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Podcast Transcript

Mirror Work

First and foremost, blessed equinox, everyone! The skies are very busy right now, today Persephone heads back to the Underworld for a few months, tomorrow begins Libra season, it’s my time to shine, and then this Sunday is the new moon, and of course, Mercury is still in retrograde for about another week and a half. Just raising all kinds of hell. So let’s check in. How are we all feeling? It’s a lot going on. But you know what, there’s always a lot going on. It’s fine.

I’m finding it hard not to be in a great mood, the weather here has been beautiful, I’m receiving the loveliest messages from witches who listen to the podcast, these connections are so wonderful. I got a voice message on Anchor the other day from a witch called Ashley. I didn’t even know voice messages were a thing I could receive! I was laughing like a damn fool while I was listening. It was the coolest thing. So thank you. You made my Monday.

So before we get to the topic of Mirror Work, I wanted to read an email from a witch in Australia that’s having an issue with her horse. 

Hi Eli! I have been listening to your podcast for a while now and I absolutely LOVE it! I am wondering if you could possibly help me with a spell to help my horse. She sometimes doesn’t float (we call it ‘floating’ in Australia, I think in the US you call it ‘trailering’) so well…I bought a beautiful new float which is sturdy and strong to help her, but she seems terrified of it. I am sending her for training at the end of November to help her with this and get accustomed to the new float but I would like a spell to provide the best platform for success with her training and future traveling in it. She is such a beautiful horse but we have been extremely limited in what we can do due to these issues. Yes, totally aware that this is a first world problem…but we are where we are…thank you so much for your terrific podcast.

Well first world problems are still problems, and your poor horse doesn’t know the difference. The horse’s name is Holly by the way, and she’s gorgeous. She’s a beautiful copper color, shiny black hair, stunning. But she’s frightened and she needs help. So I’m gonna suggest making a spell jar for her. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of them on social media, but this is going to be a functional jar meant to give your horse peace, help her release her fear, and finally to set her up for success with her training. To make this one really powerful and personal for your horse friend, we have some set-up work to do. 

First, you’ll acquire a small jar or bottle. You’ll also need a favorite treat, something she really likes, such as an apple or some sugar cubes. We also need a few of her hairs, some herbs for peace such as basil, catnip, sunflowers (sunflower seeds are fine), or a little vanilla. We need herbs to conquer fear, such as nettle or garlic, and then cinnamon or ginger for success. If you’ve got a bit of amber or selenite that will fit in the jar, that’ll be helpful too. 

So first, we want to get your horse in a very calm, peaceful state. However that is accomplished with horses, I am definitely not the expert! If that means a good long ride or being brushed and groomed, I honestly don’t know. Anyway, once she is in this calm state, give her her treat. If it’s an apple, cut it in half and keep a few of the seeds. If it’s sugar, hold back one of the cubes. Whatever it is, save a bit of it for the jar. While you’re giving her her treat, speak to her and tell her how much she loves being in the trailer, how brave she is, how safe she is, etc. Then when you’re done, light a candle (white is fine), and put your seeds, sugar, hair, herbs, etc into your jar. As you add each element to the jar, tell the ingredient what it’s for. 

The treat is to sweeten her to the trailer, the basil is to give her peace, the garlic is to overcome her fear, the ginger is for success with her training, etc. The hair binds the work to the horse. Close your jar tightly and seal it with wax from the candle. Then put the jar in the trailer somewhere discreet where it won’t be disturbed. Once she’s become good and acclimated to the trailer, you can remove the jar, empty the elements inside back into the earth, and recycle it. It won’t need to remain in the trailer once it’s done doing its job.

And by the way, this sort of a working can be adjusted to help any animal who is having difficulty with stress, fear, separation anxiety, and so on. And we are doing an entire episode on spell jars and mojo bags next month, on October 13th.

But today, I wanted to talk about mirror work. And this is yet another practice, like shadow work, which has roots in psychology, but which we, as witches, can use to help ourselves break negative thought patterns. Right out of the gate, I want to stress that I am not a mental health professional and this work is not a substitute for professional mental healthcare. But, we can use this work to help build our confidence, and start to build trust in ourselves and our abilities. We can use this practice to help us recognize our self-limiting beliefs, and then to begin breaking them down and getting rid of them. Mirror work helps us confront ourselves in a literal head-on sense. We have to look ourselves in the eye, get through the discomfort, and start seeing and loving the self as a trusted friend. This isn’t as easy or as simple as it seems.

On the other hand, it can seem a little silly. A lot of the time, it’s going to feel pretty goddamn silly. But there will be moments, just as there are moments during shadow work, when we feel a breakthrough happen. It’s overwhelming, there are frequently tears, but it’s like remodeling a very old house. We have to deconstruct the crumbling foundation, the water-damaged walls, the drafty windows, before we can install improvements. And while that’s all happening, the house is gonna be a mess. But we have to be willing to tear it all out if we want to truly improve our house. We can’t just slap a coat of paint over everything. We need to understand where those metaphorical leaks are coming from, or they’re just going to start rotting our new walls.

