Witching Water

Not far from where I live is a beautiful nature preserve. The trail follows the creek, leading you past small falls and incredibly serene pools where fishermen spend their time. Along the paths, you encounter great rocks that have been moved over time by the water. This is a landscape dominated by water and stone. Eventually, you reach the source, a great falls of incredibly cold, clear water. Beyond that, there is mystery.

I’ve hiked here several times in the past months, alone and with others. On my last trip, I tried my hand at witching water.

My first attempt at witching water last summer was entirely unsuccessful. I was told it was an innate talent — something that you either could do or couldn’t. I watched another do it with ease. The instructions were easy: find a Y-shaped branch from a tree, hold both ends, and walk up and down a path; when there is water, the branch will bend downwards. I took branch into my hands and waited to see if it would move for me as I passed over areas with water underground.

I felt nothing.

I was not one of the lucky ones gifted with this magic. It felt as if the universe had turned its back on me.

There, along the winding path towards the falls, I gave  it another try. There was part of me so desperate for the magic of witching water, and another part of me so sure I could do it, even though I had failed before. So I took another Y-shaped tree branch into my hands and began to walk.

There was nothing at first, not even passing over the tiny streams from rain runoff that made their way down to the creek.

Something then shifted: me.

As I walked, I connected to the water. I felt the water in my body, the water in all of my cells. I imagined a whirlpool of water circling down my right arm, through the branch I held, up my left arm, and across my chest, returning to its origin to repeat its path.

Suddenly, I was witching water.

The sensation was incredibly powerful. I held onto the branch tightly, wrists straight, and it kept bending, down, towards the earth, towards the unseen water underground.

It was then I understood the incredible power we have, and how easily a simple shift can unlock that potential.

And what amazing magic exists in this world.

How I Lost (and Found) Myself

I love taking chances.

It’s been nearly a year since I moved to Roanoke, Virginia after meeting my boyfriend at an archery tournament last summer. I knew the only way for us to really explore our relationship was to shorten the distance between us. The high rent on my apartment in DC wasn’t quite suiting me anymore, as I struggled to build my business anyways, so it seemed like a good time to move to a less expensive area. I had high hopes that this new life I was embarking on would fit me.

Life doesn’t always turn out the way you expect.

Instead, I found myself in a really dark depressing place. I’m not speaking of Roanoke itself, but of my mental landscape in my new home. I wasn’t writing, I wasn’t relaxing or taking time for myself. I was just working. I discovered how difficult it was to see friends when I lived four hours away, and so I rarely saw or spoke with anyone. I let myself work, more and more and more, just so I had something to occupy my time. My boyfriend saw how much I worked, but I don’t think he ever understood how unhappy I was.

I was completely disconnected from myself, from my tribe, from the divine.

The darkness took hold.

This summer, the weigh of everything became too much. My health became a real issue that needed attention. Archery competitions made me anxious. My self-talk was incredibly negative and abusive. My relationship with my boyfriend was unraveling.

I felt completely lost.

But the darkness was an unexpected blessing.

One day, I realized the dark isn’t as dark as it seems. It’s not a bad place to be. The dark place I was in was actually illuminating areas of my life I needed to pay attention to; it was telling me that the state of things needed to change.

Slowly, I’m making those changes. I’ve been dealing with my health problems and reminding myself every day of how important it is that I’m mindful. With archery, I’ve gone back to the basics, ignoring targets and scoring and focusing on form and feeling. I decided to move away from Roanoke, closer to my friends in the DC/Northern Virginia area. I found a charming home to rent in Charlottesville with a nice yard in a quiet neighborhood. I decided that if I wasn’t happy right now, my life would never come together again, I would never connect in the way I wanted with others and with the World.

The future will be shades of light and dark.

There are still shadows on the path, but I see a horizon now. And while the land before me is vast and mysterious and I’m somewhat unsure of where I’ll go and what I’ll discover along the way, the path feels good.

