Hello, and welcome to Gemini season everyone! I love Geminis and I love the energy this season brings. Gemini loves to communicate, and that’s one of my favorite aspects about this very misunderstood, often maligned sun sign. Gemini is playful and intellectual and curious and sometimes frustrating and all of that is just fine by me.
We have been very serious for a good long while and it’s time to loosen up a little bit, and who better than Gemini to teach us how to play? And I think that Gemini is a great sign for understanding and respecting self-care, which is what we are going to be talking about today. So that lines up.
But before we get to that, I wanted to share a little tip that came from a witch. And this bit was written at the end of an otherwise unrelated email:
“l wanted to share a little moon water trick. I have a diffuser that uses cool water. During my meditation and morning ritual I use moon water instead of tap and add whatever essential oils are appropriate for the day. It is a great way to start the day with the magic in and around you.”
And hell yes this is the kind of thing I really love. Using moon water in a diffuser or even a humidifier when we’re feeling sick is such a great way to make our witchcraft accessible and keep it simple. Not everything has to be a big production, a big ritual. There are a lot of ways to express our craft that don’t require a lot of time and/or energy. So thank you ever so much to the witch who sent this tip in, and I would also love to hear any little tricks you might have to share. Let’s crowdsource our practice!
Today we are going to talk about self-care. This subject was suggested by a listener and I lost my notes so I can’t remember the witch’s name, so I do apologize for that. I always try to give proper credit, but I’m a fallible human and sometimes I lose my Post-It notes. So I hope you’ll forgive me.
But this is a good topic for discussion, because it’s such a buzzword and it can mean a lot of things, depending on what’s going on in our lives but also depending most importantly on how we are dealing with all the things that are going on in our lives. And this is why I really wanted to get into this subject. Because something that frequently gets lost in the sauce when we discuss self-care is responsibility.
We have a responsibility to perform acts of self-care when we are depleted, when we are stretched too thin, when we are spiraling, when we are self-destructive, when we are avoiding, when we are overcommitted, when we are not taking care of ourselves.
And because self-care looks different for everyone, we can sometimes mistake it for self-indulgence. So let me explain what I mean by that. If I am a person who has a hard time saying no, if I am a workaholic, if I feel guilty for taking time for myself, if I overschedule myself, then I have a responsibility to myself to take a break. I have a responsibility to myself to schedule time for myself. And I need to redefine how I think about it. If I feel guilty for taking a personal day at work, or if I feel guilty for saying no to an obligation that I would normally accept, even though I know goddamn good and well that there’s no room on my plate for another obligation, then part of my self-care has to include doing some work around that.
I need to pick apart the knot that I have tied around this idea that I don’t deserve a break. Or that I am not entitled to a break when I need one. That may entail shadow work to discover where that resistance comes from, that may entail having difficult, uncomfortable discussions with coworkers or family or even my boss about my boundaries.
So when I say we have to redefine how we think about taking a break, I mean that we need to look at it the same way we would look at maintaining a healthy diet, or a moderate exercise regimen. We don’t think of things like that as self-indulgent, we look at them as healing, as medicinal, as necessary. And that is precisely the way we need to approach mindful rest.
So with that in mind, we are going to look at three different ways of adding a spiritual slant to the idea of self-care. And I want to be clear from the start that I’m not talking about things like, driving to Starbucks for a treat or buying yourself a new book as self care. Those kinds of activities are amazing and you should always do nice things for yourself for no other reason than you want to.
When I talk about spiritual self-care, I’m talking about setting boundaries, and saying no, and doing things to put your own mental, physical, and emotional health first. I’m going to dust off a very old metaphor here, but during the little pre-flight performance, the flight attendant always reminds us that in an emergency, we have to put our own oxygen mask on first before we try to help anyone else with theirs.
We have to treat ourselves well. Hear me when I say this. We have to treat ourselves well. If we don’t do this, we are failing ourselves. But if that’s not enough to convince you, consider that when we fail ourselves, we are also failing other people who look up to us, who may emulate us, who may model themselves after us. I want the people I love, including those who look up to me, to be treated well. So I’m going to lead by example.
And the first thing I want to talk about is grounding or earthing. We spent some time on this topic during the energetic healing episode, and I will link to that in the episode description, but this is one of, if not the absolute easiest ways to recharge ourselves and restore those drained energies.
Spending time outside, with the soles of our feet planted in the grass, on the earth, releasing all the funky, negative, unwanted energies that we’ve been accumulating, while we simultaneously receive fresh, new, healing energy through that physical connection is undefeated. Even the National Institute of Health acknowledges the benefits of grounding. This is a direct quote from the website:
Grounding appears to improve sleep, normalize the day–night cortisol rhythm, reduce pain, reduce stress, shift the autonomic nervous system from sympathetic toward parasympathetic activation, increase heart rate variability, speed wound healing, and reduce blood viscosity.
