If witchy self care makes you think of crafting herbal bath salts, cooking up potions, and blending magickal oils, you’re likely not alone. However, conjuring up these treats for body and soul is to self care what crystals, wands and talisman are to witchcraft—fun, even effective, but not where your power lies.
Twenty years ago, in my practice of women’s wellness coaching, I was dismantling the same misconceptions that still linger today. Thanks mostly to consumer marketing, we all have a pretty picture of self care as candlelit bubble baths, chocolates and wine, retreats at lush spa resorts, massages, herbal wraps, mani-pedis, and other pampering indulgences.
Self cares are not simply about bubble baths and pampering treats. It’s also about a deep level of self awareness. True self care requires understanding your needs, giving to yourself at least as much as you give to others, and before you care for others. Narcissism aside, this is not selfish behavior, but rather self respect. You are taking responsibility for manifesting the best you you can be, rather than turning to others for what you need.
As witches, we serve many; we care for the earth and environment, our communities from global to neighborhood block, our families, and loved ones. It only makes sense to tend to our own needs in the same measure so that we can continue to serve.
You wouldn’t expect your car to get you to and from work, make it through a day of running errands, or carpooling kids to and fro, if you didn’t first fill the tank with gas. You wouldn’t expect it to serve you over many years if you didn’t change oil, keep fluids topped off, keep the tires filled and make necessary repairs when needed.
Now is the Time to Up Your Self Care Game
We’re in the midst of a global pandemic, in the throes of increasing social unrest, and teetering on the edge of a cavernous divide of ideologies. We have been thrown into unfamiliar and frightening situations. Our basic routines have changed—the way we work and go to school, the way we play and stay fit, the way we shop, the way we socialize. Even our living arrangements have changed, with children and partners home all the time, or living alone, isolated from friends and family.
We’ve all faced personal challenges at one time or another. Under normal circumstances, we have the opportunity to reach out to others for help, but now is different. Now, we’re all in crisis all at the same time.
If asked, most of us would say we’re doing an okay job of adjusting, and for the most part, I think we believe that. But I also think what we’re really doing is performing (relatively) well under pressure, waiting for it to be over so we can breathe a sigh of relief and then collapse. Now, more than ever, recognizing our individual needs for physical, emotional, and spiritual care is crucial for sustained wellbeing.
Just as witches are guided by the Four Pillars—To Know, To Will, To Dare, To Keep Silent, there are four guidepost for self care—Clarity, Action, Results, and Enrichment. And just the same as your true power as a witch, true self care comes from within.
Powerful Self care begins with knowing what you need to feel safe, supported, satisfied and fulfilled. When you name your needs and desires you can claim them, and create the space to receive them.
As witches, we recognize this quest for self knowledge and reconciliation as the . It requires facing both truths and untruths, unpacking the past and envisioning the future. You must know and love yourself—curiously, deeply and instinctively.
As witches, we can use divination and journaling to discover our true needs and desires. Connect to the energy of what you believe and what you’re feeling. Start a dialogue with yourself on paper. Ask you what you want and need. Keep asking, keep writing, be specific and keep digging deep until you find your truth.
Do you want more ease or leisure? What exactly does that look like? Putting your feet up to relax for a few minutes, or a few hours away from everybody and everything? How can it happen? Do you need somebody to step up and take over for the few minutes or hours? Is it possible you are the only one telling yourself you can’t take a break?
Maybe you need more money? How do you want to receive it? Do you need a better job, a promotion, or will you start a business? Envision your life exactly the way you desire it to be. Include why you want it and how you might get it. Keep returning to this dialogue, exploring all the areas of your life.
Taking Authentic Action
To Will, is to form an intent and act on it. In a spell or magickal working we focus our intent and use the power of our will to manifest it. In self care, this plays out as determining the best actions to support a desired outcome, and consistently following through on those actions.
Sometimes you have to ask others for what you want. Your request won’t always be granted, but you won’t know that until you ask. If you meet resistance, it’s time to honestly reevaluate the need, the relationship, and the required level of compromise. This doesn’t mean cutting cords, packing bags, or accepting defeat. There is usually more than one road to a destination.
