Unfocused witchcraft runs rampant in modern witchcraft communities. I see it all the time. Witches come to me wondering why they feel so scattered, directionless, and uncertain of what they should do next in their craft. They jump sporadically from book to book, spell to spell, feeling as though they’re wandering blindly through the forest of the craft. And it’s no wonder! We are inundated by an insane amount of information as modern witches.
There are thousands upon thousands of books, websites, and social media profiles focused on the subject. It can be almost impossible to figure out what you should focus on when confronted with this overabundance of resources!
If this sounds like you, not to worry, it is possible to create focus and direction in your craft despite all the noise in our modern environment. Today we’re going to be looking at how this scattered witchcraft happens and the danger it poses to your magic.
Why Your Craft Feels Scattered
One of the biggest problems facing modern witches is the fact that most of us are learning alone. While there are plenty of witches who learn their craft in a coven or from a mentor, the vast majority of us learn the craft on our own from books, online resources, forums, etc. Don’t get me wrong, this has its benefits! Witchcraft has never been so accessible. We can now learn the craft anywhere, anytime we like, without having to know someone who already practices. Even just a handful of decades ago, this was impossible. You had to know and more than likely be related to someone who already practiced the craft to learn because it was so steeped in secrecy. While the ability to study independently has many benefits, it also comes with some serious drawbacks.
The main drawback is that without a teacher or someone to guide you, it’s hard to know what you should learn and focus on as you progress through your witchcraft journey. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know! Without a more experienced eye that can identify holes in your knowledge and tailor a learning approach that suits you, you’re left sort of groping around in the dark hoping that you land on the information that you need. This can be really demoralizing. If you’re someone who likes to know step-by-step what you should do and how to progress, this grasping at knowledge can feel suffocatingly obtuse. A witch could easily end up wandering in circles, constantly feeling like they’re stuck as a beginner, never knowing when to progress to the next level or what they should focus on at any point in time.
Add to this the fact that you can access an insane number of learning resources at any hour of the day or night through the internet and you’re left with a perfect recipe for feeling scattered, confused, and lost in your craft. There are so many subjects and techniques and types of magic that you could learn about, and without a solid plan to guide you, it’s very easy to become paralyzed by the sheer number of options.
Unfocused Witchcraft Is Ineffective Witchcraft
Putting aside the fact that feeling unfocused and scattered in your craft is unpleasant, this actually poses a serious problem in your craft. Unfocused magic is ineffective magic. If you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish, why you’re trying to accomplish it, and how you’re going to go about making it happen, you’re left floundering and grasping at straws. True proficiency in the craft comes from focusing on your needs and desires and honing a skill set that allows you to accomplish them. If you never find a focus and you continually feel scattered you will jump from subject to subject, from technique to technique, from tradition to tradition, never building experience and expertise in any one area.
What a shame to spend your life never finding out what you can really do with your magic! As witches, we have the ability to reach into the fabric of our reality and mold it to our desires but to do so requires you to move past the introductory levels of magic and into a deeper understanding of yourself and the magical world around you through focused learning and practice. Focused witchcraft study is the door to truly great magic.
This is the real danger posed by our solitary existence as witches. Without feedback, without direction, we can end up stuck feeling like beginners long past the point of actually being beginners in our craft. I’ve met witches who are intermediate or even pushing into advanced in their knowledge of witchcraft, who still feel the inadequacy and uncertainty of a beginner simply because they’ve never had the outside reassurance and validation of their effort and progress. Having a focus allows the solitary witch to step outside of this echo chamber of insecurity and onto a path where progress can be measured far more easily.
This eliminates the problem of witches holding themselves back with insecurity and uncertainty. When you have a direction and a focus to move toward it makes it far easier to track your own progress and find a sense of confidence in your forward momentum. It makes it far easier to choose resources carefully, and it allows you to build the experience and knowledge to recognize bad information when you encounter it. Finding a focus negates many of the problems the solitary which encounters by being solitary.
Focus Is A Hallmark Of Experience
Despite this, some witches are still unwilling to pick a focus and really home in on it. They’re afraid that by narrowing their focus they will miss out on some key aspect of the craft and wind up with incomplete knowledge that negatively affects their spell work. I’ve found that this fear is generally unfounded.
