I am one of those people who feels grief in the spring, like many do in the fall. My introverted, sensitive soul likes her winter cave of darkness, reflection and inner work. The call of spring to sprout, grow, move upward and outward sometimes blares overwhelmingly like a morning alarm clock, bringing up resistance, grief and also hope within me, all blending into an overwhelmingly emotional breakfast smoothie.
This year’s 28 C weather in mid April (normal high 10 C), has been a tad jarring, thrusting us from a thundering snow storm into full-on summer mode. The city heat came in pounding with traffic, noise and chaos whilst new leaves bud on the trees and birds sang their sweet praises to the awakening Earth. The city has been a cacophony of new life in both lovely and stressful forms.
Although we are soon to get cold weather again, the process of changing seasons can be volatile and challenging to our body and mind.
On the first hot day, I instinctively went for a walk in the nearby cemetery to soothe my dark witchy soul amongst all the new light, heat and noise. I traded my black boots for light walking shoes and went out to greet the sun in one of the only reliable anchors of peace in an urban landscape.
Cemeteries are those rare places reserved for sanctuary, reflection and rest. A place where we can tap into the inward season of Samhain any time of year, giving space to our grief for what’s passing away while new life begins.
Growth and grief always flow together, and yet our patriarchal, capitalistic culture only values the ‘growth’ aspect of life.
The spring season sometimes triggers the feminine wound within me, around the cultural binary that associates growth, light, extroversion, productivity, logic, masculine and yang energy as preferable and superior; Whilst release, darkness, introversion, rest, receptivity, feminine, intuitive and yin energy are considered bad or inferior. Yet one always lies within the other, and beauty is found within both.
I tend to lean towards the Dark Goddess as a Witch, as I work with Cerridwen and resonate with Crone/Wise Woman energy. I was born in deep winter during a waning moon, and a heavy dose of Scorpio energy in my astrology chart. We carry the energies of the moon phase and season we were born in. For me, transformation, release, and darkness feel like home, even though they can also be difficult and painful.
While transition and loss are painful, when I speak of darkness, it is not equated with evil in my mind. To me, darkness is equated with the Great Mystery, the Sacred Womb, the Source of Life. It is peace, surrender, the quiet void of death and the nascent beginning of life. It is the metaphorical Cauldron that holds us safe as we shed old skins and grow into new ways of being. It holds great beauty, power and solace. It’s essence, to me, is the Dark Goddess. The unknowable void of darkness brings up fear, which is why we don’t like it. But it’s only through moving through our fears that we grow. Like spring seeds sprouting through the ground to greet the sun for the first time, our growth processes may have us feeling tender, exposed and vulnerable.
Even if the old reality we are letting go of was toxic, stunting our growth, or holding us back from our potential- it likely still comes with grief- which is simply a reflection of our capacity to love and live with passion. So this dance we feel during seasons of transition can be emotional and complex, as growth and grief dance together.
As anyone who’s had a baby knows, you can feel intense loss and overwhelm along with the excitement new life. You may also feel a sense of pride, excitement and intense grief as they grow up and become adults.
It’s ok to grieve as you sprout, or sprout as you grieve!
As we are now entering eclipse season, it may feel we are crossing a threshold. Emotions may be close to the surface as we feel something is ending as something else begins. We are in a ‘Cauldron Time’, as I call it, a crucible of death and rebirth.
Perhaps some new beginnings are emerging in your life that ask for you to let go of an old way of being in order to grow. Are you ready to take the plunge? Or are you overwhelmed and paralysed with fear? A bit of both?
We can navigate these times of transition without losing our soul in the process. We can nourish our resilience and support our sensitivity, too. In times like these, we call upon the healing allies in the natural world- trees, elements, herbs and crystals that can help. Simply by being with them in nature, connecting with them through medicines we can move through change with greater ease.
Here are some healing allies I have worked with over the years that can help us navigate times of change, vulnerability and loss. Let me know your experiences with them or feel free to share some of your own!
