10 Ways to Heal (and deal with) a Broken Heart

Right Relationship

D

ear Miracles:

Being brokenhearted sucks.

Even with a broken heart, most of us know intuitively that we are better off, we’ll learn a powerful lesson, and we’ll know better next time. But in the deep night when our chest feels like it has a huge, gaping wound and our guts are tied in knots–all of that knowledge is a sorry source of comfort. Much of my work deals with love and romance and I have seen my share of broken hearts personally and professionally.

One of the worst things about being brokenhearted is feeling like there is NOTHING you can do to help yourself. But there is!

I offer you a hand-picked list of ten ideas to help light your way through that darkness:

 

1.) Sit with it and feel it.

Breneé Brown has two terrific TED talks on vulnerability and shame. Go listen to them. I’ll wait. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make and I’ve made it myself is to run away from feelings and thoughts that are not pleasant; feelings that might be a little scary or even a lot painful. Don’t run. Heartbreak will only follow you. Before you heal, you’ve got to deal.

 

2.) Stop the blame train.

If I hadn’t done that; if he had said this.” On a superficial level, does it matter who has the lion’s share of blame? Maybe.

On a soul level, does it matter?  No.

If you start hopping on the blame train try rephrasing it this way, “The next time I am going to focus more on,__________” or, “Right now I want to feel_________.” These are petitions that can actually help you.

 

3.) You are not an island.

Heartbreak is an underworld adventure for your soul.  In our times of heartbreak it may look on the surface like everything is fine while inside we feel dead like a zombie, checked out, departed, and alone. Your journey is yours but you are not an island. Our lives are constantly touching and rubbing against each other. Call on your friends and family for support.  Do not make every conversation with them an opportunity to figure out what went wrong or slam your ex.  They have lives, too.  Ask about them and what they’re dealing with.

 

4.) Invest in kindness to yourself and others.

Book a massage, get a heart-healing anointing oil, volunteer at a soup kitchen, help a kid learn to read. Heartbreak rides on the fear that you have nothing left to give. Oh yes, you do.

 

5.) Embrace Beauty

Read good poetry and/or make a space for something beautiful. Fresh flowers, the art museum, your local Waldorf School’s Gift shop. Beauty heals.

 

6.) Get pissed.

Feeling wronged? Swallowing anger makes us sick. Wallowing in anger is the basis for many Greek tragedies. The trick is to focus your anger. Make it a ritual.

Think: prescribed time, place, opening and closing and then create an activity to help you purge. Burning all your pictures of him, kick-boxing a bag with her face on it, putting an entire garden bed in, just letting yourself yell for half an hour. Let it out so you can let it go.

 

7.) Admit that it is not all OK

Understand that everything will not be all right for awhile. This is not a failing. This means that you are a living, thinking, breathing creature who gives a damn. Never feel bad for giving a damn.

 

8.) Revenge = no bueno.

Revenge is motivated by a desire for justice and fairness. The problem is that revenge also blocks out justice and fairness. You are better than that. Do something crafty, like making a salt jar instead.

 

9.) Treat it like trauma (because it is).

If you had a head injury you would be careful with yourself.  You would learn about what might heal and help you.  You would not expect too much too soon.  Heartbreak is a trauma. Treat it as such.  Learn about healing emotional trauma and also about spiritual cleansing.

 

10.) Accept help.

One time I went hunting with my uncle. It was right after Christmas, about 4:00 in the morning, very dark and very cold. My uncle does not hunt from a blind. He picks a spot and beds down with his dogs. As anyone who has seriously hunted for meat knows, most of hunting is waiting and watching. I saw lots of things in that cold, dark morning. Some were real and some were imagined.

This terrain is similar to what we travel when we experience heartbreak. Dark, a bit alien, unfamiliar but presences make themselves known to us sometimes because we are open in a unique way. Pay attention to what appears. If you need assistance in thinking about that contact a spiritual worker.

Heartbreak is hard, but in a broken heart there is room…for grace.

 

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magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Of Bones and Blessings, Cursings and Curings and Walking in Between

Lineage and Legacy

D

ear Miracles: On this day when the veils are especially thin I am thinking of the old saying that in order to know how to heal you must also know how to hex or in order to cure you must be able to curse. Or how about this one from a 14th century Scottish man referring to a local cunning woman:

 

“She was either a witch or a woman of God.”

Indeed.

Any way you slice it, the line between benevolent and baneful magics is ever present and thin — but on days like today it is especially so.

I remember reading in Brian Froud and Alan Lee’s Book Faeries about the Scottish tradition of the Seelie and Unseelie Court — the belief that the Unseelie court of faerie ruled the dark part of the year from Samhain until Midwinter.

The Unseelie court was believed to be composed of the more mischief-making or in some cases downright harmful and deadly faerie creatures. In honor (and fear) of their reign, farmers would leave untouched any crop that had not been harvested by the evening of October 31st-it was considered forfeit — an offering for the faeries and not fit for human consumption.

This is just one of a plethora of traditions found around the world that recognizes the change in power and energy as the life/death/life cycle circles around and around spiraling into the heavens and down into the dark earth. It is those apparently opposing forces that are also at play with the curing and cursing dynamic.

