A Spell for Growth & Healing

As you grow, so shall I.

The care of indoor plants is a common practice, and it is easily turned into a magical one with purpose and intent. I created this spell to connect three things: care for my plants, care for myself, and affirmations. For me, this spell is focused on developing and strengthening my self-care and self-compassion. By altering the affirmations used in this spell, one can adapt this to suit a variety of healing needs.

You will need:

  • a small indoor plant (a cutting, seedling, or seeds), potted
  • a container for water (i.e. a small glass jar)
  • space on a windowsill or other area that receives moonlight
  • optional: crystal(s) relating to the moon or healing

I begin with asking the plant to join me in a healing work. Allow time to sense the energy of the plant and how they respond to the invitation. Ensure you are working with a plant that is interested in the work.

Then set up the water jar. Atop mine, I drew a sigil relating to my goals. Mine is simple, saying: We will grow. Create a sigil that empowers your healing work. I used sharpie to draw the sigil atop my jar. Other art mediums would work as well.

Find space at the windowsill for the jar and the plant and any crystals you are using. To further increase the strength of the moon’s energy, you can set the water jar atop a small mirror.

Begin the work in the evening by setting up the water to charge in the moonlight. You can use chants, song, a statement of intent… to do this. Allow the water to charge overnight.

In the morning, when you wake, take care of the plant. If it does not need to be watered yet, you might just use one drop of charged moon-water as you speak the spell. Make sure you know how to take care of the plant you have chosen, and adjust your actions accordingly.

When reciting the affirmations, anoint the plant and then yourself with each phrase.

I take care of you. I take care of me.
I am gentle with you. I am gentle with me.
I take steps to help you grow. I take steps to help me grow.
Thank you for joining me in this healing work.

Continue this spell for an amount of time that is reasonable for you. If can be done indefinitely, it can also be set full moon to full moon, or for the span of time it takes to work towards a given goal. Be sure you’ve considered how long this spell will take before you begin.

Symbolism of the Moth

Moths are soft, gentle creatures native to almost every part of the world. There is thought to be more than 160,000 species of moth. It is inevitable, then, that moths will cross our paths from time to time. When chanced by these small friends, we are given a moment to reflect upon the moth and what it might mean in our own lives. There are several different meanings attributed to the sighting of moths in daily life, passing thoughts, and dreams. Moths are known for their connection to the moon, their role as messengers, and symbols of hope.

A symbol of Hope:

It was at a difficult point in my life when the moth began to appear in my art. Drawn at first to its beautiful shape and soft features, a phrase began to run through my mind as I drew these images: always seek the light.

Moths are in the same scientific order (lepidoptera) as butterflies, and while some moths are indeed most active in the day or at the transitional times of dawn and dusk, the majority of moths are known for their nocturnal nature. With a vast range of colors, these soft and subtle creatures navigate easily and safely through the darkest hours. It is thought that their affinity to congregate around artificial light sources may even be a sign of celestial orientation – navigating by the stars and plants. If that is the case, even the faint and distant light of stars is enough to steer them through the night safely. We too may do well to seek the small lights in our own lives and pay them strong attention. Distant or faint as our hopes and positives may be, they might be just enough to guide us safely through our own dark times.

Moths speak to a metaphor of perseverance and determination: keep moving through the darkness; seek that light at the end of the tunnel; eventually even the darkest night breaks into dawn.

Moths as Messengers:

There are many myths of butterflies and souls. Often, the Monarch butterfly is depicted as a messenger between the living and the dead, and it is said to be they who carry the dead back through the veil to the world of the living on The Day of the Dead. Moths have similar stories as messengers — sometimes crossing the lines between the living and the dead, carrying messages or souls to the other side, other times sending the whispered words of loved ones across great distances when they must be apart. If a moth lights upon your windowsill or doorstep in the evening, perhaps lend a listening ear and a thoughtful mind towards your loved ones far away.

