Being of strong will and resolute faith, we witches are confident of our ability to wreak havoc with ill-directed anger. Indeed, so sure are we of this that much time is spent debating the topic of karmic return and the dangers involved in setting upon such a path of magical will, be it for the purpose of getting even or in righteous battle with the forces of injustice. I will presently return to these weighty issues, but another question often arises concerning the fear of getting in touch with our anger because of the wish to avoid karmic penalty. When our anger so naturally leads to fantasizing the casting down of our enemies, how do we deal with those angry feelings when we don't want consequences such as causing injury? On many occasions, I have felt the need to suggest a course of magical action, often not considered: that of creating the sacred space necessary for the emotionally healthy contact with our feelings without fear of dire results.
"But isn't anger in-and-of-itself bad?" I have been asked. I believe there is a vast difference between feeling our anger and intentionally or unintentionally acting upon that feeling. Anger should be seen as any other emotions, simply a messenger from one part of our awareness to another, letting our whole self know how we are reacting to what is going on, either outside or inside of us. In-and-of-itself, the message is neutral, simply information. Anyone with a neurological bent may attempt to explain emotions on the basis of hormones or brain neurotransmitters, all messengers. The emotion "anger," or its more extreme forms of rage or hatred, lets us know "something" is triggering that particularly upsetting emotion we associate with "bad" or "undesirable" occurrences.
What that "something" is raises other questions. Is someone causing you harm in the present? Is something triggering a distant memory of a childhood or past-life abuse? Are you tired and grouchy from recent traumas and literally anything will trigger anger? Examine this emotional message and evaluate its present significance. Then decide what to do about it, and determine what possible consequences you may face based on your actions. But please don't "kill the messenger"; we need all of our emotions - that's what they are there for! Besides, repressed anger, like any repressed emotion, will continue its "mission" of getting through to you, and will simmer behind the barriers you raise against it, causing all types of problems, - ulcers and high blood pressure on the physical level, who-knows-what on the psychic level. Let anger through, hear it out and dispense with it.
"But anger is so uncomfortable," you may say. I believe that what makes anger seem so uncomfortable is the other emotional baggage that comes with it, because of our mistaken interpretations of what anger is. If we believe anger is bad in-and-of-itself, we always get a messy mixture of anger, guilt, anxiety, depression, and hopelessness to deal with. No wonder we feel uncomfortable! Also, repressed anger, not dealt with and not acknowledged completely, festers in a most distasteful fashion. Anger alone, freshly felt, is not that uncomfortable, and can often be experienced as an exhilarating thrust to action. I leave to you the analysis of how societal elements, like patriarchy, contribute to the firm belief that anger, as in the anger of the victim, is bad.
Which brings us back to the issue of how we decide what course of action to take based on an experience of anger. This is, of course, an enormously complex topic and I will simply say here that the witch's axiom of "threefold return" for actions is a good rule-of-thumb. If I seek vengeance, will I accept the threefold harm to me that will come of it? If I place a binding spell to prevent someone from doing further harm, will I accept possible restrictions on my own freedom? If I attempt to heal someone of any influences that may be contributing to their seemingly irrational destructive campaign, knowing they may refuse such assistance, I may gladly accept any healing return to myself, but will I really believe I am dealing constructively with my anger? And what of the belief that any "truly righteous" bringing down of doers of injustice has no ill karmic return for me, that I am just in providing "their" threefold return for their actions? This is a difficult issue. I don't want to deliberately set myself up as an agent of karmic justice; let the Goddess use me for that if she wants to; but I fear I will get myself into a vicious cycle of negative karmic return, as has happened so often in many "holy wars" when each side believes the deity is on its side. Rather, let me assume that there will be consequence to my actions.
Putting time-honored principles of bringing our will into being, any witches worth their salt will be able to protect their fantasies from "spilling over" and injuring the persons at whom their anger is presently directed. Using the analogy of the classic "voodoo doll," or Poppet Magic, you can reverse the original intent - from harming another to the protection of someone from your anger - for the purposes of allowing free, unconcerned rein of your feelings. Whatever particular tradition you follow, you can take the necessary steps, for instance, instructing the Watch Towers, to contain, to redirect, or to convert your anger to other destinations. You can even use a poppet, with any personalizing contributions you may want to give it related to the object of your anger, as the focus of your concentration, with the inclusion of a protection spell for the person it represents. I have often been surprised at the relief people express at finding a way out of what had seemed like an impossible situation.
I hope that some of you may find these consideration to be of use. In particular, I again want to stress the importance of reclaiming all of our emotions, even the messengers of bad tidings, as parts of ourselves, as gifts of the Goddess, to help us get in touch with everything around and inside of us, and to recognize more fully that we are, through and through Goddesses ourselves.
Skyleaf was a member of a coven I was in from 1984-1988 - at which time I moved to a different town. On his web site he discusses how he interrelates his chosen spiritual path and psychiatry.
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