The witchery and neuroscience of body based trauma healing

My beloved friend and teacher Nicole sent me this recent NY Times article on EMDR.  I’m what you would call a true EMDR devotee (I like to say ‘I have gone down the rabbit hole of EMDR and am not planning on coming back’) and I read this article with the typical enthusiasm of my Aries Sun/Enneagram 7 combo flare. 

I am deeply inspired by, and often reference, Michelle Casandra Johnson’s beautiful body of work around the dismantling of racism. She teaches and practices “We have to love ourselves into who we want to be. Love is part of accountability. I love people enough to ask them to change. Actionable love, the love connected to I believe in us.” So, as a white anti-racist liberationist, who loves and believes in us enough to ask us to change, I’d like to say out loud that this article should include pictures of BIPOC bodies healing. Of the 4 pictures featured in the article, all 4 are of folx who are white appearing. I want to say clearly, as a dismantling of racist culture and a mantling of what we are building, trauma recovery work (including, but not limited to EMDR) is for all of us and healing is our birthright. 

EMDR works by catalyzing our body’s innate wisdom and deep capacity for healing and transformation.  This is folk magic (meaning magic of the people; this belongs to us) that travels the riverbed of our bodies’ birthright capacity for healing and that taps into our deep embodied knowingness of how to heal. This NY Times article is speaking directly to the science of EMDR which, as a self-proclaimed EMDR devotee, is fascinating. However, science removed from magic (and awe) falls flat for me. 

This NY Times article explains, “the added component of bilateral stimulation theoretically anchors the patient in the current moment as they’re engaging with a trauma [memory]…The bilateral stimulation needs to be compelling enough to distract patients, but not so overwhelming that they totally focus on it.” While I somewhat agree with how this is framed, for me this description is missing the beauty and the magic of the transformation that becomes available to us during trauma reprocessing. 

In EMDR, we draw from the deep regulation of moving both sides of our bodies to help anchor us in the present. This is an anchor to the relational field of healing that creates the conditions for safety. The conditions for safety are the energetic container that allows our healing to shine through this work. Or we might instead choose to say this (this being what-is-created-between-us, between our bodies, hearts, nervous systems and souls) is where the magic happens.  As the relational neuroscientists say, “we heal when we have both enough stress and enough safety for change to happen.” And, as the witches say (yes, I am both), “what happens between the worlds changes all the worlds.”  EMDR  is both science and magic. 

While many EMDR therapists like to say we are working with one foot in the past, one foot in the present, I prefer to think of this work as building a bridge. Or, we might say, we are building a relationship. The parts of us that are burdened with trauma memories do not tend to understand they are in the present moment or that the past traumatic experience is not still happening. Our learned neuroception of the inner and outer world affirms this lack of safety to our nervous system and therefore our ecosystem body. However, when we are anchored in the present moment, supported by the deep regulation of movement, presence, attunement & the safety we receive when we experience true belonging, we can learn to be with the parts of us that are reliving past traumas and can deepen our capacity for presence with experiences that have otherwise been intolerable. As we build this capacity, we can bring a depth of healing and offer compassionate witnessing to these tender, wounded parts of ourselves. This is work we can’t access when we are fully reliving traumas or are fully blended with our most vulnerable, wounded parts. However, when we begin to access this from a place of love and care–which is possible and is the body of work we achieve within EMDR–we can bring healing to these wounds, releasing the negative beliefs we have (learned) about ourselves, replacing them with more whole and true beliefs about who we really are. And this, while science continues to try to explain it and sometimes comes closer to touching a piece of it, is absolute(ly) magic. 

And by the way, I am an EMDR CIT (Consultant in Training) and I offer both individual and group consultation for folx on their EMDR practice. Consultation with me is anchored in the rooted wisdom of trauma healing, anti-racism, intersectional ecofeminism, queer and trans/affirming culture, fat and body positivity, neurodivergent affirmation, relational repair and collectivist culture.  Right now, I have a monthly affinity consult group forming for trans/non-binary and queer folx, witches and fat babes. If you hold one or more of these beautiful identities & are interested in joining an affinity consultation group, reach out with your interest. 

Liberation Rooted Supervision Group

I am inviting social workers into a supervision circle to learn and cultivate a felt sense of practicing social work that is rooted in collective liberation.

Held by a clinician with over 20 years of practice experience in anti-oppressive, liberation-oriented practice, this supervision group will draw from the wisdom and practices of trauma healing, anti-racism, intersectional ecofeminism, queer and trans/affirming culture, fat and body positivity, neurodivergent affirmation, relational repair and collectivist culture.

