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Posts Tagged ‘depression’

In the context of this post, Witch means “a person who practices the art of conscious change, aka magick.”  I decided to use the term Witch instead of Pagan, because not all Pagans are Witches, and not all Witches are Pagan.

When I first came home to Paganism and Witchcraft, I daydreamed about hundreds of thousands of others like me all over the world at various stages of their paths, all of them further along than I.  These fantasy Witches were one with the earth – natural healers who treated their bodies and our planet with love and respect, beacons of love in their communities who embodied the Divine with their every word and action.  They lived comfortably with abundance and generously shared their excesses, and they were, above all, happy.

Happy.

Wealth, fame, and success seemed so much more attainable than happiness to me in those days as I floundered in the misery that had been my life for as long as I could remember.

I was afraid of magick then.

I read about it, I heard my friends discuss their successes and epic failures, but I was afraid to try it for myself.  I thought magick was something so special and sacred that it should only be performed in times of desperation.  And so I only tried my hand at it when I was feeling desperate.

My first spell was for healing myself of major depressive disorder.  I gathered all the tools the books recommended – a cauldron, a chalice, a wand, an athame, candles of every color, essential oils, herbs, stones,a censer, incense in both stick and sprinkle-on-a-coal form, water, salt, an offering of cake and wine…I smudged, cast circle with all four elements, called quarters, called the Divine and my angels/totems/whatnot, did the hokey pokey and turned myself about…

At the time, I had no idea how to heal, or what a healed me would look or feel like, so my spell was actually more of a desperate plea to an unfamiliar force for a miracle I couldn’t even imagine.

All my early spells were driven by desperate pain.  Heal me, I begged.  Help me.  Protect me from others.  Protect me from myself.

I released desperate pain into the universe, and desperate pain returned to me.  Over. and. over.

Overwhelmed, drowning in my drama, I totally missed the connection.

The first spell I counted as a success was much less elaborate than my first Wiccan-flavored attempts.  I took a piece of copper wire, threaded it through two stone beads (one citrine, one adventurine,) and coated the charm with bergamot oil.  I held it between my palms, closed my eyes, and envisioned myself being hired on the spot at my next job interview.  Then I put the charm in my wallet.  I was hired on the spot, and I kept that charm in my wallet until one of my best friends was job hunting, and I gave it to him.  He found a job soon after.

I carry a citrine wand in my wallet now.  I call it my happy buzzy stone. 🙂

Anyhoo, after the job spell worked, I got handfasted and legally married and divorced and unfasted in less than a year.  I moved to another state and back again in that same year.  And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

It never once occurred to me that I was being punished for working magick.  The Divine, as I saw them, were above the whole domination/punishment crap.  I knew, even as it was happening, that I was calling all that drama and suffering to myself.  I knew I was damaged, broken, and in my heart I believed that I deserved to suffer, that life was suffering, that I was worthless and helpless and hopeless and all that jazz.

And because I believed those things, I made them real for me.

THAT is magick.

Your beliefs shape your reality.

And that is why so many Witches (and muggles 😉 struggle.

Because beliefs can be difficult to recognize and can seem damn near impossible to change.

If you believe it’s hard to find a job, you’re right.

If you believe money is the easiest thing to manifest, you’re right.

I believe both at the same time.  I find money on the ground on a regular basis.  I find odd jobs with relative ease.  But making a living doing what I love to do the most…I’m still working on believing that it’s possible, easy, and that I deserve it.  I am SO inspired by the stories of others who are living the life of their dreams, like Leonie Dawson, SARK, Louise Hay, and so many others. (I picked those three because their dreams are so similar to mine. 🙂

Many people who have read my Introduction on my author site have asked me, “What was that one tiny decision you made that turned your life around?”

I didn’t know how to answer them then.  But I think I have an answer now.

I decided to believe that I was turning my life around.

I had to laugh as I wrote that.  But it’s the truth.

I decided to practice what I preached, to act on my faith, to choose love rather than fear.

And now…

I’m happy.

I have my moments of stress, angst, and overwhelm, but they are only moments.  Every day I find new reasons to celebrate life.

