And then everyone saw my butt.

Hello, I’m writing this to you with one hand, because the other one is mostly shrinkwrapped.

I’ve talked about my anxiety before — about starting sertraline, taking beta blockers, the whole nine. My health is not really something I’m secretive about at all. Too many people have anxiety and panic disorders as it is, and I’ve been dealing with it for too long to give half a shit in a handbag about being ashamed of something I can’t control.

I have not, however, mentioned nocturnal panic attacks.

I’m lucky in that I don’t get them super often — once in a blue moon, really, usually when I’m under a lot of stress. At first, I thought they were something akin to a night terror, but the presentation is actually very different. I’m aware when I wake up panicking, albeit usually confused for a bit. My heart races, I feel a sense of impending doom. They suck super hard, but, as I said, I don’t get them often.

Then this afternoon happened.

We upped my dose of sertraline last night. I’ve also been on Bactrim for the past few days, which made every joint in my body feel as though it had been beaten by a team of enthusiastic pixies with cricket bats. Both of these can potentially increase anxiety, and panic disorders can be pretty unpredictable anyhow. I lay down to take a nap late this afternoon, and woke up feeling like someone had hooked most of my organs up to a car battery.

So, I did what I usually do: call my S.O. and ask him to hang out on the phone with me until things calm down, in case I lose consciousness, or experience transient blindness, or something else happens that keeps me from being able to call 911. Usually, it takes about twenty minutes for the parasympathetic nervous system to kick in and override the adrenaline response portion of a panic attack. I usually spend it on the phone, doing breathing exercises, holding an amethyst palm stone, waiting for things to pass. There isn’t really a way to speed up the process that I’ve found. Most of the emphasis is on riding it out with as little mental trauma as possible.

Twenty minutes came and went. I thought this might be more than I could handle on my own, so I took a beta blocker. (They’re not pleasant, but they’re pretty neat. From what I have experienced, read, and been told, they help me by blocking the adrenaline receptors in certain areas of the body. Pretty rad when your primary anxiety symptom is a racing heart, right?) Twenty minutes after that, my heart rate was almost normal. I also couldn’t breathe and felt like a donkey had kicked me in the sternum.

Welp. Plan B. I called an ambulance.

To make an already too-long story short(er), it was probably a reaction to the propranolol. We’re not sure why I had the original nocturnal attack, but I wasn’t actively having a heart attack when I got to the hospital. In fact, my vital signs were impressively normal, considering the completely dumbass amount of pain I was in. Just to make sure everything was okay, they took an EKG, drew some blood (shoutout to the dude who was able to draw from the back of my hand), and had me strip down and put on a robe for chest x-rays.

Remember when I mentioned taking Bactrim?

Do you know how hard it is to properly tie one of those damn robes on a good day?

Reader, I stood up to hold onto the x-ray machine so they could get a few shots of my heart, and flashed my entire butt at radiology. (To add insult to injury, when I got home, I realized I accidentally stuffed the hospital gown into the bag with my other belongings. So now there’s a permanent souvenir of my shame.)

Part of me berated myself for relying on medication. The fact of the matter is, though, that if you believe in an herb or crystal’s ability to heal, you must necessarily recognize its ability to harm. Anything can trigger an allergy. Anything can cause an adverse reaction. You can have a bad time with anything you put in your body, whether it’s a drug, a plant, or a sandwich. It’s the price we pay for having bodies, which, when you think about it, are both delicate and largely terrible. (Who’s idea was it to put the esophagus and trachea right next to each other? It makes no damn sense.)

Truth be told, butt-exposing aside, this went really, really well. My biggest fear has always been having an emergency when I’m alone, and potentially screwing up the things I need to do to handle that emergency. I was still half insensible with grogginess when I was fumbling with my phone to call for help, I was afraid of taking beta blockers because of the side effects, I experienced my worst fear after taking them, and came through it alright. I can’t say this has inoculated me against fearing these things in the future, but it’s a step. It was terrifying, and I did it, and if it happens again, that’s future J.’s problem.

And that’s something worth celebrating.

