magic (the ash tree 22)Posted: April 24, 2011
During the spring of 1993, while living in the west of Ireland, I embarked upon an action that I now realize would have made a fantastic environmental art project/practice, if I had had the forethought to record and document it. I determined to follow ravens – a bird that is deeply and powerfully embedded in folklore throughout the world, and one that for me has a strong relationship with the idea of natural magic, of energetic healing and the benevolent connection to our animate environment.
As my excursion progressed, travelling by foot and hitchhiking into the wild and barren landscape of the Connemara in County Galway, the presence and proximity of the birds increased and their guidance led me to encounters richly synchronistic with my intentions – at one point I was actually given a lift by a photographer in the process of making a documentary for a Scandinavian TV company about ravens! The journey ended with a meeting at a gallery and a series of painting commissions. The experience has allowed me to experience first hand that by surrendering ourselves to the super-sensible world of nature, having faith in its magic and mystery; the enchanted world of our distant ancestors is still very much alive…
space the final frontier
What makes one place more special than another, and how might our domineering powers of discrimination rightfully decide the fate of an ultimately animate space? Is it possible for our choices to be based on more than financial considerations, on profitable remunerations, or on potential and realizable productivity, or are we actually capable of appreciating the intrinsic and symbiotic sacredness of our immanent realities, embedded deeply within the energetic and infinitely intelligent, sensible cosmos?
To adopt a policy of deep ecology implies an attitude of emotive responsibility far removed from sentimentality, determined by immediate need and an inherent empathy to the cycles and subtle nuances of a universally identifiable sense of balance and dynamic subjectivity. Politically, all conceptual allegiances and predetermined perceptions attributed to logical scientific or linguistically derived temporal manipulations and objectives are antithesis to harmony and eco-egalitarian connectivity.
…I know why the blackbird sings
A song so pure that comes from his heart
He sings for his love who won’t come back
He sings because he is sad.
We are just a break in the waves
We are just a feather in the storm
Windward or taken by the tide
To places we call home …
from “BLACKBIRD” by RACHEL UNTHANK & THE WINTERSET
Let’s sit down here … on the open prairie, where we can’t see a highway or a fence. Let’s have no blankets to sit on, but feel the ground with our bodies, the earth, the yielding shrubs. Let’s have the grass for a mattress, experiencing its sharpness and its softness. Let us become like stones, plants, and trees. Let us be animals, think and feel like animals. Listen to the air. You can hear it, feel it, smell it, taste it. Woniya wakan – the holy air – which renews its breath. Woniya, woniya wakan – spirit, life, breath, renewal – it means all that. Woniya – we sit together, don’t touch, but something is there; we feel it between us, as a presence. A good way to start thinking about nature, talk about it. Rather talk to it, talk to the rivers, to the lakes, to the winds as to our relatives.
JOHN FIRE LAME DEER
‘And this unseen enigma (the air) is the very mystery that enables life to live. It unites our breathing bodies not only with the under-the-ground (with the rich microbial life of the soil, with fossil and mineral deposits deep in the bedrock), and not only with the beyond-the-horizon (with distant forests and oceans), but also with the interior life of all that we perceive in the open field of the living present – the grasses and the leaves, the ravens, the buzzing insects and the drifting clouds. That the plants are quietly breathing out, we animals are breathing in; what we breathe out, the plants are breathing in. The air, we might say, is the soul of the visible landscape, the secret realm from whence all beings draw their nourishment. As the mystery of the living present, it is that most intimate absence from whence the present presences, and thus a key to the forgotten presence of the earth.’
(from Spell of the Sensuous by David Abrams)
For many years I have been utterly frustrated by the sense that what I am reading, or the theoretical positions or artistic expressions I am encountering as a member of Western society and culture, do not equate or respond in any manner to the holistic experiential nature of my life.
PHENOMENOLOGY, as proposed (and questioned) by such as the French twentieth century philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty, while still expressed through an alphabetical and strongly academic medium, tries to explain this distance in our perception. Drawing strongly on the many accounts of indigenous peoples from around the world, such philosophy explains the predominantly unhealthy detachment of our intellects from our experiential and enchanted animate existence.
a few (more) words for PEACE in the name of SENSIBLE…
Yet again our culture heads proudly and mostly unquestioned toward war on the other side of the world in the name of civilization, humanity and progress, spending vast amounts of public money and squandering ridiculous and sickening quantities of our natural resources, causing suffering, death and destruction in its wake, while we merrily await the wedding of the decade that will cost society more financially in a week than our government spends on the health service and the unemployed in a year – I pause quietly and wonder to myself – is this sensible?!?
“…yet the United States’ annual outlay on its military is around $700 billion – around six times the amount paid out by China, its nearest rival. Despite all the talk of a new regime, both Democratic and Republican budget proposals actually increase military spending – the Pentagon’s 2012 funding request is the largest since World War Two!!”
(from NEW INTERNATIONALIST magazine: issue 441)
Thankfully the people of Bristol have some perspective – inspiring and fantastic acts of civil unrest and vandalism, rioting on the streets, inciting police brutality yet again (it all seems a little too easy!?) – why?…because Tescos have opened yet another supermarket!!
‘…and if it harms no one, do as you will…’
from the witches’ creed
Magic is the claimed art of manipulating aspects of reality either by supernatural means or through knowledge of occult laws unknown to science. It is in contrast to science, in that science does not accept anything not subject to either direct or indirect observation, and subject to logical analysis, whereas practitioners of magic claim it is an inexplicable force beyond logic. Magic has been practiced in all cultures, and utilizes ways of understanding, experiencing and influencing the world somewhat akin to those offered by religion, though it is sometimes regarded as more focused on achieving results than religious worship. Magic is often viewed with suspicion by the wider community, and is commonly practiced in isolation and secrecy.
Modern Western magicians generally state magic’s primary purpose to be personal spiritual growth. Modern perspectives on the theory of magic broadly follow two views, which also correspond closely to ancient views. The first sees magic as a result of a universal sympathy within the universe, where if something is done here a result happens somewhere else. The other view sees magic as a collaboration with spirits who cause the effect. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_(paranormal))