Light in the Darkness: Healing & Hope

For me Spring has always been the most joyous season. As a child I liked Spring because it signaled the end of the school year, and there was the Easter-holiday in there too. When I lived in the Midwest, Spring (with all of its starts and stops) was always the most welcome season. Winter in Michigan sometimes lasted from November until early April . . . . but buds on trees, the scent of flowers, open windows, even something as simple as rain instead of snow were all moments when I felt truly blessed. Despite what people tell me out here, Northern California has a short winter so many of my favorite “Signs of Spring” happen in February instead of April or May. Even with the different seasonal time-table late March-early May still has an energy and excitement all its own.

Spring is not just a season, it’s also an idea. It’s a time of year we fill with our hopes, dreams, and joys. The plans of Summer and Autumn are sweet day-dreams this time of year. As a Pagan this is often the time of year I feel the most happy. Beltane is an important marker on the Wheel of the Year, but there’s often a lightness of spirit associated with it. There are no pressures, it’s just a time to be Pagan, I love it. There’s the joyful toil of the garden (an experience that literally finds me in the Earth for extended periods of time) and the simple pleasures that come from being able to read a book outside. Spring is playful, flirtatious, spiritually fulfilling, and generally just a happy time for me as a Pagan, but not this year.

The last few weeks have made me not want to be a Pagan. I haven’t wanted to write, engage in ritual, or even commune with the gods. The myriad of small joys I usually experience this time of year have just all felt tainted. If you’re a Pagan-blog reader you know what’s going on. Prominent Pagans doing absolutely horrible things . . . . . there are moments when right and wrong are especially clear, those are allegations that cannot simply be explained away or blamed on something else. But that was just the start, because it touched off a whole host of recollections, reflections, and memories. This thing that I love so much (Pagandom) has caused hurt and that is simply unacceptable.

I’ve had a few people tell me that “we” (as a community) didn’t do anything wrong, but is that true? I can’t help but think we’ve turned a blind eye to these types of issues (and crimes) in the past. Anytime someone feels pressured into a situation they aren’t comfortable with we have a problem as a community. I want a Pagandom where everyone is free to experience the many joys it has to offer. If our house continues to be one where some people are forced to constantly look over their shoulder we will never have that Pagandom.

I feel as if writing things like “if something good can come out of all this” shows just how poor of a writer I truly am. There is nothing good about anyone being abused or having their trust betrayed, but sometimes confronting these issues in an honest and straight-forward manner can lead to change. I’m hopeful that will happen and the end result will be a safer and better Pagandom. Twisted individuals will continue to show up in our communities as they do in every religious group, but if we can create an environment where people feel safe speaking up (and most importantly are listened to) perhaps we can minimize some of that damage.

I’ve never been one to believe that magic is capable of solving all of life’s problems, and certainly issues like the ones we are currently confronting in the Pagan Community require more than the right words and stones, but magic can still be of help. Sometimes the right spell helps to put things in perspective while providing a little clarity. A few weeks ago I mentioned to my wife that perhaps some sort of healing spell was in order at our next ritual as a way of helping those who have been victimized. She agreed, but when it came to write that ritual I was just unable to. The night of the ritual my wife told me to “just sit” while she and another coven member prepared everything for our rite. Again, I’m not sure magick is capable of fixing every problem, but it made me feel as if we were doing something, and galvanizing ourselves for the work that needs to continue into the future.

A Spell for Community Healing

Materials Needed:
-A candle (preferably white or black)
-pins/needles
-Mother of Pearl chips/beads
-Obsidian chips/beads

(My wife saves everything and the chips we used were originally from a necklace that broke, making it easy to slide each one onto a pin/needle.)

We used obsidian to drive away negativity and as a source of grounding for those that need a sense of well-being during these difficult times. The mother of pearl symbolizes healing, as it is formed when an oyster is dealing a painful situation that needs to be managed. It’s also symbolic of how an agonizing state of affairs can sometimes be turned into something positive (in this case a more pro-active approach towards dealing with serious issues).

The best spells utilize all four elements, and Earth, Air, Fire, and Water are all represented here. As a rock obsidian is obviously representative of earth, but also of fire in which was forged. Air helps to cool and transform it. Mother of pearl is born under the sea, but it’s also a part of the earth since tiny grains of sand are often its origin points. Our spell is made manifest by the words which we speak (air) and our intentions are released with the power of fire.

During our ritual each member of the coven slid a rock chip onto a needle and then stuck that needle through a candle. As the pins were pushed into the candle each person stated their intent. “For healing.” “For safety.” “For awareness.” “For protection.” We then all charged the candle as a group, standing in a circle around the candle and pushing our individual energies into it. We did this through toning, but it could also be done through a chant or even a dance. When we were done we lit the candle with our High Priestess stating that it was “a light in the darkness, to provide healing, protection, awareness, with the hope that by acknowledging our problems we might create a better tomorrow for all with good in their hearts.”

We kept the candle burning until all the pins in it had dropped and the candle had burnt out. I’d like to say that ended the spell and all was suddenly right with the word, but that was all only just a start. Our magic was released, but our responsibilities continue.

When our ritual ended I didn’t suddenly start feeling as if our problems as a community had suddenly ended, far from it. It was cathartic and I felt better when we were done, but any pain I’ve felt over the last few weeks is nothing compared to those who have been abused, compromised, or taken advantage of. My heart remains saddened by so many of the things I’ve read online and in private correspondence over the last few weeks. For me Spring will be a little less joyful than usual this year, but it also comes with hope, and sometimes hope can be a very beautiful thing indeed. Share how you feel with those you love and promise to keep them close and as safe as you are able.

About Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey has been involved with Paganism for the last twenty years, and has spent the last ten of those years as a speaker, writer, and High Priest. Jason can often be found lecturing on the Pagan Festival circuit, so you might just bump into him. When not reading and researching Pagan history he likes to crank up the Led Zeppelin, do rituals in honor of Jim Morrison (of The Doors), and sing numerous praises to Pan, Dionysus, and Aphrodite. He lives in Sunnyvale CA with his wife Ari and two hyper-kinetic cats.


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