When in doubt: clean.
Or cleanse. Same concept.
On Saturday called out of work with a migraine and general unwellness. Wasn’t sure of the cause; I’m pretty careful about managing my migraine triggers but I still get the odd one slipping past my defenses. Feeling like crap all day, even after managing to get the main bulk of the pain pushed far away.
Finally, just before bed, I decide to sit down and finally get to a task I’ve been meaning to do for a while: cleaning the gunk out of my ring.
On my right hand I wear a smoky quartz ring. It’s for protection and shielding in general and I got it so I could fight back against the evil spirit in the suite I share with the Ogre. Since coming up to stay with my mom, the ring has gotten less of a workout, but still. Should probably be cleaned and cleansed once in a while.
The inside, under the stone, where it rests on my flesh — that part in particular was pretty grody.
Sat down with a q-tip and rubbing alcohol, took off the ring, and worked on cleaning it as deeply as I could. Put newly-clean ring back on.
And suddenly felt much, much better.
I suppose there’s a secondary lesson here, too: when in doubt, shield.
Say the word hygiene and the immediate associations are bathed, no visible dirt, not smelly. Which are the basics. There’s also combing your hair, getting enough sleep, doing your laundry.
Extrapolating the metaphor to the spiritual realm — the term “spiritual hygiene” is something that gets used in pagan and magic circles off and on. See also, “magical hygiene.” Idea being, these are basic things that you start with to keep yourself free of astral gunk — and protected from more of it.
Just as you’ll see online in various places posts saying that if you’re feeling off or depressed or generally crappy, you should wash your hands, or comb your fingers through your hair, or brush your teeth — touted as self-care, but it’s also hygiene — in magic the idea holds the same. Things feel weird? Cleanse your space. Banish crap. Shield. Same stuff.
Well, okay — there are differences. Not least of which being the fact that spiritual or magical hygiene is accessible to everyone, whereas not all forms of physical hygiene are. I’m not going to get into a rant. This is just a fact.
But the idea is the same.
Witches love tools.
Ask anyone, we’re obsessed. Jars, crystals, special sea salt from the Mediterranean, brand name Athena for the extra magical kick. Organic herbs. Fragrant incense. An entire Ikea’s worth of candles.
Almost every witch I know has a bit of a magpie streak, collecting shiny things for the magic making back at the nest.
And almost every witch I know will also tell you: you don’t need any of it.
Humans are a tool-using species. We’re not unique in that, but we are perhaps unique in just how many tools we have. When dealing with matters on the physical plane, many tools are actually needed.
Washing clothes? You need, at least, water and some sort of lathering agent. You might not have soap, but river rocks and elbow grease. But you need something, beyond what nature gave you.
When dealing with magic? Matters of the mind and spirit?
Tools are useful. If you have access to them, by all means — use them. They will help.
It can be hard for us to get our minds to kick into magical gear — especially raised in our disenchanted modern society that tries to train that out of us from an early age. The various magical tools we collect do have a purpose — for retraining our brains to do what we’ve forgotten.
But sometimes you don’t have access to the retraining supplies. All you have is your physical form and the spirit that resides with it. (Within? Beside? Above? I don’t know where it is, I just know they hang out together.)
Even without access to your tools you are not defenseless.
Adapt to your surroundings.
This is the original human skill: adaptation. Even the most rigid among us (ask anyone, I’m a control freak) are able to adapt.
Some people build the skills of being able to immediately case a room for ingress and egress points, choke points, defensible positions, and what items can be quickly improvised into a weapon. (Agent Coulson, probably.)
As with any skill, it takes time to develop. You start out having to really think about it. Eventually, it becomes more natural, and then finally it comes without thinking.
I’m not saying you should do exactly this — unless you want to. I personally case every new room for exit points, though that’s a lingering effect of childhood trauma.
But if you haven’t yet retrained your brain to work without tools in order to call up your magical power, or if you just want to have the option of a tool when you have none, learning to case your surroundings for things you can use to improvise tool usage will stand you in good stead.
These improvisational items might be things you can touch, or they might be things you can only see, or only smell or hear. Utilize whatever senses are strongest for you.
Have you ever taken a deep breath in the middle of the forest and had the scent of the plants around you cleanse you inside and out? Have you ever touched a wooden chair and felt yourself ground through it, felt it stabilize you when you needed it? Have you ever drawn your cardigan closer around yourself to feel more protected?
The tools don’t make the witch. The witch makes the tools.
I don’t need a ring to shield myself.
It just helps. Especially when dealing with relentless onslaught from malefic forces, as I am in the suite we rent.
I’m not planning on eschewing all tool use, either. But as I’m coming up on a small trip away from home, during which I’ll need to travel light but magically, I needed the reminder that I don’t need to pack my entire witch’s cabinet. (Said cabinet is not a physical item, but rather a description of my sprawling collection of witchy items.)
It also helps to have the reminder that I should practice more spiritual hygiene in general. It’s not just about keeping myself energetically clean. It’s about protecting myself.
What happens energetically translates into the physical realm. As above, so below. As within, so without.
Centering, grounding, shielding, cleansing, and more don’t just benefit you on a magical or spiritual level. They benefit on a physical one as well. Just like doing some sort of physical exercise every day.
And just like doing that exercise, it’s best if we create a consistent habit around it.
This isn’t me preaching. Historically I’ve been terrible at keeping up these habits.
This is me reminding myself that I want to do better — that I want to start keeping up these habits.
I want to keep up these habits so that if I ever lose access to all my tools, I still have everything I need with me.
The last two years have been full of lessons.
The biggest one: don’t take anything for granted. Especially the conveniences of modern day life.
Supply chain issues, energy issues, and much, much more promise to make the coming months rough ones. Mom and I have both given into the sides of our nature that trend towards prepping — our pantry is as stocked as it can be, and we spent the summer doing as much as humanly possible in our garden (long-term prepping). We also made sure to have a lot of firewood for the woodstove.
We’re luckier than most. I give thanks for our blessings every day.
Still. It will probably be a hard winter.
So I shouldn’t take anything for granted, and that includes with my religious and magical practices. I need to start thinking like a magical prepper, too.
How do I prepare myself for a situation in which I have access to none of my magic tools?
How do I keep my spiritual/energetic hygiene or basic practices up no matter what the circumstances?
These are the questions I need to start asking myself, so that I can find the answers before I truly need them.