Whether you consider yourself a witch or not, chances are you are probably not immune to the explosion of all things witchy within the queer world. For me, the identity of being witch and being queer are inseparable. As queers we make natural witches, in my opinion. We’re already the edge walkers, and the culture creators. We already know what it means to walk half-in and half-outside of the regular world. This liminal space is the place where all magic comes from in my opinion, and as queers it is our natural place of power.
While a big part of magic is claiming the parts of ourselves that are powerful, for me it’s also about discovering a solid set of tools to heal myself and my community. So however you identify on the witchy spectrum, here are five simple witchy practices that anyone can do to take care of themselves, and that most of us should be doing more often.
Casting Circles of Protection
For as much as we love to talk about boundaries, some of us really suck at navigating them. Each and every one of us has the right to decide what kind of energy we want surrounding us. Circles of protection help with that. You can put them around your bedroom or your whole house (provided you have permission of everyone who lives there). You can even put them around event spaces. You can cast them for just a night or you can put one up permanently.
Putting up a circle is taking a giant stand for your own mental and psychic well being. If you are a sensitive person this is almost essential.
Here are some simple ways to put some protection around your home or room:
- Hang herb bundles on the doors. Rosemary works great for this.
- Put four large and protective rocks at each corner of your yard (if you have one) and gently pour a little water over each one, asking them to protect your home.
- Stand in the center of a room and rotate clockwise as you visualize a white light moving to surround the entire space. If you do this one, remember to take it down at the end of the night, circles like this can be draining if left up too long.
- Ward your doors and windows by putting a tiny protective symbol on the glass. Eyeliner works great for this if you have some around.
I will admit I was skeptical when I first started working with circles of protection, but they really do work. Having a protected home makes it feel like I have a haven to escape to. I also think it really has literally saved me from being robbed a few times, but that is another story.
Let’s start having each other’s backs and taking responsibility for energetically protecting our spaces and the places where we gather!
Clear Your Space Regularly
I’m not talking about cleaning your space, but clearing your space. Clearing your space is like giving the energy in the room a bath. Smudging/smoke cleansing* is the most common way most people have heard of, and White Sage is the ubiquitous smudge, but I actually like using rosemary. It’s more culturally appropriate to my European heritage, and it grows plentifully in my garden. If you hate smoke, you can clear the space by making a spray out of essential oils and water, or sprinkle salt water around the edges of a room.
Clearing the space just gets rid of any icky vibes or energy that is hanging around. Since we are all human, and prone to emotion and upset from time to time, clearing is a good thing to do regularly. Along with having good protection around my home, clearing is the number one thing I do for psychic hygiene.
Grounding is the process of literally getting in connection with the earth; the ground. The earth is like a big neutral absorbing force. That’s why we ground electrical systems, because the earth actually absorbs and dissipates electricity. It does that with us, too. Grounding reminds us that we have bodies, that we are made of solid material, and that we need some care and feeding from time to time.
The easiest way to ground is to actually put your bare feet on the ground. But if you live anywhere other than the tropics, that may not be so easy to do all year round. Another method of grounding is to do a visualization where you place your feet on the floor and imagine roots growing from the bottoms of your feet. Visualize them actually going through the floor of where you live, and traveling through everything that separates you from the earth, and see them actually going into the earth.
This is something we think of only doing with our friends or lovers, but you can do this with the universe, too. Checking in just means spending a little time being quiet and reflective so that you can notice anything you might be missing. Sometimes we make ourselves so busy because we actually don’t want to feel what we are feeling, or confront what we know to be true in our hearts. Checking in allows us some time to do that daily, so we don’t become these big backlogs of emotional baggage. If you have a spiritual belief system that includes the existence of spirit guides, checking in is also an essential way to stay in touch with message they might be sending you.
Checking in can be done in many ways: journalling, pulling a tarot card each day, spending five minutes just breathing, taking a quiet intentional walk. The only important thing is that it should be distraction-free.
Offering Your Gratitude
One of the greatest gifts in discovering witchcraft is that I never feel alone anymore. The Craft is an earth based tradition meaning it recognizes that all things are alive, and that we are surrounded by spirits. The trees, animals, rocks, even the weather all have a spiritual component to them. Learning to work with these elements and spirits is part of magic, but so is giving thanks.
Whether you want to be a full-blown witch or not, we all can benefit from giving gratitude to all the things that help us get through the day. I like to give thanks in the form of spirit offerings. Little bits of food, or a pinch of dried herbs set out for the spirits as a thank-you. You can put them on a special altar in your home, or just leave them outside, provided they will biodegrade and won’t attract pests.
This practice helps reminds me I’m loved, even when all else fails to.
Whatever your beliefs, these practices can be super profound even though they seem really simple. For me they make up the foundation of my practice of taking care of myself, but they have a ripple effect on my whole life. The more I take care of myself, the better I can take care of my community, and that’s why I feel like we all can benefit from them, even if we don’t identify as woo. I’d love to hear from you, and learn about what makes up your spiritual or self-care practices.
[*Editor’s Note: For the purpose of this post, the term “smudging” has been used interchangeably with “smoke cleansing.” The author is not indigenous and isn’t referring to the sacred, traditional act of ceremonial smudging, which she does not participate in.]