The Reenchantment of the World
The Way of Druid Magic
The question of the purposes of magic becomes more and more necessary to confront as you progress further in magic. As with all things magical, different people and traditions answer it differently. To some, magic is a practical craft, and its purpose is to make life happier and better for the mage and his or her family, friends, and clients. To others, magic is a path of service, and its purpose is to serve the community, the gods, or the living Earth. To still others, magic is a way of mystical transformation, and its purpose is to lift the mage above the ordinary limitations of humanity—in the words of the old Druid lore, to pass from Abred, the world of limitation and mortality, into Gwynfydd, the realm of freedom and conscious immortality.
Many of the traditions that affirm one of these goals condemn the others for one reason or another. The Druid tradition, as you have probably guessed by now, takes a different tack. From a Druid perspective, all of these are valid purposes, and one of the tasks you face is the discovery of whatever blending of these purposes fulfills your own deepest needs. You may find yourself called to one of the three alone, or to a combination of two of them, or to some fusion of all three. Since each created being is unique, and fills a unique niche in the great pattern of all things, no one rule will work for all.
The techniques and tools of Druid magic that you have learned in this book can be used for any of these purposes, or all of them. You are also free to draw on lore from other magical traditions as you create your own personal approach to Druid magic, and you will find that magic from many other systems can be integrated with the methods taught in this book. Most of the possible purposes of magical work have been covered at great length in recent magical literature.
One of the central themes of modern Druid magic, however, rarely appears in other occult books. This theme unfolds from points made in the first chapter of this book. When Max Weber spoke more than a century ago of the disenchantment of the world, he pointed to one of the greatest needs of the present age of the world. If the modern industrial world is literally disenchanted—suffering from a shortage of enchantment, a loss of the magic that once wove humanity and nature together into a single fabric—then one of the crucial tasks of mages today is nothing less than the reenchantment of the world.
Enchantment, as you learned in chapter 1, is the art of awakening spiritual forces in material things. Before the dawn of industrial society, and even today in cultures where modern materialist ways of thought have not shouldered aside older and wiser ways of relating to the living world, enchantment was and is part of everyday reality. Enchantment played an essential role in balancing the rights of the individual with the needs of the community, keeping human actions within ecological limits, and weaving humanity and nature together into a single fabric.
It's popular nowadays, especially among apologists for modern industrial culture, to speak of these enchantments as “superstitions” or “taboos,” but such terms conceal both the power of the old enchantments of nature and their ecological relevance. All over the world, traditional enchantments protected sacred groves from the axe, made certain areas off limits to farming, herding, or hunting, and kept other interactions between humanity and nature within precise limits. Time and again, when ecologists have studied these old “superstitions,” they have been astonished to find solid environmental common sense underlying them—sacred groves commonly grow in the right spots to prevent soil erosion, animal species forbidden to hunters turn out to harbor dangerous diseases, and so on.
Those modern scholars who notice the ecological realities behind these enchantments very often claim that their magical dimension is either a symbolic way of talking about wholly material phenomena, or a way of tricking people into behaving the way they should. Magical philosophy suggests another alternative. The enchanted world of traditional societies establishes an intentionality that helps make people aware of their place in a larger community, rewards those who walk in harmony with nature, and corrects those who refuse to do so. The loss of the old enchantments thus does much to explain the blind arrogance that drives modern industrial society from one preventable ecological disaster to another.
According to magical lore, however, the web of enchantments that unites humanity with the land has effects on nonhuman nature as well. Human cooperation with the cycles of nature, old traditions teach, brings balance and fertility to the natural world. This makes perfect sense in magical terms. Since nwyfre follows intentionality, an intentionality that brings human beings and nature into balance has positive results all through the ecosystem on every level. Just as ignorant and arrogant human actions can create wastelands out of forests, human actions guided by wisdom and a clear sense of ecological reality can not only turn wastelands back into thriving ecosystems but help nature flourish even more abundantly than she does on her own.
Enchantments so potent take centuries to establish, and—at least according to tradition—also need the conscious cooperation of other beings, ranging from animals and plants through nature spirits to the great powers of the cosmos that human beings call gods and goddesses. Even a lifetime spent in Druid magic can only begin the process of restoring the ancient web of enchantment. Still, no other application of the art of magic has so much relevance to the needs of today as the work of reawakening the enchantments of the Grail and healing today's Waste Land. The ritual workings explored in this chapter provide several ways to begin work on this great and profoundly necessary task.