The Witch Wound
“Do you think the occasional witch burning helps to weld society together?”
— Charlie Jane Anders
We are all healers. When we visit our doctor or therapist it is we who are doing the healing under the advice and guidance of another. We may receive help from physical medicine or ‘hands on’ treatment but it is our healing. It is we who are doing the work.
We can all become that conduit for the healing of others too. When we listen with integrity and pure intention, we allow others to hear themselves speak their truth. When we bear witness to the pain of another without judgement or responding to our own need to ‘fix things,’ we are holding space for them so that they can heal. When we offer up impartial advice or counsel when it is asked for, we can help another to see their situation from a new vantage point with fresh perspective. When we share in the grief or joy of another, we offer up part of the soul so that our companion does not have to experience it alone. In being present for someone, we can serve as the catalyst for huge transitions to take place within them. In many cases, we can bring about healing simply by ‘showing up.’ A kind word, the recommendation of the right remedy for an ailment, a shared smile in just the right place, a hug when words do not fit the moment: all of these are medicine, and we have all gifted them at some point.
In her book ‘Witch’ Lisa Lister outlines our innate ability to heal. We all have it but, most of us do not recognise it for what it is.
What about our own barriers to healing the Self? We suffer when we are triggered by something negative that happens such as someone being unkind towards us or treating us unfairly. The behaviour may not be fair, but our response is our response. When our responses are not conscious, they come from a place of fear. Lisa Lister also rightly points out that the best way to become impervious to the things that trigger us is to develop an awareness of Self that is so complete that no-one can show us anything about ourselves that we have not already seen. When we know all facets of the Self, even those which create discomfort, we are ‘bullet proof.
Between the 15th and 18th centuries, a culture of fear arose among the Christian population of the West which sought to eradicate healers who did not comply with church-approved conventional methods. Anyone with exceptional knowledge of herbs and ancestral folk medicine was thought to be in league with the Devil and a threat to the salvation of humanity. Women were among the largest group to suffer but the traveling, ethnic and gay communities were also targeted and gradually put to death by hanging or burning at the stake. It was legalised murder and those of us who consider ourselves to be healers are fortunate that we no longer live in those times.
Witch burning is alive and well today.
If you ever wondered what it was like to witness a burning, we suggest that you already have. Celebrities such as Caroline Flack, Heather Mills McCartney and Amber Heard have been savagely and publicly ‘burned’ on social media for their perceived wrong doings and although the burning is metaphorical – sadly it can prove just as fatal. The three examples we chose just happen to be women who have behaved in a way that does not fit the ‘accepted’ version of the feminine, but you can substitute any celebrity of your own choosing here. You may not like or approve of the behaviour of someone who is in the public eye, but you can be sure that if you are moving to join forces with others to collectively Judge them – you have your own work to do.
When we are irritated or upset by the behaviour of another, we are seeing parts of ourselves reflected in them. Those parts of the Self are so disliked by us that we have pushed them deep into the shadows, convincing ourselves that they are gone, and when we see a version of them in others we are provoked. Read more about Shadow Work here: Love Your Shadow (resilientpractice.co.uk)
The chances are that when we join forces to Judge another person, we are acting from a position safety. We are joining the masses to condemn something that makes us uncomfortable. This not only cements our place within the tribe but it allows us to express our disgust – which is much easier than sitting with it gently and tracing it back to its source.
The next time that you feel moved to join the majority in publicly condemning someone in the public eye press pause:
Look at the characteristics of the behaviour that is being condemned. Focus on those rather than the behaviour itself for example: someone who got into a fight in public – what was it about that behaviour that bothered you? Was it self-serving or mean? Violent? Was it attention seeking? Was it ‘unladylike? Uncouth? Are they not all the characteristics that you were taught were unattractive as a child? Are you not a good girl/boy for having eradicated those things within you?
Now ask yourself where you could actually use those characteristics for the greater good. Where could those characteristics be set free in your life in a positive way?
People who serve the Self to the point of meanness show exceptional skills in self-care – Do you neglect yourself? Perhaps some kind of Self-service is needed now.
You might think that violence is never OK – but it is the epitome of assertiveness. Could you use some more assertiveness somewhere in your life? Do you make yourself heard?
If you were attention seeking, would you not be confident and sure of your worth? Would that be helpful to you right now?
Is being unladylike or uncouth in the right amount not liberating and freeing? Could you let go of those constraints and discover more of your true potential?
Whatever the characteristics, if they bother you then it is certain that you learned, very early on, to supress them. Perhaps you need to set them free. Even the simple act of sitting with the discomfort and acknowledging that the work is yours can be enough to grease the cogs of your psyche and lead to your beginning to shift those things which hold you back.
Only when we learn to let go of judging and comparing ourselves to others will we see the whole glorious truth in ourselves and experience true Self acceptance and the inevitable peace that follows.
For more insights and a host of tools and techniques for exploring the Self and improving your
human experience see our book: