Embracing the darkness

Wow, two blogs in a row! I am quite pleased with myself. Although I must be honest and admit that my algorithm (yes, the same one as yesterday) is still running on my desktop, forcing me to use my energy elsewhere while waiting for my poor computer to sort through this giant dataset.

My first dabbling in intentional magic (I was having visions and interactions – wanted or not – with spirits before this thanks to my witchy genes) came when I moved back to my country of birth after having lived years in a foreign country, attending international school. Having been, if I may say so myself, quite popular in the international school, I thought that I would enjoy the same welcoming in my hometown. I was terribly wrong – to these students, I was a spoiled, entitled brat with a stuck up nose and a funny accent. After they grew tired of asking me questions about “foreigners”, their customs and language, and having determined that I am just a big show off and there is in fact, nothing special about me, I was mercilessly bullied. Three years of bullying, in fact. In my “home” country, there is a term describing a student who is bullied by the entire class, and a separate term describing a student who is bullied by the entire school. I was the former, and my best friend was the latter, so you can imagine the kind of humiliation and painfully disfiguring abuse we went through on a daily basis. My mother, well meaning but very unwell, swung from one day, feeling motivated to help me and inviting my bullies over to try to make good with them, to making fun of me and humiliating me for being friendless, which of course, makes me “worthless”.

In this darkness, and being inspired the Harry Potter series sweeping across the country at this time, I decided to conjure up a spell of my own. I studied runes, talismans, goddesses, elements, and sigils. Looking back, I was embarrassingly green, barely understanding the basics of the aforementioned topics. Maybe it was Karma, or maybe my spell did work, but magickally, one day, my bully became the bullied. She was a terror no more, and I was happy to be able to to hang out with my friend at school without being afraid of being sworn at or otherwise humiliated. To be completely honest, this didn’t last long, as it didn’t take long for another bully to make my life a living hell again. Looking back at my life, my magick was always the strongest in my times of darkness, and for the longest time, I resented this. There were exceptions to this, of course. I have been fortunate to have money mysteriously flow in during times of desperation, for things that seemed impossible to just “work itself out”, for people who were obstacles to somehow disappear from my life, etc. It did bother me, however, that when I had dark thoughts about someone, willingly or not, there was a high chance that something bad would happen to this person.

After becoming an adult, I declared that I will only use my magick and intentions for “good” and reject/ suppress all my negative thoughts, cleansing and purifying them with whatever method was trendy at the time. Smoke, essential oils, singing bowls, crystals, tuning fork – name it, I’ve tried them all. It is only recently, emerging from the tribulations bestowed on me during my residency, that I have begun to feel the darkness again, rising from the depths within me. One of the reasons why I switched from an entirely research-based career to medicine was that I was being consumed by this darkness – the cut throat competitiveness and general toxic personalities that research unfortunately tend to attract grew so much anger inside of me that I felt like I was losing myself in it. I thought dedicating myself to medicine, to a more stable career where the goal is to care for others, where one does not have to step on someone else (supposedly) to make an earning, would help me abandon this darkness all together. However, life has its surprises. After 3 distinct, rather catastrophic events (without exaggeration) that happened in the earlier stages of my residency, I have, yet again, started feeling the darkness consume me. At the beginning, I tried to run from it – I meditated, cleansed, and had lavender running on my diffuser 24/7. I tried reminding myself that darkness can only bring about more darkness, that I must stick to the way of the “light”.

The point of this blog is to tell myself, and you, that I have chosen to take an entirely different path. I have realized, from reflecting on my life, that my magick is in fact, the strongest in the darkest times of my life. As witches, some of us are called to the light, some to the dark, some both, and some to absolute neutrality. I have come to accept and embrace that I have been called to the dark, and that there is no escaping it. My life, as thankful for it as I am, has been, to use the words of a psychiatrist that I saw for a single consult, “mostly traumatic”. In this life that I have been given, I have learned to live and even thrive in this darkness and to reject it would be to reject my entire being. The four goddesses that I look for guidance is a good representation of this. Hekate – goddess of crossroads and guide to those heading to the underworld. Persephone – a young maiden and goddess of spring taken by Hades to the underworld by force. At the beginning, she is a victim, but she emerges from it victorious by accepting her situation, embracing the dark and emerging as the goddess of hell as an equal to Hades. Psyche – a naive young woman emerging as a goddess of the mind (psyche – psychology, see the link?) and metamorphosis after going through literal and figural hell and arising from the ashes. Isis – goddess of magick and medicine going through the grief of having her husband cruelly murdered and dismembered, but using this grief to amplify her magick and power to restore her husband to become the rightful ruler of the underworld alongside Osiris. See a theme here?

Trauma work in psychiatry has two steps – first is to learn the coping skills to manage the devastating effects trauma has on one’s mind. Coping skills in stage one includes – wait for it – grounding, mindfulness, and drawing boundaries. Sounds familiar? Yes, these are the basic skills that any good witch book will have as one of the first steps of becoming a witch. Second part of trauma therapy is actually revisiting the trauma and learning to process and even harness positive changes from it ONCE one has obtained the basic skills to be able to hold and maneuver the trauma without completely succumbing to it. I am lucky that by practicing witchcraft, I have learned how to ground myself by extending my roots into mother Gaia, and how to co-create my reality instead of being a victim to circumstance. As the author of “Initiated” has wisely put, I need to “stop looking to escape the underworld”. My next challenge is to use these skills to harness the darkness for my highest good without letting it take control over me. One of the elemental forces, fire, stands for transformation and producing light from darkness. I started the practice of harnessing my darkness by asking the element of fire to turn the darkness rising from inside of me into a bright flame, which I then used to invoke the three fold law that I mentioned in my last blog. I am hoping that this becomes a precursor to my journey in embracing and ruling the darkness instead of running away from it.

Wish me luck!