Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt like you should be doing witchcraft more but you just can’t find the motivation to do it. This is something that so many of my students experience. A lot of witches start their learning journey with all of this energy and enthusiasm and motivation only to find that a few months or maybe a year or more into their learning journey, all of that enthusiasm dries up. You’ll try anything to get that spark back.
Maybe you buy new books, try new spells, maybe you sign yourself up for new classes or witchy events in your area. Maybe this works for a little while but for a lot of us even that small boost of motivation will dry up within days or even hours of trying to get ourselves “back on track”. Rather than feeling juiced up and ready to learn and tackle new challenges, we end up feeling burnt out, uninterested, and directionless.
If this sounds like you, it’s okay! Everybody goes through phases of feeling like they’re not super engaged in their craft. You are not alone in this. The problem is how we’re thinking about our motivation and what we do in response to those low motivation moments. In today’s article, we’re going to be going over this topic with a fine-tooth comb so that you know exactly why this happens and how to fix it when it does happen.
The Burden Of “Should”
First things first, we need to pull apart the way that we’re thinking and talking about our craft. As witches, we know that language has so much power in our lives. The things we think become the things we say which becomes the reality that we see in our lives. This means that dissecting our self-talk is some of the most productive work we can do as witches and today we need to talk about the word “should”.
What’s wrong with the word should? I mean, it’s a pretty innocuous word at first glance. It doesn’t have a huge positive or negative connotation to it, right? Not so fast. Let’s deconstruct this word.
When we say the word “should” we are communicating to ourselves and the world that we are not okay with the way things are at present. This word is rooted in resistance to our current reality or what we want. If you say “I should be practicing more witchcraft”, what you mean is “I’m not okay with how little witchcraft I’ve been practicing.” This is a statement that is rooted in guilt! It immediately takes the conversation around your craft and steeps it in expectations, disappointment, and shame. It makes who you are and how you practice your witchcraft wrong.
Think of it like this, if you say that you “should” be doing more spells, what’s the difference between that statement and saying that you want to be doing more spells? These two statements have very different emotional weights to them. When you “should” be doing something, you are feeling guilty for the fact that you don’t actually want to be doing that. Or you feel like there’s an expectation for you to do that thing but that you don’t want to meet that expectation. Anytime the word “should” comes up it is a giant flashing neon sign that your expectations of yourself and your actual desires for yourself and your craft are not matching up!
Ask yourself this, why do you think that your expectations of yourself and your desires for your actual life don’t match up? For a lot of people, this disparity between expectation and desire comes from a feeling that we are not valid in our practice without matching some kind of external metric for success. For example, maybe you don’t feel like a real witch unless you are practicing spells every week. Maybe you don’t feel like you can be a good witch unless you are reading books about witchcraft consistently. Maybe you don’t feel like you can consider yourself a real witch unless your craft has the right aesthetic. You may even have other witches in your life setting these standards for you and telling you that you can’t consider yourself a real witch unless you are meeting the expectations that they’re setting for you. For others, this could be more of an expression of perfectionism.
I want you to grab a piece of paper and a pen right now. The best way to solve this should problem is to define what being a witch means to you, what is enough for you to do to be considered a real witch. Let’s be real, if you don’t know where the bar is set you can never reach it. It’s easy to stay in the cycle of never being enough if you don’t know what enough even is. So right now it’s time for you to sit down and write out what you think enough witchcraft is for you and your practice to be valid. Keep in mind here, there are no right or wrong answers! Nobody is going to be checking your answers. What do you think is enough witchcraft? Include everything from how much meditation you do, to how often you’re practicing spells, how often you are interacting with deities, how many and what kinds of books you read, how many events you go to, and anything else that you can think of.
Keep in mind that “enough” is not the same as “ideal”. This isn’t your fantasy witch life, it’s not your idealized version of your craft, this is your bare minimum list. No bells and whistles, no extras, just the bare minimum of witchcraft that you could do and still feel valid in your craft.
Now I want you to take that list and I want you to write down why each of these items is important for you to be considered a real witch. Again, there are no right answers here. Write down the honest reasons why you think you need to be doing X number of spells or reading so many books a month to be considered a witch. Is it because you have been told that this is the minimum that you should do? Who told you that? Why do they have power over your witchcraft practice? Is it because you start to feel disconnected from your craft if you’re not doing spells often? Is it because you feel like you need to have new things to talk about with your witchy friends every time you hang out? Write down the reasons for every single one of the items you wrote out in the last step before moving on.
