This is last month's newsletter, sent out to my subscribers, about a desire to find lightness in life and witchcraft. If you also want to receive monthly letters and guided meditations directly in your inbox, you can sign up for that at the end of this blog.
A few years ago I found myself wishing for some kind of mental breakdown.
I started my walking the path of witchcraft in a coven, but when that fell apart after a few years I had a hard time finding the depth in solitary witchcraft that I had experienced when in community with other witches. Everything I tried to do myself to stay engaged with my craft felt superficial and left me feeling unfulfilled. So of course, I turned to books. I read all the witchcraft books I could get my little hands on.
The ones that turned out to be little more than 'here's some spells you can do' quickly ended up on a stack in a corner somewhere, while I desperately looked for peoples' meaningful accounts of their journey into en through the craft. I started supplementing the books with blogs and social media accounts, always hungry for more (if you've been with me for longer - say, since the Facebook days - you know that there are very few witchcraft books I actually like). I grasped at anything and everything that could tell me and show me how to find depth and meaning in this thing I loved so much, but seemed to have lost contact with.
I don't know if I saw the pattern or if I just one day found myself wishing I would shatter and crumble. I think the latter. Regardless, that is where I found myself after all my reading and researching. Quietly wishing in the back of my mind that I would find myself burned out or have some sort of mental breakdown, because that is where it seemed the answers were.
Of course I can't find it anymore now, but I stumbled on an article a few years ago that told me that I was not the only one. Apparently there were many people in spiritual and witchcraft communities wishing for breakdowns and traumas, believing that in that pain they would find meaning. That there is where they would find initiation and awakening. And is it just me, or is that truly fucked up?
I think we are doing something profoundly wrong when there are entire groups of people hoping their minds and lives will shatter so that they may find their way to... what? Enlightenment? Spiritual awakening? Magic? Insert any meaningful sounding spiritual word here?
And I am not discounting the stories here, of people finding light and truth and I don't know what in their darkest moments. I am not pointing at the stories of people finding their path in the thick of burnout forest and shouting liar. I do think, however, that we need to be wary of glorifying burnout.
I think we are doing something profoundly wrong when we turn burnout into the story of one long stretch of self betterment with no mention of all the collapses, of all the hours numbing ourselves with television, or sleep. The dispair. The feeling of being so lost, you'll never find your way back to aliveness. I found myself, in the midst of everything that was coming up for me during my burnout, also wondering if I was actually doing burnout wrong, because I wasn't experiencing some profound spiritual awakening. I started to believe that I was so bad I couldn't even do burnout right and if that isn't the most ridiculous sentence I have ever written, I don't know what is.
During my darkest hours I did not hear the voice of a god or goddess or source or mother. I did not rise from the ashes like a freaking phoenix, all wild and glorious, never to succumb to insecurities again. I was blessed enough to live with someone who would pick me up a little when I had hit an absolute bottom yet again, put me on the couch underneath a blanket, feed me some food, and turn on my favourite youtube channel so I could stop being a human for a moment and just breathe. There was no divine intervention. There was therapy. There was discovering that just therapy wasn't going to be enough, because there was probably a diagnosis needed. There was thinking that now I am doing better only to stumble and crumble again the next day.
I wished for a mental breakdown and now that I've had it and am still living in the tail end of it (maybe? might fall again tomorrow, who knows) I absolutely take it back. Some might find their most truest spiritual expression in those depths, but not all of us. I dare say most of us don't. I didn't. And I'm done trying to find it there. So, instead I want to do something revolutionary and seek some damn lightness. A little blessed levity.
This month started with Imbolc, which means that we are now in this season that is part winter, part spring. And though it probably still feels mostly like winter, we can see little bits of life returning to the grounds and the plants. I hear more birdsong in the garden and several of my plants have little green buds and shoots forming. The sun seems to shine a little brighter. A wonderful season for bringing in a little lightness, I reckon.
I am not sure how I am going to do this yet. The idea that I can be a practising witch without it being dark and heavy and profound all the time still feels new to me, undiscovered. All I know is that I want to stop being part of hiding the craft behind gates of trauma and pain. I want to throw the door open and let the warm air blow in. Discovering what that looks like is going to be the work, I suppose. So, to be continued...
We're in this together.
(Wait, is that actually the answer?!)
(Wait, is that actually the answer?!)