LESSONS IN MAGICK: Dark Night of the Soul

Dark night

“When you’re lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost. For the longest time, you can convince yourself that you’ve just wandered off the path, that you’ll find your way back to the trail head any moment now. Then night falls again and again, and you still have no idea where you are, and it’s time to admit that you have bewildered yourself so far off the path that you don’t even know from which direction the sun rises anymore.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

I haven’t written a blog since May, and even now as thoughts run through my mind, and ideas are filling up the memo pad in my phone, I find I simply can’t get the words out.

I don’t want to sit here, and as Hemingway said, bleed.

But, bleed I must.

Naively I had reached a point in my path where I was comfortable, not just in my personal life, but my Magickal, too.

The Universe doesn’t like comfort.

We don’t learn, evolve, grow, change inside comfort.

Now, before you say anything, obviously comfort as an emotion or supportive act is necessary in life.

However, comfort in the form of stagnation and failure to thrive is something else entirely.

I was the latter.

I was stuck and didn’t want to admit it.

For months I remained this way, allowing life to just pummel and victimize me until I had nothing left, until nothing was left except my shell.

The shell of who I used to be.

Of what my life used to be.

I had to grieve what was lost, I had to mourn who was lost, I had to feel all the pain that comes from massive, chaotic CHANGE.

Dark night 2

I slipped quietly into a depression, a pit of darkness to protect myself from what was happening around me; a way to keep my trauma at bay.

Trading one monster for another.

The entire time I was in the abyss, mourning the loss of……so fucking much, I found myself comforted by two quotes:

“All the Gods, all the Heavens, all the Hells are within you.”- Joseph Campbell

And,

“Wherever you go, there you are.” -Jon Kabat-Zinn

The first quote has been a “go to” of mine for many, many years now, and it takes on new meaning as the seasons of my life change.

This time, it returned me to my Hindu roots, and forced me back into daily practice and Puja.

I am both a Luciferian Witch and Shaivite Hindu, and I don’t care if that doesn’t make sense to you.

Campbell’s quote is the epitome of both Luciferianism and Hinduism.

The second quote, well that one is a bit more complex and required deep Shadow Work.

I am a master at escapism.

I don’t always do it, obviously, as I know how unhealthy it is, but *it is* something I do.

My Psychiatrist says that it’s my trauma response, and I can see that—a defense mechanism, but it’s detrimental to my health, my growth and my energy.

dark night 3

“The only way out is through” -Robert Frost

You can’t escape shit because when you come back, it will all still be right where you left it.

Not only will your problems be there waiting, but you will be there waiting.

At the end of the day, who do you have to sit with?

Who do you have to be okay with?

Who do you have to be on good terms with?

You.

dark night 4

You must sit with yourself.

You must be okay with yourself.

You must be on good terms with yourself.

This world creates enough war and conflict, the last thing we need to do is take that on and internalize it as some normal part of the human experience.

Yes, to a certain degree internal war and conflict are necessary; it’s part of the complexity of duality and Shadow.

But the immeasurable scale which we see war and conflict within the collective, and within ourselves is taking its toll on humanity.

It’s taking it’s toll on what it means to be human.

The key to being human is to live a life that is authentically true to who you are.

No other life is worth living or dying for; no other life will do.

To thine own Self be true.

THE POWER OF PERSEVERANCE: The Story of PTSD and Me

Depression

“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”

Laurell K. Hamilton

I have written a lot of extremely personal blogs, but this one might take the cake.

This blog has been dancing in my head for a few weeks now, but I couldn’t find the perfect time to sit down and write it. Seeing how I just had surgery yesterday and am on bed rest, I figured now is as good a time as any to tell this story.

I have been very open with my chronic health and mental health issues; I wrote a piece on this very topic back in May, it was my way of reclaiming my power.

I have even had a hugely successful blog published on WITCH regarding my battle with chronic health issues and how it directly relates to and affects my Magick.

I wrote about Trauma the Teacher on The House of Twigs.

This is a follow-up of sorts.

A redefining moment in my life that I want to share with all of you.

If you have read my past blogs about my health you know that I have struggled for essentially my entire life, but more so recently; mostly regarding degenerative disc disease, a torn disc between L5 and S1, degeneration of my Sacroiliac Joint, Arthritis, Hashimotos, fribromyalgia, chronic pain and chronic fatigue. Not to mention cervical and skin cancer in my past, along with 7 abdominal surgeries for a variety of feminine health problems which resulted in a full hysterectomy.

