Equinox Musings – Of Spirit & Land

Don’t you think ghost stories are another herald of the darker months? Not the stories of gore designed to frighten and elicit screams, but stories with more than a hint of truth, the stories of loss and tragedy ….. These are the kind of stories to be told with friends in candle light over a glass of good brandy or rum.

From Emma Kathryn

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The equinox has been and gone. Autumn is here. The darker months have arrived.

The nights are drawing in now, so that when I meet in the woods with my sister (biological & magical) tonight, it’ll already be dark beneath the boughs.

All over the town you can smell the sugar beet factory. It is another herald of the autumn. I love the scent of it, pungent and sweet.

This time of year, as much as I love it, always makes me feel somewhat melancholic. Perhaps it’s my natural state. Not in an overly depressive way, but rather my thoughts turn inwards (as within, so without, and all of that), and I think about the year so far, time passed, and those months still yet to come. It is a time of recollection and introspection. Anyway, I got to thinking about my connection to the land, not only the woods and the fields and the river, but the town itself. The places where I walk day in, day out.

Sometimes, especially when I’m walking through the town centre (it’s real old, many of the buildings and whole parts of the town date back to before the English civil war and in some cases are hardly changed at all), it’s easy to imagine the past seeping into the here and now. There are hidden alleys, quaint buildings with crooked roofs and a cobbled market, complete with red and white striped stalls, and then the church, a huge gothic affair, easily the tallest building in the town, overlooking it all.

Because of its age, because of its history, the town is full of ghost stories.

Don’t you think ghost stories are another herald of the darker months? Not the stories of gore designed to frighten and elicit screams, but  stories with more than a hint of truth, the stories of loss and tragedy.  Like the story of the ghostly friar, murdered in the times of Henry VIII, who now stalks his former home, the Friary, though now that building is separated into private homes, and the grounds are a public park. Or the phantom horsemen who, it is said, can still be heard galloping through the narrow streets . Or the Scotsmen who died whilst digging tunnels beneath the town in the civil war days.

These are the kind of stories to be told with friends in candle light over a glass of good brandy or rum.

But these stories also hint at something else as well. They show us that spirits are everywhere.

Why should the spirits of land, of nature be any different?

Sometimes, or quite often in fact, when I write about connecting to the land I do talk about my woods, or the river. But the spirits of nature are everywhere. If we accept that there are spirits in this world, if we accept the spirits of the dead, in ghost stories and otherwise, then why not the spirits of nature, those felled trees or filled in ponds? Don’t  they remain also? Do they not endure as well?

I believe they do. A few years ago, the local council decided to fell one of the oldest trees in the town. I can’t remember the reason given, only that it really wasn’t much of a reason at all, in my own humble opinion of course, and people were quite offended, at least it seemed so, judging by social media posts. But at least they were bothered in some way, right? On some level at least, they knew it was wrong. Anyway, the point is, what do you think happened to the spirit of that tree? Did it just go? Did it die along with the tree? I think not.

And what of the spirits of those who once walked where we do now? Is connecting with them not a way of connecting with the land too? One of my favourite novelists is Kate Mosse. In many of her stories, often set in the Languedoc,  time is stretched and played with, manipulated, so that you have two stories of two different peoples from different times, but set in the same landscape. There is magic in such stories, and there is a truth in that magic. I can remember the first time of reading her work, and that feeling of recognition, not of any one thing in particular, but more of a feeling, a knowing. Something I couldn’t put my finger on then. But the more I read of her work, the more I realised that it was the land and the connection to it, and the centrality of the land within her works, that was what stirred those feelings inside of me.

In all great stories, even the most fantastic, there must be authenticity. It has to work. You can’t fool the reader, and besides, the reader is there to be swept away. Bad story telling doesn’t do that, and so there must be something real, and the truth of her stories is that the land does connect us to the past, and will connect us to the future too. It is in this way that the spirits of those who came before can be a link to the land. That the land is a connector of people, of beings, and of time.

Those things, people and otherwise, that die, that are buried beneath tons of concrete and steel, they are still there. Their spirits remain.

So when I talk about connecting to the land, and those spirits of the land, of nature, know that they are there, wherever you are in the world. We are not apart from them, even though it may feel like we are at times. You don’t need to go anywhere special or exotic to connect with the spirit of the land.

So as the nights draw in, and as the winters chill breath grows stronger and colder, then light your fire, open the good brandy, and with friends share stories: folklore and ghost stories and old wives tales local to where you live. Find the spirits, forgotten and new, of where you live, and remember it is the land that connects us all.


Emma Kathryn

My name is Emma Kathryn, an eclectic witch, my path is a mixture of traditional European witchcraft, voodoo and obeah, a mixture representing my heritage. I live in the middle of England in a little town in Nottinghamshire, with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs, Boo and Dexter. When not working in a bookshop full time, I like to spend time with my family outdoors, with the dogs. And weaving magic, of course!You can follow Emma on Facebook.


