Lage’s Game: Chapter Ten, Part Two

The door to the shack creaked and rattled so loudly as it was drawn open that it almost fell off its hinges. Inside was a cluster of people huddled about a tiny fire. They looked up like owls. Terrified, huddling – and then they were angry and ready to attack.

They cried out, clutching at each other yet lurching forward as one. Ekundayo held up a hand, and said something. I wish I knew what he was saying, and they in turn. But I couldn’t understand, and would remain as if deaf to this whole conversation. The conversation rattled on, sharp retorts from person or other among the huddle, and Ekundayo answered so calmly. He placed a hand on my shoulder, and I decided not to shrug him off. We might need his story to be actually believed.

Finally, the huddled people returned, not to owls, but to disgruntled sparrows or something like that. They huddled again, and took to whispering. But the conversation was over. Ekundayo smiled at me. “They welcome us,” he said sweetly to me.

“Who the fuck are they?” I muttered angrily, hugging the cloak around me. We were still standing in the doorway!

“Oh, dear, they are poor people,” he said as he drew me away from the door and back out into the cold. “They’ve, how shall we say it? They’re a society of people.”

“Okay,” I snapped as I was directed to turn and walk to another building.

“And they’ve decided we can live in their lands. It’s a sort of, commune? People that share, that hoard and spend together. All coins are to be deposited in, here,” he said as he gestured to the next building. “Come,” and he went up and rapped upon that door. It didn’t look ready to fall over. It practically did.

This door was shoved open by a person with a rat-like face, protruding hairs, and a sniffing nose. Their eyes were sunken in caverns, and they had a walkign stick in hand and a shawl about their shoulders.

They sniffed the air, then cocked their head to the side. A grin split their features.

“Ekundayo,” Ekundayo said. He drew a pouch from his belt and rattled it loudly before handing it to the blind rat.

“Ekundayo!” the person cried out. Then they sniffed again, reaching towards me. Ekundayo took their hand and guided it to my shoulder, where he patted it into me. I grimaced, but didn’t move.

“My daughter,” Ekundayo said with a twinkling smile at me. “She’s my apprentice too.”

“Oh! Oh!” the person cried out.

“This is Crow,” said Ekundayo to me. “He used to be a great dame.”

“I was elegant,” Crow sniffed. “But I am happy now!” He squeezed my shoulder and patted me. “Come in, daughter and father!”

Crow backed away into the building, shuffling and muttering. We followed, Ekundayo gesturing me in before himself. Once we were in, he shut the door behind us. The cold remained, only a little stifled by the shack’s walls.

Here, there was no fire. There was only a large table laden with coins, pouches, and all sorts of items, a straw mat in a corner, and a pile of more junk in another corner. Ekundayo dropped his pouch into the pile and began rummaging. “We need clothes for my daughter,” he commented calmly. “Her mother is going to want her back, as will the princess. She was a handmaiden, you know?”

“Oh! Do you know dame Minstrel?” Crow asked chirpily as he shuffled to his straw mat and plopped down with … no grace whatsoever.

I didn’t answer, feeling the vices of our lie tightening around us. Ekundayo sighed into the pile of junk. Loudly, he drew out a piece of clothing. “This will do!”

“What will do?” asked crow loudly. “Is she a girl? Or a boy?”

Ekundayo looked at me with a glimmer in his eye and a foolish grin on his face. He held out the tunic to me. “Hm?” he asked, to prompt me to answer.

“I’m a girl,” I said sourly. I reached a hand out for the tunic. It was a bit large, but it would do. It was sufficiently mud-colored with a hue of green about it. I would blend into the streets.

After digging me up some pants and a pair of oversized boots, Ekundayo went to sit on the cot beside Crow with his back to me so I could change.

Crow, however, had gotten a taste of conversation and seemed ready to indoctrinate. “Are you sure? You seem,” he snapped his fingers in the air before himself. “Unhappy.”

“Oh, she is unhappy,” said Ekundayo with a chuckle. I began changing angrily.

“It is not about that,” I said sourly as I pulled the boots on. Then, thinking things over, I moved to sit on Crow’s other side. Resting would be nice, I decided. A bath would be better, but that would be probably impossible in this world.

“So what is it about?” Crow asked. Then, completely ignorign me, he began prattling about how, when he was young, he never knew what was wrong, but he knew something was wrong and –

I tuned it out, glaring at Ekundayo. He grinned at me like this was great fun. I scowled and leaned against the icy wall, hugging my cloak about myself.

Then, to the sound of Crow’s exaggerated story of elegance and misery, I fell asleep.

Welcome to Circlet School ~ Chapter Six, Part Two

The next morning, I woke before any alarms went off. For a moment, I just lay in bed, wondering where the hell I was. Then, when I remembered where I was, I wondered what was about to go wrong. I sat up, half expecting an alarm, a whack across the head, or some evil spirit to go boo.

Nothing of the sort. I was a clear half an hour before anyone else was to wake, and so I cautiously crawled from bed. Seeing that I had the time, I sat down for some meditation and to finish my witch’s ladder. Again, nothing bad happened. Sure, I was a tad sleepy, but nothing was catching fire.

Once my ladder and meditation was done, I felt refreshed and happy. Today was going to be a good day it seemed. I slunk away to an early shower just as the alarms started going off and people began waking.

As I left the showers I ran into Bjorn. “You’re up early,” he said gruffly, his breath smelling like a dragon’s butt. I nodded with a smile. He grinned. “And you remembered the hair this time. No conditioner.”

I sighed. Was I going to be known as ‘the dude who forgot the conditioner’? But I shrugged and went on my way. It was nothing, really. Not enough to make my day suck.

Once more in my room, I found myself relaxing. Maybe not everything was destined to explode or catch fire in this place. Maybe, just maybe, the ritual had worked and today was going to go harmlessly.

Yes, I thought that maybe things would go smoothly.

Breakfast was a gentle affair. Sapphire told everyone that the rest of the staff were arriving this morning, and that we had better memorize school rules in order to enforce them. To which Amethyst hung her head miserably and nodded to her toasts.

To lighten the mood, Crystal lifted a foot on the other side of the bench she was sitting on. “I remember one!” she said, pointing to her shoe.

“Excellent,” said Sapphire with a wisp of a smile.

There really was nothing more to note about that breakfast. Coffee was had, Cheryl left early for a smoke (strictly off campus, as smoking was not permitted on school grounds – which led me to wonder what she had been doing smoking on the lawn last night). Bjorn started raving about a new book he was reading, and Paulette was happily announcing that she was all ready for the students to arrive.

Cool, cool. All was good. Groovy. Swimmingly. I was half-way back to my room to finish class prep work when an email dinged in on my phone.

It was from the principal, succinctly reminding the staff to have student greeting procedures memorized and be ready to greet and guide the parents tomorrow.

I froze, a hand on my doorknob. We were greeting the parents and new students? Ugh. Somehow this had flown over my head, because apparently this was the second email she had sent on the topic.

Okay, okay, that didn’t mean that today was going to shit. That just meant I had more than enough work to do. Okay, I could manage this.

I was seated at my desk and mid-way to lighting some incense to help me concentrate when I remembered last nights fiasco, and the no-incense rule. Right.

Dumping that incense into the trash (just so I wouldn’t be tempted to light it later), I sat down and decided to work, incense-less.

The day crawled by. I finished my course work by noon and was attacking the emails about greeting the students when ding! My alarm went off to notify me about lunch. Groan. With one final skim-through of the page I was reading, I was just about to get up when a knock was heard at my door. Ah?

