|Shawn Decker, Annie Finch
Casting the Circle
mixed media installation
(speakers and electronic elements
20 ft. diameter spiral
I'll follow the shadows down. And though up here
it's raining gently, it may not be, there.
Air and fire, water and earth,
Witches shall remember birth.
I'll go down in those slippery dark ways
holding my life aside, to keep these days
I sing into the air
The air sings into me
Birth in spirit, everywhere;
Witches shall believe in air.
from coming down to trouble those who move
still, past their burning
In the heart of the flames
leaps the blue of our names
Birth in power, still inspire,
Witches shall believe in fire.
Maybe, while I'm there,
the webs will tremble, till they keep me there
Turn me as fluid as water,
Filling me, moving me on
Rain to river, ocean, waver,
Witches shall believe in water
And so I will keep quiet while the webs
are built above my body, tie my head,
Earth and rock and depth of sand,
Power grows everywhere I stand
Birth in body, darker birth,
Witches shall believe in earth
and touch my words with their strong, sticky threads.
I will not be surprised; I don't know where
Power above, power below,
Witches shall find high and low
Power before, power after,
Witches shall believe in laughter
Birth in spirit, center, love,
Witches shall believe and move
the dark will take me, if not deeply there
Artist Shawn Decker and Poet Annie Finch
Though our backgrounds and aesthetic orientations, as well as our mediums, have differed, we
uncovered deep similarities in working together on this collaboration. Each of us uses our art to
engage the power of the natural world and the patterns and rhythms underlying natural forces.
In “Casting the Circle” these ideas take shape as a spiral incorporating the four elements—earth,
water, fire, and air—and also evoking the four compass directions that structure Native American
and Celtic/Wiccan cosmology.
East-air-intellect, south-fire-passion, and west-water-emotion are arrayed around the spiral with
the ongoing drone of north-earth-body in the center. Each direction adds its own character and
energy to human experience as we progress through the spiral.
The four brief chants, one for each element, are excerpted from Finch's poem “American Witch.”
Decker’s settings treat the chants as raw material, on the same plane as natural sounds.
Viewers moving through the piece are surrounded by sounds that simultaneously abstract and
embody each element in turn. Voice, words, and the elements themselves fuse together, moving
the viewer further through the spiral of the elements and seasons as part of the cosmic dance.
We hope this piece will “orient” its viewers-readers-listeners-participants more closely into the
patterns of natural forces that we all absorb, embody, and live among every day.