Thinking About – Light and Shadow

446px-Tree,_shadow,_SangerI have been blissfully unaware of a little tension within an area of the Pagan community.

I have seen over the years the occasionally derisive use of the term fluffy bunny to describe some Pagans, but I’ve completely missed that there is also negative talk the other way, deriding those who relish the darker aspects of magic. My thoughts on this have once more been prodded by a discussion on the excellent Down at the Crossroads podcast hosted by Chris Orapello. This month’s interview is with Juniper Jeni, who also used to host a podcast called Standing Stone and Garden Gate. At a point during the interview this topic came up and it was dealt with beautifully by Chris and Juniper but it got me thinking.

Fluffy Bunny seems to be associated with love and light, communing with nature, meditation, contemplative activities, crystals, new agey stuff.

I’m not sure there is a term for the other extreme but for that sake of this article let’s call it Well ‘ard Paganism. Here we’ll find the skulls and bones, stripped down magic, blood, mud, curses, poppet dolls, dark moon work, that kind of thing.

I’m sure there are Pagans who stay in the Light. And it is obvious that there are also those who hang around in the Shadows too. I confess I loved the dangerous and edgy magic of the Shadows when I was a wee bit younger. In fact that is what drew me to all of this is the first place. I still love it when the time is right, but not all the time. Likewise I can’t stay completely in the Light either. I tend to move with intent from one to the other.

To me it’s like swearing.

If I was to use the f word in every sentence, when I really needed that expletive, the energy just wouldn’t be there. I tend to only swear when there is no other word that fully sums up the depth of my feeling. When that word comes out of my mouth I can literally feel a release. So to spend too much time at either end of the fluffy/well ‘ard spectrum would probably do the same thing. There are times I need to relax, to open to the Wonders of the Universe, to feel at one with all that is. I sit and watch a beautiful sunrise, or the flowing of a river, listen to the gentle whisper of the wind through green leaves. I cherish those times. But if I did that all the time I wouldn’t be able to operate in our modern world. Likewise if I spent all of my time working with death, bones, and shadows, the same would be true.

It’s all about balance.

I’m reminded of the words “The brighter the light, the darker the shadow”. One cannot exist without the other. Both deserve our attention and respect.

I wrote a song some years ago called Green and Grey and people occasionally ask what that title means. It’s this exact topic. In the song the Horned God says he is “Neither black nor white, priest hear what I say, I’m green and grey.” He is green, the unfurling leaf of Spring and Summer, and the evergreen during the Winter. And magic is neither black nor white, it is grey. It is the way the magician works with magic that directs it into those diverse places we label black and white.

So I guess I’m a grey magician. I love the light and those so-called fluffy moments, I also know I have the tools to let rip with a very effective well ‘ard curse, should the need occur. But I’m not in any real rush to direct my wand in that direction. I’ll stay happily on the fence and drop down either side when needed.

19 Comments

  1. Shirl Hicks May 5, 2016 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    Spot on. We all have to start at the beginning sometime and nobody knows everything but at the same time, when you become comfortable in your skin. You can accept that we have a light side and a dark side. Acceptance of all of ourselves.

    • Michael Disabato May 5, 2016 at 3:25 pm - Reply

      I like that…”comfortable in your skin.” That’s the balance I’ve sought and keep refining.

  2. Hennie van Geel May 5, 2016 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    To borrow from Tolkien : Gandalf it first is the Grey. Only after dying, and being sent back to the world, he takes on the name “the White”. So he has to meet the darkest thing known to man, to get into the light.

  3. Michael Disabato May 5, 2016 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    Dahm,

    I have been telling my corporate clients for years that “balance” is the only way to succeed. That holds true in the rest of life as well. To hear you say it is not only refreshing, it’s validation (and don’t we all need that from time to time.)

    The Wiccan Rede goes something like “first do no harm” (Prima non nocere), but there are times, especially when setting protection, that simply doesn’t work. The best you can do is strive for balance.

    Michael

  4. Darryn Scott May 5, 2016 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    I guess it all comes down to balance. If we were ‘fluffy’ all of the time we would not experience the dark, rebirth and new beginnings, and we would be stuck in on place where nothing ever changed and all would stay the same.
    I also stand in being ‘Green and Grey’ and feel that is why your song sings to my heart so very much.

    Blessed Be }:-)

  5. Jeremiah May 5, 2016 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    balance, left and right. dark and light to me the Green and Grey…
    Blessed Be

  6. Diana May 5, 2016 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    mmmm…. this is why I consider myself a “Hedgewitch”, the widest variety of medicine is to be found at the edges, the borders between worlds, especially on disturbed ground. Getting too comfortable being either light or dark leads to dullness of sensibilities and abilities.

  7. Greenleaf May 5, 2016 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    I must say I feel as you do. Balance is the key to all things in life whether magickal or mundane. We all live in the light of day and in the dark of night. There can’t be one without the other. That being said I would never do harm to anyone but I would do all in my power to defend those I love and hold dear. Blessed be.