Life is magick.

How do you discover beliefs that are holding you back, and how do you change them?

That is a whole other series of blog posts.

But for homework, consider watching or reading What The Bleep Do We Know Anyway?, The Secret, or You Can Heal Your Life.

And pick a belief you want to have, make it into an affirmation, and say it a hundred times before bed every night.

Maybe start with, “I deserve love.” ❤

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What makes humans the dominant species on this planet is our ability to take what we have and turn it in to what we need.

When we are kids, we pick up a stick and use it as a bat, a magic wand, a horse, a phone, a flag, whatever we need in the moment.

This stick is about to become a boat. 🙂

At school, we are taught the “proper” way to use sticks.  We learn that we have to do things the way others have done them, think the way others think, understand the world the way others understand it.  Our thoughts, words, and actions are labelled “right” or “wrong.”  We are rewarded for conforming and punished for choosing differently.

This makes most of us miserable. We self-medicate with tv, movies, video games, sugar, comfort-junk.  Our poor creative muscles wither.  We forget how to adapt, how to find resources, how to tap in to that creative power that makes us God-like.

Most of us don’t even know that we’ve accepted powerlessness as normal, as “real life.”

“Welcome to the Real World,” we say.  “Life is hard.  Life is suffering.”

Bullshit, I say.

Life is love.

Life is learning.

Life is an adventure!

The Real World is the world we create for ourselves with our beliefs.  We can believe what we are taught by others, or we can teach ourselves something different.  It’s our choice.

Even when we feel powerless, we have choices.

We have so many choices, they overwhelm us, numb us, and we end up falling on old habits or doing what we think everyone else does, what we’re supposed to do.

Sometimes power is scary.

If every action we perform, every thought we think, every penny we spend, every word we speak changes us and the world around us…that’s just too much responsibility to comprehend on a day to day basis.

But that’s reality.

Reality is constantly changing based on the energy we give it.

If we are in a bad mood, throwing out angry words, violent gestures, mean thoughts, and spending our money on comfort-junk, life sucks for the day.

If we are in a good mood, practicing random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty, being grateful, affectionate, loving, consciously spending money in ways that nourish ourselves and our communities, life is awesome.

Each of us has the power to create paradise wherever we are, one moment at a time.

Each of us has the power to step out of the bully/victim paradigm and choose a new paradigm in this moment.  You can choose a paradigm of unconditional love, or of deep gratitude.  You can choose to live in a world of compassion, affection, and loving acceptance.

"Whoopty doo. But what does it all MEAN, Basil?"

How does someone stuck in a powerLESS-loop take his or her power back?

If you are used to feeling like you have no control, how do you take control of your life?

One step at a time.

Step one for you could be deciding to do one kind thing for a stranger.  You could choose to have an organic apple instead of a candy bar.  Your might choose to laugh.  You could take a day for yourself instead of giving it to others.

You could keep making excuses…or you could make plans, come up with ideas, set goals.

Every step you take towards paradise is one step out of your personal hell.

Every loving choice you make heals you.

You choose.

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Since I took the name Spirit Healer, and even before, when I started using my intuitive and healing gifts, I have received hundreds if not thousands of requests from people all over the world, begging me to heal them.

Please heal me...

While I am always happy and honored to send healing energy & love, and to offer help in whatever way I can, I have a confession…

I can’t heal you.

That’s right: Spirit Healer cannot heal you.

So why did I choose the name Spirit Healer?

Because I can heal my own spirit.  And I can help you figure out how to heal your own spirit.

I can help you, but I can’t do the work for you.

And guess what?

YOU CAN HEAL YOU.

Yes, you can.

Only you can.

ONLY YOU CAN HEAL YOU.

You are your own savior.

Just like the only person you can change is yourself, the only person that can heal you is you.

Doctors, psychologists, therapists, self-help gurus, spiritual counselors, psychics, energy healers…we can all help you.  We can all teach you, provide you with tools, inspiration, and direction.  That’s what we are here for.  That’s our job.

