Life’s Healing Lessons

Life’s Healing Lessons August 17, 2020

Altar with many candles
Picture of my altar. Copyright Laurel Reufner.

Sometimes our most deeply felt and profound lessons in life are also the hardest learnt. However, once learned, they stick with us for life. And if we’re lucky, we can pass that hard-won wisdom on to someone else, sparing them those particular knocks from life. Today I’d like to share with you a couple of magical healing lessons every witch should know,  that I had to learn the hard way. To this day, those lessons affect how I send healing energy out to others.

The Setup

Let us travel back to the late 1990s, where my stepfather was battling a particularly nasty type of prostate cancer. It did appear that he’d battled it to a standstill. Unfortunately, this form of cancer also usually travels together with a form of bone cancer, with which he was also shortly diagnosed.

I’d been sending vague healing energy his way for quite some time. You probably know what I’m talking about – the kind of energy you send off when you remember to do so, or when you happen to be thinking about the person involved. It was sometime after the diagnosis for bone cancer that I got serious. At the time I had a handmade, green candle that contained inclusions of rosemary. Onto my altar went the candle and I began lighting it daily. I’d spend a few minutes visualizing healing energy winging its way to my stepfather, two hours away from where I live, and visualize him whole, healthy, and vital once more. Then, I’d go off and do whatever while the candle burned for half an hour or so.

Several months after I started this little ritual for my stepfather, I discovered that my high school sweetheart – whom I hadn’t seen or spoken to in a long time – was fighting a benign brain tumor. I won’t bore you with the details but suffice it to say he got added to the healing. Now I had some serious energy heading in two different directions during my daily healing ritual.

Magical Healing Lesson One

After a while, my health started to suffer. I’d get sick at the drop of a pin. Now, in all honesty, my immune system hadn’t been in the best of shape in a long time. I’d spent too much time on antibiotics, and it had gotten rather lazy. However, it hadn’t been this bad in a long time. I had a young child in the house and couldn’t spend all that time in bed getting over a touch of whatever was going around.

Then it hit me, Life’s Healing Lesson Number 1. I’d been sacrificing my own health while trying to help my stepfather and former flame. There was nothing wrong with lighting a candle and sending energy fleeting off to someone who was in need, but the spell worker needs to remember to cut that flow of energy at some point during the ritual. Let the energy that’s been set loose go off and do its job while you trust to the Universe that things are working as they should. In my ritual, the point where I should have visualized that energy flow interrupted should probably have been when the candle was extinguished. That one little change made a big difference in how I felt.

Had my healing ritual only taken the span of a few days, there probably wouldn’t have been any problems with my own energy being depleted, but since the ritual had been going on for weeks, it became unavoidable. Something to keep in mind when working your own healings on loved ones. Remember, you can’t be of help to anyone if you’re too tired or ill to focus.

At this point, you’ve probably realized that my story isn’t over. After all, I’ve hinted at a second of Life’s Healing Lessons. Sadly, this lesson had to do with learning to let go and realize that sometimes the time for healing energy has passed.

Magical Healing Lesson Two

Outside photo during winter showing a large cauldron setting in front of a stone wall.
Copyright Laurel Reufner

I’m lucky in that I still had both of my grandmothers and all three of my parents well into my 30s. And when my maternal grandmother died, just shy of the age of 90, it was because her body just finally gave out. It was all rather quick. My stepfather was a different matter. He fought these cancers for years, despite the odds, and he was winning. And he was as close and as important to me as both of my birth parents. So maybe the next of Life’s Healing Lessons hadn’t occurred to me before simply because I’d not yet faced losing anyone quite that important to me.

Remember that prostate cancer we thought my stepfather had beaten into a pulp? Well, apparently if even a single cell is missed, it comes back. And when it does, it comes back with a vengeance. Before we knew it, the rogue cells had entangled his kidneys and were choking them off.

Out came the healing candle again. I started sending healing energy to him once again each day, remembering the first Healing Life Lesson. Then, one day a few weeks before the end, I had a revelation. What if healing energy wasn’t what he really needed? What if I might, somehow, only be helping prolong his pain and postponing the inevitable? What if it was time to let go?

I didn’t light the candle right away and instead thought about it a bit more. As human beings, we tend to want to help. Christians pray for those who are ill or seriously injured and we Pagans send energy. Sometimes it may not be much, but I feel sure that it all adds up. Get enough in the positive column and it can perhaps tip the balance to a more favorable outcome.

Sometimes, however, we reach a point where it doesn’t matter how much prayer or energy gets sent. A point of no return has already been passed and the outcome is inevitable. This was probably one of those times. Despite everything doctors tried and in spite of all the healing, protective energy and prayers that would be directed his way, my stepfather’s time had come. What does one do in such circumstances? It seems silly to continue praying or sending healing energy to someone who’s body can no longer be affected by it.

I eventually lit the candle and sent energy, but it was different this time. This time I offered the healing energy to his soul if needed it – if it could use it. And if the time for such healing was past, then I instead asked his soul to use it instead to help ease his passing and to make his remaining time with us as pain-free and gentle as possible. I asked that he not suffer. And then I wrapped him in the whitest protective light I could muster up and send. Finally, I cried some for the man who’d been such an influence on my life and who I had come to love and respect so very much.


My stepfather was a former Marine and a very brave and compassionate man. He was also pretty smart. He probably figured out long before the rest of us that he wasn’t going to get better this time. The cancer was winning, and his health had reached a point where any treatments or surgeries were merely serving as stopgap measures that would only prolong his life for small periods of time. Whatever was done couldn’t really do anything to improve his quality of life. Even dialysis left him feeling weaker and more drained after each session. He finally decided it was time to stop fighting. He made the decision to die peacefully and at home. My mother’s only requirement was that he not suffer. That there would not be any pain. It took him nearly two weeks to make that final journey to the great unknown. Just after hearing his young granddaughters’ musical voices one last time, a big wind – heralding a coming blizzard – passed through where my mother and he lived, taking him with it.

And so, dear readers, that is the second Healing Life Lesson I must share with you. Sometimes, for whatever reason, you can’t help a person heal, but just maybe you can help them move on to the next stage in their soul’s great adventure. It does require a certain bravery on your part, an ability to let go when you selfishly want to keep them with you. Denying that understandable selfishness can be the hardest thing to do, but sometimes it’s also the most compassionate, for both of you.

Finally, this is the article mentioned in A Simple Candle Healing Spell.

Blessed be.

PS. The high school sweetheart is still alive and well.

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