Part of me hoped it was Sapphire. Part of me dreaded it being Sapphire, because that would probably mean I was in trouble.

But it was Paulette. “Hi!” she said, waving nervously. “Just reminding you that it’s lunchtime. In case you were too busy.”

“Oh, thanks,” I said, jangling my keys out of my pocket. “Uh, I was just going.”

“Oh, great!” she said with that nervous pep that anxious people have when they enter social situations.

We walked quietly to the lunch hall. As we entered it, Paulette piped up again. “The new teachers should be here by now. Have you seen them?”

“No,” I said, just as I laid eyes on them.

They were with Sapphire, standing before the cafeteria, talking. They all just looked so professional together. There was Sapphire in her black suit that was, really, just amazing on her. She looked like an FBI agent here to kick ass and steal your identity or something.

There was a woman who was short and portly, with a big grin and a calm aura. She was dressed in a button up shirt and a pair of jeans. Her skin was olive and she had soft eyes.

Then, there was ‘her’. She had dark purple hair that cascaded down her shoulders in perfect curls. She was curvy and sculpted in her suit. She was pale, in a sort of Irish way. Beside her, Sapphire’s darker hues came out.

Wow, I thought, crushing on both of them so hard I almost missed the last step that descended into the hall. I didn’t even notice the two other dudes, security guards both of them, until I was passing them.

“Oh, this is Thunder and Paulette,” said Sapphire, gesturing to us as we slid up to the group. “This is Amanda,” she said, gesturing to the purple – haired woman.

What was it with me and women in suits? Gorgeous. Heart-stopping. She looked at me like I was an interesting speck of dirt. I instantly wanted to be the dirt on her shoe.

“Hi,” I said robotically, lifting a hand.

“Hi!” said Paulette at my side excitedly.

Amanda was our school psychologist. The nurse was named Phoenix. The security dudes were named Fred and Jason. One of them had a Thor’s hammer tattoo on his beefy forearm, and the other didn’t. That was how I was going to tell them apart.

“Food!” barked Cheryl, lifting up the grid that closed the cafeteria to indicate it was closed.

“I hope you’re going to be more charming when the students arrive,” said Sapphire staunchly as we turned to the food.

“Abracadabra! Food! That charmin’ enough?” sniggered Cheryl as she began to hand out frilly sandwiches.

Sapphire gave her a ‘look’ and Cheryl swallowed that comment. “I’ll try ma’am,” she said to her sandwiches.

“Good,” said Sapphire tartly. Then she took her tray and marched away to the staff’s usual table.

The rest of the staff arrived in a burst. There was Amethyst and Maria who were chatting up a storm, and who immediately grouped around the newcomers like they were fresh coffee.

“I just love your hair,” said Amethyst, gushing.

“Thank you,” said Amanda, completely composed, as if she was used to people gushing over her all the time.

“You look so professional,” said Maria.

“That’s because I am a professional,” said Amanda tartly.

Okay, maybe I liked her a little less now. Which was a good thing anyways. I didn’t need to crush dramatically on every woman around here in a suit.

So I sat down and hoped to finish lunch, get the hell away from all this sexiness, and bottle back up inside my room.

“So what kind of Wiccan are you?” Ivy was asking Amanda as they sat down with the rest of everyone around the table.

“I’m not Wiccan,” Amanda said scornfully. “I’m a reconstructionist. Kemetic.”

“Orthodoxy?” I hear Aurora ask.

“No, independent,” said Amanda tartly. “I don’t take well to being told who my deities are, and that’s part of entering into the Kemetic Orthodoxy.”

There were agreeable hums from around the table. “Well!” exclaimed Amethyst. “I’m not one for structure either. I like things to be free, creative, and whimsical!”

“Oh, I like structure,” said Amanda coolly. “I just like choice too.”

Amethyst was baffled. Amanda was smug. I was starting to think that Amanda was secretly a jerk. Bjorn leaned forward, trying his hand at the newcomer. “Have you heard that this place is haunted? It was a residential school?”

“Oh?” asked Amanda, wholly undisturbed.

“I had it cleansed by a Mohawk shaman,” said Sapphire calmly, eating away primly.

“And it wasn’t enough?” asked Amanda.

“Oh no it wasn’t!” gushed Amethyst. “The vibe was awful! I tried to do a cleansing ritual but it was too powerful – my altar caught fire!”

Amanda’s eyebrows rose. “It was too close to the fire,” muttered Sapphire as an explanation.

“It ex-ploded!” enunciated Amethyst tearily. “All my statues! Gone!”

“Oh,” said Amanda quietly. “That is awful.”

“Yes,” sniffled Amethyst dramatically before saying mournfully. “So we had to bring in an expert. We brought in Madame Hoffier.”

“Who?” asked Amanda.

“A local,” said Paulette with a squeak.

“Oh,” said Amanda, as if locals were cheap and useless. My dislike for her grew by ten percent. I tried to tune out the conversation, but kept being dragged in by quips of this and that. As it turned out, Amanda was some sort of big-wig psychologist who was speaking at this and that conference. She name-dropped a few psychologists she was presenting with, and I guessed it was supposed to be impressive, but it was just getting on my nerves.

I was clearing up my tray quickly, trying to escape, when Paulette flashed me a smile. “Back to getting ready?” she asked.

“Ready for what?” asked Amanda as if she was automatically included in all conversations.

“The apocalypse,” I said as a joke, but it came out serious.

“Oh, so you’re a christian witch?” asked Amanda, laying those professional eyes on me.

Sapphire looked at me at the same time. The whole table looked at me. Amethyst gasped in awe, as if I was a rare specimen.

“Uh, no I, don’t talk about my personal beliefs,” I stumbled, trying to dig my way out of that hole. But it was too late. Like tomato sauce on a white shirt, I was stained now by the touch of Christianity.

“Oh? Why is that?” asked Amanda, sipping her coffee with such a professional air that it was grating.

“I thought you were Gardnerian,” asked Crystal curiously.

Sapphire cleared her throat. “No one is under duress to talk about their beliefs.”

I flashed Sapphire a smile, turning to drop off my tray and leave. As I walked away I heard Amethyst whisper “He says ‘Jesus’ all the time!”

Oh, great, I thought as I walked out of the hall. Now I’m the Christian witch in a group of traditionalists. Great.

Welcome to Circlet School ~ Chapter Four Part Two

“Next,” Sapphire nodded to the security guard, who was at my other side.

“Well,” he said, leaning back and puffing himself up. “I did say that a fire extinguisher should have been nearby, and I’m going to repeat that. And I think it’s a downright bad sign for an altar to go up in flames-”

And I just tuned it out after that. He wheedled on and on, saying how safety should always come first and not actually sounding sad or thoughtful at all. After five minutes, he finished with “yeah, safety.” And then he smiled as if he’d actually said something.

Next was the phys ed teacher, Maria. “You know, I’ve got native ancestry,” she said boldly. “Not sure from which tribe, but definitely in there somewhere, way back where.”

Always a good start to anything. Claim ancestry to back up your claim.

“I think it was the shell that did it,” Maria continued. “You’re not supposed to burn it in a shell. It’s offensive. I think there’s a connection there between burning offensively and your shrine catching on fire.”

“But it was white sage!” Amethyst declared, as offended as could be. “It would have purified-”

“Not your turn to talk,” muttered Sapphire, still writing.