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The Star Rises

The weather’s finally cooling (after an inexplicable 94°F) , the trees are starting to change. and I’ve watered my cacti for probably the last time until next spring. We haven’t had any more carbon monoxide scares so far, and, as soon as our next apartment is done being renovated, we’re pretty much ready to upgrade our space.

So, as per usual, I figured I’d do a one-card drawing to see where this week’s going. In the midst of all of this (much anticipated!) upheaval, it helps to have a little extra insight. I didn’t ask a specific question — just cleared my mind, let my thoughts arise as they would, and shuffled until I felt like that wasn’t something I needed to do anymore.

And… I drew The Star.

Not gonna lie, seeing it made me a little emotional. The Star is a tremendously positive card. It stands for hope and optimism, and, since it comes immediately after The Tower, it points to positive feelings that arise from the ashes of whatever was destroyed during The Tower’s phase. I haven’t exactly gone through the kind of things indicated by The Tower (well, not recently), but it still indicates a lot of hope for the future.

This is especially good to know because I started Sertraline. I’m afraid of taking pills, so I held off as long as I could, but my doctor(s) and I came to the agreement that it would most likely do more good than harm at this point. I’m only on a tiny dose to make sure I tolerate it alright, and it’s too soon to feel any difference yet, but I have hope that I might not have to go from medication to medication to find something that helps re-balance my neurochemistry. I was especially impressed that my psychiatrist was willing and knowledgeable enough to take my cerebrospinal fluid pressure into account when she prescribed it to me — I can’t tell you how many doctors I’ve had who either didn’t know enough about IH to realize that that was necessary, or shrugged off my concerns when I  brought it up.

The idea of taking it still gives me some anxiety, and my S.O. literally hid the first half-pill in a spoonful of applesauce for me so the action of taking it wouldn’t make things worse. (I know, I know.) As time goes on, I feel more optimistic, though. It’s good to know that those feelings aren’t misplaced.

It’s going to take some time for things to really smooth out, but so far, so good. Wish me luck.

The Libra New Moon (or, Man, That’s a Lot of Cups)

So, last week I drew the Ace of Wands. Aces represent beginnings and opportunities, and I definitely had my share: I started therapy, queued some posts on a new creative project that’s going live very soon, and went through my first (and hopefully only) carbon monoxide leak.

Yeah, I know. It can’t all be fried gold. At least I know I can kind of handle one if it happens again, and came to the realization that we really needed a different kind of CO detector. As it turns out, there is a lot of variability in what will make a CO alarm trigger. When you hear that beep, you can’t always be sure if it’s an “open the windows and turn everything off” 30 ppm that’s been going for the past seven hours or so, or an “evacuate immediately and call 911” 400 ppm that’s spiked in the past four minutes. This news was less than reassuring to me, so I picked out a new alarm with a display that reads in parts per million. Is it as accurate as the detectors the fire department uses? Probably not, but I still figure it can ballpark enough to help me save myself in an emergency.

You know that mental exercise where you’re supposed to reframe “have to”s into “got to”s? I’m trying to do that. It was terrible and terrifying, but everyone’s okay. I had to deal with a carbon monoxide leak, but I also got to see myself go through it and come out alright, and got the opportunity to learn more about how to better keep us all safe. It really could have been much, much worse.

Anyway, with this out of the way, let’s talk about the Libra new moon.

Like Aces, new moons are beginnings. A Libra new moon is a great time for balance, cooperation, and magic for anything related to the two — creative work, justice, partnerships, or balancing the emotions. Instead of doing my usual one card pull this week, I decided to find a new new moon spread to try out. I usually create my own on the fly, depending on the situation, but I do really enjoy seeing what others have come up with. (That’s why I keep a Pinterest board full of kickass spreads.) This time around, I chose this one from Emerald Lotus Divination.

So! Let’s see what we’ve got.

Position 1: What This New Moon Has in Store for Me

The Seven of Cups, from the Rider-Waite deck. Artwork by Pamela Coleman Smith. A silhouetted figure stands in front of seven cups. One holds a blue head, one has a glowing sheet ghost(???), one has a snake, one has a very tiny caste, one has either very excellent jewels or extremely terrible fruit, idk, one has a laurel wreath, and one has a very small blue dragon.

