Last week we discussed how being scattered and unfocused in your craft hurts your magic and how witches end up scattered in the first place. I don’t think I’ve ever met a witch who hasn’t had at least one bout of feeling like they were wandering aimlessly in their craft and some witches end up stuck in that state for years! This happens as a result of having too many options and too little outside help to guide your learning.
Well, no more! Today we’re going to be looking at how you can choose and maintain a focus in your craft so you can stop feeling scattered and uncertain about your craft.
How To Focus Your Craft
So, how do you find direction and focus in your craft? This can seem like an impossible task, there are so many subjects and traditions to choose from, but it doesn’t have to be such an enormous challenge. One of the things that prevents a lot of witches from choosing a focus is that they feel like once they’ve chosen that focus, they’re stuck with it. This is not the case! It’s fine to have a focus for a while, whether that’s a month or a year or longer than that, and then to decide a certain point that you are ready to focus on something different. All of your previous work doesn’t vanish, your experience and knowledge is still useful even if you change your focus now and again. There’s nothing wrong with changing your focus as needed, provided that you are carefully considering why you are making this change and avoiding the temptation to hop continually from topic to topic.
If you’re someone who has ADHD or ADD, you may find that picking a single focus does not work for you. I struggle with this as well, and I’ve found that picking several subjects to focus on and being able to jump between them has helped me maintain focus long term. I have a handful of topics that I rotate between as my interest dictate. This is a perfectly fine way to go about focusing your craft if picking one focus feels too restrictive for you, or if you tend to hyper-focus for a few weeks and then lose focus afterward.
Here are some of the best ways to find and choose a focus for your craft.
1. Find a cornerstone practice
A cornerstone practice is something that you do on a regular basis that helps to solidify your craft in your life. This can be anything from observing the moon phases, to ancestral work, to regular tarot readings. The main qualifier of a cornerstone practice is that it happens at regular intervals in your life.
For example, I make offerings to my ancestors at least once a week, every week. I also have a weekly cleansing practice that I use every Sunday. These are non-negotiable practices that keep me grounded and in touch with my magic every single week, year in and year out, no matter what is happening in my life.
You can choose something like the moon phases that have a timetable of their own, or you can set a timetable for yourself. The shorter your timetable is, the simpler your practice should be. If you want a daily practice as your cornerstone, it should be something simple, quick, and easy for you to accomplish every single day. It’s okay if this small ritual or routine gets more complex over time, but you must start small and work up if you’re doing something daily. A weekly practice can be a slightly more involved ritual, and a monthly practice can be quite involved without posing an issue.
It doesn’t matter what you choose as a cornerstone; the examples given here are just common cornerstone practices. Think about what would serve you best in your own life and craft. Do you want to be cleansing more regularly? Do you need to be in contact with spirits more regularly? Do you want to be keeping track of astrology or planetary energies in your life? Is divination something that you wish you used more actively?
A cornerstone practice is incredibly personal, and there’s no right or wrong way to implement this concept in your craft. Your cornerstone could be as simple as lighting a candle and saying a quick prayer every morning, or as complex as going off into the woods to have full moon revelries every month. It’s up to you! This practice serves as an anchor that the rest of your craft can revolve around and once it’s an established part of your life, it’s very easy to use your cornerstone practice to focus your learning and exploration in the rest of your craft.
2. Pick a direction, any direction
This may seem obvious, but sometimes you just have to pick something and see how it works for you. People who end up trapped in decision paralysis are generally worried about picking the wrong thing and not liking what they’ve picked. They’re afraid that they’re going to be stuck with whatever they’ve chosen indefinitely. I want you to give yourself complete permission to give up on a direction if you decide you don’t like it. Stop feeling like you have to commit to something and then you’re shackled to it forever. If you pick a focus and a direction in your craft and three months in you decide that you hate it, give up on it and try something else! It’s not the end of the world.
Your time spent learning is still valuable, you have still progressed and still gained knowledge, even if all you’ve learned is that you don’t like whatever it was you were learning! Knowing about your preferences is incredibly valuable information. I cannot work within a ceremonial magic tradition. It feels forced and contrived to me, and I find that I cannot move the magic in that context as I can in folk magic practices. I learned this by trying ceremonial magic for months before deciding that it just didn’t work for me. Now, knowing this about myself, I can make much more informed decisions about the kinds of magic that I learn about and practice moving forward. It allows me to eliminate an entire subset of resources, books, and traditions and makes my decision-making process far easier.
Don’t worry about making the wrong decision and picking the wrong focus. Just pick something, whatever strikes your fancy, and see where it takes you. It’s not the end of the world if you end up hating it. It’s not wasted time or energy. Give yourself permission to be flexible with your choices and to put down anything that isn’t serving you as soon as you realize that it’s not for you.
