These last few weeks I have been feeling the spring in the winter as short bursts of blue sky illuminated by full sun break through blankets of grey overcast clouds and the spurts of welcomed rain we are experiencing in Northern California. Even with these moments of light and warmth, it is still cold in the shadows as the wet evaporates.
The spiritual path of witchery calls for attuning ourselves to the cycles of nature that sustain us. This means paying attention to the world around us. I am watching my humble garden transform during this season from winter to spring as plants finish their life cycle and wilt and die, and I have had to pull them up to make way for new growth. At first I was very attached to each plant, but during this year of my amateur efforts, I have learned something about just letting go. Sometimes things just need to die.
The work of the witch is to facilitate harmonious alignment of our consciousness with the cyclical moods of nature. We literally go through the cycles ourselves as holographic microcosms of the planet from which we spring. It’s kinda like that Star Trek movie where Spock dies and is sent to RIP on the Genesis planet and then is reborn as the planet begins its growing pains. The reborn Spock is so inextricably connected to the planet that he experiences everything it goes through, including the tremors of earthquakes. As human animals, we already do this whether we are conscious of it or not because we are inherently connected to the planetary environment that birthed us. By embracing our ancestral practices that include working with the earth, we become more aware of this truth and gain access to the tools of entrainment that enable us to consciously align our lives with this process in order to grow into more potent, present, and joyous human beings in this reality. That is the power of the witches.
So with that dramatic description here is what I did in my garden today. I have been ruminating on my past, my ego, and my attachments to my past, and my traumas and reactions to them. I have shame, regrets, and also some amazement that I have made it this far. My intention or “spell” for this winter to spring season has been to assimilate my shadow. In Jungian terms, this means facing those parts of the self which we do not want to acknowledge and which scare us and which must be die in order to be transformed into some newly useful energy that will fuel the next step on our path. In witch terms, this means I have taken on some real composting work.
Through this process I have been intentionally aligning myself to cycles of nature by becoming aware of the seasonal changes in my make-shift garden. This has meant rewiring myself in a way that does not jibe with the familiar Western cultural narratives that directs human attention away from our immediate environment. The current cultural narrative is really good at distracting us from our physicality in ways that do not serve us. We are on online all the time, on our phones, and putting our consciousness in a virtual, rather than physical space. The mental dissociation that results keeps us from acknowledging our actual reality on this planet now. It also makes it easy to ignore our emotional and spiritual damage, and our attachment to past reactions of trauma that we keep recycling in a mode of mental illness that is antithetical to the seasonal transformation evident in the cycles of nature.
So as a Westerner, I can understand the psychology of this — being stuck mentally and spiritually, and as a witch I can get to the heart of the matter and clear that energy by literally turning shit into fertilizer by composting what has to die. So I pulled what was not thriving in my garden, threw it into the compost and hit it with the hoe. I hoed till my body was tired as I invoked my shame and horror and sadness and all those emotions that need to be released and recycled. As I broke down the old vegetation and broke the soil underneath for a new spring bed, I was happy to see some worms who are masters at the art of decay and I was overjoyed that I was on my way to cultivating some great new ground. That is witchery.
The ground in my yard is very hard and so I have to commit to breaking it up and working it well before the spring planting season. This is not easy work and it reminds me that I have been living in a Western environment in an office and that the physical labor needed to intimately cultivate a garden that is constantly in need of tending as the seasons change takes all of myself.
So in the garden what is dead and dying will be transmuted by the heat of the processes of decay as matter breaks down and as it cycles through the seasonal changes. As my winter garden transforms from my summer garden it feeds what is coming in the spring. This is true also for my shadow work. In harmony with the season, I use this auspicious time to take what needs to die in myself and turn it into energy to feed the next cycle of my life. This is the mystery. This is what witches do.
Wishing everyone a potent winter to spring season!