The grass outside my window follows the gentle slope of the earth toward the pond. Royal purple violets wind between the green blades, in some spots a trickling line, in others a meandering patch. Over the last couple of days, the dandelions have begun to lift their bright faces above the rest and the pine pollen has given the surface of the pond a sickly yellow-green sheen. The grackles flutter up and down from the trees, their tails held like the rudder of a boat and flashing iridescent green upon their throats. Here and there, the orange-breasted robins hunt for worms between violent battles with their brethren.
Witchcraft as I tend to think of it seems to do its best work when perched at the boundary between destruction and creation. It takes apart, but it also infuses what has been taken apart with new force, new potency. Witchcraft is an art of decline, but it is also the art of rebirth. If I were pushed into saying why this is the case, I would say that it is because witchcraft is concerned with the life of the world, the cosmos, the life that precedes and exceeds the life of individuals. The work of destruction is done for the sake of that life, in much the same way as its serving as the ancilla of creation.
I often feel like the indigenous American contributions to global occultism get short schrift. In the early phase, they were concealed by the pseudo-ethnographic attitude taken by Europeans, the sort of exciting and titillating tales that fueled occult fantasies (much like the latter New Age fantasises, which are often built atop older layers of European fantasy) but not in a way that could be easily identified. This was compounded by the devestation wrought on the cultures by disease and imperial disruption.
There’s a dream I had about Dr. Who that has stuck with me. It took place in the future, with the 7th Doctor and Ace. The world was divided between the haves and have-nots, with the haves living in an arcology that was sealed off every night from the degrading cityscape around it.
At the center of the dream were these street children sheltering in a large theater-like structure; the megafauna that roamed the streets made it unsafe to be outdoors at night. On the outside of the structure were signs along the porch to indicate what was going on inside. Inside, there was this elaborate ritual with candles, prayers, offerings, orchestrated around chalk drawings on the floor that fell somewhere between firmas and particle trace diagrams, complete with mathematical formulas purporting to describe the diagrams.
Walter Benjamin’s “Theses on the Philosophy of History” remain one of the lynchpins of my understanding of the relationship between the world of spirit and the world of historical reality. Benjamin disassembled a strictly linear notion of history, one thing after another, to emphasize the potencies inherent in the present moment, what he called the now-time (Jetztzeit), the moment of crisis that lays hands on whatever it can to proceed forward.