The Magic of Grief Relief

Brook the iPod Witch just put out her 60th episode. (Congratulations, by the way, on the accomplishment.) Each episode begins with Brook reading her listener feedback and answering questions. This show in particular, however, peaked my fancy when a listener asked her what spell he needs to do in order to get rid of the pain accompanying his recent break-up. Ever eager to please her listeners, Brook did what most witch folk do: she pulled out Scott Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs and began prescribing various remedies for strength or healing. While she mentions there isn't a section on herbs to get over a break-up, I'd like to take this question and add my own 2 cents. Not that anybody asked.

Did any of you watch Charmed? (Sorry... Pardon me a moment while I slap my self in the head for asking an obvious question.) Well, remember how Billie found a spell to take away bad memories/thoughts/feelings/etc.? Remember how it didn't work? That is one of the few times in popular culture in which someone turning to magic actually gets a semi-factual result.

In short: there is no magical cure for grief. And, honestly, I don't believe attempting to relieve the symptoms of grief by magic (strength, healing, etc.) does much good, either. Though, the theory goes - I suppose - that it cannot hurt. While that may be true, there is kind of a sense in the witchy community that anything can be solved by magic. There is a magical cure for everything, or at least a magical aide.

Are you constantly coming up short for money at the end of the month? Do a prosperity spell! Carry money-bringing-in talismans! Burn every green candle you come across! Pile your change into a jar with 9 anointed lodestones, each coated in money-drawing herbs!

Or, possibly realize you're living outside your means. Realize that you cannot spend $2500/month when you only bring in $2000/month. Find things to eliminate, up to and including selling that house that costs you $1500/month, and moving into a nice, affordable apartment until things improve.

I am often asked when one should do magic, and I am equally as often criticized for telling people I do not believe magic should be used instead of a better mundane situation. Obviously, it cannot ever hurt to summon up a bit of extra luck. It cannot hurt to brew yourself a healing tea when you are attempting to get over a great loss, but one thing we need to all remember:


Magic is also not a substitute for time and the manner in which only it can heal. Magic is not a substitute for the conversation you need to have with your parents about coming out. You cannot magically beam the information into their heads, nor can you occlude it from their vision forever. Magic will not get you an undeserved raise or fix your car. 

When life happens, and you want to hurry up and get to the part where you don't hurt anymore or where things are better again or where nobody remembers that bad thing you did or're going to have to wake up and realize that for all of our witchy powers, for all the rain we can summon and cards we can read...for all of the things we can do, we cannot fix, alter, change, or manipulate that which makes us human. 

So, I do not disagree with the advice Brook gave. She did what she was asked. And most of us - myself included - would probably do the same if asked the same question. However, I do feel that, especially as of late, many of us forget to also give the caveat that while symptoms can be eased with a ritual burning of our ex's undies, the real healing takes time. 

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte


  1. Indeed. And I often think part of it is that people are lazy. Period. Now, I am not talking specifically about Brook's listener of course - I have not listened to that episode and know nothing about the person, email, etc. But, in general - OK, overgeneralization of the day - ;) people are just lazy. Why try to work to get out of debt, be healthier, drop weight, be a better friend, mate, parent, etc etc insert whatever takes work here when you can just find a spell and "fix" it? Life doesn't work that way but dang, people sure seem to think it does!

  2. This is exactly the reason why i find myself using fewer and fewer "real" spells in my everyday life. The magic is not in all the tools and candles and herbs - its in the energy we put out into the world. Positive thinking just isn't enough; you have to put real-world actions out there to accomplish the goals you want. And because of this, I spend less time meditating over candles and more time working to get the life I want. I may carry a bit of extra magical strength along with me in the form of a crystal or my trusty goddess pedant - or I may turn to the tarot for a bit of clarity to the thoughts I am already having - but none of that will mean anything if I do not get out there and DO something.

  3. Ah yes, and when Willow in 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' tried to get over her breakup with magic and just made everyone else suffer in the process. (Everything I needed to know in life, I learnt from 'Buffy', and all that.)

    I don't know much a whole lot about magic, but I dislike quick fixes in general, whether it's a spiritual or a physical quick fix (like drinking to forget). On the whole, it seems to me that quick fixes cause more problems than they, well, fix. You might repress something you need to feel in order to deal with the grief long-term. (I think the universe gave use emotions for a reason.) The psyche is such a fragile thing. We should probably treat it with as much respect as we give our bodies. It's all part of us, and therefore sacred, after all.