Besides these physical ailments, I have been facing head on both my anxiety and C-PTSD.

Let’s rewind for a minute.

Back in 2010 when I was just coming out of an abusive relationship I kind of lost my shit; I don’t know how else to describe it. I didn’t suffer a psychotic break, I did not have delusions, I can only describe it as “losing my mind”.

Now, to be clear, my entire life has been one giant reel of traumatic events, there is not a singular moment that caused my pain; 2010 was just the tipping point.

Out of fear of what was happening, because I didn’t know what was going on, I checked myself into a private mental health institute where I was medicated with poisons and diagnosed: Bipolar 2, ADHD, OCD, Anxiety (GAD, Social Anxiety), Agoraphobia and PTSD.

For 3 years I went to therapy session after therapy session and pumped my body full of toxins; I was even forced to go to substance abuse programs because I was open about smoking cannabis.

They labeled me as “self-medicating”.

For the past 14 years cannabis has been my medicine of choice, and of course some of my closed-minded family members and Doctors alike thought I was (and am) nothing more than a pothead.

A druggie.

In 2013 I stopped all medications besides Estrogen, Synthroid, vitamins, a muscle relaxer for my back and allergy meds; I have not been medicated for my mental health. Though about 2 months ago I was given a low dose of Klonopin to help take the edge off because my anxiety can be debilitating some days. I have continued my use of cannabis, which as you may know is illegal in NYS; I have always been open and honest with my providers about my use.

Recently having found a great PCP and a Pain Management Doctor I was given the gift of hope.

A cruel gift sometimes, but I embraced it for once.

When my PCP prescribed me the Klonopin, he suggested I try to find a mental health professional for medication management; I understood his point completely and a few weeks ago I went to the appt.

I walked out before even seeing a Doctor.

I was filling out paperwork and the very last sheet was a checklist that you had to initial (30 something “agreements”) and it read like a court ordered type document.

It basically said I would be subject to random drug tests, and *forced* to go to talk therapy because I have an anxiety disorder(s).

WHAT?

I specifically asked about therapy beforehand because it’s not my thing, and they said they force no one.

When I asked the nurse about the checklist she said that if I test positive for any trace amounts *at all* of cannabis that I would be weaned off my medication and put into a substance abuse program.

Now, I know that checklist and that office saves people’s lives, but that was not a place that jived with the kind of treatment and healing I need.

I left that appointment so, so discouraged.

It was like my dreams just blew away in the wind.

Dreams

I went to my PCP the following Monday (the appt was on a Thursday), told him all about it and even he was shocked, but then he said, “well, just so you know in the next few months St. Peter’s (the hospital in which his practice is associated with) is sending out contracts for all users of controlled substances” (which Klonopin is).

He continued to say that he has no clue what will be on the contract, but it might have something in there about cannabis; reminding me it’s a Catholic establishment (he is an excellent Doctor, I don’t care about religion).

He told me he would continue to prescribe the low dose for me, and we will “Cross the contract bridge when it comes”.

I went home and immediately started researching Medical Marijuana and how I apply, how much it will cost and what the qualifying conditions are.

You see, it’s not easy to get approved…like not at all.

And, it’s costly. Very, very costly.

I had to weigh my options; do I give up the Klonopin? Do I give up the cannabis? Or, do I try and legitimize my use?

I decided I was going to try to get certified for Medical Marijuana.

I found a brilliant Psychiatrist, said some prayers to my Gods, and started walking this new path.

My appointment was August 15th, and not only did she tell me that I was, indeed, misdiagnosed and that *I AM NOT BIPOLAR* but she said I have one of the more severe cases of PTSD and C-PTSD she has seen. The PTSD is a direct result of sexual trauma; the C-PTSD is from long term abuse as a child, and abuse as a teen and young adult at the hands of my Father, Step-Father (not the Step-Father in my life now) and romantic partners.

For the last 8 years I have worn a scarlet letter of sorts as far as the medical world is concerned.

They would look at my chart, and for the last 5 of those 8 years all they saw was “unmedicated bipolar” and treated me as if I was going to kill myself or someone else.

She granted me FREEDOM and POWER by telling me, “Jaclyn you are not at all Bipolar, you do not suffer from any personality disorders; you suffer from severe trauma, and your body remembers.”

