Every time I visit someplace and stay overnight and do the work, the local underworld pays me a call.
You have to have permission to be someplace when you practice the Art. It blows a hole in the underworld, and brings in fey folk from other areas. It often dangerous for the local underworld unless you have bound it properly, which almost no one does. It’s not really welcome unless you make the arrangements, which my organization sought to–but it is still an adjustment for everyone.
Ceremonial magic also stabilizes the extremely old ghosts–especially near the sea or a river, because it is the water powers that are able to stabilize extremely old ghosts–and the old ghosts are the ones who have evolved into a state of being able to do many things to build/rebuild the underworld. Hence the local ghosts are very eager to have honorable ceremonial magicians around. The energy qualities of old ghosts are so powerful and so different from the biological entity that works with them they eventually kill the magician, a fact that I have accepted and am arranging for. Dion Fortune entered the underworld early in part because of this, something I have been told repeatedly. We are working on ways to FIGURE THIS OUT.
So there’s that.
The South is an important epicenter of old American witchcraft. Old New England has been largely stilled–though many are working to change that. It’s not just the Salem witch trials and bringing the Burning Time to America. It is the entire western industrialist overreach, which the Civil War pretty much put the kibosh on in Virginia. Wounded pride, yes, but also a terrible recognition that the South was in a no-win, dead-end situation with slavery.
The great wizards of the African-American tradition did more to end slavery in the underworld than is commonly recognized. The shift to industrialism would have eventually made slavery economically unfeasible, but the human suffering in the meantime was not magically feasible. The African workers created a miasma of “confused in the mind” that made the Southern business world stupid and brought those cannons and those poor boys in blue to come and die in another land for them. The African wizards of the South were mighty, and they are mighty still.
I am not defending either slavery or racism. I am half-Mexican and half-white and have been subject to racism from both sides in this life. I have also been in the great flow of slave-master in the Deep Self. One life a Viking Warrior abducting people into slavery; the next cycle hurled into the life of a slave sacrificed to the fertility god of the bog. The gods made us learn things.
In order for practical magic to work, the underworld has to track on physical world. (One of the things I am being used for is Excel spread sheets. Fey folk sit at my elbow and watch me finagle that contraption into something worthwhile so that they can learn to “make” on the human work world again.)
Change in objects and procedures has to take place slowly enough for the underworld to learn the new procedures. It is not that the powers wanted to keep men in technological infancy. There was always an improvement in tool use. One of the things the fey folk love most about mankind is their making of beautiful and interesting OBJECTS. But not too much, thank you. We are crapping out the environment with our overuse of these delightful things.
The South is all about the past. Every tree stump has a history, and the locals will sit a spell and talk. That is how the old ones stay situated here. They know how to track on those old stories.
The European Americans were clumsy when they came here and didn’t create connections with the local culture or the local underworld, but Protestant Christianity was not old enough or developed enough to have a beautifully functioning underworld situation within their churches and they came to North America by and large without the Catholic structure that did. It takes hundreds of years to build a fully functioning underworld, and the old ways support the new structure for a long time.
This perhaps why the Protestants slaughtered and relocated the Amerindians, while the Catholics “converted” them, though the Latino underworld does not really resemble Italy. Not really. Too many limestone temple passageways in some energies.
The North American underworld had to be built in folk magic, slowly and clumsily. Witches black and white reached out to the existing Native American underworld who knew they were coming and knew that transmigration of souls would take place between the peoples. They stayed around, the Amerindian old ones. They have come in for me here in my extremity, they and workers of all stripes. I can see them in their ghostly canoes out in the bay. I hear them all telling me how it is with me with my work. They did the work here, the old demon magic. It was part of the tapestry and not a death penalty the way it is other places–as long as you serve the community, heal with it, and are a nice person. The demon work should be nice. There are workers here still in Virginia, and the Powers are with us, those old ghosts of the land.