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Witchcraft, mental health, and relationships: Some...

Witchcraft, mental health, and relationships: Sometimes love is not enough.

the house of twigs mental health catherine winther psych witch

-Week Three

I’m a new witch and new to witchcraft. I find all the study and meditation really helps my depression and art. It makes me more focused and less edgy. My friend that got me into being a witch tells me I seem more me. But my boyfriend doesn’t like it. He always mocks me about my ‘Sabrina phase’. We have been together for 2yrs and everything else is good. I love him and don’t want to leave but I’m not sure how long I can do this (with him*.)

Hannah, 19, USA.

(*Clarified with Hannah before print.)

Dear Hannah,

Welcome to the path, sister! Thank you for writing in and sharing your situation with us. It sounds like it has been quite an intense and confusing time for you lately with lots of ups and downs.

It’s wonderful to hear that witchcraft has helped with your mental health and creativity. I also live with depression and I know just how vital every little bit of help is. It’s not surprising that witchcraft and the practices contained therein have helped you, there are numerous reports of witchcraft helping with peoples’ mental health. I know the craft has aided many of my clients, and of course myself in the same way.

You sound very blessed to have such a supportive friend to share this journey with. It’s important to have understanding loved ones at your side as you walk this path. Studying and practicing witchcraft can be very challenging so it’s important to have people to confide in and lean on. Hopefully your friend will continue to walk beside you, helping you through any difficulties and celebrating your successes.

I am very sorry to hear that your partner is unsupportive and disrespectful of you and your new path. I understand that you are in love with him and wish to stay with him and ultimately, the choice is yours, but his mockery is a worrying red flag.

No matter what new interest or path you take up in life, your partner should support you or at the very least, withhold from criticizing you. Being able to rely on your partner’s support becomes even more important when said interest helps with your mental health. It is nearly impossible to heal mental illness when you are isolated and unsupported. However, your partner is going beyond criticism into mockery.

Mockery is a dangerous red flag in any relationship.

Mockery is a form of emotional and verbal abuse.

Mockery is a tool of oppression.

A healthy relationship will have a zero tolerance for mockery (outside of the very few comedic circumstances where mockery is interpreted as funny by both parties: the person doing the mocking and the person being mocked.)

Contempt and mockery will poison a relationship. Mockery is often a defense mechanism and it’s used to control the other person and keep them down. Mockery denotes fear and a clear lack of respect. In some cases it can also indicate resentment.

My question to you is: why would your partner be afraid of your witchcraft? If your witchcraft is helping you become stronger, happier, and more creatively productive—why would your partner fear this? Is he afraid of you changing? Is he afraid of losing you? Or, is he afraid of losing control of you? Perhaps his mockery is a one off lapse of judgement, or maybe it is a sign of a unhealthy dynamic in your relationship. I would encourage you to think about and examine these questions closely and perhaps even see a relationship counselor to work through them.

Becoming a witch means coming into your own power. This change in your personal power may be impacting and changing the dynamics of your relationship and thus, may be bringing other issues to light. Does he have a vested interest in you staying depressed? He may not even be aware of this dynamic playing out. Either way, it is incredibly unhealthy and needs to be addressed if you are going to have an ongoing, healthy relationship with him.

These are complex and painful issues we are discussing, the fact that you are in love with him makes it doubly painful and confusing. As such, for your own sake, I would suggest setting some time aside to write out how you feel about this situation, witchcraft, your mental health, and your partner. Don’t rush. Take your time. Talk to trusted friends. This is a delicate issue, be gentle on yourself as you do this emotional work. Once you have put your emotions and thoughts down on the page, read over them and then plan what you want to say to your partner about his mockery.

Confrontation is scary. No one enjoys it. But it is absolutely vital that you confront this issue with your partner for your own mental health.

Set some time aside to talk to your partner. Some people like to have these discussions on ‘neutral ground’, that is, in a place that is neither his place or yours. An example of ‘neutral ground’ may be a park, a café, a mall etc. Neutral ground ensures you are both at the same level of comfort while you talk. When you talk to him, make sure to express how his mockery is making you feel as well as how important witchcraft is to you. Then, explore why he feels the need to mock. Ask why he feels the need to do it. Maybe he is unaware of doing it or why he does it. Or, maybe there is another reason for his need to mock you. While it is important that you listen to what he has to say, there is no reason or explanation that he can offer that excuses his behavior. Mockery is not acceptable.

