As I write this, the governor of Michigan has closed down our state due to the Coronavirus. For me, not a lot of daily life has changed. My work is from home. My travel, shopping, and attendance to events have been curtailed but that is doable. However, I feel this situation may be drawing me into what Ode and I call a “fallow period.”
Fallow Period: A Definition
My grandfather and uncle were farmers in Missouri. Growing up, my Summer vacation included a few weeks of traveling from Michigan to visit extended family on those farms. I loved going to visit my grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousin. It was under their tutelage I learned to value what local farmers do for the community.
One of their regular practices included allowing a field to go fallow. Basically, they would plow but a section or set of fields would remain unplanted for a season, allowing the soil to retain nutrients and increase the overall fertility of the land. This goes hand in hand with rotating crops, etc. I remember my grandfather, in particular, talking to me about the process.
So, when we (3 Pagans and a Cat) speak of a “fallow period” in context with spiritual or magickal practice, for us this indicates a time when a person may need to focus on spiritual/emotional/physical self-care or simply rest for a season.
What brings about such a time? A fallow period may be due to life changes, periods of depression or illness, etc., seasonal and atmospheric changes, or be what is needed from time to time to cope with life in general. For me, such a time has become an annual event during Middle Winter when Hermit energy abounds.
Fallow Period: May Turn Into Self-Doubt
The problem is that many people question themselves during a fallow period. Are they being “witchy” enough? Perhaps they are not meant to be (insert magickal practice, spiritual/religious path, or tradition here) because the motivation for “doing the thing” is low. Should they return to their former religion? This type of self-doubt may lead to Imposter Syndrome.
According to Wikipedia, Imposter Syndrome is “a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.” A phenomenon that research suggests affects 70% of people (high achieving women in particular) at some point in their life. The inner fear that they are somehow a “fraud,” regardless that their emotional or spiritual conflict proves sincerity.
In my experience, people leaving mainstream religion to become Witches, Wiccans, or Pagans can fall prey to this type of internalized criticism. A person may question new beliefs or compare their practice with others based upon what they see or read on social media.
Newer Witches may become disillusioned when spellcrafting does not create the intended result. Some people have trouble “reprogramming” previous religious dogma resulting in cognitive dissonance. Perhaps you can see how a “fallow period” may be misunderstood.
Navigating A Fallow Period During A Pandemic
Currently, we are experiencing an unprecedented time throughout the world. Worry, fear and stress due to measures being taken to quell the spreading coronavirus are present. Frustrations are high. Stay-at-home orders have people interacting with a spouse, children, roommates, etc. more than usual.
The disruption means people are having to find new ways to practice their path or tradition when they can no longer gather with coven, grove, group, or gathering. Online services and rituals are making connections possible. Which is serving to validate covens already meeting online as a matter of course.
For solitaries, it may mean being even more flexible, moving to a different space to do magickal working, ritual, meditation, etc. or adjusting the time in which you practice. In my own experience, we moved a week or two before the coronavirus situation ramped up. The place I had planned to use for my spiritual practice is not available. The room still needs to be renovated and now that won’t be happening any time soon. So, I am treating this time as an extended fallow period.
Here Are A Few Magickal and Mundane Suggestions
If you are experiencing a fallow period due to the “shelter-at-home” orders which the coronavirus have warranted, consider these strategies for making it through to the other side:
Be patient with yourself and others. Not always easy, when emotions are running high.
Find five to ten minutes to yourself to breathe. Just breathe. Focus on relaxing. Rest within the moment.
Engage in some form of meditation.
Work with plant allies – craft essential oil blends to boost health, or herbal shields.
Communicate your needs. Tell the spouse, kids, roommate(s), or whoever that you need space for spiritual or magickal practice. And listen to their needs as well, so everyone can find time and space for what they need.
Feed your spirit by listening to music, reading, doing some kind of craft or hobby.
Participate in uplifting online activities, spiritual gatherings/rituals, chat times, etc.
Take a free or discounted educational course online. Engage your mind with something new.
Employ witchcraft that focuses on healing.
Get fresh air at least once a day. Go for a walk. Do yoga. Try stretching exercises. Sit under a tree and experience the energy of the breeze.
Light a candle every day for family, friends, coworkers, neighbors.
Don’t pressure yourself into “being spiritual” if you’re not feeling it right now. Hold space to return to a more devoted practice in the future.