Saoirse February, 2016
Spring Equinox 2016 for
Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times
Greetings from cool, moist, Ohio. We had five days of snowy , icy yuck, and now it is all melting. I have no complaints. I was able to open the sliding glass door and air out the house a bit without the heat switching back on.
We have had a very warm winter here, thanks to El Nino- or what some believe is human induced global warming and what others feel is climate change that was coming all on its own. I have not decided what I believe is causing this freakishly warm weather- but today is January 15, 2016, and the temperature is currently listed at 46 degrees Fahrenheit in Westerville, Ohio. I like it!
I will not be longing for the Vernal Equinox quite as pitifully as I usually do this year, but the time of new life and change the Sabbat brings will be more than welcome- as always.
This year’s Spring brings a new opportunity- a spot in our community garden. Unbeknownst to me, this garden has been established for quite some time for land starved suburbanites who just want to grow stuff. While we have grown things at home for years, we have never had a large space where we could grow, as the Metro Parks professional said, “anything legal” . There is room for potatoes, corn, pumpkins, squashes, okra, lettuces, you name it. I will have room grow some of all of the above. It costs a total of $45 for the whole year- not per month. And water is provided free as well as trash pickup for fall cleanup. It is a grand two miles from my house.
As a Pagan, walking an earth based path, working in my garden has brought me closer to the divine, and showed me firsthand how interconnected all life is. Even the “bugs” help me and I help them. I plant things they like to live on and eat, and they buzz around, pollinating everything for me. It is “our” garden. Then, after harvest, the “bugs” who have moved in, die sometimes, and their little bodies that tended and pollinated the flowers decompose into the soil or provide food for larger animals.
A larger garden area will be a lot more work! Physically, it will be more trying, and growing more food than just a few tomato plants will give me a better understanding about what it means to be reliant upon the earth. It’s an understanding I can’t grasp by simply buying foods at the supermarket! I still swat flies, and put out vinegar solution when they get into my house- but gardening has helped me to see my connection with the rest of creation- plant and animal- aside from just humans.
Speaking of connection with other humans- a subject came up this week- well, a friend actually brought it up-a subject that is a perfect one to discuss as we prepare for the season new growth and positive changes- relationships that pull us down.
We’ve all had them. Do you have any friends who maybe use you- and are never there for you when you need them? Or maybe you have a friend who throws fits in public and you get sick of listening to it. Maybe you have a friend who criticizes other people in your presence and it makes you tired to hear it. Ever wonder what they might say about you when you are not around? Probably the same things they say to you about everybody else.
While we all have bad habits- and there is one thing or another the people who love us graciously put up with- but it is quite another thing to put up with people who are toxic to you.
Last Vernal Equinox, I wrote about some history of the celebration, and did a suggested working of clearing clutter out of the house- getting rid of unwanted and unnecessary things.
Here is a link to that article-
This Equinox, I’ll touch on just a bit of history- and emphasis will be paid to the subject of clearing undesirable people and relationships out of our lives, which is perhaps the most difficult thing to do, as well as a proposed working. These undesirable relationships act as poison does to our plants in our gardens. In the gardens of our lives, we cannot grow, let alone maintain joy and thrive when we are bogged down by people who hurt us.
What is Spring Equinox?
Simply stated, it is one of the two Equinoxes- the other being in falltime- these are when day and night are equal. Spring’s equinox means the days have been growing longer, the nights shorter, and thankfully, the days will be getting even longer afterwards.
The deeper meaning of this is not so simply stated. It means things will start growing again and the time to plan laying of seeds is at hand. People like me can break in that soil, or start shopping for supplies and get started with gardening. But for the pre-Christian Pagans, it meant they needed to get moving with planting foodcrops and all the preparation that lead up to sowing those seeds. Since they could not just run to market and grab whatever they preferred to eat, this was a very important time.
One of the places that would have been in preparation for food growing is the famous Ceide Fields, in Ireland. The use of the fields goes back five thousand plus years! Not only were there fields there, but also homes, and cattle were raised there. I am jealous of the fact it was warm enough there for almost year round growing! This was after the hunter gatherer lifestyle was replaced by cereal growing, which caused a population growth.
Here is the museum website for the location if you would like more information.
