Being local is important to my witchcraft. I work with the magic that is HERE. I work with the energies which meet me every morning as I open my door. I am a local witch. So why have I just eaten a banana that was grown in West Africa?
My Witchcraft is all about localism. It stems from the the land on which I live.
I live with, work with, and dream with the spirits of the land. My craft focuses on building and maintaining a relationship with these spirits.
One of the most important ways I build a relationship with particular plant spirits is to consume small portions of it. To take some of its essence into me.
This really simple act changes something within me. It’s hard to describe how – but perhaps a visual image will help. Imagine a large bowl of crystal clear water. Now take a tiny amount of food colouring and drop it in.
Its only a minuscule amount compared to the water – but the water is immediately changed.
Changed not just in colour. But in vibration. In ripples. And the change spreads. And spreads.
Eventually every atom of that water will have been changed by that tiny drop. It might not be perceptible to the naked eye but it’s spread to everything. The drop of colour is changed too.
Imagine if you added a tiny drop every day.
How much would that water change in a week? A month? A year?
(OK so I realise at this point Im stretching the metaphor to breaking point because who wants a year old bowl of water hanging around!)
I accept this concept so deeply that it forms a key pillar of my witchcraft – I purposefully use it to build plant allies which will aid my magical works. I’ve done the same with the soil in my garden to connect directly with the land spirits. But thats not 100% necessary because the plants which grow in my garden feed themselves on the soil, the sun, the rain. So I am consuming that when I consume the plant. But I do it sometimes to strengthen the core relationship, unfiltered by a particular plant.
Incidentally this basis for my practice means that when I travel – as I did recently to Scotland and Yorkshire – my magic changes. I’m surrounded by different spirits, so my magic is different.
Recently I’ve been thinking about how my eating habits are entirely at odds with this fundamental approach. I’ve been thinking about how the food I eat affects my relationship with the land.
We build our bodies cell by cell from the materials we consume. So it seems logical to me that every mouthful of food is an opportunity to take a step closely to the land. To make ourselves a little more in the image of land.
So – am I taking a step further away from the land every time I eat something produced on another continent, or even another county?
I’ve beaten myself up A LOT.
I’ve made a lot of what sounded like excuses.
The main excuse being that food imported from the other side of the world is so much cheaper on the shelves (which if you stop to think about for even a minute is absolutely ridiculous. How have we got to a point in society where its cheaper to buy Argentinian than Welsh Beef? I know the answer of how it’s cheaper, but how did we get to a place where thats OK? Subject for another blog).
I dismissed this excuse pretty quickly. There are many people on the breadline in this country and for them this is absolutely a priority, but even on my worst days I am blessed to have enough money to feed me and my daughter to a high standard. I could afford to buy local – if I gave up other things.
Time is a legitimate concern. I admit I don’t make time to go shopping locally – its not as easy as popping to the supermarket once a week. I prioritise other things – work, coven, meditation, teaching, playing buses on the stairs with my adorable little girl.
I could feel guilty about this. But I’ve come to the conclusion I can’t. I must not allow myself to feel guilt.
ITS OK TO NOT BE PERFECT
Its OK to know that my choices are not the most ideal choices I could make for my magic. But to make that choice anyway.
There are a lot of other bad decisions I make too. Sometimes you have to let go and focus on what is the priority for you.
What matters most for me is spending as much time as possible outside where I live. Even if its just sitting outside my backdoor gazing across my garden and local neighbourhood breathing the same air as my plant allies. This is the most important thing I do magically.
What matters to be is actively building these relationships – meditating with plants in my garden, the earth in which they grow, the air which blows around them, the rain that falls on us, the sun which shines. Talking to these spirits. Giving and taking with them. Offering and receiving.
What matters to me is greeting the spirits every morning with my daughter.
These are my ‘big rocks’ of localism. These are the things I cannot live without, and which I can do in the free time I have. Could I do more? Of course I could.
But something would have to give. It might be the time I spend developing my teaching materials, or the money I spend on books.
After I had finished beating my self up, and giving myself a virtual hug and pep talk. I decided to think more positively about 5 things I could do easily to increase the amount of food I eat which is local. 5 things you could do too.
5 Easy Ways to Eat Local Food
1. Grow herbs from seed on your window sill and add to food.
2. Buy wine from a local vineyard for rituals (I particularly like Llanerch Vineyard which is very close to me and allows me to wander around some of the vines and talk to them when I go and buy stocks!
3. Grab something to eat at Penylan Pantry in Cardiff or in Rag and Bone cafe in Swansea instead of Starbucks (google for other ideas of cafes using local produce.
4. Visit one of the amazing local farmers markets – there are lots in South Wales – and replace one or 2 products for that week.
5. Buy ‘more local’ in the supermarket. Buy Welsh Beef or Pembrokeshire potatoes. Buy British cabbage instead of imported Kale. Buy Welsh Perl Las instead of French Camembert.
These are really simple steps you can take in the right direction. And have some whilst doing them too!
I already do the first 2 regularly. Our coven has always had local wine and honey during rituals, and cakes handmade by us. We all grow herbs and spices (I have more luck with chillies than with basil for some reason!).
If you can do more – great! There are some amazing veg box schemes, or small holders doing meat boxes. The farmers markets are full of amazing produce which could stock your larder for a week.
Maybe you even have time for an allotment.
But my advice is the same here as for any other aspect of witchcraft:
START EXACTLY WHERE YOU ARE
Lots of small steps make big differences.