  4. Something I have been railing against for YEARS! You simply have to put the work into the real world. There's no way you're going to get your dream job by doing a bit of magic, if you are not updating your cv, getting the training required, and applying for the job, dammit! I think of these things as part of the whole shebang - if I'm working on a prosperity spell, that includes going over the family budget with a fine toothcomb, looking for the best deals on goods and services, putting a few extra hours in at work or selling some unwanted items on eBay.

    As for grief, or any other emotional fallout, if you are going to use magic or healing in these matters, please don't try to alleviate symptoms as an end result. I've seen (and experienced) terrible blockages and problems years later when this happens. My advice for anyone - healer, witch, or not - who is approached by someone who wants emotional help - the best thing you can be is a listener. Grief is intensely personal and everyone deals with it differently. Pulling out Cunningham and mixing up a few herbs, handing over a couple of crystals and some essential oils is pretty much the same as the Doctor reaching for the prescription pad and prescribing drugs for grief.

    Ok, I'm writing this whilst fending off an attack by a five-year old dressed as Optimus Prime and trying to rescue the two-year-old's favourite teddy bear who is currently covered in jam, so excuse me if this is mildly incoherent. I used to have rational arguments - hell, I used to have brain cells - but then I had children and it's all gone tits up.

    Here, have a shortbread, and happy midsummer.

  5. I didn't watch ANY of "Charmed" last season, and not so very much of the next-to-the-last. The story lines and characters just weren't anybody I could care about following along any more.

    I'm still wondering when my (33 y.o.) daughter's death last October is going to break all the way through to me.

  6. This was a great post!

    I especially loved the charmed reference.

    This post reminds me of a spell I did a few weeks ago.

    I work really hard at my job, but financially I was struggling to even buy groceries. I did a spell to find some extra cash somewhere and the next day I got up the courage to ask my boss for a raise.
    The spell was the insperation. I did the hard work while at work and wrote a really well written letter to my boss that got me the raise I needed to make ends meet.

    Spells wont help you become a millionaire without any of the work, because the money would be gone in minutes. The hard work instills the good traits and values that are required to have that kind of money.

    The same goes with the grief idea you mentioned, if you don't go through the pain, you tend to repeat the problem and no lesson is learned.

    Thanks for sharing!

  7. I never really got into Charmed or Buffy, just not up to my taste, but that is advice that almost any mage worth their salt in a good fantasy yarn will tell you.

    I have actually asked friends that ask me for help in love what they have gone out and done to meet new people. You have to pound the pavement to get results and magick just seems to give a boost to what you are already doing. It wasn't the mojo hand alone that got my fiancee is new job, it was the 20 million resumes he turned in, the phone calls he made AND the mojo hand that did the trick.

  8. I think was happens is that some witches forget Scotty's Law of Magic: Ye Cannot Change The Laws of Physics! Magic is natural, not supernatural. It works with forces already in play to help smooth things along or make it run more efficiently. You can't become irresistible to the sex of your preference, grotesquely wealthy, or a great dancer without putting in some sweat equity first. And things like getting over grief (or my personal favorite, building self esteem) are more complex in my opinion, as pesky things like emotions are involved. I'm not saying don't do the spells (they may have a mild cathartic effect on their own) but don't expect any real results without working it on the mundane side (talk to friends, talk to a therapist if need be, journal, cry, etc.)Magic is a catalyst, but like all catalysts it needs something to work with; it can't strengthen/ speed up what ain't there.

    LOL, to borrow another geeky reference, magic is like a +3 sword of slaying in D&D, sure it gives you a better shot at hitting the dragon, but if you haven't bothered to earn those character points to get past first level, you are pretty much asking to be a roasted player character.

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  10. I don't know if anybody else has brought this up because it's late and I have to be up at the ungodly (for me) hour of 7AM tomorrow so I didn't read all of the comments.
    But about specifically healing grief, whether from death or just someone that is no longer in your life...I believe grief is important. I hate it and I know it hurts like crazy, but to me it is through grief that we remember all the good things about the one we lost. It's that tearing sadness that can banish negative memories and leave the good ones that will let us remember them fondly instead of fueling a hatred for someone that most likely does not deserve it.
    I could get all in depth and philosophical and come up with all kinds of crazy theories but most likely this whole post of mine is just the aftermath of not enough sleep. I'd be interested to see if anyone might agree though.
    Goodnight and happy dreams to all!

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