The longer you practice witchcraft and the more confident you get in your practice, the easier Listening becomes. But do you remember a time, or perhaps you’re still here right now, where you struggled to Listen? And yes, I am capitalizing Listen for a reason. Being able to sit in stillness while you wait for communication, energy shifts, subtle hints and signs, is a vital part of working magic and interacting with non-human entities.
As a content creator and someone people ask questions of, the amount of times someone will ask me if XYZ is a sign would probably surprise the average person. I mean, if you’re online in any capacity and interacting with new seekers, maybe not, but the point still stands. Even as an author/editor and community manager for Spells8, there are many posts in that forum about signs, symbols, and how to know if a deity is reaching out to someone. That’s a big one, for sure, the deity question.
I also find that in many books on beginning witchcraft, there isn’t really a section or chapter, or even a paragraph, on learning to Listen. It has been my experience that many people aren’t taught how to Listen or that Listening is even necessary.
What does Listening look like?
As witches, we Listen with our entire being. Our bodies, the sensations we feel, can give us clues about a message we’re receiving. Our minds, the thoughts we hear, can lead us in the right direction. Our energy, the ebb and flow of movement around us, can clue us in if we are being tugged one way or another. Everything about us as humans can be interacted with by non-human entities (spirits, deities, ancestors, etc.) when we are open to that interaction. It has also been my experience that when we begin practicing witchcraft and working with energies outside ourselves, we become like a beacon in the unseen world and the spirits around us may gravitate to us. Either that or we are just more aware of them than we were before.
Listening to the world around you can look as mundane as enjoying a cup of coffee on your patio in the sunshine. It looks perfectly normal to everyone else, but on the inside, you are tuned in to the energies and sensations you are experiencing. No one else will notice the swirls in your coffee that look like the planet Jupiter, but you will. And when you are tuned in, you will be able to interpret this for what it means to you.
Listening can also look like shuffling the music you listen to until you hear the song that hits just right. You will know it when it happens, and that feeling will come over you that this isn’t just a song, but a message. The feeling you get will be unique to you, and only you will be able to tell if it’s a message or just another song that you’re really interested in.
Learn to Listen for Yourself
Half the battle with witchcraft and working with non-human entities is learning to Listen. There won’t be a message in everything that you do or see. In my personal experience, messages sometimes get missed because I see them but I don’t see them for what they are. I’m not perfect, and the non-human entities that I work with and interact with know this. It has taken me a long time to learn to Listen, and sometimes I still get it wrong. I have put together a few of my own tips to help you learn to Listen for yourself.
Start to Meditate
This tip goes along with mindfulness (another tip below) because they can be used and learned together. For me, meditation is a way to connect with myself and learn more about my energy, my body, and my mind. Knowing my own mind is important for me. It helps me tell the difference between my own thoughts, for example, and a message I may be receiving. I don’t tend to get “verbal” messages very often, that is messages that come to me in my mind. It happens occasionally, but usually when I’ve asked a specific question of a specific entity.
Meditation is the art of stillness. It is the practice of presence and awareness, two things that are necessary for Listening. If you struggle to listen, you may struggle to meditate as well. Practicing meditation can help you practice your mindfulness, your awareness, and your ability to see things as they are. It can help you learn to trust your intuition, know your own mind, and be able to tell the difference between your bodily sensations and Someone trying to get your attention.
The amount of times I see people running to forums, Discord servers, and people online to validate their experiences astounds me. I don’t say this as a bad thing, of course! People tend to seek outside validation when they don’t trust themselves or they are new to what they’re doing. That’s normal! But when you don’t trust yourself to Listen, you can’t be entirely sure that others will give you the same message. Signs and messages from non-human entities are, in my experience, very subjective. They are meant for you and you only, so sometimes what you may think is a sign others will not. Learning to trust your intuition is an important step in learning to Listen, and this is a step that only you can do for yourself.
Astrea Taylor has a great book called Intuitive Witchcraft that has exercise and practices to help you connect with your intuition. I highly recommend checking it out if this is a struggle for you.
