I’m not OK.
Chances are, you aren’t either.
We worry. We can’t sleep for worrying. About the economic hits, about our health and the health of our loved ones, our coworkers, our employees, and about what further permutation of this disease is out there that we just don’t know about yet.
We’re all actively practicing self-care during this pandemic—attending virtual yoga classes, rituals, book discussion groups, learning new technologies to strengthen our connections with family, friends, coven mates. And many of us are likely also deeply engaged in supporting the education of our children and young adults, caring for aging parents, working from home, or deemed “essential”, requiring us to go out into a scary world and put ourselves on a dangerous front line.
Lately I’ve been thinking about how I—and perhaps many of us—often mistake routine for control. The routines of our lives have been upended and will be for weeks yet (during which times new routines will establish themselves, only to be disrupted once again), and so many things feel like they are completely out of our control. And they are, but really, they’ve always been; it is our routines that lull us into believing we are in control.
So many times I hear that witchcraft is about understanding how the world works and bending that mechanism to our purpose. Perhaps that is the case for you, but it hasn’t been for me. I send my energy out with intent, ask Hekate (and lately Brigid quite a lot) for support—I do my work—but the truth (for me) is that making a petition to a god or goddess is a lot like dropping a pebble into a lake. Rings of energy go out from that point of insertion—that petition—that we just cannot perceive wholly. We are not infinite, and neither is our knowledge and certainly not our ability to bend the unseen worlds to our will.
So, is it useless to make petitions for strength and healing in this pandemic? No. Whether it’s “magical thinking” or not, if I feel renewed in my confidence to deal with whatever is thrown my way after communing with my deities, then my daily spirit work is valuable.
None of us—I hope—are relying solely on magick to protect us from COVID-19. We’re doing all “the things”. And because we’re doing all “the things”, our energies are going to be dampened even with the active use of our magickal toolkits.We’re tired. We’re stressed. And we’re scared. And while our deities may not be able to lift us up out of that energy completely, they can help us find a stabilizing balance in this new normal.
The point I’m struggling to make is this: it’s OK not to be OK. Particularly here in the West, where we’re so steeped in a Steve Austin mindset (faster, better, stronger), we might feel like if we just tried harder, if we were just better at magick, we’d be able to manage our feelings better during this prolonged shelter-in-place.
The shoulda-woulda-coulda mantra. I should have been able to concentrate enough to get that book started. I would have done X if I had just known Y. I could have gotten so much done if I had managed to get out of my pajamas.
I’ll say it again: it’s OK not to be OK. It’s OK to be as kind to yourself as you very likely are to others. Self care is not selfish. If your body or spirit needs some cuddle time, it’s OK to ask for it, either of yourself if you live alone or of others if you live in community. When the kids are asleep or otherwise safely occupied, it’s OK if you find you need to step outside and howl your rage and sorrow and frustration to the skies and water the plants with your tears.
Most of all, it’s OK to sit a little while in that feeling of not being OK, to not be in too much of a hurry to sweep your depression under the rug. To acknowledge those feelings, honor them, and then figure out how they fit into the overall landscape of your well-being.
I’ll not close by jollying us along, saying “we can do this!” (although, we can). If you’re in an exhausted state mentally, spiritually, or emotionally, such rah-rahing just comes off sounding insensitive and bizarrely chirpy. This is rough stuff we’re all going through, and we need to honor the feelings we’re having around that.
Instead, I’ll close asking that all of us hold our healthcare workers, our hospital staff people, our grocery clerks, pharmacists, postal workers—and all the other oh-so-necessary and dear people who are placing themselves at risk—in our workings and our prayers.
And if that’s you, please know how profoundly grateful I am for the work you are doing. You are heroic, and I salute you.