I don’t mean to go all Ned Stark on everyone, but…well…
In years without a pandemic, we would be preparing for the last of the harvest celebrations and planning the journey of the inward spiral: the time of turning within for healing, nurturing, and personal growth. This year, of course, is different.
Many of my peers within the ministerial world are deeply concerned about the combination of pandemic depression and seasonal depression and I share that worry. Right now, before the wave hits, is a good time to prepare our homes and lives for a winter that could prove more challenging than usual. Speaking as someone who wrestles with depression and anxiety, it’s very difficult to pursue constructive activities when the inside of your head is a raging storm. Techniques to prevent reaching that point, or make our stays there brief, through planning in advance are our best bet right now. I have five suggestions for you, and I’m going to start with practical ones and move toward witchy ones. Ready? Here we go.
Treat your senses. Look around the rooms you spend the most time in. What do you find beautiful in your surroundings? Look at the art. Do you like it? Does it uplift you? Notice any knickknacks or other décor. How do they make you feel? Humans respond on a deep, meaningful level to beauty. Aesthetics truly do have their own power, their own value simply for their own sake. One of the things I loved about living in Japan in my early 20’s was that beauty for its own sake was (and I believe remains) incorporated into every aspect of design and architecture. Even the highways and public restrooms were designed to be pleasing to the eye. Beauty feeds our souls on a deep and necessary level.
Being able to pause and look at something that we find lovely is good for us. Now is a good time to (safely, wearing a mask and observing physical distancing guidelines) acquire some art, tabletop décor, wall hangings, or other beautiful items for your home. Remember, thrift stores like Goodwill are still open and offer a chance to beautify your living areas without spending a lot of money.
Look again at the rooms of your home, and this time look for comfort. Do you have some cozy spots? Do you have enough pillows? Is your couch comfortable? If it isn’t, what would make it more so? Pull out the blankets from storage. Add some pillows. If you haven’t tried a weighted blanket, now would be a great time to try an inexpensive one. Think about softness, warmth, and comfort, and make adjustments that align your living space to those qualities. Build yourself a nest.
Think about lighting. Do you have some options for low light? Either lamps that cast a soft glow or separate lighting options (salt lamps work great for this) that create warm, gentle light? What’s your house candle supply looking like? Right around the autumnal equinox, I started my dark season practice of shutting off incandescent light at 8 pm and going to candlelight/soft light. It’s a wonderful way to wind down the day and relax.
Make small things easier. Big things are tough right now and unfortunately that’s not really negotiable. So, what do we do? Adjust the small stuff so that the additional work of living is easier. Think about going through your day. What are the small frustrations? Storage is a good example – do you have enough places to put things in the bathroom? How about the kitchen? How’s the lighting in the pantry, closet, or the cabinets? Making it easy to find, use, and put away the tools of day to day life is a small way we can return energy to our daily pool. Add sticky LED touch-lights to places that need them. Pick up an extra organizer or add a shelf or two where needed. Replace tools and appliances that are wearing out with ones that are smaller, easier to store, and easier to clean. Again, most of this can be done with used thrift store purchases. Or just ask around! Need a new coffee maker? See who on your friends list has one collecting dust. You’d be surprised at what’s around for trade/barter.
Pick up some pleasurable reading. I know, I know. We’re all trying to improve ourselves. However, I want you to know when to take that whole concept and chuck it in the fuck-it bucket.
Self-work is great. Learning is great. You know what else is great? ESCAPISM. We need a break from the endless cycle of suck that this year has been. Along with the books that you are ‘shoulding’ yourself about, set out a couple fun books. These can be new or ones you already own. Drag out the Terry Pratchett. Dust off the Patricia C. Wrede. Or go for something new and snag some Rick Riordan. Mythology AND ridiculousness – what more could you ask for? Then, read them. Give yourself permission to read for fun. Obviously my points of reference are fantasy novels, but this applies equally to Sci Fi, Romance, Mysteries, Thrillers, whatever your trade-paperback-of-choice interest happens to be. Buy used, or from a small local bookseller when you can.
Now for the magick.
Check on your wards and protection spells. Haven’t reset the house ward in a while? Do it now. Add on to it. How about the crystal grid? Pull the stones and cleanse them, then reevaluate and reset. Do a full purification run now while you have the energy. I’m talking about the full monty here – floor washes, salting, saining, banishing if needed, then blessing and shielding. If the idea of warding the house is new to you, here’s a blog that breaks it down and teaches you how to do some basic shielding. Looking for more advanced material? Jason Miller’s Protection & Reversal Magick: A Witch’s Defense Manual has some great ideas for protection across the board, including in the home.
Prep some charms, candles, and other quick magick. I keep a set of homemade candles for breaking writer’s block. I have oils specifically for uplifting and easing depression. I make new clove oranges every dark season to charge with and then radiate joy throughout the house. I keep a stash of fire cider and honey fermented garlic cloves for cold season. Do some magick in advance. Consider what challenges you normally face during winter and lay the groundwork to manage them now. Then, if they hit, all you need to do is light a candle, anoint yourself with oil, or add some garlic honey to your tea.
We already know what’s coming. No matter what, this winter is going to be tough. Let’s plan for it and get some supports in place now.
So, what are you planning to do to help support yourself through winter? Hit me up in the comments.
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