Urban Shamanism- Places of Power
Another major power source in a city are graveyards. Magickal practices have always been associated with them, usually in the erroneous supposition that rites were being performed to “raise the dead” either literally, or to recall their essence/personality from the Afterlife. Magickal practitioners who were the forerunners of today’s Spiritualism quickly found that Necromancy can be carried out much more effectively in a private room safe from interruption using personal items from the deceased, and people who knew them. This was much safer and more controllable than a open graveyard and risking discovery by people and authorities not empathetic to that type of magick. However, graveyard dirt is a very useful commodity, as it absorbs the life-energies from the bodies returning to their elemental states. This type of energy is similar to the energies raised in casting a circle and spellwork, and the earth in the graveyard is saturated with it. An apt metaphor as many systems regard this type of energy behaving in a similar way to water. Many Pagans are aware of Mesmer’s “Magnetic Fluid” that he claimed to manipulate to induce trance and help people heal, but not that it is the same as the energy used in spells.
An old technique used by many cultures to gather this resource is to visit a relatives or friends grave and bring along a flowerpot. Then they fill the flowerpot with earth from the graveyard. Either from the freshly turned earth from the grave itself, a nearby one, or a nearby inconspicuous source such as the edge of a path. Then a plant such as rosemary was planted in it for a while, after which the plant and the earth are dumped in a bag to be carried off site “For disposal”. In reality both of them can be used in ritual and magick. The graveyard dirt just as it is, and the plant grown in it is particularly full of magickal energy having grown in the heavily charged soil. Rosemary is a particularly popular choice as it has many uses from protective magick to evoking entities to appearance. The the pot is refilled with graveyard dirt, and the plant replaced.
The conjunction of innate power spots and Ley lines within cities can also be used to magickally influence large areas on many planes. One example of this occurred in Portsmouth in the late 1980’s in conjunction with the protests at Greenham Common Airbase about the nuclear missiles stationed there. This had been the site of a peace camp and lots of demonstrations for most of the 1980’s, and there had been a strong Pagan presence at the camp and amongst many of their supporters. They had tried various magickal operations over the years to further their cause but without success, so they reached out to fellow Pagans in Portsmouth. A small group decided to help by using a form of Psionic suggestion via environmental energies using a key Ley line that passed through the local castle with its well, and connected with others around the Greenham Common area.
In a ritual they empowered an alchemical elixir charged with their intent then, deciding that a near coven-sized group of Pagans in full regalia might raise a few eyebrows, changed into ordinary street clothes before going to Southsea Castle. There they gathered as inconspicuously as possible around the well and, after a final whispered incantation, poured the liquid into it. According to the group the well water then began to fizz as though it had been carbonated, and became “sparkly”. Needless to say all members of the group were very nervous in case any of the staff or tourists noticed it and connected the activity in the well to them. Fortunately no one did and they all felt the magick working and empowering the environmental energies with their intent.
At the Greeham site the entire military base was surrounded by the peace protesters, they were under strict instructions not to do anything except focus on the nuclear missiles being removed from the site never to return. According to people who were there the candles the protesters were holding suddenly seemed to brighten, and “There was suddenly an electrical feel to the air”. A few weeks later the missiles did indeed begin to leave the base and the base itself was closed and offered for sale on the open market in the early 1990’s.
Most of the group were impressed by the result, especially as the more experienced members of the it had wanted to use various key sacred sites in the countryside, including Stonehenge, for the ritual site rather one that was in a major city. Other Pagans began to experiment with incorporating urban energies into their practices with encouraging results. One of the most effective techniques involved drawing or placing bindrunes or other sigils on the street where people passing by would see them. Even though the passers-by didn't know what they were the spells the sigil was powering seemed to work more effectively. Another effective sigil technique discovered was based on the Hermetic Rose Cross and Planetary Squares talismanic system. Instead of connecting Hebraic letters to form a sigil, areas of the city associated with the intent of the spell or ritual are linked with a single line to form the symbol. According to Mages who have used this technique it is particularly effective for finding a suitable place to live, or a job in a particular trade or area.
Within the city Shamans and other magick workers can obtain the same effects as their counterparts in the wilderness areas of the world. It just takes an understanding of the urban landscape and how to work in harmony with it and energies it contains and how to shape and focus them. In the next article we will look at how the Otherworld interpenetrates the physical plane of the city and the ways of working with it
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