Sheltering in Place
The need to be social in turbulent times
Scrolling through my Facebook feed, I find myself having to close it out and find other things to occupy my time. I think this is a healthy practice more of us need to utilize.
As I shelter in place, I find we are all becoming bombarded by negativity. Sure! I have done a lot to clean up my feed and limit the amount of negative news and stress-inducing content, but this does not stop it all. Some of it still leaks through, and I am finding more and more that this negativity is coming from friends. My friends are dipping deep into anxiety and depression allowing fear and apprehension to overtake them. As I scroll through and feel the intensity of their sour posts and anxiety/fear-driven comments, I wonder how to solve this issue. Sure, some of it is ego and trauma driven; I get that. There is only so much I can offer in this area.
I find myself wondering why so many choose to indulge in influences that contribute to a downward slope of mental discomfort. It appears that many are willing to allow the potential COVID-19 poses to completely cripple them. Then I am reminded that it was not so long ago that I would have done the same. But why? Why do we allow this to occur for ourselves? We live in a relatively safe world compared to our ancestors. Why didn’t our ancestors crumble under the overwhelming reality that they were surrounded by danger? Famine, disease, predators, weather… and so one. Somehow, they were able to see beyond the grave dangers around them and survive. No, I take that back. They THRIVED, and that is how we came to be! This poses the question. How do we balance our fears and anxiety-like our ancestors?
When we are bathing in a river of negativity, we provide ourselves no choice but to become saturated with its essence. No matter what we do, if we continue to go back to this river for another bath, we will eventually lose our ability to recover. Unless we change the way we look at the situation, we will become trapped. The trick is when we see ourselves spiraling downward, we remove ourselves from the influences that cause our depression and anxiety. Next, we need to find a new perspective. In fact, we have a responsibility to ourselves to ensure this happens. This does not mean to suggest that we should never feel the emotions that come our way. Instead, it is more about adjusting how we acknowledge, interact, and react to them for the sake of our well-being.
To know ourselves, we must know and understand the full spectrum of our needs and emotions. As we know thyself, we begin to understand and effortlessly recognize the moment when enough is too much. At this point, it becomes our obligation to utilize the techniques and resources available, which help alleviate the negativity. This shift in perspective allows us to aim toward balance and harmony instead of panic and suffering. The fact is we cannot come up with logical and reasonable solutions when we are in a state of despair or desperation. We cannot create for ourselves a better future when we are unable to see our current issues clearly. This leaves it up to others to shape the future for us. As we have witnessed so far, this method is not working. We are in the throes of someone else’s vision. One that is failing miserably, and we have taken little to no control over the betterment of the whole. We have become dependent on mega-corporations to provide us with the items we have grown accustomed to using daily. We have grown accustomed to depending on a government that is more concerned with keeping these mega corporations happy when instead their job is to look out for us. (I could go on about this. But that is not the purpose of this article.)
I want you to remember what it means to be human.
Furthermore, I want you to remember what it means to be a Witch. We are incredibly resilient. We could not have evolved and become one of the most formidable presences on this planet if we were soft and easily broken. But something has happened to us in our modern society. Within our current mindset, we have somehow forgotten that we are powerful beings, able to overcome the harshest conditions. Somewhere along the lines, we bought into the idea that we are powerless and that we need to be led or regulated by those who “know better.” This has left us filled with anxiety stemming from the impression that we have no control.
The shadow that creeps over many of us in times like this should be recognized and remedied to the best of our ability. Now is the time to find the light and share it. Being human also means we are social. There is a connection here. We are stronger when we have our tribe backing us up. We are strongest when we feel heard and supported. Our emotions can run amuck when we deny or ignore them. When we feel unsupported and unrecognized, our anxiety and fears only seem to grow. Our tribe is there to help remind us that we are powerful and capable!
Being a Witch, I understand the importance of community, close friendships, and knowing that my tribe is safe. As we shelter-at-home, we can find it challenging to feel connected to those we value and cherish in our lives. We are social creatures, and we need our community. Having positive relationships with those around us helps create bonds forged in trust. When we feel like we can trust, we feel the freedom to express ourselves. Healthy relationships give us more than a good belly laugh here and there. It is more about feeling understood. To feel understood is critical to our social well-being and sense of belonging. When we feel like we belong, depression and anxiety will subside. To maintain a sense of belonging, we need to reinforce our social bonds with one another. How can we do this when we are not supposed to leave our homes (except for food and other life-sustaining activities)?
Now, more than ever is the time when we should be using the tools at our disposal for connecting with others and building positive relationships, void of disparagement, and the negative opinions of others. The fact is we could be here for a long time. We simply do not know. So why can’t we make the best of a bad situation as we work to maintain our sanity through relationships?
When the way is uncertain, and your vision is not keen,
Look within your heart for that which is unseen.