Freedom 2

I will not go into all the ways in which PTSD paralyzes me, and all that it entails to carry this diagnosis.

I will say:

It’s why I can’t leave my house for days on end.

It’s why I haven’t been intimate with anyone in 5 years.

It’s why I can’t be touched.

It’s why I don’t like loud noises.

It’s why my nightmares torment me.

In one swoop, with a few words she ripped that scarlet letter off of me and the weight that lifted with it was tangible.

We sat and talked for almost 2 hours, and she told me how intelligent and insightful I was; how impressed she was with what I know about trauma, more specifically my trauma and my reactions to it.

Then, she said, “Jaclyn, remember this day. Remember this day because you are certified. Congratulations.”

To tell you that I started sobbing would be an understatement; I am telling you I was full on ugly crying in her office.

This has quite literally changed my life.

She gave me my certification form, told me the next steps and I went right home, printed out my temporary card and walked into the dispensary for the first time that afternoon.

As of right now I am on pills and vape pens; I might try oralmucosal (tincture) but because I have been smoking for so long my receptors are dense, and I need high THC content for it to be medicinal in my body.

I can now travel (within the state) with my medication.

I can now be drug tested and it won’t be considered illicit because it’s my medicine.

I can now show my family and Doctor’s that I am not some druggie, but a person who genuinely needs this plant ally as MEDICINE.

I have written over 1,000 words telling this story and still they are not enough to describe the feeling I have, the freedom I have been given, and the emotions that are still overwhelming me.

We must be our loudest advocate for our own health and well-being, and if you ever needed inspiration to be that, use me.

I did it, so can you.

Always listen to your gut, and always follow what your body is telling you.

Don’t give up, Warrior.

Keep fighting.

RECLAIMING MY POWER: My Battle With Mental Illness

Mental

“One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

FOR AN UPDATE ON MY STORY, CLICKhere.

It’s no secret that the more personal I am on my blog the greater my personal gain is.

It’s almost like the deeper the wound and redder the blood the more the Gods take note and I start to reap the benefits of intense Shadow Work.

I don’t believe that the Gods are rewarding me, per se, but I do believe there is a correlation between facing oneself, speaking one’s truth and gaining freedom.

Real freedom.

The kind that can only be won by going to war with yourself.

You will know it when you experience it.

And the Universe will bow at your glory.

As much as I love writing, and love what I do, it’s hard work. It’s hard to sit down and face myself, face my thoughts, and my reflection.

It’s even more complicated when there are two sides to my being, and a constant battle raging internally.

You see, I have mental illness.

And it’s my belief that this is more a gift than curse.

I do not run from my madness anymore, and the reason for that is my practice and Shamanism (no, I am not on the Shaman path).

It was only through losing my mind that I gained any type of real perspective on life, the world or myself.

I ran into article after article, and book after book about the Shamanistic view of mental illness; the words that I read gave me power.

More than that, they granted me permission to take my power back.

I always knew I was different, such a cliché overused sentence but it really can’t be described any other way.

Although, I was able to lead a normal life until I was 25; I worked a normal job, at times I worked two jobs, and had a very active social life.

Then it all came to a screeching halt.

I have always been able to see beyond the veil and Spirits; my sight has always been available to me. I was a practicing Witch for many years, but I did not blossom until I died.

And that’s exactly what happened, I died.

Death

The old me did, anyway.

The whole mental breakdown itself happened pretty quickly and it caught not only me but my family by surprise. My Mom was the main witness to my “switch being turned on”. She said my aura changed, and I began to “vibrate” with a “dark matter”. She has even noted that my eyes, and facial features changed.

This switch of mine is usually hit because of emotional stresses, but it can be caused by low blood sugar (hangry!), anger which is more like rage, and because my fight or flight was tripped. If I am threatened that button is absolutely going to be hit.

I have come to call it my trauma trigger.

My trauma trigger is survival mode, it’s how I have survived for so long after all the abuse and pain I have experienced.

It reminds me of this quote by Ebonee Davis:

Ebonee

My mental illnesses showed up after I started to experience Chronic Pain, went through my hysterectomy and had a back injury.

Also, at the time I had recently gotten out of a physically and emotionally abusive relationship.

My life was a series of cataclysmic collisions of epic proportions.

In hindsight it seems that I experienced a soul wound because a piece of me left when I “woke up” to my true nature: chaos.

I compare myself and my world to Chaos because that’s what it is, that’s what I am;  yeah it sounds poetic but that’s really coincidence.