“It can’t be that!” finished Amethyst, crossing her arms over her heaving bosom.

Maria held up her hands. “Just taking a native’s perspective on it.”

“This was a residential school,” said Sapphire cautiously. “Perhaps we need to be extra cautious to be respectful of native traditions. There has been enough harm to them committed on this land.”

Maria nodded righteously, but Amethyst burst up. “But it was not disrespectful!”

“Sit down. Next,” demanded Sapphire.

Amethyst thumped down, face crinkling with restrained tears.

Bjorn was next. He mumbled that it was ‘quite the fire’ and that he ‘wasn’t sure what to make of it’, which was all lies. Except for it being a big fire. That it had been. But not having an opinion? Despite his big beaming smile at the end, the guy was obviously just not wanting to tread on toes.

After Bjorn was Crystal, who went on a similarly cautious walk-around of the issue. Then there was – MoonRaven, our nurse.

“I think it shows a deep disturbance in the psyche of this place,” she said with a nod. “Definitely wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some native burial grounds here or something.”

“Children were sometimes buried on the residential school lands,” said Sapphire with a nod, scribbling away.

Great! So now it was official-ish! We were on a native burial ground. Just perfect.

I barely heard the thoughts of Ivy, Sapphire’s secretary, but Paulette drew herself up with gumption. “I think we didn’t exercise perfect caution, and it bit us in the butt,” she said defiantly.

Amethyst looked away angrily.

“We are all to blame in some part,” she went on to say. “But good ritual is like math. I know math, and so ritual,” she paused “I think I second what Thunder said. It didn’t quite go right. We ought to look inside instead of just outside. What did we do that made them, the spirits, want to set our stuff on fire?”

Not just ‘our’ stuff, but Amethysts’ stuff specifically, I noted silently to myself.

Then, it was Amethyst.

Sapphire designated her with a hand, and the entire table held its breath. Probably, even the wood of this table literally stopped being porous for a minute. That’s how the energy was in the air right then.

Amethyst stood up, clearing her throat. Pen still scribbling, Sapphire said “You can sit down,” in a very flat voice.

Amethyst sat down with a face. Sapphire completely ignored it, still jotting down stuff. Then she looked up, just to see the whole table holding its breath and amethyst staring angrily at Sapphire.

Sapphire straightened, shaking out her hand. “It’s your turn to talk. So talk.” Let us have it, she seemed to say. I braced myself mentally, deciding that I would keep in mind that Amethyst was a … fully fledged adult who ought to be in control of her emotions? Eh, oh well. Good luck to us all.

Amethyst sucked in a breath, then said with a broken voice damp with tears “I can’t believe you all have been attacking me!”

Sapphire kept a very neutral face, but she wasn’t writing this down.

“I, held that ritual,” Amethyst was breathing in heaves and starts. “Out of the goodness of my heart!”

“We weren’t questioning that,” started Paulette, only to be interrupted by Sapphire.

“Not your turn,” Sapphire said flatly, still not writing anythign down.

“I, do NOT see the point of all these ad hominem attacks!” Amethyst wailed, tears beginning to stream down her face.

“They were not ad hominem attacks,” said Sapphire matter of factly, clasping her hands over her notepad.

Amethyst wasn’t listening, gulping and sobbing. “I did my best! And you,” here she looked directly at me “Attacked me! After my shrine burned! And you!” she glared at Sapphire. “you brought us all to this evil infested place!”

Sapphire raised just one eyebrow in a very unimpressed way. It was sexy as hell. But now was not the moment to dissolve into a pile of goo at her feet.

“I can’t imagine the sorts of trauma that the children who come here will have to endure!” she wailed. “This place is dangerous! Haunted! And you,” she looked around the table “Will blame them for their own problems!”

Amethyst rose up to her feet, glaring Sapphire down. “I can’t believe this place! I can’t believe you!” she shrieked at Sapphire. “I am a high priestess! I know how to do ritual! And you are all doubting me-”

“Actually, it is because you are a high priestess that we are holding you responsible for the results of your ritual,” said Sapphire tartly. “You led a ritual that, according to some of us, may have been poorly done. Surely if you weren’t powerful your mistakes wouldn’t have had such a catastrophic result.”

Was she- trying to compliment Amethyst? Was she? Was it working? Amethyst was standing there, mouth ajar.

Sapphire looked down at her paper, tapping her notes with her pen. “Your ritual’s result was dangerous, and seems to have greatly upset you. However, it is not an attack against your personality or powers or will. I think everyone here will agree that you did it out of goodness and concern. We all appreciate your presence, I am also sure. I think that, what I have mainly heard around this table, is that your ritual’s disaster was caused both by your own accident as well as the spirits of this land. The spirit’s actions are not your fault.”

Amethyst sniffled. Sapphire pressed on. “No one here wants to attack you.”

With a sob, Amethyst plunked back down onto the bench. It squeaked loudly, or was that her?

“We are all worried,” Sapphire insisted. “The way the ritual ended was a powerful sign. I think what we need is to work together to solve this issue, instead of letting it divide us.”

Amethyst nodded with another squeak. She held out her arms for a hug from Sapphire. Sapphire cleared her throat. “I uh, not the hugging type but uh?”

“Group hug!” declared Crystal, lurching up from her spot.

Oh, good Goddess. Cries of ‘Group hug!’ went up, and the table mobilized itself. Like a swarm with Amethyst as the wounded bee, everyone rushed to coagulate around her.

I sat there, me and Sapphire exchanging a look while everyone else patted Amethyst and exchanged body warmth. I shrugged. “Not a hugger,” I said. Sapphire nodded, smiling awkwardly at this display.

After a few moments of hugging and patting and laughing through tears (in Amethyst’s case) everyone took their places again.

“Alright, we have one more person to hear from, then we brainstorm solutions,” said Sapphire before handing ‘the floor’ to the woman sitting at her right.

The woman, who I recognized as the detention teacher, merely shrugged. “I think it’s all been said,” she said warm-heartedly. “I really hope we can find a working solution, and make sure that this place will have good luck and protection going on.”

Everyone nodded and hummed appreciatively at that.

“Alright, good,” Sapphire said with determination. Flipping through her notebook, she drew a packet of cue cards from the back and set them before herself. “We are now going to try and find solutions.”

Everyone leaned forward eagerly.

Once again, the air was full of suspense. Possibilities! Endless opportunities!

“So,” Sapphire flipped through her notes. “It seems like we need to fix whatever it was that caused the upset. Maybe a ‘we’re sorry’ sort of ritual, to pacify the spirits?”

There were hums and haws around the table. I nodded vigorously. Sapphire wrote in large ‘we’re sorry’ on a cue card and set that before herself. Then she took another and, while talking, wrote ‘banish’ on it. “We could banish all negativity-”

And that, that’s where it went screwy, if you ask me.

“That’s what we need!” declared Amethyst, gasping in awe at her own revelation. “A banisher!”

“M-hmm,” said Sapphire, “we can-”

“No, we bring in a real expert!” exclaimed Amethyst.

Sapphire just looked at her, shoulders heaving in a sigh.

Amethyst waved her hands as if ushering us all to lean in and share this secret. Except she was now talking super loud and fast. “I know a lady! A real witch! And I mean- she teaches!”

Uh, okay? You’re saying that to a room full of teachers, but okay?

“M-hmm?” Sapphire set down her pen, face completely nonplussed.

“We can have her come and – we don’t even need to tell her what we think! She will just,” Amethyst swept her arm sideways as if clearing the table to spite the floor. “Everything! Clean it all! She’s intuitive!

“Oh, that could be nice!” chirped in Crystal.

Aurora nodded.

“A real expert!” claimed Amethyst. “And she’s cheap! Only a hundred an hour!”

“A hundred an hour?” asked Sapphire tartly.

“Oh yes!” said Amethyst. “That’s cheap!”

I … wasn’t so sure. Neither were several others. And yet – Amethyst was passionately ranting on, declaring this woman a ‘friend in the Goddess’ and a ‘good, strong soul’ and a ‘really skilled banisher’!

“It won’t hurt to try,” suggested Bjorn.

Sapphire raised her eyebrows.

“I will message her!” Amethyst began rifling in her bosom and pockets. “If she’s available, we must have her come before the children get here-”

“If we decide to call upon her,” said Sapphire tartly.

“I think it’s worth a shot,” said Paulette slowly.

Aurora nodded. “Sometimes a blank slate, without judgment, is the best thing.”

Sapphire nodded slowly while Amethyst typed away at her phone. “This is an emer-gen-cy,” said Amethyst, probably narrating what she was typing. “We need this woman straight aways!”

Sapphire raised an eyebrow. “And, what accreditations does she have?”

“Oh!” Amethyst raised her hands. “She does it all! Fairy reiki, dragon summonings, elf shamanism, elder channeling, you name it!”

Sapphire, to her credit, kept on a very composed face. “Elf shamanism?”

“Yes!”

Uh.

Sapphire stared off into the void as if somehow broken. “Hmm,” was all she said.

I tried to rescue this situation. “Well, I’m sure that if we were to put our heads to it, we could do another ritual that would fix things.”

“I’m not leading another ritual,” said Amethyst tartly.

Sapphire looked to Aurora. “You could, if you’d like. Or I could.”

Amethyst looked pointedly at Aurora. “How experienced are you at banishing? It can get gritty sometimes!”

Aurora kept her cool. “I haven’t led many rituals.”

Amethyst, eyes bulging, pointed to her phone. “This lady has seen it all! Demon summonings, oh!” the phone buzzed and Amethyst grinned. “She says she can be here today!”

“Alright, all in favor of this raise your hand,” said Sapphire grimly, as if she already knew the outcome.

Most of the table raised their hands, to my surprise.

“Hmm,” said Sapphire grimly. To Amethyst, she said “So where was this lady trained?”

“Oh, she’s intuitive,” said Amethyst. “Do I tell her to come?”

Sapphire smiled grimly, like she was telling someone to nail her inside a coffin. “Yes. Do it.”

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Depression Tips for Covid 19, Spiritually Speaking

 

Depression sucks. I’ve had bouts of it and gah. It literally felt like the world was grey and bleeding black around me. It was awful. My heart goes out to anyone experiencing depression right now due to the confinement situation, or from their work overload. So, today, while firing up my blog, I thought ‘hey, why not talk about tips for that?’.

I tend to focus on anxiety, because that’s what affects me the most, and I’m under the impression that it’s more common than depression. It’s also the general feeling I’ve been seeing people expressing online about this pandemic.

Yet, anxiety and depression tend to go together for me. Like, if I become very very anxious, depression can kick in. Yes, they can be separate, but as my mood swings are often anxiety based, so then can be my depression. My point is that they can be ‘co-morbid’, that they can go together as a package deal.

I sincerely hope that you, dearest reader, don’t suffer from chronic depression. If you do, I really suggest getting it checked out as soon as possible and get both medication and therapy as much as possible.

But what do you do if it’s ‘just’ the pandemic affecting you? If staying at home is just getting you ‘down’? Well, thankfully, that’s where our spirituality can kick in. We can use our spiritual practices to care for our inner wounds, and to boost us up.

That’s great and all, but how? How exactly can we use our spirituality to boost ourselves?  Well, I’ve compiled a list below. As usual, do what feels best for you and respect yourself and your limits. Also remember that there are hotlines that you can call if the depression gets too bad.

Ideas to combat Depression in the Pandemic:

  • Host a spirit party! You can’t have living people over, but what about the dead? What about the spirits? They certainly can’t give or catch ‘the virus’, so have them over!
    • you can make this a solemn affair as in Samhain, if that suits you, but I personally suggest making it more of a party. Throw confetti around, bake a cake, have some alcohol if you drink, and have all your guiding spirits over and eat with them! Read aloud some jokes, fairytales, and do some spirit communication however you feel (tarot, rune castings, trance work, etc).
    • Pro Tip: don’t forget to thank and ‘dismiss’ when you start feeling tired. As any party, don’t exhaust yourself energetically. Respect your limits!
    • Extra Pro Tip: use napkins or disposable plates to serve, to make as little mess/clean up as possible!
  • Do divination on a topic that’s not pandemic related. It could be on your garden’s future, your personal development, your psychic powers, what your talents are, and how grandma is doing on the other side. Just anything that’s not pandemic related. The point of this is to see/focus on all the life you still have, on all the projects that will continue beyond the reach of this pandemic.
  • Host a dumb supper/silent grieving period for those dying from the pandemic. The point behind this is to express our collective grief due to the pandemic. It’s normal to be upset by what’s happening, and (I think) it’s healthy to express it. This will not only give you a period within which to mourn, but it will also signal an ‘end’ to the mourning, at least for that day.
    • You can make this a daily ritual, depending on how much grief you feel. Say that every day you check the death tolls then find yourself crying. Then, instead of beating yourself up for being upset, make it part of a mourning ritual where you give yourself permission and space and a set amount of time to feel your grief. Then, when the time is over, try your best to move on and change your mind.
    • If you choose a dumb supper, you can lay out plates for the dead of specific regions, or do a specific region per day. Say, you grieve for Italy one day, Iran another, etc.
    • If you don’t have a lot of energy or want something simpler, you can simply burn a candle with the intention that it will guide the dead peacefully along their way to the otherworld.  an example of what one might say is, as lighting the candle “I light this candle, consecrating it to shine its light for those deceased of the COVID-19 pandemic. As this candle burns, a gate between the worlds is open, taking in all the wandering dead due to the pandemic and guiding them home by the light of this candle.”
    • You could also recite prayers for these dead, asking your presiding spirits/ whoever you feel like to take care of the spirits of the deceased due to the pandemic.
      • An example of such a prayer is “I pray to Anubis, Lord of the Dead. Please take those who have died of the plague in your arms. Be gentle with them. Ease their griefs and suffering and that of their loved ones. Weight their hearts gently and ease their passing into the other worlds.”
  • Pray to a solar deity to bring light into your life and banish depression. A prayer of this sort could go like: “I pray to Ra, Great God of the Sun. Please shine your light within my mind, within my heart and soul. Chase away the darkness of depression from my mind, heart and soul. Purify and invigorate me!”
    • Pro Tip: leave an offering to your preferred solar deity and engage in not only prayer, but also a deepening of your relationship with them. It can be as simple as putting up a sun picture, or baking them a cake and eating it with them. Just engage with them, and you will probably feel them in your life more!
  • Do exercise! Now, exercise is great for boosting the mind, but why not use that energy you’re creating to spread happiness in your home? A way to do this would be to visualize a rune such as Wunjo and imagine it radiating out from you as you exercise, spreading its energy out from you.
  • Cleanse and consecrate/charge your crystals to boost your mood. Simply laying them for a few hours in the sunlight, on a piece of paper on which you wrote ‘banish depression!’, can do the trick.
  • Obviously, you can burn invigorating incenses (like cinnamon!) or boil potpourri.
  • Ring bells to cleanse the air as well.
  • Do magical crafts! Ideas include:
    • Overhaul your altar!
    • Sew yourself a ritual robe, or embellish one you already have!
    • Practice a psychic skill.
    • Practice your basic ritual structure, such as circle casting, invoking, evoking, etc.
    • Write in your grimoire or BOS

Then, we have some basic pointers that are less spiritual

  • Let in sunlight
  • Call friends/relatives
  • Read books (especially books on spirituality!)
  • Paint/do crafts
  • Listen to uplifting music!

