Nature is at the very heart of Witchcraft. Its wild edges call to us and stirs the very depths of our souls. Images of the natural world pervade our ideal of the traditional witch – alone on a deserted windswept moor, gales raging, or quietly wandering through country lanes along hedge lines unseen by all except field mice and hedgehogs.
But what about those of us who live in the city? How do we ever live up to this ideal? Are we condemned to a magical life of rosemary and basil in pots on the kitchen window, and nothing of the wild and free unrelenting forces of nature our country cousins enjoy?
So many times I hear people say that they live in a concrete jungle, that there is no nature near them. That all there is is roads and pavements and industrial estates.
I say look again! Open your eyes to what is really outside your front door.
We might have covered over the land with concrete and bricks. And we might have thought we are in control. But nature is constantly pushing through, it’s urge to grow and expand is almost impossible to contain – and a good witch can commune just as well with a patch of grass on the pavement as with the deep forest trees.
Between the cracks of the pavement, in the corners of the car parks, poking out from the mortar of a wall, on those small rectangles of grass that sometimes run between pavements and roads. Even the centre of roundabouts can be chocked full of plants and wild things.
And it is not that we don’t know its there most of the time. Its that it seems, well, not wild enough.
As though a tree deep in an ancient forest will have more wisdom to share than a tree in Asda carpark.
But a tree is a tree, and it can tell you about its experience. Its leaves and branches may see cars and busy people all day long, but its roots go way down into the same damp dark ground. It has to battle every day to survive. And Im guessing not many people talk to him.
Open your heart and your eyes and nature will find you the teacher you are seeking.
To the small plantain leaves, clinging onto the side of the curb for dear life, the city is a pretty wild place. He will have a lot to teach you about holding firm, and becoming strong in a foreign seeming place.
The tiny pink flower I saw at the weekend in a motorway services car park had a lot to teach me about finding beauty where I least expected it.
And recently I’ve learnt as much from a family of seagulls raising their young on the roof of Pizza Hut in Cardiff as I have from the ospreys and kites I’ve watched from a field in mid-Wales.
Witchcraft is wild and untamed. It is not beautiful and romantic.
It might not look how it does in beautiful blog posts, or carefully crafted coffee table books. But its there. When you look.
Even when nature is cultivated by landscape designers and teams of council maintenance operatives it has a life and a personality of its own too. The Wild Edges creep in. My work car park has perfectly manicured hedges and shrubs, but a fox has made its home amongst it. On the mornings when I am unlucky enough to be arriving before 7am I am often treated to a glimpse of him darting back and forth between the cars and bushes, and in a day that will be filled with concrete, corporate wallpaper, and plastic plants it grounds me and reminds me that Witchcraft is Everywhere.
So my challenge to you is simple – look for a bit of overlooked nature next time you are outside. Acknowledge it – speak to it and say ‘hello’ in whatever way feels right to you. And do that every time you leave the house or office. Make it your mission to find the wild places and be part of them.
Do you want to go deeper? Why not enrol for my six week online course Elements of Witchcraft?