Tag Archives: well-being

Self care, spirituality and lockdown

What self care looks like will depend entirely on who you are. If you’ve never had to think about this before, it will be a journey of discovery, and the things people tell you are good for you won’t necessarily turn out to help. What of your path will help you?

Meditation – you might find this calms you. Equally, you might find it stressful because you can’t concentrate. You may need to go deep into complex pathworkings, or you may just need to sit for five minutes looking at an oracle card for comfort.

Rituals and magic – you may be comforted by doing what you always do. You may be thwarted because your heart isn’t in it and you may need to do a radical re-think as a consequence. Protective magic may give you some feelings of being more in control, but make sure any magic you do is backed up by appropriate physical action.

Celebration and gratitude – that may be too hard right now. You may need to spend time with your fear and anger, and come back to gratitude practices when you’re more able to feel them. Or you may find that digging in with the gratitude helps you keep things in perspective. You may want to celebrate the small things more.

You may find that digging in with study and the intellectual aspects of your path is a good distraction. If deep thinking comforts you, now is a good time to get out the books. If you don’t have the concentration to learn something new, that’s ok too. Now may not be the time.

You may find that taking care of your space, honouring the spirits of place and working quietly with them will help you. If you don’t have the energy for cleaning or making altar spaces, think about what you can do that would help you and your home. If all you do is think about what you’d like to do when you feel up to it – that’s time well spent.

If you can’t connect directly with the natural world, this may be really affecting your well being as a Pagan. You might be able to ease this with meditations. If you can get outside at all, the earth will be below you and the sky above and even in the most urban settings it is possible to connect with the elements. Time spent at the least promising window can bring some sense of wildness.

You may find your comfort and sense of direction in helping others. Right now, leadership most assuredly has a place. Many people are in need of guidance and inspiration, support and healing. Be mindful of your own resources, but if this work lifts you up and gives you a sense of purpose, do it. Don’t martyr yourself though. Don’t burn out trying to do more than you can bear.

Whatever approaches you use, stay focused on just getting through this strange time. You don’t have to write a book or become an expert on an ancient civilization. You don’t have to learn flint knapping, or plant a herb garden or sew yourself the best imaginable robes. You can if you want to. The most important lessons in all of this will be the things you learn about what you truly need and what is genuinely powerful in your life.

Hairy Tales

Hair is informative about a great many thing. The condition of hair says a lot about health, reveals age, whether we have time and inclination to groom, and who we think we are. Little wonder then that we devote so much time and money to trying to make sure our hair conveys the right message. Colouring to hide the tell-tale grey that announces we are no longer young. Cutting to say ‘professional’ or ‘bohemian’ or not cutting. Some of it is about trying to attract a mate with our gleaming, silky pelts, but a lot of it is a statement about our place in the world, and identifying the culture and traditions we belong to. Covering the hair can also be part of this.

Looking at someone else’s hair, you’ll see what they want you to see (usually) and if they’ve done a decent job, little more. Our own hair has stories to tell us, and those we can get a much closer look at. The state of your hair is a pretty good marker of the state of everything else. If your diet is wrong, it’ll show up in your hair. If you aren’t taking enough care of yourself, your hair will bear the signs. It’s also surprisingly indicative of emotional states, too.

When I was youthful, my hair was the only aspect of my appearance I liked. It was good hair, rich, and abundant, falling to about the base of my ribs with a slight ripple. Darker brown in winter, picking up reds and golds when exposed to the sun. I took pride in it. It’s normal for women to have hair changes around pregnancy. After my son arrived, there were some years when I had very little time for me. Sleep deprived and with too much to do, appearance was a long way down the priority list. A non-essential, luxury thing that could wait until after… and kept waiting. Growth slowed, so my hair was effectively getting shorter. Little more than shoulder length by the end. There were a lot of other things going ever more wrong for me. That, like the hair, shifted in slow degrees, until existence and hair alike were thin, sad and lifeless. I had lost the only part of me I ever thought looked good, and by the time I got to there, that was the least of my troubles.

Did I take this loud message from my body on-board and make radical life changes? I didn’t. Not for years. When I did make big changes to put my life in order, my hair changed. Within a matter of a few months, it started growing again, thickening up from the roots, with new and much more rapid growth. In the last few years it’s kept doing that. It took a while to heal my scalp, which got into an awful state – stress induced I believe. It took a while to start to get some of the old shine back. The new growth has almost caught up to the old, and I’m going to get the length back in the next year or so. This cheers me enormously. I know, from the state of my hair, that I’m making a much better job of my life than I was.

Life is full of signs, symbols and messages we can try to interpret. Many of them are quite rational. The surface symptoms all have stories to tell about what lies beneath. Details of skin, hair and breath can inform us of how we are doing. Fingernails. How we dance. Whether we dream. Part of what got me into trouble in the first place was the pressure to ignore the many messages from my body in order to serve other people’s needs. I eventually learned just how big a mistake this was. Messages from our bodies come for a reason. There’s nothing abstract or imaginary about it.

Bodies manifest experience, demonstrate health or the absence thereof and are affected by our emotional lives and stresses. This is not to say that we can magically cause or cure all ills with a state of mind – far from it. Rather, we are integrated systems and what shows up in one part will be connected to what’s going on other places within us. Being alert to that, we can usually improve things, even if we can’t always fix them.