Dear Wicca, Thank You.
Author: Selena Rose
I began to research Wicca when I was eleven or twelve years old. I – obviously – was not extremely serious about it at that point, and the interest came and went for a year or two. I always loved the idea of the religion, but I didn’t seriously start studying until I was about thirteen. And I studied for almost a solid two years before I started to practice. I know that it was still very young and, looking back, maybe it was too young. But I don’t regret starting early because it just gave me more time to develop into the kind of spiritual person that I wanted to become.
When I was sixteen I developed Anorexia Nervosa. During the year and a half battle, I dropped over twenty pounds, yo-yoed between weights, dealt with depression, anxiety, and a number of other “issues”. Twenty pounds is not nearly as serious as it could have become, I know. I got lucky that it didn’t get worse. Physically, I was not that ill. The illness was completely and entirely mental. I was dealing with self-hatred, feeling worthless, like I was created wrong.
Over the December holidays, I was shopping for gifts with my family. We celebrate a very secular Christmas and I celebrate Yule in my own ways on my own. I was seventeen at this point, a senior in high school. I decided to buy myself a Yule gift while I was at Borders and headed back to the religion section of the store.
There were a few titles I was familiar with but never purchased, a few I owned. I ran my hands over the spines, trying to get some kind of idea of what to purchase. My body and mind stopped on a thin, black binding. I bought the book and took it home. Literally, that night, my life changed.
The book was The Circle Within by Dianne Sylvan. If you’ve ever read it, you should realize how beautiful it was to me. It opened my eyes to parts of Wicca and Witchcraft that I never knew existed and somehow, I wanted them in my life. I can’t point out a specific passage that changed everything. It was everything at once. I finished the book in less than twenty-four hours. And I started my own journey toward recovery of my eating disorder.
Yes, one book did all that. I brought that book to school. I underlined and starred passages that I needed to remember. I kept it in my mind all the time as I tried to work my way up to a semi-normal number of calories a day. And it worked. I ended up purchasing Sylvan’s other book, The Body Sacred. That was probably one of the greatest purchases of my life, as well. I kind of owe everything to her. After that, I began to read more about the spirituality of Wicca, and created my own bond with the God and Goddess that was one of the most beautiful feelings I have ever felt in my life. I felt genuine and I felt new.
For several months, I was deep into my spirituality and practice. For that summer I worked at a very Zen coffee house where incense was always burning and Bob Marley was constantly on the sound system. Everything was organic and healthy and I felt extremely at peace for a whole summer as I prepared to go away to college. I had a wonderful therapist helping me with my “launching phase” who helped me heal my relationship with my mother (that was always a troubling spot for me) . I was in the good place in my life. And I went away to college and my life did a tailspin again.
In college, I gained a good eight or ten pounds. I didn’t really mind too much at first. I was okay. I just started to go to the gym a little more often and I paid more attention to what I was eating. It’s difficult in the dining hall because you don’t exactly know what you’re getting on your plate. Around October, I noticed one of my roommates acting strange. I noticed classic symptoms of Anorexia in her. I saw myself. She was dropping weight like crazy, sleeping way too often, spending hours at the gym and becoming very secluded. It took me two times of addressing the situation to her to get her to fess up.
Meanwhile, I retreated back into my old bad habits, turning to Anorexia as a crutch when I was stressed out about school, friends, or relationships. In just about a month I dropped over ten pounds. I lost all the weight I gained when I arrived, and then some. I was becoming happier with my body, but worse about my soul. I knew that what I was doing was wrong, but I couldn’t stop it. I was afraid to lose it. I had just started talking to a guy that I seriously liked and he liked me and I wanted to be lovely.
During this year I also stopped practicing Wicca. I still considered it my religion, but I was not as active as I could have been. I would pray once in a while to try and figure out my life, but it was difficult to keep focused on it. A few days ago, things changed again.
I opened up to one of my friends about my eating disorder. She then told me that she had similar problems, only on the Bulimia side. She had been in and out of treatment and offered to help me any way she could. I told her that I didn’t want help right now. And I lost two more pounds the next day. Losing weight made me feel secure, but it also scared me. I felt a bit out of control when the number kept dropping lower, lower. I was starting to get very worried and unhappy. I would go on drinking binges because I knew that it would make me weight less in the morning. (FYI – NOT a reason to have a drink, especially if you’re underage. I do NOT condone drinking to excess.) I had become reckless. I was scared. I had a breakdown in the shower after going to the gym one day and asked myself – when will I be happy? When will I become complete again? I thought it was about the number, but there was another voice in my head telling me that there was something more out there for me. I had to learn that I was more than my eating disorder.
Somewhere along the way, I tried to eat a little more. Mostly it was to appease everyone else who was worried: my friends, my sister, and somewhere deep in me, myself. Then my second roommate found a great website with a ton of yoga and some meditation. I had completely stopped doing yoga and meditating and I needed that. So I decided to try again and be serious about it. I also pulled out my good ‘ol Dianne Sylvan book again. I wanted to get back to the girl I used to be. I was happiest when I was greeting Divinity each morning and saying goodnight before bed. I was happiest when I could sit outside for hours just staring at the trees and feeling the Earth breathe beneath me. I was happiest when I could fully be myself, in my own skin. Every time a Sabbat comes around, I remember how this religion is Me. Because I always miss celebrating one to the fullest extent that I can because of the completeness that celebration always brings to me.
The beauty of Wicca is seeing the beauty in everything and feeling the magic pulse within yourself and all around you. If I’m not living, I can’t feel that. If I’m not being alive to the greatest extent that I can, there is no point. We are all a part of the Divine. The Divine is not ugly, or fat, or useless. And through learning this, I have to learn to respect myself.
If you’re struggling in any of the same ways that I did – I am feeling your pain. It is a meal-to-meal struggle. And that’s sad because food is one of the most magical pieces of art in the entire world. But it is possible to survive, and spirituality can help. It is not the only tool; you have to want to get better. I was not sure that I wanted to get better, and then I realized that not only did I want to – I needed to. In order to feel the beauty of the world around us, we have to be alive. I’m used to being completely dead inside because of this disease and for the last few days I’ve felt alive. Not completely – but much more than I have in a while.
Recovery is one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. And now I’m doing it for the second time. It is damn scary and I’m afraid for every day. Yet I continue to try. Some days are worse than others, but I still keep on, and I hope to continue to keep on until I have a healthy relationship with food again.
Do something scary and live. Because I firmly believe that it is worth it. Especially as Pagans, we have the ability to see the world in a way that not everyone can. We have different ways of appreciating the unbelievable qualities all around us. So appreciate it, and live. It’s what I’m trying to do.