There are a lot of different versions of mirror work, they are all effective, and I am not an expert in any of them. But I do know what has worked for me, so we’re going to start there, and my hope is to be able to give enough information that you’ll have at least a base of knowledge to understand mirror work is and how it can be beneficial, and also know where to begin if it seems like this is something you’d like to continue to incorporate into your practice.

So what mirror work is, in its most basic sense, involves simply staring at yourself in the mirror, and it also incorporates speaking affirmations, it incorporates having conversations with yourself. This can be work that is done over five minutes, or an hour, and it becomes something we get into the habit of doing every time we look at a mirror. When we’re washing our hands in the staff restroom at work or picking spinach out of our teeth, anytime we see ourselves reflected back at us, we have to remember to recognize ourselves, to acknowledge ourselves. With kindness.

Which brings us to the  first exercise. And the entire first assignment is to just look at yourself, and, this very first time, you’re going to be naked ass naked. The purpose of the nudity is to recognize, accept, and begin to integrate all of our so-called physical flaws into our sense of self. And why is this important? Why should it matter? Well, it matters, because most of us do one of two things. We EITHER look at ourselves critically and unkindly and with true hate for what we see, or we avoid looking at ourselves altogether, and we ignore those things that we dislike and wish were different. And neither one of those is healthy, and I honestly don’t know which is worse.

Because, like, here’s the thing. We all know why we shouldn’t pick away at our physical flaws. We all know that it’s unhealthy to fixate on those aspects of our physical selves that we are unhappy with, or that we think are ugly, or that we think other people don’t like. But it’s not better to pretend that those things we hate don’t exist either. It’s not good for our sense of self to avert our eyes as though our own naked form is, ya know, road kill, or something so disgusting that we can’t even bear to look. That’s not a better way to handle those feelings that we sometimes have, or that we always have.

It’s really important that we can look upon ourselves, our whole, entire, pale, lumpy, unfit, wobbly, wrinkly, dimpled selves, with complete love and complete acceptance. And it doesn’t matter whether these perceived imperfections can be fixed or not. It does not matter whether diet, or exercise, or fillers, or makeup, or Spanx, or penis enlargements, or fake tits could improve our looks. We have to learn to love ourselves, our whole selves, all the time. If we ever do decide to make those changes, it won’t make us love ourselves more unless we’ve already begun this work of building our self-image.

And we have to start by looking at ourselves. To start with, we just look. We have to endeavor to look at ourselves without making any judgments, just observations. Just for five minutes. We only have to do this part once. After this, you’ll be clothed, although it is helpful to go ahead and make it a practice to look at yourself every time you’re getting out of the shower, or getting dressed in the morning, to spare yourself a glance in the mirror and smile. Now, eventually, we will add some affirmations to this exercise, but to start with, just look. 

After that first confrontation of the naked self, we’re going to look at ourselves in the mirror the following day and say something nice. Tell yourself something you need to hear. If you’ve been struggling in a particular area, imagine that this is your friend you’re looking at, and tell your friend something that she, or he, really needs to hear. ‘Hey, you’re really doing your best, and I’m proud of you.’ ‘You’ve been working so hard, and your family is very lucky to have you.’ Or, ‘I know it’s been a rough week, but you got this.’

Say this to yourself all day long, every time you glance in a mirror or pass your reflection in a window, you can say it out loud or in your own mind. ‘I’m proud of you. I’m proud of the person you’ve become. I know what you’ve been through, and you’re a fighter.’ Do this everyday. Choose something specific to acknowledge to yourself. If there’s a particular issue one day, a big meeting, your performance review with your boss or something, hype yourself up just like you would hype your friend.

I know we all have moments where we are really critical of ourselves, and this isn’t always a bad thing. If we’ve wronged someone or if we’ve done something we should make amends for, then we need to hold ourselves accountable. But I’m talking about just being nasty to ourselves. Blowing every minor mistake up into something larger and being really hateful toward ourselves. I have a dear friend, we used to be coworkers, and she is not only a fantastic, thoughtful, lovely, fun person, but she’s also really great at her job. She’s a hard worker, she is very conscientious, she is supremely compassionate towards the people she serves. But she had the worst habit of negative self-talk of anyone I have ever known, and it drove me crazy.

Any minor mistake, and she would go on at length about how she always screws everything up, how she makes things harder on everyone, how she’s just such an idiot, and on and on. And she would do this so often, and go on for so long, that at one point I kind of got heated with her, and I said, “Knock it off. You are talking about my friend. And I don’t put up with anyone talking shit about my friends. My friend is a good person, and you don’t get to talk about her like that. Not in front of me.” And we have to be ready to do that for ourselves when we begin to hear ourselves being so negative.