Polish your senses and find your inner light, may your spirit rise up and take flight.
People all over the world are utilizing technology to reinforce positive social relationships from Zoom yoga classes to online happy hour with friends. This shows the massive creative ability of humanity. We did not get to this level of evolution by wallowing in our misery and giving up. We got here through realizing that we are resilient and capable.
Among this uprising of positivity, I also see many chastising those who engage in online social activities, calling them frivolous and shallow. I can see both sides of the coin. Many members of our society are unable to shelter at home; from hospital staff to fast-food workers, grocery store clerks, truck drivers, and more – these people keep this country from completely collapsing. The order to shelter in place or at home has revealed some very touching and critical socio-economic gaps many are taking note of as we move forward. Through this limited lens, I can see how those making the best of an undesirable situation can be labeled as wasteful, shallow, and uncaring. Especially when they appear to be having fun.
I find labeling those who are trying to make the best of things as wasteful, shallow, and uncaring is unfair. For the betterment of the whole, we all should be making the best of this unfavorable situation. When we maintain balance and wellness, we are better able to contribute to society. Compare this to allowing ourselves to become dejected and bitter, there is a benefit we should recognize. We have more to consider here. You can’t pour from an empty cup, and as you well know, we are all feeling drained right now.
Maintaining social bonds are necessary for many reasons. As I eluded previously, one good goal is to balance and maintain good mental health. When we wallow in the negativity that is all around us and allow others to criticize us for being friendly and social, we set ourselves up for depression and angst. The whole adage, “Misery loves company” becomes very clear here. Unhappy people don’t like to see other people happy. People who have trouble maintaining positive relationships don’t want to see others succeeding in maintaining positive relationships. I don’t want to criticize anyone for the mental state they currently experience. I merely recognize that we don’t have to remain miserable all the time. We can choose to make things better.
The Value of a Coven
Many poo-poo the idea of being part of a coven. You prefer a solitary practice. I can relate to that. I have done both, and I enjoy both. Before the shelter in place order, I read many posts and articles from other Wiccans and Witches chastising the coven model. Yes, many have good reasons. I too, have experienced the negative side of coven dynamics. I too, was hurt by an over-bearing, know-it-all, control freak priestess. That was many years ago, and since then, I have discovered something beautiful about how covens can operate. I have also since employed a more positive dynamic in my own coven. This approach is far more inclusive to everyone, eliminating the hierarchical stigma most covens maintain. Again, that is not what this article is about. But it does help express the context for why a coven or similar structure can have considerable importance in our time of need.
The support of your magickal family is essential during times of uncertainty. I think there is a misconception that if you join a coven, your solitary days are over. This is not true. A coven provides you with the means to share and feel connected to those you trust. You can create a safe space where you can fully express individual experiences and knowledge. This expression is not something you can convey in a Facebook group or in a Reddit post. A coven is a close-knit magickal family that understands the skills and processes of a magickal and spiritual existence.
When you create bonds forged in magickal and spiritual practices, you find yourself more able to experience the craft on a new level. In our coven, we teach one another and help guide one another. No one person is above another, and this is a magick all its own. Our coven members remind one another that we are powerful forces. We encourage one another to look at situations that stress us out or cause anxiety a little differently. We offer support and techniques to one another. We enrich our lives together as a family should.
The Value of Other Social Support Systems
One thing we value in our coven is a community, beyond the coven dynamic. We see and realize that having a robust, cohesive communal support system is essential. In this, we take on projects within the greater community that help balance and reinforce communal bonds. It is never about ego-stroking or creating cliques. Instead, it is about interdependence and building genuine relationships.
As a result of all this virus turmoil, we started Calling the Flame, a Women’s circle we host via Zoom every Sunday. Within this sacred space, we discuss positive activities and mindsets that will help us get through this difficult time. Last week one of my sisters shared her experience with creating herbal baths and spoke about how the experience is magickal and restorative. Next, another sister offered a variety of techniques for relaxation and reducing anxiety using crystals. You can learn more about each of them here: Erin, The Rebel Herbalist, posted the herbal bath we shared & Stacy with Wild Moon & Co., who shared some healing ideas using crystals.
There are many more people out there who are trying their best to create positivity when we are being bombarded by negativity. My daughter told me that one of her professors makes dinner with a few of her close friends each night via Zoom. My daughter also spends time on Discord wither friends playing games and talking. CHI is offering daily live video streams called CHI Together and Blissing Circles to help us all broaden our access to healing modalities, create a sense of community, and lighten our mindset.
The bottom line is this. We need to take care of ourselves, and through this, we can then take care of others. Be kind to yourself and do what you must to maintain a solid balance. Find your tribe and create healthy relationships with those whom you can trust. This support system is invaluable.