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The Mystery of Spiritual Healing
I started the Healingcraft blog in the middle of a spiritual crisis.
The crisis accompanied enormous upheaval in my personal life. Having realized I'd been less than perfectly honest with myself about any number of things for several years, I found myself feeling uncertain of everything. This included my spiritual path. I could still see the beauty of the earth, but doubt accosted me in unexpected places. Examining elemental associations or pondering how to observe one of the sabbats, I found myself feeling weary and wondering how it even mattered.
In retrospect this near-apathy isn't surprising: I was deeply depressed for several months as I dealt with hurts and disappointments that I'd been ignoring for years. But my inability to feel my connection to the sacred worried me, and left me feeling incomplete.
As time went on, the transformation I was experiencing became more joyful and I began to glimpse the possibility of happiness. My life still felt chaotic, but at least there was joy in the chaos. But for many months I lacked a sense of spiritual connection and meaning.
The ways the body can be broken and mended are well documented. Humanity has studied it for centuries and written text after text on the subject. And yet we are still continually surprised and mystified by the unpredictable turns healing can take, by the reasons one person heals while another declines. We are still unsure what it means to be healthy, by how health is related to the presence or absence of disease. Healing is a mystery.
How much more of a mystery is healing of the spirit, the mind, and the emotions. This kind of healing goes beyond psycho-analysis and spiritual epiphanies. We aren't even entirely sure what the spirit is, much less how it is wounded and healed. But we know what it's like to feel broken, and we know what it's like to feel shifts and transformations that make us feel more whole, more alive, more full.
I have to take a little tangent here to state that I believe the spirit, mind, and body are inextricably intertwined. I don't think you can heal one without healing the other--and of course there was a physical element to my distress. I isolate the spiritual aspect of the healing process here as a way of simplifying the discussion, not as a way of compartmentalizing the body/mind/spirit unity. Now back to my story:
I knew I felt broken, but I didn't know what to do. My normal methods for dealing with spiritual unease--meditation, reiki, working with stones and plants--might have worked, but in my state of depressed exhaustion I couldn't summon the will to try them.
After a year of this kind of struggle, I decided to try going back to basics. I purchased a ground level book on Wicca and started reading at the beginning. One of the first exercises was a grounding visualization, using the image of a taproot descending into the earth. Nothing new or exciting, but I decided to practice it daily for a few weeks. It was definitely helpful; I felt more steady after each visualization. But what struck me most about it was how the taproot I saw in my visualization was the taproot of a dandelion, my favorite plant ally. It felt like an affirmation that I was on the right track.
I'd like to say it was the beginning of getting back into daily spiritual practice, but soon after the dandelion visualizations, another wave of upheaval hit in the form of workplace chaos ending with the closure of my entire office and the layoff of everyone on staff.
I spent the next several months floundering spiritually. I am fortunate, however, to be blessed with the unwavering support and love of my partner. And it was my partner--my non-pagan, non-esoterically minded partner--who asked me one day, very gently, if maybe I would feel better if I held some of my stones and did some meditating or something? I decided to take her advice. I wasn't quite up to meditating, but I found two of my favorite stones to work with. One was a sphere of rutilated smoky quartz that was the first stone I ever had an intense physical and energetic response to. The other was a piece of clear calcite that has always helped me get out of my own way. I talked with my partner about them and held them all evening while we watched movies.
She also asked me if I'd been "taking my wort"--meaning motherwort tincture, an old ally that I hadn't taken in over a year. I found my tincture bottle and started taking a dose every day.
A few weeks ago I went for a walk, and the first dandelions were blooming, and I found myself feeling the ecstasy of recognizing an old friend. Crisis or no crisis, dandelions are as friendly and free as ever, and I can still respond to them with unreserved joy no matter where I find them. It was like some knot inside me untied itself. I kept walking to the park (after taking a lot of pictures of dandelions). The trees in the park were budding and waking in the warm air, and I could feel them again, their energies and personalities.
Sometimes healing happens in circuitous and convoluted ways. It's rarely immediate (though those moments, like the one with the dandelions, feel miraculous and instantaneous while they're happening.) Healing of any kind requires patience with ourselves and with whichever healing modalities we choose to work with. If we're very blessed--and I am very blessed--we get moments of grace along the way to give us hope that we will be whole again if we don't give up.
I can't say that I've fully restored my spiritual practice. I'm still trying to find and implement daily habits, still struggling to feel my spiritual connection more consistently. I have finally--after living in this house for six months--put up an altar in the bedroom, one I can see from my bed and from my desk. The visual reminder that spirit is looking out for me makes a big difference in my day to day experience. My two favorite stones and my bottle of motherwort have taken up residence on my nightstand; more daily (and nightly) reminders. I'm not where I want to be yet, but I'm mending. I just have to keep doing the work.
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