We all hear constantly that it “takes a village,” right? It’s true for all of us, but especially those of us in the disabled/neurodivergent communities. We might rely on a loved one or health aide to assist us with physical tasks that are too painful, tiring, or just straight up not possible for us. We might ask a friend to body double with us to help maintain focus and routine. We might wake a partner in the night to hold us when our emotions get too big to carry alone. There’s no reason why your village shouldn’t extend into your magical practice, too. Now, this might immediately put you in mind of covens, which might make you think of structured, well-oiled witchy groups with long, specific initiation processes. (And there’s nothing wrong with that, to be clear! Especially if that helps you feel connected to other witches, tapped into your magic, and supported.) But I like to think of a coven in another sense, too: the circle of beings that inspire, support, and enhance your magic. Why do I say beings instead of people? Because my magic support team doesn’t just include the living, breathing humans in my day-to-day life. It also includes my patron deity Hestia, along with a few other deities who make occasional appearances in my workings. It includes ancestor spirits like Dodo, Mom B, and my dad. I don’t have a familiar at the moment (I have a kitty, but she is decidedly not a familiar) but my first cat Haiku was absolutely part of my magical team. As I’m describing my support team, you might already be identifying a few members of yours. Or you might be drawing a blank and wondering how you find potential members for your magical team in the first place. (This might be particularly true if you are, as the saying goes, “in the broom closet”–aka, you’re unable to practice magic openly due to an unsupportive family, roommates, friend group. etc.) That’s what this post will be all about! For our purposes, I’ve divided up types of magical team members into a few categories:
- Collaborators: Living people who practice magic with you or directly support your magic
- Assistants: Living people who might not do magic with you, but instead do practical things to enable your magic practice
- Deities, saints, and other beacons
- Ancestors, spirits, etc.
- Familiars, animal or plant
These obviously aren’t the only options, but they’re several big categories to start with. We might do a part two if there’s interest. For now, though, let’s dive in!
COLLABORATORS AND ASSISTANTS
Up top I’ll say that you don’t have to do magic with others. Obviously! Solitary witches have probably existed longer than structured covens have, after all. If you feel your most powerful doing solo spells and rituals, that’s absolutely valid. Depending on your types of access needs or disability/neurodivergence, you might work better with assistants; folks who can do practical bits and bobs for you, freeing you up to dive into your spellcraft with full energetic batteries. But even that is entirely up to you, at the end of the day. Before we talk about assistants, though, let’s talk about collaborators. The most obvious example of a collaborator would be someone who actively performs magic alongside you. They might participate in a ritual with you, trade tarot readings, or write collaborative spells. This might be someone (or someones) in a traditional coven group that you join, or it might be a witchy someone who you work well with in your day-to-day life. It might even be someone that you meet long-distance via an online witchy group. Performing simultaneous spells over zoom or discord can be a lot more powerful than you might expect! A collaborator might be a more subtle participant, though. For instance, I’m part of a three-person friend group that calls itself a coven. We don’t really do magic together in a structured way. Instead, we share what we’ve been up to–journal prompts and empowering poems, tarot readings that we’d like a second opinion on, etc. And when one of us is having a tough day, we have a habit of sending each other compliments to brighten the mood and make each other feel loved/appreciated. That’s magic of its own sort! Assistants and collaborators might be the same person/people, or they might be separate. By assistants, I mean people who do practical support things to make your magical workings easier/more achievable. This might be a person who drives you to the metaphysical shop for supplies when you’re too shaky to drive yourself. It might be someone who reads spell instructions aloud as you work so you can keep track of the steps more easily. It might be someone who you can bounce ideas off of as you’re developing a new spell. My spouse, for example, isn’t much for magic workings themself–but they love hearing me talk about tarot cards as I work on new spreads, write up readings for myself, etc. That helps more than I can say. How do you go about finding people in either category, if you want/need them? The internet makes this a LOT more accessible than it used to be. There’s scores of online groups for witchy folks of all stripes. Whether it’s a giant discord server with resources and opportunities for connection, a small invite-only facebook group for queer and disabled witches, or an online tarot club, you can almost certainly find a group, forum, or corner of the internet that fits your vibe. Or if you prefer face-to-face connections, look up your nearest metaphysical shop and see what classes they might offer. All of this does require putting yourself out there, of course. But you don’t have to go from 0 to 100. If you’re more introverted, or the idea of baring your witchy soul to a stranger makes you anxious, you can start slow. Find a small online group. Make a goal to participate as often as feels comfortable for you, even if it’s only once every other month. If an opportunity to connect with a fellow member presents itself, try to take it. And then build from there!