I know I’m not the only one that tends to run around during their days getting things done and not really paying attention to what’s going on around me. If you’re not paying attention, you will definitely miss the messages and won’t be able to Listen. Of course, you don’t have to Listen all the time, but if you struggle with mindfulness during the day, Listening will be much harder.
Mindfulness is the practice of living in the moment. When you are mindful, you tend to notice more of what’s happening around you. If you’re not used to this then it might be difficult. An easy thing to do is pull your attention fully into what you’re doing. For example, as I type up this post, I am being mindful of my fingers on the keys, the way I’m sitting in my chair (ya know, one foot underneath me and it’s falling asleep!), and the sounds of the crickets we keep for our reptiles. Yes, my mind does wander and I get lost in what I’m doing, but when I notice that happen, I gently pull my awareness back in fully to what I’m doing.
Keep a Journal
Keeping a record of your experiences helps give you perspective when it comes to Listening. You may want to write down how you feel, what you feel, and things you have seen during the day. If you think you’ve Listened well, make a note of that and come back to it later. You may find that what you experienced wasn’t a message but a normal part of your day. Or you may find that you received a message well and you’ll know what to look for next.
I will always recommend keeping track of what you do as a witch. Having a record of your practices and messages is a great learning tool. Plus, it is wonderful to look back on occasionally and see how far you’ve come!
See also: Journaling – Benefits both Magickal and Mundane
Know the Non-Human Entities
Any messages you get when you Listen are going to be interpreted twice over, at least. The first time will be through the entity sending the message. The second time will be when you Listen and receive the message. Each of you will have different perspectives, and if the entity that is trying to get your attention isn’t familiar with you, then they will send messages in whatever way they know how. If you don’t know them, you might not get the message at all, or you’ll hear it but have no clue what it means. It’s very important to understand who you’re working with and what their messages or signs look like.
For example, I work closely with Brigid, usually through the Spring into Summer and Fall. This is when I feel her around the most, and this is when we work together on different things. I know when she’s retreating for the colder months, and I don’t tend to feel her around as often. Something that has happened more recently for me is a feeling in the middle of my torso, about at the bottom of my sternum. It didn’t feel heavy or warm, more of a tugging feeling like I was being pulled in a different direction. Honestly, it felt a bit like homesickness, which was strange to me. It came on suddenly, but knowing myself, Brigid, and being mindful of what’s happening outside of me, I was able to discern the message and Listen to what she had to say.
If you work with specific deities or spirits, doing your research on them and the way they communicate is important. In my experience, learning about their historical methods of communication, their personalities, and their stories gives you a great starting point for Listening to them.
Persistence is Important
Learning to listen, especially if you’ve never done it before, is going to take work. This isn’t something you can try once or twice and be done with. It is an ever-evolving skill, especially as you progress in your practice. You will meet and interact with many different types of beings that all have different personalities and methods of communication. If you want to learn to Listen, you must be willing to practice and be open to the possibility of messing it up. That’s okay!
There was a time a few years ago when I thought I was being called to give up coffee. I mean, if you know me then you know how terrible that sounds! I couldn’t get it out of my head, so I tried it. I gave up coffee. You know what happened? Nothing. Well, besides feeling terrible and completely missing the mark. It turns out that what I was actually experiencing was a symptom of my neurodivergence – mirroring. But I didn’t give up! I learned from this through meditation and knowing myself and moved forward.
Messing up is okay. It’s going to happen! We know this as humans, and you can be sure that they know it, too. Practice. Keep at it, and eventually you’ll get it right more than you get it wrong.
I know you can do it!
Not that I don’t mind helping people when they have the question of “Is XYZ a message?“, but I would love for every witch out there to start trusting themselves, to start validating their own experiences! Half the battle of witchcraft and working with non-human beings is learning to Listen to how they communicate. Because, in my opinion, if you’re constantly running to others for validation then you’re clearly not getting the message.
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2 thoughts on “Learning to Listen: Signs from the Otherside”
Thank you so much for all the information and advice/suggestions that you share.
You’re so very welcome! 🥰
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