NOVEMBER 28, 2022, BY AWYN DAWN READ TIME: 9 MINS
In America and other parts of the world, mental health is too often thought of as a side note or a punchline. Sometimes it is not thought of at all, ignored in an effort to will away any topic deemed too uncomfortable to discuss. One of the duties you have, as a human being, is to keep your mind healthy. It does not mean that you must put on a strong front all the time, nor does it mean you have to hide your feelings (that is the opposite, in fact). Sometimes taking care of your mind will mean being on doctor-prescribed medication, going to therapy, integrating daily meditation, doing shadow work, letting go of grudges, and more. It will not always be easy or comfortable.
In my book, Paganism on Parole: Connecting to the Magic All Around, I devote a whole chapter to mental health because it is so important, not just for the magical communities, but for human beings as a whole. In this article, you will be given some starting points regarding mental maintenance and how they pertain to magic. As always, though, you are encouraged to use what applies and leave the rest. Just remember that if what you are trying (or not) isn’t working, maybe it is time to try something else.
Have an Open Mind
The first topic I wish to discuss is having an open mind when it comes to mental health treatment. Going to therapy does not mean that something is “wrong” with a person. Everyone should go to therapy, even temporarily. A counselor’s or therapist’s office is a space where someone impartial listens to you talk about yourself for an hour. They then help guide you to a solution you already knew on an intuitive level but were unable to see. Sometimes it takes one session. Sometimes many. But the value of having someone around to give you honest feedback is beyond measure.
If you don’t go to therapy, there are still many other ways to address mental wellness. Some will require you to get out of your comfort zone. It is okay to be uncomfortable, especially if the outcome is a stronger mind. A stronger mind makes for more powerful and accessible magic.
Study, Learn, and Seek Information
Anyone can put on a video. That’s the easy part. The harder part is deciding what you are going to feed your mind. By instinct, many of us will go to a site that offers hours of “entertainment” with no benefit to the body, mind, or spirit. Instead of watching the newest TikTok or getting sucked into hours of animals-wearing-clothes videos (yes, they’re cute), try watching videos that have been made by NASA, museums, and scientific or historical societies. Maybe I’m partial because I love historical and science documentaries, but when I read books, watch videos, and feed my mind, I feel satiated. The same feeling that people will gorge themselves with food to get comes through feeding the mind. And, depending on what you watch, feeding your spirit, too.
Now I’m not implying that everything you watch has to be a two-hour special on the Battle of Hastings, but if your entertainment diet is full of mass-made “garbage” TV and videos, then how are you caring for your mind? There are many amazing magical courses available on author websites, some free others for a fee. There are educational classes on sites like LinkedIn learning, and in-person workshops through libraries and rec centers. And, if you are feeling really adventurous, you could help rekindle a dying art (hello wool spinning). The possibilities are endless.
Let Your Mind Rest
Wait! In the last paragraph I was urging you to engage your mind, now I want you to let it rest? Yes, that is correct. Just as your stomach can be too full, so, too, can your brain be overloaded. You can recognize when this happens by some of the symptoms: headaches, increased periods of forgetfulness, mental fog, crankiness with new ideas, or when you can’t retain new information the way you normally do. When these happen acutely, it means that a time for rest is in order.
You should not attempt magic when your brain needs a shutdown time. No, you will not accidentally unleash some dark ethereal being. But magic takes focus and energy. And if you are not focused and are low on energy, then you will be putting undo stress on yourself, and your spell will be ineffective. You can let your mind rest through meditation. This is one of the most effective ways. And because dozens of types of meditation exist, see Paganism for Prisoners: Connecting to the Magic Within; there are lots of ways you can integrate it and let your mind recharge.
Spend Time Outside
Nature is sacred. Spending time in the sun and fresh air is so important to mental and spiritual health. And it is a great place to commune with gods, goddesses, and land spirits. Now, you might be saying, “I go outside all the time.” But how much of that time are you present in the moment? When I say spend time outside, I mean without taking 4,000 pictures for your socials, without walking mindlessly, without just being in a hurry to “get it done.” Next time you go to a sacred place, allow yourself to be there in that place for no other purpose than to be there.
If you find a particular serene or interesting area, you can sit and speak to Gaia, in whatever form she takes for you. You can hold her nourishing dirt in your hands. You can breathe in the scents of her flowers. You can be cognizant of the wind teasing your skin. And when you do so, you will find yourself grounded and connected in a way that isn’t experienced through any other means. You are the earth, and she is you.