Moths and the Moon

While not all moths are nocturnal, a significant majority of them are. It is thus understandable that the moth is deeply tied to the moon, and by extension dreams and intuition.

But, being nocturnal is not their only correlation to the realm of dreams and intuition. Moths have a few incredibly sharp senses. Several species of moths have a great sense of smell, able to use their antennae to scent a mate several miles away! Additionally, a several nocturnal species of moth have adapted ear-like organs to sense the echolocation used by bats. This allows them to make evasive flight maneuvers to avoid being eaten. Their delicate senses may serve as a reminder to listen closely and pay attention to messages and signs that may be subtle, whispered, or unspoken altogether; pay attention and allow your intuition to be your guide.

Sources:

“Moths.” Smithsonian Institution, http://www.si.edu/spotlight/buginfo/moths.

“About Moths.” Home – Moths Count, 22 July 2009, http://www.mothscount.org/text/2/about_moths.html.

Affirmations: Willing goals into Reality

Affirmations are statements of intent, of wish, of will. They are positive statements setting a not-yet-actual goal or a not-quite-believed idea into the present tense and stating this desire as Fact. With repetition, affirmations allow the conscious mind to connect to the subconscious, altering deeply held beliefs in a purposeful manner. These repeated affirmations also create a structured manner for our energies to interact with the energies of the Universe. With these concise, realistic statements, we call into being a new reality for ourselves.

How does one create an affirmation?

Affirmations should be a statement you can feasibly believe. Even if you don’t believe it fully yet, you want to be able to see yourself someday believing it truly. For example, I would not be able to believe the statement “I am rich,” but I could come to believe the statement “I am financially stable.” Additionally, affirmations should reflect things you have control over. Saying “My boss gives me a raise” may not be something you have any control over. A more powerful affirmation may be “I pay my bills with money to spare.”

Many affirmations also speak to the internal-self, bringing into being a positive change in self-regard or emotional state. The same goes for these statements. If saying “I am a being of light and love” doesn’t resonate with you, seek a statement that does. It helps to examine your own needs. What does your soul long for right now? And what is a small step in that direction? If you are experiencing more stress or anxiety lately, you might say “I find moments of peace in every day” or “I release stress with every purposeful breath.” If you are struggling with anger you might say, “I think before I speak” or “I take five breaths before I respond.” Someone struggling with depression might say “I find moments of beauty in each day” or “I am energized on my walk to work.”

Consider also, when do you plan to use your affirmation? Is this going to be a daily statement you work into your morning routine? Will this be a statement you use in response to specific negative thoughts or challenging situations? “I stand steady and speak calmly,” “My voice is firm and my needs are heard,” “I love and accept myself fully.”

Whatever you seek to use affirmations for, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • begin with an “I” statement
  • use the present tense
  • create a positive statement (avoid “no”, “never”, “stop” and instead phrase it in a positive manner to better connect to the subconscious mind)
  • ensure your statement is attainable and realistic
  • make sure it is something you have some control over
  • connect to your emotions!
  • visualize it!

How does one use an affirmation?

When you use an affirmation, remember to connect to your emotions, and use the same affirmation(s) repeatedly!

Everything else is really up to you. Here are some ways others have used affirmations. Experiment with any of these you’d like to or make a new method all your own!

  • Work affirmations into your daily routine. Say them when you wake up, brush your hair, shower, brush your teeth, go to bed…. fit it into part of your routine that remains the same each day.
  • Write them somewhere you look often. Use dry erase markers on your mirror. Post them by your TV, refridgerator, front door, above your desk, at your altar…..
  • Put an alarm on your phone and repeat them 3 times each time it goes off.
  • Write them over and over. Put them at the start of each journal entry. Write the inside each origami design you fold.
  • Illustrate them and display the image prominently in your home or workspace.

The most important things to remember when using affirmations is that they should fit your needs and speak to your heart and soul. Use them frequently, the more you repeat them, the more likely they are to begin to manifest in your life. Take actions to support these goals of yours. Let your affirmations help align your mind, soul, and actions. Let affirmations help attract your desires into your life.