Trees: Black Willow, Weeping Willow, Pine, Cedar
Trees are beings dear to my heart. I think of each and every one of them as a friend, with their unique personality and energy. You can connect with a tree ally by visiting one in person and giving it an offering, such as an herb, animal-safe food, cleaning up any garbage around it, or simply your loving words and energy. Ask it for permission to be with it, sit against it or lean against it. Become open and receptive to its energy. Ask it for it’s advice.
- Willows are my favourite allies for helping us to feel our emotions. Ruled by the moon and most often growing near water, the Willow reminds us that it’s ok to feel what we feel. They hold us in a gentle embrace of unconditional acceptance and love.
- Weeping willow is an especially tender ally that can bring tears out to release what we’ve been holding back in our hearts, bringing lightness and clarity. They comfort us in their embrace and soften the rough edges that developed from holding our armor on too tight for too long.
- Black Willow looks a bit different- they have very textured, darker bark, more gnarly branches and they do not droop quite like the Weeping variety. They hold more of a Crone/Grandmother energy that offers us a soft shoulder to cry on, along with a bit of extra strength, honesty and down to earth wisdom to keep us grounded. These are native to this land and I hold a special place in my heart for this wise ally.
- Pine is thankfully abundant and native here as well, offering us a strong yet soft, cleansing energy to support us through dark times. The refreshing smell of Pine sap offers a new perspective and breath of fresh air. Burning Pine needles is a powerful smoke cleanser. Leaning against a Pine tree and asking it to help transmute heavy energies we are carrying can bring strength and help us to clear old baggage. The Bach Flower Remedy Pine is helpful for releasing guilt, which can come with loss.
- Cedar is of course native to this land as well and is one of the 4 sacred medicines of Indigenous communities. Cedar to me, feels like ‘home’, more than any other tree. Perhaps, because this is where I call home. It also harkens to my ancestors who relied on this tree for medicine and shelter. When we are feeling uprooted, out of touch with our body, or our sense of home, this can be a helpful ally. It also has strong protective and cleansing properties. Cedar tea is supportive to the immune system, and its leaves are very protective. Cedar wood is extremely resilient and repels bugs. Sitting, leaning against or hugging a Cedar can bring grounding and protection to the sensitive soul.
Bach Flower Remedies: Walnut, Olive, Rescue Remedy, Olive, Rock Water, Water Violet
I am a huge fan of the Bach Flower Remedies! These are excellent for sensitive souls. They are vibrational medicines created from plants in the tradition of Dr Edward Bach, a British physician and homeopath who developed them in the 1930s.
Each remedy carries the energy of the plant it is made with, which is associated with healing a specific emotional state. They are designed to bring us into balance. I’ve been using them for about 15 years and took a Bach Flower course to understand them better. They are available at many herbal shops and health food stores.
- Walnut is my number 1 go-to for sensitive souls in times of transition, such as moving, pregnancy, menopause, relationship breakups, seasonal changes, new job or lifestyle situation. It brings a protective shield of safety when we are feeling vulnerable, when we are sensitive to the energies in the environment and opinions of other people.
- Rescue Remedy is a combo of remedies that supports us through trauma and shock. This is a remedy for when the change is too much for our nervous system to process and we are struggling to cope. It is great for sudden accidents, illness/diagnosis of serious illness, sudden loss, coping with changes that have us rattled and shaken, or any situation that has us stressed or anxious. It brings comfort and stability.
- Olive is for exhaustion. Whether we’ve been caregiving for others or ill ourself, this is the remedy for the weary soul who can’t seem to get the rest and restoration needed to bring one’s energy level back up. Olive feels energising and protective, bringing more resilience.
- Rock Water is made from water flowing over rocks. It is a remedy for those of us who deal with stress by getting overly rigid and perfectionistic. Rock Water helps us to soften our need for a certain state of perfection and embrace the messy processes of life. It smooths our rough, idealistic edges, and lets us relax into the flow.
- Water Violet is one of the remedies that help those who get very withdrawn and pull away from other people. It helps to open us up to connecting with others and allows grief to process.
