Energy (or lack thereof) is one of the biggest hurdles to spellwork and rituals for me. Pain flareups come and go, and while the intense ones certainly sideline me, those tend to only happen once or twice a month. My energy level, however, is always lower than the average able-bodied 30-year-old’s. I have to pace myself with care and precision, and no matter how cautious I am, it’s never a perfect science. And I’m not alone–nearly all the spoonies in my circle struggle to understand, navigate, and sustain their energy. My loved ones with ADHD are exhausted after periods of intense focus. I know of Hard-of-Hearing folks who need to take a nap after straining to listen and/or lip read a long conversation. There’s a reason the Spoon Theory is so widely-referenced and beloved in the disabled/neurodivergent communities. It speaks to that fundamental challenge of moving through the world with a body and/or brain that functions slower, or with more difficulty, or differently. Whether you have ankylosing spondylitis or vision impairment or depression, it usually takes more energy for a spoonie to navigate the world than what’s required of an abled/neurotypical human.
In terms of witchcraft, this means that we need to plan our spells and rituals carefully. If wrangling focus is more of a challenge, for instance, we might need to build breaks into our rituals to space out, focus on something else, or reset. If walking the perimeter during circle casting is possible but tiring, we might instead trace the perimeter with a wand or athame while keeping our stationary position in the center. My point is that something doesn’t need to be impossible to warrant an adjustment. I can stand/walk for a long time, but it might send me into a flareup later. There’s no reason why I can’t adjust a spell that calls for these activities. Spells require energy, sure, but you shouldn’t have to pour all your reserves into your magic.
Every spell and ritual is different, of course, and your specific access/accommodation needs will be very personal to you. But in this post, I wanted to explore some basic methods of conserving energy while practicing witchcraft. Off we go!
CRIPPING SPELLS FOR LOW ENERGY
In my last Fundamentals post, I talked about creating shorthand tools for common spell-related actions. For example, you might program a crystal with the energy of a deity or ancestor you work with frequently, and thus anytime you hold the stone or use it during a spell you’re automatically invoking that deity/ancestor’s energy and presence. Or you might decide that “grounding and centering” before casting a spell is as simple as closing your eyes and taking three slow, deep, mindful breaths. These sorts of shorthand tools allow you to fine-tune a spell to take less time/focus/energy while still performing the spell with intent. That’s really the key when utilizing these shorthands: you should see them not as shortcuts, but as brief yet powerful, targeted actions.
Another method of conserving energy is to prep elements of the spell ahead of time. This allows you to spread out the energy consumption as far as you need. For example, I wanted to create a sigil for my cane when I performed my ritual to transform it into a magickal staff. I developed the sigil a few days before the ritual. Once I had a sigil I was happy with, I drew it onto a sticker so it was ready to go on the day of the ritual itself. If I’d saved all of this prep work for the day of, I likely would have run out of energy halfway through the ritual. There’s lots of ways you can prepare spell elements ahead of time. You might measure out herbs and essential oils and store them in individual containers. You might record yourself reading the steps for the spell/ritual aloud so you can follow along more easily while performing the spell. You might set up your altar the way you want it for the spell ahead of time. You get the picture!
One of my favorite ways to perform low-energy magic is by spelling objects to do magic in the background without much maintenance or sustained effort on your part. Think of it like setting up an essential oil diffuser. All you have to do is find a place for the diffuser, plug it in, drop in your essential oil of choice, and let it go. Easy!
There’s MANY options for this kind of magic. I already mentioned sigils–after you do the work of designing them, they can be drawn on your skin or at the top of a notebook, cross stitched or carved into clay to hang in your bedroom, imprinted on stickers to decorate your magical tools–they sky’s the limit! All you might want to do for maintenance is put the sigil out under the light of an appropriately-timed moon from time to time. (And if you want a crash course on sigil work, I’ll ALWAYS recommend Laura Tempest Zakroff’s book.)
Another option is to “program” objects for specific magical purposes. You’ve probably heard of this in regards to crystals and stones; many books suggest that when you get a new crystal, you spend a few minutes holding it and focusing on the purpose you’d like to imbue it with. But you can use this same practice on other objects, too! I have a specific mug that I’ve programmed for my Hestia worship. I only use this mug when I make tea to share with Hestia, and by pouring my tea into this mug, I’m automatically adding a layer of pre-set magic into it. You might program a battery candle for cleansing and dispelling negative energy and put it in your bedroom to turn on at night. Maybe you have a particular necklace that you want to program with protective intentions, so that when you wear it you have a magical shield around yourself. Again, the options are as limitless as your imagination.
