Before we talk about self care and witchcraft, we have to really talk about self care in general. I like to think of self-care as burnout prevention and literally caring for myself. Just like with literally anything else, self-care has a dictionary definition and psychological explanation. So, let’s look at those. The dictionary has two definitions for self-care. These are “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health” and “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress”. Sounds pretty straightforward, right?
Listen to the Podcast: Episode 128: Self-Care and Witchcraft: What it is and ideas for your routine!
PsychologyToday.com gives us a more broad explanation. It says this: “Self-care is a multi-dimensional way to consciously engage in activities that promote healthy functioning. It’s about taking time away from your normal daily commitments and activities to take care of yourself.” An analysis published on NIH – the National Institute for Health, adds a bit more to this. They say that they were able to create a clarified definition of self-care using multiple sources, definitions, and examples. This analysis on NIH says that self care is “the ability to care for oneself through awareness, self-control, and self-reliance in order to achieve, maintain, or promote optimal health and well-being.”
Looking at these two definitions, we can see that self-care sounds pretty easy. Take care of yourself. Do the things you enjoy. Make time for yourself. Take breaks when you get stressed, etc. But I don’t think it’s that simple and many people would agree with me, my own therapist included! I have had conversations with her about burnout, self-care, and starting the day in an elevated mood or state of mind. This is to help avoid the eventual overwhelming feeling I will get later in the day.
It’s also worth mentioning that sometimes you’ll need the help of a professional, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you have a mental health professional that you work with – a therapist, counselor, psychiatrist, or whatever – then bring some of these ideas to them, too. See if they maybe have more information for you or other ways you can incorporate self-care into your routine that they think will help you.
At it’s core, self-care is doing the hard things. Self-care is setting boundaries. It is creating a schedule and sticking to it. It is doing things you enjoy every day, not just occasionally. Self-care is doing the things that need to be done, taking the time you need to feel like a person, and enjoy the things that make you happy.
Sometimes self-care means starting your day off with an affirmation and three deep breaths to alleviate stress. Sometimes it is taking a bathroom break so you can focus and ground yourself during the day before you get overwhelmed. See, the point of self-care is to do all of these things to maintain care of yourself, not to recover from not doing self-care, if that makes sense.
I’m going to equate it to car maintenance because as I write this, my Jeep is back in the shop for something the shop messed up and I’ve got cars on my mind. Anyway, self-care is like getting an oil change. You do this regularly to maintain the health of your vehicle, right? And if you don’t get regular oil changes, you can end up with bigger problems like sludge buildup. This is an engine killer that can lead to things such as overheating and blown head gaskets. The same thing applies with self-care. This is your maintenance, your oil change. If you don’t do self-care, you’ll end up overheating yourself – working too hard and overwhelming yourself – leading to a blown head gasket or, in better terms, a breakdown in one way or another.
What is NOT self care?
Now that I’ve got the definitions out of the way, and a weird analogy with people and cars, I want to talk about what I think self care isn’t, because there’s a lot of information out there about self care that I don’t necessarily agree with. Now remember, I’m not a mental health or psychological professional. This is all solely my opinion – and don’t worry, I’ll get to how this all connects back to witchcraft but we’ve got to make it through all these things first. So, stick with me!
Self-care isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept. What works for one person isn’t going to work for another person. This is why I think a lot of those lists online of self-care ideas or routines should be used as guides rather than taken exactly as they are. One person may be able to take a bubble bath with candles and music once a week while others might not.
Self-care isn’t about indulging or avoiding responsibilities.
When used correctly, self-care should help you with your responsibilities and you shouldn’t feel like you need to indulge in anything. Everything should be taken in moderation, and indulging and avoiding responsibilities doesn’t help you at all. It can actually hurt your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
Self-care is not about treating yourself with material items or even by numbing your feelings.
Buying unnecessary things to fill the void in your life – no matter what it’s caused by – isn’t a healthy way to cope. It may make you feel better in the moment, but ultimately it doesn’t help you at all. It’s just another way to avoid your feelings or responsibilities. In the spiritual aspect, we see this happen a lot with spiritual bypass where people will use spiritual tools, activities, and topics to avoid their lives or sweep their emotions under the rug. Again, this isn’t healthy and should definitely be avoided.
Self-care is not about being selfish or neglecting your responsibilities.
In fact, when done properly, self-care can be a great addition to a routine for someone that is actively caring for others. I know for myself as a mom and partner, if I don’t take care of myself then I’m not going to be able to take care of my responsibilities. When I’m happy, well-taken care of, and respected by myself and others, I’m much more able and willing to do my part of whatever I have to do.
Despite what many lists will say online, self-care isn’t about the random bubble baths, candle-lit reading sessions, and walks in nature. I mean, it can be, but not in a way that they usually present. A lot of people leave self-care until when they absolutely need it, but at that point it’s not about self-care it’s about surviving and recovering from burnout. Self-care shouldn’t be done only when you’ve hit the point of overwhelm or depression. Self-care should be a regular part of your routine so you can avoid getting to the bottom of your proverbial well of energy.