Practice Each of Your Clair Senses Regularly
So far, we have been talking about the physical health of your brain. The brain is complex and multi-layered. It can do math, help compose symphonies, and tie our shoelaces, but it can also help us tie into the unseen dimensions of our world through our “Clair senses.” That is clairaudience, clairvoyance, clairsentience, etc…
From a magical perspective, we can use these same senses to help manifest a spell’s intention. In my first book (Paganism for Prisoners) I talk more in-depth about the Clair senses and provide individual exercises to connect with them. When you engage your Clair senses regularly, you are allowing a part of your mind to work that doesn’t always get exercise. One of my favorite ways to exercise clairaudience is to focus on different channels of sound and single one out, then single out another. Each time you do exercises like these, you are inviting the extrasensory part of your brain to activate and strengthen your mental fortitude.
Your emotions and your mental state are inextricably linked to one another. The emotional seat of the brain is the amygdala. This small piece of brain tissue has a big job. Along with regulating emotions, it also gives emotional context to our memories and aids decision-making. In a nutshell, this means our emotions are going to directly impact the decisions we make. This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. I mean, who hasn’t made a bad decision when they were emotionally overheated?
Emotions are normal, and allowing ourselves to experience them keeps us mentally healthy. Unfortunately, the world we live in feeds us stress-filled schedules and our emotions tend to get stuffed away. When you apply emotions to magic, the same capacity to make irresponsible decisions comes into play. Before you cast, incant, chant, or otherwise pursue a magical avenue, make sure you are in a state where you are not emotionally invested in the outcome. The easiest ways to achieve this are to meditate beforehand and maintain generally good mental health. So, when you need to cry, let yourself. When you need to release anger, hit the gym or go for a walk. And when you experience joy, let yourself sit in the moment.
There have been a lot of studies done on the effects of community and engagement among human beings. The results tend to show the same thing: human beings need other human beings to help our mental state stay fit. This doesn’t mean that you must be a social butterfly, but regular human interaction with a few close friends improves cognitive and memory skills and can increase the longevity of the body and mind.
The pagan community as a whole is growing. Depending on your area, you may see many groups and gatherings or only a few. The good news is that humans are complex, so you can find community in places you might not expect by exploring hobbies and interests both in and out of a pagan context. Though live interaction tends to be preferred to receive the full brain benefits, virtual meetings can also fill a need for community. During lockdown, many groups went virtual, and many chose to stay that way allowing for increased accessibility. So fret not, small towners, there are ways to build your relationships: start with Meetup, Facebook Groups, and similar venues and go from there.
Stones are ageless. Made from a swirling dance of chemicals over the course of thousands to millions of years, they carry vibrational properties that achieve many purposes. When you shop for stones, instead of looking up long lists of magical properties, go and look at a stone. Pick it up and hold it in your hand. Do you feel lighter? Happier? More emotionally grounded? More balanced? Focused? Inspired? Then THAT is the property of the stone. But, if you’d like a guideline or a starting point, then here are some good ones to start with. First, Selenite. Selenite absorbs any energy that is thrown at it, but it doesn’t keep it. Energetically, selenite is neutral. Keeping a piece under your bed can help wipe the emotional stressors from you while you sleep and leave you feeling refreshed.
Moonstone makes its way onto the list because of its links to the moon and water. If you carry a piece, it can help you feel your emotions as they are, without the addition of fear and negative self-talk. If you ever find yourself asking, “Should I be this _____ over a situation,” moonstone can help you sort that out.
Amethyst is a favorite stone for so many people. Its purple color is calming and healing. If you hold a piece on the right day with the right song playing in the background, you will likely find tears begging for release. It is protective in that it creates a safe space and healing in that it allows emotions to flow freely.
Also known as the “Happy Stone,” Citrine is known for its ability to uplift the spirit. Natural citrine is very light in color, bright, inspiring, and resonating with the solar plexus. It is hard to hold this stone and not feel immediately more cheerful and optimistic.
The last one I want to talk about here is Hematite. Truly a magnetic stone, it is a good idea to carry two. This will keep blood flowing but will also keep you grounded in reality. There are times when our emotions like to carry us away. Hematite keeps that from happening. It allows the carrier to keep a level head even in heated situations. More information on stones and health can be found in my book Paganism on Parole: Connecting to the Magic All Around.
As you become more adept as a pagan and/or magical practitioner, you will find ways to work spiritually that go deeper than anything you ever could have imagined. True power lies not in the mastery of the external but in the mastery of one’s own thoughts. Remember this as you go forward in all of your endeavors.
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