From Empty to Ecstatic: How Witchcraft Rebuilt and Rejuvenated My Soul
The Magic of Witchcraft healed my heart and soul...
One year ago, I spent my days feeling terrified, anxious, lonely, and incomplete. I had escaped my abuser and was going to therapy, but it just was not enough! That was when I went Wiccan! This is my story about how this Nature-based religion transformed my life - how it affected me psychologically, spiritually, and physically.
"...freeing myself from my ex was actually the easy part. Dealing with he aftermath of his abuse was the real tribulation."
Anyone who has ever been in an abusive relationship knows how difficult it can be to get out of it. It was an easy choice for me when it came to ending the relationship. He started taking his anger out on our 12 month old son - I thought "if he is yelling at my baby for crying because he's hungry, who knows what this will escalate to over time!?". After three months of his father constantly coming to my home uninvited, calling my phone 15-20 times a day, and sending me as many as 20 messages a day from various Facebook accounts, I went to court and filed a restraining order. The permanent order was granted without a hitch - my ex violated it multiple times by contacting me and then failed to appear at the hearing.
After the court granted me full custody of my son, and knowing I was "free" from this man who tormented me for years, I expected my life to start turning around right away. I thought the clouds would part, and the beautiful, warm rays of light would shine down on me, lighting up my life. I was wrong. After years of abuse, I had developed C-PTSD - Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It wasn't long until I realized that freeing myself from my ex was actually the easy part. Dealing with the aftermath of his abuse was the real tribulation.
Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental illness caused by long term victimization. In my case, being abused by my partner for three and a half years. The National Center for PTSD explains that sufferers of C-PTSD have difficulties with the following:
- "Emotional Regulation" <They may feel: persistent sadness, explosive or inhibited anger, suicidal thoughts.>
- "Consciousness." <They may forget about certain traumatic events or get flashbacks - reliving traumatic events>
- "Self-Perception." <They feel helpless, ashamed or guilty, even feel like they are vastly different from everyone else>
- "Relations with Others." <Isolating themselves because of distrust>
- "One's System of Meanings." <Feeling hopeless; Loss of faith>
Needless to say, I checked off all of those boxes. I felt lost, broken and alone. Perhaps the most prominent feeling was my sense of emptiness - as if my abuser had sucked out my soul and I was too numb or foolish to notice. I was seeing a therapist, but it wasn't helping. Not fast enough anyways. So I decided to start reaching out. I fought the demonic suicidal thoughts back almost every day, and for my sons' sake I needed to figure out a way to defeat them.
Alive, But Not Living
Day by day, week by week, month by month, I went through the daily motions in a daze. I had no passion for life - no desire to breathe. I kept alive for my son. But I knew he would catch on pretty soon that his mother hated life. I was irritable, and lazy, and never felt like doing anything that entailed standing for more than a few minutes at a time. When the summer slipped by and I realized I never once took my poor son to the beach - hardly even took him outside to play - I decided it was time to be more proactive in my 'recovery'. My soul had slipped away little by little every time my ex-partner hit me or called me names. I knew if I had any hope of becoming the mother my son deserved, I had to get it back. It was like I was Harry Potter, hunting for horcruxes. Except I wasn't a dark wizard, and I certainly didn't split my soul to become immortal.
Thanks to a few minutes on Google, I found The Loner Wolf website. It is a blog written by a couple spiritual mentors and soul-work teachers, Aletheia Luna and Mateo Sol. They explain that trauma, whether it be abuse from a partner or a parent, or from an accident, results in "Soul Loss". This is a similar concept to dissociation in psychology. When you go through a traumatic event (events in my case), a part of your soul actually does split off, and leaves the body. This is a natural protection mechanism, to allow the person to live through the event. Of course, in my case, I have suffered a number of traumas, which means there was not much of my soul left in my body. Probably just enough to keep me alive.
"...there was not much of my soul left in my body...probably just enough to keep me alive..."
Recovery and Retrieval
Due to being emotional, mentally, and physically abused every day for over three years, I was suffering from C-PTSD, and my soul was in tattered pieces. I remember thinking, "If therapy hasn't worked, what will? Am I ever going to feel better?"
One day I was talking to my teenage sister and I admitted to her that I admired her courage to become Wiccan. My whole life I wanted to be a witch - I dressed as one for Halloween just about every year when I was a child. I never looked into becoming one though, because my grandmother always told me that witchcraft was a mortal sin - that even witches that believed they were good were actually doing the work of the devil. My sister smiled, turned to me and said: "You know there are Christian witches right?" She went on to explain that witchcraft has nothing to do with religion, that magic was using energy within and around you to make changes in your life.
As soon as I got home that evening I went to my computer and set to work. I found "The Path of the Christian Witch" by Adelina St Clair. She tells her story of how she was able to incorporate her religion into the rites and rituals of witchcraft. I was both excited and nervous - the thought of doing something I have wanted for as long as I could remember combined with the anxiety of what that meant for my faith system was a whirlwind of emotions.