You can accept our help, or decline it.  You can follow a well-tread path to healing, or forge your own.

What does your path look like?

I’ve just created a new path by combining three other paths I’ve read about.

I call it The No Excuses/Yes I Can/Screw It Path.  It works like this:

Every time you catch an inner voice making excuses about why you can’t eat healthier food/get more sleep/ break a sweat for thirty minutes/ try a new healing technique for more than thirty seconds/learn  something you always wanted to/etc., you firmly tell that voice “NO EXCUSES!” And you DO IT ANYWAY.

Every time a voice in your head says, “I can’t,” you shout, “YES I CAN,” and you DO.

Every time you find yourself slipping back into old bad habits, negative thinking, or any other behavior that gets in the way of the positive changes you are trying to make for yourself, just say, “SCREW IT!” and go on your merry way making your changes.

On this path, you take all that energy that you used to put into procrastinating, venting, making excuses, distracting yourself from your goals, and treating yourself badly, and you turn it all around.

Turn anger into passion which fuels you on your path to health and joy.

This is a path to healing based on willpower, motivation, and dedication.  If you find yourself angry often, this could be a great path for you, because you can use your anger to fuel those three qualities in yourself.  Instead of being angry at another person, or the world, or yourself, you can see that anger as a sense of injustice and let it fuel your fight for better self-treatment and total self-love.

Would this path work for you?

Maybe.  Maybe not.

But I guarantee there is a path that will work for you: YOUR path.

And if you’ve already figured it out in whole or in part, I’d love to hear about it!

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When I wrote the post about my personal plan of attack on healing anger, I had a very short fuse. If I didn’t get at least six hours of unbroken sleep, and if I missed a meal, I would catch myself getting angry over the stupidest things, yelling at my toddler for being too noisy or too active, silently berating people for not doing things the way I thought they should be done. Several times a day I would catch myself complaining,  having temper tantrums with stomping and cursing and being violent with my belongings, fantasizing about yelling at people or even hurting them, and I would notice that my fists were clenched and my shoulders and neck were way tense.

I was afraid of my anger, afraid that it would burst from me in a fireball of destruction and I would say or do something that I couldn’t take back. At the same time, I had less and less control over the volume of my voice, and I had a harder and harder time preventing myself from speaking in a way both mean and rude to children and adults alike.

RAWR. And stuff.

My plan of attack, to summarize quickly, looked like this:

  1. Recognize and acknowledge my anger.
  2. Find the real reason for the anger by journaling or talking about it.
  3. Come up with a short-term method of heading off the anger in the moment. (Like walking away, taking 4-10 deep breaths, angry dance, tickling my toddler, speaking in tongues, etc.)
  4. Take care of my mind, heart, body, and spirit so that I am balanced, calm, and peaceful by default.
  5. Forgive myself and the person or people who inspired my anger (Which is more difficult than it sounds…more on that in a later post.)

My goal was to feel peaceful and calm most of the time, and to have a back up plan to protect the people around me when I was off balance due to illness, pain, or lack of sleep.

It works!

I still get angry sometimes, but not every day, and not even once a week anymore. I still have some people to forgive long term grievances, but I know that in time I will be successful in forgiving them too.

I have learned that there are only three healthy, positive ways to release angry energy (that I can think of.)

  1. Laugh, especially if you can get others laughing too.
  2. Cry, by yourself if you must or with others if they need to (but don’t MAKE anyone cry.)
  3. Exercise – singing loud angry songs, dancing, jumping, running, chopping down invasive plants with machetes, push ups, lunges, beating the crap out of a punching bag or pillow…bonus points if you burn off the energy in a silly way that leads to laughter.

Angry behavior, however, is hurtful. Verbal, emotional, and physical violence against objects or people can feel cathartic, but they actually make things worse for ourselves as well as the people around us. One of the biggest problems of modern society is that most people don’t know how to deal with anger, how to use it constructively, and how to let it go without being destructive.