Begin Again

Workaholic mode has been destroying me

Last week, I took a sabbatical from work to reorganize, reimagine, reinvigorate myself and my work. I started my website development business in April 2013. The first few months were slow; in July I didn’t even make enough money to pay my rent. But by the autumn, I was picking up more projects and had a steady income that allowed me to breathe much easier than I did in those summer months. Since then, it feels like the business has grown exponentially and I found myself in full-fledged workaholic mode, working 12 to 14 hour days for 6 days every week. Living in that mode is unsustainable. It’s been destroying me.

It was time for a change

So on my sabbatical week, I asked myself what I wanted to change, what I wanted to do better, what help I needed. I redesigned my websites so they work better for me and reflected who I am now as a developer. I carved out a chunk of work to pass to a friend who will be helping me regularly. And most importantly, I decided what I need to bring (back) into my life.

And the beginning needed to be different

I’ve done this before: said I was going to start blogging regularly, but failed horribly, abandoning my blog just a few weeks later. I’ve done it with so many projects I wanted to work on, skills I wanted to learn, adventures I was trying to plan.

But sometimes you arrive at a point and you recognize that everything will be different. Because it has to be. Because if it isn’t, you won’t survive. Because it’s finally time to begin again. It’s a moment of rebirth.

Ditching lofty resolutions

I knew I couldn’t tackle change like I had in the past: by deciding I would change everything when I woke up the next morning. I had crazy goals: exercise every day, learn a new language, blog and use social media regularly, eat healthy… It was too overwhelming, and changing everything is hard to remember to do. Honestly, by trying to make drastic changes, I was setting myself up for failure. I knew it.

It’s like every New Year’s Resolution I broke in the past. New Year’s never had enough magic in it.

I attempted a lofty resolution again this summer: I wanted to reclaim my mornings (which were often taken over by emails and clients). My friend Erin and I discussed this at length, since she was in the same spot. I even made a list: at least 30 minutes of exercise followed by stretching, some journaling, meditation, and a leisurely breakfast. How often did I manage a morning like this? Only once. It was too much.

Hello, little changes that stick around

This time, change will be gradual. I’ve set small goals for myself, little actions I can take that will have big effects on my happiness. Write on my blog once a week. Pull my bow back 10 times every day. Walk for at least a half hour four times during the week, whether it’s at the gym or in nature. Meditate for 10 minutes. There’s a little list of joy that’s growing, a collection of changes that will be integrated slowly, with new ones added as others take hold. I’ve started with three changes this week, and this blog is one. (Note: A friend recommended irunurun, an app that helps keep you accountable.)

I’m sticking around, and I hope you will too.

Tell me yours

What three little changes will you start with?

 

Grounded

On Sunday morning, there was a brief warm spell in the area. You could smell the rain coming, but for a few hours, it was sunny and glorious. My whole winter has been spent indoors practically, so between the cold and snow and freezing rain, I was determined to take advantage of the hint of spring.

The boyfriend and I drove out to Glen Alton, an old homestead that was sold to the Jefferson National Forest, mainly to look for deer antler sheds (I love a good treasure hunt) and walk around the trails and ponds.

We wandered off from each other at one point. I was following a deer path I found in one area of the woods; he was off on another. I was alone, eyes scanning the earth around me for any signs of where the deer might have bedded or moved or eaten. For a moment, I stopped and closed my eyes. And there, for the first time in so long, I felt truly grounded and connected with the Earth again.

Sometimes, I like to blame this need to be grounded on my Capricorn sun sign. But we are creatures who love and find certain places we feel more at home in than we do in others. I feel the same way when I write or am solving a puzzle. I suspect many artists feel the same way when they’re deep in their art, and many scientists know the feeling well when they’re immersed in their research. We ground. We connect. We tap into something more infinite, more expansive, more abundant.

I can’t wait for more days in the forest, by the river, in the sun. Spring is so close. But even for the remaining weeks of cold we have ahead, I’m reminding myself that I need to ground even indoors, with those things I love.

What grounds you?

 

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Credits

Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.