The Magic In The Mundane
This year has been one of change for me so far. I’ve changed jobs yet again and hopefully that’s it for now. So far so good. So long to retail, goodbye to the call centre. No more making money for large, faceless corporations. Now I work with autistic children. The role is challenging but so much more rewarding than my previous roles. My workplace is set in the open countryside and I cycle the four miles there and back daily, five days a week, and I enjoy the exercise as well. Not to mention it’s another reason for me to be out and about, another opportunity to connect with the natural world and regular readers will know that I’m always banging on about connecting with nature, even if you can only manage it on your daily commute. It’s all about making the most of it (that’s the optimist in me coming out, the glass half full gal - she doesn’t make an appearance very often!). For some, it might be the only time they get.
My ride into work takes me along a cycle track. It used to be a disused railway line, back when we were kids. We, my sisters and I as well as other kids from the estate would spend many a long summer’s day down ‘the yellow brick road’ as we used to call it then, owing to the sandy coloured path we would take to get there. Tadpoling, toad and newt catching were the aims of these trips (we were fascinated with those creatures!). When I think back to those days, they take on a dreamlike quality. The memories move slowly, languidly. Like syrup or honey, sweet and oh so good, but clear and distinct. I can even remember snatches of conversation, still catch the scent of summer; the early morning coolness, then the hot air of afternoon, tinged with freshly mown grass. I can still feel the shiny black water worm writhing in the palm of my hand as I unfurled my fingers, hoping to see a newt.
In those days, we felt a million miles from home, like the kids in the film ‘Stand By Me’, we were on an epic journey and I wonder if kids nowadays still do this kind of thing. I hope so, but there’s a lot less land around for them to do it on though.
This old rail line was given a makeover, hence the cycle track, but the nature is still there. The dykes, ditches, lake and pond are still there. The toads and the newts are still there and many species of bird, and in this age where nature is forever being squeezed in and pushed out, that really is something, especially when so many other places of my childhood are now housing estates or car parks.
As I approach the lake, the sounds of life grow louder, and this early when other people are few, the grey half light and low mist that clings to the surface of the waters make me wish that I didn’t have to go to work, but alas I do and besides, this is where I get off the cycle track and take the path that leads up the side of the bridge and to the road. From here, work is not so far away, but far enough so that I might enjoy the silent sun shafts as they break through the clouds and filter through the bare trees, spilling across the road or the birdsong or the sights and sounds of the country. Yesterday I saw a fox as it slipped from one field and onto the road before disappearing into the hedgerow again.
But before I get here, the road is intersected by a rail line, and more than once, quite a few times in fact, I get held up here, at the level crossings. I spend this time scanning the grass verges and hedgerows, trying to see if there’s anything I recognise growing there. There’s a long dead bouquet of flowers tied to the fence and I can’t help but wonder at the lost life, but then, this is a crossroad.
Crossroads are one of those places. I always think there’s something a little hopeful, a little melancholic and a little devilish at the crossroad, a whole mixture of moods, atmospheres and auras. Time moves differently in these places, pooling and stretching out, sometimes moving fast and others as though standing still. Isn’t it this energy that has always held human fascination? Executions were carried out at crossroads so as not to taint towns and to act as a warning to other nefarious folk with crime on their minds. Traditionally, at least in the UK, those deemed unworthy of a decent burial, criminals, prostitutes, witches and non-Christians would all be buried at the crossroads. To be buried at the crossroads was to sentence someone to a fate of eternally wandering the roads, lost and unable to find peace. The crossroads are associated with ‘the Devil’ and other ‘men in black’ or ‘black men’ and whether these individuals bestow gifts or curses is a matter of perspective and belief. For those of us with occultish leanings, the crossroads are a liminal place, an in-between place, a place of power and of openings. Of paths yet to be traversed and opportunities that await.
And now the barriers come up, bringing me back to the matter at hand and it is but a short ride to my place of work and I enter the ‘real’ world, only it feels a little less real than ten minutes ago.
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.