Sacred Thyme for Permaculture.
Interview with Abel R. Gomez: writer, ritualist, community organizer.
By Willi Paul, openmythsource.com
now we’re busy making all our busy plans
on foundations build to last
but nothing fades as fast as the future
and nothing clings like the past, until we can see
more than this
i stand alone and so connected
and i’m all there
right next to you
oh then it’s alright
when with every day another bit falls away
oh but it’s still alright, alright, alright
and like words together we can make some sense
much more than this
way beyond imagination
much more than this
beyond the stars
with my head so full
so full of fractured pictures
and i’m all there
right next to you
more than this…
Peter Gabriel – “More Than This” Live. From: Up (edited)
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Interview with Abel by Willi
What are you principles?
I strive to live my life with the belief and experience that our deepest wounds, our most profound traumas can be the catalysts for our spiritual awakening. What I mean by this is that I believe there is powerful medicine in difficult moments. This medicine is available to us if we allow ourselves to be open to human experience and embrace life fully, even when it is uncomfortable or painful. Witchcraft is, in one sense, an alchemical tradition. We step into the Circle with our various wounds and through magic and ritual, step out into the world with beauty, power, and wholeness. We dedicate ourselves to the practice of becoming fully human, to knowing and loving ourselves in all our parts.
What can we learn from the Earth and healing from Wicca?
The Craft is first and foremost a nature religion. Our myths and rituals arise from an experience of the world in which all things are inherently sacred and interconnected. My body, the earth, the entire cosmos is the body of the divine, what my tradition calls God Herself. That means that my being, my bones, my sexuality, my dreams are all manifestations of the sacred. For me, this has been a source of deep healing and renewal. In a world which seems to constantly tear us down, the Craft reminds us that the essence of our being is holy, that all life is worthy of honor and respect. Through ritual, we step into this consciousness and remind ourselves that the divine mystery is ever-present in the world.
I think one of the most profound lessons the earth teaches us is how deeply interconnected all things are. One of the first steps in permaculture is observation. We find a sit spot and begin to watch, noticing the flows of wind, water, and sunlight in an ecosystem. It doesn’t take long until even the novice permaculturalist sees how all of the forms of life in the ecosystem are interrelated and interdependent. This sense of interconnectivity is one of the underlying principles of Witchcraft as well. I think so many of the myths and rituals of the older indigenous cultures were rooted in this deep sense of interconnectivity of all life. The Craft often describes the Goddess, the Great Mother of all, as the threads of interconnection and interdependence. This sense of connection to all things is a source of deep wonder which is celebrated at the various cycles of the earth, moon, and stars, providing us moments to pause and remember we are part of a larger, more mysterious and miraculous Whole.
Are there symbols and myths that benefit us from your vision?
I think world-renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell said it best when he wrote, “When you see the Earth from space, you don’t see any divisions of nation-states there. This may be the symbol of the new mythology to come; this is the country we will celebrate, and these are the people we are one with.”
What is your role in the current workshop: ELEMENTS OF MAGIC: An Introduction to Reclaiming Tradition Witchcraft workshop? How do you prepare for the experience?
I will be co-teaching Elements of Magic with Ewa and Laurel, two lovely witches in the Reclaiming Tradition. There are a series of four core classes that serve as the basis of Reclaiming Tradition Witchcraft, each of which are co-taught with two or more teachers. Co-teaching models shared power, which is a quality we strive to embody in Reclaiming community. This also contributes to a wider spectrum of knowledge as each teacher brings a unique perspective and set of skills to the work. To prepare, I’ll be rereading the first six chapters of Starhawk’s book, ‘The Spiral Dance’ which we ask of students before the beginning of the first class as well as exploring my own devotional relationship to the five sacred elements of Air, Fire, Water, Earth, and Spirit.
How can permaculturists better incorporate earth-based magic into their projects?