I went to Google after ordering The Path of a Christian Witch to try to find out if witchcraft could fulfill the other burning desire that had been scorching me lately: to overcome C-PTSD and put my soul back together. Once again I was brought to the Lone Wolf website- specifically an article by Mateo Sol about Soul Retrieval. He explained that psychotherapy can help with soul retrieval, but it tends to reach a stalemate. The therapist is working under the premise that while a part of the persons' identity has broken off to protect the patient's mind when they suffered a trauma, the missing pieces can be found within the person. In Shamanism, however, the Shaman understands that the soul fled the body and retreated into another realm. Sol went on to explain that in addition to Shamanism, healing practices such as Witchcraft and psychotherapy have methods for finding and integrating the lost parts of the soul.
Having a degree in Psychology, I had to make sure that this was a concept that experts would recommend. Another Google search led me to the Psychology Today article by Diane Roberts Stoler, Ed.D. called "PTSD: Healing and Recovery Part 2: Methods and Treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder". She explains her five-pronged approach for treating patients suffering from PTSD. Her theory is that with proper medication, a healthy diet, humor, meditation, and hypnosis or visualization, patients have progressed wonderfully. Many would even be considered to be "healed". A sub-category to her approach includes energy work as well.
Practicing witchcraft consists of taking care of your body, meditating, visualizing, and working with energy. It has been almost a year since I decided to become a witch, and I have come a long way. I am no longer suicidal; I have a positive outlook on life; I am cheerful and have fun every day. I no longer see the therapist I started out with, but I do see a psychiatrist once a month. I have never had to take medication to treat my conditions.
The “golden rule” of witchcraft is “do what you will, but harm none”. That includes yourself, in body or mind. That means no more insulting yourself, no more pointing out what you think are flaws. If you self-harmed, by cutting or burning your skin, you are forbidden from continuing to do so as a witch. I took this up a notch and began looking for something in myself to compliment every day. The Divine is within everything and everyone, so that is where I started. As time goes on, it becomes easier to compliment yourself, and before you know it you no longer have to struggle to keep the thoughts “you’re ugly”, “you’re dumb”, and so on from bubbling to the surface. You start to feel good about yourself, and that brings you a long way from the dark hole of depression.
Meditation is a major part of witchcraft. You must learn to feel your aura, to feel the energy of the land, sea, and sky merge with your own. You must be able to open your chakras, especially to connect with the divine. To be a witch, you have the option of bringing the Divine into it or leaving it out. Some will tell you that you must involve the Divine to perform magic, but the way I see it, there is power within yourself, and the power of the Elements to give your spells a little extra push. I only began involving Divine into my witchcraft when I began doing shadow work. Shadow work, which deserves a Hub of its’ own, in a nutshell, is working with your shadow- your traumatic experiences, your fears, your shame, everything that you keep hidden in the shadows. So, as I said, it is entirely up to you if you wish to incorporate a devotional practice into your Craft.
Books about Witchcraft all encourage newbies to express themselves artistically. Since I have taken up painting and drawing, the number of anxiety attacks I have gone from many a week to one every three or four months. Expressing your feelings, your impressions is healthy and healing. For me, panting my emotions is like smoothing aloe over an angry sunburn. It is soothing, relieving, and has healing properties.
Becoming a witch saved my life. It taught me to appreciate the beauty in everything, taught me to face my fears and overcome them, and taught me that I am in control of my life. My journey of recovery is far from over of course. In fact, I have recently begun a journey of Transformation with Dark Goddesses. But that, my friends, is a story for another day.
Art Therapy: I am far from good, but it certainly feels fantastic creating Magical Artwork!Click thumbnail to view full-size
This was the first book I purchased when I decided to become a Witch. I am a Pagan now, but this book really helped me over the HUGE hurdle of becoming Christian Witch- a concept that is teeming with controversy in the Witch world.
New to Wicca? This was the first book I read about becoming Wiccan:
Want to learn more about Soul Work?
- Soulwork LonerWolf
This link brings you to the Loner Wolf websites' section about Soul Work. This website answered many questions for me!
Guided Meditation for Relaxation, PTSD, and Anxiety
21 Signs You're Experiencing Soul Loss
Sol, M. (2015). 21 Signs You're Experiencing "Soul Loss" ⋆ LonerWolf. LonerWolf. Retrieved 9 April 2018, from https://lonerwolf.com/soul-loss/
Complex PTSD - PTSD: National Center for PTSD
Complex PTSD - PTSD: National Center for PTSD. (2018). Ptsd.va.gov. Retrieved 7 April 2018, from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/ptsd-overview/complex-ptsd.asp
PTSD: Healing and Recovery Part 2
PTSD: Healing and Recovery Part 2. (2018). Psychology Today. Retrieved 7 April 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-resilient-brain/201408/ptsd-healing-and-recovery-part-2
Soul Retrieval Can Heal Addiction, Trauma and Mental Illness
Sol, M. (2016). Soul Retrieval Can Heal Addiction, Trauma and Mental Illness – Here's How ... ⋆ LonerWolf. LonerWolf. Retrieved 9 April 2018, from https://lonerwolf.com/soul-retrieval/
Spirit Molecules: Allies for Healing from Trauma
Spirit Molecules: Allies for Healing from Trauma . (2018). Psychology Today. Retrieved 7 April 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/rhythms-recovery/201710/spirit-molecules-allies-healing-trauma
© 2018 Amanda Wilson