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A couple of years ago, after not considering myself to be a spiritual person at all, I realized that I am an atheist witch.
The majority of my craft is not about casting spells to make things happen in my life, but about consciously bringing more everyday magic into my life. You can read more about what that means here.
In the meantime, for those who want to bring some fun, witchy vibes into their own lives as we approach Halloween—what many consider to be a witch’s new year—I thought I’d share some of what I include in my practice.
1. I brew ritual apple tea.
First, I carve a sigil into my apple—a unique symbol I’ve created to represent my letting go of something specific. It could be a memory that haunts me, a bad habit, or some negative self-talk that’s been creeping in. Autumn is usually the season when we honor death and letting go—it’s a cleansing of sorts—so the act of creating and then carving the sigil into the apple is an opportunity to consider how exactly I’ll let go of whatever it is. (For example, if it’s negative self-talk, I’ll remember to balance that with thinking something more loving or positive when I notice it.)
Next, I brew the tea: in a small pot of water, add slices of your apple, some cinnamon (just ½ or ¼ of a stick will do for two to three cups of tea—otherwise it’ll be too strongly flavored of cinnamon), and if you like a bit of heat, a tiny dash of cayenne pepper. I simmer it for about an hour, though longer is just fine, and then strain it. Then, I add a little squeeze of lemon. You can dress up the cups of tea with more fresh apple slices if you prefer.
Last, in between sips, I meditate. Usually, I just do this in silence. Sometimes, I prefer to put on some autumn ambiance in the background; other times, I listen to a guided meditation. When the weather’s a perfect mix of sunshine and crisp air, I’ll take my tea outside with me, sit on the front step, and appreciate the changing season.
2. I honor the dead.
Those who believe in the afterlife or spirit world consider this time of year to be when the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest. While I don’t believe in ghosts and spirits, I do believe in honoring the memory of those we’ve lost, and this season is the perfect timing for that—with or without a veil between worlds.
I like to set aside some time (I literally add it to my calendar), create a cozy space with candles, tea (why not another cup of that apple tea?), and blankets, and deliberately and intentionally remember my departed loved ones. I look at old photos and watch old home movies or video clips I’ve saved. I jot down a few things I learned from those people (and pets), or ways they brought something positive into my life. If there’s anything about them that particularly inspired me, I remind myself that I can embody those qualities, too. I haven’t tried this yet, but I also think it could be incredibly cathartic to write a letter to someone you’ve lost, letting them know what’s going on in your life now and what they’ve missed.
Last weekend, the northern lights were active in my area due to a rather strong solar flare. I learned that the Cree people believe the northern lights represent those who have passed—that they’re bringing their love to us through the beauty in the sky. Of course, I don’t really believe that in the literal sense, since I don’t think spirits exist…but it’s such a nice, comforting thought, and yet another opportunity to remember and honor those who have passed on.
3. At the start of each week, I draw three tarot cards.
Each tarot card helps me decide the following:
>> Something to let go of. (For example, the Five of Cups card represents grief and sorrow, so I might try to reconcile and move past something that I feel hurt over, or something I feel guilty about.)
>> Something new to try. (For example, the Four of Swords card represents stillness and mental power, so I might try a new way to meditate that week, or search for some new favorite guided meditations.)
>> A way to care for myself. (For example, the Temperance card represents healing, renewal, and balance, so I might spend less time on must-dos and more time on want-to-dos. Or, I might focus extra on healthy eating to balance out the Halloween candy—wink.)
If the cards don’t really align with the category, I’ll swap them around. For me, the cards are just a tool to help with introspection, rather than foretelling.