The Seven of Cups, from the Rider-Waite deck. Artwork by Pamela Coleman Smith.

The Seven of Cups. A figure (in my deck, a crow. In the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot, a dude) stands in front of seven cups, each filled with different things. It is up to the subject to choose the cups that hold good things, and not, like, snakes and creepy heads and bitey-looking blue lizards.

Many possibilities are open to me, and I have a lot of choices to make. This definitely tracks — October is going to be a month of big decisions and major upheaval. To make the best of these situations, I have to be proactive and make a choice. Fantasizing about some idealized situation is not going to put that cup full of jewels in my hand.

Position 2: My Energy During This New Moon

The Queen of Cups. Alright! As the suit of emotions, the Queen represents a figure that offers care and support. She can be the aspect of yourself that nurtures and provides you with self-care, or someone else entirely.

This card could represent my desire to take care of myself, or one of the people I’ve reached out to for help. It’s worth noting that both of my mental health professionals are female, so, while this position specifically asks about my energy during this new moon, my energy is also reaching out in search of a caring figure to help fix my brain. In either case, I’m reassured by the queen’s presence here — either I am making the nurturing, self-caring choice, or I am reaching out to someone who exhibits those traits. I need either (or both!) of those things right now.

Position 3: What I Need to Be Open To

The Page of Wands. He’s so happy with his giant walking stick. The Page of Wands is a playful figure, and may represent a charming, roguish person, or even just the arrival of good news. He is a bright, lovable, puckish, impetuous character.

I swear, I shuffled this deck well. Still, somehow, he is the only non-cups card I drew. To be honest, whether he represents a fun person or a piece of good news, I’ll take it. It’s hard to find a negative aspect of the Page of Wands (outside of his tendency to rush into things, but I think the Knight definitely has it worse). If this is what I need to be open to, I can handle that.

Position 4: Something That Wants to Manifest

The King of Cups. A kind, compassionate figure, he tempers his authority with understanding. He is calm, sympathetic, and good at listening.

At this point, I am actively trying to manifest emotional balance and creativity. The suit of cups stands for both, so I will take the King’s appearance as a sign that I’m on the right track. Coupled with the Queen of Cups and the Page of Wands, things are looking pretty good.

Position 5: How to Focus My Attention to Bring My Desires into Reality

The Three of Cups. Party on, my dudes (or dudettes, or dudes-as-in-men-and-not-as-a-gender-nonspecfic-term, or dudes-meaning-literal-city-dwellers-vacationing-on-a-ranch-and-pretending-to-be-cowhands). This card stands for reuniting with people from the past, or just straight up celebrating.

While this card can mean that I should party down and enjoy myself, it can also indicate that there’s a happy event to look forward to. In this case, it makes sense that I should both express gratitude and celebrate where I am and what I’ve achieved in life, and maintain an optimistic outlook and keep looking forward to the future. I think I can manage that.

All told, this reading feels great. I have choices to make, my energy is compassionate and nurturing (or attracting compassion and nurturing), I need to be open to fun people and good news, emotional balance is just waiting for the opportunity to manifest, and I should focus on celebrating the good times to achieve my desires. Sweet.

 

The Ace of Wands Comes Back.

I like Aces. They stand for a new beginning, and there’s nothing quite like that feeling of untapped potential — where everything is still possible, and nothing’s happened to screw it all up (yet). Getting an Ace in a reading feels pretty awesome.

If you’ve been reading my navel-gazey ruminations for awhile, you’ve probably seen that I draw Aces and Wands pretty frequently. It makes sense, in its own strange way: I’m at a point in my life where I have a lot of opportunities open to me, but not a lot of resources that allow me to take advantage of them. I feel like this is a bit different, though. Though Wands generally represent creativity, I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on the direction my creative endeavors are going in at this point.

On the other hand, this week I’ve got a new lease to sign, my S.O. doing new job things, and my first appointment with a psychologist.
My dance card’s pretty packed, and it’s all brand new.

So, knowing I had a ton of utter upheaval (good upheaval!) and turmoil (beneficial turmoil!) coming up, I drew this week’s card with that in mind. I’m already more anxious than I’m comfortable handling with the tools currently at my disposal, so a little reassurance than I’m not putting myself in a worse position by making these changes could go a long way.