What does this have to do with witchcraft?
As witches or magical people, we tend to have a better connection with ourselves and our energy. We tend to know what we need better and be more attuned to ourselves and the outer world. A lot of our self-care routines tend to be more spiritual in nature, more witchy. It doesn’t matter if you view witchcraft through an energy lens or the psychological model, it can still benefit our lives to bring our self-care into our witchcraft practice…or rather our witchcraft practice into our self-care.
I mentioned before that self-care isn’t spiritual bypass, so I guess I should explain what spiritual bypass is if you don’t know. Wikipedia says that spiritual bypass is “a tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks.” And ya know, I don’t disagree with this definition at all. This is like someone choosing to meditate and dismiss their anger rather than deal with the thing causing the anger. Pushing the emotion away only serves to push it further down so it can fester, grow bigger, and eventually blow up.
The same thing can happen with witchcraft and using spells and magical practices to deal with our issues and push them away. While witchcraft can definitely help our self-care practices, it can’t replace the need for self-care. I don’t know how many anti-anxiety, anti-depression, self-care bubble bath spells I have seen online. I’ll be honest, I’ve written at least one myself. But doing these spells or practices without dealing with the root cause of the issue – such as mental health concerns, stress, etc. – just serves to make you feel temporarily better, even if it works really well every time you do it.
Since most of us magical people tend to have some sort of daily, weekly, or monthly routine, there are ways we can incorporate our witchcraft and self-care practices to actually benefit us rather than brush our concerns under the rug or only deal with them temporarily. These routines can be helpful, healing, and extremely beneficial to our mental and spiritual well-being when done on a regular basis and not just when we feel like we’re on the verge of breaking down. Because at it’s core, self-care is about taking care of ourselves so we don’t reach that point. Once you reach that point, it becomes more about recovering rather than maintenance.
Witchcraft can be an empowering tool for self-care. Learning about different techniques, such as tarot and runes, can help you learn about yourself, connect with the universe, and open yourself up to new possibilities. There’s a lot to be said about divination, especially tarot, as a tool for self-evaluation and growth. We can easily look at themes in the cards, see what our first thoughts are, and analyze those to help us grow and understand ourselves better.
One way that I incorporate my practice into my self-care is through a morning ritual. I don’t mean ritual in the context of casting a circle and getting ceremonial with my morning. I literally mean ritual in terms of doing the same thing every day to start my day off on the right foot. My morning ritual is very simple. I wake up and stretch, make my coffee, do some meditation, and pull an oracle card or tarot card for the day.
Then I take time to journal and write about the card I pulled, what it means, and anything else I have on my mind. While this isn’t necessarily a spell or witchcraft for everyone, the act of repeating these steps every morning and connecting it all back to my spiritual practice is what’s important. This helps me start my day off right so that when things inevitably go quote-unquote “wrong” for me during the day I’m not as affected by them as I would have been a few months ago.
For many people, myself included, their witchcraft practice is inherently tied to their identity. I know for myself, I am a witch every single day of the week, not just on Tuesdays and Thursdays. While I may not cast spells every single day, that doesn’t take away from the fact that I’m a witch. Having my beliefs and practices held so close to my heart, doing something small that benefits me and my practice every day does immense things for my mental health. And when my mental health is taken care of, that is self-care.
Ideas for witchy self care
Since this entire post is about witchcraft and self-care, I figured I better give everyone some ideas for how to incorporate their practice into their daily self-care routine. Keep in mind that you don’t have to do all of these or even a few of them. If there’s one thing you do that really brings you joy and cares for your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being then you should definitely do that regularly!
Meditation, Mantra, and Affirmation Spellbook
The first idea is to create a spellbook specifically for your favorite meditations, mantras, and affirmations. You can keep this with you or at home, whichever you choose. This can serve as a way to cope when you’re stressed or overwhelmed and can’t think of anything to do. Personally, I have trouble remembering to use my coping skills when I become too stressed or overwhelmed, so having a list of things to choose from already created is really helpful for me. Creating the spellbook in general can be a good therapeutic activity, too, because it can really help you figure out what you need and what you enjoy.
You can include a grounding meditation and visualization if that’s important to you, such as the really popular tree root visualization. If you like to draw or create visual art, you can include that in your book, too. Mantras and affirmations are great to include to give you a phrase to repeat when you’re doing some deep breathing, for example. And affirmations can be included for daily repetition in the shower or in front of your mirror as you’re getting ready. And remember, these affirmations should be said in the present tense in order to have a positive effect. Include affirmations such as “I am strong and powerful. I hold my boundaries firmly. I am deserving of love and respect.” Or any other affirmation you find powerful and useful.
