No matter where you go in the pagan / magical / metaphysical / occult realm, there seems to be a near universal hatred of anything plastic. No plastic objects in my magical tools, to plastic in my altar tools, and so on. I do get it - there are definitely ecological issues where plastic is involved (or rather, our use of plastic is the problem), and energetically, it's not the most inspiring. It's kind of like having a spiritual connection to cockroaches - not really the most sexy and inspiring.
Here's the thing, though - amber is a polymerized organic resin, which isn't really any different form the organic polymers that we call plastics. And amber is definitely recognized as a powerful stone - it's part of many traditional pieces of sacred jewelry. Amber and Jet are traditional components of Wiccan clerical jewelry, for example. So clearly, it's not really about it composition, as some suggest.
It's actually very clearly about "Nature", which is probably better described as "wilderness". I am "Natural" despite the many, Many unnatural substances I've put in. Twinkies are delicious. Joking aside, how is my car not natural? There is no component in it that did not come from nature. The steel - man-made transformations and alloys. Headlights made from carbon, aluminum, silica, and so on. The plastic is just one more component sourced and transformed in the same way as any wooden wand. Well, maybe with a bit less ceremony and a bit more legality.
"Nature" and wildness are definitely a hot-button issue, but there's a lot of confusion and conflation going on here. And a good bit of not thinking very deeply. It's not difficult to recognize the damage that human activity has done to the environment - we're confronted with it daily, but all the most pessimistic scientists and "green warriors". The problem I have here (really, it's fodder for a series of posts on ecological activism I have planned) is that humans are not the only being affecting the environment in drastic ways. Pine beetles. Elk in Yosemite, and the wolves that were missing (admittedly, due to human intervention) that allowed those elk to transform the paths of rivers. Volcanoes! Humans are not the only beings to affect the environment, and to get upset about every tiny thing humans do is to miss the point of how nature works. Invasive species may be terrible now, but in the end, aren't they just another species that's fitting more than current species?
All of which is mostly irrelevant when it comes to plastic. Ultimately, there's a feel to plastic that is not as enagaged and immanent and natural as any given stone or piece of wood. And there's a reason for that.
Consider where plastic comes from - there are many different sources. Petrochemicals is a common source, and the issues that apply to that source, in the big metaphysical picture, apply to most if not all of the other sources (most of which are renewable - so the unnatural and damaging to the environment arguments don't apply as strongly). Essentially, petrochemicals come from petroleum, and where does that come from?
The whole freaking mesozoic era!
Okay, maybe not, mesozoic - I'm not really clear on which eras and such are involved. But it does come from plankton and plenty of other plantular (It's a word, I promise. No, really!) beings in Nature, and formed by natural processes. The only humanity involved in raw petroleum is the getting of it.
Which means that humanity's involvement is the only real objection here - humans were involved, and therefore it's "eeeevil". As we've seen, that's not a valid argument, as we're far from the only being or forces involved in the transformation of the world. Even crows know how to use tools, and most animals have an impact on the environment for both good and bad. When you start to dig, there's really only one argument that seems to hold up.
It just doesn't feel right.
That's valid - we can't argue people's experience and feelings. Okay, it doesn't feel "alive" or powerful, that's fine. But why is that, when other very-chemically-similar substances like amber do feel powerful?
My thought is that the issue here, beyond being a noticeably human-derived substance, is that not only has there been centuries of time to transform them, we're talking about essentially all plant life from a huge time period. If you took a substance derived from the trees that lives in the last 100,000 years - do you think there'd be much in the way of specificity? Could you relate to the Wight of every plant for last 100 millennia? I bet not.
And that's part of the problem, when it comes to plastic. It's too generic, too broad a scope. Usually, when we charge an object, we're holing and looking at a specific chunk of history, specific Wights connected to specific and concrete physical items. but when we hold a piece of plastic, even if we're certain of it's origins, we're still considering a Wight that is composed of millions, Billions, TRILLIONS of of other Wights. Placing a charge on any given plastic doodad is equivalent to trying to enchant the whole freaking planet for all time. No wonder we don't feel so much energy. Anything we apply to it, any enchantments or charging we might do is spread across a huge numbers of beings.
It's not that plastic doesn't hold a charge. The problem is that the charge is spread across trillions of Wights. One person's efforts, maybe a dozen, won't have very much impact, would they, spread that thin? And what about Amber then? Well, amber comes from one specific tree, so... not trillions of beings. Well, not trillions times trillions of beings.
What do you think? Does this answer the plastic conundrum?
NOTE: News at bottom
In any Animistic / Polytheistic / Magical practice, spirit communication is vital - it's difficult (if not impossible) to establish relationships without it. Every teacher out there notes this, but very few offer any sort of guidance about how to go about it for the beginner or lay practitioner. You're very often left to muddle through on your own, by reading confusing books, perusing unclear and contradictory blogs, and learning from your own mistakes. That approach works, but makes things so much more complex and difficult than they need to be. It does a disservice to anyone trying to learn how to work with spirits on a regular basis. I firmly believe in learning from experience, someone else's if at all possible.
Because of this and how important this is to me, I'm making a gift to the community, to be shared far and wide. I'm offering a FREE course in Spirit Contact - why to do it, how it's been done, and how you can do it on your own, regardless of any other traditions you may or may not follow. More importantly, while there is a tradition underpinning the methods I'll teach, they're neither culturally rooted (no worried about appropriation) nor frozen. The method is as much an example of how to go about creating your own method as it is a ready-to-use methodology.
Some of the topics I will address:
- historic and global methods of spirit contact and divination
- a simple non-Classical elemental system underpinning the method, the Tellbones
- how to build your own system and elaborate on it
- how to adapt the Tellbones to your own traditions
- learning how to use the Tellbones to talk with spirits
- finding your spirit court or family
- the art of accessories, including additional tools and recipes that may prove useful
- how to develop rites and strengthen contact with your spirits
- avoiding self-delusion and how to verify your UPG
I will post lessons every other week, and will answer questions as long as there are questions to answer. When the course is complete, I'll compile everything together and make it available going forward, always for free, in the hope that it will help anyone who needs it or is interested.
So share at will! Let everyone know!
NOTE: So... the reason Lesson 5 hasn't come out yet is that I lost the thumb drive I had everything on. All my notes. I was hoping it would show up, which is why I haven't said anything for ages.
And it's good I waited! I still don't know where it went (I suspect a kitten moved it under some furniture) but I DID find my notes saved elsewhere!
Bad news - I have to rewrite lesson 5 from scratch (bleargh) and I don't have momentum, so... until I can work up the gumption or find inspiration, it will probably be a little longer.