Self-care is a term we hear bandied about a lot lately. There are articles about why bubble baths are good for you and articles about why you shouldn’t have to feel like you’re supposed to like bubble baths if you don’t. There are courses and e-books and spiritual retreats dedicated to the subject of caring for ourselves.
Within witchcraft, self-care is a pretty important element of practice that often gets overlooked, just as it does in other areas of our lives. Even though herbal tinctures and teas, essential oils and other healing materials are major factors in many witches’ practices, we tend to think of hygiene and beauty routines as secular, mundane activities. Although mental self-care is a separate issue that can be addressed through journaling, yoga and meditation, these physical aspects of self-care can be just as magickal.
So how do you go about creating a self-care ritual that accomplishes a necessary function but also treats yourself and gets in touch with your spiritual side? That’s a deeply personal question and the answer is going to vary from witch to witch but listed below are three steps to get you started on creating magickal self-care rituals:
1. Create a sacred self-care ritual space.
Many witches and pagans will tell you they don’t have just one altar in the house; rather, they have a little cluster of candles, crystals and tarot cards in various corners and perhaps one central altar where they do most of their magickal and spiritual workings. You guys have seen my main altar quite a few times, but in case you’ve forgotten or you’re new to Lupine Hollow, this is what it usually looks like:
Last week you also saw the rest of my sacred space (or most of it any way). One thing I didn’t show you in the How to Decorate Like the Moon Goddess You Know You Are post is my vanity. Really just a small desk with a vinyl stool (for easy cleaning), my vanity acts in many ways like a very practical altar. The space needs to be highly functional, of course, as it is where I do my makeup and hair in the morning before work and unwind at the end of the day.
Function and spirituality don’t have to be at odds with each other. In fact, your spiritual life should be intrinsically linked to your day to day experiences!
I spend a fair amount of time each day sitting at this vanity, completing habitual tasks that become ritual in and of themselves. Think about your morning and evening routines: there is probably a space you spend time in each day, braiding your hair, doing your makeup or even just brushing your teeth. Even if you don’t have the luxury of a separate vanity, it’s likely you have a little room around the sink or in the medicine cabinet that can become an intentional sacred space.
Treat this area like you would any altar: bless it, purify it and keep objects and elements there that help you to connect with your spiritual self.
2. Embrace the mundane.
A typical magickal altar often has candles, incense, tarot cards or crystals on it. These are items that many of us associate with spirituality and witchcraft. Your self-care altar is a more functional space, however. If you have room for all those spiritual items, go for it! But I know for me, and probably for most of you too, the vanity area is already pretty cluttered with hair products, makeup products and jewelry. I don’t really have the space to include directly spiritual items too.
But as I said, function and spirituality do not need to be in opposition to each other. Consider this: what if perfume represented air, facial cleansers represented water, your curling iron represented fire and mineral powder foundation represented earth? What if you brewed a cup of tea from herbs associated with beauty and sipped it in between each step of your morning routine, consciously focusing on those things about yourself you find beautiful?
Most of us don’t have time for much ritual in the mornings – witches have work and school to get to just like everybody else! But if you embrace the little mundane things that already make up your morning routine, you’ll find magick and ritual everywhere.
3. Follow the same patterns you would use in a magickal ritual in your self-care, beauty and hygiene rituals.
Whatever formula you tend to follow for your Sabbat or moon rituals, bring those same tendencies into your self-care rituals. For me, I like to start off a magickal ritual with a little purification followed by some kind of movement (usually yoga). Then I listen to a guided meditation or recorded reading, complete any magickal workings I have planned and generally finish with a tarot reading. I typically sip hot tea through this whole process and often incorporate journaling somehow.
How can I adapt this formula for a self-care ritual? By incorporating both the magickal practices I already connect to with the habitual practices necessary for starting or ending my day. As an example, here is an evening self-care ritual I’ve created:
- Tea: Brew a cup of self-esteem boosting ginger or geranium tea.
- Purification: Remove my makeup with makeup wipes I have blessed with burning sage.
- Listen: Put on some soft instrumental music.
- Movement: Sitting at the vanity, move through 3-5 “chair” yoga poses.
- Magick: Choose a particular piece of jewelry, eyeliner or lipstick to wear the following day. Sprinkle a few drops of the self-esteem boosting tea over the item, saying aloud, Tomorrow will be filled with confidence and abundance. Place the item in the center of your vanity altar, finish the tea and retire to bed.
How do you practice self-care in your magickal and spiritual life?