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:
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
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.
the presence of people who will make sure we don't hurt ourselves or
removes a source of inhibition. And sometimes simply being heard is
part of the
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.
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
HPs, Proteus Coven