Cleansing the Land
The Reenchantment of the World
The Way of Druid Magic
One of the most heartbreaking results of our society's blindness to its own roots in the living world is the casual devastation inflicted on so many natural environments. Three centuries into the Industrial Age, few corners of the Earth have escaped damage from the discarded poisons, resource extraction, and sheer careless waste of a civilization that imagines it will not have to live with the consequences of its mistreatment of its planetary home. Plenty of hard work of every kind, from tree planting and erosion control to changes in attitudes, will be needed to repair the damage and stop any more from occurring.
Magic has a role to play, however, because patterns in the nwyfre can shape human and nonhuman actions alike, speeding the healing of the land while it helps shelter recovering ecosystems from further damage. By the time you begin exploring the rituals in this chapter, if you have worked your way through the earlier sections of this book, you know that magic can have remarkable effects on your own life, even in its most practical dimensions. Magic can do the same thing for natural ecosystems. It cannot substitute for other forms of work, but it can do things no other kind of work can do. It can catalyze subtle changes in the Earth that can literally speed up the breakdown of toxins in the soil and water, as well as banishing the subtler toxins of ignorance, selfishness, and greed that put the more material pollutants there in the first place.
The choice of a place to cleanse is of some importance. The influence of the media leads many people to think of nature as something that only matters in wilderness areas and national parks, and so many people who want to use magic to help the natural world focus on a handful of famous places and neglect opportunities much closer to home. Nature is a complex web, however, and many times the places that most need cleansing and healing lie scarcely noticed on the fringes of industrial society: a vacant lot overgrown with weeds where local birds nest, a neglected marsh critical for the spawning cycles of a rare species of fish, a patch of woodland where animals find homes among abandoned cars and decades-old junk. Such places form what ecologists call refugia, small patches of living nature from which recovery can take place as the ravages of industrial civilization draw to an end, and they call for at least as much care and healing as more famous and photogenic places far away.
Another cautionary note belongs here. Many people in the modern alternative spirituality movement, seeing the dilapidated state of many ancient sacred sites, decide that the best starting point for the reenchantment of the world is the nearest holy place they can find. It is hard to think of a less constructive notion. Many places made sacred by the ancients still possess a magic far subtler and stronger than anything in the fragmentary occult teachings that are all we have to work with today. Trying to repair a holy place on the basis of the material in this book is a little like trying to perform brain surgery using a first-aid textbook as your guide.
This is especially true in regions such as North America and Australia, where the people who built the sacred sites have been driven off their lands and confined to reservations by European invaders in recent centuries. Many of the old holy places are still visited and tended secretly by descendants of the original builders, and ignorant magical work done with no understanding of native traditions can do much more harm than good. Unless you have been invited to help cleanse a sacred site by a native elder who has the right to make that invitation, then you have no business imposing your magic in such a place.
As a general rule, the closer to home you start your personal contribution to the reenchantment of the world, the more constructive good you will do. As you learn to notice your own environment, you will find that there is no shortage of places that need to be cleansed and blessed. Many Druids find that their own backyards are a good starting place for this work, and local spots where nature keeps a foothold make a good next step. Such steps may seem modest at first glance, but when you wake to the sound of native birdsong for the first time in years, or watch wildflowers burst into life in what had been a patch of invasive weeds, you will see that the results are well worth the effort.
The following ritual is one of many possible ways to use magic to cleanse land and heal the damage done to it by human neglect and mismanagement. Experiment with it, and then create your own rituals for the same purpose.
A Land-Cleansing Ritual
Before you begin ritual work, all the usual preliminaries need to be done first. Meditate on your intention and cast an Ogham divination to be sure your intention is appropriate. It can also be wise to use scrying to explore the options before beginning ritual work; simply use a mental image of the place itself as a doorway for scrying, and ask to speak to the spirits of the place. Tell them what you have in mind, and ask them if they approve. If they do, ask them if they have any requests or advice concerning the ritual, and act accordingly if they do. You will find that the information you get in this way can increase the positive effects of this work in dramatic ways.
This ritual is best done in the open air, standing on the piece of land you seek to cleanse and bless. If circumstances make this impossible, do the ritual in a private place as close as possible to the place to be cleansed. In this latter case, take a stone or a small handful of earth from the place to be cleansed, and put it in the center of the altar before you begin. You will also need the four cauldrons for incense, flame, water, and earth, as well as your wand. Open the grove with the cauldrons in the usual way.
