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Witchcraft and Mental Health

Witchcraft and Mental Health

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Magick is self-care

Witch is a loaded word in modern society. It has both good and bad connotations. But at its root is means ‘Wise-person’. However, it’s not luck or magick alone that helps the witch become wise. Witchcraft is innately good for your mental health, it encourages emotional and spiritual wisdom.

Firstly, witchcraft is a way of life. Many witches have daily rituals. When it comes to taking care of your mental health, consistent self-care is key. Psychological and emotional maintenance shouldn’t drain you nor should it be an afterthought. The same goes for witchcraft. As such, the witch’s daily rituals strengthen the magick of the witch and the power of their mind.

A mistake many new witches make is thinking they can just call on the spirits to perform big-time magick without having done some maintenance along the way. The same goes for facing big psychological challenges in life. If you don’t put the self-care in now, when the world is thrown into chaos (and it will be, life is a series of ups and downs), you won’t have the strength to cope.

A good way to think about it is like putting money in the bank and leaving it there to accrue interest for a rainy day, except we’re not talking about money, we’re talking about spiritual energy. It is considered rude to constantly ask the spirits for help without giving anything back. This is why witches have altars, engage in meditation and spend time communing with nature. Many witches opt to provide services to the community. All of these things are considered excellent self-care techniques by both witches and psychologists.

Altars are a witch’s sacred space in the home where they connect with the divine and their ancestors. It is also the place where they cast their spells and connect with the gods. Altars are creative endeavours and they encourage connection to higher powers and ancestors. It takes a lot of creativity to regularly design and freshen up your altar. Just like it takes a lot of discipline and openness to use the altar to connect with higher beings. Creativity, discipline, and openness have all been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. Using an altar to connect with higher beings and ancestors also encourages empathy and broader perspectives, both of which strengthen mental health.

 

Meditation and lucid dreaming are both intrinsic parts of witchcraft. Not only do these activities connect you to the divine, they encourage focus—taking control of the mind and directing it into a ‘flow’ driven state. Flow is an incredibly healing state for the psyche. But like any mental state it is important to do it regularly. Shifting mental states and keeping them focused is like flexing muscles; these skills strengthen with use. As such, tending to your altar and meditating there for five minutes at the beginning and at the end of every day will help you look after the health of your mind, body, and soul.

Altars reflect the seasons and astrological influences. This is because everything a witch does is in synch with nature. No matter what God or Goddess you may serve, our place of worship and power is nature. Nature is everything. Even if you are a city-witch caught in the concrete jungle, nature will still call to you by way of sprigs of grass pushing through the pavement or night-time stars dripping from the sky. All witches are granted the ability to speak the language of nature, it just takes a little bit of work and a smidge of awe.

 

Nature benefits mental health but so does the feeling of awe. Awe is the doorway to speaking to nature but it is also a hugely healing emotion that in some senses a psychological reset it and can bring down stress levels. Most witches are naturally awed by nature. An example of this that you may be familiar with is when you are talking to a fellow witch on the phone. You’ll note that there are often long moments of waiting that lead into wild tangents when your beloved witch-friend suddenly becomes awed over nature on the other end of the phone. Their awe may be because of a squirrel, a new flower or bud on a tree, or even a particularly beautiful iridescent bug on the window frame. This is awe. This is happiness. This is how we talk to nature—a conversation that is naturally psychologically healing because nature is health.

The act of casting spells or any other witch craft also demands a well and focused mind. This is not to say you can’t cast spells or perform witchcraft if you are mentally unwell (there are witches who disagree with this statement but that’s another article altogether.) However, it is important that you don’t cast when you are in a bad mood, but larger mental health issues have never stopped anyone performing magick. Casting spells requires determination, creativity, focus, and clear visualizations. By casting spells you are strengthening the muscle of concentration. You are taking control of your mind and extending this control on the world. You are taking back your power.

Casting spells or providing readings for other people is a wonderful way to keep your heart healthy and open. Whether you charge money, or whether you offer your gifts as part of your service to the Gods and Goddesses, when it comes down to just you and your client in the moment all the material issues fall away. Connecting warmly and lovingly with another being is naturally healing. The action of helping other people is naturally healing. Helping others and widening the focus of your care to include your community/coven is psychologically and emotionally rewarding. Witches have always known that helping others is a perfect panacea for a broken heart or a broken soul. That is one of the many reasons witches are called to provide service for their community. It heals the giver as well as the receiver.

Service in terms of readings also provides self-care for the witch through encouraging compassion, creativity/storytelling, and positive re-framing. In order to read for someone you need to enter a loving, open, and connected space with them. Even if the client enters with heavy vibes, part of the witches job is to clear those bad vibes, or at least set a boundary to hold those heavy vibes back while they work. This reinforces and strengthens the witch’s ability to set boundaries in her own life.

Once the boundaries are set and the space is cleared, the witch needs to deal with the content of the reading and communicate it. Even the most deadly, honest readers like myself have to find gentle and graceful ways to talk about the reading. In the case of a ‘difficult’ reading, I believe it is important to provide a solution-focused reading. This gives the client some direction even if the news isn’t what they were hoping for. The challenge of reframing difficult news into something positive and growth orientated is a very important skill and can help witches when they are going through their own dark phases.

The examples discussed above are just some of the ways witchcraft can aid mental health and be an aspect of self-care. Witchcraft practices build mindfulness, empathy, focus, motivation, concentration and encourage flow, optimism, connection to others and nature, and provide broader perspectives. It can also help people who struggle with setting and maintaining boundaries. Finally, witchcraft reminds us that at every turn we are the ones responsible for our mental health; we have control, choice, and freedom. We have control of our mind and we can choose who we want to be in every moment. By embracing these truths, we are ultimately free. We become spiritually wise.

 

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Dr. Catherine ‘West’ Winther is a retired psychologist and passionate LGBTQIA feminist who comes from a long family line of of creatrixes, witches, and wolves. Through her online coven at WeaverTarot.com she offers readings, spell-craft, curios, and counseling. Her passion is holding sacred shadow spaces and fostering alchemy through conversation. She aids healing and growth through encouraging big play, big magick, big nature, cackling, sensuality, and creativity. Freedom is our right and our responsibility. Let us slip these human skins and find our feral selves. Come roll and run through the dirt and the bones and the blood and howl at the ghosts under the Goddess Bone Moon as we listen for the star-songs. Let us remember what and why we are here, and most importantly let us remember how and why and what we love so we can bring that passion back to the everyday and reclaim our magickal birthright as witches. Get dirty. Get wild. Get horny. Get magick. Get witch.
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Dr. Catherine ‘West’ Winther is a retired psychologist and passionate LGBTQIA feminist who comes from a long family line of of creatrixes, witches, and wolves. Through her online coven at WeaverTarot.com she offers readings, spell-craft, curios, and counseling. Her passion is holding sacred shadow spaces and fostering alchemy through conversation. She aids healing and growth through encouraging big play, big magick, big nature, cackling, sensuality, and creativity. Freedom is our right and our responsibility. Let us slip these human skins and find our feral selves. Come roll and run through the dirt and the bones and the blood and howl at the ghosts under the Goddess Bone Moon as we listen for the star-songs. Let us remember what and why we are here, and most importantly let us remember how and why and what we love so we can bring that passion back to the everyday and reclaim our magickal birthright as witches. Get dirty. Get wild. Get horny. Get magick. Get witch.
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