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A Journey Into Spiritual Resistance

“Mother earth will go on without us, one way or another. So get your shit together fellow earthlings because unless we collectively come together, there may not be another option to avoid becoming fossils like our Dino-brethren.”

From J.D. Lee

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Whether you are a Pagan, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Jain, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, or any other practitioner under the sun, you may acknowledge the fact that a portion (if not all) of what you have been taught was corroborated, co-opted, or used for malicious purposes. We’ll I’m here to tell you that it’s both okay, and not okay. Whatever you may believe, someone, somewhere started it all. Whether it was an oral tradition that was later written and collected into a book, or possibly chronicled as it was happening, chances are it was used as a manipulation tool at some point. But it doesn’t have to be that way more.

I grew up being preached at, with the southern Baptist gospel. Hellfire and Brimstone for those who disobeyed God, and a reunion with family and loved ones as a reward. As I aged I took an interest in learning about other religions and their effects on people. My grandparents thought I’d be a new age preacher, or a politician. Well, today I’m neither. And for damn good reasons. Although I quit going to church (going on 6 years now), I can’t help remembering the beautiful glass panes in the Lutheran church I attended for 2 years, or the Catholic Church I would visit later with it’s magnificent artwork and seemingly kind people. I still feel for those old bluesy hymns from that vitriolic Baptist church from so long ago. But as I learned about my heritage, (Cherokee, Inuit, Aleutian, Siouan, and Norse) I came to a realization. What if everything I’ve been taught in Sunday school and Mass was bullshit? Of course, not all of it was but if you look hard enough, there are overlapping features of all religions, good and bad. I could just no longer believe in something that I never really felt was true and full of so many contradictions. I don’t believe in A god. I believe in forces of nature which I cannot, and should not have to fully explain. To me, they are the ghosts, the energies, the surge of the wind after an incantation in the graveyard with a coven. They are what bind our reality together. The energy that leaves the body after death has to go some where. But where? That’s for you to decide!

Promises of an afterlife full of freedoms in exchange for your earthly life’s happiness sounds all fine and dandy. But why not be happy now, and when you’re dead? No matter your creed, each individual should be free to choose their own path. If the key to life and the afterlife is happiness, then why should we suffer now or later? I’m not going to claim that any religion or spiritual path is not worth pursuing, because I understand that each individual will find their own contentment in some form or another. I will say however that forcing a belief upon anyone will land you in the fire, so to speak. As with current conservative modes of thought, forcing people to give birth to a child which they either cannot take care of, do not want, or could possibly cause life threatening complication is very much wrong. Keeping people from accessing birth control, and other contraceptives aimed at decreasing STI’s is also WRONG. Telling your neighbors that they are an “abomination in the eyes of the lord” is not helping your standing in the community, no matter what your local corner preacher is telling you about butt sex.

My biggest qualm with organized belief systems is that of it’s automatic need to sustain itself and it’s order. Tithes and offerings are part of it, but so is obedience to authority. What human needs an authority figure to pass judgment? Are we not all our own masters? If I so pleased I would go against all teachings of the Christian religion, and nothing would stop me. Would an almighty god not smite me for even thinking of such things and threatening to disobey? The answer is no. One might argue this is the concept of free will, that the consequences of my actions would be on me and me alone. But how would this argument play out against God’s will? If he is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, he would know of my life and how it plays out regardless of my actions. I would end up in the same place no matter what choices I made. We all should know that this is false, we make our fates with our individual choices.

Suppose for a minute we are alive because the universe itself was alive and experiencing itself through all living beings. Would the actions you committed be an experiment? Or something necessary to the butterfly effect? The great spirit as some of my ancestors might say, is all around, or that God is all around professed by my family. GOD is in you, me and everyone and everything. It is everything and nothing. Even the vastness of space is filled with unique surprises, celestial beings, and massive unknown energies. The unknowable cannot be claimed to be known by anyone. So while the annoying atheist in the back of my head screams that there is no creator, no puppet master, no god; the preachy agnostic in me says to keep looking, observing, and learning. We are social creatures, looking to related and confirm ourselves. But more than that, we are dynamic, and more than capable of changing our circumstances to make things easier on ALL of us.

The supposed masters of our fates are in public office, employed as CEO’s, or behind the pulpit in front of a congregation. They give us the false sense of choice, they decide what we get to choose from. With all disrespect, I say FUCK THEM! We are free to choose however we want, whether that be what food we eat, our source of income, or our individual spiritual journeys. New England was formed by Puritans and Calvinists who we know burned suspected witches at the stake but had achieved more democracy than any prior European style government at the time. Pennsylvania was founded by Quakers, overran by Scots-Irish Catholics and Protestants alike, and ultimately ended up as a tolerant place for Christians of all stripes. Maryland was originally occupied and ran by Catholics. Even Salt Lake City was founded as a Utopia for the much hated Mormons who could not help but be chased out of every city and county they occupied for fear of ending up like their founder. People have been trying to practice their spiritual learnings freely without reprisal for thousands of years.

