I have been reading quite a bit lately. The book that has been the focus of my attention is called, “The Cunning Man’s Handbook” by Jim Baker. This book covers the practices of the English Cunning Man from years 1550-1900. It covers the evolution of the cunning folk and the progression of their magick. These were the healers, charmers, and magicians of the day. It even discusses the relation to the African practice of Hoodoo.
The cunning folk of the age literally lived at the boundaries of society. Most were positioned outside of the main hub of villages, simply because the religious leaders of the times were more than suspicious of their practices which may have included tinctures, potions, charms, amulets, spells or curses.
Even looking toward Shamanism, you see often that the Holy Man was often located at the edge of the encampment. This was not just a way of separating him from the ‘common’ folk….but a means of protection for the tribe. His medicine would ward off evil spirits and anyone or anything that would wish harm upon the people.
This book has caused my mind to reel and analyze my own practices. How many times in a week or month are we approached by those around who know that we are witches and conjurers? How often do they approach us tentatively for fear that someone in their immediate circle might find out what they are doing? To whom do we remain in the ‘broom closet?’
I know that many in my own condo complex seek me out to give advice or to interpret the latest dream. Friends call on me when energies are needed or they want a charm for ‘luck’ or protection. I am the one in my cube at work that has the scent of lavender wafting around him. I keep a hag stone with a crow bone hidden under my shirt as an amulet. I keep a large chunk of amethyst on my desk as a ‘paperweight.’
As I reclined on the sofa last night, I felt antsy. The more I tried to relax, the less relaxation would come. I decided that it would be the perfect night for magick in the courtyard. There were breezes blowing…I figured it might be a good night for pushing things out of the way. I built a fire in the cauldron, settled down in front of it with handfuls of herbs, and addressed the directions, the elements, my guides. It amazes me how wrapped up people get in the ‘you aren’t doing that the way it is supposed to be done’ mentality. I have been practicing witchcraft for way too many years to care about the way others think it should be done. If I have learned one thing about magick…it is the fact that it is ever-changing…so why shouldn’t we be the same.
I love the fact that when my spirit connects with the spirits of my guides and the ancients…there simply is no other way to say it…magick happens. It seems as if the elements dance around me, calling me to fly with them. It is in this time that it is very evident that the Horned One is very much alive in me. It is in this season of harvest that I feel that energy for the hunt and the harvest coursing through me. As the air grows more and more crisp with each day, I feel more and more alive. It is as if I feel my own energy and virility coursing through. It is in this time that my second sight becomes keener…my sense of smell sharper…my hearing, even more acute.
It is in this time that creativity soars to the surface. My brain begins to create faster than my hands. So many thoughts, spells, potions, tools playing chase through my brain. It is normally in those times that I am most at home in the woods…just at the edge of society.
Most people look forward to the weekend for sleeping late. I don’t know what that is anymore. I am most excited by the opportunity to disappear into the woods. This morning, I woke Friz up before the light of dawn and he and I made our way away from the busy-ness of condo life. As we rounded that last corner, I recognized a familiar figure. He was sitting on one of the brick half columns at the edge of the woods. His knees were up close to his chest and his arms were holding them. His head was hidden in the nest created by his limbs. His green cloak covered him completely. He looked up at me when he heard the rustling of mine and Frisbee’s feet.
He was alone. I looked for Calliope and then I saw the sadness in his eyes. We knew she had some years on her…I don’t think he knew exactly how many. They had gone to sleep together one night, but only one woke up the next morning. His consolation was knowing that spirit lives forever and that her energy would constantly swirl about him. Still, that doesn’t make losing a friend any easier. It was as if Friz sensed the vacancy in his heart. He extended his feet up the column where the Green Wizard sat. The Green Wizard shifted so that he could pick him up. Friz and the Green Wizard nuzzled each other deeply. Friz looked back at me as if saying, “Is it ok? He really needs me now.” I nodded to him and he went back to nuzzling this weathered, saddened young man.
The Green Wizard looked up at me and forced a smile as he tried to clear the giant lump in his throat. He tried to choke out a sentence, but I stopped him. I told him that the greatest thing about friends is that words aren’t always needed. With those words, this tired, dirty, emotionally drained young man wrapped his arms around me. He has spent his life truly living the life of the Cunning Man. Always kept at arms length from society. Walking…always walking….and now alone.
This morning the magick was simple. It was two men and one blue chihuahua honoring the spirit of a faithful friend.