When you perform the Sphere of Protection, call on the elements to bless the land with their power, and take away any pollution or damage from the land. When you finish the opening and take your seat, use green color breathing to prepare for the meditation, and then meditate on the idea of cleansing and purifying the land.
When you are ready, rise and approach the altar. Say words like these: “I invoke the power of Ced, the Earth Mother to heal and bless this land. Let all pollution depart from it and all damage be healed. Let it and all the living things that depend on it be restored to radiant health.” If you cannot perform the ritual on the land itself, change the wording of this and all other parts of the ritual to refer to the land you intend to cleanse, rather than the place where you are performing the working.
Circle around to the east side of the altar, facing the center, and say, “Let the powers of air arise and cleanse this place.” Pick up the cauldron of incense, take it to the eastern edge of the place, and raise it high in both hands. Say words like these: “In the name of Hu and by the powers of the realm of air I cleanse this land and call the powers of healing to it.” Concentrate on the idea that the incense smoke is summoning cleansing winds to bring healing to the land. When it feels right, return the cauldron to the altar.
Circle around to the south side of the altar, facing the center, and say: “Let the powers of fire arise and cleans this place.” Pick up the fire cauldron, take it to the southern edge of the place, and raise it high in both hands. Say words like these: “In the name of Sul and by the powers of the realm of fire I cleanse this land and call the powers of healing to it.” Concentrate on the idea that the heat of the flame is summoning cleansing sunlight and warmth to bring healing to the land. When it feels right, return the cauldron to the center of the altar.
Circle around to the west side of the altar, facing the center, and say, “Let the powers of water arise and cleanse this place.” Pick up the water cauldron, take it to the western edge of the place, and raise it high in both hands. Say words like these: “In the name of Esus and by the powers of the realm of water I cleanse this land and call the powers of healing to it.” Concentrate on the idea that the water is summoning cleansing rains and flowing water to bring healing to the land. When it feels right, return the cauldron to the center of the altar.
Circle around to the north side of the altar, facing the center, and say, “Let the powers of earth arise and cleanse this place.” Pick up the earth cauldron, take it to the northern edge of the place, and raise it high in both hands. Say words like these: “In the name of Elen and by the powers of the realm of earth I cleanse this land and call the powers of healing to it.” Concentrate on the idea that the salt or earth is summoning chemical processes in the earth to bring healing to the land. When it feels right, return the cauldron to the center of the altar.
Turn your attention to the land beneath you, and imagine the telluric current rising up from the heart of the Earth. Say words like these: “When the four material elements are in balance, the element of spirit appears in their midst.” Pick up the wand, and use it to trace an invoking heather pentagram over the altar, saying, “I invoke Spirit Below. Let the telluric current arise and bless this land.” Imagine silver light rising up from the center of the Earth to fill the land and every living thing on, in, and above it with vitality and health. Make this image as vivid as possible, and maintain it for at least several minutes before releasing it.
Release the image, then turn your attention to the sky above you. Imagine the solar current cascading down through space from the Sun. Pick up the wand and use it to trace an invoking oak pentagram over the altar, saying words like these: “I invoke Spirit Above. Let the solar current descend and bless this land.” Imagine golden light descending from the skies to fill the land and every living thing on, in, and above it with vitality and health. Make this image as vivid as possible, and maintain it for several minutes at least.
Hold the wand vertically with both hands above the altar, in the middle of the space where you traced the two pentagrams. Say words like these: “From above to below, from below to above, the two currents are awakened. I invoke Spirit Within. Let the lunar current be born within this land and fill it with the power of Awen.” Imagine the golden solar current and the silver telluric current both shining into the land at once, and then see them fuse into pure white light, the color of lightning. Imagine the disk of the Moon surrounding the land and everything in it. Once again, make this image as vivid as possible, and hold it for several minutes at least.
Once this is done, close the grove in the usual way. If you have done the working somewhere other than the place you intend to cleanse and bless, take the stone or earth that has been at the center of the altar and return it to the place where the effects of the working are meant to focus. The material link will help anchor the energies to the proper place.
As with any working, the best way to anchor the effects of the magic in the material world is to do something practical to further your intention. For this type of working, you might choose to get sturdy gloves and a trash bag or two, and pick up all the litter you can find on the piece of land you have worked magic to heal. If circumstances make this sort of direct action impossible, a change in your own life to significantly reduce the burden your lifestyle places on the living Earth will have the same positive effects.