 

I hope this was helpful! Please take care of yourself and yours and have a great day! Lots of love to you all! ❤

lavender and massage oils
Photo by Elly Fairytale on Pexels.com

What the Shaman Does Not See in Mental Illness

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2014/08/22/shaman-sees-mental-hospital/

Wow, this is a very long post. As I finish editing my comments, I find myself marveling at the length of my word document. So, as a courtesy to all of those who don’t have time or the mental capabilities to read almost six thousand words, here is a summary.

In this article, the writer puts forth the idea that mental illness, especially schizophrenia, is actually a symptom of a spirit trying to ‘merge’ with the person. This desire for the spirit to do so is brought upon by the person themselves yearning for a connection with their ancestral ties. The person who the spirit chooses is supposed to be a ‘healer’ and a ‘medium’ and ‘sensitive’. Thus, the ‘shamanic view’ is to either ‘merge’ the person with the spirit or exorcise the spirit if it is harmful.

I disagree with this perspective very vocally. Bluntly, I call bullshit. As someone from a long line of schizophrenics and asylum-goers, as someone who has a mental illness themselves, I call bullshit. See? I can’t even stop myself from swearing in the summary. I swear a LOT in this article.

Why do I call bullshit? Why do I even bother with this article? Simply put, it was shoved in my face. Literally, someone in person told me to read it, super excited that it would help me. Cue rage. But then I had told myself it was just one person… and then I saw it cropping up all over online. Pagan pages, Wiccan pages, all over Facebook. And just when I thought the trend was over and it wasn’t virtually cropping up any more- I ran into someone who began preaching to me about the ‘shamanic views’ despite being on life-saving psychiatric medication that they could not get off of in order to be a safe citizen.

That’s when I realized that this article was destroying lives. It caused an inordinate amount of pressure on me. It convinced this poor lady that she should not be on the medication she is- and may cause her to try stopping them. And why? For the promise of some gold star when we die? Not even. We’re supposed to take some random person’s word for it because he’s a ‘shaman’. Whoop dee fucking doo.

Alright, so what’s my arguments? Read on…

Oh, right, here’s a summary for y’all. (But please do read the whole thing). I disagree spiritually with the concept of spirits ‘merging’ with human spirits. As a polytheist I believe spirits are independent, autonomous beings. Simply put, we do not merge. Furthermore, I disagree with his notion that there is ‘no spiritual framework’ in the ‘West’ to interpret psychic phenomenon, causing us to mislabel psychic activity as insanity. We have a plethora of psychics and psychic beliefs. My nugget of wisdom: psychic activity is not madness.

So here, ladies and gentlemen, is what I see as being wrong with “The Shamanic View of Mental Illness”, or rather… What the Shaman Does Not See in Mental Illness

(And yes, do not fear, there is lots more to be coming from me on this topic of shamanism and mental illness)

Stephanie Marohn
Waking Times

The Shamanic View of Mental Illness

In the shamanic view, mental illness signals “the birth of a healer,” explains Malidoma Patrice Somé. Thus, mental disorders are spiritual emergencies, spiritual crises, and need to be regarded as such to aid the healer in being born.

Wait a minute, all? Bi-polar, depression, the whole range? Alright. This seems ridiculously presumptuous but fine. Let’s roll with this lumpy turd of an idea.

What those in the West view as mental illness, the Dagara people regard as “good news from the other world.” The person going through the crisis has been chosen as a medium for a message to the community that needs to be communicated from the spirit realm. “Mental disorder, behavioral disorder of all kinds, signal the fact that two obviously incompatible energies have merged into the same field,” says Dr. Somé. These disturbances result when the person does not get assistance in dealing with the presence of the energy from the spirit realm.

One of the things Dr. Somé encountered when he first came to the United States in 1980 for graduate study was how this country deals with mental illness. When a fellow student was sent to a mental institute due to “nervous depression,” Dr. Somé went to visit him.

Whoa man. Is this whole article and perspective built off of psychiatric wards in the 80’s? That’s quite a while ago for an article that’s still being circulated in 2017. That’s almost forty years ago – a long time in the academic world. Because in case you didn’t know, psychiatric institutions have changed since the 80’s, with a ton of these changes being brought on by those with mental illnesses demanding these changes. So psychiatric wards now are changed by those with mental illness for those with mental illness. But hey, let’s keep reading.

“I was so shocked. That was the first time I was brought face to face with what is done here to people exhibiting the same symptoms I’ve seen in my village.” What struck Dr. Somé was that the attention given to such symptoms was based on pathology, on the idea that the condition is something that needs to stop. This was in complete opposition to the way his culture views such a situation. As he looked around the stark ward at the patients, some in straitjackets, some zoned out on medications, others screaming, he observed to himself, “So this is how the healers who are attempting to be born are treated in this culture. What a loss! What a loss that a person who is finally being aligned with a power from the other world is just being wasted.”

Oh. My. Gods. If all he knows about the complex medical system is one fucking visit into a psychiatric ward, then what does he really know? Ergotherapy exists. Psychologists exist and are available in schools, and there are therapists and hell, I even had a psychiatrist who was willing to work with me on my non-medication beliefs and told me which oils and natural remedies I could try. The ‘western medical system’ is far more complex than a bunch of people screaming in straight jackets.

Another way to say this, which may make more sense to the Western mind, is that we in the West are not trained in how to deal or even taught to acknowledge the existence of psychic phenomena, the spiritual world.

Stop! Hammer time. Wicca don’t exist, na na, na na, Catholic don’t exist, na na, na na. Ain’t got no spirituality, na na, na na.

Alright, seriously. As a Wiccan, as someone who was raised in a psychic environment and whose city boasts several well-running esoteric stores- bullshit. To claim that the ‘Western mind’ (thanks for lumping the vast multi-cultural experience of Canada into one gloop, dude) has no way to deal with the psychic world is to denigrate the vast field that is Western occultism and western esoterism. Catholics have mysticism, Wicca exists and… I could rant about this for days. Suffice to say that yes, we have ways to deal with the psychic world. We acknowledge it’s existence according to our own spiritual views.

In fact, psychic abilities are denigrated.

Alright, no. No, no, no. Psychic abilities are valued and looked up to. Tarot cards can be found in bookstores easier than candy. Mediums I know can charge exorbitant rates for their services. Those I know are highly respected members of their communities. Psychic abilities are not denigrated in Western Culture.

When energies from the spiritual world emerge in a Western psyche, that individual is completely unequipped to integrate them or even recognize what is happening.

Because Wicca don’t exist, na na, na na…. Alright I’ll stop. But seriously. When a spirit presents themselves to a Westerner, the Westerner can pop out a Tarot deck, knock on a medium’s door, pull out an ouija board, read some tea leaves, and so on and so forth. We are not unequipped.

