Week of September 27th-October 4th + Sacred Vultures, Shadow Work, & Sun-Bleached Bones
As we move into the period of shedding and death, I want to talk about the sacredness vultures.
I see a sliding scale trauma therapist. We’re doing some really intense work right now. Today, she started off our session with dealing with grief. She explained that my feelings around my childhood sounded like symptoms of grief, and mentioned that working through grief was like vultures coming to pick through the corpses left everywhere on earth so it could smell sweet again. Of course she noted how uncomfortable our society was with grief, or any such intense emotions. I laughed and told her that was beautiful, and explained that vultures were considered sacred creatures of the Goddess, and that it was totally a sign of our patriarchal society that grief would try to be rushed; that all cultures at one point had long designated periods of mourning and grief—along with rituals, traditions, and steps—before grieving could begin to end.
This—the picking through the bones and maggot-coated carcasses that have been left in the Atlanta smog for years and years—is Shadow Work. To clear the rot, to cry and vomit on your shoes, and keep picking the rancid rubbery ribbons of dead bodies, and then clean the bones, lay them out in the sun to bleach them, and then create something beautiful with them. Or give them a proper burial and really release it. Let it die. Really die. Not rot in an old drawer you keep putting off opening. Let there no longer be a smell that triggers and repulses you. Let it just be clean bones that give you structure and context.
Last week, a friend of mine triggered the fuck out of me. She was actually complimenting me, and being encouraging, but sometimes that’s how triggers work. Anyway, I got super in my head, was super depressed, and had entered into a stream of negative self-talk. My boyfriend came in the bedroom where I was very clearly moping—shut down, minimally responsive—and asked what was wrong. I tried to explain to him that I was in my feelings, feeling afraid and depressed, and defeated, and, being the Aquarius INTJ that he is, he immediately set to give me advice and lecture. I ended up telling him that that wasn’t what I wanted right now; I would be fine later, but for now, I wanted to just feel like shit. He snapped, “Well, I’m sorry you feel that way.” and left the room.
Look, there’s a reason I have a therapist. Dating someone who has severe trauma and mental illness and a personality disorder means that his boundaries are different than mine and are subject to change. My boyfriend couldn’t hold space for me right then, and while I’m okay with that, at that moment, I really, really needed someone to hold space for me and let me freak out. But he couldn’t. And I felt that I couldn’t burden any of my girl friends with how intensely bad I felt, so I just laid on the bed and sobbed like crazy for about an hour.
It was really tough. I was so fucking triggered, and I could feel myself fighting back waves of mania. I wanted to binge eat a pint of ice cream in the freezer. I wanted to storm out of the bedroom and start cussing Ryan out for being a selfish jerk. I wanted to delete everything. Run away, turn off my phone. I wanted to physically hurt myself. But I did none of those things. I kept saying, “No. No. Don’t do X. It will make things worse.” And let myself keep crying, hunched over in bed, biting my pillow, just letting myself really fucking lose it. And I kept fighting the waves to fuck something up. I kept telling myself, “You have to sit with this. This is the next step to facing your trauma.” My therapist told me that I had to practice sitting with my shitty memories of trauma, with sitting with really tough and scary emotions and feel safe doing that before we could do the really hard work. I kept thinking of her and our work, and I stayed for all of my feelings. I stayed for myself and didn’t try to escape. When I was done, I felt so fucking powerful. I knew I had knocked down a wall between myself and my healing. (My therapist told me she was very proud of me, yay!)
So, here’s the thing about healing. You have to put in the work. It feels to me lately that there is a sort of echo chamber among us on social media with common terminology such as “self care,” “trauma story,” “healing is not linear,” “do the work,” “create boundaries,” “sit with your feelings,” “limiting beliefs,” “Shadow work,” etc., etc.
But are any of us actually doing that shit? Self care is more than just taking baths or allowing ourselves days off to do nothing, cancelling plans, or eating junk food. It’s about researching what methods we can make to heal. It is hard fucking work. It’s putting yourself in safe spaces in order to sit with your trauma and feel all the horrible feelings and stay there. It’s knowing when to wallow, and when to sip sadness. It’s knowing when to ask for guidance and when to shoulder it alone. It’s journaling, collaging, keeping a food or exercise diary, therapy, pushing through, holding back, talking it out, creating a safe space, creating ritual. The best way to heal is to create a pattern that holds you accountable even if you falter. You have your routine and your anchors to hold you accountable. You can keep scrolling on IG and Facebook and like and repost and “YAS GIRL” all fucking day, but until you put the social media down and start making the tea, reading the self-help book and doing the exercises or meditations, you will never actually heal. You’ve got to start this journey. You’ve got to show up for yourself.
It took me so long to get it. I didn’t understand showing up, until I was given assignments and started doing them. Until I started saying, “Okay, on Thursday, I will focus on my therapy/journaling for the Full/New Moon/Tarot Immersion/creating a budget.” Once you start paying for therapy, you will understand that you can invest in yourself, or you can stay home and complain or feel a temporary high from the feeling of connection you obtain on social media over some “smash the patriarchy” post.
You know how you smash the patriarchy? You heal yourself. You are a part of the cosmic song of the universe, and you must get your vibration in tune. Start a chain reaction. I heard recently that trauma heals and hurts seven generations back and forward. The DNA that creates you came from your grandmother’s egg. You are your ancestors, and your ancestors are you. Trauma gets passed down through DNA (epigenetics) and healing that trauma is as much of a responsibility for future generations as practicing safe sex. You have so much power to heal yourself now. This is what Dr. Brown did today. She brought her corpses out for everyone to see. But she had to clear off the decayed flesh and find the bones within. She is cleaning them, setting them out to dry in the sun, and creating a new purpose for those bones.
So Witches, will you aid in the collective healing of us all? Will you embrace the Wild Wolf inside of you, dive into the Moon card, and devour the fresh bodies? Will you call upon the Vultures to pick clean the scary, repulsive, shameful parts, and leave you alone with the bones? Will you take them in your hands, follow the path, carry them forward to lay them out in the Sun to bleach white and harden?
Will you add your bones to mine?