Many of today’s consumers shun carbs and gluten as much as possible. But back before refrigeration and mass processing of foods to preserve them for longer periods, wheat, barley, and rye could be ground and stored for future use. Many of us assume that simply drying and canning in crockery the fruits and veggies was enough to keep cuisine delicious and interesting. But a friend who dried tomatoes pointed out to me that not having access to fresh produce limits what can be done in dishes. Take the tomatoes for example. Sure, you are able to can and dry tomatoes, but having them fresh means none of the nutrients have been boiled away, and you can do a lot more with them recipe wise. You can always dry or preserve, but no amount or reconstitution can completely reproduce the fresh product’s texture. Grains that are natural provide high amounts of both fiber and proteins, while much of the modern processed grain does not. Processing then would not have stripped the grains of the nutrients like today’s factory processing. Remember, though, many non-processed grain products very high in nutrients are available today, even though price can be higher.
Baking breads and pastries all winter long could also help keep the house warm, and can be packed up and taken on trips for sustenance. Grains were a miracle thousands of years ago.
Like the ancient Pagans focused on nourishing themselves and planting their crops come Springtime, so we focus on nourishing our souls. Unfortunately, it’s not always fun to admit, some things and people we might like are very bad for us. Two of my favorite books address this issue.
Nasties and more
One of my very favorite books I read upon becoming Pagan was Konstantinos’ book Vampires, The Occult Truth. Here is a link to his websites listing for it if you would like to know more about the book.
One of the topics discussed is how some people just exhaust us. Sometimes they don’t mean to- as any nurse working with people who are sick or dying can attest to. People take a little of the energy of other people when they are not well, or sometimes, when they are mourning, or just having a bad day. I am sure this is something we have all unintentionally done. But what about the people who are just excruciating to be around ALL THE TIME? Who might be what we call drama queens, adrenaline junkies, or people who are chronic complainers and seem to be perpetually miserable?
There are those who use us for money or favors and never reciprocate due to being self-centered opportunists too, of course. And also, there are the people whose very presence makes you tired, sad, headachy, or filled with dread. They might not TAKE anything physically, but they TAKE your sense of wellbeing and they can also take away your peace of mind.
There is another book I read that really helped. It’s not specifically a Pagan book. It’s one of those “self-help books”. I could not put this down once I picked it up. I was absolutely riveted. It’s called Nasty People by Jay Carter, and it’s all about people whose words and behaviors are just that- nasty. Here is a link to this book if you are interested.
Call these people nasty, or vampires, or whatever you prefer, but they are absolutely toxic- and they have to go if we want to thrive.
It’s not just all in the Family
Most often, you hear people lament how their blood relatives fall in to the category of being nasty or toxic, but if you really think about it, I bet you know somebody, if not yourself, who has chosen to surround themselves with a person or people who they have an option to discard who is bad for them. I know I have been guilty of this. Like me, maybe your excuse is , “But I LOVE them!”
Becoming a witch is the thing that helped me with that mindset. I changed from the mindset I was taught- that I would store up rewards in heaven- to a mindset of personal responsibility for NOW. I was also able to recognize forgiveness is not something owed to everybody alive.
The definition that was hammered into my head of forgiveness was that no matter how badly somebody treated you- it is your responsibility to pretend it never happened and “move on” as well as allowing them to continue mistreating you- because you owe it to other people not to bother them with the fact it happened.
Nobody seemed to care what was happening to me, and for a time, neither did I.
Being a witch changed me to realize that I actually did care, and that was good enough. I realized that I deserved to be treated well even if some other people did not see it that way, and that I was not required to come around people and situations that were bad for me just because some other people felt I ought to. Being a witch instilled in me belief that I was just as worthy of being treated well as everybody else, and the fact I was born in a situation did not dictate what the rest of my life had to be.
I triumphantly stepped away from the people who told me this was not so- and right smack dab into similar relationships with new people, completely unaware that although I had stepped away from one toxic situation- that old habits died hard- and I’d unwittingly found a way to continue the cycle.
Being a witch meant I pledged to become more aware- first of my surroundings, and that spilled over into becoming more aware of myself and my own choices and how they created my reality. I was still participating in toxic relationships. At age forty, I realize this is something I will have to be careful all the days of my life. I also realize I am not the only one who has to.
Even if you were not raised by toxic people- there are LOTS of toxic people in the world. They are all looking out for one thing- their own interests. Multiple sources state- empaths and giving people are chronically approached by toxic people. The hard part for givers and empaths to accept is the fact that just because somebody asks for something does not mean we have to give it to them.
