Heal & Harm is a no-bullshit column released every two weeks to honour the full and new moons, affirming the old as hell phrase “a witch who can’t harm can’t heal” and oscillating between summoning good vibes and releasing pain.
This new moon I leave you with a little prose poem, a prayer on finding what it is we need to mourn, as well as a mini ritual for your meditation, use, alteration, contemplation.
This column touched upon this theme a little while ago: the difficulty of locating what it is specifically that needs to be let go or mourned. I return to these themes today in poetry and ritual, in the hope of reminding y’all that these processes are ongoing and continuous. You don’t just find what to mourn once, and then move on miraculously as if ‘cured’. It’s a constant relating, a constant attention, a constant intentionality. It is a way of moving and being; cyclical. And so on this new moon I invite you to return to this process, to reflect.
Were you able to find something new to mourn a few weeks ago? What is your relationship to that thing now? Has it changed? Is the mourning process over? Or maybe something to mourn was hard for you to find, maybe you need to dig deeper still. Maybe you haven’t found it yet. That’s ok. Maybe you dug too deep before, and what needs to go is really slinking upon the surface unnoticed, unannounced.
In returning (again, again) we can see again, feel again. Maybe differently, maybe the same. Maybe there’s no change. We can (re)turn; in turning again we experience the turn to mourning with a different body, different mind, different feeling. In returning to mourn we open ourselves up to be different, to experience mourning with a different attention, different relationship. Re return to our attention, our intention.
To mourn is a practice: it doesn’t just happen once.
Open your palm. Hold it open. Keep it open. Do not squeeze too tight. What do you grasp at, clench until it hurts you, til you get rug burn rope burn, some kind of scar, what do you hold on to, strive towards like trying to push a square peg that is yourself into a round shaped hole that is too small for the peg, always was, always will be, until the system is smashed open by hands that will likely not be yours. What to do, what to do? Why do you try to make yourself fit where you do not fit? Do you grasp thinking that this one more thing will make you good, noticed, the chosen one, will make you legitimate, respectable, as if you have Arrived but you have always been arrived, really, so why wait for some one else some institution some whatever to affirm this for you? How many slivers of yourself do you lose when you do this? How much of you is already gone? When will you go to get it back? You are still here. Do not be vacant. Grieve what needs grieving and it may take some time to find. Sometimes our dead hide from us, especially when it is us that kill them. Lay out some flowers and pray. Palms together, petals between.
To connect with what needs to be let go in order to become more stable
To become more rooted in oneself
To allow the self to mourn what is being released
Moon: New (to renew)
Sky: Dark (to go deep)
Candle: 1 Dark, short, wide, 3 wicks (to mimic the dark moon; to remind you of midnight; to summon stability; to honour the rise, concentration, and fall of energy)
Water bowl: 1 (filled with cold water, to honour spirits)
Flowers: 1 bouquet (to feed spirits)
Nail: 1 (to write on candle)
Relaxed body, mind, soul (to take in the work, to do it with attention)
Flat surface (on which to work)
Begin and end ritual as you usually would – call in whatever spirits (or not), gods and goddesses (or not), ancestors (or not). Cast a circle (or not). Up to you. Adjust as necessary and as desired.
Feel your body. Be in your body. Put your mind on the floor and let it sit, watching. Do not watch it back.
Give the offerings of water and flowers a place of prominence on your working surface. This is to feed your spirit helpers, to offer them gratitude and appreciation for walking with you and working with you, for supporting you in the work that you are doing.
Sit in darkness, maybe with a little bit of light enough to see your materials.
In whatever way feels best to you – simple reflection, meditation, trance, automatic writing, etc – feel your connection to yourself, to what you wish to summon and what you wish to release. What needs mourning? What part of yourself is dying or already dead? What is holding you back from becoming who and how you wish to be?
Once you have a decent list of things, use the nail to write them on the candle.
Put vibes into your candle. Imagine that as you write each word, you are doing an exodus of this part of yourself and putting all of it into the candle itself, so that when you light it and it burns, that part of you will be released and let go with the wax as it disappears into the air. I suggest folks sit with the candle in both hands for as long as it takes for the candle to feel hot and tingly, so you know you have really imbued it with your energy and intention.
Sit with the candle as long as you can, as long as you feel you need to.
Light the candle. The process of release begins here.
Conclude (if you wish) by bathing. Water is a space of death, but also cleansing and rebirth. If you prefer to soak in what you are letting go for a bit, to really experience mourning and wallow unashamed before you release – to cry and scream and feel sorry for yourself – a bath may be best. If you would prefer not to give this mourning any more of your time and instead everything gone as soon as can be, a shower is preferred. Imagine the shower water washing away everything you are releasing and mourning, each droplet that hits your skin scrubs these things away from you.
Note: You may leave the candle lit while you wash, or not. Bring it with you, or not. If you have chosen a candle so big it requires multiple burnings, light it every night for a few hours before bed until it is burned out. Ideally choose a candle that will leave no residue, no trace of itself – beeswax can be good for this, as can some candles without glass.
Thank the spirits, thank yourself.
Go to sleep.
Write down your dreams.