The result can be terrifying. Without the proper context for and assistance in dealing with the breakthrough from another level of reality, for all practical purposes, the person is insane.

Wrong again! Many Westerners become successful mediums without ever being labelled as insane. In fact, those within the Western esoteric communities are reluctant to believe mental illnesses even exist (thanks to articles such as these). So no, a psychic is not considered insane. They are considered psychic, and praised for it.

Heavy dosing with anti-psychotic drugs compounds the problem and prevents the integration that could lead to soul development and growth in the individual who has received these energies.

Well. I am living proof otherwise, thank you very much. But don’t take it just from me. Take it from my grandmother too, who had murderous tendencies unless she was medicated, in which case she became a reliable and sweet homemaker. Oh, and also this random stranger I met who told me that they were bi-polar and getting messages to murder someone until they took their medication. How does medication that aids someone to become functional and balanced emotionally hinder them in any way? From ‘integration’ and ‘soul development’? I’m sorry, I developed during my mental illness the same way one develops from trauma. It wasn’t that the trauma itself was a good thing, and neither was the mental illness.

On the mental ward, Dr Somé saw a lot of “beings” hanging around the patients, “entities” that are invisible to most people but that shamans and psychics are able to see. “They were causing the crisis in these people,” he says. It appeared to him that these beings were trying to get the medications and their effects out of the bodies of the people the beings were trying to merge with, and were increasing the patients’ pain in the process. “The beings were acting almost like some kind of excavator in the energy field of people. They were really fierce about that. The people they were doing that to were just screaming and yelling,” he said. He couldn’t stay in that environment and had to leave.

Alright, as the resident psychic crazy person, let me ask this. What kind of spirit tries to hurt someone? If it’s causing the person pain and they know that medication is there to help, why not simply find another way? Oh, and was he sure these spirits were there to help? Because negative/destructive spirits exist. Oh, and let’s just point out that he left. He literally walked into the psychiatric ward, saw stuff that frightened him and which he did not understand (spiritually or otherwise) and left. Once gone, he drew a whole lot of conclusions off this very small experience. Finally, as a psychic, I’m just going to put it out there that not all psychics are right. That’s it, yep, i’m going there. Peoples, just because a shaman says he saw a bunch of spirits doesn’t mean that they actually were there. Within the polytheist community this is called UPG (unverifiable personal gnosis). The spirits may have been there doing what he says, or they may have not been there. Or, as has happened often with other psychics I know, he may have projected his feelings onto the spirits and assumed they were doing what he thought ought to be done subconsciously, that is, remove the medication. I’m not trying to denigrate him, I’m just saying to take his perspective with a grain of salt and a healthy dose of skepticism.

Personally, if I was to take a wild guess as to what was happening there, I would say the spirits were trying to adjust the medication to try and help influence the person’s illness. Because yeah, not all medication works all the time. So the spirits may have been trying to help, but they weren’t necessarily causing the illness. But hey, that’s my personal opinon. Let’s keep going.

In the Dagara tradition, the community helps the person reconcile the energies of both worlds–”the world of the spirit that he or she is merged with, and the village and community.” That person is able then to serve as a bridge between the worlds and help the living with information and healing they need. Thus, the spiritual crisis ends with the birth of another healer. “The other world’s relationship with our world is one of sponsorship,” Dr. Somé explains. “More often than not, the knowledge and skills that arise from this kind of merger are a knowledge or a skill that is provided directly from the other world.”

Uhm, okay. Why is he mingling the roles of a healer and a messenger? They’re kind of different specialties. Furthermore, this is all based upon his specific world-view. And as a polytheist, I believe that there can be many different world views, and many can be true and correct all at the same time- for different deities.His world-view may not apply to, say, Asatru deities or Egyptian ones. Just saying. Moving along…

The beings who were increasing the pain of the inmates on the mental hospital ward were actually attempting to merge with the inmates in order to get messages through to this world.

Allegedly this is what the spirits were doing. Allegedly. Not all UPG can be true, and we must take it with a healthy dose of salt. So allegedly, this is what the spirits were doing. My spirits have been quite content with my medication, and urged me to take it, thank you very much. … Also, ‘merge’, what are these spirits, body-snatchers? Spirits are not supposed to ‘merge’ with another soul. Every soul is unique and stands alone. This is his world-view, but certainly not mine. Spirits, according to me, do no such ‘merging’. They can stand by our sides and talk to us politely, thank you very much, they know how.

The people they had chosen to merge with were getting no assistance in learning how to be a bridge between the worlds and the beings’ attempts to merge were thwarted.

Well if these spirits were indeed there, why didn’t they try another method? Tarot cards? Crystal balls? Tea leaves? For crying out loud, spirits are intelligent, autonomous beings that can change their ways. If they saw that their efforts were landing their chosen humans into the psychiatric ward and plunging them into distress, why didn’t they stop?

The result was the sustaining of the initial disorder of energy and the aborting of the birth of a healer.

I just want to point out the dramatic language here. ‘Aborting of… a healer’. As if it is some sort of death for someone to get treatment and proper care.

“The Western culture has consistently ignored the birth of the healer,” [Again, this must be why we have n so thing as Wicca and esoterism here, (sarcasm)] states Dr. Somé. “Consequently, there will be a tendency from the other world to keep trying as many people as possible in an attempt to get somebody’s attention. They have to try harder.” The spirits are drawn to people whose senses have not been anesthetized. “The sensitivity is pretty much read as an invitation to come in,” he notes.

Waiiit a minute. So the spirit moves from one person to another. If the spirit leaves, then why isn’t the person cured after that? This makes no sense considering that mental illnesses are long-term conditions, not something someone cures themselves from like the flu. Furthermore, these spirits sound pretty damned rude, hopping from one person to another and trying the same old methods that they know produce harm. Spirits are intelligent, peoples! They can change their ways!

Those who develop so-called mental disorders are those who are sensitive, which is viewed in Western culture as oversensitivity. Indigenous cultures don’t see it that way and, as a result, sensitive people don’t experience themselves as overly sensitive. In the West, “it is the overload of the culture they’re in that is just wrecking them,” observes Dr. Somé. The frenetic pace, the bombardment of the senses, and the violent energy that characterize Western culture can overwhelm sensitive people.

Argl. Repeat after me. Sensitivity is not equal to mental illness. One is mental wellness, the other is mental illness. They are not the same thing. Period. Also, mental illness occurs across all historical periods and nations. It is not, as the author carelessly implied, a ‘Western’ problem. Yes, Western culture is not perfect but NO, it is not the root cause of mental illness.

Schizophrenia and Foreign Energy

With schizophrenia, there is a special “receptivity to a flow of images and information, which cannot be controlled,” stated Dr. Somé. “When this kind of rush occurs at a time that is not personally chosen, and particularly when it comes with images that are scary and contradictory, the person goes into a frenzy.”

No, it does not always cause a ‘frenzy’, thank you very much. What about catatonic schizophrenia? And of course, let’s focus only upon schizophrenia when there is a whole field of mental disorders out there.

What is required in this situation is first to separate the person’s energy from the extraneous foreign energies, by using shamanic practice (what is known as a “sweep”) to clear the latter out of the individual’s aura. With the clearing of their energy field, the person no longer picks up a flood of information and so no longer has a reason to be scared and disturbed, explains Dr. Somé.

The person is not always ‘scared and disturbed’! They can feel euphoric, ecstatic, ‘in tune’ with the universe!

