In my first post, I shared my small manifesto (mini-festo? …sorry) about how witchcraft should be accessible and nourishing for all of us, regardless of what challenges or alternate approaches our bodies and minds require of us. That’s all well and good to say, but how does that translate into the practicalities of working magic? We know we want an accessible practice, but how do we get there?
The first thing to consider is what we can and can’t do. This may sound obvious, but when there’s a spell or ritual that I really really want to do, it’s way too easy for me to ignore what I should know about my body and step right over those can’ts. If you start with a sense of what is, isn’t, and might possibly be doable for you, you’ll be less likely to overdo it in the heat of the moment. And you’ll be armed with alternatives that you might use to substitute part of an activity that isn’t feasible for you.
We’re going to come at this from two angles: objective stuff and subjective stuff. Initially I divided my questions by physical ability vs. mental ability, but that minimizes how much the two go hand-in-hand. Plus there’s objective things in both buckets that are easier to categorize (e.g. I use a wheelchair full-time, so I can’t do anything that involves standing or walking; or crowds often lead me to meltdowns, so I can’t do anything that involves crowds). And there’s subjective things in both buckets that might require more nuance to understand the cans, can’ts, and maybes. You know best where your limitations and hard lines in the sand are, whether they’re more mental or physical. So let’s explore!
Some of the ways our bodies and brains work differently (or don’t work at all, as the case may be) are somewhat straightforward. For instance, I can say conclusively that with my chronic pain condition, a long hike through nature would not be possible for me. If you’re a blind witch, you probably aren’t going to create sigils. Now of course both of these could be possible with significant modifications–I might adjust “long nature walk” to “sitting outside for a few minutes,” and our hypothetical blind witch might ask for a sighted friend’s assistance in co-creating a sigil. But on its face, those limitations would be immediately apparent when we looked at a spell, and we’d know we either needed to think of some accommodations or search for a different spell.
To get a broad sense of these limitations, create three lists: yes, no, and maybe/sometimes. In the yes category, place any activities that you know are doable for you without much or any accommodations needed. In the no category, place the opposite–activities that you absolutely cannot do, or you’d need significant modifications to achieve. And in the maybe/sometimes column, place activities that you aren’t sure of, or that you could only do under certain conditions.
To get you thinking, here’s some activities that might come up in spellcraft and ritual. Are these yeses, nos, or maybes for you?
- Sitting at a table
- Sitting on the ground or floor
- Ambulating a wheelchair without assistance
- Writing with a pen or pencil
- Crafts like knitting, cross stitch, etc.
- Burning candles or incense (with or without fragrance)
- Listening to music
- Going to certain places (a park, a mall, a concert, etc.)
- Speaking aloud
This is by no means a complete list–add anything that you’ve run into as a limitation or challenge during your practice, or even just in your daily life. Some of them may not seem relevant to spellcraft, but you never know what might come up. And of course, this list can be added to or adjusted at any time!
For the items in your maybe/sometimes column, you may already have a sense of what your parameters are (e.g. yes I can dance for a few minutes, but only if I’m not in the middle of a pain flare). But if you aren’t exactly sure where those edges are, they may be good items to examine more closely in the next section, subjective stuff.
Many of our limitations are fuzzier and more difficult to define with a simple yes or no. How do things like depression and anxiety impact our witchcraft, for instance? During a fatigue flareup, are there witchy practices that energize us, or do they all need to be put aside for the moment? Only you know the answers to these questions, and indeed only you know the questions to be asking! I can’t make a comprehensive list of reflection questions for every possible chronic illness, disability, and neurodivergence. But here’s a few possible questions–use them as jumping-off points to get you thinking about your particular needs and how they manifest as limits and thresholds for magic.
- When I’m having mental health symptoms like high anxiety or deep depression, do any of my witchy practices help me center/ground myself? Do they require energy that I cannot give in the midst of a bad period?
- What do I need to maximize my focus during spellcraft? E.g. do I focus better with music or complete silence? In company or alone? Etc.
