Creative Counselling Samhain Special: I’m A Wise Woman
by Marie Bruce
People often ask me why I switched from Wiccan writing to psychotherapy writing. Some even ask me why I bothered to retrain in the first place when my Wiccan work has been so successful! The truth is that the two subjects are very much in alignment with one another, and I see it as a natural progression.
The old term for a witch was a wise woman, and she played a vital role in local society. It was the wise woman who helped the crops to grow and the livestock to thrive, using her spells and charms for good weather and to ward away illness. She was frequently called upon to act as midwife to villagers and animals alike and she would be sent for when someone was dying, bringing sleeping potions and pain relief to make their passing easier.
More than this, the wise woman was the local agony aunt. People would go to her for advice and guidance, comfort and a listening ear. But she was no pushover, and if she thought someone was whinging she would give them a good dose of tough love and send them away to rethink their attitude. In this sense, being a counsellor and psychotherapist is exactly like being the wise woman of old. We offer the truth, even when it stings a bit; we highlight where people are self-sabotaging or bringing their problems upon themselves. At the same time, we offer comfort and a listening ear to those in genuine need, helping them to get back on their feet after a setback of some kind, be this divorce, bereavement, redundancy or whatever.
So what could you expect if you came into my therapy room or my house in need of help? First of all, you’d get a warm welcome and you might pick up on a soothing, calming atmosphere. People always mention how lovely my house feels, and so I have taken this on board and use the same magical techniques in my counselling sessions. I bring gentle magic to my clinical practice not to proselytise – because my clients have no idea that there is magic in the room, they just feel calmer as a result of it – but to protect the space and myself. Being a counsellor is a tough job. You spend a lot of time listening to tales of horrendous trauma, accidents, deaths, abuse and so on. It is the darkest side of life staring you in the face and you see it over and over again, one client after the other, day after day. It can bring you down if you let it, so of course I try to protect myself from negativity as much as possible.
I also like to protect the space in which I work, whether I am seeing clients one-to-one or simply sat in my study writing about psychotherapy in the hopes of helping people whom I will never meet, so I always cast a circle before I get started. I want my work to be light, bright and happy. I want my words to reach out as a beacon of hope to my readers and clients, so that they know it’s okay to struggle; it doesn’t make you weak. Acknowledging the struggle and working through it is what makes you stronger. I want the room in which I see clients to feel welcoming and to have that ‘sparkle’ that positive magic always leaves behind – you can’t see it, but people can feel it and it comforts them.
So I make sure that I open the windows and invite the spirits of air to bring in the winds of change, which is what my clients need. I light a candle to show that we are working in the light of a higher force; whether you call it the Goddess, Spirit, God or the Universe, something bigger than me is guiding the session. Many counsellors work with card decks, with the Blob deck being most popular as it helps clients to get in touch with and express their emotions. They may also use pebbles to represent family members or future goals. I do all of this, but I add in a sprinkling of magic as I go, so I am just as likely to use a deck of angel oracle cards as the Blob cards. Angel cards are particularly useful when working with the bereaved, and they quickly release lots of emotion. I use crystals too – I always ask a client to pick out a crystal to take away with them on our last session. Amethyst and rose quartz seem to be the most popular, but snowy quartz goes fast too. Ordinary beach pebbles can be used as worry stones for anxious clients, or wishing stones for those who are ready to start planning for their future again.
I protect myself by imagining I am surrounded by a pink bubble that is filled with pure white swan feathers. The room and my client are protected by the cast circle but this bubble protects me from the negative vibes clients can bring in, while the swan feathers cushion the blow of hearing these things and remind me that there is more purity in the world than darkness. It’s a simple visualisation exercise, but it works. And what kind of wise woman would I be if I didn’t offer my clients a soothing witch’s brew? As I make their tea or coffee I silently call on the healing, cleansing powers of water to help my client to feel better, and at the end of their session I say “Take care of yourself. Bright blessings until next time”. In this way, I am sending them away with a blessing which is non-denominational.
When the psychotherapy session is over, be it writing or counselling clients, I like to play a bit of music to eradicate any leftover negative energies as I take down the circle and clear things away. I thank the four elements of earth, air, fire and water for their aid and I go about my day, happy in the knowledge that I have helped someone, just by listening and being there for them.
As you can see, being a witch and being a psychotherapist go together like black cats and pointy hats! It’s all just part of being a wise woman. I hope that this little Samhain special has answered some of your questions regarding my change in writing direction and that it has given you lots of practical tips for when your BFF is next in need of some tea and sympathy – add a sprinkling of magic as you stir up your own witch’s brew and hand her the tissues! Until next month,
Marie Bruce x
About the author
Marie Bruce Dip. T.C. MBACP is a qualified psychotherapist, Cruse Bereavement Counsellor and best-selling self-help author. She specialises in grief and loss counselling, PTSD and military counselling, and life coaching.
In this monthly column, Marie offers simple tools used by therapists to help clients and readers improve their mental well-being.
Marie’s books and Moon Chants CD are all available on Amazon UK.