In that previous post about healing anger, I said that anger and fear are opposite ends of a deservability spectrum. Anger results from feeling like you deserve better (“That jerk should have listened to me…”), while fear results from feeling undeserving (“I’m not overreacting…am I?”). Most people feel both emotions at the same time because they have the same root – insecurity, lack of faith, lack of trust in ones’ self and the inherent goodness of the Universe.

Also, fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to the dark side. 😉

In the last few months, as I’ve worked on healing my anger, I have learned that anger can be helpful when it raises awareness of a problem and when it helps a person focus their energy on creating change.  It can serve as an alert, to let you know you have a problem that you need to fix.  Here are a few ways you can you use anger to improve your life and the world:

  • Be aware of how you feel and why you feel that way, and acknowledge the feeling and the right to feel it in yourself and in others. (“I see that you are angry. I’m here if you need to vent or if you want to brainstorm for solutions.”)
  • Inspire, don’t bully. Behave in a way you want others to emulate, without physical, verbal or emotional violence – even if someone behaves in a bullying way towards you.
  • Calm yourself down before you act or decide. Never act or make a decision while angry if it can wait even a moment. (It helps to have quick tricks for self-soothing, like sucking your thumb, taking a few deep breaths, making a joke, doing a jig…)
  • Recognize the tension and irritation building up before it boils over, and diffuse it with humor, tears, or exercise.
  • Use the energy raised by the anger to do something helpful to yourself or others. Let it inspire you to start an organization, raise awareness (with humor and concern, not accusation or bullying,) make art, clean your house or office, burn some calories, or some other constructive behavior.

I would love to hear other people’s stories of anger and forgiveness, other methods of healing anger or using anger to make your life and the world a better place.  Please tell me all about it in the comments! ❤

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When I was nine years old, my mother led my six year old sister and I into our four-year old brother’s bedroom and told us that she was dying.

I didn’t believe her.

My mother holding my brother, and her sister, holding my cousin, the one I discuss towards the end of this post.

Three years later, when Dad had to argue with the doctors to allow me to see her in the hospital, I still didn’t believe her. Though her skin was yellow-green, her stomach distended, her mouth crooked, her teeth black with blood from the nosebleed that started weeks previously, I just could not accept her impending death.

Even when all her brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, her mother, Dad’s mother, and all his brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews made their mass exodus from Virginia and South Carolina respectively to be with us in my mother’s last few days, I didn’t’ believe my mother was dying.

Even after her funeral, I still had dreams that she was still alive, and it was all a big misunderstanding.

Mom, sleeping.

This afternoon, my mother’s sister sent me an email to let me know that her son, my twenty-five year old cousin, has been given 1-4 years to live because two surgeries have failed to remove enough of the brain cancer that he’s been fighting for the last few years.

And I just don’t believe it.

This is denial, one of the five stages of grief, and I know that, but I still feel it.

I’m grieving for the suffering my gentle, funny, loving cousin is experiencing, which will only get worse until the end. I’m grieving for his mother, sister, brother, father, grandmother, cousins, aunts, uncles and the whole extended family, so close-knit and proud of their boy.

My cousin, trying to tickle my sister as his brother gives their mother bunny ears and their sister gets impatient and I just laugh.

I cling tightly to the hope that the doctors are wrong, that my cousin will survive, and overcome.

This is a healing in process.

Denial isn’t so much healed as it is realized and overcome.

There are many less dramatic and obvious things throughout our lives that we deny to ourselves.

We deny ourselves life’s little pleasures.

We deny ourselves what we really want in favor of what we feel we actually deserve.

We deny ourselves what we want and need most to be happy, healthy, and blissful.

When we are depressed, and when we grieve, we deny ourselves peace and joy.

Recognizing our own blockages, our own denial, is the first step in healing depression as well as grief.

What are you denying yourself?

What can you give yourself today, right now?

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A year ago, I was desperately seeking shelter for my one year old son and myself, paring down our belongings, selling everything I could, shattering the last of my pride as I asked and begged everyone and anyone for help so that my son and I wouldn’t have to sleep in the street after my former fiance literally dumped us.