The Ace of Wands card from the Rider-Waite deck.

From the Rider-Waite deck, illustrated by Pamela Coleman Smith.

I drew the Ace of Wands again. Before, it came at a time when I was seeking out help from another new doctor, and practically bursting with ideas. This time around, I’m seeking help from another new doctor (albeit of a very different kind), and making some significant changes to other areas of my life. This card is good news and a new beginning, and I could certainly use both!

So much of what’s happening with, to, and around me right now has a lot to do with my partner. In the context of love, the Ace of Wands represents a “next move” in a relationship — often one that breathes new life into it. It can be something like an engagement, marriage, pregnancy, or other move that feels like a step “forward.” I like to think my S.O. and I aren’t tired of each other yet, but I definitely agree that having more space and a change of scenery will make things more pleasant for the both of us.

Tomorrow’s a pretty big day. What do I do if I have anxiety about talking to a new doctor about my anxiety? It’s basically the worst kind of brainception.

 

When the News is (Mostly) Bad

So, I did my usual one-card draw, like I do pretty much every week.

My health hasn’t been great lately, which probably isn’t much surprise — stress tends to complicate things, and we have a lot going on. None of it is necessarily bad, to be honest. It’s just A Lot.

So, with that in mind, I inquired about my health. I’ve been trying some new things, hoping for a little relief. What could I look forward to this week?

I drew the Ten of Swords.

Swords10

Image from the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, artwork by Pamela Coleman Smith.

The Ten of Swords is generally regarded as crappy. How could it not be? In more or less every deck I’ve used, it features a depiction of a figure lying face down, back pierced with ten blades. It speaks of betrayal, which I can certainly identify with — not all betrayals come at the hands of other people. For example, I spend a lot of time feeling betrayed by my own organs, pollen, barometric pressure, gravity, temperatures, and bread.

In short, it’s…
I mean, it’s not a great omen.  

No card is universally bad, however, and the Ten of Swords is no exception. Does it kind of suck? Of course it does. It’s also a Ten, though, which marks the culmination of the progression depicted by the pip cards — whatever betrayal and suffering it describes is coming to an end. Are things going to get worse before they get better? Probably. But at least the sucky bit’s going to be over soon.

Not exactly reassured by this, I wanted to know how I could avoid the worst of it. I already feel poorly, how can I keep things from getting worse before they get better? I’m hoping to keep things on an upward trajectory, so a setback would be really discouraging. (Mostly because setbacks generally involve getting needles in my spine.)

I drew The Star.

The Star is particularly interesting here. It speaks of hope and optimism, which I can understand… Dwelling on how crappy I feel right now is only going to add to the stress that’s making things more difficult in the first place. That makes plenty of sense. The really intriguing thing about The Star is its position in the major arcana: it follows The Tower.

The Tower is the card of destruction and turmoil. It’s the utter demolition of old things that makes room for the new. It’s a period of tremendous upheaval, and The Star is the renewed hope, stability, and understanding that follows it. In short, things could be a lot worse. I’m nearing the end of a difficult energy cycle, and working to maintain my sense of hope is what’s going to carry me through it. Things could definitely be better, but this gives me some encouragement that there’s still something I can do. (And something I should be doing anyway, let’s be real.)

So, with these things in mind, I wanted to know when. When could I actually expect to begin to see improvement in my situation?

I drew the Knight of Cups. While court cards often indicate a blockage, or something that needs addressing before you can see improvement, Knight cards generally indicate some kind of forward motion. Great! Progress! I didn’t get a definite time this time, but still!

… I still wanted to know when though. At times like this, phrasing can be important. “When?” is generic — it can be any point in time. It could be after you recognize something the card is trying to tell you, you meet the person the card describes, or you learn a lesson the card is trying to give. Asking when, and nothing more, will not always yield an exact date. I should’ve known better… So, I asked how long from now I could expect to feel some improvement.