Friendship Bracelets

Woven bracelets made with embroidery floss and the strategic patterning of knots, friendship bracelets are a relatively simple and cheat art form. A small pack of thread can be easily found in children’s art aisles at craft stores or supermarkets. The bracelets are small, can be colorful or neutral, and as elaborate or simple as the maker desires. Known for their longevity, they can be knotted tightly and worn for months if not years. They can be slept in, showered with, and easily cut off when no longer wanted. In this way, the friendship bracelet is a wonderful craft to use in magical promises, oaths, or vows.

A witch can choose their colors symbolically, even adding small beads or clasps if desired, and then search through the many online or book tutorials and select a desired pattern. Making the bracelet takes time, a useful sacrifice of sorts, and the repetitive aspect of the knotwork soon becomes routine, allowing the witch to slip into a more meditative mindset as they focus on their vow and their goals, weaving that energy into the bracelet with every knot. The bracelet can then be worn until the goal is complete, or as long as the promise is upheld.

When it comes to healing magics and magical workings focused on recovery, friendship bracelets can serve as potent reminders. They are physical symbols of a vow and tactile items to touch and move when distraction or re-focusing is needed. They also mark the passage of time as they age, honoring the length of time that the promise has been kept. And, should the promise be broken, they can be cut off and replaced, repeating the ritual vow and re-committing ones self to recovery and healing.

Below is a ritual I have created for recovery from self harm. This format may be of use for other witches hoping to ritualistically commit to a goal or promise and create a lasting physical representation of that vow.

Blackberries

Here in the Pacific Northwest, blackberries are a tasty yet invasive summer treat. They seem to arise wherever the land has been momentarily ignored. Forest edges, empty lots, ditches and roadsides all bear host to these buzzing brambles, home to insects and small critters taking advantage of their prickly shelter. Come early spring, these woody shrubs are bedecked with small white flowers that soon transform into the green drupes promising an abundant harvest as summer draws to an end.

The local land owners also know, however, that the blackberry bush is a ferocious foe to any perfectionistic landscaper. Blackberries are perennials; their roots can live from 15-20 years when well tended, although each cane lives for only two — it grows one year, fruits the next, then dies to be replaced by another younger cane. Cutting back blackberry bushes seems to do nothing but temporarily impede their vigorous attempt to take over the land. Seeking to actually eradicate the plant from your yard may feel like an impossible task.

For the witch, then, the blackberry is a plant that speaks to resilience and a stubborn vitality. They are protective and aggressive, yet yield a sweet fruit to those who approach with careful hands. There are few more vigorously alive plants. Hardy and adaptable, they arise from their own mowed-down stumps time and time again, undeterred. If one needs protection, stubborn strength, or a determined will to survive, the blackberry is the plant to learn from.

When looking at a witchy practice, here are some ways the blackberry may come in handy:

  • a wreath of blackberry canes, hung for protection on the front door
  • growing a blackberry hedge at the edge of ones property (though I advise first researching ways to prevent the blackberries from encroaching further and further into your yard)
  • serving blackberry dishes or drinks to celebrate or seek a sweet reward after hardship
  • chewing on blackberry leaves or the peeled cane for strength or protection.
  • collecting and using thorns (technically prickles) in witches bottles for protection
  • using thorns in work with poppets
  • carrying a blackberry thorn in your pocket for protection or strength
  • meditating upon the blackberry and the wisdom it can offer you as you face your own challenges
  • drinking blackberry tea for strength and adaptability in hardship
  • going blackberry picking and being mindful of how many animals seek shelter amongst thorns. Are there thorny things in your life that protect you? Are there ‘negative’ or ‘painful’ things in your life that you could re-examine and find something helpful in?

