Why I’m Hesitant About Spellwork

Why I’m Hesitant About Spellwork February 8, 2021

I’m a bit of an anomaly around these parts. Patheos Pagan is a wonderful resource for all kinds of rituals and magic, so I was pretty surprised to be welcomed as a blogger. I’m heathen, crazy heathen, nun-level of devotion to heathenry. But I don’t practice magic. Not because it doesn’t interest me – I’ve read about various forms of spellwork and practices over the last few decades. In my own tradition, seiðr and galdr are fascinating pathways I’ve studied on and off. The closest thing to magical practice I actually engage in, however, is simplified trancework. Even then, it’s not intended for prophecy or anything. It’s just a way for me to wander around and say “hey” to deities and ancestors on their own turf. I’m incredibly hesitant to do anything that involves working my will or manifesting anything beyond “I’m going to light a candle for you for better health/mental wellbeing” basics. My reluctance doesn’t come from superstition or any “witchcraft is bad!” mindset – I wasn’t raised Christian, so that was never an issue for me. Rather, spellwork makes me nervous because, well, an old friend summed it up perfectly: I’m, in their words, “perpetually adjacent to catastrophe.” I’m a Lokean. The Chaos God is a strong influence in my life. Like, strong.

Seidrkona
Seiðrkona, or one who practices seiðr. Or just me screaming at the universe when things go sideways. Image: Wikimedia Commons

The Woo-ification of Lea

A well-meaning friend, lineaged in the Gardnerian trad, has been introducing me to outer court BTW. Since I’ve always had an interest in witchcraft, I’m excited to learn about these practices. After all, my brief foray into Christianity as a teen taught me the value of community and ritual. Before that, I, in our family tradition, was a solitary heathen who didn’t put too much stock in formal rites. So experimenting with Catholicism actually made me a better heathen. In that same vein, I’m interested in BTW as a way to broaden my perspective further and to embellish the tools I have at my disposal.

Another friend, a heathen witch, said they were stoked about this “woo-ification of Lea.” Now, I already embrace woo more than the average heathen, I think: I’ve got very intense connections and relationships with a handful of gods and goddesses in the Norse pantheon, and the direct communication that results is considered to be in the realm of woo. (Of course, most of you know that by “woo” I’m referring to the supernatural side of life. I’m Ace, verging on AroAce, so “woo” as “courting or seduction” is going to be wasted effort on me. Throw all the spirit woo you want at me, but flirty woo is just going to get you a blank stare and a “wut” from me. Just wanted to clarify in case there’s a different slang term you may be familiar with. I’ve always thought of “woo” in the Miriam-Webster sense, so it’s a little weird to fling it around so much now that I’m learning about occult experiences and practices.)

So What’s The Problem?

Loki. Loki’s the problem. Loki’s always the problem.

I jest, of course. Kind of. Y’see, because of my oath to Himself, his energy is in everything I do (see above, re: “crazy heathen”). The same friend who’s stoked about my “woo-ification” also once accused me of being “the frat boy of Lokeans” because I (and I quote) “spread Loki around like an STD.” I just radiate Big Loki Energy, apparently, because of my nun-like devotions. Thankfully I embody a lot of Sigyn as well to balance things out so that I’m not absolutely insufferable. But yeah. Lokean frat boy.

I celebrated Feast of Torches for the first time ever Sunday night. But I was thinking of it more in terms of Imbolc as “come on, spring! Let’s bring back the sun!” I think that’s where I went wrong.

It was snowing Sunday night. By Tuesday afternoon, my city was buried under 30 inches of snow.

“Sorry, y’all,” I posted on Facebook. “I think I did the ritual wrong.” I swear to you Loki was not part of the ritual. I did not mention him, I didn’t heathenize any part of it. On the contrary, after a lifetime of hailing the moon as Mani, a god, and the sun as Sunna, a goddess, it was pretty discombobulating to reverse the genders for a BTW rite. Maybe that was the problem? My energy was messed up because my wires were crossed in my brain? Or maybe it’s the whole “I love winter and hate spring” deal I have. Cold weather makes me happy, temps above 60°F make me cranky. Plus, as mentioned above, my Aceness means the whole “springtime twitterpation” thing makes my skin itch. Or maybe that’s just seasonal allergies. Those are also a thing. I’m a mess, is what I’m saying. I’m the last person who should be attempting a “yay springtime” ritual.

blizzard
Happy Imbolc, neighbors! Sorry ’bout this. . . Image by Rick Kintzel of The Morning Call

All In Jest

So did I tap into some well of witchy energy and bork up the weather? Nah, it’s just an amusing anecdote that a dramatic winter storm aligned with me doing an Imbolc-ish thing for the first time. Just a funny coincidence. Just like last year, when my kindred humored me by letting me host a Loki blót on Leap Day. Exactly two weeks later, the state went into lockdown because of COVID-19.

