Samhain is now past and the days continue to darken. Even after Yule, it will be a couple months before we really begin to feel the light returning. It is time for us to explore the inward spiral – the dark half of the year. For many of us, including me, this is the time for Winter Work.
Your Winter Work is a magickal study or project that you devote time to. It’s the perfect season for it – the sun sets early, it’s cold outside, those of us with joints over the age of 30 are less inclined to be out in the elements. Curling up with a book or a new deck of Tarot cards is a great way to snuggle into the evening hours of winter.
Winter Work doesn’t have to be explicitly magickal, either. Maybe you would be better served focusing on mental health, or getting a home business off the ground. Remember, what makes something magickal can have more to do with the intention behind a project than the nuts and bolts of the project itself. For me, stringing and knotting beads onto a mala can be deeply magickal. Building the website you’re reading right now was an act of magick. Making a practical act one of devotion and spirituality can be incredibly powerful. Cooking a meal from a place of spirituality and service to others rather than a place of impatience and obligation results in an incredibly different dining experience. That is true for every other undertaking.
So how do you select Winter Work? I have a few variables I look at.
1) What is needed? Where is your life changing now? What support mechanisms should go into place to meet that need? Maybe your Winter Work is establishing a true Self Care practice. If you’re exhausted past the telling of it, that might be a good path to explore. For me, this year’s Winter Work is building the foundations of the Cottage. I ended up in the emergency room in October due to a chronic nerve issue that I’m still in PT for. I am no longer able to pursue yoga as my main career. So, I began this year’s Winter Work – changing both the practical and metaphysical aspects of my employment.
2) What do you want to learn? What areas interest you? Have you always been curious about herbalism, crystal magick, divination, etc? When you talk to other witches, what’s the thing you always say you wish you knew how to do, or knew more about? Now is the opportunity to begin learning. My beloved partner is learning Tarot this year for his winter work. In the evening, I help him learn the cards. We do about 8 new cards a night, plus a review. He’s finished the Major Arcana and is on to the suites. It takes us somewhere between half an hour to an hour, depending on how much time we have. Winter Work doesn’t need to be a high-pressure commitment. We have band practice and other obligations some evenings of the week. It’s okay if your Winter Work doesn’t get visited every single night. The important thing is to choose a steady focus that you return to.
3) Where do you need to deepen? What parts of your life or spirituality feel ungrounded, unconnected? It’s normal to reach the end of the growing season and feel a bit adrift. Your Work could be selecting a devotional practice and then practicing it. This can be as simple as a moment of stillness and prayer in the morning or as elaborate as a weekly ritual followed by a daily connection of some sort.
So you have some things to consider. One thing I would suggest is to pick a *single* project to focus on. I consider one of the greatest challenges of modern witchcraft to be simply the overabundance of paths to follow. It’s easy to try to grab all the shiny things at once, get frustrated and overwhelmed, and abandon them.
Ask me how I know
Once you’ve selected your Winter Work, it’s time to get started. I have some suggestions for a good launch.
1) Prep your working area. Clean your desk, altar or living room – wherever you’ll be Working. Add some elements that help support your Work. I’m a huge fan of color/candle/numerology correspondence boosts for magick. Choose an altarcloth in an appropriate color, snag an inexpensive house scenter candle (I like the ones from Michael’s), add a blanket or throw pillow, whatever is most appropriate for your Work and environment. This doesn’t need to be expensive or elaborate. Use what you already own, just move things. Or hit your local Goodwill. There’s usually a nice selection of scarves, tablecloths and assorted housewares you could repurpose for magick.
2) Prep your schedule. I have an alarm that goes off in my phone every night at 7 p.m. The title it pops up with is ‘Put devices away.’ What that means for me is shutting off the computer, disengaging from my phone and getting ready for some Work. This is also useful in terms of aiding your sleep cycle. As you most likely already know, screen use at night does not translate to good sleep. The problem, of course, is that we don’t always have something better to do. So change that – set an alarm and have a plan for that last window of time during the day.
3) Set your intention. This seems so obvious, but most of us just flat out don’t do it. Particularly those of us who have been witching it up for a while. There’s a *reason* it’s part of all the 101 courses and books. Intentions are powerful. You’re telling your Self – your higher Self, your Gods, your Ancestors – what you are planning to do. It’s a sacred promise, a vow, a choice. Write down your intention on a piece of paper. Put it somewhere you’ll see it regularly. You might even make that sentence (e.g. ‘I am building a personal business for magickal services, counsel and resources’ ‘I am learning Tarot’ ‘I am strengthening my body, mind and spirit through conscious and deliberate Self Care’) the alarm on your phone. You can do a full ceremony here or just write, post and then use that sentence.
Give these thoughts a little time to bounce around and settle if you’re still selecting your Work. This upcoming week will include family and schedule chaos for many of us, so allow yourself some processing space. Then, next week, once the current round of obligations are past, get started.
I’d love to hear what your Winter Work is this year – if you’re comfortable sharing, leave a comment. If I can think of something that might be helpful for you, I’ll post it.
I wish you focus, grounding and strength this week. Remember to breathe. All storms pass. Even holiday-shaped storms.