Now, take a look at your list. Are any of the reasons that you wrote down making you uncomfortable? Are any of these reasons performative? Are you doing these things for yourself or for other people? Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s okay to be doing things for other people! If you want to read two witchcraft books a month because you’re part of a witchy book club, that’s a perfectly valid reason to do these things for other people. If, however, you find that some of these reasons are vague, based around people you don’t even know in person, or are an attempt to feel connected to people who are setting arbitrarily high standards for you, then it might be time to put those expectations to bed so that you can focus on what actually matters to you. Feel free to edit your list at this point, to adjust your expectations, get rid of things that you were doing for other people that you don’t really want to be doing, and emphasize the things that actually matter to you.
This list of what is enough witchcraft isn’t some hard and fast set of rules for you to follow. It’s more of a loose guideline that should change and evolve with you and your needs. It’s perfectly fine to use this as a guide in your craft but if you find yourself consistently falling short of these expectations, it’s okay to reconsider and rework this list to meet you where you are currently. The point of this list is not to give you some new metric to lord over yourself! It’s meant to give you a very clear understanding of what is enough so that you’re not constantly chasing doing more when you’re already doing plenty.
Enjoy The Journey
I’m going to drop some serious life hack knowledge on you right now. When we don’t enjoy the things that we’re doing, we stop wanting to do them. If you’re finding yourself not wanting to do witchcraft, it’s because you have been making witchcraft unenjoyable for yourself. I know, I know, you love witchcraft! Hear me out.
When we place a ton of pressure on ourselves to perform a certain way, to get enough witchcraft in, to meet these expectations that we have of ourselves, and then we fail to meet those expectations, we immediately feel bad about ourselves. When we set our expectations too high and then fail, we create a negative feedback loop that tells us that we’re bad at witchcraft that we can’t do the magic that we want to do and that we’re not good enough as witches. Over time, if this happens repeatedly, we end up with a pattern of guilt and shame surrounding our craft. Rather than feeling excited and energized and ready to throw ourselves into witchcraft headfirst, we find ourselves avoiding it because we don’t want the experience of failure and the self-recrimination, guilt, and negative self-talk that comes after. We essentially punish ourselves for not living up to our expectations of what a witch “should” be. Of course you’re avoiding practicing witchcraft!
The first step to fixing this is getting rid of the guilt cycle. It’s fine if you don’t cast a spell for three months straight! The witchcraft police aren’t going to come revoke your witch license. Hell, nobody even needs to know that you haven’t cast a spell in a while. What you do in your practice is your call. Witchcraft should meet your needs by helping you change your life within the context of your life. If you don’t have time to be reading five books a month, then of course you’re going to fail if you set that as a goal for yourself! You have to set reasonable goals that match your abilities, the time you have available, the energy you have available, and the desires that you have. And if you don’t meet those goals, it’s fine! I want you to throw out any negative self-talk that you have about not doing enough with your craft. The more you beat yourself up for not doing witchcraft, the less witchcraft you’re going to want to do. You cannot feel bad about yourself as a witch and want to practice more witchcraft at the same time.
Instead, you need to focus on making witchcraft fun. Witchcraft should not be a chore. It’s okay to do witchcraft sporadically and inconsistently. Even I can be super inconsistent with my craft! Some months I’ll read Tarot almost every day and other months I won’t touch my deck at all. Some weeks I’m great at tending my altar and other weeks I’m too damn busy and I barely touch it at all. Sometimes I can read eight witchcraft books in a row and other times I just don’t feel like reading. It’s totally normal! Humans are not static, unchanging beings. We are constantly in flux, we are constantly changing and in order to keep up a practice long term, we have to have the flexibility to ebb and flow with the changes that come along with being human. The best way to do this is simply to prioritize doing what you want to do.
This sounds super simplistic, I know. But it works. If you’re telling yourself that you should be casting spells but what you actually want to be doing is chatting with the spirit that lives in your stairwell, you’re guilt-tripping yourself for no reason! Rather than holding yourself to a rigid set of expectations, you can simply focus on yourself and ask what you want to do. Some days the answer will be that you want to read or you want to do that spell or that you want to do spirit work, other days you’re going to find that you do not want to do witchcraft at all. Maybe you’re too tired or busy or you simply have something else that you would rather be doing. By checking in with yourself and figuring out what you want to be doing, you short-circuit that cycle of expectation, failing to meet the expectation, and then guilt-tripping yourself. This turns the process of learning and growing in your craft into an organic process. Your learning becomes something that happens in a responsive way, drawn and directed by your desires, the things you need in your life, and the changes that you want to make.