“Let’s have a Loki blót, she said. It’ll be fun, she said.” Obviously Loki isn’t responsible for the pandemic. It was well underway long before the blót, and rumors of lockdowns and such were already afoot before I’d even realized that Feb. 29th fell on a Saturday. Honor a wonky god on a wonky day! Yay! But still, the timing left a lot to be desired. So. Awkward.

Honestly, I’m thrilled to learn about witchcraft and a tradition/practice outside of my usual wheelhouse. It’s an interesting exercise, engaging in ritual that has a more formal structure than my usual “HAIL! *drink* I LOVE ALL Y’ALL!” nonsense, even if it’s mentally frustrating trying to let go of what I’m used to in order to honor a different perspective. I’m looking forward to developing a new kind of discipline and to focus my will a little more.

What Say You?

So what kind of advice do you have to share with a fledgling heathen wannabe witch? My teacher is fantastic, but I’m the kind of nerd who likes to get a broad range of opinions. Mostly, I need tips on how to get out of my own brain for a bit, lest I drive myself even more crazy with over analysis of coincidences. The universe isn’t actually laughing at me, is it? Loki’s not having some fun at my expense, is he? (I know he’s not. I’m pretty sure he’s not. He’s got better things to do than bury my house in 30″ of snow following an Imbolc ritual. Right?!)

I’m mostly kidding. Mostly. I do have a long, strange track record of close calls and uncanny experiences. I’m not sure if my friend accusing me of being “perpetually adjacent to catastrophe” is accurate, or if my life can just be summed up as “holy coincidence, Batman!”

Or, you know, Loki. Tricksters, amiright?

fox
Tricksters: can’t live with ’em, but they’re good for a laugh now and then. Image: Pixy.org/Public domain

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154 responses to “Why I’m Hesitant About Spellwork”

  1. Advice for a fledgling heathen wannabe witch? Flying is the same as falling, except you forget to hit the ground. Simple!

    You know yourself better than I, and I hesitate to unduly influence your exploration. But as you asked…

    If you’re looking to train your will, visualization/intentional exercises within any kind of structure often help. It can be the structure more than the specific content, and the repetition is like physical exercise. The more you work out, the more strength and endurance you develop.

    Considering your alignment, there may be limits to how much structure is healthy for you. If you look closely, on the other side of the sky, the flames of chaos are named truly as the flames of growth: the fires of creation untamed by any forge.

    But because human beings take too much comfort in the structures we build around us, we resist the changes which shake us out of our stupor. All our comforting routines become the kindling that feeds the fires of our potential, and tricksters give people the push they don’t know they need.

    This can show up in trickster approaches to magick. The structure is fun as long as it’s useful; then the structure is fun to pull apart; and finally, people’s faces as you pull the structure apart to make room for more growth are funnier still.

    Above all, I hope you have fun. The focus of forgetting yourself in laughter at the absurdity of it all/acting freely from joy is as profound as any trance. Please don’t be afraid of who you are.

    Have you considered, the next time you visit the other side of the sky, asking Them to guide you?

  2. I just smiled my way thru that honest writeup. And I wanted to thank you….I guess it’s alright to be a “mess”!LMAO

  3. When my best friend was dying, I was thinking about all the close calls in which I managed to somehow evade death, and also about the “Mandela Effect,” and a scary but comforting thought began to occur to me: What if, from our own perspectives, our lives continually “jump tracks” through different dimensional possibilities until we reach the end of our own longest-possible lifespan…? This allayed my grief momentarily, because it allowed me to believe that, in another timeline, my best friend was still healthy and was going to live several more years—but, for complicated stacks of happenstances I would never be able to understand, I don’t get to know her in her longest timeline. I just know her in my own longest timeline.

    Well, the idea of spellwork started to scare me right then. Now, I *do* come from a Christian background, so this was essentially an elaborate way of worrying I was screwing up my destiny. Still, I began to worry that I was asking the Universe to let me OFF of my own “best” (?) track every time I… tried to “lengthen” someone else’s “track.” Shiver.

  4. Thanks for making me smile, and realising that I’m not the only one “perpetually adjacent to catastrophe.” Friends call me “Calamity Jenn”, and wonder why dramatic things seem to occur near me. Always.
    Although I’d call myself pagan, in the widest sense, I have no affiliations to a given path, or deity, and don’t do witchcraft. The last time myself and 3 others set intent to make the forecast thunderstorm a “good one” for our Aussie friend who was missing proper lightning; the storm was huuge. There was Thundersnow (a very rare phenomenon) The thundersnow created a sonic boom that actually blew out some windows in old buildings in the city, and was heard for something like a 15 mile radius. The entire city (our capital at that) had powercuts of epic proportion. My own internet router blew up, and I live 13 miles from the storms centre, the capital city, where my Aussie friend lives. Yeah, I don’t do witchcraft.

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