I drew the King of Wands. Have you ever experienced the decided feeling that your cards are great at telling you things you already know, but don’t really want to acknowledge that you already know?
I get that a lot.
In this case, the King of Wands in my deck is a confirmation that success will come with focused effort. I can’t look at my healing as a passive thing that’s going to happen to me, or something that will come with metaphysical work alone. It’s difficult to do the things I know I need to do in order to feel even marginally better, but there is no alternative. Even if I’m not experiencing any great benefits from a new treatment, gratitude journaling leaves me frustrated, rigidly scheduled polyphasic sleep is inconvenient, and I leave meditation just as frustrated as I was when I began, I have to stick with them and maintain a sense of optimism. In terms of timing, Wands indicate weeks or summer (though some consider them days or spring — experimenting with your deck can help you narrow down which is more accurate for you).

So, I have a lot of work to do. I’ve re-worked the strict schedule I adhere to, in a way that works better with the treatments I’m undergoing now. (I think most people might find that stifling, but I find it helps a lot with self-care and alleviates my anxiety.) If I can keep doing the work, even through the upheaval I’m experiencing, improvement will come.

Fresh herbs.

Getting Real Sick of “Wellness.”

A big part of witchcraft is learning to see through illusions, and let go of that which is no longer useful. So how much longer are we going to keep putting up with wellness?

Sorry, I should probably specify — “wellness.”

I’m not sure when it began, though I imagine it’s an insidious trend that you could probably follow all the way back, beyond the days of irradiated water jugs and Eben Byers’ jaw. There’s money to be made in solving problems, but there’s a fine line — make sure people know they’re unwell, but not too sick in any verifiable way, just unwell enough to require an easily-marketable brand of help. Blame stress, and you can turn attention away from the socioeconomic factors that are actually making us ill in the first place. We’re stressed, and that’s a problem that needs solving! Maca lattes! Yoni eggs! Self-care!

I could go into the ways that self-care has gradually morphed into self-indulgence, or the various racialized and gendered aspects of the wellness industry, but these are things for another day. Instead, I’d like to point out the ways that self-care has adopted a more sinister role: Not only are we supposed to spend money and energy to properly perform “self-care,” we’re supposed to do this in order to prolong our own exploitation. Take enough eleuthero so you don’t feel worn out at your second or third job. Stay hydrated so your eyes don’t get puffy and tired-looking after you’ve been up until five AM with a sick child, or you’ll hear about it from your boss. Your company won’t give you benefits, but there are beanbag chairs in the break room. You have to put in mandatory unpaid overtime, but they’ll let you nap in your office. Forget about adequate sick leave, vacation time, therapy, or health care, you need ping pong tables and this herb-, vitamin-, and crystal-infused water!

The thing is, I’m not stressed by electromagnetic frequencies, or because I don’t know how to sleep properly. People around me aren’t stressed because they don’t have a relaxation app or aren’t drinking the right tea. They’re stressed because economic insecurity requires both parents to work in the majority of families (61.1% in 2016, up from 31% in 1970) while affordable child care options remain sparse and birth control, abortion access, and adequate maternity/paternity leave is considered an entitlement. (Don’t even start me on our maternal death rate.) They’re stressed because they have to hope they can crowdfund insulin this month, or figure out how to make their child’s medical equipment out of scraps from Home DepotOils won’t fix that, Brenda. 

(Cue someone inevitably supplying an ironically smug, “Well, don’t have kids if you can’t afford them,” even though they’re eventually going to need the generation being born now to empty their bedpans, administer their medication, and keep them from wandering into traffic. Save your energy, my dudes. I see you.)

In an article by Jessica Knoll in the New York Times, Smash the Wellness Industry, she mentions that many aspects of it rely on the trope that women, especially, are silly bubbleheads that can’t care for themselves:

[W]ellness also contributes to the insulting cultural subtext that women cannot be trusted to make decisions when it comes to our own bodies, even when it comes to nourishing them. We must adhere to some sort of “program” or we will go off the rails.

The wellness industry exists as a sort of modern day panem et circenses that places the blame for our exhaustion and dissatisfaction squarely on ourselves, while absolving the structures that create these feelings with the vague, yet seemingly immutable, idea that “life is just stressful.” If we’re tired, it’s not because of the number of us required to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, it’s because we’re not sleeping right or drinking enough green juice. If we feel stressed, it’s not because the gig economy is quietly undermining worker’s rights and protections, it’s because we don’t take the right supplements. If we have brain fog, it’s not because of the anxiety and depression we can’t afford to treat, it’s because we sleep in the same room as our cellphones. Modern life, man. Whaddyagonnado?

