You may have heard of cord-cutting in your travels around the alternative spiritual subcultures. I first heard of it when training as a Witch. What you do is you literally invoke a clothe cord to represent the bonds between yourself and someone that you wish to be parted from, and at some point in the ritual the cord is cut with a very sharp pair of scissors.
This is a powerful act of magic but as the years have flown by I have realized that I don’t want to cut anything. Cutting seems violent and there are so many other ways to free oneself from unhealthy connection with other people.
I learned in Reiki how to become a channel of healing energy for another person without using an ounce of my own. This is safety 101 in the healing arts – safety for self and client, as we do not want to be sharing personal energy. I might go home drained. I might literally pick up someone’s illness. I might expose my client to something I am going through.
In my training as a Shamanic Healer, I learned that one should never walk away from a healing session energetically drained. One might be worn from the physical exertion of a larger event but overall, facilitating healing for another person should make one feel filled up. Exuberant. Humming. In tune. Ever so grateful. If it doesn’t feel right, then one should journey to the spirits to find out what went wrong. And ask for a clearing.
We don’t share our personal energy in the healing arts ever. We try to be clean. We try to rid ourselves of unhealthy connections or ‘cords’ with other people. These connections can be like tentacles connected to our power centers where we are being drained or draining others.
Getting deeper into Shamanism, I learned about intrusions, where one person may inadvertently send energy in rage or despair to lodge in someone else’s body. I learned that mainstream culture’s description of love as ‘giving one’s heart’ to someone else (or ‘taking one’s heart) is actually soul stealing and giving. I learned how to return soul parts to others that I had held onto without knowing it.
What I didn’t learn was how to identify healthy bonds. I actually didn’t think of them. I was so concerned with ridding myself of unsavory connections with other people that I stripped myself clean. I had this feeling of aloneness, telling myself that energetic independence was right. I felt…lonely.
One day I was doing a clearing for myself because I was afraid of falling into yet one more dysfunctional relationship when I caught myself ready to cut a heart bond with a friend. Hey, I had to stop.
We humans are social creatures. We are meant to get close to each other, to have empathy and support each other. It’s ok to need someone, if we understand the difference between needing and .. well, needing.
At this point, I was teaching the same methods I had been taught in my classes. I had to open the discussion to my students. What do healthy bonds look like? In a shamanic journey, tears filled my vision of open arms held around another, hands over the shoulders. It was comforting, beautiful and most importantly, there was choice. Either party could step away at any moment.
Ah, it’s about choice. Healthy bonds are a choice, not entanglement. Identifying healthy bonds is simple because they feel nurturing and free and open. Unhealthy cords can feel exhilarating in a captive sort of way, like a drug or a high. They can also feel gunky or guilty or obliging, but healthy bonds make us feel right in the world. To know someone loves us wholly, to feel accepted for all our faults. To know that they think well of us, not to wonder. To feel more sane, bigger, fuller.
Now when I ask my guides to do clearings between me and my loved ones (Shouldn’t any person I become close with be a loved one?), I don’t ask them to cut. I ask them to do their work in love for both parties. I ask for healing and ask them to respectfully not enter the other person’s field unless I have been given explicit permission. I watch them clear, unravel, bless, shine light. I ask them to show me where the healthy bonds are and bless them too, so I can learn their beautiful qualities and know how to distinguish them from the other intimate feeling of having someone deep inside me in an addictive way.
Some of us need to learn these things. We didn’t have loving role models when we grew up. There is a difference between clearing the rubble after an argument and pretending that the original problem can be sent away. Clearing lets the light back in and opens up breathing room, so that the problem can be worked on with fresh energy and continued compassion. Joy even. Trust in the process allows us to take space if we need it or enjoy other things together before going back to look at the issue. If we do need to take space, it does not have to mean energetically cutting ourselves from the healthy flow of love and respect that underlies our relationship.
Intimacy is a hard thing to figure out. It is mixed with new openings, knee jerk patterns, complete terror, loving patience and forgiveness. Sometimes what feels like an unhealthy cord is just PTSD. Just, right? Fear that focusing on oneself makes one a mean person or terror that the relationship will be damaged by the act of it, these things can be unlearned. I’m not sure which is harder to have but learning to distinguish between PTSD and unhealthy cording can aid us in figuring what kind of help to get. What form of love to go and get.
Let’s put a touch of love on the topic of cord cutting. Better yet, let’s never cut cords. Let’s love them gently, unravel them with great compassion for all the fears that allowed them to be created in the first place. Let’s return their energy to source and call in the great healing spirits of soothing light to clear the debris and put ourselves to rest, down in nice, warm pillows after a deep salt bath.
It’s ok to love and to be loved. Let’s journey more and more for our beautiful visions of what healthy bonds look like so we can learn them deeply and begin to put our trust in them. They are goodness bridges, these bonds. They are the ones we should be standing on. We’ve come this far, let’s trust that we can keep their channels open and cleared with the kiss of sun streams given to us by the Sacred Ones.
** Thank you to my dearest friend for teaching me some of these wisdoms through your relentless trust in the beautiful mystery of our meeting.