• Jess

Being With What's Broken: Gathering Strength & Honouring Grief

I tried to write several different blog posts, none of them about what's on my heart. What's on my heart is the grief and rage and heartsickness of the collective. It feels as though it could swallow us, and like anyone else, there are times when my faith in our strength and compassion and capacity for change waver. A storm comes and pulls at my branches til they litter the ground.

I work for gods of healing and leadership. A woman of leechcraft and poetry. A chieftain who worked to preserve peace in the land of his people until the peace would not hold. There is a time to lay on hands, apply poultices, brew herbs, whisper prayers. There is a time to contend with the life and death before us and choose to step up in service of honour, love, sovereignty and the life force. We are at the crossroads and it is time for both.

Racism, white supremacy and police are poisons, causing rifts and loss too numerous to count, too vast to properly name. Without their swift and complete destruction, peace is not possible. If you know how, bring your healing to this moment. If you know how, bring your sword, your voice, your protest signs, signal boosts and donations to this moment.

And if you need the shelter of someone else's shield, the kind and soft ministrations of hands that know how to tend your wounds, feel no shame. You deserve comfort and peace and rest as much as anyone else. You deserve to dream wildly and breathe freely.

Below, I offer some of the tools and techniques which are helping me return to center. I'll continue to offer these as I'm guided to. May you be blessed with good health, loving community and peace. May you remember that you deserve nothing less than care, justice, safety and joy.

Shield of the Ancestors

This is a practice I've adapted from Scottish folk magick, and the lorica or "breastplate" (a key piece of medieval armour) prayer.

Close your eyes. Visualize a forcefield of light surrounding you. Maybe it looks like a ball or an egg or a cloak.

I like to imagine it as a golden web. This forcefield is one of protection, ensuring that whatever needs to be released can exit and what needs to enter can do so.

One by one, speak aloud the names of your well ancestors and your relationship to them. For example, "I am Jess, granddaughter of Bernadette. I am Jess, niece of Anita." Speak their names as far back as you know.

*If you feel disconnected from your ancestors of blood or they are unwell in spirit, you can call on your ancestors of vocation, spiritual lineage, the cultural workers and activists whose work shaped you. In this case, you could substitute the phrase "I am (your name), kin of (ancestors name) by lineage/vocation/love for justice,etc".

When you are finished reciting their names, affirm their positive traits and how they live on in you. I like to do this as follows, but you can choose the words that are resonant for you:

"By your strength, I am protected.

By your courage, I stand for what is right.

By your compassion, I keep my heart open.

By your wisdom, I speak the truth.

By your hope and faith, I will know glory.

Beloved ones, you are with me.

Before me, behind me, to my right and to my left.

When I lay down and when I stand.

Named and unnamed, I carry the power of your blood.

Protect me from all harm and injury, from all illness and obstacles.

May I bless others as you have blessed me.

Let it be so."

Herb Blend for Health and Protection

This can be used as a loose incense blend for cleansing your space or as a bath blend. As a bath blend, I like to add 1 cup of Epsom salts and a few teaspoons of magnesium flakes. If you don't have access to a bath, you can run yourself a foot bath instead.

To keep clean-up to a minimum, I place the herbs into a washcloth and tie an elastic band around the washcloth, then add it to a hot bath.

To the salt and magnesium blend, add 2 tablespoons each:

Eucalyptus-- clear negative energy and purify sick rooms

Peppermint-- wards off disease and evil spirits

Marjoram-- brings good fortune, spreads joy

Rosemary-- cleanses sick rooms, dispels disease, brings strength and mental clarity

Thyme-- brings bravery, eases sorrow and nightmares


In Jewish tradition, a shiviti is a meditative piece of art showing the name for G-d.

Translated into English, my favourite shiviti reads:

"I am holy.

All is clear.

I am loved.

It is perfect".

I like to use these phrases as a prayer and affirmation of the unchanging truth that I am loved and cared for, that I am sacred. No matter how I have been conditioned to see myself by racism, homophobia, ableism and other systems of oppression, this shiviti reminds me of the world of difference between painful, false projections and the sacred truth of my/your true nature.

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