Allowing ourselves to be mistreated or taken advantage of is NOT helping people who are ”asking for help”. It is enabling. It hurts them worse than they hurt us. I had one friend who was too lazy to go to a Laundromat to do her laundry and I told her she could do her laundry at my house every week. In the combined time it took her to get to and from my house, she could have been at least halfway finished with her laundry at a Laundromat near her home! Yeah, MAYBE I should have said no and made her do the grown up thing of having her own independence to do her laundry on her own, but that was a very small thing, and certainly not what I am talking about here when I say we ought not to enable.
An example I will give is years ago I met a woman who decided to stop her medication regimen because she “did not want to take pills.” Before you start hating on “big pharma” and tell me all the reasons why we should use food as medicine and that all drugs are evil, let me just say these pills did not have any negative effects on her, and they very successfully controlled her hallucinations. At first, she maintained appearances very well, but within six months of her refusing medications, her behavior turned unstable and even self destructive. For the sake of confidentiality, I will say little. The day eventually came when I told her she needed to go back to her therapist and medication as opposed to consulting me and other psychics and new age healers. It took me a very short while to figure out the “advice” she was seeking from tarot was to ease the anxiety she was unable to control with homeopathic practice, and the dramatic situations she got herself, and the people around her into were giving her adrenaline rushes she did not seek when her brain chemistry was being regulated effectively. She wanted me to tell her this thrill seeking lifestyle was okay, and the people who told her it was unhealthy were wrong and were against her.
I refused to enable her behaviors because I cared about her. In the short term, it made her unhappy with me, but in the long run, supporting the things that are bad for her prolongs deep unhappiness with her life, and it is not a loving thing to do.
It is hard to admit sometimes the reason we “help” people is because it makes us feel good about ourselves. How many people do you know who talk about all the things they do for other people? You can always tell who has a sense of self-importance when the conversation always turns to all the great things they think they do and all the people who rely on them and just could not get by without them. The praise and stroking we get from people who come to us to do things for them can make us feel like worthy, magnanimous people. We all love praise and being thanked for what we do is always nice. I mean, nobody wants to feel unappreciated! Positive feedback reinforces that we are doing that which we ought to continue doing.
When I became a witch, however, by belief that my existence was strictly for the sake of others began to dissipate. I see myself as just as important as anybody else. I am not better, wiser, or more helpful to humanity than the next person.
I am important, but not so crucial that humanity could not survive without me. I can help lift people up, improve lives, and do good wherever I go. But when I cross the veil, the wheel of the year will still turn without me, and life will go on as usual.
This mindset helped me realize that while people who ask me to enable them might lie to me and tell me that allowing them to take advantage of me is crucial for their survival, that really isn’t so. They could ditch me any day and find some other poor sucker to feed off of. And you can bet they always will once a better opportunity comes along. This is entirely different than pitching in and helping loved ones. But be aware, users feed off other people’s need to love and be loved. Sometimes, the person who you consider a beloved is nothing more than a parasite who has convinced you that you have a relationship when in fact you don’t. They are simply keeping you around for what they can get from you.
Feeling taken for granted and taken advantage of in relationships does not feel good at all. And it does nothing to benefit the people you allow to take advantage of you. It teaches them bad habits and to mistreat other people. Chances are, they already did that before they met you and will continue doing so to whoever will let them for the rest of their lives- but that does not mean we have to allow them to drag us into it. So if it feels better to look at refusing to enable toxic behaviors as being more harmful to toxic people- as opposed to watching out for yourself- so be it.
Last year’s Spring Equinox ritual was a cleaning of unwanted THINGS from your house.
This years working will be to get rid of unwanted PEOPLE. Like a plant needs pruning, so our homes and lives need cleared out sometimes. This opens us up to move forward into new experiences. Ever see a rosebush that is overgrown with dead branches? That is what our lives are like when we are bogged down with experiences and people that no longer serve us.
- Trust yourself- and recognize your right to be happy and choose who you want in your life. No amount of spellwork to get toxic people out of your life will work unless you believe that you deserve better. It may result in certain individuals being removed from your life, but you will walk right into similar situations with other people if you do not believe you deserve better.