For many years I believed I needed a neat and orderly garage, worthy of a two-page spread in Popular Mechanics or House Beautiful. I wanted a place for everything and everything in its place, where I could quickly find what I was looking for—hammer, paintbrush, rake, shovel, Samhain decorations.
Unfortunately my spouse has no such need for neatness. After many contentious confrontations that were getting me nowhere but frustrated, I realized that what I truly wanted was to avoid the rage I felt every time I couldn’t find what I was looking for in the disarray. Now, I send the spouse in to fetch what I want. No more frustration, no more rage, no more calling for Thor’s mighty lightning to burn it all down.
As you begin your practice of self care, focus on one need or desire at a time, so that you don’t become overwhelmed. Some will be easily obtained; others will take time to manifest.
What if my husband wasn’t so agreeable to being my fetch, or wasn’t always around when I need something in the garage? I could call a salvage company to come in and make a clean sweep, rent a dumpster and start tossing things out—or give some more thought to calling on Thor. Each of those solutions would produce the same amount of fireworks. The question becomes, is it worth the end result?
My point is, if your actions aren’t getting the results you desire, go back to the drawing board, all the way back to what it is you really want. Be creative, be willing to reassess your desire, and all the ways to obtain it.
It must be said that most of us can’t have everything we desire, or perhaps aren’t willing to resort to the means necessary for obtaining it. We compromise, give and take, weigh the consequences and in the final analysis, do what’s right for us. The goal of powerful self care is to achieve balanced, mind, body and spirit wellness as you know it.
Some aspects of a relationship may be frustrating, but others are rewarding and you find a balance you can live with. You may have limiting chronic conditions, you may struggle with depression, you may have any number of personal challenges. It doesn’t matter. Caring for yourself meets your needs in the best way achievable for you; in other words, for your greatest good and highest purpose.
Enrichment and Empowerment
This guidepost reminds me of the energy of the nine of wands in tarot. It also makes me think of the sovereignty we associate with being a witch. The word sovereignty denotes a right to self governance. It harkens to monarchs and royalty—and who is more enriched and empowered? Enrichment and empowerment are not something tangible, something we can see or display, but it definitely speaks of wellbeing.
Let me take it down a few notches and compare this guidepost to something everybody understands—doing the laundry. You sort the clothes, you wash them, fold them, and put them away. You take care of your wardrobe and it’s there, ready to clothe you when needed. If you fail to do the laundry, you’ll find yourself standing naked with nothing clean to wear. You can dig a dirty shirt out of the hamper, but it’s wrinkled and probably smells, and wearing it won’t make you feel good at all, let alone powerful.
When you do the work of self care enrichment and empowerment are at the ready, always there shoring you up. You have personal agency, a feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment. Vital energy, confidence, resilience, coping skills and so much more are always in the waiting.
The only work you have to do is keep an eye on how and where the results of self care are showing up or have gone missing in your life, and adjust accordingly.
You’re Only Human
As mortals, we are of the nature to make mistakes. Self care also includes holding yourself accountable, examining your troublesome thoughts and behaviors as they affect others. Have you harmed others? Do you wish to make amends? Is the return on investment something you want?
We take a lot on as witches; it’s in our nature. Tough times can make us stronger witches, but regardless of how powerful you are as a witch, you’re still only human. It’s okay to lose it once in a while. Pull the covers over your head, scream into your pillow, binge watch TV, or whatever you do to get away from it all. Give yourself the same space, compassion, and kindness you would a best friend, or your own child.
And by all means, if that bubble bath is the only thing keeping you from turning your entire family into toads (that you would lovingly house in a beautiful terrarium), by all means, take the bubble bath, light the candles, sip the wine and eat the chocolates.
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Portions of this post are excerpted from a book in progress by the author, The Tarot of Self Care for Personal Growth and Healing. You can read more about the program of Self CARE™ at simplewitch.com