Of Light & Shadow: Disconnecting to Reconnect

Of Light & Shadow: Disconnecting to Reconnect July 20, 2022

I remember back in my first year of college, before the age of smartphones, I had a cell phone. It was an old Nokia dinosaur that you could only use to call and text, and texting was limited to a certain number of texts per month, so you had to be careful about how many you sent and received. And it wasn’t exactly small and lightweight, so sometimes I didn’t even carry it with me. GASP! What blasphemy, right? My phone was used only for calling family and friends, which was pretty sparse, to be honest. And there’s a point to why I bring this up that I’ll get to in a minute.

Trees and plants and animals were my playmates. Public domain image by jplenio via Pixabay.

I used to spend hours and hours outside as a kid. Trees and plants and animals were my playmates. It’s funny how, even though I didn’t have my first computer until middle school and my first cell phone until I was in college, they’ve since both become a huge part of my life. Sometimes too huge.

I had such a powerful and meaningful experience during Samhain that year of college that, looking back, now seems incredibly simple. After classes on Samhain, I went to the woods near campus – just me – and walked around. I spoke to my gods and my ancestors. Having memories of many of my great-grandparents, I took the time to remember them and honor them.

I got lost in a walking meditation as I wandered around the trails. There’s something about walking alone in nature and getting lost in your thoughts that is incredibly meditative. Meditation isn’t always sitting with your legs crossed, eyes closed, and breathing to clear your mind until you find something deep inside you. If that works for you, great, but for many of us, it’s not always a do-able style of meditation. Meditation can differ depending on your goal and purpose.

On this particular day no one was around. Public domain image by Erik Karits via Pixabay.

On this particular day, no one was around, so it was simply me, the land, the trees, my spirits, deities, and ancestors, and the animals that inhabited the space. It was incredibly powerful and, despite how simple it may sound, is something that stands out in my memory 15 years later. I think that it stands out because it was a time where I had no reason to “be connected”, and I could simply enjoy the experience in its authenticity.

I now look at it and think to myself, my gods how easy that seems, but it’s not so easy. In fact, oftentimes it’s incredibly challenging. What was once so simple and easy now takes a lot of conscious effort to do. It’s not easy to shut off the phone and put it away. The thought pops up – but what if someone needs me? What if I get a message that I need to see? I might get a Facebook notification commenting on that meme I shared!  Rest assured, whoever is trying to get a hold of you likely doesn’t have a life-or-death emergency that you need to be a part of. Of course, there are times when this is the case and you do need to be available “just in case”.

A Fine Line

There are certainly ways to incorporate technology into your witchcraft. Many of us use technology to play music from a device rather than having live music playing, simply because it is far more accessible. For me, at least, it can still produce a profound effect. Live video sessions can help witches from around the globe come together for meditations, chants, and even rituals. And while this has a different feel to it, it can still be a powerful method of bringing witches together. Many modern witches have a thriving online business and social media presence that was unheard of even just a decade ago.

There is a fine line between using technology as a tool and it being a distraction. Public domain image by VanDulti via Pixabay.

That being said, there is a fine line between using technology as a tool and it being a distraction. These distractions can be in the form of getting lost in your favorite show instead of your daily hour of power. Choosing to play video games instead of connecting to your chosen deities and spirits. Being distracted by social media so much that you can’t focus long enough on any one thing for very long. This is the curse of modern technology.

I am absolutely guilty of all of these and more, which is the precise reason I am writing this article. Don’t do what I do. We are all guilty of this, and while I don’t think we should necessarily punish ourselves for being distracted by media and technology, I do think that we should strive to periodically disconnect.

What If…?

Just for a moment, let’s get lost in the idea of being able to shut that phone off and step away from the technology without worry of missing out on something. Easier said than done, right? Despite how simple it sounds, it takes a lot of willpower and a conscious effort. Even on little trips out in nature, sometimes we get so lost in the concern of missing out on something, or that we have to “capture the moment” and make sure to have that phone out and ready for pictures and videos of our favorite plants, animals, or stunning views. And while that’s great, it can also lead to missing out on what’s right in front of us. Photos and videos are no substitute for meaningful experiences and simply disconnecting.

There is also a time to disconnect and simply be. Public domain image by David Mark via Pixabay.

There is a time and a place to have technology with you and around you. But there is also a time to disconnect and simply be – whether that be by yourself at home or a moment out in nature. And believe me, I understand having a busy life – work, school, kids (though I don’t have any myself, I can see and appreciate the time and effort that it takes), a social life, and other things that pull our attention away. But I also think that it’s important to disconnect in some way from time to time, even if it’s taking 5 minutes to disconnect and take some deep breaths in the bathroom alone.

When was the last time you did this? If your answer was anything but ‘recently’, then I think it’s time. But be careful not to drown in your thoughts of ‘not being good enough’. There are often thoughts of guilt, that “I’m not _____ enough” (insert your chosen self-demeaning adjective here). We beat ourselves up sometimes over not spending more time taking care of ourselves that we end up not doing anything because it feels like too much.

You Are What You Need

Spending any time on yourself and your own care is exactly what you need at that moment. No second guessing, no comparing yourself to someone else. Your life and your needs are not theirs. Do you want to build up a daily practice of meditation? Great! But don’t get caught up in the end goal that you miss out on now. Try to learn to appreciate the time you are giving yourself, even if 5 minutes alone in the bathroom is all you can afford right now. That’s OK.

I think there’s this misconception that disconnecting has to involve a large chunk of time dedicated to sitting down quietly on a mat and trying to “meditate”, but in reality, we often don’t have the time, or if we do, we end up getting so distracted that we just give up. But 1) Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a healthy meditation practice, and 2) YOUR self-care is not the same as someone else’s. Perhaps this kind of meditation doesn’t work for you. Try going on a walk. Sometimes a quick walk outdoors and taking the time to listen to the sounds of birds and wind in the trees is the perfect form of self-care. Maybe it’s doodling or journaling. Or simply curling up with that book that’s been sitting on your shelf gathering dust.

Take the time to listen to the sounds of birds and wind in the trees. Public domain image by Susann Mielke via Pixabay.

Whatever time you can afford, and whatever practice that looks like, giving yourself a chunk of time is healthy and necessary. Think of what stresses you throughout your day. Can you get up during your work day for a 10-minute walk? Can you take 5 minutes to go to another room and simply breathe? Can you read or do some journaling before bed? Or maybe, it’s simply taking a moment to step outside in the morning, cup of coffee in hand, and greeting the day.

Think about it. Think about ways you can reconnect with yourself. You may just find that you were exactly what you were looking for.

About Charlie Larson
Charlie Larson has been a practicing eclectic pagan and witch for nearly two decades. Though devoted to Anubis, he also works with a number of other deities. He is a linguist, a teacher, and a teacher trainer in the field of higher education, and he holds a Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics. He has been a writer of poetry and fiction for most of his life and is currently working on non-fictional works under the umbrella of paganism and witchcraft. He is a Reiki II practitioner and is currently learning Sekhem Heka. His practice is highly devotional, incorporating deities, ancestors, and other spirits into his practice. Charlie currently resides in San Francisco, California, and he enjoys reading, writing, hiking, gaming, enjoying art, and learning languages. You can read more about the author here.

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