#witchcraft: Unrealistic Expectations in Your Personal Practice

Look!  Here's me being a witch. Magical.
Look! Here’s me being a witch. Magical.

“Oh my god the moon is so full and beautiful! And it’s snowy! What are you going to do tonight?”

My newest outer court student, Wren, looked at me expectantly.

“Watch Game of Thrones DVDs and eat Triscuits until I pass out on the couch.”

By the look on Wren’s face, I could tell I’d burst a bubble or two. She paused, as though waiting for me to say I was just kidding. When I returned her gaze, straight-faced, she furrowed her brow a little and said, “I just imagine that you’re doing witchy things all the time. I mean, look at your life!”

She’s adorable. Really.

The truth is, by the time I’m done with work, research, writing, grading, whatever needs doing for inner court and outer court (which, for the record, is basically like running two separate groups at once), on top of my daily adulting, I’m fucking tired.

So when the moon is doing something cool, it’s usually enough for me to acknowledge it with, “Jeez, that’s cool,” and then pour myself a big glass of wine.

My witchcraft doesn’t usually look like what happens when you perform a Google image search on Wicca. I’m not holding candlelit rituals at every moon phase, doing morning devotions, meditating every day, or communing with the beauty of the natural world every time I step outside. I don’t cast spells every time I need something, and I don’t spend all of my free time pouring over grimoires or wildharvesting herbs to make my own salves or some such.

Let’s be real. Your witchcraft probably doesn’t look like that either.

So why do so many Wicca 101 books, blogs, and forum threads admonish seekers to shape their lives into this? I mean, if that’s your thing, then by all means. But I’m not actually less of a Wiccan or a less effective witch because my life is urban, messy, busy, and, often, mundane.

Since I began exploring witchcraft, I’ve been up to my nose in well-meaning advice on how to meditate more, how to do more ritual, how to find more time to be outside, how to develop a daily practice, how to make absolutely everything I do magickkckkkcal. Every day a witch. Constantly witchcraft. Magic in the mundane. Every act is a spiritual act.

But you know what?

Sometimes I just want to sit on my couch and watch TV. And I don’t really care how anticlimactic that sounds to other people. In fact, I actually love the mundane sometimes. It keeps me grounded and makes me feel like I’m contributing to the world. Sometimes, normalcy is downright soothing.

All of that advice is right, of course. There are lots of creative things you can do to make your life feel more magical, or to build a personal practice, or to develop spiritually through mundane action. Awesome.

But sometimes it comes across as a bit of a guilt trip.

Sometimes it just creates a lot of unrealistic expectations.

Sure, there’s a certain level of commitment that manifests in daily activities. Someone who’s really invested in their Craft actually does things that demonstrate this. We can get an idea about someone’s level of seriousness through considering their actions. Yeah. Fine.

But this is different for everyone. What takes minimal effort and holds little meaning for you might represent something enormous to someone else. And sometimes, the things that are most significant to one’s practice look pretty mundane.

In the last two years—just to use myself as an example—my witchcraft has revolved around being a group leader. My Craft has more to do with guiding others than focusing on a personal practice apart from Foxfire. It rarely feels very magical. Mostly, it’s a lot of schedule wrangling and vacuuming. It’s a lot of time spent answering e-mails and making phone calls and meeting for coffee. It’s a lot of crying to my own high priestess about things I’m worried about fucking up.

And I love it. But I’m not making flying ointments out of bear fat or draping myself in flowing dresses and prancing through meadows by lantern light. It doesn’t look very witchy.  You won’t recognize the bulk of my Craft work from #witchcraft on any social media platform.

But here’s the truth: my housecleaning and scheduling are just as much about devotion to the Craft as waking up early every day to meditate or doing some ritual every time a cloud floats across the moon. I’m doing just as much to serve my gods, and I’m producing something fucking magical in the end.

It’s always worthwhile to ask yourself if there are other things you could be doing to strengthen your practice as a witch, but it’s a mistake to assume that those things are necessarily going to look like what everyone tells you they should look like (especially given that, in my experience, even people who give advice about such things do a lot more talk than whatever it is they’re advising you to do).

Sometimes, I have no clue what the moon is doing. When I have the opportunity to sleep in, I usually take it. When I’m exhausted after a long day, I don’t beat myself up for not wanting to stay up for a solitary ritual. I sure as fuck don’t meditate every day, nor do I aspire to. And I don’t care if that makes me look less witchy to someone on Facebook or Tumblr.

I became a lot more secure in my own life as a witch once I stopped expecting it to look like something with a lot of Instagram filters. And just like on Instagram, you can’t really take what you see from other people at face value, anyway.

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