Unfortunately, there have been many, many things in the news, pop culture, and my personal life that have lately been making me angry. Between the Stanford rape case, the Baylor sexual assault cases, and individuals I know personally dealing with administrative corruption and laziness in their own sexual assault cases, I can only describe what I have been feeling towards the state of higher education as rage. Rage that women must take on huge financial burdens to attend schools that sweep them under the rug when they are attacked, often on the very campus itself. Rage that the administration often sides with grossly overpaid athletic coaches who use their powerful positions to manipulate and harm, as men have done forever in patriarchal systems. Rage that it takes a full blown media scandal to spur action, instead of school officials taking care of their vulnerable students simply because it is the right thing to do.
And then, the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando happened. 50 people were slaughtered in a place they considered a second home, a safe haven, during a time of celebration of their identity. My anger mixed with sadness and grief into a paralyzing and hopeless emotional soup. I thought of my grandmothers, who were married last year after 40 years of partnership. I cried that my generation has not yet done more to create a better, safer world for people like them. Will they ever be able to see a world in which they don't feel fear in public spaces? Will I ever stop worrying about them when they move (will their new neighbors be kind), when they travel (will the person on the airplane be upset), or when they go out to eat (can they hold hands without being stared at)?
Needless to say, I have a lot of anger. I don't experience anger, real anger, very often, although I am usually quick to express my occasional frustration when I feel anger in lesser forms. But when true rage enters my body, I don't know what to do with it. I've seen my own mother struggle with the effects that anger had on her bodily and mental health, and fight hard to overcome it. I don't want to bottle that anger up--it's a lot of energy to keep stored inside, and fighting to contain it exhausts me, exhausts anyone who tries it. When I have a lot of excess emotional energy, my go-to processing method is spellwork, often jar spells so that I can simulate the transfer of energy to another vessel and either store it or get rid of it, depending on whether or not I want to keep the energy in my life.
Rage is tricky, though. I have heard so many conflicting things about magick practiced in anger. That spells done in anger will come back to haunt you, that the energy always returns to the caster, that the intentions cast during a spell can be muddied and ruined by anger, hate, and fear. Many witches believe that all black magick is rooted in anger and hate, and that any hex, curse, or spell performed with angry energy is automatically classified as evil.
But how can this be true? Emotions do not exist on a binary. Every witch, whether light or dark, experiences joy, frustration, anger, sadness, excitement, and fear. The energy from these emotions must go somewhere--bottling up emotional energy is devastating for magickal practice. Indeed, many hundreds of witches directed their anger into a mass hex aimed at Brock Turner, the convicted rapist in the Stanford case. Many in the community applauded this move, but many spoke out against it, calling it "evil" or "black magic" and claiming it was counterproductive. "Why not simply perform a healing spell for the victim instead?" was the question raised by many witches uncomfortable with the hex. While I absolutely agree that a healing spell should be performed for the victim, I disagree that a healing spell can replace the hex, or should be performed instead of the hex. I firmly believe that hexes and curses have their place right next to healing spells, and here is why:
Healing does not come from anger. Healing spells can go very badly wrong if the witch performing them is not completely grounded in love, compassion, and caring well for herself. Before we can heal others, we must heal ourselves. Part of that healing is channeling anger. Certainly we can simply choose to let go of the angry energy we experience, but where does that energy go? Can we be sure it has left our psyche, left our bodies? What if it lashes out at someone we love, or attached to a partner? Anger left to float in our energy fields can wreak unnecessary havoc and come back to bite us many days or weeks after we thought we were "over it." We may perform banishing spells on ourselves to banish anger, or dissipation spells to dissipate it, but this doesn't work for everyone. Hexing, when done correctly, can be a very purposeful, useful, and laser-focused way to send negative energy back at the person who created it. Hexes do not necessitate causing someone bodily harm, or harming the people in the hexee's life. Hexes are the product of purposeful and deliberate rituals, and cannot be cast as easily as curses, giving the hexer more time to process their anger and direct it in the way that will best benefit the hexing witch and have the most deliberate impact on the person being hexed.
I have found in my own practice that I cannot simply replace my less desirable "darker" emotions with more positive ones, but I can exact more control on how those negative emotions rule my life. So many women live their whole lives being told that anger is unfeminine, that it is unseemly to express our anger especially if it "causes a scene" or involves confrontation. While of course my primary concern in times like these lie with the victims, I also understand that I will be powerless to help people unless I do what I need to do to feel empowered and grounded in love, and for me that involves causing a small scene. People need to know I am angry at what happened, angry at Brock Turner, angry at the Orlando shooter, angry at every racist, rapist, and perpetrator of violence, and, most of all, that I am not angry with them. I need a clear channel and action for my anger, otherwise it will fester and rot inside of the beautiful healthy relationships I have with wonderful people. That helps no one, especially not the victim. By hexing Brock Turner, hundreds of witches validated the victim's anger and stood in solidarity beside her. And that is just as much part of the healing process as any healing spell.