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The Bad Witch and Weaponized Pain: A Children’s Tale
An allegory about something we all hate dealing with
This story is about what to do when human beings who we know are good, don’t act like it.
When the people we care for suddenly act like somebody has poisoned their soup and taken away their heart and brain, it’s a very difficult situation. Aaaand, it happens all the time.
I wanted to write about it for a long time but writing about it as psychological theory runs the risk of being super wanky, so instead, I wrote an allegory, a children’s tale. Here is the children’s tale. It also addresses the much debated relationship between righteous anger and doing things from love.
Once upon a time, there was a bad witch. She was wandering around in the woods, looking for prey—and one day, she stumbled upon a happy village where the people were getting along. Their harmony wasn’t phony. They had conflicts like in any other village—but when grudges arose, they made it a point to talk to each other from the heart, ask the village elders for advice, and resolve their conflicts in an honest way.
When she saw how happy the villagers were, her heart twisted with envy. She decided to take over the people in the village and steal their good habits and their happiness from them.
Easier said than done, they seemed pretty good-hearted! And so the bad witch devised a bad witch plan. She cast a quick spell of trust, walked in the village, greeted everyone, said that she was lost and hungry, and needed food. During the feast, she started bonding with people, asking for more help, asking them if she could help, striking hearty conversations, observing reactions, sniffing out who had what longings, who had pottery everyday grudges against whom (something that is normal even in happy villages), etc. After the feast, she wrote all this down in her little black book that she kept next to her brewing pot.
Once she more or less figured out the village dynamics, she cast an elaborate spell to cover people’s eyes with sticky wool and make them feel warm and fuzzy about her and be blind to the otherwise visible total freezing cold of her soul. She also cast a special spell to install a “converter” in people’s ears so that even as she howled or cursed in a screechy voice, the villagers heard beautiful singing and meaningful words.
She was a skilled bad witch, and so nearly overnight, she became a go-to person in the village for all sorts of things. Nobody knew where she came from, nobody asked or cared because suddenly, it felt like she was ‘theirs.” It just felt good.
The bad witch was quite satisfied with the result. She felt deep contempt for the villagers, wanted to eat them, and couldn’t wait to take away everything they had. In her mind, they were born to be her slaves. And she liked it very much how she howled in her screechy voice and yet got compliments on how beautiful her singing was.
While the elaborate “trust and bonding” spell was still fresh, she prepared some poison and some special magical glass that she could look into and see what was going on—and she went from house to house giving away poisoned flowers and spy glass bowls. If anyone refused, her envious heart tingled with anxiety but she smiled, hoping to get them on the next round.
Once she installed the special glass in many houses, she then started using that special glass to observe what the people did and said—and also to watch gleefully how they were fading out from the poisoned flowers, as she was getting more and more glowing and popular with her victims every day.
Once the people who had accepted her “presents” were poisoned thoroughly enough and switched almost entirely to the sleepwalking mode, she cast a spell of anger, targeting the hurt and the traumatized.
She put her herbs into the pot to make the anger unbearably intense, and then waved her magic wand in the air, howling like a hyena and trying to make any pain anyone already felt a hundred times more. Hearing her voice as she howled, some said, “Oh, our impressive guest is singing so beautifully, again.”
And so the next day, the hurt and the traumatized felt outraged out of their minds (and they were, indeed, out of their minds). Their pain was suddenly so intense, so hard to bear, they were just shaking their fists in the air, mimicking the movements of her magic wand.
They were overtaken by pain and worry—and so they suspended the thoughtful ways they had been practicing in a happy village and started mercilessly picking on each other without any regard for the spiritually honest ways.
Someone said something insulting, and pretty soon, nobody remembered who’d started what, they were just fighting with each other, and each of them was feeling blinding pain. Under the spell, they felt sincerely that whoever didn’t nod their head in agreement was an enemy and some kind of a dangerous bad witch. They became extremely suspicious of anyone who wasn’t shaking their fist in the air like they were, and said, “if you are not shaking your fists like I do, you are with them.”
In the meanwhile, the real bad witch shook her fists in the air for vampiring fun, and then went around and whispered into the ear of each angry person that she understood their pain—and because she had been using the special glass to look at what the villagers had been saying, she mirrored them and repeated their words right back to them verbatim to show how much she cared.
