A side of spirituality which has been gaining traction recently, especially since everyone has been locked indoors, is Witchcraft. A new wave of witchiness, with people everywhere bringing magic into their lives in so many different ways. Every second person I meet has a crystal collection and something that they’re manifesting. Admittedly, even me. When I was very young, I called myself a pagan, and while Id probably be more accurately called an atheist now, my incense collection never stopped growing. Now I ask you to bear with me, as I try and explain the strange beauty of this eccentric community. For clarification Ill also be referring to ‘witchcraft’ and all its offshoots as the umbrella term of ‘spirituality’.
Spirituality and I have always had a funny relationship. I’ve always loved the aesthetic of it, and been drawn to the ‘witchy’ side of life. I will burn candles, collect trinkets and speak to plants like they can hear me for the rest of my life. I don’t, however, believe in it the way I think some do. You see people lighting candles and trying to put them out with their mind, or claiming responsibility for the weather. I don’t think spirituality, for me, has ever been that. I don’t think its about manipulating the elements or communicating with deities. I have never tried to speak to Athena or expected her to care about my problems. Yet I love the idea of a witchy, spiritual way of living. Not because I believe in a mystical higher power, but because I believe this higher power people are always seeking, is closer than we think. The higher power you are looking for, is yourself. I don’t say that in a pessimistic way either, I love it and think its beautiful. When you start to look for things in the universe, you will find them. The only magic at work here, is the amazing scope of the human brain, and a part of you that you might not even be aware of.
Once you find a problem in your life, and ask the universe for help, chances are you already know your answer. Maybe you’re in your car and that one perfect song comes on that makes you go oh my god, shit. The spirits haven’t been waiting at the radio station, magically telling people to play this one song that will make you realise what you need to know. The song was going to play anyway. Its you. It’s the version of you that knows what you are too scared to know, and it’s looking for an excuse to tell you. I think the need to attribute this knowledge to a higher authority comes from our tendency to doubt ourselves. We don’t trust in ourselves to know these answers, to be confident in our knowledge, so we take it out of our own hands. The universe shows us instead. And I love that. I think its so beautiful that we have found a form of spirituality, who’s only purpose is to give us a way to love and care for ourselves more. Its an amazing window into what we actually want, and what will make us happy. Because we are looking for it, our ‘higher self’ will find it.
For example, the coin flip. When you can’t choose between two options, say two movies to watch, you might flip a coin. It lands on one option, and you either feel disappointed or satisfied. You didn’t know what you wanted before, because you were thinking too logically, or too literally. Yet that instant unfiltered reaction to the random chance told you your real, unfiltered wants. I think spirituality works the same way. We are cutting out the middle man, which is our own cluttered and confusing mind. We see the things we want to in the world, even if we don’t know it. We surround ourselves with candles and incense because it’s a wonderful aesthetic and it feels good to work it into our lives. If a person lights a candle for Hermes and he tells them to love themselves more, I will support that shit until I die. Fuck yes you need to love yourself more. A belief that is based on pure empathy for yourself and others will always be ok in my book.
Spirituality works, because it is intensely individual. There are people who find their magic in crystals and trinkets, and those who find it in the garden with their plants. Some work their magic in the kitchen, seeing power in the art of cooking for those they love. You make your own rules and believe in what you want to believe in. If walking in nature and collecting sticks and rocks that you think are pretty is your prerogative, then I think that’s the most pure and beautiful form of belief there is. Seek your answers from the world, look for them wherever you want. If you want to believe that they come from a goddess, or an unnamed higher energy, I will never be mad at that. I think spirituality is the ultimate trump card against organised religion. There is no scripture, no standardised set of rules for you to follow. There are no requirements to get into the club. The result of this, is a form of belief which can never be exploited. No one can use this system for their own gain, no one can corrupt it or bring it into the government, because there is no system. Its just you, with your own rules and your candles, making a decision to see magic in the world around you.
This isn’t to say, of course, that there aren’t gatekeepers in the community. I’ve seen people call others ‘fake witches’ because they don’t practice the same way. There are some who believe that spirituality is only for women, who claim that even trans women cannot participate. There will always be these people. Yet they don’t hold power here, because there’s no ladders for them to climb. You will never see an individual becoming the ‘pope of witchcraft’, and there will certainly never be witchy legislation creeping into our lives. The community is too disorganised, in the best way possible. The belief is not for the group, it is for the individual. Do what makes you happy, do what you feel you need to. You want to make spell jars and get into astral projection? Hell yeah go for it! Or maybe you’re more like me, and you just want to be immersed in the aesthetic, and have found that its easier to listen to yourself when you look for it in your interpretations of the world around you.
I am in love with the new wave of witchy spirituality. There will be those who read this and feel like I’m being cynical, and I hope I have written my words in a way to show you I’m not. I guess in the broad sense, I’m still an atheist, in that I don’t believe in a god/any other form of deity. My prerogative will (hopefully) always be, empathy. An imperfect yet constant attempt to be empathetic to yourself and others. In my most optimistic view, Spirituality is at its heart, an altruistic belief in a magical world with a focus on intense individualism. I guess what I’m saying is, seek your answers from wherever you can so long as they come from a place of peace,
and maybe buy some candles along the way.