“Depression is like a woman in black. If she turns up, don’t shoo her away. Invite her in, offer her a seat, treat her like a guest and listen to what she wants to say.” – C.G. Jung
Depression is a manifestation of the unheard, unacknowledged Shadow. I like this quote because it gives me a visual for some of the Shadow work I do as a witch. And why does a witch do “Shadow Work”, you wonder? Because it is the source of your deepest power.
I’ve been practicing magick for a long time. And I’ve gotten pretty good at it.
Of course, I started out like anyone else, with the simplest of recipes from some magickal cook book or another.
I think my first spell might have been in high school. I performed a love spell with a mojo bag (red of course) filled with rose quartz, rose petals, rose oil, my lonely tears and possibly blood from a finger pricked by a rose thorn.
Roses are for love, right? And I have always been drawn (Ha! Pun intended) to blood magick. Perhaps there’s a bit of vampire in me. Hmmm.
In any case, I can’t remember if it worked or not. I’m guessing not because I don’t ever remember feeling any kind of love fulfillment in high school.
Anyway, the point is, in spell-work, experienced and novice witches alike tend to spend a lot of time on intention, on correspondences, on the stuff that goes into the mojo bag. We design elaborate rituals and recite beautifully written, rhyming incantations. We visualize our intention with intense and vivid focus. We chant and dance and burn things and sweat, naked under the moonlight.
And then nothing happens.
This is due, my friends, to the desires of that Woman in Black, the Unconscious Will.
I did my experimentation and performed many, many failed spells. I put in the time and made the mistakes and wondered and agonized over the “why” of it all.
I wondered if perhaps I was just someone who didn’t have magick in her, which made me very sad and gladly turns out to be very untrue.
If you are wondering the same, dear witchy readers, stop it. We all have magick in us. More magick than you can possibly imagine.
After all of the experiments and disasters, when I finally turned my attention inward like the Hermit, I began to understand that there is a far more powerful catalyst for my spells than the things and the conscious intentions that I put into them.
Don’t get me wrong! The THINGS count! Everything counts. But there is an alignment which must be reached between those things, the conscious intention AND the Unconscious Will in order for a spell to have a chance.
Know thyself, Witch. This is the first order of becoming a great Magickal practitioner. And very often, what we think we want, what our conscious mind desires, is not in alignment with our Unconscious Will.
AND, we’ve a tendency to do magick on the very things that the Woman in Black has magickally and magnificently manifested. Very often our conscious mind labels the manifestations of the unconscious will as wrong or bad. Our conscious mind says, “No, I don’t want that!” So we do magick on the things we want to change. But those things exist in our lives for a reason.
Did that make any sense at all? No? Okay. Let me give you an example.
A number of years ago, I was working a thankless day job of about 50 to 60 hours a week. This job (the only one I’d been offered in over two years of unemployment) was located about 75 miles away from my home, so I had a commute of approximately 3 to 4 hours a day. When you figured in all the extra hours and the cost of the commute, the pay I received for said thankless job was below poverty level.
Meanwhile, I was also a very active elder in a large coven, facilitating rituals for groups of up to 150 people at a time, AND running a spiritual center and facilitating workshops, rituals and festivals out of my home. Oh, yes, I was very busy. I don’t even know, now, how I found all the time.
My conscious desire was to have an easier life. My goal, magickal and otherwise, was to have more time for the things that I loved; i.e. ritual, teaching, divination, priestessing. This meant either finding a better paying job, with fewer working hours, closer to home, or making enough money from my workshops and divinations and rituals to devote myself to that full time.
And don’t think I wasn’t doing magick around that goal! I was! Frequently! And I was working as hard as I could on the mundane channels to achieve it as well. But this went on for about 7 years. 7 years of toiling, under-appreciated and under-paid. 7 years of being that amazing “ohmygods how do you do it all?!” person that my friends marveled at. 7 years of struggle, hard work, martyrdom! Ah… there it is!
Why would I stay in that situation for 7 years unless some HUGE part of myself was extremely desirous of it? The answer is, I wouldn’t. It was clear that part of me wanted it this way.
That deep-down part of my unconscious, The Woman in Black wanted, longed for, enjoyed and, indeed, LOVED to be known as that marvel who managed so much. She was positively orgasmic over the idea of being the martyr and the ever-struggling one. And she manifested this life-style despite my efforts in the real world and in my spell-craft to produce something different.
