I’ve been working a ton since graduating on the anthology- and I’m so excited that it’s done. It’s just the waiting game now as it’s printed. I’m so grateful to my contributors, my co-author Deb and my personal editor, John (who happens to be my husband.) I’ve learned a lot about this whole process, and maybe one day I’ll share my thoughts about it with you all. Let me just say, I’ve never read a book so many times and with such intensity in my life before, nor have I exported files, and uploaded them only to discover I needed yet another change. Deep breaths, I’m done, and accept that I might have STILL missed a mistake. Such is the life, I suppose.
During this time, I was still working on keeping myself healthy, and I ended up going through some unexpected changes. Life doesn’t stop just because we’re busy, right? I definitely wished it had a few times. I laugh now, but there were definite moments of tears, fear, anxiety, anger, frustration and sadness. I think I’m lucky though- I’ve been working on myself for a long time now, and while I can get knocked down, my resiliency is strong. It always has been. As I’ve grown older, my spirituality has become a huge factor in this. I still fight it at times, dealing with feelings of guilt (I don't have time to self-care, I am not worth self-care, I have other priorities, etc) but it's gotten better as I have gotten better, and have dug deeper into my spiritual practice.
My final piece in Living in Magick: Stories of everyday Magick, Paganism and Witchcraft, I talk about Spiritual First Aid. Here’s an excerpt:
I chose to become both a spiritual companion, and pagan clergy because I want to help people be in touch with their spirituality. One thing I’d love to help others realize is- that reaching out to the Source, whatever that is to you, is a way to gain more spoons, and to heal. When you live in magick, that doesn’t mean you are casting spells every moment of every day, it simply means you have opted to not live in the mundane. Instead, you see the world for what it is: beautiful and mysterious; full of wonder, power, and magick. A sunset isn’t just a sunset, it’s a dance of colors and energy that both heals and calms you. Making love with your partner isn’t just sex, it’s the rising of combined energy that can deepen your relationship and make you feel more connected to one another. Cooking your family dinner isn’t just feeding them, but using herbs and alchemy to bring them nutrients, healing, connection, and love.
Our spirituality is not only a sword, but it’s also a shield. It’s easy to list gratitude when things are going well, but what about when life is tough? It’s easy to thank the gods for blessings, but what about when things aren’t going well? While I will never believe that the Gods test us- that whole thing about “giving you only what you can handle” is toxic as can be- I do think there is strength in letting go. You can’t fight a tide. When it is tower time, change is inevitable. You can use all the energy you want to fight it, or you can conserve your energy, go with the flow, and see where it leads. Oh sure, it might be hard, you might not like the change, but change happens. We are adaptable humans. It’s one of our greatest assets and skills!
When we turn to the Divine in trying times, this is letting go of the fight. It’s tapping into the energies of the Other, gaining strength, wisdom, patience, calm, and healing. But how do we do that? Trust is good, but difficult. It might even take too many spoons to trust when you are at your lowest point. But ask yourself- is trusting more energy spent than say…resisting, fighting, feeling miserable and unhappy, and frustrated?
When things are going wrong, what do you do? When it feels like your world is falling in on you, or that the world around you has no hope, or that nothing else could go wrong because everything is already wrong…are you the type to forget to turn to your Gods? Do you turn away from the bigger picture?
What’s the bigger picture, you ask? You, the person reading this blog, are a magickal, spiritual being that believes in something bigger than yourself. You hold within the power of the Divine- whatever that is to you- and from you, possibility. Things go wrong. There are times in all our lives where you struggle, where bad things keep happening, nothing goes right. How we meet this challenge is the true test- not whether we “succeed”, “pass” or even “get by”. We are human beings, and with that comes a myriad of emotion and mentality. We are going to fuck up. We are going to get things wrong. We are going to over-react, under-react, let the smallest thing set up the biggest dramas of our life.
And it’s ok, as long as we don’t hurt anyone, hurt ourselves or lose the goodness we have within. I saw a meme the other day that said that not everyone on this planet has been put here to remind us of our greatest good, but to remind us what the worst looks like. This isn’t you. I don’t think a good person is sitting around reading spiritual blogs, meditating and trying to better themselves. While sometimes we can forget to spread our good to the greater community (a reminder to myself- write that post on spiritual growth, community and how to change the world!) Working on yourself is a good thing. People that work on themselves tend to be better people, caring, open-minded, resilient, kind, and want a better world. (I know, not everyone, just…in general.)
Honestly, the point is that it’s ok when things are going wrong and you feel like you are at a low point. You aren’t your low point, it’s just something you are going through. We all do. And there are things we can do to help get through that, and there are things we can do when we know we cycle through high and low points. I recommend putting together a spiritual first aid kit- the stuff you know helps get you through this period. Your favorite herbs, crystals, books, prayers (yes, right those down!), art supplies, journals and pens, music playlists, foods and your favorite TV/movies. Have a set plan- a list of the things that help you most. Mine includes going on hikes, getting outside, having a fire, sitting in my backyard gardening (ok, so my list is not so great for winters…I should work on that.)
Why have a list, even perhaps a physical box or place to hold these things? If you are like me, you forget what makes you feel better when you are down. I struggle to show myself even the most basic of self-care, self-compassion and self-love when I’m depressed, almost as if I am punishing myself for daring to feel something other than “positive” thoughts. It is in the remembering of the Sacred, the Divine, The Gods and Goddesses, my Ancestors and Spirits that I remember that I am worthy of Their love, and thus worthy of self-love too. Having that list to pull out when I’m feeling as though I’m falling apart at the seams is convenient and helps me pull myself together.
Low points always seem like a void. And voids can be hard to get out of. If you are going through a bad point and don’t have a spiritual first aid kit set, that’s OK. You can benefit simply by showing yourself some self-compassion and self-care. Take time to love yourself. Whether it’s a warm bath, some ice cream and a day off, or going to bed early, and sleeping in, or even simply taking an afternoon to read your favorite book, write in your journal, watch your favorite show- letting go of the guilt we sometimes feel when we “take time” for ourselves is important. You are worth it. You deserve it. You will get through this- and if you need help, ask for it. Whether it’s a friend, therapist, priest, or spiritual companion, there’s someone out there willing to lend a hand. You aren’t alone- particularly when you believe in the Gods/Divine.