What Witchcraft Taught Me About Self-Care
"Witchcraft" has become a bit of a buzzword lately. Sure, it may call to mind '90s goth styles and Harry Potter, but the truth is, witchcraft is a bit like yoga: Even if you don't treat it as a religion, you can still benefit from it, and there are as many different facets of it as there are practitioners. This journey is a personal one—I wouldn't be surprised if it was a witch who first said, "You do you."
Below are just some of the ways modern witchcraft has transformed and enhanced my wellness and self-care practices. I'm hoping that, if you approach it with an open heart, it can do the same for you. (And if you want to wear dark lipstick while doing so, that's totally OK, too. You do you, after all.)
Believe in the value of positive thinking.
Witches believe it's not just our actions that matter—our thoughts and intentions do, as well. We believe that our thoughts can shape our world, bringing to our path what we spend the most time thinking about—and that works for the good as well as the bad. So when it comes to your fears? Stop mentally listing all the ways things can go wrong! Instead, picture yourself safe and happy, at least for a few minutes, on a daily basis.
Meditation is a modern witch's best friend (... although black cats are still very cute). Start by trying to empty your mind of all the clutter. If you need some extra help, I've found meditation apps like Insight Timer can be very helpful, especially the guided visualizations.
Once you're meditating, pour all the good things that you want to bring into your life onto your blank mental canvas. Believe that you deserve them, and that basking in the light of those gifts is only a matter of time.
I know you may be skeptical, but take it from me, the former Queen of Negative Thinking: If you put that amazing imagination of yours to work toward the best-case scenarios instead of the worst, amazing things can happen.
That said, imagining you have two million dollars in the bank and Channing Tatum (or Jenna Dewan, as they're both equally single now) on your speed dial may not make it exactly so. It's better to just give your broader intentions to the universe (for instance, finding love and abundance) and let it decide how best to get you there.
Stay connected to nature and the elements.
Like I mentioned, there are as many witchcraft flavors as there are practitioners, but you'd be hard-pressed to find many witches that do not thrive when living close to nature and being in tune with the elements. That may prove challenging for you if, for some strange reason, you don't live in a picturesque cottage deep in the forest, but instead find yourself squished into an apartment with at least one messy roommate and some rowdy neighbors.
But the truth is, bringing in nature can be as simple as opening the windows to get the sun and fresh air inside, buying an indoor plant, rubbing your fingers into some sea salt or herbs, or just being very aware how the water is washing everything bad away from you when you're taking a shower. Just noticing the four elements as they manifest in your daily life will make you feel more balanced.
And if you spend some time outdoors—even just in your neighborhood park—it can work wonders toward helping you realize you're a part of this ecosystem, and that you must cherish and protect it.
Remember that sex is natural.
In the Christian environment I was raised in, I was gratefully never taught that sex is bad, shameful, or something that should happen after marriage (thank you, Mom!). But many of my friends learned those lessons young. These days, many women are taking charge of their pleasure and owning their bodies, but unfortunately, some stigmas still remain. Modern witchcraft celebrates sex as something not only natural and good, but that can also be a way of getting closer to the divine through the union of energies.
Modern witchcraft can help you acknowledge that you can be both spiritual and sexual, and remind you that one doesn't subtract from the other. The sooner the idea of women enjoying sex freely stops being a radical one, the better it will be for all of us.
Forgive your shortcomings and love yourself.
Witchcraft is all about embracing change and evolving. The Wheel of the Year is turning with every season, and we're moving along with it—making mistakes along the way, but still moving forward. One of the most surprising things this journey has taught me: to forgive myself and my many failings and just try to do better from now on.
Don't be your own worst enemy. If you break your diet, fail at your New Year's resolutions, or mess things up in your professional or personal life, you can always dust yourself off, let go of any shame you may be feeling, disengage from other people's expectations, and surround yourself with people and things that help you and center you.
One nice, witchy way to practice letting go: Light a candle while sprinkling some herbs that are in season, surround yourself with green plants and crystals, fill your space with soothing music, and cuddle with your pet. If it sounds a lot like hygge, that's because the principle is the same: A beautiful, soothing space will soothe your mind as well.
If you'd like to learn more about Wicca, Scott Cunningham's Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner is a perfect introductory read. Or for a more down-to-earth approach to witchcraft, I recommend Hedgewitch Book of Days: Spells, Rituals, and Recipes for the Magical Year by Mandy Mitchell, the grandma all of us would like to have.
Danai is a writer and editor by day, a tarot card reader by night, and a cat person 24/7. Born in Athens, Greece, Danai spent the last five years eating lobster rolls and taking the subway to work in NYC before deciding to relocate to Scandinavia and learn how to forage berries. Follow her on Instagram, on Twitter, or in real life in some Scandinavian forest.