forces of the bioregion, are the guardians of power that flows up from the Otherwordly dimension or "interior" of reality, the Underworld of folklore. This Power is the rising of phenomena into actuality: manifestation and crystallization. It comes up through us, from the great Within/Below. That's why we talk of Power as being associated with the primal element "Earth" in my witching tradition.
It can be wielded together, power shared with others, and it is abused when using it over others, which includes not just human people, but plants and other-than-human animals and the Land itself. When the individual is made the focus of Power rather than the Web (the community, the bio-region, the system), in its collection and hoarding, it ceases to Flow and the vessel in which it is contained becomes warped and corrupt. Power must be radiated, shared, and passed. It has to move.
This also means that where we live affects and shapes how our sorcery is practiced and its local understanding and context. The spirits are different in each Place. Some spirits can travel, just like we can. But Land-wights ARE the land, expressed in its features and natural phenomena like weather. Some spirits are big and we can find them everywhere, especially very old, noble spirits that have been given the honorific of "god". But even they are "rooted" in locality. When we call the great Starry Watchers from the Depths of Space, we get to ensorcel alongside the Magistelli, their local manifestations; the Beings who are in their service and act not only on their behalf, but AS them.
As it is true that when we eat food grown in the Land where we live, or take medicine made from the plants of our own bio-region, it puts us in touch with that deeper dimension, that "interior" of the reality of where we live. When we re-member our relationship to the Land and its denizens, re-vivify our connection to it and Them, we awaken to the spiritual realities of the places where we live out our lives.
And because each Place is populated with different people—human and other-than-human—each Place has a different shape and texture. The coursing of the primal elements erupts up and over the surface of this "horizontal-perceptual realm" from the Depths of the Underworld. The Weave is different.
It can be said that sorcery arises from the confluence of many different forces coming together in one place, influencing and acting out. As an example, we have conjure being born in the American South and the Appalachian trail from the interactions of the folk magics of Black (African slaves and their decendents), Scotts-Irish, and Indigenous American people. The people are important, but the context is place-based too, and rooted likewise in the circumstances of the age. Like the many European witchcrafts from the early modern period, it was born in poverty and oppression, out of the wedding of necessity and desire.
And in re-membering our place-based rootedness, we begin to form covenants with the Land, being pulled into a sort of guardianship or "receivership" with the Land and the denizens. Like David Abrams reminds us in _The Spell of the Sensusous_, shamans and mystics most often lived at the edges of their communities, at the Edge indeed, mediating between human culture and communities with the Wild, helping manage the give-and-take, and listening and speaking with the Wild, the great noble spirits whom many ancient cultures named as gods.
Witches fulfill a similar role as mediators and walkers between the Wild and civilization, a foot in each, though it is clear that the Land "made" us witches and sorcerers.
Witchcraft itself loses its meaning, becomes just a pretty set of gadgets and pointless acts, when it is trapped within a closed system of civilization. It needs the Wild to give it context, the interaction with the "Other" or "Outside" is what makes it witchcraft. It brings the Wild "in" for a time to re-balance things out, much like the Dionysian and Bacchanal revels helped balance out the cultures where they were practiced, even though they threatened the state. And when witchcraft doesn't interact with the Wild, it loses its Fire. Let your practice become uncivilized. Nothing is permanent. The Great Teacher and Master of Witchery, the Old Devil himself, was said to be "horny, hairy, hoary, and *rude*"!
I believe we must follow this call to re-wild our witchcraft, to re-connect to Land and our own bioregions, to be *inspired* ("breathed in") by the Place we reside. It is an imperative. We can still look to the skies, but our roots are in the earth. And in this, we shall realize that even so are those stars of heaven.