Depression unwaveringly stalks its prey like a cunning predator, swiftly and without mercy. Like death, melancholy does not discriminate between any of the common social descriptors. It can feel like a vast and ceaseless ocean or an unrelenting storm if it goes unchecked. If you’re a Pagan, finding safe passage through this supposedly unnavigable sea can appear daunting at best. There is, however, a wonderful map towards your desired port. Allow me to explain a few tools at your disposal if you are a depressed Pagan. Treatment for depression such as professional therapists and medication are appropriate ways to handle the disease, however, their effects can be assisted and even multiplied by working with some spiritual techniques. Let’s explore some of these together that are adapted from Pagan Culture!
Grounding and Centering
If an individual suffers from any sort of anxiety, be it social or otherwise, grounding and centering techniques can be a lifesaver! By focusing on something in the present moment, such as a crystal, feather, or another sacred object, one can remain in the present moment. The feeling of past and future colliding will eventually abate with practice and just the mental trigger of texture, a piece of pyrite, for example, can bring an individual back to the present. There are limitless examples of exercises out there, so be sure to check your local library’s self-help section or you can search around the net. I’ll provide some examples at the bottom of this article for those interested.
Paganism is a spiritual Path that thrives on knowledge. We simply adore our natural world and wanting to know more about it every chance we get. The study doesn’t have to be piling over huge, dusty tomes. It can be watching YouTube videos about ants, a documentary on Netflix about another culture, or just simply reading about a favorite Pantheon. Actively learning helps engage us in the present moment and helps us communicate with each other about interesting topics! Even studying about depression has numerous benefits because Pagans have this unbelievable curiosity that fuels them to understand themselves and the world more fully and in a sacred manner. Even depression can be faced in a sacred manner that affords the individual dignity and courage in a baffling world.
Rites of Passage
Many Rites of Passage are now emerging in our new culture like seedlings from the loam of the earth. A teenage girl being accepted by her peers and also the Mothers of a Tribe (any group of Pagans) is a milestone achievement and can help bolster the self-confidence of a young person in a confusing time in life. A young man about to be married and considering starting a family can be coached by his fellow Pagans about communication with his partner, or a woman who is approaching menopause can be ushered into the Pagan Community as a Crone. Her time is now spent helping the Mothers, young girls, or anyone else that needs help.
Rites of Passage are important in fighting depression because they give the individual purpose. Purpose is by far one of the most powerful weapons in navigating depression. By having a purpose in the community, the individual is no longer concerned if they are important, wanted, or needed. They have self-validation because they are adept at a certain skill and can share some life experiences that may help another individual. They are an asset to the community and also the Tribe.
Magick and Spellcrafting
This is one of my favorite healing techniques for depression! If you’re a Magickal practitioner, fighting your own depression can be a beneficial experience for you. Getting your hands dirty, you can craft candles, mix herbal combinations, and write spells for self-improvement. Working with what you’ve studied and learned from trained professionals, as well as your own personal insights can empower you to find new levels of self-awareness, consistency, and improvement over time. It’s not an overnight process. If you’ve been depressed for a very long time, it can take a while for you to see the results. As you develop some ‘Magickal momentum‘ (the Magickal act of changing one’s direction of thoughts so their subsequent physical actions are in a decidedly more functional direction), you will see the effects of such work blossom, improve and give you the lift you need in the darkest times. From my observations, most people are unaware of how vibrantly energetic they can be and the effectiveness of their own personal Magick. It should be noted that without physical acts following spells and acts of Magick, the effect of the energy involved is greatly diminished. Action follows thought is perhaps the most useful phrase for those seeking a foothold.
Writing, Performance, Art Therapy, and Music!
Another technique to combat depression is the use of visual and performing arts. If you’re a writer, you can pour your heart into a story or maybe even create a blog to vent your frustrations and show others how you recover from those challenges. You could pour your anger and despair into dance and it’s also a great way to exercise. Choosing some uplifting music can break the mindset of depression. African drums, Classical music, polka, and nightcore songs are just a few examples of music that can help focus the mind on a project or idea towards self-improvement. If none of these appeals to you, try to get crafty! Make a wand, regalia, or Magickal tool that represents where you have been, are in your Path and where you would like to go. All of these techniques help with focusing you on where you want to be and self-transformation and are also jubilant expressions of life and character.
Meditation, Mantras, and Chants
Growing up in Sarasota, Florida, I was exposed to a litany of different cultural jewels, including the practice of meditation, mantras, and chants. As a Pagan, I adapted these techniques to focus on concentrate on projects, articles, and mental/emotional challenges. By meditating, an individual can open themselves up to healing, concentration, and rational thought. Instead of allowing emotions to completely overtake their character, meditation can instill a sense of calm. Mantras are excellent ways to fuel neuroplasticity and gently rewire old habits. Chanting in ritual space is an effective way to build energy towards a thought or a project and foster the ability to consider new ideas towards healing and self-acceptance. The action of envisioning something different can be what prompts the greatest healing of the self.
