I’d planned a great year. First, I would write my next book, Cord Magic. Then I’d take my husband Alex on a road trip to Yosemite National Park. It was the start of a new decade, the twenties, sure to inspire new ideas in art and music and culture. The road ahead seemed filled with happiness.
That happiness exploded when Alex was diagnosed with a rare disease. In a flash I acquired a new identity: caregiver. I had a lot to learn, fast. What would the rest of his life look like? What would he need from me? That meant I was already in crisis-coping mode when the pandemic hit and the world literally shut down. In a world where grocery shopping seemed life threatening I found myself piloting my husband through appointments with doctors and nurses who were as scared as we were.
As a Pagan magician I turn to magic to navigate through life. Magic has two primary powers: it changes the world, and it changes us. For the world I created an invocation, which I posted on my web page and YouTube channel. I prayed to Hygeia for the gift of health and Asclepius for protection for caregivers. From the day I posted that prayer I have chanted it every night. I name the people who have asked me to work for them, people who are struggling to regain their health, mothers protecting their families, and nurses and doctors on the pandemic front lines.
For Alex I unleashed a phalanx of magics. I chanted and visualized for him in my daily practice. I rallied family and friends and magical communities to send thoughts and energies to sustain him. As I wrote Cord Magic I paid special attention to ideas for twists to regain and preserve health.
These efforts turned the magic outwards to affect the world. As the year wore on I began to wear down. I try to be helpful, to stay positive and cheerful, but the grind of my personal calamity playing out against the backdrop of a global health crisis turned my world gray. Caregivers are often reminded to take care of ourselves as well. It was clear I needed to turn some of that magic to myself.
I needed something to spark grace in my life. There is an ancient wisdom that a moment of beauty shakes us awake. I realized that this is why hospitals have gardens. Gazing at a flower, breathing the fresh air, listening to a fall of water or a wind chime lifts us out of ourselves. Even an instant of awareness breaks the pattern of suffering and brings us relief. This is who we really are: conscious beings held in the living web of the green world.
So I made a happiness cord. I chose embroidery thread with the colors of springtime: yellow like daffodils, pink like cherry blossoms, light blue like the sky when the winter clouds have finally cleared away. I added faceted crystal beads reflecting those colors in tiny bright sparkles. While I twisted the cord I time-traveled back to that moment when I looked forward to the year with happy anticipation. When the cord was done I held it in my hand, and just for an instant the gray evaporated and I sat in a bubble of joy.
People tell me that they are too anxious to be able to speak in public. Even after all these years I still get nervous before a presentation! I’ve learned to manage that with a number of tricks and techniques from the training I’ve received and that I have learned from experience. It’s a truism among musicians that rehearsing calms nerves because familiarity with the material instills confidence. When I am working up a new presentation I rehearse it by myself, then present it to my family before taking it to an audience.
The old year has finally faded and it’s a new year again. Spring has brought the daffodils and cherry blossoms and budding leaves. In the outer world things are looking up. My vaccinated friends are hugging each other. My husband is getting treatment for his disease and his health is holding up. It’s not quite a happy ending; my life has changed along with everyone else’s, and I still carry a load of care. There are still gray moments where I need relief. I reach into my desk drawer to bring out the happiness cord and draw in a breath of joy.
Our thanks to Brandy for her guest post! For more from Brandy Williams, read her article “6 Reasons to Make Your Own Charms and Talismans.”