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Breaking Energetic Ties

At some point in our lives, we find ourselves with energetic and spiritual bonds to people, places, and things that don’t serve us anymore. Maybe we’ve had a breakup, or are moving to a new location, or giving away an item that has a lot of sentimental value.

Sometimes these bonds are even created without our knowledge or consent. If you find yourself thinking about a person, place, or thing on a regular basis, it may be that somehow you’ve formed a bond with it. I find, in working with clients, that sometimes traumatic events that we ruminate over, or items lost in a tragedy (like a house fire), or people that we dislike but spend too much time and energy disliking them, all of these things can lead to an psychic tie merely through repetitive action. I mean, that’s how beneficial ties are formed too – we spend time, energy, and focus on binding an item to us, or forming a relationship that you expect to last a long time, or a place you find yourself visiting over and over again.

Magicians and will workers find that creating these ties can make a tool stronger not only by using it for the same purpose over and over again, but they can ensorcel an awareness into it – “awaken it”, if you will – or work with the spirit that already resides in it. Yes, this requires a bit of an animist theology, but I’ve seen this philosophy across many belief systems – chaos magicians, Wiccans, neoclassical shamans, etc. Sometimes you just pick something up, and it “feels right”, and then the more you use it, interact with it, work magic with it, that feeling of “rightness” grows.

For example, I have a thing for keys. I collect “keys with no purpose” – keys to people’s old apartments they never turned in, dead people’s keys, keys found on the street, antique keys, heck, I even have a “skeleton key” carved out of bone. So it made sense to me to find a special key that would represent “home” to me – that would immediately ground and center me should I find myself in a trance/possessory state that needed to end abruptly. I happened onto (what I’m pretty sure is a reproduction) a huge victorian looking gate key – it’s about as big as my palm and painted black. It has a good weight to it, which helps with the feeling of “groundedness”.

So I spent about six months carrying that key around with me everywhere I went – yes, even to the bathroom. And when I found myself with some idle time, like in the car or waiting for something, I would take it out and hold in it my hand and just push some of my personal energy into it. I tried doing this in a variety of situations I regularly find myself it – in a doctor’s office, at a ritual, at a campground I visit on a regular basis, in my bedroom (yes, sometimes during sex), when I was experiencing a range of emotions, so it would know me as intimately as a person who spent every day with me. In fact, when I decided to stop carrying it, I missed it’s weight in my bag/pocket/hand. But as those who have seen it used, or thrust it in my hand when it was needed, it works very well. In fact, I later decided to ask Gatekeeper (my name for the key) if it could help others if they found themselves in similar states. It doesn’t work as well on them as it does me, but it does have enough “skill” to assist in grounding and centering a person who is in between trance states.

As many people know, I am recently separated. At first, I was pretty upset about the situation, but in a relatively short amount of time, and a ton of perspective, I have found myself more than ready to sever the energetic ties with my former partner (whom I sometimes refer to as my STBX, shorthand for “soon to be ex”). He’s made some choices (and lack of choices) that I disagree with pretty strongly. Let’s leave it at that I’m more than eager to break any energetic ties we might have shared. Not only because I need to move on, but because until I do this, I get little kicks of spiritual ickyness when he breaks a vow or something else that accrues that “ickyness”. (I hope that’s clear, because I’m not going to go into more detail than that.)

The first thing I did was to change my last name, legally. Even though we’re still technically married (silly Maryland divorce laws) I wanted to shed myself of that public association with him. It didn’t hurt that I had been very strongly desiring to legally change my first name and this seemed like a good as time as any to do it. I wanted to make a statement to myself, to him, to the people who know us, and to the Universe in a very-difficult-to-undo way that I was no longer a part of his “family”. It’s a long process, as the county clerk processes these applications in batches, so you have to wait until there’s a critical mass before they approve it, but the process is almost finished. When I left the county clerk’s office, I took a moment in quiet and physically and psychically wiped my body down, like I was whisking away lint from my outfit. I did this three times, the first time shedding my sorrow at the end of the relationship; the second time was to wipe away the bonds formed with him when we were happy, and then finally to state to the Universe that I was done with sharing that tie with him.

Now, in no means do I feel that a little body car wash will wipe along ten years of bond. When I took my things from the house, I took nothing that made me think of our time together. If it had another use/reason to continue to be a possession, I washed it down with either sterile saline or salt water. If it was appropriate, I also held it in my hands and visualized that when I wiped it down that I was erasing those old associations, and then clasped it to my heart and spoke to the spirit within the item, telling it what the new reality was.