What about sustaining energy when you’re working with deities, ancestors, and other spirits? We often envision these beings as unyielding and demanding–especially the gods. Won’t they take it personally if your energy slumps halfway through a ritual in their name, or if your mind wanders while you’re trying to commune with them?
A disclaimer is in order here: I am by no means an expert on deity work. I have a strong relationship with my patron goddess Hestia, and I’ve done some very basic work with Hermes and Asclepius. But I haven’t branched out much beyond that, so your mileage may vary when it comes to your preferred deities.
With that said, my experience has been that spirits are delighted to work with you and actively want you to show up as you are. Ancestors are especially understanding–they want you to take care of yourself. If you need to take a breather while you’re working with them, or if things don’t progress the way you hoped because you’re exhausted or spacey, they are more than happy to be patient and accommodating.
Many deities aren’t quite as familiar with the human experience of unwilling flesh or overwhelmed minds, but they are usually still willing to pause or reorient. My best advice is to be honest with any deities or spirits you work with. It’s tempting when working with a spirit (especially Big Grandiose beings like gods of legend) to present yourself as infallible, collected, and absolutely in control. But we are, after all, only human. I’ve literally paused in the middle of a flowery devotion to Hestia and said, “I’m sorry, I’m really struggling to stay focused. Bear with me.” Hestia is, admittedly, an exceptionally understanding deity. Be gracious and grateful–thank them for their patience, and do your best to follow through on any promises you’ve made them, even if you need to raincheck the end of a spell or ritual until you’re feeling more energized. But in general, the deities are more accommodating than we give them credit for. They understand that they’re working with squishy, fallible human beings.
EXAMPLE: CANDLE MAGIC
I wanted to end with one more example of how I adjust spellcraft to suit my needs and limitations. Candle magic is one of my favorite methods of spellcraft. It’s like prayer or meditation, but with a dancing flame to focus your will and energy on. That said, my ability to perform candle magic is very limited. My spouse has a lot of smoke/scent sensitivities, so I usually only burn candles out on the balcony where the smoke won’t bother them. And I don’t have comfortable seating on my balcony at the moment, so I can’t spend more than a few minutes out there at once.
Traditional spellbooks will tell you to only use one candle per spell, and to let that candle burn itself down naturally. Blowing out the candle early dispels the magical energy you’ve raised, they say. But I can’t sit on the balcony for hours while I wait for a candle to burn down completely, and I’m obviously not comfortable leaving an open flame unattended on my balcony, either. So I can’t follow this traditional wisdom. More recently, I read a book that suggested sticking a pin in a candle if you want to use it for multiple purposes. For one spell, you let the candle burn down to the pin before blowing it out. Thus, you’re still programming PART of the candle with the intention of your first spell, and the pin portions out the candle. Even this, though, is sometimes not possible for me. (Plus, what if you have a candle that came in a glass jar or other container?)
So I do my own thing with candle magic. For example, I have a Road Opener candle that has been incredibly effective at helping myself and friends land opportunities like college acceptances and job offers. It’s a giant candle in a glass container. Its instructions tell you to choose one intention, and to use the candle by letting it burn down to cinders. Instead, I usually choose a number that is significant for whatever my purpose is (e.g. to send positive opportunities to a friend who’s job hunting, I might choose four, which is associated with employment and stability) and burn my Road Opener candle for four minutes. During those four minutes, I focus on whoever I’m sending energy to and what I hope for them. Once four minutes are up, I say something like, “So mote it be,” or “for their highest good,” and blow out the candle. Is it super traditional? Nope. But it works, and it doesn’t require me to run myself ragged by sitting in an uncomfortable place for hours while a candle burns out.
So much of spellwork is about raising, directing, and sending energy. It may sound counterintuitive to suggest that minding your own energy and using it wisely is part of magic for spoonies. And to be clear, I’m not saying that magic should require NO energy. I still usually need to rest after a more involved spell or ritual. But you shouldn’t find yourself absolutely spent after a ritual, or recovering for a few days after performing a spell. It is not lazy to want your magic to be accessible and spoonie-friendly!
As always, thank you for joining me in this exploration of lower-energy magic! If you’re finding this series helpful, or just like the blog overall, please consider buying me a coffee. Every little bit helps and is deeply appreciated.