On discernment, discipline, mental illness, and witchcraft

I’ve been having a tough time with witchcraft lately.

In the last four month, I lost a rather close friend over it. We’d been friends for over ten years, and he’d been one of my first friends to talk to me about magical accidents. You know, those times when all of a sudden, you think something, and it happens? Could be coincidence, could be magic? (Muggles call it magical thinking, and they have a point!) In my case, when I was a young child and I’d be terrified of my parents’ explosive and violent reactions, I would pray and pray and pray for help, and circumstances would align themselves (completely out of my control) which would give me a reprieve from the pressure cooker. In my friends’ case, he once dissociated so hard he was fantasizing about the electrical systems on a train breaking down, and lo and behold, the train broke down in a catastrophic way and he was accidentally stranded in the middle of nowhere for hours.

So I’d always assumed this friend, who I’ll call A, was open-minded. A little while ago, we were talking and something he said stirred a memory of some research I’d done into curses. I looked into it, became rather convinced that something was fucking his life up (violence, homelessness, queer bashing, you name it) and decided to make him a little protection counter-curse in a jar. He took it home, but later told me he didn’t want to have “dark, violent magic” in his life and threw it away. I haven’t spoken to him since and he hasn’t sought me out. I admit it hurt, oddly, in a way I was not expecting.

And then, not long after, I accidentally talked a second friend into stopping his paganism and witchcraft practice. We were having a long conversation about dissociation, consent, and delusion, and how to draw the line. Simple questions (“Did you consent to this? Did you want this? Could you say no to this in the future?”) stirred a lot of thinking in my second friend, who I’ll call B. He ended up deciding to shutter his pagan practice, stopped attending rituals put on by a friend in common, and is taking an indefinite break from it all.

And it’s making me think in-depth about my own path — and the only emotion I’m feeling clearly is … exhaustion.

About a month ago Sarah Anne Lawless came to Montréal and spoke at Lvnea. The conversations I had with my friends and other witches was incredibly energizing (no less because, for the FIRST TIME IN MY EXISTENCE, a bunch of witches were talking seriously about fascist and nazis in our midst, and thinking about how to counter them). I remember calling a friend after the event, and finding that I was suddenly energized. Magic! Witchcraft! Let’s do rituals! Let’s do things!

But here we are, a month later, and I’m still drained, and I have not done anything. Samhain came and went and I did nothing. I nearly took down my own altar in a fit of frustration with myself! (At the last minute, as I contemplated a little funeral box that holds the feathers of my familiar, I relented.)

Discipline takes on a weird taste when you have mental health issues, because laziness and discipline become weapons that partners, friends, family, society and establishments use to further punish and marginalize you. Discussions about discipline in witchcraft frustrate me to no end because I know witchcraft is work but also we live under capitalism and the patriarchy and I’m fucking exhausted, folks.

I promised myself I would keep this short, because otherwise this is going to turn into a 30-page rant and no one wants that. I have no answers and nothing constructive to add. But I spent all this money to make a semi-anonymous witchcraft website (websites cost money, did you know?) so I figure — what’s the harm of expressing my frustrations here? There’s also more that I haven’t actually written about in-depth, mostly because I refuse to fuel community drama through blog posts instead of putting on my big-kid pants and speaking to people in person about it, and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, but I’m just so tired. I’m tired of people. I’m tired of community. I’m tired of violence. I’m tired of death.

I want gentleness, understanding, ease. I want people to love me despite my fuck-ups. I want people to tell me “no” to my face instead of throwing out a jar filled with bits of my magic — my soul — on the street like garbage. I want people to be honest with me and themselves. And every time that can’t happen — or worse, when I find I can’t be honest with myself or people — it just makes me want to wrap myself up in a blanket and never leave my house.

Okay, wrapping up for real.

Thank fuck for snow.

Osfairy out.

 

 

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