So I’ve been woefully absent, my friends, as you may have noticed. On top of work and my regular adulting regiment I’m now back in school working on a teaching certificate in secondary education so that I can start promoting witchcraft in public schools because the children are our future. Things are good, but I’m tired all the time and it’s harder to carve out large chunks of time to write.
Given that I’ve been so busy, I thought I’d address that very subject this time around with relation to Craft. What do you do when you’re too busy and you start feeling disconnected?
There’s no single thing you can do that automatically makes you a witch and ensures that you’ll never feel like you’re somehow failing in your practice. Individual traditions may have particular requirements, but, generally speaking, your witchhood manifests in wider tendencies present in your life. What attitudes and practices tend to exist in your day-to-day that have the flavor of witchcraft (mmmm)?
I’m yet to meet the person who becomes an initiate or reads their first introductory book and then their WHOLE LIFE INSTANTLY CHANGES OMG. It may feel like it’s all changing, but just on a practical level they’re still getting up every day, going to work, and otherwise being who they always were. Worldviews shift gradually. Habits shift gradually. It takes time, and it’s little things built up over the years (and then one day you look back and your life really has totally changed).
This is good news for the person who feels disconnected or like a failure because they’re not devoting hours a week to something explicitly witchy. Remember: it’s little things over time. You don’t have to be conducting long, elaborate ceremonies with a coven every week. You don’t have to wake up at 5 am and meditate.* You don’t have to keep trying to force yourself to like hiking or camping. You don’t have to start growing an herb garden and using the word “tincture” like you just discovered it (because you did).
Instead, look for tiny things that you actually can manage that inspire the feeling of connectedness. Here are some ideas that I’ve collected from both myself and my assorted colleagues:
Turn the things you already do into magical acts.
Being a witch doesn’t have to mean adopting a new set of hobbies and abandoning all of your old ones. You don’t have to suddenly be good at journaling, harvesting wild plants, or bottling your own essential oils. It’s not fair to punish yourself for (first) assuming that those things are required and (second) not automatically being good at them (or even liking them). Instead, keep doing the things you’ve always loved and come up with ways to relate them to your Craft. Are you an athlete? Do you love cooking? Are you an artist or a writer? What can you do to make those things magical?
I already told you about how I tied my practice of archery to my work with the Horned God. I’ve done similar things with my writing. I like to use magical inks and paper, which can make even the most mundane note-taking an act of Craft (this is good for you students). I scrawl sigils into my textbooks and journals. I’ve spelled pens, books, and letters. Suddenly, school, work, and journaling (something I did long before discovering witchcraft) can be a part of my magical practice.
My friend Acacia makes magical jewelry and dedicates her morning workouts to one of her gods. Corvus is the head of her household and likes to incorporate witchy themes into her decorating. It’s not ritual or magic per se, but it does mean that the mood is always right should she feel inspired.
I’ve got a friend who uses enchanted sugar in her coffee every morning (mmm…there’s that witchcraft flavoring again). I’ve got another who turned his volunteer job at an animal rescue agency into an exploration of shapeshifting. For my friend Hawk, her police work has become an expression of her devotion to her gods.
The possibilities are really only limited by the witch. The key is breaking out of the box that says that witchcraft is only certain things at certain times with certain people. What are you already doing in your life? How can you incorporate your own Craft? What might witchcraft look like at your job? Online? Taking care of your kids? When you’re relaxing with a favorite pastime? Even sleeping (dream work, anyone)?Find ways to interact with other witches.
You don’t have to be in a coven or have gobs of time to go to open rituals. This could be something simple like following witchcraft blogs and YouTube channels. Even if you never leave a comment, you’re still impacted by other people doing something similar in real time. It can make you feel like you’re a part of a bigger movement instead of just adrift.
Given that, it’s worth actually commenting. Online networking is a great way to inspire your Craft, and there are a million ways to do it now. It can also lead to things beyond the computer, in the event you are looking for physical contact.
And if you are in a coven, be sure to keep in touch, even if you need to take a hiatus. Send the periodic text, meet up for lunch, or chat on Facebook. You can be too busy for committed coven work, but try to find the time to pick up the phone.
Maintain some kind of altar or magical workspace.
It doesn’t have to be fancy, and there are no rules about what should or shouldn’t go on it. But make it so that it inspires some kind of emotional reaction when you see it. It should make you feel like something is afoot. You don’t have to spend a ton of time there, but even the act of dusting it, rearranging it, or changing out an assortment of offerings (if your Craft involves some kind of devotional work with spirits or gods) can instantly reconnect you and inspire future work.
Finally, there’s a chance you’re not as busy as you think you are.
Most of us are pretty busy. Some of us are super busy. Multiple jobs, a school schedule, taking care of kids, and then coming home after an exhausting day and barely having the energy to perform basic self-care are all part of daily reality. I don’t want to gloss over any of that or shame people for legitimately being honest-to-god overworked.
That said, some of us are just on Tumblr too much.
We might feel busy, but often it’s just a case of poor time management skills. This is why some of my undergrads can regale me with exciting tales from weeknight binges and out-of-town sports games but seem to be incapable of turning in assignments on time (even after crying in my office and begging for an extension). They’re genuinely exhausted, and usually the issue isn’t laziness per se. They just don’t know how to be in school, despite being in school. It’s a question of priorities and practice, and it takes many of them their whole college careers (and a few bad grades) to get a handle on it.
I’ve found the key is paying attention to those smaller chunks of time that are easiest to waste. Twenty minutes here, ten minutes there, that hour before bed, etc. A multi-hour chunk of time for an elaborate group ritual is a luxury that some people just can’t afford, but plenty of us could manage a half hour here or there for some Craft-related something-or-other, especially if we start thinking of it as self-care. What are you doing (really) with those unaccounted for moments of your day? How much time do you spend playing games on your phone? Watching TV? Hanging out on Facebook?
I’m not saying not to do those things or even that they’re unimportant. I’ve just found that people often aren’t aware of how much time really goes into them. I know people who can spend hours every day just screwing around on their phones or computers (not working, mind, just absentmindedly scrolling or following a trail of links) without realizing how much time has passed. It can be truly horrifying to see what we lose that could be better spent elsewhere.
You may even be able to come up with ways to make your TV or Internet time magical. Corvus loves reading fanfic, and she can do it for hours. But what used to be a passive hobby is now something that she’s trying to use to engage as a witch. She’s done spellwork on behalf of her favorite writers (and at their request no less), sought out ritual ideas in her favorite stories, and otherwise begun tying something that used to feel separate and unrelated into her Craft. Theoretically, this could work for an infinite number of other activities and interests.
So the next time you’re feeling guilty for not devoting enough time to your practice, consider shifting your perspective on those things that you already do. What does your day-to-day life include? Which of those things are actually priorities? Of those things, how can you incorporate your Craft?
*Which is what popular witch books always seem to want me to do. Just meditate! Oh, meditation is the solution! Just twenty minutes! It’ll fix everything! Everyone needs to meditate! Look at all this science! Eighteen years of this and it’s still never happening. Stop trying to make “fetch” happen. It’s not going to happen.