- During a pain flareup, are there witchy things I can do that take minimal effort? (E.g. drawing a single tarot card is often achievable for me, but it may be something different for you–or nothing)
- Thinking about my disability and/or neurodivergence, what challenges have I encountered? What challenges do I foresee?
- How might I creatively accommodate my own needs? (E.g. if reading text is hard for you, recording yourself describing the instructions/process of the spell, or asking a friend to read the instructions aloud for you)
As you reflect, your yes/no/maybe lists may shift. Something that felt like a solid yes or no might feel more like a sometimes as you consider parameters and potential accommodations. Or a maybe might turn out to be a solid no! Be honest about your needs and limits as they stand right now. But also recognize that these lists, answers, and reflections aren’t static. As your requirements change over time, or as you test things out, you can always revisit parts (or all!) of this exercise.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Now that you’ve spent some time thinking through the logistics of what you can and can’t do in general, let’s finish up by applying those thoughts to your specific witchy disciplines. Think about the types of spellwork, rituals, and magical disciplines you’ve felt drawn to, or that you’ve been invited to participate in. Think about where you’ve run up against brick walls, where you’ve pushed too hard, and where you’ve said no without considering possible accommodations that could be made. Then reflect on these final three questions:
- Looking at my answers to previous questions, what are some practices that would be low-impact enough for me to work somewhat regularly? (E.g. even on my bad days I can usually listen to music and do simple tarot readings, so I can make them consistent-ish parts of my witchcraft.)
- What are some activities that I could save for special occasions? (E.g. If I make sure to rest before and after, I could do a ritual that included 5-10 minutes of walking or sitting outside.)
- What common witchy practices do I know I’ll need to regularly avoid or heavily adjust? (E.g. rituals lasting more than 30 minutes, burning candles, etc.)
As I’ve said already, there is no way for this to be a comprehensive list. You never know when your covenmate might ask you to go scuba diving as part of a spell, and you’ll realize that you never even remotely considered that possibility, so you aren’t exactly sure where your edge is. But having this foundation of knowledge about your capacity can carry you through some of the witchy practices that you’re likely to run across. And for those that blindside you, you’ll at least have experience in thinking through what you need for an activity to be accessible, possible, and even magical for you.
Finally, an overall note. It’s a good idea to come up with some sort of check-in for yourself before you attempt any magic that requires effort/spoons. The most obvious method is the “rate your pain on a scale of 1-10” which I’m sure you’ve encountered in medical settings. You can apply this scale to pain, mental overwhelm, exhaustion, etc. And if that works for you, that’s great! Decide what your threshold will be (e.g. if my pain level is at 7 or above, I’ll save the witchcraft for another day) and do a quick rating of where you’re at before you dive into your magic.
Personally though, I sort of hate the 1-10 rating. My threshold shifts from day to day–sometimes an 8 is manageable, and sometimes a 6 is unbearable (especially if it’s day four of an awful flareup). Plus I never dip below a 3 pain-wise, so is a 3 effectively my 0? I prefer to have a few “check engine” lights in mind. Rather than thinking in terms of numbers on a scale, I look for certain warning signs that I may be headed into a flareup. A few of mine are a prickly pins-and-needles pain all over my body, and suddenly being unable to keep my eyes open in the middle of the day (usually I’m an insomniac at all hours).
If this method appeals more to you, spend a few minutes thinking about (and possibly writing down) what some of these check engine lights might be for you. Do you get teary? Do you get a headache? Do you start to feel depersonalized? Etc. It could be absolutely anything, as long as it’s relatively consistent for you and your edge. Then keep these signs in mind before you set up for a spell or ritual–if you’re experiencing any of them, it might be a good idea to postpone your plans, or at least scale them down significantly.
Next time we’ll discuss tools and methods you might use to crip your craft! In the meantime, please consider preordering my book Your Tarot Toolkit. It contains tons of activities, reflections, and affirmations you can use to infuse your daily tarot card into your life. I wrote it with accessibility in mind, so there’s activities for all levels of energy and ability!