Self-Care Witch Kit
If oils, herbs, and crystals are your thing, put together a self-care kit complete with a ritual! One idea I have is to create an evening routine this way. Get a nice pouch or bag and include a crystal such as amethyst, and any oils or herbs that promote a calm feeling, stress relief, and restful sleep. As you get ready for bed, take a few minutes to apply your relaxing oil and hold the crystal in your hands. Take a few deep breaths and really focus on meditating and releasing the stress of the day. You have to complete the stress cycle for there to be any closure, and doing this is a good way to bring that closure to your day so you don’t carry the stress from one day to the next. You can take this a step further by lighting some incense and even casting a sleep-time circle if that’s something you like to do.
Simple Shower Cleansing Ritual
This next one should be fairly easy for just about anyone to incorporate into their practice. Everyone has to shower, right? Or clean themselves in one way or another. Turn your shower or bath time into a daily mini-cleansing ritual. Charm your bath products ahead of time with whatever intention you’d like. For example, charm your facewash with some glamor magic to help you be seen the way you want to be seen, or not seen! Create sigils and charge your shampoo to help you avoid rumination or intrusive thoughts. The keyword here is help, because you have to take the mundane action too, of course. You can even charge your body wash or soap with shielding energy that, as you wash your skin, you’re creating an energetic shield for the day. Bonus points if you choose scents or herbs that correspond with your intention! There is so much you can do with a bath ritual that this is literally a basic ritual idea. Let the water wash away lingering worries or stress, and let your charged and spelled products do the rest of the magical work.
Create a Vision Board
Self-care often includes working toward our goals, no matter what they are. When we have the space, both physically and mentally, to work toward something we care about, we tend to be happier and healthier. One way to incorporate witchcraft into your goal planning – and following – is by creating a vision board. I know, I know – if you’re like me, you may not have any interest in a vision board. I’ll tell you right now that they don’t personally work for me. I tend to have a very abstract idea of what I want out of life. I don’t have very specific goals, I don’t think. They tend to revolve around having a happy, healthy, well-rounded family, and the road to having that depends on the day, if I’m being honest.
Creating a vision board for your goals for the future can be a great visualization practice. I know Bex from The Witches’ Cookery has created several vision boards and done videos about them on her channel. She’s a better person to speak about vision boards so I highly recommend watching her videos about them!
The one thing that I personally recommend, and I already kind of mentioned before, is to create a morning ritual. I prefer to do this in the morning because it helps me keep my day on the right track. If I don’t do this in the morning, I can really tell throughout the rest of the day. It has a huge affect on my mental health and my spiritual practice. Your morning routine can be whatever you need it to be – and that’s the important part. Self care should be what you need, not what you want or think will help you. I mean it’s always great when what you need is also what you want, but sometimes it doesn’t match up that way.
Anyway, a morning ritual will look different for every person. Some people enjoy having coffee in the morning while others drink tea or water. Some people don’t have a divination practice while others do. Build your morning ritual out of the things you enjoy so you can start the day off in an elevated state of mind and spirit. My morning ritual of coffee, meditation, and divination has helped me connect deeper with myself, figure out some of my triggers, avoid stress accumulation, and connect back with my practice and my deity work.
More Simple Ideas!
A few more quick ideas for witchcraft and self-care include writing letters to yourself expressing love and gratitude. You can also write what my therapist calls a “Fuck You” letter – in fact, I wrote one of these recently and shared the clip of the letter burning to my social media. It’s a form of banishing ritual that can be used both magically and psychologically. So if you feel anything building up that needs to be released, don’t hold on to it. Burn it away and incorporate the element of fire, herbs if you want, sigils if you want, and incantations if you find those helpful. Then release the cooled ashes on the wind while you release the pent up energy from the situation or emotions of the situation.
You can connect with the moon or sun cycles to help you with your self-care practice. A few years ago I used to start my day with a sun salutation and prayer. It was a simple exercise for me to do when I got out of bed and it helped me connect with the energy of the sun. I would also do something similar as I went to bed to sort of say goodnight and go to sleep, if that makes sense. You can use the moon phases as check-in points for your self-care, too! The Full Moon can be about doing something empowering. The New Moon can be about re-evaluating what your self-care needs are. And then the Waxing Moon can be self-care and manifestation while the Waning Moon can be self-care and release. It’s up to you and how you view the moon phases, but I’m sure you can find a way to connect there if that’s what you want to do.
All in all, there are so many ways you can incorporate witchcraft into your self-care routine. Spell jars used with therapy, journaling used within a ritual, and sacred bath time used as a cleansing ritual are just a few ideas to get you started.
Witchcraft can definitely help with your self-care routine and recovery from burnout, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you do. You can’t charge your lip balm to help you hold to your boundaries if you don’t then create the boundaries you want to hold, ya know? And these are just a few ideas! The sky is the limit here, and since everyone’s practices look different, what I do may not work for you or anyone else. What’s important is that you start thinking about how you use witchcraft to help you care for yourself.
There has to be care on all sides, not just the magical one.