Rooted in the magic and science of polyvagal theory and the relational neurosciences, we will co-create an exploratory container for relationship as the vehicle for healing where safety is the intervention. As liberation-oriented social workers, we will consider our work within systems (including within a system of licensure) through the lens of harm reduction, feeling together for the pathways to healing, regeneration and collective wellness.

I ask that participants agree to a practice of open-heartedness, attunement and deep listening while holding the intention of collectively creating the conditions for safer space in the group. We will practice honoring the parts of us that love learning, while returning again and again to the somatic wisdom of our hearts and bodies, exploring our clinical practice from this attuned and embodied space. 

~Cost/Energy Exchange: $60/session. 
~Dates & Times: every other Wednesday, 4pm-5pm. 
~Location:  Zoom. Hours applied toward SW licensure in OR/WA.
~Registration: email horizon with interest.

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hope comes

Feeling this in my bones today, letting this reverberate in the cracks.
folk magic from the Bengsons.

hope comes from the place where the hurt comes.

the part of you that is not alright. is also the part that loves the light.
the part of you that is suffering, is the part that calls in change.
and you don’t have to feel ashamed, there is nothing to forgive.
the part of you that is crying out is the part that wants to live.

hope comes from the place where the hurt comes.

when your world is burning down, getting hot is a sane reaction,
but one in need of action, because your spirit needs protection.
so gather up your sinew, and gather up your faction.
hey, hope is not a feeling. hope is an action.

hope comes from the place where the hurt comes.
we are not alright. we are not alright.

I’m gonna fall down on my knees. that’s an act of living.
I’m gonna say, will you help me please. that’s an act of living.
I’m gonna say I’m not alright. that’s an act of living.
I’m just trying to make it through this night. that’s an act of living.

hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes.

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Iron Pentacle – Remember Who You Are

“Who is this flower above me and what is the work of this god?
I would know myself in all my parts.”
-Feri Prayer

What if even when your heart was breaking you re-membered that you are a witch? What if that re-membering became a hope, became a knowing, became a relationship, became a spell,  became a changing of all the worlds. Magic so powerful it transforms our cells, unapologetically uprooting the lies of a sick white supremacist, misogynistic, fat shaming, capitalist, ageist, heteronormative, transphobic, ableist, disconnective culture, reknitting our wounds with the brilliant truths of a deep interdependence, a humility for the intelligence of the wild, a love of our ancestors, a reverence for the divine and a bone-deep knowingness that we, too, are divine.

What if this magic were as simple and complex as breathing into our pentacle bodies, opening our hearts and allowing/inviting/directing the Iron Pentacle to change us. It is. (And, it is the work of our lifetime).

The Iron Pentacle is Lineage Magic. A gift and a map offered in love from Elders and Ancestors.  A portal into the witchcraft of change and possibility and re-membering and making real what our Souls know is possible.  This is magic we stir and seal within our pentacle bodies through the portals of Sex, Pride, Self, Power, Passion. If in reading this you feel a curiosity, a hunger, a resonance, a “hell yes” or a “that can’t possibly be me,” we invite you to join us in this in person working to remember who the fuck you are.

Teachers: co-held by Irisanya & horizon. 
Dates/Times: January 14 & 15, 10am-5pm both days
Location: IN PERSON on Coast Salish Land (So-called Seattle)
Cost: $130-280, some scholarships available ($50 non-refundable deposit to hold your space)Pre-requisites: Elements of Magic 

COVID precautions: We’ll gather indoors in a 450 square feet movement room. We will all take covid tests at the beginning of the day Saturday. folx may choose to unmask with a negative covid test or may choose to remain masked. 


Questions: email

Irisanya Moon (she/they) is an author, witch, international teacher, and Reclaiming initiate who has practiced magick for 20+ years. She has written 7 books (so far), including Pagan Portals (Reclaiming Witchcraft – 2020, Aphrodite – 2020, Iris – 2021, Norns – 2023), Earth Spirit (Honoring the Wild – 2023, Gaia – 2023), and Practically Pagan: An Alternative Guide to Health & Well-being – 2020. Irisanya cultivates spaces of self-care/devotion, divine relationship (whatever that means to you), and community service as part of her heart magick and activism. 

horizon (she/her). Animist, witch, abolitionist, trauma worker, truth teller, liberationist.  I am a queer fat femme & Reclaiming Initiate who priestesses at the intersections of oppression, grief, trauma and liberation. I work as a complex trauma therapist and have spent more than 20 years in a deep study of how healing happens, learning to undo oppression while co-creating cultures of healing and wellness. My magic sings to an intractable knowingness that our imagination, creativity and visionary souls guide us toward healing.

As white anti-racists, we are committed to the work of unlearning whiteness while feeling for healing in our own bodies and cultivating relationships with our ancestors.