Magick and Mental Health

This time was serious. I’d been hauled into Top’s office first thing in the morning, and my Staff Sergeant’s face looked thunderous. My Master Sergeant, Top, was furious of course. But also, oddly, concerned.

“Why are you always so angry? Do you even know?” Top loomed over me.  He was Nordic – tall and pale, with eyes as blue as the winter sky.

I shook my head. At nineteen, I had no idea what was happening inside my mind.

“It’s your choice, Grastorf.  Get help or I’m calling admin.” He sighed and sat back down, folded his arms and waited for my response.

Another fistfight. I didn’t even remember it clearly.  I was drunk at the time, of course.  Someone had grabbed my ass so I broke his jaw. My little weekend issues had been overlooked before, but this time someone ended up in the hospital. Maybe it was justified.  Who knows? But the white-hot rage that landed blow after blow that night was showing up more and more often. This most recent explosion was just a new low on a long slide of wall-punching, yelling, and other anger-fueled behavior. Top was right. I needed help.  

“Fine. How do I get help?”

For me, the Anger Management course that my Master Sergeant sent me to was the start of a lifetime of therapy and Shadow Work, a fascination with how the mind functions, and with the intersection of magick and mental health. I was lucky – an older, wiser person realized that something was wrong and gave me a choice. I owe Top to this day for choosing to send me to therapy rather than to the brig. That choice may very well have saved my life. My experiences in therapy, counseling, and self-exploration influence my witchcraft. Likewise, my witchcraft influences what I bring to therapy and how effective my self-work is.

As above, so below. As within, so without. United Statesian culture loves to put things in boxes and categories – it makes complex ideas easier to understand. However, it’s important to remember that humans are messy conglomerations that do not fit neatly into boxes. Our physical bodies, energetic bodies, and spiritual bodies all exist in the same space of Self.  They impact each other, and what affects one affects all.

The pandemic saw a record number of people seek out therapy for the first time, or the first time after a long time away. Many of us are on a relatively new journey through the Self and I thought it might be useful to talk about ways magick and mental health care can strengthen each other. I can only speak for my own journey through mental illness and magick – everyone’s path is different – as always, feel free to take or leave the ideas here as suits your own path.

The Elements

Super-awesome rings not included, unfortunately

My own practice is deeply informed by the primal elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit. Some practices include more (Metal or Wood) or fewer. Whatever your specific Elemental correspondences, remember that these are valences – directional energies that can push or pull. When we notice or explore an area of imbalance, working with the Element associated with the kind of thought or emotional patterns we’re trying to develop can be incredibly helpful.

Earth grounds us. It is the most stable of the Elements and can support work that’s focused around managing anxiety, smoothing mania, and slowing down racing thoughts. Earth’s Shadow traits are resistance, inflexibility, stagnation, and staying stuck in the same harmful patterns.

Air brightens us. It is the most nimble of the Elements and can support work around transformation, accessing creativity, communication, and openness to new ideas. It can get us moving when we’re stuck.  Air’s Shadow traits include anxiety, flightiness, and mania.

Fire enlivens us. It is the brightest and hottest of the Elements and can support work focused on passion, drive, willpower, boundary-setting, sexuality, and self-worth. Fire’s Shadow traits are rage, destruction (of self or others), and mania.

Water connects us. It is the most fluid of the Elements and can support work focused on connection, intimacy, friendship, and trust. Water’s Shadow traits are depression, overreaction, codependency, self-sacrifice, and loneliness.

Spirit uplifts us. It is the transcendent Element and can support work focused on purpose, higher calling, and divine guidance.  Spirit’s Shadow traits are instability, hopelessness, isolation, and egocentrism.

To use the Elements to support your work in therapy, consider which Elemental sphere they fall into. Begin to bring more of that Element into your life. You can redecorate your altar with colors and symbols associated with that Element. You can wear colors and jewelry that correspond to it.  You can do journeywork to visit that Elemental realm and ask for the aid of the beings that dwell there.



One of the things I love the most about the Tarot is how nuanced and specific it can be. There are cards that capture mental states so well. For me, the 9 of Swords is an accurate representation of anxiety.  Likewise, there are wonderful cards for more harmonious mental states; the 10 of Cups is a beautiful representation of happiness and harmony.

When we are working with a particular pattern or behavior in therapy, we can support that work by building a tarot spell around it.  To do so, identify and pull out the card that most represents the pattern you’re trying to change.  Then, select a card that represents the desired end result – what you are trying to change that pattern into.

Place the two cards on your altar, the card for the current pattern on top of the card for the desired result. Every day, sit with the two cards.  Think about the techniques you’re using to move from one card to the other.  Use this time as an opportunity for journaling and reflection. After each session, when you put the cards back down, slide the bottom card out a little bit more. Eventually the two cards will sit next to each other. As you continue to work, place the card for the desired end result on top, slowly eclipsing the pattern you are transforming.


Deities and Sacred Stories

The myth cycles of our various paths contain a wealth of human experience. Our gods love, hate, go to war, grieve, give up, find their strength, manifest their wills, and explore almost every other facet of what it means to live as a sentient, feeling being in this world. Cultivating a relationship with a deity that has gone through similar experiences to your own can be a powerful support of the work you’re doing in therapy.

Even if you’re not particularly theistic, reading the sacred stories and myths of deities whose paths are similar to your own can be powerfully nurturing.  Freyja’s grief over losing Odr caused Her to wander the world, shedding tears of amber wherever she passed. I have known grief that felt like I could drown the world in my tears. Knowing that a deity in the pantheon I serve has known the same pain and has integrated it into Her larger story is deeply reassuring for me. It tells me that my own grief is part of me, part of my story, but it is not the whole picture.  I can cry an ocean and still be a strong, determined, focused person.

Likewise, choosing to connect with or read about deities who embody the kind of energy we wish to move toward can be extremely helpful.  The deities of hearth and home can help us connect with our families.  Deities of valor and strength can help us find our voices and enforce our boundaries. Deities of wisdom and good judgment can help us find clarity and focus in our lives.


These are just a few of the ways I support my own work in therapy with my magickal and spiritual practices.  There are so many more possibilities out there.  Are you working at the intersection, too?  What’s been helpful for you? Hit me up in the comments. You never know when your idea will be the key another person was looking for.







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