Then, today, I went back to the house we used to share to gather more of my belongings. While I was there, I made sure to de-activate all the areas that used to hold spiritual significance to me, not only by deconstructing them, but cleansing them spiritually as well and closing any spiritual doors I had opened around them. Even though I’ll likely be there again (I could only take one SUV’s worth of stuff this time), I also pulled any psychic “roots” I had planted there, any sense that the place was my “home”, and took them within myself. When I got back to my temporary “squat”, I went to my little temporary altar here and deposited the excess energy I was carrying – embuing the items on it with those feelings of “home” so that for now, until I find a more permanent place to live, to grow, to settle down, I can remove them for those items and replant my energetic “roots” there.

Sometimes that’s the best route. We can’t go around severing all ties with anything and anyone and just walk around with a bunch of dangling cords dragging on the ground. We all need to feel connected to something bigger than us – an idea, a concept, a Deity or pantheon of Deities (even if that pantheon is cobbled together across different cultures, as mine is). In extreme cases, I’ve been known to throw all my ‘connectors’ to a single Source for a short period of time, just to strengthen my ‘pipeline’ with that Source. I did this during my wedding, which is why I know that severing my ties with him is going to be more than just moving all my stuff out and changing my name – there is an energetic part of me that was completely invested in the Idea of what we wanted to build together. Our ceremony was very much a magical working to create familial bonds, not just with each other, but with all our friends who were there. That’s something that is going to take a long time to break, soften, or change – I don’t necessarily want to lose my whole family-of-choice, but my relationship with them needs to subtly change – I need to be seen as Del, a wholly different person who has gone through significant changes since that ritual, back in 2007 – and not Ninja’s wife/spouse, not part of that unit, not building my future as part of that ideal. Things are going to change, have already started to change, and like any long term relationship that ends, some people will end up closer to him, and some closer to me, and some who will just back away altogether.

So, how does one sever a tie with something that is over, done, changed, different, moving into a different phase?

First, you have to admit that it’s time for the tie to be severed. This sounds simpler than it is for most people. You have to admit that something that really mattered is no longer part of you, and won’t ever be the same again. You can’t harbor a secret wish that it will return, somehow rebuild itself, or that she will eventually come to her senses. If you are giving something away, you have to spend some time looking at the item as though it was the first time – like it’s an alien thing, something that you’ve never seen before. You need to develop a sincere detachment in your mind and heart, and be brutally honest with yourself about this. If there’s a glimmer of hope that it will someday come back, you’re not ready to do it.

And it’s okay to be in this liminal space for as long as you need. It can take years living in a different state before you start telling people you live in New State, rather than Where You Used To. Humans need time to mourn loss, and that can be a process, and you can’t really rush it. It happens at it’s own pace. If something traumatic has happened to you, you have to sit with it and let yourself heal. You might need to see a therapist, or construct a ritual, or journal your fingers off, or whatever you do when you are working through your feelings. Doing these things is the beginning of recognizing the tie exists, how powerful it is in your life, how much of your energy you’ve been spending on it.

It helps tremendously, too, if you know the specific way this psychically manifests. Do you feel an actual cord coming from a particular part of your body or head, or does it come in waves (either like sound waves or ocean waves or even a breeze), or do you experience it as a specific taste in your mouth, or a sound you hear (or type of music), a consistency of space (like the air around you feeling like jello, or saran wrap, or egg whites, or a cement wall), or a physical sensation (an ache in your heart, or a shiver up your spine, or a warmth in your stomach). Take some time to really focus on the thing you want to separate from, and allow yourself to fully experience how that connection manifests in your mind, body, and spiritual space around you. That’s the connection you’re tapping into it.

I always take a moment to thank the connection for all the goodness it has brought into my life. I mean, I didn’t form the connection for no reason; even if it is bourne of a tragedy, it helped you go through a healing process successfully, and you have likely learned important life lessons during that time. So once I feel that connection in its strength, I cultivate a sense of gratitude from the bottom of my heart, and let it permeate the space around me and travel from me throughout the bond. To act in accordance with this step, you may want to write something about all the positive things that came from the connection – and if you are so inclined, share it with the person/place/thing by reading it to them, or sending it to them in some way.

When I feel that the message of thankfulness has been sent and received, I slowly start to pull the part of the connection that is formed of my energy towards me. If I am experiencing this as a sound, I will make that sound as best I can with my voice/body; if I feel it as an emotion, I envision the emotion slowly becoming more internal rather than external. If you can “see” it, then you can “pull” on it until it snakes back in your direction.

