I tend to talk a lot around here about loving where you live…in fact, last year for the letter B, I had yet another post on that very subject (also for the letter P, the letter L, the letter F…heck, even some of the letters I *didn’t* get to were going to be on that subject!). So, it should be of absolutely no surprise what-so-ever to my regular readers to greet this topic again.
A bit of a crash course (in case you declined to follow the links):
Bioregion: An area with similar natural characteristics, including plant and animal life, human culture, climate, and continuous geographic terrain. Varies by scale, from a larger ecoregion (akin to a biome), to a very localized bioregion, depending on the features being considered–smaller bioregions nest into one another, and into larger ecoregions, and can overlap as well.
Bioregionalism: Emphasizes the bioregion as the basis for a healthier co-existence between human culture and the natural environment and sees humanity and its culture as a part of nature, and calls upon people to build positive, sustainable relationships with their bioregion.
Spiritual Bioregionalism: Considers the bioregion, and its inhabitants (including people, past and present) as the originating inspiration for religious and spiritual beliefs. Uses both the ideas of human cultures and ecology as the framework for a personal (though share-able) and organic religious tradition. Is firmly rooted in the idea of “spirit of place” and celebrates the cycles of nature in relevance to individual bioregions, as well as those personally relevant in an individual’s culture.
Spiritual Bioregionalism (as I conceive it) is bound to a single idea–showing responsibility towards the environment and ALL of its inhabitants (including fellow humans) and respecting their capacity for self-determination. It is centered in the notion that the bioregion can take the place of a central deity (without being a deity, unless you wanted it to be one), and be interacted with and celebrated using traditional human ideas of godhood. This interaction may (or may not) include belief in gods–whether it be one god, shit tons of gods, or no gods at all, and whether the nature of belief in said gods is literal, symbolic, or non-existent, whether said gods are a historical or created pantheon (or are the natural features of the bioregion themselves). Spiritual Bioregionalism calls upon us to worship (or not) in any way that brings ecstasy and reverence while honoring the cycles and stages of the bioregion and its inhabitants, and may or may not include the practice of magic (however one chooses to believe in it).
So, when it comes to being a witch, it may come as no surprise that one of my most sacred ideas is that “witchery starts where you live”. It starts with rooting yourself where you live, and learning to love it–as an act of devotion. It calls means grounding yourself in the energies of your locus–your landbase, your bit’o’land, whatever you want to call it (and wherever it may be located–your backyard, a shady spot in a local park, a tree in a courtyard). It calls upon is to make peace with the history of our locus–in this area of Virginia, that includes the displacement of the native people, two wars fought in this area specifically, and the bondage of thousands of human beings. It includes reconciling the disparate origins and cultures (new, and old) of the people that share one’s locus–they (and the structures they have erected–buildings, statues, even parking lots and strip malls) are as much a part of its energy as plants and animals and rocks and things.
And speaking of rocks and trees and river otters and horseshoe crabs… Part of bioregional witchery is knowing your own flora and fauna, and the distinctive energies and feel of your local species. It is finding the place where you can forage for peppergrass (I just used my last bit up) and where the mulberry trees are (I’m running low on those too), knowing which tree on the drive in to work has the bald eagle nest and where the deer like to hang out in the early morning. Its is knowing your land well enough to grok where to put that protection charm, or dispose of an old spell, or where to make an offering to…whom ever you are making an offering to. Its knowing which plants are invasive to the native ecosystem and getting rid of them, even if they are pretty…and even if they have a “traditional” correspondence that is useful. It is finding new correspondences using native species (ethically and legally sourced, of course) and using traditional correspondences obtained from local sources when possible–knowing where to shop is just as important as knowing where to forage!
Bioregional witchery is about making magic with the immediate energy of the world around you, and co-creating relationships with the entirety of one’s surroundings.