DEITIES, ANCESTORS, AND OTHERS
Next are the less tangible members of your support team. These are the supernatural forces that you partner with during magical workings. A deity whose likeness you keep on your altar, an ancestor whose name you whisper in your evening meditation, an elemental force that you call on to bolster your spells. Like your corporeal team, you might have a number of these beings in your life already, or you might only have one or two, or perhaps you have none of the above and don’t know where to begin. All of this is absolutely valid–and of course you don’t need someone from each category, either. They are just many options that are open to you. I’m not an expert in deity or ancestor work–I only know my own practices in each. You can read about my experiences if that helps provide an example of how these beings can support your magic. Suffice it to say that (in my experience), deities and ancestors are happy to meet you where you are. They can be firm (especially deities) and expect a certain amount of consistency (again, especially deities). But as long as you’re honest about your limitations and capacities, they seem willing to work with you at whatever level you’d like. If you want to explore inviting these entities into your magic, I recommend starting with some research. For ancestor worship, I will always recommend Daniel Foor’s Ancestral Medicine. For deity work, I don’t have a suggestion for the perfect starting book–I really love Modern Witchcraft with the Greek Gods by Jason Mankey and Astrea Taylor, but that’s specific to the Greek pantheon. This is an online starter guide that gives a solid overview for beginners interested in deity worship. My biggest tip for any relationship you develop with deities or spirits is: be kind and gentle with yourself! Obviously if you want a lasting, trusting relationship, you should aim for consistency and reliability (as in a relationship with a living loved one). But how that consistency and reliability play out should function as well for you as it does for your deity/ancestor/etc. For example, my relationship with Hestia is a very fluid and flexible thing. She understands when I need to postpone a spell or offering because I’m too flared up. And she is delighted by whatever I can give, whether it’s an elaborate offering or a simple word of thanks as I go about my day. As for ancestor work, when I first started reaching out to my lost relatives, I felt INCREDIBLE guilt that I didn’t feel equally connected to each of them. Relationships with Dodo, Mom B, and Dad came naturally and swiftly; my paternal grandparents and my great-grandfathers all felt much more distant and wobbly. I felt like I was doing something wrong for a long time, until I stopped to consider that I’m not as close with all of my LIVING family members as I am with others, either! Relationships aren’t one-size-fits-all, and you’re going to feel closer to some folks than others. There’s nothing wrong with that.
I should probably do a whole post about familiars at some point, but for the time being, familiars are creatures who support your magic in a myriad of ways. This might be a service dog who alerts you if you’re doing an emotional ritual that pushes you too close to a panic attack. It might be a bird whose singing provides comfortable background noise as you set up a spell. I honestly think that even houseplants, herbs, and flowers in your garden could function as familiars! Not every animal or plant is built for familiar work. My first cat, Haiku, was a profoundly intuitive fur friend who learned the signs of my pain flareups and refused to leave my side when I was at my worst. I wasn’t doing magic nearly as often back then, but still, I consider her my first familiar. She learned my energy and how to complement it. My current cat, Frisk, is also slowly learning how to identify my flareups, and she does sit with me and check on me more often when I’m under the weather. But it feels less magical and more just…friendly, I suppose? It’s hard to describe, exactly. Haiku had a calming presence that grounded me. Frisk is more of a companion who keeps me laughing even when I don’t feel up to it. Now, maybe your magic would perfectly complement a goofball animal and you’d find a sedate, imperious sort of creature to be out of your purview for magic. That’s completely valid, too. You know your familiars when you see them, for the most part. My point is that animal and plant friends can fall into similar categories as humans. Some might be collaborators like Haiku was for me, and some might be assistants who bolster your spirits but aren’t necessarily magic in and of themselves. I hope that makes sense!
Even if you’re a deeply solitary person who holds their cards close to their chest, no man is an island. Disabled or abled, neurodivergent or neurotypical, you need at least a few entities lending a hand (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc.) from time to time. Maybe they’re living, breathing humans who do magic with you, or who take care of practical matters for you. Maybe they’re lost family members who visit your workings, or deities who lend power to your magic. Maybe they’re animals snuggling nearby or plants providing steady presence in the background. Whatever the case, identifying and building your magical support team is a crucial part of witchy practice, and making sure to nurture those relationships is vital. Who are the members of your magical support team? How do they bolster your craft? Is there a type of support being that I’ve missed? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
(Audio version of this post coming soon!)