What do we usually think of when we think of “work”? Maybe we think of productivity, a specific place (like an office), or exercise (working out). In all of those cases, we must labor, and for some of us, laboring is a struggle. What’s laborious for one person may be a breeze for another, which is why the “Work” I perform in my practice of Wicca may look nothing like anyone else’s. Regardless of what work looks like to you, the point is that it should require some effort from you.
A few very close friends of mine, who are also Gardnerians, and I often refer to “The Work” when we talk about Wicca. What we’re referring to is the spiritual, emotional, and physical labor that comes with being religious people in a community (and religious people who lead covens, no less). We don’t call this “work” to be pejorative but to be precise with our words and respectful of the effort we put into our practices. Practicing Wicca brings contentment, yes, but it requires from us as much as we desire from it.
The more that we desire from Wicca, the more that we must put into it. For some, the level of commitment required to make Wicca or any other spiritual/religious practice work just isn’t worth it. Many of us desire easy commitments (or no commitments) to our spiritual practices, leading some of us to give up one commitment for another. Commitment-hopping in spiritual/religious practices might be a sign of laziness or shallow engagement in some people…OR, it’s a sign that a person is struggling with their spiritual Workload.
Sometimes You Need to Get Some Strange
The first time that I heard the term “strange” to describe getting some nooky with a stranger was a few years ago. The person that said it had just gotten out of a relationship and wanted to get their ex out of their head. Sometimes we need to take a similar approach with our spiritual/religious practices. If you feel that your relationship to your current spiritual or religious tradition has taken its course then go get some strange. Meaning: try out a different tradition or religion all together. Why the hell not?
I try to remind myself that the other person’s spiritual Work shouldn’t be a reflection of my own just because we share(d) a spiritual practice. Their Work may require a different approach — some strange, if you will. So who are we to say that a person “isn’t doing the Work” if they move on to something else? If a person is reverting to a former practice then it means that some business or some Work has been left undone. We should give them the space and the grace to figure it out for themselves, even if it’s not how we would do it.
There’s Nothing Wrong with Taking a Break
All of us need a break from work from time to time, including breaks from our spiritual and religious practices. It is okay if you miss observing esbats or forget to do your weekly/daily offerings. The point of making something meaningful shouldn’t also be to make it a goddamn chore. If your practice begins to feel like a chore then take a break or dial it back. Your gods will understand. That group that you lead will respect you more for establishing healthy boundaries than running yourself ragged. Martyrdom isn’t a good look on anyone.
Taking a break from something doesn’t have to permanent. Sometimes we know exactly how long of a break we need and other times we just have to feel it out. Both are valid approaches. If you find yourself struggling to be consistent in your practice or if you’re starting to resent engaging with it then please take a breather. You’ll be in a healthier state of mind when/if you choose to return.
The saying goes that “there’s no rest for the wicked”, and I think it’s because it must take a lot of work to maintain wicked ways. But I bet those wicked people are wicked tired, y’all. You know what doesn’t make you wicked, though? Taking a break. Taking care of yourself. Doing what’s right for you.
Let there be rest for the Wicca’d, the wicked, and wayward.