Sunday, December 11, 2011

Blooming Where You're Planted

I stopped by the witch store on the way back home from town today to get a couple of things. The owner wasn't there, but the helper lady was. She's nice, but not exactly the best source of information. One time, she told me I couldn't be pagan married without it being a full Wiccan ceremony. Riiiight. Today, they had big glass nazars, so I asked if they had any of the little blue bead versions. She looked around, dropped her voice to a whisper, and told me apologetically that I'd "probably have to go to a botanica..." They she warned me that they had Jesus in there on things.

You need to understand that magical traditions that involve Christianity in some way abound down here. A huge number of people engage in some form of Santeria or magical enhancement to their Catholicism. And when I say it's prevalent? I mean that the tiny gas station grocery store down the road from me out here in the country has an end cap of Santeria candles, and that if it were any bigger, there would probably be spell candles or oils and soaps to go along with them. In the South, there's a lot of Christianity, a lot of folk magic, and a lot of people who do some very magical workings without every in a million years thinking they're doing anything outside the bounds of normal Christianity. To warn me about saint candles in a botanica is as ridiculous as warning me about pentacles in the neopagan bookstore. An us vs. them mentality just won't work.

If you read this blog or follow me on Tumblr, you know that I have a serious interest in understanding and using the regional traditions of folk magic and local plants in what I do. While there are things I love from the European traditions, my family has been in the New World since the 1600's. While there's a lot of German, Welsh, and English (and most of the rest of Western Europe) back there, we haven't kept the traditions, foods, or national identity of a single one of those people groups. It makes way less sense for me to trace my magical heritage back to a muddle of Europeans than it does to trace it back to powerful generational roots here in the South. Picking my European heritage is kind of random. Drawing from my New World heritage is generation upon generation in both the Ozark/Appalachian areas and in Texas. I'd rather spend my efforts there than bumbling about in European traditions because people act like they're the one true kind of magic. Nothing wrong with them, they're just not calling me at this time in my life.

It seems weird to order in plants and herbs that can't grow in my climate while ignoring the ones all around me because I'm trying to replicate the things my ancestors had growing in their yards. Unfortunately, nobody's written "Magical Plants of Texas Pastures and Their Uses". The lore I know about bringing good crops, understanding the weather, and which plants and animals are safe and dangerous is all from the South. There's magic deep in the land, and I can feel it welcome me, feel it call. I don't have a tradition, but what I do is traditional. I know what calls to me, what I just know to do without knowing why I know it. Why? The place I'm from hosts spirits, history, and life that flavors the kind of magic native to here. Working in that system flows more easily. If we moved to Wales, I'd dive into learning about Welsh magic because I'd be on the land that's home to those spirits, that history, and offers up the plants from that herbal tradition.

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