There are several ways for the permaculturist to incorporate magic into their projects and lives. The first I would suggest is to learn the magical properties of the plants growing in your garden. Every plant has a particular magical property that we can use for personal magic. For example, Rosemary is connected with protection, purification, and healing. A great book to start with is ‘Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs’ by Scott Cunningham. You can go into your garden and make offerings to the spirits of the land to partner with you while gardening. Another idea is to make planting seeds a kind of spell. As you plant each seed into the earth, hold an intention in your mind of something you’d like to manifest in your life. As the plant grows, so shall your intention come to be. Starhawk’s book ‘The Earth Path’ is also filled with a number of great ideas.
Please share some positive and negative experiences as you have shared your practice with the world?
I have been really lucky that most people I have encountered have been curious and open about my practice. I can only think of one instance where someone made a negative comment when noticing the pentacle I was wearing. The pentacle is the five-pointed star that represents the five sacred elements. Outside of that, I’ve only had really positive encounters. Friends and family members have gone to public rituals and had really great experiences. Recently, I’ve begun leading participatory rituals at activist conferences and have been quite overwhelmed at the responses. We don’t have public spaces in our society where people feel invited to bring all of who they are into a sacred space. I’ve noticed that it’s been a profound healing experience for many people because it provides them an opportunity, perhaps for the first time, to experience a connection to the earth, to the gods, and to the deepest parts of themselves.
What is “nature awareness?” Do you have stories that help you teach this?
To me, nature awareness is really about observation and understanding that all forms of life are interconnected. I really like the group exercise of asking people in a group to notice what the way the elements are present in an area and use that as a way to invoke the elements into a ritual.
Do you know about deep green religion?
I do and I’m really happy to see more of these sorts of ideas come up in the world. I think the more we remember that all life is inherently sacred and interconnected, the more we take action in the world to ensure nature is treated as such. Ideas like deep green religion bring us back to a more indigenous way of relating to the earth, which I believe can save us from the current environmental crisis so many of us are actively working to heal.
How do traditional churches look at the rituals in your tool kit?
I think one of the biggest distinctions between traditional churches and what we do in the Craft is that in the Craft, each individual person is their own spiritual authority. Each of us has the power to create rituals that connect our hearts to the divine mystery flowing through all things. I think the most fundamental difference, however, is the belief in Witchcraft that all life, all experiences, all things are intrinsically holy. We don’t have concepts of a fallen nature. Instead, we celebrate the gods manifest throughout the natural world, in our bodies, and the body of the earth. We honor the cycles of the seasons as moments of deep mystery and reverence. Our rituals are ecstatic, employing drums, movement, breath, and song as vehicles that open our awareness to the ever-present divine.
What is scared to you? Are these things sacred to your parents?
I hold the cosmos itself as sacred. My parents grew up in religious homes, and while they strive to hold on to the teachings of their childhood, religion is not something they focus on. But for me, the vastness and depth of all that exists is sacred. We touch this mystery in ritual. It’s so big, so mysterious, weaving all of our lives together. All of us are part of this cosmos. Dianic High Priestess Z. Budapest once said, “The Goddess is all nature. Beyond nature there is more nature. There is no end to nature and no beginning and that’s Goddess enough for me”. I resonate with this on a profound level.
Tell us a little more about the emerging myths from permaculture?
This is the first I’ve heard of it.
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Abel R. Gomez Bio –
Abel is a writer, ritualist, and a community organizer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Trained in both Reclaiming Tradition Witchcraft and Hindu Shakta Tantra, Abel believes deeply in the power of earth-based ritual and magic as a catalyst for personal and collective (r)evolution. Since 2009, Abel has taught at Teen Earth Magic, a five-day retreat for teens in the Reclaiming Tradition rooted in nature awareness, community building, and earth healing. He has lead workshops and presentations on personal empowerment and pagan spirituality in community, university, and conference settings, including PantheaCon, the largest indoor pagan gathering in North America. As a freelance writer, he has been published in the Reclaiming Quarterly, Llewellyn’s Magical Almanac, and WitchEye.
Abel R. Gomez
arg1989 at hotmail.com