Five Witchy Ways to Take Care of Yourself

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.

California Mountain Sage bundles and Sea Salt for Clearing

California Mountain Sage bundles and Sea Salt for Clearing

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

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.


Checking In

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.

Pulling a couple of Tarot cards as a check-in with my Spirit Guides.

Pulling a couple of Tarot cards as a check-in with my Spirit Guides.

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.

Spirit Offerings of Rose petals and Lemon Verbena

Spirit Offerings of Rose petals and Lemon Verbena

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.]


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Allison Carr is a witch, writer, healer, and queer. She holds a master’s degree in Chinese Medicine and is currently a stay-at-home-mom. She writes articles and teaches workshops on self-acceptence, healing, magic and spirituality. She lives in Santa Barbara with her partner and their son. For more information find her at her blog.

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43 Comments

  1. This is a really beautiful piece – thank you! The more I learn about witchcraft, the more and more I feel really drawn to it, connected to it. I’d love to learn more, but I don’t know where to start?? If anyone felt like leaving me any links or resources to look up, I would super appreciate it! And I hope you have an amazing day!

  2. Excellent advice! One thing about “smudging,” though: it’s my understanding that smudging is a specific Native American ritual that is part of a closed practice, and calling any old smoke cleansing ritual “smudging” is both inaccurate and appropriative. It’s more appropriate to call what I think you’re describing “cleansing” or “smoke cleansing.” I haven’t done a ton of research on this, but it’s come to my attention in a few places around the witchy internet.

    • hi kara! thank you for this feedback! i just wanted to reach out and say that i was the editor of this piece and i was aware of the origin of the word, but i thought allison made it clear that she wasn’t referring to the traditional, sacred ceremonial use of white sage, as she clarified that she uses a different herb and didn’t include any sort of language that attempted to imitate a traditional indigenous ceremony.

      i’ve edited the piece to include this language and clarify her intention.

      thanks again!

    • I have not heard of this being offensive and have smudged for many years and I grow, wrap and share rosemary and a local sage smudge. It is common knowledge that rosemary was use to smudge thousands of years ago, even Shakespeare referenced rosemary smudging. I am also part native american and very curious what sources say this word is used only in native american cultures. Also, is it only used within certain tribes? I would love more information to remain informed especially if I need to discontinue use of the word. THank you ahead.

    • Sam, great question! The best way is to generally do the opposite of whatever you did to put it up. In the tradition I trained in, we always put up our circles by moving clockwise (deosil) starting in the north. To take them down we would move counterclockwise (widdershins) and visualize the circle dissolving into the earth. The traditional incantation I was taught to open the circle is “the circle is open, but unbroken, merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again.”

  3. I’m mostly a rationalist but I’m also a bit witch-curious. But reading through this post made me think of a lot of the practices I’ve been putting in place (or considering putting into place) to protect my mental health.

    Circles of protection: Creating a space that I feel happy being in.
    Clear space regularly: Putting lovely looking/smelling things in my life to dispel my anxiety.
    Grounding: There’s a grounding meditation in the meditation app I use (Stop, Breathe and Think) that I find really helpful.
    Checking in: Meditation is perfect for this!
    Offering gratitude: I have a journalling practice that involves creating art from the things I’m grateful for. Here is some work in progress! (I’ve almost finished that page… time to decide what I’m going to do to fill up the next!)

    Very interesting to see the parallels.

    • Dina, love the spiral artwork! Your comment perfectly illustrates how magic, at its core, is accessible to everyone, no matter what you call it or how you label yourself.

  4. I can’t pass up the chance to bring up Sheel na Gig if someone’s talking apotropaic magic, but one would have to have some serious eyeliner game to draw her on their window and brass gonads of gives zero fucks.

    Personally though I find eye inspired apotropaics most resounding, there’s just something instinctual, primal about warding eyes. Butterflies and other preyed upon animal use them pretty well.

    • Lex, Yes! Sheel na Gig is amazing! I should think a simplified vagina glyph might substitute nicely for her, and would personally love to see more of that on everyone’s windows!
      I love the beautiful reminder of how some of these symbols occur in the natural world too. Thanks!

  5. this is all so cool and something i want to look into more! i’m not the hugest fan of sage (nor apparently is my cat’s asthma??) so cleansing with rosemary sounds like something i could try!!

  6. i love this! i am so excited about the suggestion to use rosemary b/c i like the idea of smoke cleansing but feel weird about using sage. this article does such a nice job of being both magical and down to earth. so cool.

    i am wondering i the author or anyone has resource ideas for very beginners to this kind of thing? i guess i would like some context, like i don’t know what different groups or traditions even exist or are called or where they come from and googling seems overwhelming.

    • EJ, finding your way into learning about this stuff can totally be challenging and totally overwhelming. There can be some really whacky stuff out there, and some traditions can be really not so queer friendly, but I think that is changing. So just as an FYI I have a free e-course about magic on my website that might give you some basics to get you going http:/allisoncarr.net. I also teach Immersions and longer courses, but don’t have anything I’m offering just at the moment, but when you sign up for my free class it puts you on my mailing list so you can get updates. Also Beth Maiden the Tarot writer for AS has a website called Queer Witchy Things which has some resources (Google should get your there).

  7. Despite me being so ~science~minded, I am also “witch-curious”, as straddler Dina put it. It’s like…so weird. I think it just reminds me of my childhood, and that in of itself can be a healing thing. Does that even make sense…?
    Anyways, thank you for the post!

    Also side note: my mom is a literal witch. Santeria, y’know…us hispanics haha. When I heard the news of a friend’s death, my mother gave me a hot sage bath using sage from the backyard. There was also some other plants in it but I forgot. It was super relaxing and nice. Though I actually don’t recommend it, because a few days later she gave me another sage bath and my skin was a little irritated. Oops. But that’s besides the point.

  8. I like the idea of protective circles, especially the circle of white light in the bedroom, but you mention taking it down at the end of the night. How do you take it down? do you just say I’m removing you, or do you just reverse it by rotating counter-clockwise while visualizing it disappearing?

    • Yes, Dianne the second thing you describe is the basic method for taking down a circle that I use. If you are putting it up around your bedroom specifically for sleeping you can also set the intention as you cast it that it dissolve with the sunrise, that way you don’t have to remember every morning.

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