Visualization is everywhere in witchcraft, and in mindfulness and meditation practices, as well. When you work a spell, you’re often instructed to imagine the outcome of the spell in visual detail. When sitting down to meditate, you might be asked to visualize a beach, or a staircase, or any number of other useful images. And on the one hand, I can understand why this is a common technique. The mind’s eye can be a powerful tool, and magic needs a clear, fleshed-out intention for the future to manifest. One straightforward way of creating that clear intention is to visualize how a spell might play out, or what type of energy you want to meditate with.
But what if you’re a witch who’s blind? What if you have aphantasia and don’t have a mind’s eye? What if visualization takes up too many focus spoons and you find it less taxing to mentally hear or feel something? There’s no reason why visualization should be the only method for adding texture and clarity to our spellcraft. So today, I want to discuss some techniques and tips for approaching visual magic as a non-visually-focused witch. Let’s dive in!
THE ASTRAL TEMPLE WITH OTHER SENSES
The “astral temple” is one of those concepts that I got super excited about when I first read about it, and then almost as quickly became discouraged and frustrated with. What is the astral temple? Simply put, it’s a mental space where you can go to work magic in a more energy-focused, non-tangible space. It can be used for anything, but it’s especially useful for a witch who might not be able to keep an altar or ritual space in their home (for example, if you live with folks who aren’t magic-friendly and thus can’t keep your magical tools out safely). I’ve read several books that suggest this technique, and the instructions are always inspiring and exciting: you can decorate it however you want! You can make it as big or small as you’d like! You can invite deities, spirits, and familiars into the space with you!
But if you’re not someone who can visualize easily/at all, this technique falls apart a bit. I could absolutely make you a verbal list of things I’d like in my ideal magical space, but holding onto a visual impression of anything? Impossible for me with my aphantasia. My mind’s eye is dark, with occasional flashbulb images that I can’t hold onto no matter how hard I try. And I can’t imagine I’m the only person who struggles with this. So I wanted to offer some alternatives, because I do love the core of this method: having a mental place to be your witchiest self and cast magic without limitations.
My first alternative to the visually-focused astral temple is to create a digital temple/altar. I love using Pinterest for this, but I’m sure there are other good image-curating platforms out there as well (and if you have one you’d recommend, please do drop it in the comments). Add pictures of anything that inspires you or gives you a Magic feeling. Of course you can use images of traditionally witchy objects, like crystals, herbs, wands, etc. But you can also add anything that feels like home to you, or that feels magical for you personally. I might include a coca-cola bottle, for instance, because my dad collected coca-cola memorabilia and he’s a touchstone in my ancestor work. You could even use a word art generator to create images of quotations, invocations, or intentions and add that to your board. This is truly an anything-goes situation!
If you prefer an astral temple that isn’t visually based at all, my second suggestion is to create a playlist. I’ve talked about the uses of witchy playlists before, so what about creating a playlist to act as your magical space? You could fill it with ambient, atmospheric background music to cast spells to. Or you could add a hodgepodge of tunes that hype you up, help you focus, or whatever you need from your magical space. You could even fine-tune the playlist to lead you through a magical process: choose a song or two as “entrance” music to get you in a spellcasting headspace, a song to invoke your patron deity or a spirit you work with, a series of songs to perform spells to, and then a song that feels like circle-closing energy. Again, anything goes!
MEDITATION AND SPELLCASTING WITHOUT VISUALIZATION
First and foremost, I want to shout out this book on meditation. It’s a bit simplistic, but I highly recommend it as a starting place for non-visually-focused meditation techniques. Jim Collison has a slew of ideas for how to focus on meditating or ways to orient your meditation without the need to visualize as you go. It gave me a lot of foundational ideas that led, eventually, to this post. So I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it here!
Now then, imagine you’re meditating, or that you need to imagine the outcome of a spell as part of its casting. But if you struggle to visualize or can’t visualize at all, what are you to do? Well, if you’re like me and your brain works in words/sounds more than images, you could try using a mantra or an affirmation sentence to focus on. You might be thinking of the stereotypical Buddhist monk chanting “ommmmmm” as they sit in the lotus position, but there’s honestly a myriad of ways you can use words to focus. When I’m having a particularly rough fibromyalgia flare-up, I often try to combat overwhelm by taking several deep, slow breaths. As I inhale, I say to myself, “I breathe in peace.” And as I exhale, I say to myself, “I breathe out pain.” If you’re casting a spell, you could create a simple intention sentence like, “I am healthy and strong today” and repeat that to yourself aloud or silently as you cast.
You can also use music here as well. Do you have a particular song that makes you feel amped up and ready to face the day, for instance? Play that as you meditate before an important meeting. Is there a song that reminds you of a lost loved one? When performing a spell to invoke their presence, put that song on in the background. Music can capture a feeling, an idea, or a moment in vivid clarity–why not use it as a magical tool?
And then, of course, there’s kinesthetic options aplenty for meditating or spellcasting. Walking meditation is a fantastic way of practicing mindfulness and presence through physical movement, and there’s no reason why you couldn’t use mobility aids during a walking meditation if needed.
Prayer beads are another great way of applying focus through physical sensations–as you slide bead after bead through your fingers, you can count, repeat a word or phrase, or whatever is most appropriate for the spell/meditation in question. Even if you don’t have prayer beads, you could accomplish a smaller-scale version of this method using a crystal, rock, or other small item. Turn it over and over in your hands, trying to feel it from every angle and really paying attention to its texture, heft, etc. Then start to repeat a phrase or affirmation to yourself every time you turn it over in your hands. Quick and easy!
There are likely as many methods of non-visual spellcasting as there are witches who aren’t visually oriented. There’s no way I can cover everything in one post, so I plan to return to this topic later with even more suggestions and ideas. And if you have any methods that you use when visualizing isn’t accessible for you, I’d absolutely love to hear them! Leave me a comment or send me an email.
(Audio version of this post coming soon!)