The Lesson: An Excerpt from A Ritual for Forgiveness

Beth was curled into a fetal position, her head in my lap and her arms wrapped around my waist. She was sobbing. I held her distantly, empathetic for the pain she was feeling but not for its cause—she’d betrayed me. They’d both betrayed me, and now I was supposed to pardon them.

“Please, Jessi, you have to forgive me. I’m so, so sorry.”

I stroked Beth’s hair. Mascara bled onto my jeans and I felt her weight shift between sobs. I took no pleasure in watching her suffer like this, but my own suffering was so fresh and visceral I had a hard time feeling compassionately for her. Ultimately, I couldn’t endure the sadness that enveloped us. I said, “It’s okay, Beth. Of course I forgive you.”

After she left, I lay awake trying to let it go, but I couldn’t. I kept flashing back to her confession and to Henry’s corroboration while a searing pain burned inside my heart. The shadow kept peeking out from in between forced forgiveness—make them pay, it said. Why forgive when you can make them feel as horrible as you do? It’s not fair that they, the wrongdoers, should be set free while you continue to suffer.  

The plot began forming despite my best efforts to take the high road. I preyed on their weaknesses—vanity, insecurity, shame—and created a rift between them. I was incredibly impressed by the swiftness with which my plan took effect, and even more pleased when its consequences were even more extreme than I’d intended.

Soon enough, things were more or less back to normal—I’d made it so I’d never have to see them together, and my shame slipped back into shadow. Yet, the effects of my revenge were hardly worth the temporary reprieve it gave me. As time passed, it became clear that not only was I going to have to truly forgive them, but I was also going to have to forgive myself for the devious things I’d done. I was young and naïve, of course, but I wasn’t stupid. I’d let my own shame and insecurities get in the way of doing what was right, and I had to atone for it later. If I’d simply allowed myself a proper grieving process and actively worked through forgiveness, I’d have saved myself a hell of a lot of stress and shadow work in the long run.

Forgiveness—easy to conceive, difficult to achieve. Saying “I forgive you” is common practice in our culture, so much so that we often feel compelled to say it even when we don’t mean it. Due to this, many of us walk around with a collection of grudges tucked neatly in our psycho-spiritual suitcases. Some of these grudges are so veiled in shadow that we have no idea that we still hold them, and so have no idea how keenly they influence our behavior. When we fail to forgive, we develop a warped perception of the world—we focus on the negative aspects of a person’s behavior while ignoring the positive. We close ourselves off to intimacy. It becomes easier for us to assume that everyone’s acting in accordance to some insidious agenda, causing us to project false truths onto the world at large. It’s a slippery slope into full-blown misanthropy, a condition that rarely inspires peace and happiness.

Truthfully, our intense emotional reactions to betrayal do serve a purpose—they allow a process of imprinting that allows for a distinct recollection of the conditions that led us to harm (and thus, the conditions we’d best be wary of in the future). However, if we find ourselves unable to forgive and release once we’ve learned this lesson, it’s much more detrimental to our health and wellbeing than the betrayal itself ever was, and we run the risk of developing chronic blockages that influence our relationship with others.

So, what can we do about it? How do we free ourselves from the negative attachments formed by betrayal/abuse and cleanse our souls of the anger and resentment that holds us hostage? Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all method of achieving a mindset of forgiveness, but there are some practices and methods that have helped many release resentment and invite compassion into their lives. Being a witch and a moonchild, I’ve found the most effective of these to be a ritual of forgiveness, and in these humble pages, I offer you my personal forgiveness ritual in the hopes that it may serve you as well as it’s served me.

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Much Love,

Jessi

Tarot and the Craft: How I Use the Cards in My Spiritual Practice

Hello, Beautiful People.

For those who don’t know (although my blog is positively dripping with evidence), I’m a witch. Generally speaking, it means I’m a crystal-loving, goddess-worshipping, intention-manifesting practitioner of the craft. For me, it also means that I’m a yoga-practicing, mantra-chanting meditator. Anyone who identifies as a witch knows that there are as many forms of witchcraft as there are witches, and that the collective elements of an individual’s unique practice are vast and varied enough that you could write a book on it. Thankfully for all of us, I’m not quite that ambitious today. What I would like to share with you, however, are the ways in which I incorporate tarot into my spiritual practice. Feel free to try and share as you see fit!

Intention-Setting

Part and parcel of being a witch is defining what you want and using physical and metaphysical means to bring it into being. When I’m having trouble defining my intentions (read: I’m confused af), I bring my tarot deck to my altar and throw down some cards. Sometimes, I create sacred space with a spread in mind (this one’s great for intention-setting). Others, I shuffle until I feel ready and I pull cards one by one, taking note of what they seem to be telling me in light of my circumstances. I mention that I do this in ritual because it’s instrumental for me in terms of finding clarity when I’m confused–a more casual tarot environment failed to provide answers, and I need to get into an alpha head-space so I’m more receptive to messages from my subconscious.