  8. Denise Moody May 5, 2016 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    When I first heard fluff bunny it meant someone who only saw the good. Yes, the light but the meaning to that was that there was no bad, no dark…no balance. To me anyone who looks at Paganism, or the world for that matter, as all light is at best naive. I suppose there may be some who only see the dark, but I haven’t met any. To those I know the light and the dark are two sides of the same coin, we are both. The world has to have both. We can ask for blessings or we can throw a curse. We can celebrate life and we can celebrate death. I think the fluff bunnies were taught to fear the dark. The dark isn’t to be feared, it’s to be enjoyed! Without the dark there would be no moon flowers, corn, or ripe tomatoes!

    And Green and Gray is one of my favorites 🙂

  9. Herb May 5, 2016 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    I never thought of it like that, to me a “fluffy bunny” was someone who went around wearing the hip clothes and jangling their crystals but never actually did anything real for the planet. They could talk the talk with the best of them but they never get around to walking the walk. I guess that’s what makes us so wonderfully human, we all see things in a different way. Blessings to all.

  10. Marla Brooks May 5, 2016 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    Grey is the best of both worlds, both in magick and in life. The black and white world is a world of opposites. Things are either good or bad, happy or sad, right or wrong and nothing in between. In the grey there are no absolutes. It’s a world of endless possibilities and opportunities. Living and practicing in the grey serves me well.

  11. Geoff Stanley (Troll) May 5, 2016 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    In my experience, the reference to ‘Fluffy’ has mostly been in regard to lighter gentler workers that don’t or try not to look at events that on a learning curve basis, could be perceived as dark and Emotional?
    I agree with Damh, we are in on a path that requires balance with an option to ‘Sway’ into either side of the fence, the ability to embrace both aspects and work central to both is ‘Balance’, however the Universe will often throw us out of ‘Balance’ in order to learn something we need to Embrace! Troll

  12. Catriona McDonald May 5, 2016 at 10:26 pm - Reply

    Yep, pretty much this. I love greeting the sun with a cuppa and equally important is a night hike to the triple crossroads to seek the spirits who gather there. Green and grey indeed.

  13. Bronzewing May 5, 2016 at 11:35 pm - Reply

    One of my faves of your songs, for this very reason. 🙂

  14. Jasmine Ive May 6, 2016 at 7:25 am - Reply

    I struggle to find the words to explain to myself how I feel inside when it comes to my practice when magic. Especially when I find myself delving into the darker side due to negative emotion. To me practicing dark magic is understanding the negative emotions inside me and how to use it for my benefit. Whether that’s helping me understand my morals or values more or to help me appreciate the little things I have in life.

    Only recently I’ve started to become aware of how it feels healthy when I embrace that side as long as I don’t lost myself in it. I used to feel ashamed when I admitted I was angry and/or upset with someone or something. I originally thought the acceptance of all life and to make a difference required me to be happy all the time. This was all when I was still in school and college, so I was inexperienced and naive about it. When the world became my teacher I’ve found the dark side myself was an act of self defence. Albeit it’s not a pleasure to experience, I’m not expecting it to be and it is essential for my well being.

    I like looking at it from this angle. Thank you for posting up something about this Damh 🙂 It made me think and I like thinking.

  15. Jasmine Ive May 6, 2016 at 7:26 am - Reply

    Please excuse my poor grammar and spelling in my last comment. I wrote it at about half seven in the morning, hehe

  16. Sheryl. May 6, 2016 at 9:21 am - Reply

    Well said , Green and Grey, and all the colors in between, Great post as always,

  17. Carrie Skinner May 8, 2016 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    I love this article, Damh, and it’s about time someone said these things. I have always taken my queue from nature/earth when it come to this dilemma where the dark and light have found a way to live in complete harmony. There must be death before there can be any life and vice versa. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this sticky subject.

  18. Garry Watts May 10, 2016 at 2:02 am - Reply

    I have to admit to using the term fluffy once and being told off by a wise witch, I then used the less offensive descriptive word ‘twee’ which was more acceptable. I realised we all start of twee, its a natural beginning and awakening to the path and all childrens education starts this way, as all projects start this way. When learning anything you start with the basics and in your enthusiasm it is likely in trying to get closer to the manifestation of it you’ll draw pictures, collect paraphenalia such as fairies and toadstools, figures of Merlin and dragons. Some find it a comfort and interest to carry on this trend, especially if they have young children, others feel that it is too simple a practice with its childlike connotations. Conflict arises when these people ridicule those that enjoy these things. Sadly its an ego and superiority thing and they’d do well to check themselves and subdue the compulsion to do so as it does not endear anyone to them. Jesus said, Ye must be as little children, as children accept and do not judge and have powers of imagination some of us would be envious of. From experience, I have found that this wide eyed wonder and acceptance has brought me rich experiences and wisdom that is lost once the academic ego comes into play. So the next time you see someone ‘fluffy’ just smile and think of this and your inner child.

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