We are in the midst of an historic event. Essentially, we are all, as a global society, experiencing the same traumatic event. Of course, there are different levels to which we experience this trauma, depending on our location, our wealth status, our access to facilities and treatment and so on, but for absolutely everyone who is feeling anxious, depressed and stressed during this global pandemic, I want you to hear this: you are not alone.
A study conducted in late March found that 22% of all UK adults were feeling anxiety surround the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of us, worldwide, are in some form of lockdown, shelter-in-place or isolation, and we know that this can negatively impact mental health, even for those who do not usually suffer from anxiety or depression. On top of this, we have financial and economical strain, we are separated from our family and friends, and lack certainty about what is yet to come. So, as spiritual and witchy folk, how can we combat this mental strain and take the best possible care of ourselves? Well, we have a leg-up: we have magic.
The first form of magic that I always reference is meditation. To me, meditation is the purest form of magical work, and the most readily accessible. No matter where you are, take a few minutes to center and ground yourself. If you are feeling anxious or depressed, try to bring your awareness back into your body. Live in the present: I am safe. I am home. I have a home. I don’t want you to make yourself feel guilty, though – just try to bring yourself back into this exact moment, despite all the scary things that might be happening around us. Breathe and re-focus. Bringing that oxygen deep into your body will relax your racing heart and allow you to think more clearly.
Something that I firmly believe has kept me sane during lockdown is ritual baths. I know that not everyone has access to a bathtub, and it’s important to know that that doesn’t matter. You can make a ritual out of a shower, a sponge-bath or even washing your hands. In fact, washing your hands (since we are supposed to wash for at least twenty seconds!) gives you a great moment to check in with yourself, see how you are feeling within your body and mind, and visualize yourself cleansing away worry.
If you do have a bath, put some love into preparing it. Choose your scents and herbs mindfully, but remember that it doesn’t matter if you don’t have everything you’d like. If you just have some bubble bath, an old bath bomb, some fresh lemons, or a jar of ground cinnamon you found at the back of the cupboard, that’s okay! It’s all about the intention. Run the water, add your magical elements, cast off your clothing (and with it, the stress of the day) and sink in. Again, be present; make the most of this moment. Wash yourself and picture the concern and worry leaving your body. When you finish, watch the water swirl down the drain, taking your anxiety with it into the great unknown.
I love spell-work, and one wonderful thing about being at home for me is that I have access to my magical tools and space every day. When we are specifically worrying about the future, financial and economic impacts and our health, casting spells can be an excellent way to work through and take control of your anxieties.
In the current world climate, I’ve been working a lot of protection magic. For example, a simple protection spell to cast out negative energies and place protection over your home and family is a beautiful way to re-focus your own energy into taking care of yourself and your loved ones. How about infusing your magic into your evening meal? As you stir, murmur incantations to maintain the health of all who eat with you. I recently made some hand salves for NHS (National Health Service) workers in our local hospital, and as I stirred them, I whispered, “Turn, turn, turn the key; protect these workers, three times three. As they place it upon their hands, protect their health, all on that land.” It doesn’t have to be fancy – it doesn’t even have to rhyme. Just direct your magic into whatever you are making or doing.
Herbal Tea & Aromatherapy
Finally, consider treating yourself as much as you can with calming herbs and aromatherapy. I have a water diffuser, and I make a large batch of Thieves’ Oil each week, placing 10-20 drops into the diffuser each and every morning. It fills my home with a beautiful scent which I find extremely calming; it also keeps my head and sinuses clear (bonus!). Whether you believe in the power of herbalism or not, we can all agree that a pleasant aroma in the home makes quarantine a lot more enjoyable.
If you can, consider gifting your body with herbal drinks to help you to relax. I love chamomile or rose tea for relaxation, and my favourite way to start the morning is hot water, the juice of half a lemon, a spoon of honey and a knuckle-sized knob of freshly grated ginger. I like to treat the whole process of preparation and consumption as ritualistic. Again, I whisper incantations as I prepare the tea, and I try not to look at my phone or computer while I drink it. A sleepy tea before bed is also a great way to signal the end of the active day and the beginning of your time of rest.
How do you treat yourself with kindness during lockdown?
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As the lockdown eases around the world, and we are slowly allowed to get outside more, it has been precious to see the sunshine making an appearance this month. Litha 2020 is promising to be a little more flexible than Beltane, and, while we can’t necessarily do all the things we might like to do to celebrate this Sabbat, we do have the freedom to breathe in the air of Mother Nature and observe the growth and abundance that the Earth provides in the Summer.
There is some difference in precisely when Litha is celebrated, according to different traditions. Astrologically, Litha occurs at the time when the sun is at its highest point, which, in 2020, occurs on the 24th June. However, Litha is traditionally celebrated in many traditions at the midpoint of the Summer (Midsummer), which occurs on June 20th or 21st. As with all things spiritual, there are no hard and fast rules about how you conduct your own practice, so go with what feels right for you.