After all, a mother is not allowed adventures alone in faraway lands… a married woman is not allowed multiple partners out in the open, much less to stumble upon true love and dare to leave her sure-thing-picket-fence-beachside life… a daughter cannot leave her mother when said mother moved thousands of miles to be nearby…. She is not allowed to choose another life. I was not supposed to want another life.
But, I am no longer a “good girl”.
I have chosen something else.
I have elected to pursue truth and beauty.
I have stepped into the magic.
I am on the path of my heart.
All I know is… yes.
Yes to uncertainty.
Yes to love.
Yes to desires born from the empty spaces in which I used to live.
As you can imagine – this journey has had much to show me.
But, nothing could have prepared me for what I saw as I lay on the sandy floor of a blackened room in the Peruvian jungle. My love sat nearby, along with 7 others in a small, round space. We sat or lay in silence, the nighttime jungle voices penetrating our oblivion with auditory starlight. As the molecules of me seemed to expand into dark infinity, the self I knew disappeared into a kaleidoscopic, dizzying, red unknown.
I was in the midst of a ritual shamanic cleansing of everything inside my body and mind that no longer served my heart. I was in the belly of the beast, asking for lessons from the divine – what is it I need to understand about myself in order to serve the world?
The kaleidoscope faded.
A voice from both within and beyond seemed to answer my question with one of its own…
Are you ready to see yourself as you’ve always been?
All I knew is… yes.
So, the film reel of my incarnations started to roll. My past lives played out before me like they were projected on the inside of my eyelids.
[Click, whir, focus.]
There is one in particular I will share with you – the others were similar enough in love and pain that there is no need to go into them all.
Suddenly, I was peering out into a gray morning from underneath a stranger’s lashes. I was no longer watching lives play out on a screen of skin.
Instead, I was breathing inside different lungs. And the air smelled like smoke.
In front of me were a sea of eyes; eyes with an appetite for pain.
Looking down, I saw what they hungered for.
I was standing on my own funeral pyre. I wasn’t dead yet.
The logs and branches were sharp under my feet, and so dry. I switched my weight back and forth, but comfort in one’s imminent death by burning is hard to come by.
I took a deep inhale of acrid air and looked again across my audience. I could feel their hatred of me more palpably than the rough hanks of rope lashing me to the wooden stake. The whole village had come out to witness the spectacle: to watch the witch burn… The same witch that had stood by numerous births and deaths, the witch with just the tincture to heal a son’s scraped knee or silently help dissolve an unwanted pregnancy.
The town healer had become the town villain almost overnight – and for my sins, I was to die. And by my sins’ erasure, my neighbors were certain that they would be gifted with a clean slate by association… A ticket to new heaven.
But I didn’t seem frightened. I wasn’t angry. In fact, the only emotion I remember feeling was an incomprehensible and overwhelming love for the people in front of me. It was a kind of love I’m only now just learning to taste – it was bottomless, effortless, more natural than breathing.
And so, I looked at them as they came forward with torches and lit the fire. I looked, and loved them… divorcing my true self from the searing pain as the flames licked at my ankles. I could smell myself starting to burn.
A mantra appeared…
I am not my pain.
I am not my pain.
Pain is a clarifier. A teacher.
But this pain isn’t me.
The real me is infinite.
I am not separate
from the ground I stand on,
from my spectators,
from the sky,
from the torches.
And, slowly, I saw sparks of a different kind start to ignite.
As I refused to give into the instinct to cry out and instead, silently looked on the scene with incomprehensible love, I started to see visible changes in my audience.
I saw hatred evaporate. I saw hands reach for each other – connecting again in solidarity with each other instead of in opposition to me.
As I loved them in the midst of our mutual pain, I witnessed each person’s wounded, starved spirit start to heal.
I could no longer see well as the smoke began to thicken. The smell was nauseating, the heat unbelievable. When I felt that my love for each of my witnesses had done it’s work – cleansed them all of anything but their own love, releasing them from any guilt or anger, I could transition myself back into the nothing.
I blinked, and my eyes were mine again, in this life. I stared into the black room, swelling with love for everyone in my life, even those who some would perceive as the “enemy.” I even felt love for my ex, for the people who have said incomprehensibly hurtful things about my character. It wasn’t the resigned love of a martyr. It wasn’t about reciprocity or praise. It was just simply love at its most basic and free.
Sometimes, looking back on this alchemical evening, the 21st century me asks…
Was this really one of my past lives? Did what I saw actually happen?
And then I think… Does it matter? Isn’t the burning of our enemies something we have all done, throughout all of time? It may be my story – but it’s also OUR story. We all feel the ripples of every persecution. It haunts the collective consciousness and breeds perceptions of right and wrong, loveworthy and not, ally and enemy.
What I do know for certain, is that I got the answer to my question – I saw who I really am. I saw how I am meant to serve the world.
I am meant to love everyone. I am meant to demonstrate the healing power of unconditional, wild love in the face of tyranny and oppression. This means that my life will likely be full of challenges designed to test my will to stay true to course.
If I hadn’t taken an unlikely journey into the wilds of Peru and stepped outside of my former self-defined good girl status, I may never have tasted my purpose.
I am grateful beyond words for this glimpse into my long and storied history of pain, love, and magic. It makes my forbidden life now seem that much more intentional… it gives me the sense that I am no longer fighting a battle to change the world – Instead, I am standing on a hill looking at the “troops” from all sides, teaching them by example to love each other with abandon. It might seem futile or hopeless, but I see no other option to shift humankind into compassionate higher consciousness.
Insight into my personal history of witchcraft has helped me remember the most potent healing elixir of all. And so, I love you (yes… YOU). I love your fears. I love your heart. I don’t even have to know you to love you – because I know you are worth it, no matter who you are, where you’ve been, or what you’ve done. Do you feel it?
If this isn’t magic, then I know not what is.
So, let’s raise a glass:
To re-writing our own history to be one of love and not suffering
To witches in all forms, in the past and present
To the alchemical fires turning fear into gold
If someone had told me a year ago I would still be thinking about witches or calling myself a “modern day witch” or a “sorceress of the sacred self” I would not have believed it.