The blackberry also has a history of use in folk medicine. As always, please be cautious about allergies and realize that just because something was used in the past does not mean it was helpful or remains the most effective treatment for an illness. I mainly include these because they may give further insight on the meaning and potential magical uses of blackberry, NOT as any sort of medical advice. For most of these issues, I would go to a doctor instead.

  • blackberry mouthwash was used to treat sore throats, mouth ulcers, and gum inflammation
  • blackberry fruits, juice, leaves, and roots were used to treat anemia
  • blackberry leaves are considered somewhat antimicrobial and were used as poultices or compresses to treat bruises and wounds (the tannins in blackberry plants can help to tighten tissue and reduce minor bleeding, thus the use on wounds.)
  • blackberry leaves and roots were used to regulate menses, and help resolve diarrhea and dysentery.
  • blackberry also contains antioxidants and can help strengthen immune system, so it is one of many foods that are considered to have anti-cancer properties.

Sources:

Verma, Rameshwar, et al. “Rubus Fruticosus (Blackberry) Use as an Herbal Medicine.” Pharmacognosy Reviews, vol. 8, no. 16, July 2014, p. 101., doi:10.4103/0973-7847.134239.

“Wild Blackberry.” Wild Blackberry | The Morton Arboretum, http://www.mortonarb.org/trees-plants/tree-plant-descriptions/wild-blackberry.

Forgiveness and the Body: a ritual of self-acceptance

For those of us who have spent years abusing and alienating our bodies, it can be difficult to move forward. Habits are hard to break, and negative feelings about our bodies and their histories are challenging to change. Altering years of behavior and deeply ingrained dislike, hatred, or fears of the body cannot be fixed in a day. There is no “quick fix” spell that will heal that sort of damage and pain. What we need, are healing routines.

One of the ways I seek to heal, is through purposeful, planned, and mindful baths or showers. I don’t do this daily, but I find that when I do set aside time for this, it is healing — comforting the mind, calming the body, and soothing the heart.

I consider it both an act of forgiveness, and a way that I seek forgiveness from the body I have abused. I am my body, and it is me. It is just as natural as any other body of any other creature on this earth, and it is just as sacred as all living things. So often I find myself alienated from my body, critiquing and harming and avoiding it. This is a time meant to face the body, accept it exactly as it is in this very moment without judgement, and care for it. Here is my routine:

1). I begin with planning.

Think about the time you wish to do this. It doesn’t have to be far off, but make sure you won’t be rushed. Gather a few items that you find “pampering” or soothing. You can use things with specific herbal correspondences, or a mis-matching of things you simply enjoy. Sometimes I buy something new, sometimes I pull it out of the cupboard. It doesn’t matter. The goal is to be caring towards your body.

I don’t use all of these things at once, but I generally pick and choose 3-5. And there are, of course, things outside of this list you may enjoy, so take inspiration and acquire items that soothe and comfort you.

  • bubble bath
  • hair oil
  • a hair mask
  • a special conditioner
  • a favorite body wash
  • salt scrub
  • a soothing lotion
  • a favored nail polish
  • a bath bomb
  • bath salt
  • particularly pretty or comfortable PJs or lingerie or bathrobe for afterwards
  • a face scrub or cleanser

Then I consider the mood I would like. Sometimes I bathe in the dark, sometimes I have access to natural lighting, sometimes I use candles. At times I listen to soothing music or a favorite chant or silence. At times I sing or pray. The only thing I would not recommend is something like a book or movie which is a form of distraction. The goal is to be present with your body.

2.) Enjoy a bath or shower.

While bathing, the goal is to face and accept your body. When you disrobe, do not avoid the mirror. Take the time to notice and consciously be okay with your body. If you notice yourself start to critique or feel negatively, take a deep breath. I find it helpful to have a few phrases or ideas ready to remind myself and turn my thoughts back towards acceptance. Here are a few ideas/examples. I understand everyone’s body is different and not all of these will be helpful for each person. Please adjust as needed and take inspiration to create phrases of your own.