It doesn’t help that wellness has effectively become a luxury, either. In I Helped Turn Wellness Into a Luxury Good. Now It’s Out of Control, Rachelle Robinett discusses just that:

I see healing sessions staged for the photo-op. I listen to supplement retailers position their wares with promises instead of information (“Calm”, “Youth Water”, “Meditation Tonic”). And, at the boardroom tables of so many companies, I hear how they want their products to represent “a movement,” be “a lifestyle,” and “empower” people. But I believe there’s nothing empowering about selling detox waters, vitamins we can’t absorb, or overpriced herbs without giving people the tools they need to create real, lasting change.

We’re worn down, and the solution we’re offered is something that costs time and money that more and more of us don’t have. The most overworked, underslept, undercompensated, stressed demographics — theoretically the most in need of the wellness industry — are also those least likely to be able to afford help. And, as Robinett points out, even those who can afford it are more likely to get placebos and platitudes rather than assistance achieving actual mental, physical, and spiritual health.

I am not against some of the things co-opted by the wellness industry, myself. Some of it helps. Gods know I use crystals, herbs, and oils. I meditate every day, keep a gratitude journal, and listen to binaural beats-enhanced music, because they work for my situation. I’m not against using them, I’m against pushing them as vague remedies for the symptoms of a much deeper problem. Unfortunately, the commercialization of wellness has turned many of these things into a performance, items to add and check off of a list in the pursuit of a nebulous vision of health and happiness. When we are told what we need to have and do to be well, rather than given the opportunity to get in touch with what we actually need, that’s a problem. When taking care of ourselves becomes a shopping list rather than a mindful practice that we are afforded the time and energy to do, that’s a problem. When we are given things to buy rather than ways to effect lasting societal change at the core of what makes us unwell, that’s a fucking problem.

 

 

 

A Mother’s Day Cord-Cutting Spell

Hey, hey!

Does the beginning of May have you on the verge of a headache? Are you nauseated by the sound of commercials for jewelry, flowers, or assorted other Mother’s Day gifts? Does the sight of a greeting card display set your teeth on edge?

I feel you.

Mother’s Day is a rough holiday for a lot of us. Some people have tense maternal relationships, and some of us would probably have been better off raised by actual badgers. This time of year we’re all bombarded with messages about how “blood is thicker than water” and we “only get one mother,” and told we’re obligated to love and respect the people who birthed us no matter what. Unfortunately, if you were subjected to a toxic upbringing, this really super sucks. 

Dealing with toxic people

Digging toxic elements out of our lives isn’t easy no matter what the relationship is, but it’s extra complicated when it’s a parent. What do you do when the toxic element in your life is also the person responsible for your health and safety? What do you do when going “no contact” isn’t enough? What do you do when you know that other relatives and family friends are going to swoop in to defend this person, and make you sound like the bad guy for trying to protect yourself from an abuser? What do you do when you have never been able to feel safe around your own parent?

I wish I had an easy answer, but I don’t think there is one. I don’t want to get deep into my own back story, but, for me, the best option was to save up a Fuck Off Fund starting from my first job (I was 14), formulate a secret plan with a friend of mine, and get gone as soon as I was legally able to. A month after my 18th birthday, I moved out and was ensconced three states away. Even then, it wasn’t until years later that I was finally able to go from once-a-year visits, to no contact at all. My story isn’t a very dramatic one, because it all went according to plan — a lot of people aren’t as lucky as I was. Nonetheless, there it is: I made a plan, put it into action, and, when I was ready, I freed myself.

Going no contact raises its own set of problems, but is also completely worth it. One thing that really seems to help with the process is cord cutting.

What are cords?