3. Make your focus not having a focus
If you are quite new to the craft, trying to find a focus might actually be working against you. The paralysis of not knowing what you should be doing or learning is still an issue for beginner witches, but choosing a focus too early can stunt your growth as a witch. After all, if you are truly new to the craft you will probably have no idea of the incredible breadth of options available to you!
If this is you, I do not want you to pick a focus for your craft. Instead, I want you to make not having a focus the focus of your craft. Your job is to learn widely and expose yourself to as many ideas and traditions and techniques as you possibly can. Try a little of everything! View witchcraft as a buffet and learn about as many ideas and methods of magic as you possibly can. This is the time for you to go out of your way to look for books and websites that are outside the scope of your current interests and knowledge of magic. Learn about everything from herbal magic to ceremonial magic, kitchen witchcraft, sigil crafting, spirit work, unusual methods of divination, planetary magic, chaos magic, ancestor work, Feri witchcraft, sex magic, anything that piques your interest and that you don’t know much about yet. Learn about anything you can lay hands on and don’t worry about picking a focus just yet. When you’re brand new (in the first year or two of learning), you have no idea what might work for you or what you might like. You need to sample everything on offer so that you can learn about what you have available to you and what your preferences are before you can choose a focus that works for you.
If you find something that strikes your fancy during your “non-focus” time then you can switch and home in on that subject as a focus. But don’t choose a direction simply because you feel like you have to in order to be a valid witch. Restricting yourself too early in your practice will only hold you back.
4. Follow your curiosity
This is the real key to choosing a good focus in your craft. What are you curious about? What piques your interest and gets you asking questions? What makes you excited about learning and practicing magic? These are the things that you should be focusing on! Motivation and continued effort towards learning and practicing your craft come out of an intrinsic excitement and interest in what you’re doing. If you choose a focus because you feel like that’s the focus you “should” choose, regardless of whether it grabs your attention, you will struggle to maintain interest long enough to become proficient in that area of the craft.
So what gets you excited? What topics do you find yourself staying up way too late reading about? What do you find yourself coming back to over and over again because you just can’t get enough of it? What makes you feel really good when you practice it in your craft so that you want to do it more every time you practice it? Some witches will avoid letting themselves get sucked into the topics that interest them because they feel like if they do, they won’t have a well-rounded skill set in the craft. It’s time to banish that idea! If you can’t stop daydreaming about the poison path, then it’s time for you to let yourself go down the rabbit hole. If you find the candle magic is wildly effective for you and it feels good to practice, then start learning about and practicing candle magic in every possible way that you can find. Let your curiosity be your guide.
5. Don’t be afraid to adjust your focus as needed
Again, changing your focus is totally acceptable! If you haven’t yet found something that makes you burn with interest and excitement, it’s okay to choose a focus and then to switch to something else after a while. Even college students are expected to change their major at least once or twice if not quite a few times!
If you’re still struggling with the idea of picking a focus and having to stick with it, I recommend giving yourself a time frame for each focus. For example, you could choose a new focus for each moon phase until you land on something that you love. Or you could plan a yearly recap ritual to sit down and look at what you’ve learned over the last year and make a plan for the coming year about what you would like to learn and what you would perhaps like to put down.
For brand new witches I would suggest starting with one year of “non-focus”. During this year you expose yourself to anything and everything that you can get your hands on. Keep track of what you’re reading and learning and how you feel about it. When you practice magic, keep notes on how you feel about each new practice that you try. At the end of your year, look over everything that you have learned about and identify a few core subjects that you would like to explore further.
If you find lots of subjects that you want to explore further, I recommend theming your months or moon phases by each subject. So, January might be Tarot, February might be reserved for Italian witchcraft, and March might be ancestral work. When you find yourself coming to the end of a month and a particular focus, reflect on how you feel about putting that focus down. Are you sad about moving on to something else? Are you relieved? If you feel relieved to put the subject down, it’s probably not the right direction for you, but if you find yourself reluctant to move on to the next topic, congratulations! You found yourself a focus that you can stick with for a while. Let yourself dive into that focus for as long as you want.
In the end, all of this is simply a way to help you build a witchcraft practice that makes you happy. Witchcraft should make your life better! Focus your learning and practice on things that make you excited. It doesn’t matter what you choose, there are no right or wrong answers. There is power in every form of magic, you can accomplish your goals in a thousand different ways with magic. What matters is that you find a form of witchcraft that truly excites you and allows your interests to lead you deeper into your practice. By doing this you will invariably find magical solutions to your problems, but you will find them in a context that suits you perfectly.