(Here’s me, the long suffering martyr.)
The fact is, that any Magick I performed around this conscious desire would be ultimately ineffective without HER cooperation and agreement.
Let’s perform a little experiment, shall we? Will you participate with me? Go ahead and raise your right hand in the air. Go ahead, just do it. Did you? Okay.
Now, did you do that consciously or unconsciously?
Most people answer that they did it consciously, because the conscious thought to raise the arm preceded the event. However, our minds are not capable of consciously firing each and every synapse in the sequence which is necessary to make the action happen. The chain of events of muscle movement, tendon stretching and nerve action is far too complicated for our conscious thoughts to comprehend. All of that is done under the surface, like that proverbial ice-berg.
So, we can’t accomplish much without the cooperation of that dark and steamy underworld dweller dressed ever so provocatively in black. This means that if something exists in your life there’s a part of you that brought it about. As the wise witch Carolyn Elliott says, “Having is evidence of wanting.”
It may seem like a harsh truth, but to me, it was a great revelation to know that part of me was that powerful and all I had to do was convince The Woman in Black to agree with my conscious desires in order to get what I wanted!
So, what did I have to do to change that 7 year stretch of martyrdom? First, I had to acknowledge that the Woman in Black was wearing the witch hat in a way that I never could, and give her the respect she deserved. And then, I had to let go of the person I thought myself to be.
It didn’t happen overnight. It happened over time. And all of the magick I did leading up to the “spell that worked”, counted. Just like the color correspondences, the stones, the herbs, the incantation AND the intentions counted. Because everything counts. And it adds up. Over time, our conscious mind can feed our unconscious mind the desired, well, desire. But the key was understanding that my deeply held belief about being a struggler, a martyr, a hard worker had to be recognized in order to be dislodged and changed.
Awareness is the first step, right? So, once I was aware that I was really digging being the martyr, the put-upon one, once I came to know and appreciate the love I had for my identification with the never-resting-ever-working marvel that I’d become, I had to say goodbye to her. But the Woman in Black wasn’t going to just let her go. I had to feed her some new identity to latch onto, one she would enjoy just as much.
There are two ways to dislodge and replace a deeply held belief.
Think of a glass of muddy-dirty water. You want this glass to be full of clear, pure water. There are two ways of accomplishing this. The first is to dump it out, wash the glass and re-fill it. This example would be equal to a deep, devastating trauma that drastically changes your perspective. And if you don’t have a trauma at hand, but still want to change, then what?
Take the glass of muddy water and start pouring pure, crystal clear water into it. Keep pouring until it over-flows, then continue to pour until all that mud and silt and sand has been lifted out of the glass and displaced and you are left with a glass of pure, clear water.
That’s how cumulative magick works. Each time I did a spell, each time I acknowledged the deep desire to be seen as a martyr and each time I focused my intention on wanting the change, I was pouring the pure water into the muddy and displacing it a little at a time.
And how did I acknowledge the desires of the Woman in Black? I invitedher in, treated her like a guest and listened to what she had to say. When she told me how fulfilling and wonderful it was to feel that struggle and hard work, I would close my eyes in ecstatic empathy and FEEL that with her. When she spoke of being known as that miraculous, ever-busy, make-things-happen kind of woman, I grinned and fanned at my fa
ce and neck to cool those passionate flames arising in me. You have to really get INTO it in order for her to feel heard and understood.
And then, in visualization and in my spell craft and in my mundane life, I began to convince the Woman in Black how fun it would be to be able to do all of those things and still have time to rest. I gave her the image of us lounging decadently or floating in a pool. I also gave her the image of us identifying with being a godsdamned fierce, badass magickal practitioner.
Finally, I did a spell to bring me a new life. But this time, I was entirely ready to HAVE that new life. I was absolutely done with my martyrdom and ready to move on to the next phase of things. Within about 6 weeks of that final spell, I was living in a beautiful new place, working a job at almost twice the pay of the old one, with rewarding work and within walking distance of my new home.
And I must tell you, it has been one hell of a magickal ride since then too!
So if your spells aren’t working, it’s probably not a problem with your correspondences or the “recipe”. It’s probably not an issue with astrological timing or the proper chant. (Although it could be those things too, because remember, everything counts!)
But it is much more likely something deep within you which fears, or is not in alignment with, what you think you want. Have a chat with the Woman in Black and see if she can’t help you figure it out.
*** Links to Image Sources are embedded in the images.