As a Witch, survival has been on my mind lately.
To be fair, it’s what my body is designed to do, prioritize, and act on. Even if it doesn’t make sense or it doesn’t seem appropriate, this human body will always act in a manner of protecting itself.
With racism, fascism, transphobia, wildfires, pandemics, and so much more, surviving is what a lot of folks are doing. We have to.
For those who call themselves witches, we are lucky in a way. Lucky to have tools and magick. But what tools are you using right now for your own survival? For making it through this time and space in (mostly) one piece?
How to Survive in this World
Resilience has become a word that is said so often, it barely has meaning anymore. It now (for me) evokes the idea that we should be able to put up with things, to bend to the will of others, and to figure it out. I wish we didn’t have to. I wish for something different. I want something more, a world in which we thrive because we are surrounded by joy, knee-deep in rest, and able to stay in our power.
One of the places to begin is cleansing and purifying. I taught a class the other night about this, and I talked about how it’s not necessarily about cleaning yourself. It’s often more about getting rid of the spiritual detritus that others give off in the world. Maybe you need to wash your hands a few more times than normal after being out in the world. Take a shower or a bath before you step into sacred places. Maybe your work as a witch in the world (or a human) means you come into contact with the hard stuff. Find a way to cleanse yourself at the end of the day, lest it build up and start to impact you.
I think the most important part of a ritual as a witch is grounding. The place where you bring yourself to the present moment, in your body. This is a time to let go of what is happening (don’t worry, it will still be there if you want to visit again) and sink into whatever you are doing. You might sink into the earth to feel the coolness of the soil. You might want to drop off useless thoughts and concerns in the places of bones and stories. You might want to reach up to the skies and allow yourself to come into contact with the divine mysteries that are starlight, moonlight, and sunlight. Tap into those places that are beyond comprehension. And remember that you are between the earth and the sky, Witch. Remember who you are in this/that moment. Come back to you. Come back to the home that is you.
When this world is loud, it helps to become quiet. Go for a walk without headphones. Sit on the floor without your phone. Just allow the silence to wrap around you. As a witch, I need to tap into these places of quiet because the world is so loud and it can jumble the way I feel and act. You might even put on some headphones and invite silence. Your brain will not be silent, for sure. But you can sit in the space where the only input is your own. And like a snow globe, allow those thoughts to settle. Remind yourself how you can settle the noise.
Returning to nature is a balm and essential for survival. Even if you don’t live near nature, you can visit it in your mind or on a screen. You can also go out into a park or a green space or look at a houseplant. Remind yourself of the living things that rest in the world too. Watch how they have survived and thrived and moved on in the face of all of the horrors of modern America.
Move your body each day. It doesn’t have to be a complicated dance. This can be holding your own hand. This can be turning your head with intention. You can move with the wind or the radio or the TV. You can move with the light or the shadow or the rain. Allow your witch body to move as it loves and can. Allow it to become a way to remind yourself that action happens, even in small ways.
It can also help to have something you do every single day to ground yourself in yourself and in your survival as a witch and human. You might light a candle when you wake up. You might open a window and give thanks for the day. You might dance or ground or cleanse. Find something small that you can return to, that you can anchor to. That you can breathe into when the breath feels hard and stuck.
Ancestors & Allies
If you have ancestors and allies you work with as a witch, call to them. Sit with them. Make an altar to them. Remember how they too have faced difficult things and how they made it through. Ask them for advice. Cry with them. Laugh with them. Working with your ancestors and allies will help you feel less alone, as it can be so easy to travel to the places of isolation when the modern narrative is rugged individualism. Break out of that thinking and surround yourself in love.
Find a community where you can: online, in-person, wherever. Find people you can talk to and commiserate with. Find people who want to do magick and those who just want to feel the sun’s warmth on their faces. Look for the kind people. The generous people and give back to them. Build a community that holds each other and allows for continuous co-regulation and support.
Find Joy and Beauty Where You Can
In the end, the best advice is to find joy and beauty wherever you can. The world is hard. It is a fight to survive. And there are still wondrous and beautiful things. There are sunrises and sunsets. There are changing leaves and falling snow. There are meowing cats and oceans. Seek out the places that fill you with wonder and awe.
Whether you are a witch, a magician, a pagan, or a human, these are ways to bring yourself back to a place that is less like survival and more like living.
I wish I could say things will get better. They may not. But witches make magick in the ways they can. And it can start with you.