You can also work with sound frequencies and subliminal messages to empower your sleep at night and may alleviate your anxiety. I also highly recommend silence such as the stillness of the woods in the middle of January in Northern rural Wisconsin. Sound and the lack thereof can be equally meaningful.
Rituals and Setting a Daily Routine
Practicing daily small daily rituals can be beneficial to creating a schedule for yourself. In my own experience, knowing every day I was going to wake up, brush my teeth, write, and then practice devotional rituals at my home altars became comforting. It set the pace for me to focus on healing and look at my daily experiences in a rational way. Whether you are an atheistic Pagan or a Pagan that does work with deities, rituals are ways of setting aside time and space for personal thoughts. You do not have to work with deities to perform rituals. They can assist us to stay in the moment and not allow our feelings to overrun our intuitions.
Rituals in a community help accomplish goals in a much larger sense. The act of “Oathing” was taught to me by the Clergy at Deeply Rooted Church. The practice of using Oaths and Boasts is a concept that echoes throughout the collective Pagan cultures. The power of words, especially in groups, can have a profound and transformative effect on the individual. In a ritual Circle, we could make certain promises to ourselves and have our Tribe support us if they chose to assist us in the endeavor.
Be it a humble shelf on a bookcase or a large oaken table created for the purpose of becoming an altar can help with regaining a sense of self, personal expression, individuality, and connection with the world around you. There are all sorts of ways and ideas on how to build altars. Some may choose to honor a deity or maybe a representation of an element that they feel is intimately connected to their recovery and healing and others may use the space to practice Magickal workings such as Ceromancy or Banishment of a destructive habit. An altar is a section of personal space and can be tailored to suit whatever dreams, aspirations, and focuses. An altar may assist to mollify the sense of dread that naturally occurs from time to time by creating a shrine for the self as well as deities, ancestors, and Fae folk.
Work with your ancestral line, be it blood or adopted, is a great way to work through the memories of childhood and score some authentic healing in the process. Mystical belief or not, ancestral work can help build bridges between this world and the next, assist the individual in coping with painful childhood traumas, and also enable the individual to learn from the mistakes of those who have come before them. The practice of ancestral veneration and healing can bridge the boundaries between the past, present, and future and facilitate a deeper understanding of one’s own actions. If you need some help understanding the importance of this work in your life, there are multiple resources out there in the form of books, websites, and YouTube videos to assist you. Working with a group on ancestral healing is also a dynamic way to help with this process. Believe it or not, there are others who are in similar boats with their families. Not everyone comes from a loving home and finding a way to the experience of self-acceptance and peace with what has transpired in your life may be achieved through building an ancestor altar and regularly interacting with the thoughts and memories attached to your Path.
Therapy and Counselors
Growing up in my home in New York, there was a huge familial stigma around going to therapy and seeking out the assistance of a trained professional. As I grew up and became exposed to different cultures outside of what I had been acquainted with, I discovered the value of talking out various scenarios and encounters with a counselor. There is nothing shameful in anyone seeking out medical and psychological assistance for depression. Find a counselor who understands and respects your spiritual Path. If you need assistance in this process, contact a local Pagan organization and speak to their Clergy. Many times, the spiritual leaders will often have the acquaintance of counselors who are able to assist. Sometimes we just need to speak to another person, free of personal bias, about our life circumstances and glean a different perspective to meditate upon. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, please contact a Suicide Hotline immediately.
Pagan Homeland, Tribe, and Pagan Clergy
From my own personal experience, there is not enough emphasis I can put on the benefit and dramatic results that were produced by interacting with like-minded individuals in the community of Deeply Rooted. When I was a solitary, isolated Pagan, I thought I had a handhold on my depression and destructive habits. Without proper support, I fell into some pretty hard times. It took years to fight back to a place where I was finally proud of myself and my accomplishments and I owe much of my success to my Tribe and also the Clergy.
The experience was so profound in fact, that I decided to become Clergy so I could help others with their life transitions. I learned to recognize who I was through the eyes of others by my interactions with others and modify my behavior accordingly. One common misconception that I have observed in the Pagan community is that people will sometimes be under the assumption that they are “bothering” Clergy by asking for help or talking things out. My peers and I have dedicated our lives to all things Pagan which means dealing with a spectrum of other people’s emotions and actions that affect the community. It’s my honor and duty to assist others and help them find solutions for making their spiritual Path more substantial, healing, and understanding.
And finally, there’s the Homeland herself. I’m proud to boast that Deeply Rooted has 160 acres of natural space dedicated to connecting with nature and self. As human beings, we were designed to live in nature – not apart from it. We thrive in the sunlight, gently nudged by the moon cycles, and at our best when we’re challenged by the natural world. Having a support system and a setting for the spiritual journey that is our lives is a major game-changer when it comes to fighting anxiety and depression. The act of combining all of these practices, plus the natural Magickal attributes of the natural world is a key player in finding a way to be connected in a disconnected world.
Once again, thank you for reading along and considering these ideas. These are just a handful of instruments in the depression toolbox. If you need help in a certain direction, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask a fellow Pagan. Contact me or another member of Clergy either through the website or via Facebook. We’re here to be of assistance! Blessed Be )0( – Shining Quill the Unicorn