I was terrified of losing my precious child, who was (and is) everything to me. I was heartbroken over losing the future I’d imagined and assumed we would have, the family we had planned to expand, the home we had planned to create, and I grieved for that loss.

I could see my soul as the vessel that housed my spirit, my vital force, energy, essence. My poor soul looked more like a sieve than a vessel. Every trauma I suffered punctured a hole through its protective casing, from the bruising of my head with forceps during my birth, to the first loss of my mother, then my father, then my grandmother, and everything I knew over and over again before I even turned six; from the abuse I suffered at the hands of my dying mother from then until she died when I was twelve; from my first rape at seventeen, the next three at nineteen, and all the self-destructive behavior I engaged in for the next ten years, ending with my last abusive relationship (the last abuse I will EVER suffer!)

I died last year, in the sense that everything that I used to be ceased to exist, and can never be recovered. The girl that I was, the constant victim, survivor, the girl who hated herself and always put her own needs behind even those who were cruel to her, the girl who desperately sought a mother figure to fill the void in her heart, the girl with a soul like a sieve, incapable of holding onto good feelings for longer than a moment…homelessness was the blow that shattered her soul beyond repair, and she died with a relieved whimper, leaving her automaton body behind to care for her son and clean up the pieces of her broken life.

At her death, I was conceived. In the months I spent couch-hopping, looking for employment and a home, my new soul incarnated into my body bit by bit. I had to cast off the detritus of my previous life from my mind, heart, spirit, and body to make room for the new. Like a phoenix reborn in the ashes, my new soul clawed its way up. There were a ton of ashes to claw my way through before I could see the sky.

But now?

Now, I’m soaring.

My son is still the most precious light of my life, bringing me joy and filling me with love every moment of every day.

Not a day goes by without hearing my voice lifted in song.

I have a home with a family who love and support me, and whom I love and support. They gave me the space I needed to heal, to wrap up the lingering responsibilities of my old life, and to envision and create for myself a life overflowing with love, joy, and peace (and occasional punctuations of stress, but nothing I can’t handle.)

Now I can look into my own eyes in the mirror and say, “Ash, I love you. I really love you. You are beautiful, brilliant, and SO loved!”

This is the story of the me I am now; the story of how I learned to plug the holes, to fill the void, and heal myself of the depression that plagued the first twenty-nine years of my life.

This is a long, long story. So I will tell it in seven parts.

Today, I am telling you the story of loss, and offering you a space to mourn your own losses. Because every loss hurts. Because you have a right to that hurt. Because if your repress that hurt, it will bore a hole through your soul, and eat away at you until your soul is as sieve-like as mine used to be.

Soul-ulcers suck. Take it from me.

The first step in healing for me was to acknowledge my loss, and that I had a right to hurt. The next step was to remind myself constantly the following truths.

One, that nothing is every truly lost. We all come from a Well of Infinite Love, which we may call God or any other name, and to that sacred Well we all return. Nothing is truly lost, but everything changes.

Two, that the void left behind by the perceived loss is a space that can be filled with love and joy, if we can just let go and trust God, The Universe, and Everything.  Especially when we lose a loved one, we have to remind ourselves that we still deserve happiness, and that our loved ones want us to be happy, to celebrate our lives, and look forward to reuniting with them when our time comes.

Three, that the pain of loss makes the pleasures of life more exquisite.  It makes us see the blessings in our life in a whole new way, and eventually, we can learn from each loss, if we give ourselves permission to heal.  It helps us appreciate the true value of the people and moments of our lives.

Your beliefs may differ from mine, but if you take time to think about what you truly believe, you may find your personal truth just as comforting.

It is also important to remember that just because someone somewhere is being tortured, raped, or murdered at this very moment doesn’t mean that you don’t have a right to feel bad about failing a test you studied hard for, or for losing your favorite something or other.  Your emotions are how your body and spirit communicate with your consciousness.  Telling yourself that you have no right to feel a certain way about a certain thing is like telling yourself you have no right to see the sky, or to hear the breeze rustling the branches of a nearby tree.

How have you dealt with loss?  What have you learned?  What do you want to tell others about it?

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