Witchcraft in a Time of Crisis

“Listen to me: the human world is a mess.” - Sebastian de Krab, Advisor and Lead Child Care Provider to King Triton

...seriously, though. May 2020 has been a very long decade, huh? With Covid-19, and - look. I don’t think I really need to tell you why it’s been a long year, do I? You’ve probably been as inundated with blogs and news reports and youtube videos on the topic as we have and good news! Here’s one more. Hopefully, one with a twist.

To many people, Witchcraft is as much a faith or a practice as it is a lifestyle. And when the status quo of your life has been turned upside down - be it by personal crises or by global ones - it can be difficult to maintain your routine. Humans are pack animals. In these difficult times especially, it’s important to feel connected in all walks of your life and for many people, social isolation or depression has taken away their witchy community. Without that support and sense of belonging, personal and global crises can feed into each other, creating a loop where you might feel as though you’ve ‘fallen off the wagon’ in your practice.

Spoonie Witchcraft

My depression often manifests in ‘executive dysfunction’, which can be defined as “difficulties with initiating, organising and carrying out activities”. As someone who has spent the past year in an oath involving frequent study, and who believes firmly in sharing information and knowledge with the community, this has been… difficult, as a witch. I’m not the only witch who has similar issues, be it to do with their mental health, a chronic illness or a disability. Though I do not personally use the term, many people under this umbrella like to describe themselves as ‘spoonie witches’.

The term ‘spoonie’ comes from the Spoon Theory, first proposed by Christine Miserandino as an analogy to express how you feel as the day goes on based on how many ‘spoons’ you have left, and is used primarily by people with low or limited energy. For example, on a given day you might have had a good night’s sleep, and woken up with ten spoons. Getting out of bed might be peanuts to you, so that doesn’t take any spoons, but you have to send an email to your boss first thing and that task is more mentally draining. Now you’re down to eight out of ten spoons. The trip to the shops takes up four spoons, which is more than usual, because of putting on your mask, travelling on the bus, queuing up 6ft away from people… by the time you get home, your whole day is ahead of you but you’re down to less than half of your spoons, and they need to be enough to look after yourself and do your witchy things for the day.

Low Energy Magic

So if your witchcraft is important to yourself and you’re working with less spoons for whatever reason, how do you juggle things? Budgeting spoons itself can be stressful, but many rituals and spells can be simplified and streamlined so that they don’t drain you too much.

Sigils and crystals are relatively low-energy methods of magic, as using them does not require much ‘extra’ work. Similarly, reducing existing magic down to ‘symbols’ can be a way to do something that might otherwise be beyond you. This could be in the form of:

  • Sigils (pre-crafted and charged, and/or relatively simple to create)

  • Power Words (perhaps in conjunction with sigils, but “words have power”; consider quotes from movies, for example Labyrinth’s “You have no power over me”)

  • Crystals (find a crystal that manifests a certain need, and carry it on you)

  • Candles (if you don’t/can’t create a bubbling brew, burn a candle that manifests the same needs)

  • Seals/Runes (see sigils)

Meditation is one way to focus on your spiritual needs without expending much physical energy. It can also help to replenish your mental energy, or ‘flush out’ your spiritual system. If meditation is not something that comes easily to you, daydreaming can be a way to just better ground and attune yourself to the world around you. Even just sitting and doing what needs to be done by the day’s end and inviting your spirits or deities to sit with you in companionable silence is a perfectly viable method of spiritwork; where a summoning ritual or a divination reading for communication might take up more brain power than you have to spare.

Let’s talk about tea magic. Got a spell that requires herbs that you don’t have time or energy to put together? Perhaps some of the ingredients you need are in that herbal tea blend you’ve had sitting in the cupboard waiting for ‘the right moment’. Ditto bathbombs and soaps. On a similar note, preparing spell ingredients in advance - similarly to frozen meal kits, or premade cake kits - when you do have energy can be great! That way, when you need that jar spell or engraved candle or potion or poppet curse, everything is in one place and you don’t need to go on a great expedition before you can even get started. It might even just be a matter of opening the box it’s kept in and going ‘off you go, spell!’. 

Finally, integrating magic into your daily routine is a good way to make it part of an item on your day’s checklist as opposed to a new item on your day’s checklist. Cleansing rituals can be a part of showering in the morning, and getting dressed and/or doing make-up can itself be a glamour spell. An offering to your deities can be as simple as putting out another cup alongside your own morning coffee, and your commute to work is a good time to listen to a podcast on a witchy topic you’re interested in and get in that studying time when there’s not much else you could be doing.

The possibilities here are endless and the most important thing to take away is that witchcraft is witchcraft if you say it is. If to you it means grand old rituals and dancing around a bonfire in the woods, or following a path or code to the letter, then it’s witchcraft. If it means casting a love spell with a bubble bath and drawing sigils on the back of your textbooks, then it’s witchcraft. No matter how the world or your life might be beating you down, you don’t need to worry that you’re not ‘doing enough’ to still be a witch, and if your best happens to be taking some time off while you recover then that is just as valid as any other option.

Magic as Support

On the other end of the scale, witchcraft can be used to help you through a period of crisis. As I mentioned before, talking about your problems or even just talking with people that you know understand you is sometimes one of the hardest but most effective steps. But you can also get creative with your witchcraft, and inject a little bit of magical energy into your body to get you through. This could include:

  • Sigils (there is no limit to what a sigil could represent)

  • Glamours (for when you need to just put on a brave face, for example)

  • Candles and incense etc (a quick google search will tell you plenty of associations for different colours and scents that can be applied magically)

  • Pouches, teas and edibles (little bundles of healing herbs to help you sleep, be calm etc)

  • Crystals (carrying certain crystals on you for extra bursts of support)

  • Cleansing (spells to ‘draw out’ negative feelings, or create a safe bubble to retreat to)

Keeping a dream diary is a good way to recognize themes in your life that might be giving you a hard time that you can’t see in your waking life; the same goes for reading your progressed astrological chart. They, and knowing the upcoming moon phases, can also give you a heads up before something changes that might impact your life or the world around you.

Another thing you can do - if you are currently handling things okay, and want to support your spoonie witches or people not handling their personal or global crises so well - is to offer the hand of friendship  or a few words of wisdom. Flock around the people you love and the people you want to/think you can help, and make the world just a little bit brighter.

When things start to get as ‘back to normal’ as they can, keep on doing the next right thing. If we all follow that advice, we’ll keep on making it through.

(Originally posted for Aquarius Moon Journal on May 28 2020, and preserved here.)

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