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  • Casey Giovinco

Swing The Balance

Most of us today are constantly bombarded by information that is meant to throw us off our game in one way or another. It often feels like modern life has us all in a deadly struggle to maintain our sanity. Some people wake up and immediately put on The Morning News. Others turn to social media before they even get out of bed. Then there's the pressure to be perfect. That's not just about being productive, either. It often feels like you have to be the best or you might get replaced by someone who did it better. This pressure applies equally to our performance at work as it does to our body image struggles, and don't even get me started on politics! Society just seems hellbent on throwing us off balance at every turn.

This leads many of us into the unfortunate habit of "catastrophizing" and "awfulizing" on what seems to be a rather routine schedule. (By the way, those two terrible verbs were coined by Dr. Albert Ellis, who developed Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), which is a form of Cognitive Behavior Therapy.) Unfortunately, it isn't until someone begins to look objectively at his own life that the patterns and the damage wrought by his catastrophizing and awfulizing become apparent to him.

Now, that objectivity can be achieved in a few ways. For some, it comes from a major life tragedy, like, for example, when an alcoholic hits rock bottom and makes the decision to get sober. For others, it's a conscious mundane choice to seek therapy with a qualified mental health professional. Still others find it through their formal education. (As a philosophy student in school, that level of objectivity was drilled into me!) For us, as witches though, this truth is often revealed to us when we first step foot on our magical paths.

Part of my job as a mentor of other witches is to help seekers find their way through society's maze of confusion with all its stressors and frustrations. This often begins with helping them bring back some balance into their lives.



Laughter Is The Best Medicine

We've all heard the old adage that "laughter is the best medicine." This isn't just true when it comes to physical bodily health. Laughter is actually quite purifying for the soul as well as the body. In fact, there is even an old witchcraft saying that claims that the best way to break a curse is to laugh at it.

Personally, I've always found this to be true. It's remarkably useful advice when someone else sends negativity your way magically, but what's interesting is that this wisdom doesn't just apply to magical attacks. It also holds true for the events in life that can feel like curses. Traffic on our way to or from work, arguments with loved ones, even the minor mistakes we make in our lives that endlessly frustrate us–they all can be made better with a little bit of humor.

Unfortunately, sometimes these daily stressors can be so overwhelming that it becomes damn near impossible for us to let go of our frustrations and face our problems with humor. Loretta LaRoche is a stress-management consultant who advocates humor, optimism, and resiliency as coping mechanisms. She is also the best-selling author of Life Is Short: Wear Your Party Pants, and she says: "The only way to de-stress and use humor is to move away from yourself, to become the witness to your own behavior … Think about what you're thinking about." Here is a video of a TedX Talk that she gave back in 2016:



Balance On The Crooked Path

When I began training this round of students back in June, we zeroed in on the Tenet of Leading a Balanced Life pretty quickly. For the record, this process is not unique to this set of students. The Tenet of Leading a Balanced Life immediately makes itself known to most witches who set out on their magical paths. Whenever someone approaches Witchcraft as a spiritual practice, he is generally led by circumstances to rebalance his life in some way.

Though it's almost guaranteed that a new witch will face this Tenet head on, there is no predicting how he will encounter it. For some, it is finding a work-life balance. For others, it involves being more dedicated to one aspect of their lives over another. (For example, spending more time on getting the education they need to advance their goals or simply going to the spa for a day of self-care.) Still for more people, it's often about finding where they are overburdened in their schedules and finding ways to simplify their lives.

Regardless of how this Tenet shows up in a new witch's life though, the ultimate goal is always the same. It's all about achieving and then maintaining a pleasant state of mind. Admittedly, that is easier said than done.

Fortunately, there are some general suggestions that will help you navigate this Tenet when it shows up in your own life.

  1. It helps to remember that we are all connected. You are in a relationship with everyone AND EVERYTHING. In The Complete Art of Witchcraft, Sybil tells us that "Nothing in nature is evil or ugly; these are simply man's interpretations of things, his opinions, not necessarily inherent in the things themselves." When we are upset by something, it helps to take a step back and remember this axiom. Keep your mental attitude positive and upbeat, especially regarding the things that bother you. To the best of your ability try to be loving and kind to everyone you meet, regardless of how you actually feel about them. However, if you can't do that, try to operate from a position of patient tolerance for the people and things you struggle to love. For the record, you aren't doing this for them. You're doing this for you. By releasing the negative emotions surrounding the other person or thing, you free yourself from their influence. When you manage this feat (and, to be fair, it is quite a feat even for the most advanced witches), you can finally operate under your own power, unencumbered by their influence.

  2. Put sex in its proper place. Witchcraft is not ascetic. It does not ask us to abandon our sexual desires. They are as natural as eating or sleeping. The physical body was designed to reproduce. For the record, this is true whether we are Gay or straight. While sex between two men or two women will not produce a physical baby, that's not to say that a Gay man who found himself in bed with a woman for one reason or another wouldn't produce a baby just the same as his straight counterpart. All that is necessary for a new body to be created is for the proper conditions to be met at the proper time. Now, that's NOT to say that the only purpose of sex is to procreate. Please do NOT hear me say that. What I am saying is that sex is simply a biological function of the physical body. It has its place in replicating more physical bodies, yes, but it is also useful in keeping the body healthy. It does this by regulating hormones and creating a more likely set of conditions for mental health. (This is actually one of the secrets of sacred sexuality.) Therefore, sex should be treated with reverence and respect. It makes no difference whether that sex is casual or in a committed relationship. Any time sex is had between two or more people it should be honored without shame, guilt, or any other form of negativity. In order to do that, sex cannot be used as a replacement for something else that is missing in your life. It must be approached appropriately on its own terms in its proper place.

When we struggle with these two suggestions, it is humor that swings the balance and brings us back to center. This is one of the reasons why I, as a mentor, focus so heavily on mirth throughout the process of training new witches. When we started in June, I made a point of posting what I called a "daily dose of mirth" for them in our private discord chat channel. Each morning, I would post a video or a meme, something that I found humor in myself, and I would share it with them. It wasn't long before each of them started to reciprocate by posting things that brought them joy for everyone else. Now, today, we will often wake up to a deluge of joy with videos, memes, even brief stories meant to help everyone else greet the new day with happiness. It's really quite beautiful!

As Loretta LaRoche says in the above video, we all need to stop taking ourselves so seriously. We need to embrace the humor in life and lighten up a little bit, just so we aren't crushed by the weight of our stress. She says, "Can you imagine what the world would be like if we lightened up? What if we lightened up? What if everyone of you realized you were the joke 'koo koo kachoo'? Imagine what fun we could have with people we met if we started listening to our dialogue instead of taking it so seriously. Because if you think the worst and get the worst, you suffer twice. If you think the best and get the worst, you only suffer once." By embracing this philosophy, we actually stand a much better chance of bringing our lives into balance and making our minds work for us instead of working against us.

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Casey Giovinco is a public witch, Chief Elder of Gala Witchcraft, and the CEO of Gala's federally-recognized church.

 

Casey has worked tirelessly to empower Gay male witches to reclaim their history and restore their rightful place as magical workers. 

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