- Do not listen to people who try to talk you out of this- The minute you tell a toxic person you want no more contact with them, chances are, the verbal abuse and manipulation will begin. They will likely call you a bad friend/lover/family member and say you lack devotion and you owe it to them to remain in a relationship with them. They might list all the reasons why you ought to appreciate them putting up with you- all the bad things you do and nobody but them, who loves you SO much, will even bother to be around you. They may list all the things they have done FOR you, throwing it up in your face, and saying the fact you want to terminate a relationship shows what an unworthy friend/lover/family member you are. They might go and complain about you or demonize you to other people who may in turn harass you, chastise you, and either demand you take the other person back, or they will take sides against you and not be friends with you anymore based on your so-called mistreatment of the toxic person you are stepping away from. Consider this them doing you a favor.
- Don’t be afraid to be alone- They might tell you that you will wind up all alone. First off, that will never happen. Population is too high in the world! You may take some time to form some new relationships, but rest assured, they will form. In the meantime, remember it is best to spend some extra alone time for a bit than to be alone IN a relationship.
- Take proper steps to secure your independence BEFORE telling your toxic friend goodbye-
This cannot be stressed enough. Most especially if you live together or pool your resources. Toxic people often seek revenge- not always- but they just might. If you are roommates, share bills together, or if you are dependant on them in any way, break those ties or find a new place to live before the “breakup talk.” I once knew a man who swore up and down his girlfriend took advantage of him and he took care of her. When he decided to move her out- he was dismayed by the fact she shut off the utilities-which were in her name- and he found he was unable to keep his prescriptions filled – because he did not know HOW. He had somehow put the power in her hands and the day she left, he could not do for himself.
I don’t know if he was really mistreated by her. And you will not catch me with utilities in my name at a place where I am not allowed to live! I can’t criticize her for not keeping bills in her name if she was no longer a resident! All I know is what the aftermath was for him because he did not secure himself before cutting ties. Do not put yourself in this situation if you can at all keep from it.
- Stick to your guns- All relationships experience difficulties, and there are times when people who spend their lives together take a break from one another. This is entirely different from taking back a toxic individual into your life. You will miss the good times, most especially if your relationship was a long one. I always say that even Hitler was good to his friends. While I am not comparing your toxic person to Hitler, the fact is- EVERYBODY has good qualities, but when people mistreat you, their good qualities do not matter. There are times you can work through issues and things can get better. The relationship is saved, and it is improved! Awesome. Just don’t be surprised if nothing improves. Stick to your guns if you can see things will not improve- or even if you are to the point that you are done. You have a right to terminate a relationship just because you want to and you don’t have to justify it.
- Recognize if there was co-dependance– Likely, your toxic friend was VERY personal with you and you may feel you miss this closeness and want it back. Maybe they were co-dependant on you or you were co-dependant on them. Human beings need one another, and that is something that will never change. Co-dependance is unhealthy dependence. Dependance that makes you overly reliant on somebody else- and efforts will be made to keep it that way. If you had a child you refused to allow to learn to walk, because you wanted them to always need you, people would stop you from doing this, wouldn’t they? So why make yourself need somebody who is bad for you? The stereotypical image is of a man who beats his wife and forces her to quit her job so she can never leave him. Maybe your toxic person does not beat you or talk you into quitting a job. But they oftentimes find ways of making you equally dependant on them. This is one reason why I mentioned earlier how crucial it is to secure your independence before you tell them your relationship is over. That way they cannot force you to stick around.
- Recognize your role in this- It is very crucial to acknowledge what it is about you that made it possible for a toxic person to move in and take up residence in your life to begin with. Maybe you are one of the folks who has never encountered this before and you just need to give this ONE person the boot. Keep up the good work if this is the case. If not, you need to examine what habits or desires make you welcome people who are this way. For me, I was raised by toxic people. I did not know any better. It was our normal and I was used to it. But the more people I met, the more I realized it was not truly normal , nor was it healthy. I wanted out, and I have to watch I don’t welcome anybody into my life who has the habits of the people who raised me. It is familiar and unlearning old habits is a lot more difficult than being unhappy while keeping up the habits. But for me, it is worth it. Assess what specifically your toxic person does that makes you unhappy, and look to see if there is anybody else in your life who does this as well. If there are currently no people who do, think back and see if in your past, anybody else did. I hate to say this- because as adults, we make choices we could not when we were children- but likely your childhood saw you in a situation that allowed toxic people to hurt you somehow. Even if your family is not responsible for this, maybe other people were. Did you get beat up in school and find it difficult to stand up for yourself still? Unlearn that habit. While we did not remote control our toxic person to mistreat us- and their actions are still their fault- recognize that you have power to control who is welcomed IN your life. They are going to treat people the way they do regardless of whether you let them around you or not- but you don’t have to allow them to be around so they CAN treat you badly.
