It’s hard describing how empowered you feel when you first embrace the witch in you. It’s almost like you know you can accomplish or achieve anything you set your mind to. Suddenly, there’s a world of possibility and nothing is standing in your way. You become aware of the potential inside of you and the power you have to steer your own sails and determine your own path. Some people call it an ‘awakening’ or an ‘enlightened’ moment. And in some ways, it really is like coming out of a long, dark sleep.
The high can last a while, but sooner or later, we all realize that, despite our new perspectives or motivations, we are still human. A harder truth is that when you allow yourself to connect to nature and the energies around you, it can easily become exhausting. As much as we may want to throw ourselves into it completely, it is important that we protect ourselves and understand that we have to respect our limitations.
I’ve known a lot of witches who take on a great burden. They see the world as something to be fixed and themselves as endowed with the power to become the fixers. When fires rage and destroy everything in their paths, they not only are attuned with that pain, they feel responsible to help with the healing. Natural disasters, viruses, wars, injustice, there is no cause too small for many within the community. As I’ve said before, witches want to help, and will do so when given the opportunity. However, what many fail to see is that when they give so much to others, they leave nothing for themselves.
There is a great danger in this and something even I was guilty of doing. I became a Reiki practitioner precisely because I wanted to help others. But there I was, aiding people with their physical and emotional pain while I was personally exhausted, stressed, and unwell. Sure, I could shut it off or ignore it, but ultimately that did nothing to alleviate the problem. In my experience, as well as those I’ve spoken with, Reiki tends to take less out of you than, say, working a spell or performing a ritual. And even if you don’t feel tired or exhausted afterward (I usually feel wired in the hours following), it goes without saying that you’ve put something of yourself into it.
One thing I learned as an educator is you can only give to others when you have something to give. I was lucky to have an administrator who understood this and encouraged her staff to always take care of their health first. Fortunately, as witches, we have the tools to help ourselves. Unfortunately, as people, we sometimes lack the self-awareness to know when we need to step back and turn our focus inward. It also boils down to age-old behaviors. We are taught that putting our needs before everyone else’s is selfish. That we should always consider how our actions and words impact the people around us. In fact, one of the very first things we are taught when we are children is to share what we have. I’m not saying these lessons were wrong. I’m saying that sometimes, it’s okay to be selfish. I’m saying that sometimes you have to be.
I understand that the world needs help. Especially now. Many people, not just witches, are feeling that. These problems are important, and it is good that there are those who would seek solutions. But if you need to take time to rest, replenish, heal, or just find peace, I promise you the world will keep spinning. As the saying goes, you can’t keep burning the candle from both ends, and as much as I know witches love burning candles, the truth still applies. So, if you’ve been waiting for permission to take time for yourself, I’m happy to give it to you. Go. Take a nap. Meditate. Go for a hike. Do whatever you need to do for you!
And remember this: The things going on around you matter, but you are important, too.
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