When you love someone it can be very easy to believe their promises, especially if they come packaged with loving and seductive words that you’ve always wanted to hear. Love is wonderful but it can also blind. A good way to have some objectivity is to take note of whether he apologizes to you and whether his behavior backs up his apology. There is a lot of truth in the saying ‘believe peoples actions not their words’, particularly if you’re feeling confused.

It is not extreme or unwarranted to expect a basic level of respect in any relationship. If he is able to work through this with you, fantastic. If he can’t, if he is determined to mock you then my advice is to either get couples counseling or leave. Because whether it is witchcraft or something else that takes your interest or inspires your passion, he could very well mock that, too. That is a very toxic ‘what if’ to live with.

Love will never be enough to counter the corrosiveness of contempt, mockery, and resentment in any relationship.

This is where self-care becomes difficult—when you have to make decisions that hurt in order to keep yourself safe and healthy in the long run. You have found a new interest that improves your mental health and your art and therefore, overall, your quality of life. This has to be your priority. If your partner cannot offer you a love without mockery then you might have to reassess if this is the right relationship for you.

Your mental health has to come first and in turn, so does anything that helps you manage your mental health. It is absolutely your most basic right to explore the world and take up interest or passions that fill you with joy without being mocked. If he is going to mock something so obviously good for you at this stage of your life, then I would suggest that he is not the man for you. He doesn’t need to respect or engage with your witchcraft but he does need to respect you. When he is mocking you he is shaming and disrespecting you.

I understand that this must be very hard to hear especially as you love him and share a history together. But no relationship is worth risking your mental health for. Life is far too short to spend around people who don’t respect you. This world is full of so much wonder and beauty, no one should be made fun of for wanting to explore all that life has to offer, or wanting to share that with their partner.

You’ve been incredibly brave in sharing your story. You are also incredibly brave for living with depression and fighting to find ways to manage your mental health. You are stronger and wiser than you give yourself credit for. You are a warrior. No matter what you decide to do, you will survive and go on to thrive. All you have to do is be honest with yourself, communicate, and make the decisions that will serve you and your interests best. You have been called to the path. You are loved. Always. Be strong. You are a witch now.

Love and blessings,

Cat.

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Dr. Catherine ‘West’ Winther is a retired psychologist and passionate LGBTQIA feminist who comes from a long family line of of creatrixes, witches, and wolves. Through her online coven at WeaverTarot.com she offers readings, spell-craft, curios, and counseling. Her passion is holding sacred shadow spaces and fostering alchemy through conversation. She aids healing and growth through encouraging big play, big magick, big nature, cackling, sensuality, and creativity. Freedom is our right and our responsibility. Let us slip these human skins and find our feral selves. Come roll and run through the dirt and the bones and the blood and howl at the ghosts under the Goddess Bone Moon as we listen for the star-songs. Let us remember what and why we are here, and most importantly let us remember how and why and what we love so we can bring that passion back to the everyday and reclaim our magickal birthright as witches. Get dirty. Get wild. Get horny. Get magick. Get witch.
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Dr. Catherine ‘West’ Winther is a retired psychologist and passionate LGBTQIA feminist who comes from a long family line of of creatrixes, witches, and wolves. Through her online coven at WeaverTarot.com she offers readings, spell-craft, curios, and counseling. Her passion is holding sacred shadow spaces and fostering alchemy through conversation. She aids healing and growth through encouraging big play, big magick, big nature, cackling, sensuality, and creativity. Freedom is our right and our responsibility. Let us slip these human skins and find our feral selves. Come roll and run through the dirt and the bones and the blood and howl at the ghosts under the Goddess Bone Moon as we listen for the star-songs. Let us remember what and why we are here, and most importantly let us remember how and why and what we love so we can bring that passion back to the everyday and reclaim our magickal birthright as witches. Get dirty. Get wild. Get horny. Get magick. Get witch.

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