People are bound together by invisible energetic bridges, often called “cords” or “etheric cords.” When we form a relationship and become connected to another person, the cord serves as a conduit of energy between us. If both parties (and by extension, the relationship) are emotionally healthy, the energy is nourishing and the exchange is even. If they are not, one party will end up doing the lion’s share of giving, while the other person takes, and takes, and takes. With a narcissistic parent, this becomes pouring your energy into placating them to avoid narcissistic rage.

A red and white string tied into a heart.

Sometimes, our cords look more like nooses.

Ending a relationship and ceasing contact is not always enough to sever these cords. Some people make a clean break, moving on with the cord no longer in place. I have also experienced cords changing when people part amicably. Sometimes the cord doesn’t change or break. Instead, one or both parties are left suffering from it.

What is cord cutting?

Cord cutting is similar to banishing in that it’s a release, but banishing is external where cord cutting is internal. A banishing is forceful, commanding — it’s a way to tell something to get lost, and make sure it stays lost. A cord cutting is a way to release attachments that are no longer healthy for you.

Look at it this way: A banishment is probably the most efficient way to get magical help ending an unhealthy relationship. You can send out the energy to remove this person from your life, so you can begin the recovery process once they’re no longer around. The end of the relationship isn’t the end of the story, though. Part of what makes toxic people toxic is the way they get in your head… and they can stay there for a long time after the relationship is dead. Cord cutting is a way to root out emotional, spiritual, and mental attachments, release them, and begin to heal without a toxic person living rent-free in your head.

If banishing is cutting away the bramble that pricked you, cord cutting is pulling the thorns from the wound so you can stop bleeding.

Cutting the ties that bind

To start with, if you’re still in regular contact with a toxic parent, I’m sorry. Practice shielding yourself every time you know you’re going to see them, even if it’s as simple as taking a moment to visualize yourself surrounded by a bubble of white light. Ground yourself when you get home, so you can “recalibrate” your energy. Try a quick and easy energy cleansing technique to get rid of any residual grodiness.

If you’re ready to cut the cord, try this. You can do it as simply or as ceremonially as you like, and repeat it as often as you feel is necessary. I’m posting this for Mother’s Day, but it can be used for pretty much any relationship.

For this, you’ll need three white candles, one black candle, a long piece of string (preferably not synthetic), and something to represent both yourself, and the person you wish to sever energetic ties with. This representation can be a figurine, a photograph, a lock of hair, a piece of paper with the person’s name written on it, something owned by that person, or any combination of the above.

Three white candles in the middle of dried vines.

Always approach candle magic with respect and caution. (E.g., don’t actually put them in the middle of a bunch of dry twigs.)

Next:

  1. Tie one end of the string to the representation of yourself, and the other to the representation of the other person.
  2. Once you’ve done so, touch the string with your dominant hand.
    Say, “This is the energetic cord between me and [the other person]. The relationship is ended, but the ties remain in place.”
    Imagine this cord is the physical manifestation of the flow between the two of you. Feel it thrumming with energy.
  3. Take the black candle in your hands. Visualize it filling with the power to sever this tie, and remove any negativity associated with it. No longer a simple candle, it is a key to your emotional and spiritual freedom. If you wish, you can affirm this out loud.
  4. Light the candle. Hold it up, and say, “With this flame, I sever this cord. No longer will this person drain my energy. No longer will I feel the effects of this relationship. I will be free.”
  5. Hold the flame to the center of the string (carefully! Don’t burn your house down please). As the string burns through, repeat the words, “With the cutting of this cord, I am free.”
  6. Use the black candle to light the three white candles. This symbolizes the release of the negativity surrounding this relationship, and the shifting of your energy into healing. Place the three candles around the representation of yourself.
  7. Sit quietly. Feel all of the feelings that rise up, no matter what they are — there might be anger, sorrow, relief, or even joy. Acknowledge them, and take the time to experience and understand them. Spend as long as you wish doing this.
  8. Either allow the candles to burn out, or snuff them. Dispose of the stubs appropriately.
  9. Untie the string from the representation of yourself. Burn or bury both halves of the string separately, and dispose of the representation of the other person however you feel is appropriate.

Energetic cords are tenacious, none more so than the ones that bind us to family. Severing these ties can help us pick up the pieces of ourselves, and continue on to heal our hearts and end the toxic cycles we were born into.