- Be forgiving of yourself- It might be heartbreaking or scary to break off your relationship with this person. It can be hurtful or embarrassing to accept you were involved with somebody who hurt you. Especially if you have a history of having multiple toxic relationships. Beating yourself down for this is exactly what they want. They want you to feel bad about yourself. The goal in getting rid of these relationships is a better life and better relationships for you. Your relationship with yourself is the most important one. First, love yourself and you will find that you only allow people into your life who also love you. There will be no tolerance of nasty, toxic people or the nasty, toxic things they do to you this way!
The first step is to get right in your mind and decide no toxic people allowed. Ever. Do whatever footwork is needed before starting the spellwork. You may need a new place to live or to get things they had borrowed from you picked up if you do not live together. They may share a bill with you that you need to remove yourself from, or if you share a ride to and from work, you may have to reorganize your carpooling. It can be difficult confronting somebody to tell them you are breaking off a relationship or communication. If you don’t have to, then don’t. Chances are, though, you will need to. You need to decide beforehand how much you will tell them. Don’t think that by telling somebody you feel their behavior is toxic that it will automatically get them to “see the light” and change for the better. It might not be worth it to have a talk, and it might be better off to just tell them you are finished. If it makes you feel better to tell them how you feel, by all means do so. Just don’t expect changes in their lives other than the fact you are removing yourself from it. Which is good enough!
Then get one piece of paper for each toxic person you want out of your life and pencil or pen and something to write on. Get a stick of incense- whatever kind you like, one of your favorite things to drink, and candles, one to represent each person you have decided to break things off with- plus one red candle to represent the magic you will work- and to help see by. Use a candle that does not burn very long, such as a birthday candle- you can even cut it in half to reduce burning time.
Maybe you don’t have any individuals you feel are specifically toxic in your life right now, but you do have a history of letting them into your life. You can always just do one candle in general to keep toxic people away. You can do this working in front of your altar or at a table anyplace you like. You can even just sit outside. All that matters is this rite is done someplace you feel comfortable.
Cast or don’t cast circle, as you prefer. Wear ritual clothes or not, as you prefer. But have your place to do this ritual someplace where you can sit and write comfortably.
To begin, light your incense positioned in the East and say “I bring in the breath of life- MY life. I will live my life by my terms, and this includes those who I choose to share it with. “
Next, light your red candle, placed in the South, and say “Hail the fires of magic, be with me and help me with this working”. Then, line up your candles or place your single candle in the South, and say “I name thee, (say their names one at a time) you with whom I share a painful passion. Your fire burns me in ways unproductive to my life. By the end of this rite, our bond will be broken.” You will light these later.
Next, place your drink in the West, and say, “You, oh life giving drink, shall quench me through this rite, and serve as a symbol of the waters of love that put out the burning flames of sorrow.”
Then, place your papers and writing implements in the North, and say “ In my heart and my mind is much. These pages will help me and guide me in the work that needs done so I may move into my new tomorrows with the people who make my days bright.”
Next, get comfortable. On each piece of paper, one for each toxic person, write what it is each person does and that you want them completely out of your life. Just be careful not to write that you want these toxic people to replace the toxic behavior with favorable ones. The goal is to kiss them goodbye, not maintain the relationship or improve it. Take as much time as you need to do this. Sip on your drink at leisure.
Once your writing is all done, place the pages in the West, this time, and pick up each candle and light them one at a time. Say the name of each person the candles represent as you light them, and say “ (person’s name) by the time this candle burns out, our bond will be broken. I want you out of my life.” After lighting each candle, place them back in the West, atop the pages, and in any position you are comfortable in, while the candles burn down, focus energy into the candles , willing the bond to be broken. Willing the toxic behaviors to be gone from you. Willing newer, better relationships from now forward. And most of all, willing yourself to make the choices to ensure these things come to pass.
Once the candles are burned out, finish drinking your drink.
Say “It is finished.”
And throw all the papers and candles into the trash- because that is what toxic relationships are- trash. If you are worried about the papers being fond by anybody, just incorporate burning them into the ritual. Any remaining incense can be placed outside, the magic from it drifting away and carrying the power of your working into creation where your will shall manifest.
Now be proud of yourself. It takes a lot of courage to terminate a toxic relationship, but it’s one of the best things you can ever do for yourself. Spring Equinox is a good time to use the power of new life to make a new way of life for yourself!