The earth is a free resource for gentle healing, and we, especially as witches, should be taking advantage of this. The tree huggers were really onto something.
Another really easy, low-effort, high-reward, spiritually attuned way to engage in self-care is meditation. Meditation reduces stress, it increases focus during our daily activities, it’s been shown to reduce physical pain, and it’s also been shown to lessen anxiety and increase creativity. The purpose of meditation is to help quiet the mind and focus awareness on the present moment. And this seems so easy it’s difficult to believe, but its benefits are too well-researched and documented to ignore.
We spend so much of our day just inundated with noise. Interference. Not only from outside sources, but also from our own minds. So even just taking five minutes a day a few times a week in meditation is a powerful way to recenter ourselves. And once the meditation session ends, we can still reap the rewards. The following is from the Mayo Clinic:
Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health. You can also use it to relax and cope with stress by refocusing your attention on something calming. Meditation can help you learn to stay centered and keep inner peace.
And these benefits don’t end when your meditation session ends. Meditation can help carry you more calmly through your day. And meditation may help you manage symptoms of certain medical conditions.
Now, we know that Western medicine hates having to admit that any kind of holistic, non-prescription methods of healing actually work, so when they’re telling us it works, you know there’s something to it. Because meditation is free, there’s no co-pay, and there are no negative side effects. Okay, that was harsh. I’m not really that cynical, but it is noteworthy that the medical establishment recognizes the benefits of meditation.
The next item on the agenda here is to find a hobby and pursue it simply for the pleasure that it brings you. Hobbies exist to remind us that there is life outside of work and laundry and bills. If it’s reading, then let it be reading. If it’s art, let it be art. If it’s yoga, let it be yoga. The purpose of this hobby is just to make you happy. Not everything needs to be a side hustle. And while that can be nice, it can also undermine the reason that your hobby became your hobby to begin with.
If I paint because I enjoy it, because I love the calm it brings me or the challenge of learning a new technique, that’s wonderful. But what if I try to turn it into a side business and it doesn’t catch on? I’m probably going to be really disappointed in myself and then I’m probably not going to enjoy it as much anymore. This one thing that used to bring me joy feels hollow now, because I’ve tried to make it something it was never meant to be for me.
So when I say find a hobby and go balls out, I mean find something you love to do, and just do it because of how much you love it. Make the time. Create space in your schedule to prioritize it. It needs to be as important as anything else in your calendar. If you have line dancing lessons on Tuesday nights, then that means your Tuesday nights are spoken for. If someone asks you to be available, you tell them I’m sorry, Tuesday night won’t work. Period. Full stop.
And in case you think I don’t have some government research to back me up on the importance of hobbies, then you just think again! This comes from the Australian government website headtohealth.gov.au:
Research shows that people with hobbies are less likely to suffer from stress, low mood, and depression. Activities that get you out and about make you feel happier and more relaxed. Group activities improve communication skills and relationships with others.
And I specifically chose an Australian source because there are a lot of listeners in Australia. I don’t know what you all are into down there, but Oz is rife with witches.
Now to my larger goal with all of this information: having a wine night and doing a face mask are fine forms of self-care. Please don’t misunderstand me. But when I say that we need to practice spiritual self-care, I mean that we need to do things mindfully with the intention of helping ourselves to feel spiritually regenerated. So that’s why I’m advocating things like meditation, because it’s not just about carving out a little “me-time”.
I have a lot of shit to do every day. If I’m going to set aside some time, I want to continue to feel the benefits of the time I spent. And I know I’m not the only one who has a lot on her plate. We have so much going on and it can feel so relentless and that’s not a great space to stay in, if we’re being honest with ourselves.
So while self-care is trendy and I fully support margarita night with the girls, I also really think that this is something we can also incorporate into our practices as almost a sacrament. Something of significant spiritual value to us in our lives.
And before we part ways today, I wanted to talk about next Thursday’s episode a little bit. It’s very different to what we normally do around here. Next week we are going to talk about Metal Magick, and this episode will be an interview with a blacksmith and metal magician and I’m really excited to see how that goes. It’ll be available to listen on our normal audio format and it’ll be available on YouTube as well and I’ll be posting a link to that next week as well.
This doesn’t represent a change in our programming at all, this is simply a bit of a departure from what we typically do here. So that should be fun and informative. So, please drop me a line and tell me about your own self-care practices. I really do love sharing information here, this whole enterprise is about give and take and I want to know all about your own restorative practices. Thank you so much for joining me, we will talk again next week. My name is Eli Ro, and this has been the Middle-Aged Witch podcast.
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