Spell-Crafting

Tarot spells are some of the most fun and unique spells that I cast. Rather than imagine specific intentions coming to pass within the context of my actual life, I internalize the imagery, tone, and symbolism of a chosen archetype to help me embody the change I wish to see manifested. The primary way that I do this is through pathworking–projecting myself into the landscape of the card and imbibing everything that it has to offer. If I wanted to cast a spell to help me strengthen my work ethic, for example, I’d place the eight of pentacles on my altar. Given time (and guided meditation practice), I’d imagine myself hunched over the work bench, hammer in hand striking the metal of the pentacles to fashion them exactly as I saw fit. I’d imagine the jarring I’d feel when metal met metal, the sweat that would sprout from my brow and the callouses forming on my palms. I’d watch a droplet of sweat hit the finished pentacle, and I’d breathe deeply, both exhausted and proud. This way, I internalize the effort before I even begin the project, helping me push through when things become challenging and obstacles arise.

Meditation

Whether I plan to use them or not, a deck of tarot cards is ever present on my altar. When I sit to meditate, I place a cleansing crystal (usually clear quartz or selenite) over my deck and “share” some of my meditative energy with it. It’s as if I’m making myself a conduit of cleansing, and am connecting myself to my deck so that it can benefit from the energy. When I’ve finished my practice, I perceive my deck to have a fresh, new energy–one that prepares it for my next round of readings.

Communing with Deities

I’m one of those witches who has a matron, and I’m one of those witches who chats with her matron. I often go through periods where each time I’m sat at the altar, the goddess whose guidance I need almost instantly appears to me and begins sharing her wisdom. I also go through deity “dry-spells”: periods where the goddesses are speaking only in the form of synchronicity. During these periods, I often ask the goddess questions and allow her to answer through the wisdom of the 78 cards. Is this any different than traditional divination? Honestly, it is for me, because I interpret the cards in relation to the tradition and tone of the goddess I’m working with. For example, Brigit would interpret The Emperor very differently than the Morrighan would.

Affirmation of Intended Magickal Working

Casting a spell takes a fairly heavy amount of concentration and focus. Some days, I’m not sure whether or not I succeeded in “charging” the spell. If I’m having that feeling, I’ll shuffle my deck and pull a card and interpret it as either affirmative or negative given the nature of the intended spell. If affirmative, I leave the working knowing that the universe received the message. If negative, I go back to the drawing board and try again later.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the witchy tarot-ness I’ve shared here today! If you try anything out, I’d love to hear about it! Likewise, I’d love to hear how you use tarot in your spiritual/magickal practice!

Much Love,

Jessi

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The Fool, the Devil, and the Power to Transmute our Demons

When I begin a project, I approach it with the energy of the Fool–I’m excited and starry-eyed, idealistic about the journey and almost radically hopeful for what it will bring.  There comes a time, however (usually after a few bumps in the road and facing the enormity of what I’m up against), that I’m forced to get down to brass tax and look into my heart to discover my true intentions: what am I called to offer?  How can I contribute to the community in a unique and valuable way?  What is my core self, and how can I convey that through my content?

This marks the first evolutionary stage in my creative process, one that is inevitably fraught with doubts, insecurities, and confusion.  I’ve been through this process often enough to recognize these thoughts and emotions as my ego’s way of rejecting the new and the challenging, so I’m usually able to prevent them from overriding my momentum. But this was not always so.  And despite everything I’ve done to smother the beast of fear and self-loathing, it still manages to rear its ugly head from time to time.

When I can’t seem to quell the negative loops from co-opting a major chunk of real-estate in my brain, I bring out the big guns.  Being of the witchy and woo-woo sort, I attack these destructive specters with my two favorite tools: magick and tarot.  When I shuffle through my deck, I’m met with archetypes and symbols that illustrate the obstacles I’m facing.  When I practice ritual, I commit myself to locating my center and honoring the messages of my subconscious.  If nothing else, these tools help me to put my experience into perspective and to continue the fight against my more depressive leanings.  I’ve been sucked into the vortex of self-destructive thought more times than I care to admit, and nothing useful ever came from those sojourns.  I know how difficult it can sometimes be to avoid the pull, and how difficult it is to climb out once you’ve succumbed to that dangerous gravity.

I may not have a perfect outline of what this particular project is (not yet, anyway), but I do know that I’d do just about anything to make sure that no one has to suffer the damaging effects of self-destructive thinking.  Here, then, is my offering on how to reframe and transform the little demons of negative self-thought into something workable and manageable.  I make no claims to hold the cure to this unfortunate facet of the human condition, but I have figured out a few ways to halt the process of negative thought and build the foundation of a loving, respectful relationship with self.  I wish you all strength and confidence in each of your journeys, and hope that you’re able to overcome the the demon of doubt as it manifests in you.

Many Blessings,

Jessi

 

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