“Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.”
So says the line from the Charge. Does this mean we are wishy-washy? Quite the contrary. It indicates a balance that we all must come to deal with everyday of our lives, magickally and mundanely. If we don’t we become unbalanced and unhealthy.
Because of this, we must recognize a lack of balance in others we come in contact with daily. They have their own sh*t to deal with, and they can be off too. And, from time to time, people do need sympathy and understanding. Given appropriately this can be very helpful and therapeutic. It is when compassionate people go overboard and enable the suffering to go on that it is inappropriate.
I will share another segment of my own experience with this. Some of you may know that in 1998 my world got turned upside-down with emergency brain surgery. Parts of that are in other essays here on The Voice, so I won’t rehash it all.
In a nutshell, a sinus infection traveled (yes, infections can move), it jumped the protective blood-brain barrier. Not a good thing since blood and its products are caustic to brain tissue. This caused an abscess (simply a puss-ball). So, I took ill at work while talking to a colleague, lost consciousness, woke up 2 1/2 days later with what resembled half a yarmulke on my head. Plus my head felt like it had been run over by an 18-wheeler.
I definitely needed compassion. I received it. Friends (and at times like these you find out who they really are) were great during the healing process. Much magick was done for me, and folks were understanding. Best of all, they treated me like me. Which is probably the most helpful in all healing situations.
Some friends, well-intentioned, kept after that, how are you, you know what I mean. Well that was fine for a while, but it’s over. I am not my abscess. We are not our illnesses. These times are tools to learn with. And yes, I did learn a great deal about myself during this period. As I should have. You can’t have an experience like this and not.
Can I ever forget it? No. I mean I have a j-hook shaped scar crowning my head to remind me of it. Life does go back to normal, whatever normal is. After years of working with mental health related areas, normal is relative.
I will always be grateful for the compassion bestowed on me by the community. It was necessary. It has also helped me be compassionate to people who need it. I’ve also been able to help others who’ve had brain surgery, seizure activity and stroke, since many experiences have related aspects.
So, my compassion is not limited to this community alone. As it shouldn’t. We are a Witch always, not just at Sabbats and Esbats. This comment likened to the Sunday, or Christmas Christian. Though I found true compassion from many communities, Pagan and not, during my healing process. I was dealt with as a person who needed help.
And, I got it. My healing was very rapid. Within less than a week I was out of the hospital. Because I was now prone to seizure activity I could not drive for 3 months. People were wonderful at keeping in contact however they could. Picked me up and took me places I wouldn’t have been able to get to otherwise. I try and remember this as I work.
Actually it fits in perfectly with the work that I do as a librarian for a state agency. My customers have problems, that need to be solved with information. Because of the work our agency does, I need to be aware that the customer needs the information to help a client. They are compassionate to the client. I in turn, need to be compassionate about both needs, since what I will provide will ultimately effect both of them. And, myself to a certain degree. I can’t handle all the information that I come in contact with, without being affected by it.
I need to be compassionate to my own needs too. This does not mean feeling sorry for ones’ self. Just a realistic understanding of what you can reasonably deal with.
Remember the flip side to compassion is power as we utter the Charge. We have to understand both. My own experience certainly has made me more powerful as a person. Understand this, you can face anything. And, I do mean anything.
In my own healing process, I had to face every single demon I had. Real or imagined. I took power back from them. They had been leeching off vital energies from me. It was the most terrifying, exhilarating, and easy thing I’d done.
Terrifying, because who really likes confrontation of anything, much less your own demons? Why do we create such monsters for ourselves? Growth, I suppose.
Exhilarating, because of the freedom it gave me. Now I am unencumbered by nonsense that had been hanging on—some of it for a lifetime.
Easy, yes, easy. Ultimately it was the easiest thing in the world for me to do. What else did I have to do? I was in the hospital for a week, drugs kept me awake for half of that, probably hallucinating for half of that. Great breeding ground for demons. One by one they came. When you face a demon squarely in the eye, it usually dissolves. You may have to talk to it, hit it, or, laugh at it. Demons don’t know what to do with laughter. Laughter is great healing medicine.
What did this leave me? A much more powerful person. Things that used to bother me don’t. Oh, do I get annoyed, sure, especially at stupidity. I’ve become much more cognizant of our internal power. For remember this. No matter how much others want to help, the only one who can truly help you is you. With others being compassionate, especially at trying times, it makes that process easier.
Please remember that power is knowing just the right amount of energy to use. A truly powerful person rarely exerts much energy. They simply know how to tap the source. The power is within. Be sympathetic to those in need, for you never know when you will need it, too. Both, power and compassion, are achieved, not owned¹.
1. Kerr Cuhulain, Wiccan Warrior (St. Paul, MN : Llewellyn Publications, 2000), pp. 22, 84, 117.
Mark MoonSpider Sosnowski