Visualizing is everywhere in witchcraft. Sometimes it seems like every meditation, every exercise, and every spell rests on a bedrock of visualization. This is fine if you’re someone who has no problems with visual exercises but what if you’re someone who isn’t very good at visualizing? How are you supposed to move energy if you can’t visualize it moving? How do you set an intention if you can’t see the desired outcome in your mind’s eye? Can you even become a witch? How would you manage when so much of the available learning materials are visually focused? Today, we’re going to talk about this problem and how to work magic if you’re someone who just can’t visualize.
Visualizing & Aphantasia: What’s The Problem?
The inability to visualize, or to see something in your mind’s eye, is called aphantasia. Approximately 1-3% of people have complete aphantasia where no visualization happens but a larger percentage of the world is thought to have some degree of impairment in the ability to visualize. This may seem trivial to those who can visualize easily but for those who cannot, it poses a serious barrier to entry. How exactly are you supposed to learn witchcraft if one of the primary ways that it’s taught is unavailable to you?
The unfortunate thing is that this is rarely spoken about so many of these potential witches never get answers to these questions. Instead, they run into roadblock after roadblock, struggle to make anything work, and eventually give up. They conclude that magic is either impossible without visualization or it simply is not real. Neither of these is true!
I will tell you right now, if you’re someone who struggles with visualization, you CAN do magic. It’s not out of reach for you. And no, I’m not going to list off a million exercises for learning to visualize, you don’t need to visualize at all to make magic work!
Nothing Is Wrong With You!
Alright, let’s get this out of the way right up front, there is nothing wrong with you! You are not somehow broken because you cannot see things in your mind’s eye. You do not have any less access to the powers that make magic possible than any other person. You’re simply working with a different toolkit than the average person is.
At its core, that’s what visualization is in the craft, it’s a tool. We have MANY tools and techniques in the craft and the vast majority of them are replaceable. If you look at magic throughout the world and throughout history, you will find a staggering amount of variety in how magic is practiced. You can find everything from ceremonial magicians with their many tools and rigid rituals, to folk magicians who work with whatever they can find on the land, to people who work magic with movement and dance, to those who work magic with nothing more than their mind. And all of these practices work! No one is doing it “right” we are all just finding different ways to harness the inherent creative energy that we call magic.
If people all over the world can find so many ways to harness it, then you can find a way to harness it too.
The first thing we need to do when looking at this problem is talk about individual sense dominance. Every person has one or sometimes two senses that take dominance over the others. While it’s often assumed that almost everyone is sight dominant, this isn’t the case. Any of the six primary senses can be dominant.
The best way to determine which sense is your dominant one is to think about which sense involves your favorite pleasures. Do you love music and melt when you hear amazing quality audio or a really nice voice? You’re hearing dominant. Do you have a particularly refined palate and prefer to experience your favorite foods and tastes? You’re taste dominant. Do you love massages, hot tubs, and the feel of nice fabric against your skin? You’re touch dominant. The same can be said for sight or smell. And enjoying all of these things doesn’t mean you don’t have a dominant sense, you do, it might just take a little bit of time to narrow down which one it is for you.
If you’re struggling to narrow it down, shift your focus to the things that annoy you. What is your pet peeve? Do you hate certain sounds? People bouncing their leg where it can vibrate your desk? Certain smells? Narrowing down the sense that gives you both the most pleasure AND the most annoyance is a pretty solid way to identify your dominant sense.
While just about every sighted person relies on eyesight as their most useful sense for navigating the world, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s our dominant sense. Your dominant sense is the one that you’re most likely to notice, the one that can give you the greatest joy and the one that can irritate you the most. For example, I’m hearing dominant and for me, good music or the right voice is delightful while irritating noises give me a shorter fuse than just about anything else.
By determining which of your senses is dominant, you can get an idea of how your brain might better interact with sensory input and sensory imagination. Yes, there are other forms of sensory imagination other than simply visualizing! It’s these other sensory experiences that your magic is going to utilize rather than visual imagination.