  • I am a child of the universe, no less than the trees and stars. (based on this quote by Max Ehrmann)
  • I am just as much a part of Nature as every other living being.
  • My body is how it is, and that is exactly how it should be right now.
  • This is my body, it has been with me through everything, and it protects me even now.
  • Despite everything, my body has healed. It has kept me safe despite everything I put it through. And I am grateful.

As you bathe, take your time. Return your mind over and over to acceptance. When thoughts of regret come up, try to make your peace with them. Forgive your body. Let your body forgive you. Be gentle with your body. Be thorough as you clean your body and care for it. When you dry off, continue to be gentle and aware.

3.) Afterwards

I tend to continue by putting on lotion or extra comfy clothes. I often pray to Frigga or journal. When you are done, however and whenever you choose to end this ritual of sorts, thank your body one last time. In the hours and days that follow, try to remember the phrase you used to help you accept your body exactly as it is right now. When you find yourself thinking negatively about your body, try to move your mind back to the memory of this time you spent working to accept and forgive your body.

This is not a “one-time quick-fix”. I suggest doing this ritualistic bathing semi-regularly. I tend to do this at least 2 or 3 times a month. You could do it daily if you wanted, there is no risk nor requirement; it is just another tool in your box.

Working to heal ones self is long, difficult work. But these acts of self-compassion and self-acceptance are part of the process. Your body is your body, exactly as it is. You are no less a part of nature than any other living being, and you are here. How wonderful for your body to have brought you this far.

Shadow Work

Before delving into the specifics of my shadow work, I want to discuss my approach to this type of spiritual work. “Shadow work” is a term I see increasingly mentioned in online pagan communities, but finding a shared definition can be a bit challenging. Many point to Jung and his theories of the mind, others focus more on delving into the rejected parts of yourself, some even discuss shadow work as something that can extend to others or the world itself.

Personally, I approach shadow work loosely. I view it as an openness to facing the parts of ourselves and our lives that we find shameful, distressing, painful, or challenging, and being open to accepting difficult aspects of ourselves.  It involves sitting with and walking through painful emotions and realities, acknowledging them, uncovering why they are a part of us or what purpose they serve, and moving forward in a patient and self-respectful way to either accept or change those parts of the self.

Some describe the shadow as an unconscious part of the personality, or all the things one refuses to acknowledge about themselves. Some practitioners even go so far as to draw, name, and interact with the shadow as if it is a separate entity of sorts. I prefer to view the shadow in a more integrated way. As someone who has been in counseling for years and struggling with my mental health for much longer, a great deal of what I need to address, accept, and heal about myself is known. I don’t need to delve into the ‘uncharted waters’ of the unconscious to find emotions and aspects of my personality or habits that I struggle to accept.

So, once one identifies the parts of themselves they struggle to accept, what does one do? That’s where the work comes in. I use a variety of strategies to address my shadow aspects, some might sound more mundane or magical than others, but I believe there is a thin, maybe non-existent line between our spiritual and mundane experiences. Here are a few of my shadow work strategies, which are likely to come up in future posts:

  • DBT skills and strategies
  • self-care activities
  • journaling
  • guided meditation
  • self-generated affirmations
  • therapy
  • psychiatric medicine
  • art
  • CBT skills and strategies
  • prayer
  • divination (runes)
  • ritual
  • Body Maps (specific art type)
  • spellwork
  • dream analysis
  • observing and reflecting upon the seasons and their meanings or wisdom

If you are preparing to go into shadow work, know that it doesn’t have an “ending”. Of course, we can all improve and find healing, but the shadow self isn’t something you’re going to remove or undo. All of our shadow aspects are parts of who we are, and we can integrate them, face them, release them, heal them… but they aren’t going to just disappear. Be patient with yourself, practice flexibility and try many different things. And, if you are struggling with a mental illness or issues that are severely disrupting your life, please supplement your spiritual work with professional mental health support. Pagan and Western medicines work beautifully together and you really can’t heal everything on your own.