Other times, days when the sun hits my face just right, or when I can smell winter cooking on the air starting up, those days, it feels like we've only been doing this for a little while. A little shock of delight when I recall the last time I bought a takeaway latte and joked with my barista. Hurrying home from the station to beat the crowds. The faces of all the people I encountered every day, how their expressions changed when they saw me (good, bad, and indifferent!).
I've been thinking about all the things I've read, about how it's completely normal to feel and be less productive in a global pandemic. I've realised there are things I can and can't do, and some things that are just plain different no matter how much I want them to be the same. Even that seems surreal somehow, like I'm standing in the middle of storm I can't control, as well as having no way of even quantifying anything even resembling a plan. Which is super normal it seems but doesn't make it any less weird.
To be honest, I've never felt isolated as a solitary witch before. All my training over the years has been dipping in and out of group work anyway; I got to work with others when I wanted, and practice alone when I didn't. I've always had the option of how I worked my magic. Now, even if I wanted to, I don't have a choice.
Or do I...?
(I mean, how much bigger sign do we need than three natural disasters in a row? I know I say that the universe is vast, and we are miniscule, so sometimes messages get lost in translation, but this is pretty mind-blowingly clear).
But this doesn't negate how hard this all is, how stressful and mentally exhausting every single hour can be, just trying to forge a new way of acting normal. Because this isn't normal, it isn't simple, and sometimes, it really doesn't feel like it will ever be over.
So, while we're here, we need to use this time as best we can and do what we can. As witches, as practitioners, as otherlings. We need to use our not-inconsiderable strength and power, and punch it joyfully out into the world. Or even just whisper quietly to our spirits in the dark, you know?
I'm come up with a list of ways you can do this in isolation (come on, you all knew a list was coming, don't pretend you didn't). This list will give you an idea of how to keep working in these extraordinary times, little rituals I hope will give you comfort and spark your own ideas, ways we can keep making magic, no matter what.
~* Miss sitting in a park or trekking around the bush? Yea, me too. But we're not in prison cells - nature is everywhere if you look hard enough. Whether you live in an apartment or are lucky enough to have a massive garden, spend some time with plants. Walk barefoot on grass if you can, or just stick your fingers in the earth (announce yourself first, it's only polite!), close your eyes, and breathe in that earthy scent. Feel the grainy texture of the soil, smell the smell of organic growing things. Hold it in your mind. Return to it when you're feeling out of sorts.
We all came from this, and to this we shall return *~
~* Being the whitest white girl in Sydney, I don't really strike people as a 'beachy' person. And I'm not, but that doesn't mean I don't miss my yearly trip to feel the sand on my toes, the smell of the sea, or cold, fresh water on my skin. If you're lucky enough to live close to the ocean, I'll bet you're popping down whenever you can for exercise, but for those of us who don't, all is not lost. Even for those in apartments.
It's important to keep our visualisation skills honed, so this is a great exercise for them. You can take a jug of water outside, or even just stand at the kitchen sink (remember what I said about the universe not caring about the tools, only the intent). Dip your fingers slowly into the water. Visualise where it's coming from; think of a stream or the tide on a beach coming to lap at your hands. Sink into the images you're creating, let them wash over your whole being. If you can hold it long enough, you might even begin to smell something, but don't worry if you don't, that will come with time *~
~* Does everything smell like antiseptic? Is the medicinal smell making you just a little bit crazy, like lady Macbeth trying to wash imaginary blood from her hands? Just because we should all be washing our hands and accessories more thoroughly these days doesn't mean we need to smell like a chemist all the time. You can still be hospital-grade hygienic and smell like an English garden.
Start washing your hair and body with things from the pantry. You heard me; the pantry. Put honey and lemon in your hair, and olive oil on your skin. Brush your teeth with a wee bit of bi-carb soda, and bathe or shower with some sage or rosemary. No need to go overboard, a little goes a long way in this case. And as a bonus - you can eat this stuff too. Win, win, right?*~
But there is a teeny silver lining to this depressing turn of events; weird hours mean more opportunities at weird magic! Ever wanted to try that midnight moon spell or that crack of dawn incantation? Well now you can.
Without a morning commute to worry about, or where you'll park your car, there's a good hour or two of your day that can be saved for other things - like cat naps between spells and work. With your lunchbreak now neatly sandwiched up against your work time, you can start using it to prep a little ritual for the afternoon, or even nod off on the lounge for a while.
Time is on your side here, so whether you redress the sleep debt balance or use it for magic, make note of the mysterious times we're living in and make them work for you*~
~*I recently dug all my old textbooks out of the garage and started to go through my favourites. Books of water magic and love spells, crystal tomes and candle texts. I found my very first notes from my training days, pressed like flowers between the pages of a dog-haired natural magic hardcover.
Revisit the past, reconnect with your roots, relearn the skills you take for granted. With so much to watch on tv, it's hard not to stay glued to the screen (I'm not dissing it by the way, just suggesting ways to rest your eyes). And most of us learned our grassroots lessons with a book in our hands.
So, wipe the dust off the jackets and leaf through your favourites. Maybe, like me, you'll get lucky and find a pendulum tucked in a bag of runes tucked away between Divination For Beginners and Hocus Pocus*~
~*Even the most solitary of witches is feeling isolated right now. There's a difference between avoiding others and groups, and avoiding everything. The former is a lifestyle choice, the latter is a survival choice.
It can be hard to understand, but science and magick are not separate things. In fact, they are very similar; magic is just a science that hasn't been proven yet. And maybe it never will, but if they are the same, surely, we can use them alike?
Attend online meditations or host sabbat parties, where everyone brings their treats to the screens and discusses their rites for the day or night. Read about your stars here or get your cards read here. Or if you're feeling especially in the mood, do your own readings for others via videocall; your magic is not diminished by distance, only by lack of belief in yourself.
Think outside the box and inside the star; new ways mixing with old*~
Because really, you've got to know, the universe doesn't care if you use a silver bowl or a plastic one, it doesn't judge if you use cheap herbs or the torch on your phone as a candle. The energy comes from you. The intent comes from you. The magick comes from - that's right - you.
It always has and always will. Remember that.