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Modern Day Witchcraft

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Modern Day Witchcraft

Regina McIlvain

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Let’s get something straight. When I say ‘witchcraft’ I am not referring to any sort of demonic worship. I use the term so maligned and incorrectly applied to people who look to the natural world around us for connection and spirituality. The great religions of the world all began with someone going on a quest into nature and coming back enlightened. Since then, those who seek using those same methods are feared, envied and often denounced as dangerous. Nothing could be more humble and honorable than studying the gifts the divine has given us in Nature and using them to craft our own idea of a comfortable life.

So, ‘craft’ may be the operable word in this website, but the ‘witch’ part is important too. Too often, in history and up to our time, people have labeled others ‘witches’ because they paid attention to the seasons, the changing moon, the rhythm inherent in Nature. How bland life becomes when we stop paying attention to the miraculous all around us. If we live in a creation of the divine, we should appreciate every bit of it that we perceive.

There is a magic in repeating a ritual each day, whether that be a morning cup of coffee or a fragrant hot bath that evaporates the cares of the day. This kind of simple, regular habit brings peace, tranquility and self-awareness in the midst of chaos. We may not be able to control every moment of our lives, but we can make the most of the time that is ours. Those are ‘Witching Ours’.

Simplicity is luxury at its most refined. That is my view after years of struggling with this concept. Too often simplicity is confused with plainness, something that sucks the joy right out of life. We were created to be attracted to beauty and when, in a misguided reach for simplicity, we deny ourselves some of the things that bring most humble satisfaction, a creeping disorder takes place.

For a moment, let us consider the lily of the field, simple and magnificent. It is following its nature as it grows to a perfection of color and texture. If we just go sit in a field, we will never look like that lily, but if we follow directives that are the deepest part of our nature, equal beauty takes place.

Too often our idea of simplicity manifests as shabby, ugly, hastily thrown together. But look at the Shaker or Japanese design during the Edo period (their boxes and coat racks are identical!) The purity of shape was matched by respect for the spaces within and without the dwelling. Everything is immaculate, swept clean with carefully tended plants and utensils that look like modern scupture.

My point is that it takes work to achieve simplicity, be it of home, environment, spirit, design, awareness. It is not so much giving up what we like as eliminating excess. Let us keep our cherished daily rituals, our favorite cup of coffee, our homemade unprocessed food, our bicycles, our best china, our clean and pressed clothes…and give thanks during every moment that we are aware of them.

I have a small table that I use every day. It faces a window with a little stained glass ship in it. There is a bit of ivy creeping around the window. I live in the city, but seated at my table, I look up to skies and clouds, suns and moons, tops of trees rustling in the breeze. I keep my table clean and clear(regardless of the state of the rest of my house). I do my correspondence there (never with a computer). I have tea or coffee there. I place vase with fresh flowers on it sometimes. It is large enough for two to dine, so my son and I have meals there. It is a microcosm of the world, and in that little space I control that world of peace, simplicity, beauty, daily-renewed, fresh clear vistas and great luxury.

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