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                                  A CIRCLE FOR CATHARSIS 
                    One of my near and dear once spent an hour  in a therapist's
          office  kicking an innocent throw pillow around the room and screaming
          out rage  at his  abusive father.  At the end  of the  hour, he  had a
          broken foot -- and the first beginnings of a healed mind. 
                    But we havelearned thatmagic works throughsymbols. Callingan
          object  by  your  abuser's  name  and  then  abusing  that  object  is
          sympathetic magic used for the purpose of cursing. To throw a curse is
          to  project one's worst  feelings out into  the world of  form, and to
          invoke upon oneself the inevitable karmic 
                    It isnot our way to blast the cropsand sour the milk. Wiccan
          tradition and plain common sense both tell us to avoid the practice of
          baneful magic.  But, as usual, it's  not quite as easy  as just saying
                    Rape  and child abuse, loved ones killed by muggers or drunk
          drivers,  emotional manipulation  and betrayal,  economic exploitation
          and dishonest office politics - people hurt and victimize other people
          in many different ways every day. We are not immune. 
                    At somepoint in ourlives, probably everysingle one ofus will
          feel violated  by some other human  being. Often our  feelings will be
          based in fact.  Whether they are  or not, however, we need and deserve
          a safe way to discharge them. 
                    Symbolic banefulactions arealso cathartic actions.They drain
          and clear our poisonous  feelings and allow our own  emotional healing
          to begin.  If we deny ourselves this outlet, what happens to the grief
          and pain and rage? 
                    If projection  is bad  for us, introjection  is even  worse.
          Unreleased  bad feelings are a major source  of stress. In a very real
          sense, stress cripples  and kills. Ulcers, strokes,  heart attacks and
          more are all  heavily stress-related.  A simple refusal  to engage  in
          baneful  magic could  easily amount  to punishing  a victim  by adding
          serious illness to the original harm. 
                    I am partof the All. "Anit harm none"is about me too.Release
          of my feelings is my right. 
                    At  first it seems like  an insoluble paradox.  But the same
          understanding of magic that forbids projection of our bad feelings can
          open a safe channel for those feelings. Here's one possible form: 


          1) Understanding 
                    Think about  the Alcoholics Anonymous prayer.  "Grant me the
          serenity to accept the things  I cannot change, the courage  to change
          the  things I  can change,  and the  wisdom to  know  the difference."
          People of any  religion can recognize the wisdom in  those words. This
          ritual  is intended to  ease emotional pressure.  I believe  that is a
          step towards granting all three of those things to ourselves. 
                    If your hurt isongoing, you must take stepsto stop it -leave
          the  abusive  relationship,  begin  searching  for  a new  job,  begin
          organizing politically to stop your oppression. What good this  Circle
          does  you will be temporary at best if  you are not acting on both the
          magical and material planes to change the things you can change. 
                    But some ofour pain comes from old, oldinjuries. And some of
          our feelings are not based on  fact at all. The source of  those hurts
          cannot be changed, but the pain can be. This particular  working is to
          release any bad feelings, not to judge them. 
                    Don'tworry aboutjustice. Youmay bemistaken about whohas hurt
          you,  but nobody will be  hurt by what we do  here. All energy will be
          contained  within the Circle. The  object of this  working is healing,
          not justice. You  deserve this  healing simply because  you hurt,  and
          even if you are mistaken. 
                    Prevention and healing arehuman tasks; to dothem is tochange
          the things we  can change. Justice - the evening  of karmic balances -
          is the business of the  Gods, and may take place across a span of many
          lifetimes. Karmic balance is a thing we cannot change. 
          2) Set Up 
                    You have some decisions to make. Thefirst one is whether you
          will work 
          alone  or ask one  or more trusted  friends to witness  and facilitate
          working. Some  of us can only  let our feelings go  in strict privacy.
          For others, 
          the presence of  people who will make sure we  don't hurt ourselves or
          our homes 
          removes  a source of inhibition.  And sometimes simply  being heard is
          part of the 
          release process. 

