People come to witchcraft for a wide variety of reasons. Some people come because they feel like they’re missing some spiritual element in their lives. Some people find the craft because they need something like money or to get rid of a stalker. They come to the craft looking for the power to change their lives. Other people are looking for a greater connection to nature. When you boil it down, most people come to the craft because of want. They want something that they feel is missing and they’ve run out of other options to get it.
Unfortunately, there’s been a disturbing trend of finding ways to solve this want with something other than plain old magic that gets results. People are using the craft as a means of escaping their painful reality rather than fixing it and making their reality somewhere they actually want to live.
Many of us are guilty of this and even I’ve fallen prey to it in the past. If you’re ready to learn how to spot this escapism and start practicing your craft in a way that really makes your life better, then read on.
What Is This Escapism?
Right off the bat, we need to define this escapism problem. You can’t fix something you don’t know how to spot! When I’m talking about escapism, I’m talking about the tendency to find ways to numb or avoid our pain.
Now, this sounds deceptively simple on the surface but we all do this is a myriad of ways. There are tons of mundane ways that people numb themselves from mild methods like bored eating, playing video games, and scrolling through social media, to more extreme methods like alcoholism and drug abuse. In spiritual communities, including the craft, these escapism behaviors look a bit different.
It might look like someone who meditates every day, training themselves not to allow their thoughts or emotions to surface.
It might look like someone who spends huge amounts of their time astral traveling, living life in other planes rather than this one.
It might look like someone who has a ton of spirit companions who prefers to spend time with spirits rather than with other people.
It might look like someone who focuses their whole craft on trying to recreate the past to avoid looking at how messed up our world is.
It might look like someone deferring to a deity completely to avoid making their own decisions and living their life.
It might even be something as simple as someone who creates a new, witchy persona to try to avoid looking at the person they actually are.
The interesting thing is, ALL of these activities are completely acceptable practices within the craft when used the right way. Meditation isn’t evil. Astral travel and spirit work are huge parts of many people’s practices. Historical reconstruction practices can be both powerful and deeply gratifying. And there’s nothing wrong with being a little witchy!
The problem comes when we use these things as a way to escape our pain, avoid the world as it is, or deny who we are.
Are You Living In The Past?
For witches, living in the past is one of the most insidious ways that this happens. It’s easy to understand how it happens, we’re spun an image of the witches who came before us that is truly breathtaking. We’re told that these witches were more mystical, more powerful, more connected to the land and to the spirits, just generally MORE. They had everything that modern-day witches are looking for.
While I am all for drawing on the wisdom of those who came before us, this image is largely false. It’s more of a sales tactic than an actual truth that ever existed.
In reality, the magical people who came before us were just that… people.
These witches, conjurers, and sorcerers were just people. They had lives, struggles, relationship problems, they got sick, they had kids and got overwhelmed and yes, they did magic. They were not so different from you or I. Learning from them is a wonderful idea but spending your whole life trying to recapture a fantasy past will always be a losing battle.
Witchcraft Isn’t A Means Of Escape!
The plain truth of it is that you are a human person living in our physical reality in the modern day. Many of us live in cities, unable to spend time in vast expanses of nature. We work jobs in offices, on computers, in the service industry, in factories. Capitalism is real, and I know, it sucks, but it’s real. The only way you can ever learn to live in this reality and enjoy it is to see it for what it truly is first.
Witchcraft should not be some escape hatch that you use when the pressure of the modern world weighs too heavily on you. Witchcraft is a scaffolding that you create to hold up all those burdens that are weighing you down! It’s a way to build yourself up so that you can meet the demands of this world and crush them. It’s a way to take control of this world that we were given and change it into somewhere that you want to live.
You don’t like your job or the fact that you have to work long hours to afford to live? Get your money magic up to snuff, use job spells to get yourself a better position or a whole new job entirely. Organize with other witches and cast spells to help shift the political climate. Hell, use magic to help your anxiety so that you can go to activist events.
You don’t like that you’re disconnected from nature living in a big city? Get to know the plants that grow in your city, learn their names, their properties, speak to their spirits. Use magic to make room in your life for trips out of the city. Grow your own plants and collaborate with those spirits to create your own natural space to connect with. With the right kind of magic, you could even get yourself out of the city to live somewhere that suits you better, where you can surrounded by all the nature you want.
If your mental health suffers you can work spells to help support your recovery efforts. If your relationships aren’t going well, you can use divination to get deeper insight and spells to create positive resolutions to your problems. Stop trying to escape your life and start taking it by the horns!
When we try to escape the reality that we live in, we only chain ourselves to it further. If we cannot accept how things are right now, if we can’t see the world for what it is, then we can never change it.
As wonderful as it is to draw inspiration and learning from the past, the fact remains that we live in a modern world. The witches of the past worked with what they had in the world that they knew. They used the tools, materials, and techniques that they had available to them. To try and replicate this exactly is not only limiting to our magic, but it prevents the natural expansion and evolution of magic.
We have access to so many things in our modern world that our ancestors could never have dreamed of. We shouldn’t be hobbling our magic to try to create some false sense of “authenticity”. We should experiment! Get creative! Find ways to use the new and amazing resources that we have available to us!
In the end, all of this boils down to the mantra that I have repeated over, and over, and over again in my writing. Your magic should be a means of taking back your power. It should allow you to change your life. It should get you real, tangible results that impact your life in significant ways. We cannot work magic that meets these criteria if we refuse to accept the world for what it is first.
It’s time for us to stop trying to escape this world and start creating a better world for everyone.