Witchcraft has always played a big part in my life. While many children were learning badminton or taking trombone lessons, I was reading about magic and how to plant my herb garden. I grew up in the late 90s when my cultural life was saturated with Buffy the vampire slayer, Charm and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Switching from channel to channel without hitting a young woman with magical powers was next to impossible. But the toss wasn’t just the empowerment that telekinetic spells and forces gave me; I was intensely charmed by the connection of witchcraft with the outside world and the earth around me.
In the evenings, I spent time in my garden wrapped in scarves and blankets watching the different phases of the moon go by each night; I learned the names of the wildflowers growing by the side of the road where no one took a second look and wondered how I could use them in a spell. These little things gave me an overwhelming sense of calm, I was so captivated by the constellations, intricate root systems, and traits of magic that I found around me. Maybe witchcraft was in my blood – my very first word was “moon”.
So, as an adult, it felt incredibly natural to me that witchcraft was the haven I return to to regain my sanity after a ordeal at work that left me suffering from depression.
Back in 2018, the world started to feel a bit hazy to me. As far back as I can remember, I had been told the direction of my life: I would do well in school, go to college, and get a good job. But, in my new communications role at a fast-paced agency, I struggled to come to terms with my reality – I would wake up in a cold sweat at 4 a.m. every morning, and every time I washed my hair. hair, long tendrils emerged from my scalp and formed a dark pool at my feet.
In addition to the physical symptoms of anxiety, I noticed that as the job became more stressful, my mood plummeted until I was in a state of depression for months at a time.
And so, in the winter of 2018, after realizing how disconnected I had become from myself and the nature-loving woman I once was, I knew something had to change. I decided to break up – I quit.
In the next day and in the panic of quitting a job that paid my bills and made me pretend to be a normal person, I decided to use this new time to reconnect with my longtime love of bubbling cauldrons, candles. flickering and occultism in an effort to restore balance in my life and heal my sanity.
Witchcraft falls under the umbrella term of paganism – a form of spiritual practice that involves deep reverence for the earth. While the term “witch” is now incredibly nuanced, and there are many different names for people who practice forms of magic, I think it’s hard to find a pagan who isn’t involved in saving the planet one way or another. I believe that a witch is someone who is deeply in touch with people, plants and animals, and knows how to work with her innate power to effect change in the world, usually through magical forces. It could be through spells, ritual work, or brewing beers and elixirs with powerful ingredients, although there are many ways to work with the wizarding world.
Just as the romantic poets showed their appreciation for nature by writing about its beauty, now the pagans raise their arms to the sky to welcome rain when it is needed, grow native plants to feed bees, and take only so many leaves of nature. which they need so as not to disturb the balance of the local flora. This care and worship of the natural world in the face of climate change is perhaps why witchcraft and paganism are the perfect practices to help us reconnect with the world and survive the 21st century.
My year of witchcraft unfolded before me and I took the first steps to regain my sanity. I was shaky at first, not used to giving myself time to do anything other than “be productive”. I started out by observing the pagan festivals – or Sabbaths – typically attended by witches, including Yule (the winter solstice), Imbolc (the first signs of spring in February), and Ostara (the spring equinox). Each of these festivals is associated with a different tradition, and during the winter festivals, I focused on spending time outdoors, soaking up the pale fractions of vitamin D that the sun would allow, and to sit under the trees to feel their depth the power echoed directly below me in the ground.
I have given myself time to be in nature and to connect with its sounds and feelings, which allows it to trigger the healing processes in my brain. I took a deep breath; I smiled when I saw a flash of a plump pink bullfinch in the hedge. Witchcraft is so intensely enveloped in nature that the connection to sanity is clear. The benefits of spending time outdoors are well documented, with one study reporting that spending at least two hours outdoors each week could dramatically improve physical and mental well-being. As spring approaches, instead of the black fingers of anxiety that had tapped me on the back of my neck for the past year, I began to have hope for the first time in a long time.
As a teenager, I had spent so much time in nature, spotting birds with my dad, and taking long family walks that ended with jam sandwiches and chips in the car. I would come home upset, but knowing the birdsong, replaying the cry of a blackbird, a wren or an oystercatcher in my head while many of my friends spent their weekends in shopping malls crowded. The thought that I had become so out of touch with those gusts of feathers and muddy boots made me nervous and shook my heart. Slowing down and enjoying the magic of the cycles of life once again opened up a sense of wonder to the natural world that I had lacked for so many years.
Of course, we are at a point in history where we are experiencing a massive change in the ways of working and working environments and it is natural that we turn to the practices that drive us – practices and rituals that have were lost during the Industrial Revolution, when huge swathes of the population were uprooted from their country homes and cut off from their connection to nature.
The pandemic has given some of us a few moments to sit down and think about our priorities. Research has shown that 46% of people are looking to quit their jobs this year and do something different now that remote working is a possibility. People spend more time in nature and in their gardens, which gives us the free space to ask ourselves: what makes us happy? What makes us feel the most like ourselves? What would we do if anything was possible?
Light a vanilla scented candle; add Himalayan salt to your bath; wrap seaweed around your face. Personal care has become another mandatory measure to add to our busy days to avoid pandemic exhaustion. Sure, people burned out before the 21st century, but the past two years have brought self-esteem practices to the fore. We’ve seen large companies give their staff time to help reverse the anxiety epidemic, and employees have been told to get out into the wild, download Headspace, and learn to meditate.
But wouldn’t it be better if we take a break before we get to a panic attack?
As we come to re-examine office structures and professional life, many people seek to find a deeper connection to the natural world and their place within it. However, outdoor bird watching and yoga aren’t for everyone – some of us need something more charged and immersive in order to help us rediscover our true selves. The return to my love of witchcraft that began as a teenager has helped me refocus my energies and see the world through a new lens – one where nature, cycles, and my own well-being are the ones. focal points.
As we continue to reach dizzying heights in the technological age, witchcraft can help us see the magic of everyday life and bring us back to earth where we can plant two outstretched hands in the moss.
Jennifer Lane is an author and nature writer. His book The Wheel: A Witch’s Path Back to the Ancient Self (September edition, Â£ 14.99) is available from guardbookshop.com for Â£ 13.04