This Nation was founded on ideals that were not equally agreed upon at the time of it’s inception. For example, the dutch colony of New Netherlands had a policy to allow freedom of religion, so long as it’s inhabitants did not cause a commotion in public. That colony was since overtaken by the British, but the people in charge kept this policy as to keep the peace. The Puritans on the other hand mutilated Quakers as to distinguish them from “their own”, and were deeply opposed to this kind of tolerance. Whether or not our course of action should be to dismantle prior belief systems, or move into the woods and find our own beliefs with fellow spirituality seekers, I do not know. Do we form our own sects within pre-existing religions? Should we accept Scientology’s ghastly forms of social control? I say do what you will without forcing it onto other people.

While the practices, traditions, and perspectives of these religions has changed (or remained the same in the case of fundamentalists), we should not forget that many times religion has been pushed onto conquered peoples or mandated by a central authority figure. This was most definitely the case for Native Americans whose varied belief systems were thought brutish by European colonizers, and for the subjects of the Roman Empire during the transition period under Constantine. We have been systematically educated to believe what we are told and that if we don’t there will be consequences doled out by either the government or by God. Enough is enough of these laws of morality. Who is to say that premarital sex, homosexuality, idolatry, lying for a good reason, or killing in self defense is immoral? Our oppressors surely do not have the right to claim what is divine and good in the world, we as individuals must decide for ourselves.

I respect the various pagan religions more than any monotheistic religion simply because the gods spirits are supernatural representations of the physical world. Vikings may have raided, plundered, and murdered but they are no more evil than the Anglican church. Norse tradition is filled with tales of splendor, the people were gracious, and the drink was plenty. Native Americans may have warred, stolen from and conquered other tribes, but it makes them no more immoral than the Christians who enslaved, massacred, and raped the first nation peoples. Native tribes were much less savage than Europeans thought previously, having an Anarcho-Communist economic system with communication, trade, and a rich history of peace making. 

 No religion may claim superiority over another simply because all religions are based in concepts which seek to explain things that which we have no other explanation for. The Cherokee myth of creation bears resemblance to the Christian myth of creation in that the earth was created in 7 days, but that is where the similarity ends. In my limited understanding of Islam, Jesus was a prophet like Muhammad. He may not have been considered the son of god but the religion still has ties to Abraham, whom Judaism reveres just as highly. So how is it that these 3 mainstream religions still hold resentment for one another? While those practicing Judaism are still awaiting the messiah, the other two hold onto their beliefs that the savior has already came. The big 3 are certainly plagued with their own mishaps, and draconian laws. While I do not claim that less organized religion will make the world a more peaceful place, I still cannot help imagining that it would the case. If we were to abandon all traces of control from these preordained religions and cast aside all the new cults in favor of personal spiritual exploration, we would be better off. All attempts of recuperating for power under these existing structures should be thwarted by any means. Then again, that is just my BELIEF.

So what is the point of all this? I simply want to show that no matter what your beliefs, no one truly knows what happens after death. Whatever path you take, I hope that you come away with a sense of skepticism towards all organized religion (read as cult) and follow your inner being instead of blindly following a higher power. We all have conscience which tells us what to do, we all have that intuition. If yours, like mine, tells you we are all connected to each other and the universe around us through a shared consciousness, then that’s fine. If you think we are all separate entities fumbling around trying to find meaning in a possibly meaningless world, then you are not alone either. We must each blaze our own trails and hopefully we’ll all find intersections that correspond to our own at some point instead of just running parallel to each other all the damn time.

 These seemingly irreconcilable differences we all experience are just an illusion and we must recognize that before we wipe ourselves out. Then again, mother earth will go on without us, one way or another. So get your shit together fellow earthlings because unless we collectively come together, there may not be another option to avoid becoming fossils like our Dino-brethren. Go smoke a joint, take some LSD, pop some molly, go drinking with some friends, or read a fucking book for Christ’s sake. Just do something which fills you with happiness and brings you closer to an understanding with your fellow (wo)man. There is a thin line between life and death, but let’s cross that bridge when we come to it, eh? I’ll see you on the other side, wherever that may be.


J.D. Lee

Pilot MountainA Carolina Native who seeks to inform the community and world at large of the mass manipulation we face. This an-com hillbilly is not your run of the mill, bootlickin’, shitstain. Sure, sometimes he’s an asshole, but you’ve got to be when you’re literally surrounded by Klansmen. When he’s not trading his time for money, you can find him burning a sage stick and/or blunt while praying to mother anarchy to show all her children the way.


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