Friday, August 06, 2010

What A Witch Does

Earlier this week, I wrote about the relationship between control over our emotions and the ability to, right to, advisability of doing magic. I've seen, and I imagine that you have, as well, people who had some native ability to direct energy but who had almost no ability to control their own emotions, their tongue, their actions. My advice: Shield. Move Quickly Towards the Door. (And of course, we're all on the journey; I've never met the completely evolved human. But it's part of my work, as a Witch, to keep working on myself and to keep searching for those who have danced a bit farther down the path so that I can learn from them. It's one reason why doing magic in a community of women is so important to me.) And epic poetry and national legends are full of stories about those who were corrupted by their native ability to do magic, those who didn't do the interior work needed to create a safe container for that power. So it's not that you can't do any magic until you've spent years doing the alchemical work of turning the impulses of a two-year-old into gold. But your ability to do effective magic and to step into your true power as a priestess, mage, magic-worker, Witch does depend on a growing ability to control yourself and your emotions.

While someone studying the art of magic might gently yet thoroughly become aware of each potential stumbling block that remains in [her] soul, the [W]itch within all of us may not learn how to do this with such discipline or studied attention. [Hopefully, the passage of time and] the roads of experience . . . with luck and a fair wind, allow us as women to know ourselves better, acknowledging and accepting who it is [that] we are. We grow more emotionally intelligent: the ability to identify an emotional energy when it is triggered, with a sense of where and why it was sourced, allows the [W]itch to understand its force, its reason, its craving and direction.

Emma Restall Orr in Kissing the Hag: The Dark Goddess and the Unacceptable Nature of Women.

I owe my friend S., one of the most intent-upon-knowing-herself people I've ever met, for my real introduction to Jungian concepts, including shadow and projection. There are dozens of books, courses, psychotherapists out there that can help each of us to identify -- and learn to dance with -- our own shadows, to show us when that inexplicably strong reaction we have to something that someone else does is really projection (our own shadows' way of saying: "Hello! I'm still here and I'd still prefer to remain hidden, even though I also long to be known. Look! Over there! Someone else doing [insert reflection of shadow]! Go get them!" It's often some of the most valuable information we ever get -- if we learn how to use it.) Learning to, in Restall Orr's words, "identify an emotional energy when it is triggered, with a sense of where and why it was sourced," is one of the most important ways that a Witch acquires control over herself. Shadow work with a good psychotherapist can help, as can dream work, daily practice, journaling, art, meditative dance or other exercise, working in community. How are you working on this? What has worked for you in the past? What shadow within you keeps distracting you from your true work as a Witch? How would sitting down and having dinner, doing ritual with, making love to that shadow enhance your work as a Witch? When do you lose control?

Restall Orr explains that emotion:

doesn't overwhelm [a Witch] or take the ground from beneath her, but instead she contains it without a struggle, pausing to consider the wisdom of any action she might take, pausing until her view is extended in every direction. Nor does holding the emotion for a moment, a day, a year, dissipate that energy; when she is ready, the [W]itch has the ability to direct that emotional energy, with all its force intact, in a perfect vibrant stream of creativity.

It takes practice.

LOL. Yeah, it takes practice.

May my practice be in the service of the Goddess. May your practice be blessed.


Anonymous said...

"Learning to, in Restall Orr's words, "identify an emotional energy when it is triggered, with a sense of where and why it was sourced," is one of the most important ways that a Witch acquires control over herself."

I love this. Actually, I love this whole post. It's full of wisdom. Thank you...
My shadows are those of PTSD from a less than happy childhood. With the guidance of good shrink, I'm learning to walk back into the darkness and consciously feel all those emotions I so deftly hide for many years...'cause good Catholic girls don't feel fear or ferocious rage. It's wondrous to freely feel and to understand the root finally understand the 'why'.

Double Jointed Fingers said...

You never disappoint me. It's why I come here. It is my grounding and centering.