Then it is possible to help the person align with the energy of the spirit being attempting to come through from the other world and give birth to the healer. The blockage of that emergence is what creates problems. “The energy of the healer is a high-voltage energy,” he observes. “When it is blocked, it just burns up the person. It’s like a short-circuit. Fuses are blowing. This is why it can be really scary, and I understand why this culture prefers to confine these people. Here they are yelling and screaming, and they’re put into a straitjacket. That’s a sad image.” Again, the shamanic approach is to work on aligning the energies so there is no blockage, “fuses” aren’t blowing, and the person can become the healer they are meant to be.

Yelling and screaming? This is stigma! It does not reflect many experiences of schizophrenia!

It needs to be noted at this point, however, that not all of the spirit beings that enter a person’s energetic field are there for the purposes of promoting healing. There are negative energies as well, which are undesirable presences in the aura. In those cases, the shamanic approach is to remove them from the aura, rather than work to align the discordant energies

Oh really? I would say any spirit causing harm and/or not being respectful needs to be removed! And can I point out that at this point, the theory is either to absorb the spirit or exorcise it? Can I point out that personally this has never worked for me, and that quite often when a person is having an episode there are no intrusive spirits present? If this theory were true, a good smudging/exorcism ritual would do the trick. Here’s a hint: it does not work that way. I have tried and no, smudging does not work any better than a placebo.

Alex: Crazy in the USA, Healer in Africa

To test his belief that the shamanic view of mental illness holds true in the Western world as well as in indigenous cultures, Dr. Somé took a mental patient back to Africa with him, to his village. “I was prompted by my own curiosity to find out whether there’s truth in the universality that mental illness could be connected with an alignment with a being from another world,” says Dr. Somé.

in the Western world as well as in indigenous cultures” what- are we fundamentally different and he needed to prove we were similar?! This is ridiculous.

Alex was an 18-year-old American who had suffered a psychotic break when he was 14. He had hallucinations, was suicidal, and went through cycles of dangerously severe depression. He was in a mental hospital and had been given a lot of drugs, but nothing was helping. “The parents had done everything–unsuccessfully,” says Dr. Somé. “They didn’t know what else to do.”

With their permission, Dr. Somé took their son to Africa. “After eight months there, Alex had become quite normal, Dr. Somé reports. He was even able to participate with healers in the business of healing; sitting with them all day long and helping them, assisting them in what they were doing with their clients . . . . He spent about four years in my village.” Alex stayed by choice, not because he needed more healing. He felt, “much safer in the village than in America.”

To bring his energy and that of the being from the spiritual realm into alignment, Alex went through a shamanic ritual designed for that purpose, although it was slightly different from the one used with the Dagara people. “He wasn’t born in the village, so something else applied. But the result was similar, even though the ritual was not literally the same,” explains Dr. Somé. The fact that aligning the energy worked to heal Alex demonstrated to Dr. Somé that the connection between other beings and mental illness is indeed universal.

Or rather, as someone who also traveled to Africa (Uganda) to try and heal, here’s another version of what happened. Mental illnesses have ups and downs. Calmed by the slow pace and less rigorous life style that was void of any past triggers, Alex relaxed. The flare of symptoms may have gone down to an unnoticeable level regarding such a lifestyle. My symptoms seemed lesser in Uganda, because less was expected of me. My confusion was far less noticeable because I was no longer expected to do math. The slower pace of life also allowed me more time to do my things, which again made my confusion seem less present. Did my symptoms go away though? No. They seemed better because the framework against which I was held was looser. This is what I believe happened to Alex.

After the ritual, Alex began to share the messages that the spirit being had for this world. Unfortunately, the people he was talking to didn’t speak English (Dr. Somé was away at that point). The whole experience led, however, to Alex’s going to college to study psychology. He returned to the United States after four years because “he discovered that all the things that he needed to do had been done, and he could then move on with his life.”

The last that Dr. Somé heard was that Alex was in graduate school in psychology at Harvard. No one had thought he would ever be able to complete undergraduate studies, much less get an advanced degree.

Oh Mah Gawds! A person with a mental illness succeeding! Quick, that must mean he is healed! Because there is no such thing as a successful or academic person with mental illness! Or… er… he is a successful person with a mental illness? There are lawyers who are schizophrenic. It doesn’t make them any less sick, it just means they are coping well. Read between the lines here people. Alex’s flare went down (as can happen with mental illnesses, there are ups and downs) and he went on to being successful. Was he ‘cured’? There is no mention of him no longer having schizophrenic symptoms. He was simply successful. Did he still hear voices and have delusions? Very possibly.

Dr. Somé sums up what Alex’s mental illness was all about: “He was reaching out. It was an emergency call. His job and his purpose was to be a healer. He said no one was paying attention to that.”

After seeing how well the shamanic approach worked for Alex, Dr. Somé concluded that spirit beings are just as much an issue in the West as in his community in Africa. “Yet the question still remains, the answer to this problem must be found here, instead of having to go all the way overseas to seek the answer. There has to be a way in which a little bit of attention beyond the pathology of this whole experience leads to the possibility of coming up with the proper ritual to help people.”

Longing for Spiritual Connection

A common thread that Dr. Somé has noticed in “mental” disorders in the West is “a very ancient ancestral energy that has been placed in stasis, that finally is coming out in the person.” His job then is to trace it back, to go back in time to discover what that spirit is. In most cases, the spirit is connected to nature, especially with mountains or big rivers, he says.

In the case of mountains, as an example to explain the phenomenon, “it’s a spirit of the mountain that is walking side by side with the person and, as a result, creating a time-space distortion that is affecting the person caught in it.” What is needed is a merger or alignment of the two energies, “so the person and the mountain spirit become one.” Again, the shaman conducts a specific ritual to bring about this alignment.

Alignment? Merging? What is this, a case of possession?Ancestral spirits are ancestral spirits, nature spirits are nature spirits. To merge with spirits is like an invasion of the soul. I completely disagree on this from a personl, UPG perspective. And yes, that is personal, but yes, I am still going to disagree on this point. I find it silly. I believe spirits are distinct, autonomous, and do not merge. Period. Energies can be exchanged, but that is not the same thing as ‘merging’ as he so speaks of.

Dr. Somé believes that he encounters this situation so often in the United States because “most of the fabric of this country is made up of the energy of the machine, and the result of that is the disconnection and the severing of the past. You can run from the past, but you can’t hide from it.” The ancestral spirit of the natural world comes visiting.

Well great, this should not be a problem for Wiccans, who are used to dealing with the natural spirits, invoking them and … whta’s that? Wiccans still have mental illnesses? Mental illnesses were there in ancient times when we were mythically (Pseudo-historically) ‘in tune’ with nature? Oh, bummer. So I guess it’s not about nature then, is it?

“It’s not so much what the spirit wants as it is what the person wants,” he says. “The spirit sees in us a call for something grand, something that will make life meaningful, and so the spirit is responding to that.”

Way to blame the fucking victim. What he basically said is ‘you wanted it, so you got it’. Wow. Thanks dude. Here’s an idea: STOP BLAMING VICTIMS. Plenty of people try and reach out to nature without calling a mental illness upon themselves. If this were true then every spiritual person would be having a mental illness, which is simply not the case!

That call, which we don’t even know we are making, reflects “a strong longing for a profound connection, a connection that transcends materialism and possession of things and moves into a tangible cosmic dimension. Most of this longing is unconscious, but for spirits, conscious or unconscious doesn’t make any difference.” They respond to either.