So that’s what I mean when I say it really is easier if we talk to ourselves the way we would talk to friends. First, because that’s the ultimate goal, is to become our own friend, our own soulmate, but there’s another reason, too. The other reason is that, once we get the first part down, we’re eventually going to speak to our inner child. And we’ve all got an inner child, and that inner child has fears, or shame, or abandonments, or failures, or trauma, that have never been addressed. Even people who’ve had the world’s best parents, I promise, there were times in our childhoods when we needed to be safe and loved and protected but we weren’t. And as children, when we didn’t get the safety or love when we needed it, our childlike mind pointed those feelings inward. It’s just what happens. So we end up feeling like we must have deserved those things that happened, or we internalized the feeling that no one will help us when we need it, or that we don’t even deserve help.

So as part of this work, we will have to go back through our memories and excavate those issues, and we will have to talk to our inner child and explain it to them. And yall when I tell you that this shit hurts, this shit HURTS. But we have to do it. We have to go back to those moments, that we maybe haven’t even thought of in decades. And if you’re wondering, why the hell would I want to dredge up all that? I’ve buried it for a reason and I don’t want to relive those feelings. Well, the reason we have to bring all that shit to the forefront is because the last time we felt those feelings, we were children. We didn’t understand why these things were happening, or what they all meant.

So we have to go back now, and we have to look at those circumstances through our adult eyes, and we have to give ourselves the love and the understanding that we didn’t receive back when all this shit was going down the first time. I wish I could remember where I saw this tip so that I could give credit, but I saw a video where a witch suggested keeping a little spray bottle of moon water nearby when doing mirror work, because all of those feelings that can come washing over, all of those energies are really overwhelming and can make you literally overheat, and get sweaty. So being able to spritz a little moon water in your face to help kind of calm us down and refocus and give a little respite is very helpful. So that’s a little tip, it isn’t my tip, but I do use it now and I find it helpful. The element of water is really healing, so it can be helpful.

This is deep, dark forgiveness work. And it’s not for the faint of heart, and I want to repeat that if you’re not confident that you can address these issues on your own, then please, I beg you, to seek counseling or therapy before you engage in this work. It can reopen some deep wounds, and I just don’t want anyone to find themselves in the midst of a mental health crisis without having the proper help and guidance to move through these issues safely.

Now, there are books that you can get that will take you step-by-step through mirror work affirmations. I have a book from 2016 by Louise Hay called Mirror Work: 21 Days to Heal Your Life. And it’s pretty good. But you don’t need to buy anything. You can find mirror work prompts online that will at least get you started, but it doesn’t matter where the information comes from, it just matters that you go through the process of looking yourself in the eye, completely stripped of anything you can hide behind, and tell yourself, “I love you. You are a good person. You are a good friend. You matter in this world.” And it’s important to believe it. That’s why it’s a process; it’s not a one-and-done sort of thing. It takes time to move through each of the stages of this degree of self-love. It can’t be rushed, there are no cheat codes, and it’s going to be painful.

And you may be saying to yourself right now, ‘Eli, get off this self-help shit. I’m here for the witchcraft.’ And I hear you. But your magic is going to be so much more powerful, so much richer, so much deeper, when you’re performing your work from a place of self-confidence, of supreme trust in yourself and your abilities. And you’re going to connect so much more easily to Spirit, to your guides, to your ancestors, when you’re approaching them from this place of love. Not from a place of need, or of fear, or from a feeling of missing some crucial piece of yourself. 

It’s one thing to know intellectually that our value as human beings, as divine embodiments of the Universe, has nothing to do with how we look, or what the bullies in school used to say about us, or what our credit score is. It’s so important to be able to internalize that knowledge. We will be able to open ourselves up so much more easily and so much more fully to the All. To the gifts and messages and wonders of the world around us, once we are able to show ourselves the grace that we deserve. 

What is that thing they like to say in yoga class, the divine in me recognizes the divine in you. That’s no joke, it’s important, but that statement isn’t true until I recognize the divine in me first. This is really difficult work. It opens up a lot of unhealed wounds. But we have to confront those wounds if we ever hope to be able to treat ourselves as friends. And until we can do THAT, until we can really treat ourselves as well as we treat our friends, we are going to have difficulty setting and maintaining and respecting our own boundaries. We are going to have difficulty with maintaining our integrity. If we don’t respect ourselves, inside and out, we will put up with a lot of shit that we shouldn’t. We will let things happen that we know we shouldn’t. And this doesn’t serve our higher purpose. It doesn’t help us grow, in fact it arrests our growth. This limits our potential.

How can I cast an effective abundance spell if I don’t believe that I deserve better? Mirror work, like shadow work, is so important. We can’t do shit without that level of self-knowledge, self-respect, and self-love. So, I know this has been a very heavy episode, but I just want everyone to recognize the magic in the mirror when they see it. We will talk again next week and it’ll be a much lighter topic, I promise. We’re going to read tea leaves. My name is Eli Ro, and this has been the Middle-Aged Witch podcast.

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