My mind is chaotic, my personality and my soul are too.

I am slightly neurotic, a perfectionist and obsessive about some things.

If my Cancer sun and Capricorn rising tell you anything it is that I am a contradiction, and there are literally two sides to me; I fight myself every second, of every day.

I admitted myself into a private mental health institute in 2010 and I wouldn’t change that experience, but I can tell you that I will never be locked up again.

After my little stay, I ended up being on 11 medication the ones I can remember are: Lithium, Adderrall, Risperidal, Klonopin, Minipress, Seroquel, Effexor, Abilify and Gabapentin; I can’t remember the other 2. I only remember the number being 11 because when I started to “come back to self” I noticed that 11 was a prominent awakening number, and it was the Universe’s way of telling me to snap out of the sleep society put me in.

The signs are all around us, we must know where to look.

Those medications 8 years ago are why my thyroid has shut down and I have autoimmune issues now; the stress that the medications, along with my underlying health issues caused was too much for my body.

I have heavy amounts of a specific antibody in my blood now which causes a slew of health issues (Hashimoto’s).

I also have antibodies for what is known as “drug induced Lupus”. My Rheumotologist told me that I am not currently on any medication that would cause this, and he believes it is permanent damage from before.

Why am I telling this boring fucking story?

Because I am bringing my biggest demon to light and calling it out.

I am naming it and claiming it.

Once I do this, there is nothing that anyone can use against me.

And, I want people to know they aren’t alone battling their mental illness.

I want to remove stigmas.

I want people to know:

Mental illness doesn’t make you less than.

Mental illness doesn’t make you unworthy.

Mental illness doesn’t make you unlovable.

Mental illness does not define you.

Glass

My official diagnoses are BPD 2 (Bipolar Disorder 2), PTSD, ADHD, OCD, and Anxiety (Agoraphobia, General Anxiety and Social Anxiety).

I have done every type of therapy imaginable, and still to this day must manage myself with routine, coping skills, and mindfulness practices. My Spirituality has helped me tremendously as well.

Doctor’s didn’t help me, they drugged me and those poisons put in my body have damaged it permanently. I have been medication free, other than herbal supplements, for 5 years now.

Just because I do not (cannot) take medication does not mean I am anti-medication for everyone. I believe that modern medicine has its place, and I believe fully in the power of the right combination of medicine; it just wasn’t how my story was meant to be written.

When dealing with your health always listen to your body, always listen to your gut.

And, make sure you have an Advocate who can speak LOUDLY if necessary for you when/if Doctor’s and the system try to intimidate you.

Throughout the whole breakdown/awakening my life was in an uproar and I couldn’t pinpoint why I felt WORSE as time went by; then I started to become aware of the (serious) medication side effects.

The constant brain fog, sleep disturbances, weight gain, mood imbalances, etc. were unbearable.

I went through the worst withdrawal’s getting off those medications, and a majority were done at home. I did however seek out professional help for the benzo withdrawals because those are dangerous to come off alone.

My decision to detox at home was absolutely not a safe thing to do and I don’t recommend it, but the medical world had let me down, and I was not going to turn to them. I did my research, and then shut myself in my room and battled through; I had family around just in case.

And, again, I don’t recommend anyone going off their meds (it’s usually a sign of a manic episode to want to discontinue meds, but that was not the case for myself).

I let my Psychiatrist know what I was doing, after the fact, or well, during the act, but at that point there was not much he could do. I was never considered a threat to myself, or others, therefore I could not be forced to do anything. I was of sound mind and body.

My Doctor was the best, too.  He gave me a lot of my power back because it was through him that I found my way to discovering how mental illness is viewed in the Spiritual world.

If he had not pointed me in this direction I would be dead, and there is no doubt in my mind about that.

I didn’t write about this sooner because it’s a hard topic to talk about but also because I thought people would think less of me; that my word and wisdom would no longer be taken seriously (if it even is now) and all the negativity attached to mental illness would at once become attached to me, and that was a weight I could not bear.

So, I ran from it, but now I own it.

My mental illness does not define me; my power resides in my madness.

There is a fine line between sane and insane when it comes to this path, and I like to play jump rope with that line.

Two things I learned most from being mentally ill:

1. Change your perspective, change your life.

2. Crazy is relative.

Here is one of my favorite mental health articles:

http://themindunleashed.org/2014/08/shaman-sees-mental-hospital.html