WOW! Just when I thought it couldn’t get better! More victim blaming iced onto the cake!

As part of the ritual to merge the mountain and human energy, those who are receiving the “mountain energy” are sent to a mountain area of their choice, where they pick up a stone that calls to them. They bring that stone back for the rest of the ritual and then keep it as a companion; some even carry it around with them. “The presence of the stone does a lot in tuning the perceptive ability of the person,” notes Dr. Somé. “They receive all kinds of information that they can make use of, so it’s like they get some tangible guidance from the other world as to how to live their life.”

When it is the “river energy,” those being called go to the river and, after speaking to the river spirit, find a water stone to bring back for the same kind of ritual as with the mountain spirit.

“People think something extraordinary must be done in an extraordinary situation like this,” he says. That’s not usually the case. Sometimes it is as simple as carrying a stone.

You know, that does sound like a lovely ritual. But what do we do if it doesn’t work?

A Sacred Ritual Approach to Mental Illness

One of the gifts a shaman can bring to the Western world is to help people rediscover ritual, which is so sadly lacking.

WOW, again. As if Muslim, Catholic, Neo-pagan, Wiccans, and Buddhists have no rituals whatsoever. That’s it y’all, shamans hold the key to the spirit world, they’re the only ones who know the truth, even though academically we can’t even agree upon what a shaman even is, and they all believe vastly different things and perform vastly different rituals. Just- bullshit. Alright? There’s plenty of rituals in the Western world, and no, we do not need shamans to guide us. We have our priests, priestesses, Imams, and monks.

“The abandonment of ritual can be devastating. From the spiritual view, ritual is inevitable and necessary if one is to live,” Dr. Somé writes in Ritual: Power, Healing, and Community. “To say that ritual is needed in the industrialized world is an understatement. We have seen in my own people that it is probably impossible to live a sane life without it.”

Sane?! Wow, this is just a *teensy * bit discriminatory. So what if some of us are leading ‘insane’ lives? And atheists, are they insane? Atheism is not a mental illness, thanks. The hollowness of a lack of religion is not the same thing as a mental illness. Plus, people have fully functional religious lives AND serious mental illnesses. The two are not exclusive!

Dr. Somé did not feel that the rituals from his traditional village could simply be transferred to the West, so over his years of shamanic work here, he has designed rituals that meet the very different needs of this culture. Although the rituals change according to the individual or the group involved, he finds that there is a need for certain rituals in general.

Argh. Again, we have rituals.

One of these involves helping people discover that their distress is coming from the fact that they are “called by beings from the other world to cooperate with them in doing healing work.” Ritual allows them to move out of the distress and accept that calling.

All the mentally ill are healers? Or just the schizophrenics? Also- what if this fails? Plenty of people have tried the ‘spiritual’ path of integrating with their mental illness’ symptoms. It fails. Spoiler alert to my whole blog: been there, done that, no success. Not even a shred thereof, and I can channel energy and be pretty damned psychic. So what then? Here’s the problem with this world-view: it does not allow for the reality that I (and many others) experiences of spirituality NOT being the answer to mental illness and that medication allows us to lead normal lives. That’s why this view is flawed, y’all. It’s not a case of the ghostbusters, it’s a case for medication.

Another ritual need relates to initiation. In indigenous cultures all over the world, young people are initiated into adulthood when they reach a certain age. The lack of such initiation in the West is part of the crisis that people are in here, says Dr. Somé. He urges communities to bring together “the creative juices of people who have had this kind of experience, in an attempt to come up with some kind of an alternative ritual that would at least begin to put a dent in this kind of crisis.”

Uhm… there is a lack of ‘coming of age’ markers in Western culture… but this has nothing to do with mental illness. Mental wellness maybe. Illness though, no. Big difference y’all.

Another ritual that repeatedly speaks to the needs of those coming to him for help entails making a bonfire, and then putting into the bonfire “items that are symbolic of issues carried inside the individuals . . . It might be the issues of anger and frustration against an ancestor who has left a legacy of murder and enslavement or anything, things that the descendant has to live with,” he explains. “If these are approached as things that are blocking the human imagination, the person’s life purpose, and even the person’s view of life as something that can improve, then it makes sense to begin thinking in terms of how to turn that blockage into a roadway that can lead to something more creative and more fulfilling.”

Ermahgerd! A basic ritual format! Did he not notice that this is performed commonly within Wicca? Did you really not notice the heaps upon heaps of Western esoteric practitioners chanting ‘let the negativity go, embrace the light’? Or did you just think Westerners had no actual spiritual practices…. Oh right, that’s the flawed basis for this article.

The example of issues with an ancestors touches on rituals designed by Dr. Somé that address a serious dysfunction in Western society and in the process “trigger enlightenment” in participants. These are ancestral rituals, and the dysfunction they are aimed at is the mass turning-of-the-back on ancestors. Some of the spirits trying to come through, as described earlier, may be “ancestors who want to merge with a descendant in an attempt to heal what they weren’t able to do while in their physical body.”

“Unless the relationship between the living and the dead is in balance, chaos ensues,” he says. “The Dagara believe that, if such an imbalance exists, it is the duty of the living to heal their ancestors. If these ancestors are not healed, their sick energy will haunt the souls and psyches of those who are responsible for helping them.” The rituals focus on healing the relationship with our ancestors, both specific issues of an individual ancestor and the larger cultural issues contained in our past. Dr. Somé has seen extraordinary healing occur at these rituals.

Okay Westerners, NEWSFLASH! Ghosts exist! Oh wait what? You already knew that? You all know someone who sees ghosts? Okay, nevermind then.

Dude! How many times do I have to say that Westerners have their own beliefs? That Catholics have prayers for the dead in purgatory, that many mediums will channel ancestors and bring in the white light for angry ones and what have you? It’s there! We even have TV shows about mediums, for crying out loud!

Taking a sacred ritual approach to mental illness rather than regarding the person as a pathological case gives the person affected–and indeed the community at large–the opportunity to begin looking at it from that vantage point too, which leads to “a whole plethora of opportunities and ritual initiative that can be very, very beneficial to everyone present,” states. Dr. Somé.

Here’s a different perspective. Denying the biological roots and victim-blaming is bad enough. Do we need to get the whole community involved? In that case, it becomes bullying and may cause an unhealthy amount of pressure upon the person. We need to realize that mental illness exists. We need to give the mentally ill support, yes, but also some fucking privacy. It’s no one else’s business how my day goes. It’s my own choice if I want to talk about my hallucinations. Does that mean anyone else in my community is impacted by my private biological affairs? NO! We would not say the same thing about recognizably biological illnesses, so why inflict this view upon those with mental illness who already suffer from peer pressure to perform as well as neuro-typical people do?

Excerpted from:  The Natural Medicine Guide to Schizophrenia Chapter 9), and The Natural Medicine Guide to Bipolar Disorder (Chapter 10). Stephanie Marohn.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to replace medical care.  You need to consult your doctor regarding any change in your medication. The author and publisher disclaim any responsibility for how you choose to employ the information in this books and the result or consequences of any of the treatments covered. 

My Disclaimer: Here’s another idea- if your article is urging people even subliminally to get away from their precious and life-saving medical care- then maybe it doesn’t need to be published. K, thanks, we suffer enough discrimination already, we didn’t need it to be shoved in our face from so-called ‘spiritual’ people.