Above all else, make your genuine desires in the craft your number one priority. When you follow your desires and stop allowing external factors to dictate your witchcraft journey, your craft becomes infused with joy and curiosity. You no longer have to motivate yourself to get witchcraft done because it feels good to do. This is the point where you begin to find intrinsic motivation in your craft.
Finding Your Intrinsic Motivation
We all want to want to do the things that we think we should be doing. That’s intrinsic motivation, it’s the internal desire and drive to do something. Extrinsic motivation is when we have external factors that are influencing our desire to do something. Extrinsic motivation might be something like being motivated to go to your job because they pay you money. You don’t want to do the job necessarily, but you do want the external reward of getting money. Another example of extrinsic motivation is being motivated to participate in a public ritual because that will make other witches see you as a competent witch. You may not want to go to the ritual at all but you do want to be seen as competent by other witches.
Extrinsic motivation is inherently weaker than intrinsic motivation. If you’ve ever had a job that you absolutely hated, you know how hard it can be to keep going when the external reward is all that’s keeping you going. Intrinsic motivation is also a hell of a lot more enjoyable than extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation would be going to that public ritual because you enjoy participating in public rituals. It’s finding a job that you would do even if you weren’t being paid for it. Intrinsic motivation is the dream!
Take a look at the list we made earlier. How many of your reasons were intrinsic? How many of them were extrinsic? I can tell you right now that you will be far more consistent in meeting your intrinsically motivated goals as opposed to your extrinsic witchcraft goals. The trick to meeting all of your goals is moving that motivation from being extrinsic to being intrinsic. This is why it feels like pulling teeth to do spell work simply because you feel like you should be doing spell work and it doesn’t take a second thought to do spell work when you need the spell work for something. The minute you have a situation that needs a spell, you have intrinsic motivation to perform that spell.
Intrinsic motivation is anything that makes you feel good about yourself, that you enjoy, or that meets a need that you have. Find ways to create intrinsic motivation in everything that you want to do in your craft. If you want to read a particular witchcraft book, how can you make that experience enjoyable? Could you listen to it on audiobook while walking in nature? Could you read it with a friend or as part of a book club? What about meditation? If you struggle to keep up a consistent meditation practice, it’s probably because you see meditation as a chore. How can you make it enjoyable? Maybe you could schedule your meditation as a break from a hectic part of your day. Maybe you could find meditation music that you love. Maybe you could design a meditation corner for yourself that you find beautiful and inviting. Find ways to make everything you do in the craft enjoyable. Prioritize your enjoyment and your desires in your craft.
It’s Ok To Take A Step Back
Finally, we have to recognize that sometimes you just have to give yourself a damn break. If you’re someone who is usually super consistent with your practice and you’ve been finding that lately, you can’t seem to do as much as you’re used to doing, give yourself some breathing room. There’s nothing wrong with taking a few weeks or even a few months to focus on something else. Your witchcraft will still be there when you’re ready to come back! If your life has become unusually hectic, busy, or stressful lately, it’s fine for you to step back from your craft. Again, the witchcraft police are not going to come to revoke your license.
Take stock of where you are in your life and what you need. If every time you sit down to think about what you want to do in your craft you’re coming up with nothing but “I want to take a nap”, then maybe it’s time to take a damn nap! When your body is asking you for rest, it’s okay to give it what it needs. If you are mentally taxed from whatever is going on in your life, it is okay to give yourself space to recuperate. Give yourself permission to be a witch on your own terms. Your life, your reality, and your needs as a witch are different from every other witch on the planet. There’s no singular correct answer for how much witchcraft we should be doing. And no, taking a break for a couple of weeks or 6 months or whatever doesn’t make you less of a witch. I guarantee that if you give yourself space to rest and do what you have to do in your life rather than pushing yourself too hard in order to keep up your witchcraft practice, you will find it so much easier to pick your practice back up when you’re ready.
Witchcraft is a way for you to make your life better in real, tangible ways. It should make you happier, it should make your relationships easier, it should make your life more abundant. If witchcraft is stressing you out or causing you to feel bad about yourself, it is not serving its purpose. It’s time to reevaluate how you’re approaching your craft and find ways to make it an enjoyable part of your life that suits the reality of you and your life.