Managing the Miasma

Sometimes I still do dumb things with magic. 

I have many skills within the world of metaphysics at this point, but there’s one in particular that I’ve honed to a blade-sharp edge: divination. Part of why I’m able to make a decent living as a Tarot reader is simple: my predictions are usually accurate. When clients come back astonished about just how closely a prediction played out, I generally joke: “yeah, they’d have burned me at the stake with no hesitation.”

Which brings me to today’s dumb decision. One of the things good divinators learn over the years is that sometimes we’d really rather not know. But, I was considering this week’s blog post and thought I could use a little more information. I’m thinking about the year ahead of us, you see. Election years are generally culturally uncomfortable in the United States and it’s only been getting worse since a certain orange hate-spewing megalomaniac entered the political landscape. I’ve been thinking about the miasma: the feeling in the collective energy field, and how to manage it. 

So I asked my cards to tell me about the election cycle and its impact on our collective culture. 

It really is better not to know sometimes. I know that. And I still do dumb things with magic.

I’m looking at a reading with The Tower at its center, the crumbling of a structure that no longer works but whose collapse will be distressful nonetheless. I’m looking at a reading with cards that allow us to be our better selves, our more connected selves, blocked by cards for indecision, scarcity concerns, and fear. I’m looking at a reading with the Three of Swords applying its edges to physical health and vitality: grief, tragedy, loss. I’m looking at a reading that will send our material/financial world back to the drawing board for a lot of us. 

It’s gonna suck, y’all. Even if the orange tyrant loses his latest bid to be God-Emperor, the path to that outcome is gonna be rough

So let’s talk about how to manage it. The good thing about divination, even dark predictions, is that they give us a chance to get ready. Sometimes the very act of working around an upcoming challenge negates its impact. I don’t think we’re going to be lucky enough to completely magic our way out of election year side-effects, but we can definitely soften the edges. 

Which brings me back to the miasma. Humans are a community species – we are hardwired to pick up on the emotions of others. It allows us to connect and cooperate with each other. When our community was just the people we lived and worked near, this mimicking tendency was largely beneficial. However, our communities are vast now: they are the people we live and work near and everything modern media brings us into contact with. Our brains pick up on all the signals around us. And that’s just the part science tells us about. There’s also a more mystical layer: the collective unconscious/shedding energy of a group of humans interacting with each other is strong enough that it constitutes an additional force. I call it the miasma – an atmospheric influence that surrounds and permeates us. Think of it like some of the invisible gasses in our atmosphere: everpresent, invisible, impactful, and largely operating in a blind spot. 

In some time periods, the collective unconscious is beneficial: the times when we pull together as a community or a country in order to overcome an obstacle. In those moments, that vast cloud of energy fills with determination, hope, and courage. This is the energy structure that inspired victory gardens, that sent us to blood drives, that helps fuel rebuilding after a disaster. 

But right now? Right now the miasma is full of fear and fear-fueled hatred. It’s all around us, and based on this reading (and reasonable expectations for 2024), it’s going to get worse.  

So let’s talk about some workarounds. 

Filters

Just as a good air filter will remove allergens and even viruses from the air in a room, good magical filters clean the energy field around us. One effective approach to managing the miasma is to set up some concentric circles of filtering centered on the spaces where we spend the most time, and where we are most vulnerable. Most correspondences associated with protection will work as filters – they either turn back or neutralize malicious or discordant energy. Layers of metaphysical filtering can look like: 

  • A ward system for the land you live on. This is the entire yard around your home. Simpler techniques can include setting a barrier of railroad spikes or iron nails into the earth at various points, painting protective sigils on stones and “planting” them around the perimeter of the property, and building then burying protective witch bottles at the corners or points of the property boundary. 
  • A protection layer for your house or apartment. Think of this as two connected rings: the outside surfaces of the house and the indoor outermost walls, windows, and doors. Simpler techniques for the outside walls can include inscribing protective sigils and symbols in sacred water, tucking protective stones like tourmaline, obsidian, hematite or other dark-colored energy-neutralizing stones above door frames and into the corners of windowsills, and creating a shield. Pay special attention to doorways – these are naturally liminal spaces that benefit greatly from enchantment. Simpler techniques for the inside outermost walls can include thin sprinklings of black salt along window and door frames, tucking or taping purifying materials to the back of artwork hanging on those walls (small pieces of hematite or selenite, dried mugwort, cedar, or rosemary, etc), and hiding protective or purifying symbols in plain sight. 
  • A protection layer for the bedroom. When we sleep, we are at our most vulnerable. Our dream state sometimes transitions into a journey state – this is why many of us have prophetic dreams, ancestral visitations, and spirit contact while sleeping. I suspect this miasma is at fault for the current rash of nightmares cropping up amongst my magical brethren. My preferred method for protecting my sleeping space is to sprinkle black salt between the box frame and mattress of my bed and place tumbled citrine and small chunks of black tourmaline toward the head of the bed (either beneath the bed or between the mattress and box frame). You could also add a layer to the room itself – treat the doorway, and walls as an additional ring. 