As a result, every poisoned one felt like they were the main and central victim of great injustice and betrayal, which made their pain even bigger, and their anger more. Their eyes could only see their own wounds and bruises (caused by other villagers who were suffering and raging just like them), and their ears could hear only their own screams. The bruises and the screams of others were invisible to them.
By that time, the only people who were entirely free from the her spells were the elders and the very small kids. Some of the small kids were extremely distressed and clung to the elders, and others still had their memories from the place where we have all come from, and they weren’t scared but excited about an adventure to live through.
As far as the elders, they saw right through the tricks of the bad witch and they felt distressed that their entire community had gone under the spell of a bad witch with such ease. They were saddened but they remained calm as knew that sometimes, there is a deeper meaning to things, and it’s important to respect the free will.
The elders knew that making stupid mistakes and dealing with the consequences of those mistakes is a part of how human beings learn from the inside. They knew that in the end, the havoc would turn to something meaningful, and that it required the villagers to want to get out of the misery, on their free will.
But they also knew that good people’s bad choices could create horrible pain for a long time and make it hard to heal. So they did what they could. They prayed from the heart of hearts for peace and clarity. They prayed to understand what it all meant and what their role was. Every day, they prayed and sang together for peace and clarity, inviting the ones who wanted to join them and who were sincere, and asking the mystery of mysteries for guidance on what to do.
In the meanwhile, the bad witch was celebrating but she also knew that her vampiring “triumph” was a house of cards. She feared having to respond for her deeds when she died, and so she tried to trick as many villagers as possible into betraying themselves and others, into doing as many destructive things as possible, and into treating each other like traitors so that she could say they “deserved” the pain.
When the elders got together and sang for love, she hated the sound, and she waved and waved her wand to distract them—but her wand was getting stuck in the air because the elders didn’t care. They weren’t hating the bad witch, or afraid of the bad witch. They cared about their village. They focused on healing and prayed like children, with total faith in their victory, with purity, humbly, without anger or anxiety, they prayed for healing, and they were asking the Creator to guide them in the right way and teach them what they needed to know to be both useful and happy and to drive the bad witch away.
Seeing that she couldn’t get through to the elders, the bad witch decided to try and mess up the people that the elders particularly cared for, hoping to see them cry.
And so she howled some more, and put the distorted mirror up, and some of the elders’ loved ones started objecting to the elders’ singing saying that they were bad people for singing for love and not focusing on the pain.
But the elders were elders because they had faith and they knew in a non-theoretical way that the antidote to the bad witch was love, and that with enough persistence and fearlessness, their love would melt her ugly spell, and that the people would one day wake up. And then it would be up to them if they wanted to heal.
And so, as she was raging and howling, and looking for vulnerabilities, and casting spell after spell, driving people crazy, the elders kept singing, and praying, and sending love. They did not bend. They sang and sang for clarity and healing, asking the Creator to interfere and melt away the spell.
Loved or hated by the enchanted, they sang. And sang more. And sang more.
The wait was endless.
But then one day, one of the angry ones woke up, looked around, and suddenly heard their song with his heart. It was as if a ghost had left. He looked at the bad witch’s glass, and saw how ugly it was. He looked at the flowers, and realized they smelled bad. And he threw them outside his door and cried to the skies. He cried over the years spent away from his soul, he cried over the stupidity of having been cheated and believing a scammer, he cried over being a victim and a traitor at the same time.
As he was crying, other enchanted ones heard him and then suddenly, something shifted in them, too. They were in great pain still but this time around, it was the pain of realizing that they had spent years with wool over their eyes, and something important had been stolen for them, and they were all bruised. And they started remembering how it all started, and how they were cheated, and how they believed the upside-down world, and how stupid the situation had been all along.
And they started remembering all the things they had done to each other, and suddenly noticing all the bruises and wounds not only on their own bodies but on the bodies of those around.
They felt great regrets for having allowed one crafty bad witch to do such a number on them. Especially embarrassed were the elders’ friends who, under the spell, had accused them of treachery for singing for peace and love.
The cry was so sincere and so raw, and their regret was so fruitful that something mysterious happened, and the elders’ prayers were answered in full. The village healed.
And the people threw a feast, and honored the elders from the heart and promised to not be idiots and to protect their village from bad witches—by being connected to the good energy with dedication and by not allowing anyone to hijack their hearts.
And the bad witch? The bad witch became so disgusted with all this love that she retreated back into the woods. There were other villages to prey on, after all.
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