- Willow helps when we are feeling vicitmised by our circumstances, having suffered bad luck or problems, making us feel bitter or resentful. It helps us to forgive ourselves and others, and take responsibility for what is ours.
Crystals: Black Tourmaline, Jet, Smokey Quartz, Selenite
Crystals hold powerful vibrations that can help transform and/or protect our energy when placed on the body, worn, placed under our pillow or in our environment.
- Black Tourmaline is a strong grounding and protective black crystal, excellent for empaths and spongy-sensitive types who pick up other’s emotions and environmental energies. It’s a good one to wear on one’s person if you are out and about a lot or in contact with people regularly.
- Jet is also a black crystal but with a very different energy. It is a type of coal, derived from wood that was changed under extreme pressure. It is soft and can easily absorb excess negative energies such as anger, grief, sadness or fear. It was historically worn as jewelry to funerals. I have often used it to help alleviate physical pain such as headaches and menstrual cramps as well. It requires regular cleansing because of its absorbant nature- you can bury it in the earth, run it under water or smoke cleanse it.
- Smokey Quartz is one of my favourite protectors for sensitive souls! Like clear quartz, but a smokey grey-black colour, it helps us to focus and organise our thoughts while warding off negativity beautifully. It is great to wear on your person or carry or have in the environment, like in windowsills or other places you wish to ward off outside vibes.
- Selenite is a type of gypsum. It is soft, white and looks like moonlight, named after the Greek moon goddess, Selene. Selenite is one of those crystals that cleanses other crystals that are near it. Unlike Jet, it doesn’t hold onto the energy, but helps it flow, like a stream of cleansing moonlight. When your life or energy feels stagnant, stuck or heavy, place a piece of Selenite on your heart centre, under your pillow or beside your bed. I find it helps protect against heavy and negative energies by transmuting them.
The Elements: Water, Earth, Fire and Air
The beautiful thing about the elements is that they are always around us! All we need to do is pay attention and connect! Whether we take a moment in our busy day to just lean against a tree, splash water on our face, or breathe the air more consciously, the gifts of the Earth Mother are here for us, waiting to connect. Once we begin a relationship with an element, we start to notice it everywhere. Like with trees, you can give thanks by leaving an offering of your energy and gratitude, an herbal offering or animal safe food.
Water helps our emotions to flow and release. Drinking more water, taking baths/showers or simply stepping into a stream or lake can help us flow through the changes upon us with great ease and acceptance.
Earth grounds us and calms the nervous system, helping us to feel safe while things are changing. Anxiety pulls our energy upward, which requires a downward flow for balance. Walking barefoot, massaging our feet or holding a squatting position helps to pull energy downward again. You may also find increasing your protein and iron intake helpful as well.
Fire warms and energises. If the changes we’ve been undergoing have depleted our hope, our spirit or lust for life, the simple act of lighting a candle and receiving its light into your heart can bring a shift in how you feel.
Air brings lightness and can help clear our mind. Using a bird feather to sweep away the negative thoughts or herbal smoke to cleanse your energy and space can bring some peace when chaos is swirling around you.
What remedies or healing allies do you find support you during times of transition? Please share in the comments!
The Earth Mother offers Her healing abundance to us as we navigate stressful times. We simply need to take the first step and connect, remembering we are worthy of support, and that acts of self-care are not selfish, but necessary.
Thank-you for reading,
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As a Witch who makes her home and practice in Tkaronto (Toronto) Ontario, I deeply thank the original stewards of this land: The Mississaugas of the Credit, Mississaugas of Scugog, Alderville, Hiawatha & Curve Lake; The Chippewas of Beausoleil, Rama & Georgina island, the Haudenosaunee and Wendat nations. I acknowledge the resilience of the First Nation, Inuit and Metis people who live and work here in the present, in a system of inequity and oppression. I am working on uncolonising my own practice, amplifying Indigenous voices and supporting Indigenous communities in whatever way I can.