Curing and Killing in Plant Medicine and Magic

01ec8988171811e3bd0922000a1f9039_7As a student of Ancient Greek, among other things, the issue of cursing and curing comes out of language — as is well known in entheogenic circles, the Greek word for poison is the same word for medicine (pharmakon) — where, etymologists may be able to see, we get current words like “pharmacy.”

Many of our natural poisons have incredibly potent healing properties. Consider the digitalis derived from Purple Foxglove (Digitalis Purpurea) that can stop a heart or assist in curing congestive heart failure, the highly toxic Black Henbane (Hyosyamus Niger) that traditionally has worked with to induce visionary trance and the sensation of flying but also as a topical analgesic to relieve pain and swollen joints.

Monkshood (Aconitum) is deadly in the right dose but has been used medicinally for thousands of years, and Belladonna (Atropa Belladonna) is the source for the drug Atropine.

Perhaps most famously, snake antivenins are usually composed from the original venom itself.

Knowledge of the Poison Path (as Dale Pendell terms it) is sought out for many reasons — people want to understand these plants and poisons that have held such allure through time and history, people want to experience hallucinations or get high for recreational reasons, devotees wish to engage in ritual usages –some of which are millenia old, but as Aldous Huxley famously wrote when high on Mescaline, derived from yet another potent plant — Peyote (Lophophora Williamsii), the doors of perception are opened.

The Poison Path is a rich place to begin any consideration of the relationship between curing and cursing because our first and truest teacher — Nature — often combines these elements in the same being. A little too much of that and you are sick or dying, but just the right amount and you can be saved, pain-free, wholesome.

What I have learned in my own practice is that these poisons/medicines have the ability not only to cure or kill, they can pierce through our current perceptions and reveal new possibilities that were hidden behind a veil of illusion.

The idea of being pierced is as old as cupid and even older, I feel it finds one of its most beautiful expressions in the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ In Catholic and folk-Catholic-magic traditions the sacred and pierced heart is a requisite for curing or cursing — I believe that in magic period a pierced heart is a requisite because the pierced and sacred heart represents a heart that has been cut, punctured, wounded in some way and yet is still vital, still beating, still blessing, sacral, and sacred.

This sacred heart — often depicted as wrapped in the crown of thorns worn by Christ during the Passion, is pierced by the suffering of humanity as well as the sufferings, large and small, that we all experience in our daily lives. As the heart is punctured so too our sense of safety and security, as the heart is punctured so too our sense of isolation that is questioned, as the heart is punctured so too our moments of selfishness illuminated and called out for what they really are. The pierced heart is experienced by the one who sees beyond the veil — through life experience, through innate wisdom, through plant magic, and most essentially through ineffable mystery.

It is a theme we see in baneful magic again and again — the piercing and puncturing of a heart to wound, curse, or in some cases sting into regret and recognition, and yet having a pierced heart is absolutely emphasized in healing and love work as well.

For me, the iconography of the pierced heart has always spoken not only to the relationship between cursing and curing — but also to the relationship between life and death. And what better time or season to celebrate the way that those two forces dance with each other?

Living in the Southwest where the harvest cycles definitely do not follow that of the Celtic year, I know our own land wights and spirits are on a slightly different calendar, but we have our own versions of the life/death energies — and one of the most popular dualities right now if that of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe: Our Lady of Guadalupe & her skull sister Santisima (or in some areas Santa) Muerte-Most Holy Death or Our Lady Most Holy Death.

Our Lady of Guadalupe and Santisima Muerte

10546008924_86b22e825c_zThese two are actually sister figures — both based on ancient Nahuatl Goddesses. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Catholicized incarnation of Tonantzin while Santisima Muerte is a Catholic-folk and increasingly so-called “narco” saint based on the Lady of Death, Mictecacihuatl. In Nahuatl-Aztec culture Tonantzin was an earth and fertility Goddess, bringing life giving rains to the hills, valley, and canyons, and bestowing life giving properties on the land and the people. To include our sacred plant theme, some believe that Tonantzin is specifically affiliated with the Agave plant and its various ritual and ecstatic uses. Like the Summerian Inanna and her skull sister Ereshkigal — Tonantzin had a relationship with her own shadow sister, Mictecacihuatl, the Lady of Death. In Meso-American culture death was highly esteemed because the ancestors were seen to be guiding forces of both wisdom and prophecy. Therefore the Lord and Lady of Death had to be propitiated whenever someone passed beyond the veil so that they would accept their soul and as it were, make a home for them. Mictecacihuatl possesses the guise of Santisima Muerte — who has interestingly become increasingly allied with those involved in the illegal drug and arms trades in Mexico and the US-Mexican border — but she is also known throughout the Southwest simply as La Huesera –– the bone woman — and is venerated as such, the Mother of death who sings life into the bones so that the cycle may spiral out yet again.

I am always interested in ideas that are apparent opposites but underneath share a solid unity with one another. In the case of hexing and healing or cursing and curing I believe that this foundation is strongly present and the folk magician should at the very least understand the relationship — perhaps as the winds blow from the otherworld into our own they will carry a bit of wisdom with them to aid us in our efforts.

May you all have a beautiful Halloween, Blessed Samhain, and delightful Dia de los Muertos!

A version of this article was printed in Amulet Magazine’s Fall 2013 issue.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.