As I said earlier, it’s not healthy to wander around with a bunch of disconnected cords that “dangle” from you. In a psychological sense, this sets you up for desperately wanting to fill the void with the first available thing – the first person who expresses interest in you, the first apartment you find, the first job offer you get, the first replacement for the item you’ve lost or given away, etc. We all know that most of the time, those connections don’t last, because eventually we just feel in our bones that it isn’t the same; we realize that we jumped too fast, before getting all the available information, or before we knew what the other person/place/thing would want from us over time.

So the next step in the process is either finding a temporary home for those bonds, especially if you think you’re going to want to foster a similar bond with something/someone else. I stored my feeling of “home” in my temporary altar, because eventually I will find the place I want to settle down, to live for an extended period of time, and I will want to route those loose cords out and “replant” them at the new place. It also helps make the temporary place I’m staying in feel a little more “homey”, a little more comfortable, without laying down longterm roots so that when we move in a few months it won’t be a big emotional upheaval.

If that’s not appropriate for the connection you’re completely done with – for instance, I do not plan to ever marry again, which may someday be its own post – then it may be time to cut that sucker off completely. You may push whatever energy you still feel as your own part of that connection to something that will eat it – the wind can take it in the breeze, fire can burn it away, water can wash it away, or you can bury it in the earth (but I’d ask the land vaettir [spirits] first, because it’s the one who is going to have to break it down). You can take a sacred bath – beer works wonders on cleansing psychic gunk off of you – or a shower by preparing your cleansing solution and then dump it over you.

You should, again, do something in your life to act in accordance with this as well. Maybe hold a ritual where you declare your sacred intent in front of your friends, so both they and the Spirits can hold you accountable to your new change. Make it impossible for you to make the same choice again – move to another state, or stop dating those sorts of people, or don’t buy similar items or go into stores that sell it. Write something about it and post it either on the Internet, or somewhere in your house where you (and others who visit) will see it so that you feel obligated to live up to it.

Finally, do something else. This is the part where a lot of people trail off and forget to finish the work. If you’ve cleaved yourself from another person, you need to block them on social media, not read their blog/journal, not break down and write them an email at 3am, or go on incessantly about what a terrible, awful person they are. You need to let it go, all the way, and move on. It might feel odd at first, because we’re all very curious about what happens to a person/place/thing once we’re removed from it. When I was fired from a job I loved, I kept reading the website and usenet groups about it for a few months afterward, both following the office politics that lead to my leaving, but also hoping that in some way my name would be brought up. However, in order to focus on finding a new job, I had to let that go. I made a magical act out of it by purposefully using the time I had spent reading that crap to look for a new job. And shortly after that, I landed a better job where I could make more of a difference in the world, and I never looked back.

To sum up (TL:DR), you need to be really ready to end your connection with the person/place/thing you want to part with. Then you need to focus your energy/Will to really feel what that connection feels like, be fully aware of the bond and how it manifests for you. Then pull your energy back from it, and either store it in something else temporarily or destroy it. Make some sort of declaration about your intent to leave it behind, and then live up to that like it’s an oath.

If you have questions about connections you’ve tried to sever, or maybe find difficult to end, or find repeating over and over again like a cycle you can’t break, let me know. Either I, or one of the other wise and experienced people who read this blog, may be able to help you out with some ideas on how to move on. Or maybe you have a story about a bond you’ve successfully broken that you’d like to share as another example. Anyway, I encourage you to add your experiences and wisdoms to this post.

About Del

A shaman who writes about spiritual things, but not in that namby-pamby "everything is light and fluffy" sort of way.

14 responses to “Breaking Energetic Ties

  1. Reblogged this on and commented:
    This is a topic that is *very* important in Tashrisketlin’s practices and vreschtik traditions as a whole. Here Del speaks about it clearly and concisely though the lens of his own recent and painful experiences.

  2. rubicat

    i am glad that i saw this post tonight, because tonight is the first night i am sleeping away from home and my partner of 20 years. this step is terrifying, and i don’t know if I can manage to separate myself from all the we had built up over the past two decades.

    such a strange liminal space. but thank you for giving me some strength for what is currently a very, very surreal time.

    • Del

      What’s odd-but-not-odd is that I was relaxing, hanging out with my girl, and I got a Cosmic Slap to go write this right now. I don’t like posting stuff late at night OR on the weekend, as (honestly) they don’t get read as reliably. So I’m glad my Slap did someone else good. And if you need a fellow to talk separation/divorce with, feel free to email me at awesome dot del at gmail dot com. I mean it.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I read this at a time in my life when I need to do exactly this. To know that there is someone else trying to severe “icky” ties is comforting, and to see a concrete game plan is empowering.