How To Modify Witchcraft For Your Needs
Modifying witchcraft to meet your needs as a person who cannot visualize well is going to take some extra work on your part. You’re going to have to be creative, adapt techniques and exercises for your use, and spend time looking for forms of magic that aren’t visualization-dependent. This does not mean that witchcraft is out of reach for you though! Your learning journey will simply be unique to you.
The important thing to keep in mind as you move forward in your study of the craft is that there is no “correct” way to do magic. Magic and witchcraft come in hundreds of forms and traditions and finding what works well for you is a vital part of growing as a witch. Prioritize getting results from your magic over doing magic the “right way” and you will progress far faster and attain far more power in your craft than you would otherwise.
1. Identify your dominant sense and use that instead of visual exercises
We discussed sense dominance above and this is going to be your first line of defense when it comes to adapting magic to your needs. Identify which sense is your dominant one and replace all visualizing with that form of sensory imagination.
If you’re hearing dominant, you might imagine the sounds of whatever situation you’re hoping to create. For a money spell, you might imagine the sound of your boss’s voice when they tell you that you got a raise. You might imagine the sound of a cash register or coins clinking against each other. You might even imagine the sounds that would accompany whatever you want to spend that money on. Speaking aloud is also good for this sense!
If you’re touch dominant, imagine how your body would feel when you got that raise. Imagine the lightness, the excitement, the welling up of pride in your chest. Touch dominance also includes movement so you can set your intention in your mind or verbally and then hold that intention as you move. The movements can be like yoga, like dance, or anything that feels right. The point of this exercise is to use movement to move energy in a way to supports your intention intuitively.
You can find ways to use any sense imaginatively in your craft, identify which sense works best for you and start playing around with it! Get creative in figuring out new ways to use that sense in your magic.
2. Sensation is the key to moving energy
This is basically the cheat code to magic. Sensation is what moves energy. Any time you experience a sensation, energy moves both within your body and outside of it. By learning to harness your sensory experiences you can harness these energetic shifts. If you’re someone who really doesn’t like imagining, you can simply create sensory experiences to support your magic. For example, you might choose music that supports your magical intent. When you play that music, energy moves in the direction of that intention naturally. You can use taste and smell by choosing foods and herbs associated with your intention and experiencing them through eating and smelling them. If you struggle to imagine things at all, stop imagining and start finding ways to create supportive sensory experiences in real life!
3. Not all magic requires imagination
Beyond simply using our imaginations, there are SO many types of magic that do not rely on these faculties at all. Things like sigil magic, written spells, herbal magics, divination, and more can all be done without ever having to imagine a thing. Angling your craft toward those techniques that aren’t imagination dominant will allow you to practice effective magic without having to struggle with sensory imagination. There will still be times where you run across sources that tell you to visualize in the kinds of practices but it is not entirely necessary for the magic to work. Plant magic, for example, works largely because the witch is working with the spirit of the plant. This is an actual sentient being that we can interact with to enact magic and it requires no imagination to do so.
4. Look to other traditions to see what might work for you
Get creative and look outside witchcraft resources to find practices that you might adapt for your craft. Dance, trance journeying, massage, music therapy, psychology, Ayurveda, yoga, and so many more practices all have something to offer to the witch who is willing to get creative. Please do remember to be respectful in this search though! Stealing practices from closed cultures is not only incredibly rude and damaging to those cultures, it’s also unnecessary. There are so many practices that are openly taught for you to pull from, you will be able to find something freely available to you that really works.
Above all, be creative. Every witch, no matter their skills or abilities, must undertake a journey of exploration as they move through the craft. We are all trying new things, figuring out what works for us, and making magic in any way that we can. Get experimental, find what works for YOU, and remember that magic is supposed to make your life better. Magic is supposed to give you real, tangible change in your life. Chase that and start creating the life that you truly want, don’t let a little struggle with visualization get between you and the life you want to live.