Rejuvenation

It would be wonderful if we could manage the miasma just by doing enough protection magic. However, there’s a balance to be struck here: protection magic removes and neutralizes. We need to think about what we wish to increase as well. Our resilience to the messaging we’re exposed to, our response to the miasma when we’re outside of energetically filtered spaces, and our ability to safely navigate the ups and downs of the coming year all call for more than just pulling out the “bad stuff.” We need to put in some “good stuff” too. This can look like:

  • Magical foci anchored to long-term efforts. Think of these like generators that are powering the flow of harmonious energy in the home. Altars for health, joy, strength, and courage are good examples. Artwork acquired and enchanted to release beauty and happiness into the space around them can be wonderful. Cyclical or renewing spells for health and happiness for yourself/those you live with that release their influence regularly (these often work well as lunar cycle/solar cycle anchored spells).
  • Harmony supporting stones, herbs, sigils, and other correspondences. These can be tucked out of sight or be part of the overall decor (i.e. a bowl of tumbled stones on the coffee table). Rose quartz, citrine, carnelian, and tiger’s eye, fresh or dried lavender, chamomile, ginseng, and holy basil, and more. Remember the power of scent as well – simmer pots are popular in the witching world right now, and citrus scents of all kinds tend to be uplifting. 

Support

This is both magical and practical: what do you need in order to function at your best? I was recently talking to my therapist about how this December was more manageable on a grief front, and I realized that I’d spent a lot more time and energy on my self care. When we’re remembering to take care of ourselves, to tend our own wells of energy and health, to mindfully parent our bodies and energy, we can handle stress and unexpected bumps more easily. This can look like: 

  • Get professional support if you’ve been without it for a while. Does your insurance cover therapy? Start looking for and auditioning therapists now so you’ll have your mental health support in place when you really need it. 
  • Evaluate your lifestyle supports: I benefit from a few different dietary supplements that lower anxiety, support healthy sleep, and keep my digestive system regular. I also do better if I’m on my yoga mat at least 3 – 4 times per week. Notice if anything could use some tweaking/adjustment. 
  • Learn the difference between numbing and replenishing activities, and schedule replenishing activities and opportunities on your calendar. 
  • Consider what spiritual activities are present when you’re at your best and return to them. For me, that’s morning journey work and pranayama, but it’s different for everyone. 

Community

When all we see of humanity is its ugliness, it’s easy to decide that humans are ugly. We’ll have abundant examples of ugliness this year, so we need to make sure they’re balanced out with connection. If we only see the shadow, it’s easy to fall into nihilism, apathy, and hopelessness. Begin to cultivate a closer connection to the communities that align with your values and priorities. Consider starting a gathering if there isn’t one around you. This can look like mundane as well as magical groups: 

  • Game nights. There’s nothing quite like laughter and group problem-solving to feed the soul. 
  • Music. Do you sing or play an instrument? Look for opportunities to tap into your artistic ability with groups whose values align with your own. 
  • Art and Crafting. Seek out or create stitch-n-witch groups and crafting circles for those of like mind. 
  • Spell circles. Gather up your favorite local magical practitioners and set up a monthly spellcasting gathering. We get better at magic by performing it, and there’s always a good reason to cast a spell. 
  • Pagan groups. If your area includes some open Pagan organizations, check them out. Attend your local discussion circle, meet-up, or Pagan Potluck. 
  • Social and Political action. One way to keep the inner fire fed, and to feel a little less helpless in the face of the vitriol to come, is to be part of the solution. Join your local Black Lives Matter, Get Out the Vote, or other social or environmental justice group.

We have a little time to get our magic in order for the year to come. Imbolc, this upcoming Friday, is one of the turning points in the Wheel of The Year. As we turn to face the growing sun, consider grabbing some of that radiance and fueling your magical supports for the year with it. 

So, what are you doing differently this year to stay centered when the waters get rough? What practices are you planning to add? Hit me up in the comments. You never know when your idea is exactly what another witch needs to read. 

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