    • Del

      Like I said to Rubicat, I got a Cosmic Slap to write this right away, so I’m glad it was a timely piece for you. I wish you well in your work on breaking those ties; if you need help, feel free to drop me a line.

  4. Ken ⋅

    I have a question for you. You mention asking permission from land spirits before burying a connection because they will be breaking down what is buried. Would it not be proper to ask the other spirits before using them to dispose of the energetic connection you no longer want/need? I am not certain that just because they alter the energy faster, that it would be any less of an imposition upon them.
    Would different elements handle types of energy/connections differently? Would you chose your method based on effect or just based on which elemental disposal you are used to using?
    Okay, a few questions.

    • Del

      I took some time before answering this, because on first blush my answer was, “because that’s the way it works for me”, which isn’t a real answer.

      Water and Air disperse; it’s inherent to their nature. Energy, not being a solid (at least from my sense), become dilute when added to those elements. And part of their experience is being exposed to lots of different things and breaking them down quickly.

      Fire consumes. Everything burns, given enough fuel and time. All of my experiences with Fire, from the smallest candle flame to a raging housefire, has shown me an endless hunger that can never be sated. So giving Fire something new to consume is seen as a good thing, at least by it.

      My experience with Earth, and earth-related spirits, like trees and flowers, is that it takes so much longer for it to break down and consume foreign matter, that it’s a bit more of an imposition.

      But where you question left me is thinking about pollution, and whether asking air and water spirits to take on our emotional and spiritual “junk” isn’t a form of pollution in its own way. Even if it is diluted or dispersed so much that it’s only one part per billion, it’s still there, and leaves a trace. I would almost say instead of asking permission, I would ask that whatever I was shedding be taken to an appropriate place – since they are mostly transitory in nature. This would be harder for Earth to do, because Earth is no so easily moved of its own volition.

      I do find that sometimes a specific element is the better choice, based on what you’re trying to rid yourself of. I find that whatever emotion is behind the tie, usually dictates what element I would ask to take it. If it were rage, passion, lust, anger, or betrayal, I’d likely give it to Fire to consume. If it were ennui, or sadness, or depression, or love, I’d give it to Water to transport. If it were a failed idea, or a dead dream, or a hope that never came to fruition, I’d let the wind carry it away. And if it were a tie to a place, or something foundational to who I am as a person (gender, name, marital status, place of residence, etc), I’d probably give it to the Earth to break down into something useful.

      I guess where I get an attitude is when people go around grounding energy (a very Earthy term) without thinking about the ecological implications. I try to send it to a place where it will be recycled and used for something better.

      I also know that sometimes I can tell when I chose the wrong element – I’d ask Fire to consume something, only to find that it only took the parts of the tie that dealt with emotions and states of being it understood. Humans are complex creatures, and sometimes in order to truly break a tie we need to pick it apart by element and work with each to dissolute the parts that are most appropriate to that element.

      Thanks so much for the question. It really made me think. 🙂

  5. Ahleah ⋅

    This was somewhat timely for me as well. While my separation was fairly amicable, I recently discovered some negative consequences of the energetic connection that we share. I’ve been working on breaking those ties myself and establishing firmer boundaries with where we are now. I’m still a bit torn as to whether that connection can or should be completely abolished or how to transition it into something else since we are still in each other’s lives. Anyway, your post gave me some things to ponder and try out.

  6. nyghtmist

    I just wanted to thank you for writing this. This is something that I needed to hear right now, as I am attempting to sever myself from the toxic relationship I have with my parents, and have been casting about for a way to do it.

    You’ve given me some great ideas, and the hope that I can eventually let them go and become my own whole and healthy person.

  7. Angela

    I have a question. Can you do this with an emotional reaction rather than an actual person/place/thing, and would it be wise to do it? Like uncording from an irrational thought or fear to disperse it.

    • Del ⋅

      I would say yes. You’d have to be fully divested from the thought or fear first, though. For example, if you’re afraid of spiders, the first step would be to face the fear and prove to yourself that spiders on the whole won’t do anything terrible to you. Then you can start to unweave yourself from whatever lead you to the fear. Does that makes sense?

  8. EVCelt

    A very good post… concise, practical and from the comments above, very helpful to a lot of people- seems like the Slap was indeed a good thing.

    Let me know when you need my help in doing certain parts of the breaking of ties…

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