Witch Cabinet: Undoing gaslighting

Now, in these bizarre and painful days of “alternative facts” we cannot deny that gaslighting is happening on a global scale.

This violence is so exaggerated, so absurd, that it grants us an opportunity to lift the veil, connect to the truth and do the deep unravelling needed to fight back against profound emotional abuse.

The impacts of gaslighting run deep and are so harmful they can leave us wondering if we even deserve to exist.

Right now, in my personal life, I’m doing some deep potent work to undo the impacts of gaslighting on my body, mind and spirit. This work is teaching me to come back into alignment with my deepest truths. I am learning what stops me from trusting myself and how I have normalized relationships where I don’t get what I need. Much of my work undoing gaslighting is about grieving the relationships I’ve lost as I’ve decided to align myself with my truth. Truths that don’t work well for the agendas of others who wish to keep me small for their own comfort.

I’m learning to trust myself and tell my own story. I’m learning to ask for what I need. I’m discovering more and more each day that I can’t do this work alone.

So here’s to the the allies: human, animal and magical who are keeping us all in their hearts as we undo the powerful and harmful spells cast on us through gaslighting.

Here is a list of magical, herbal and community driven tools I’ve been using to undo the impacts of gaslighting.

Yarrow is a powerful tool for protection and setting boundaries. It’s pain relieving and helps balance hormones. I use yarrow daily in teas, baths, salves, and I especially like to burn it to clear space. Yarrow will cause you to warm up and sweat and it also has a somewhat bitter taste so in teas I tend to use it in small amounts.

Hawthorn is an incredible ally for grief and heart break. This powerful plant casts protection around anyone who uses it and gently works to subtly and profoundly shift the energetic and physical quality and strength of the heart. Hawthorn helps us have boundaries while also maintaining an open heart.

Rose, similar to hawthorn, is a profound ally for grief and heart break. Rose grants fierce protection so that we can melt, soften and open. I use rose primarily in teas, honeys and infused oils. I put rose infused oil on my face each day and I also use it in baths.

Sage is one of my favourite herbs for clearing space. This herb is used by many cultures around the world for smudging and in burning bundles. When using and sourcing sage I try to be mindful of cultural appropriation and aware that this herb is often over harvested.

Mugwort is another favourite burning herb for me. It smells amazing and is a powerful ally in dream work. I use mugwort in tea when I’m seeking a sense of truth from my dreams that I’m struggling to discover in my waking life. Be careful with mugwort though, as it can trigger menstruation and in large doses can lead to hallucinations.

Nervines are herbs that calm and soothe the nervous system. I particularly value being able to lean into the support of these herbs as I’m undoing the impacts of the fight-or-flight activation common to PTSD. Nervines I love and would highly recommend include chamomile, passionflower, valerian, hops, skullcap and calendula.

Herbal baths are a powerful tool for letting go. I love to fill the a hot bath with epsom salts, herbs and essential oils and breathe deep as I let the water soak away my aches and pains. As I let the water drain from the tub I imagine all the things I’m letting go of pour down the drain, away from me and into the sweet receptivity of the ocean.

Fermented foods help bolster the health and resilience of the digestive system. The ways we struggle to digest food tend to reflect the ways we struggle to digest emotions. When we support the digestive system, we also support our emotional and spiritual well being.

Reality checks from select and trusted allies are one of the most important tools for recovering from gas lighting. When you’ve been gaslit your reality is undermined to the point that you can’t tell what is real anymore. A huge step in my healing journey came when I gave myself permission to stop believing certain people, even though I love them, and start believing people who wanted to see my succeed and heal. Skilled counsellors and therapists can be wonderful allies for reality checking.

Boundaries are a fundamental tool for undoing gaslighting. Boundaries allow us to stay safe and create a sense of separation between us and the people who seek to convince us that our reality is a way that falls into alignment with their goals and agenda. Often the people gaslighting us think they are loving and caring for us when really they are trying to keep us behaving in a way that makes them feel most safe and comfortable. The fact that gaslighting is often wrapped in language of love is a part of what makes it so confusing. Many of the herbal tools listed above are incredibly helpful for setting boundaries and I’d also highly recommend this book.

Storytelling is the plain upon which our reality is shaped. When we tell stories we choose characters, we assign them motivations and we craft the fabric of their relationships. For me being gaslit has meant I’ve absorbed stories about me that others felt were true, but were damaging for me. In order to heal this trauma I’ve learned to tell my own story and in sharing those stories others find solace and permission to believe themselves, as I have done. In this way my story telling helps undo my gaslighting and the gaslighting of others.

Grounding involves getting into the body and drawing energy up from the earth, while letting go of what is no longer needed. I have found through my process of undoing gaslighting, that while my mind may found something to be true in what someone else was telling me, my body always knew the truth. Grounding and connecting to my body means I feel the pain and the truth more deeply and this helps set me free. I must admit, this is one of the most challenging pieces for me.

Hexing is a controversial but powerful tool to cast out the pain you’ve endured back onto the person who gave it to you. Some people feel hexing is totally unethical and that it should never be done, and others believe it’s a strong and necessary tool to give the pain and violence back to the source from which it came.

If you want to learn more about the herbs listed here I’d highly recommend Listen Podcast. In this podcast Natasha Richardson interviews herbalists about their relationship with each of these plants. All the plants listed here are talked about on the podcast.

If you want to learn more magical skills to undo the impacts of gaslighting, I have an e-zine coming out on Valentines Day – We Believe You: Femmes Surviving Masculinity. The zine is a multimedia collection of diverse creative femmes sharing their magical survival and resilience strategies. You can get updates on the project and purchase the zine when it’s released if you join the facebook page here.

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