                    Next, exactly what kind of symbolic action will release your
          feelings?   Will kicking a  throw pillow  suffice, or do  you need  to
          actually make a poppet?  Or just screaming  may be enough. If you want
          to work with a physical symbol, prepare it in advance, and be sure not
          to use  anything you  will want  to keep  after the  rite or ever  use


                    Figure out whetheryou can either casta Circle toinclude your
          bathroom,  or leave  a cast  Circle for  a period  of time.  This will
          depend on your particular  training. If possible, have a  warm scented
          tub waiting  for you.  If not, a  basin of  warm scented  water and  a
          washcloth  within easy reach just outside of your Circle will suffice.
          Also, a ritual meal should be prepared and 
          waiting outside of Circle, and this should include something green and
          growing - I favor sprouts - and something sweet. 
          1)  Waning moon is a  good time for  this Circle, and the  Dark of the
          Moon is even better. Cast  the Circle and invoke the Watchers  in your
          usual  manner. Call  on the  Crone, on  She who  weeds and  prunes and
          disposes of the obstructive and unnecessary. 
          2) Just  inside the Circle, like  the membrane in an  eggshell, cast a
          grounding shield. One possible  image for this shield would be a black
          absorptive chain link  fence, supported at regular intervals  by fence
          posts that are lightning rods. Whatever happens within this space will
          be contained and grounded. 
          3)  Make clear to yourself  what wound you  seek to drain.  Say it out
          loud, even if you are alone. Recall what happened to you in detail and
          let the feelings grow strong. 
          4) Now,  let go of  your feelings. Do  whatever will help  you release
          what is  in you. Beat on  a pillow or rip  up a doll.  Scream till you
          cry. Don't stop till you are emptied. Then fling the thing you used as
          a symbol out of your Circle. 
          5)  When you  are sure  you are  all done,  all drained,  contract the
          shield into a tight ball in the center of the Circle. As it contracts,
          it will  gather all  the negative energy  from the Circle.  Ground it.
          Affirm that  you are sending this energy  to the fire at  the heart of
          the Earth - to Jarnsaxe or to Pele - to be 
          purified in that blast furnace and cycled to wherever strong energy is
          needed.  Know that what you now let go is gone. Affirm this out loud. 
          6) Wash or bathe in a ritual  manner, feeling the last traces of  your
          bad feelings dissolve away. If others  are present, allow them to wash
          and serve you. 
          7) Rest a few minutes. Feel the peace of emptiness. 
          8)  Then  invoke the  Maiden's energy  for  new beginnings.  Have your
          ritual feast,  and otherwise  indulge your  senses. Gentle and  joyful
          music would  be effective,  and you  may want to  switch to  a sweeter
          smelling incense. This is a  time to dream dreams and plan  plans. You
          have removed an energy drain  from your life, now you will  be able to
          ... ? 
          9)  Thank and dismiss whatever  Beings you have  called on, throughout
          the whole  ritual. Close  your Circle  as usual. Do  not do  any other
          kinds of working or worship within this particular Circle. 


          Follow Through: 

                    Thefinal part of any effective magical working is "acting in
          accordance" on  the material plane. By doing this, we give the magic a
          channel through which to  manifest. For this working, there  are three
          forms of follow through, and all are important. 
          1)  Remember that  painful  feelings are  partly  habitual. Acting  in
          accordance with magic  to banish  such feelings requires  you to  stop
          feeding the  habit. Don't talk  about the pain  with anybody until  at
          least the second  full moon after the working. This  gives the habit a
          chance to fade out. As  much as you can, eliminate the topic from your
          internal  dialogue as well. When  you notice yourself  dwelling on the
          old pain, gently and firmly change the subject. 
                          Thinking aboutaction tochangeyour lifeinthe hereandnow
          is  perfectly  OK.  The problem  is  reiteration  of  old feelings  of
          frustration and helplessness that actually impede change. 
          2) If the hurtful situation is current and ongoing, continue  with any
          steps you  were taking to change  the things you can  change. In fact,
          you will probably  find you have  more energy than  you did before  to
          devote to your projects. 
          3) Be sure to use  some of your newly freed emotional energy to reward
          yourself.  Take time for friendship, love, and pleasure. The object of
          the  exercise is to  clear space for  the enjoyment of  life, so start
          right now. 
                                              Judy Harrow 
                                              HPs, Proteus Coven