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The living land: a new theology

· environment

In my childhood and teen days, as a Christian, I was an odd sort of monotheist. With the years of experience and knowledge I have now, I realise that I was a pantheist at heart – I believed that God was the sum total of the souls/Soul of the Universe. While it is very possible to remain within Christianity as a pantheist – especially in the kind of liberal church I attended – it was this realisation, along with the irrelevance to me of heaven and hell, that led me to seek spiritual fulfilment elsewhere.

Through years of exploration, and through study and ordination with One Spirit Interfaith Foundation, I finally uncovered the name for my experience of Spirit: Pagan Witchcraft, first in Reclaiming tradition, and then also in Feri. I remained a pantheist, and also a monist. The mystical experiences of my youth and adult years have made too strong an impression on me for to be anywise else (experiences I used to attempt to sum up in the phrase “everything is everything”), but I was also opening to polytheism and animism.

But something started to change fundamentally in my theology once I moved to Scotland. I often say I learnt more magic in my first year here than I have ever learned from books or workshops, before or since. And it was the profound shift which happened in my consciousness which made both the change and the learning possible.

Because when I moved to this valley, the land and all of its inhabitants started talking to me – and I was ready to listen: to the earth and sun and sky; the dog violets and water avens and bluebells; the sallows and pines and alders; the waters and rocks; the birds; the Sidhe. And that changed everything.

I suppose I’m still technically a pantheist and a monist and a polytheist, but animism has become the overriding flavour of my practice and experience. Most important to me now is to know the individuals around me – not to connect to the Spirit of Dog Violet, but to connect to this particular dog violet, as body, soul and spirit; not to connect to Bride, Queen of Summer, but to Bride as she lives and breathes in this landscape, in this micro-climate.

Living here, in this environment, has deepened my spirituality, my magic, and my aliveness, beyond anything I could have thought possible before the move.

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