Think of your craft like you would any other form of education. When you’re just starting out, you learn a little bit of everything. In the same way that you learn a little bit of math and a little bit of history and a little bit of science in middle school and high school, beginners to the craft should spread their focus out and learn a little of everything to get those basics covered. Once you progress into higher levels of education, however, you narrow your learning down to a specific subject. For example, in college, you choose a major and while you will still learn some core subjects, most of what you learn will be tailored toward the major you’ve chosen. In witchcraft, this is the point where you let yourself get kind of obsessed with whatever subjects really excite you or work well for you. At even higher levels of education, the grad students’ focus becomes even more specific and niched down and likewise, a witch can build a highly specific skillset by following their focus further.
This progressive narrowing of focus is one of the hallmarks of building expertise. You cannot be an expert in everything! You have to choose where you want to focus your attention and pursue it until you build the experience and depth of knowledge that allows you true flexibility and power in your craft.
This progressively narrowing focus in the craft might look like a newer witch finding an interest in herbal magic and studying that for a time. In the course of their studies, they might decide that the poison path is something that really appeals to them, and so they focus more heavily on that aspect of herbal magic. After that, they might find that a specific plant such as datura is really calling to them and so they narrow their focus again to working magic with this one plant and learning all the mysteries and magical secrets that it has to teach. By doing this, the student can become an expert in powerful magics that would otherwise be unavailable to someone who is studying more broadly.
You Don’t Need To Know Everything!
This approach to magic fills in gaps as needed rather than demanding that the witch know absolutely everything in order to be considered competent. The truth is, there is more to know about witchcraft and magic than you or I could ever learn! It’s impossible to learn everything and if your benchmark for progress or expertise in the craft is knowing everything, then you will always be stuck feeling like you know nothing. It’s much more effective to dig deep into one area of the craft and become truly excellent in that form of magic. This removes the temptation to constantly chase the receding carrot of knowing everything about the craft.
Instead of trying to learn everything, scattering your focus, and picking up skills and techniques at random, choosing a focus allows you to build a skill set that is perfectly tailored to your needs and practice as a witch. After all, do you need to know how to perform herbal steam distillation if your primary method of magic is candle work? No! Will having an in-depth knowledge of the Goetia help you if your craft centers more around ancestral magic? Absolutely not.
Choosing a focus makes it incredibly clear what skills and knowledge you need to progress in the craft and work magic effectively. By finding focus in your craft, you’re able to build skills and knowledge strategically, progressing in a much more linear and obvious way. For example, a beginner interested in plant magic might start by growing a few herbs and learning to use those herbs in teas or magical oils. As they progress, they will learn to use more plants and herbs in increasingly more complex magical preparations such as incense or tinctures.
Holes and missing information become obvious in this method of learning. If you are learning about herbal and plant magic, you will reach a point where need to learn how to communicate with plant spirits, and so you will pick up the skills and knowledge necessary to understand animism and communicate with these spirits. This might mean learning about divination, enhancing your psychic skills, or working with dreaming magic. As an extension of this, you would begin to see plants as spirits and beings that you are collaborating with rather than tools you are using and so you would need to learn about making offerings to these spirits.
As you can see, picking a focus does not mean that you will never learn about any kind of magical practice outside of that focus. There is so much overlap in the craft, you may find that by choosing a focus you end up studying much more broadly than you would otherwise! Finding this direction is not meant to limit you or prevent you from learning outside of your chosen field. Instead, it allows you to use your focus as a compass to direct your learning and guide you through the incredible amount of information available to you. It gives you a way to decipher what is useful to you and what is not. It allows you to build a cohesive magical practice in which all the pieces of your craft connect logically, each technique and practice supporting the others in your craft.
This is how you create a sense of cohesion in your magical practice! Finding a direction not only allows you freedom from the confusion of a scattered practice, but it gives you the ability to learn anything you need without wondering where it fits in your practice. Witchcraft shouldn’t be a headache to learn, and you shouldn’t feel like you’re swimming in a sea of information with no raft in sight. Finding a focus allows you to pursue magic with a sense of ease and confidence about where you’re heading, and that is well worth the effort. Next week, I will outline exactly how you can go about finding a focus in your craft so you can stop feeling scattered and take control of your craft!