When we first start getting into the realm of magic, everything is so exciting. We’re exploring an entirely new world that we’d only ever dreamed of, we’re learning a ton about magic, energy, and spirits, and we’re adopting a whole new worldview into our lives that can elevate everything into the realm of the spiritual. It can be intoxicating!
It can also be incredibly misleading.
Often when we’re in this phase (and sometimes well past it) we see magic and spiritual reasoning everywhere. In some cases, this is a good thing. Being able to identify that a spirit is in your house and making you feel all moody is way better than having no clue what’s going on and just staying moody. In other cases, it’s not so great. We ascribe spiritual and magical significance to things that are really just very mundane occurrences or, even worse, we cover up legitimate problems by wishing them away with some kind of magical reasoning that doesn’t actually help us find a solution.
I totally get this. It’s tempting to see magic literally everywhere when you’re first starting out. It is everywhere! But that doesn’t mean that the mundane world doesn’t also still exist and affects us in a very real and very tangible way. We live on planet Earth and this world does not stop being exactly what it has always been because suddenly we know about magic.
We can’t live in only one realm. As witches, it’s our calling to walk with a foot in each of these realms. The mundane and the spiritual walk hand in hand and it is up to us to learn to properly tell when a problem needs a magical solution and when it needs a mundane solution. To help clear up this murky subject, I’ve listed situations in which focusing on the mundane world gives you a huge upper hand.
1. Mental Health Problems
This is, by and large, the most insidious item on this list. The reason is that people who are mentally unhealthy are much more susceptible to self-deception, being taken advantage of by other people, and not recognizing that they aren’t improving. In the vast majority of cases, mental illness is not a purely spiritual problem and it cannot be treated with only spiritual means.
Depression, anxiety, hallucinations, depersonalization, and dissociation are not signs that you are “too spiritually sensitive for the modern world”. It’s a sign that something is wrong either on a physical/chemical level or on a psychological level and you must get these aspects diagnosed and treated first.
Now, this is not to say that taking care of yourself spiritually can’t improve your mental state. It absolutely can. But it needs to be in addition to a treatment plan and professional help that suits your needs and what you want for your life.
On top of this, taking a kid with ADD or ADHD and saying they’re a “Starseed” or something and using that as an excuse not to treat them is pretty screwed up. Ok, so maybe they are spiritually different. Who am I to say they’re not, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t still have ADHD! And it sure as hell doesn’t mean that their ADHD isn’t going to totally wreck their life, impact their self-image and self-worth deeply, mess up their studies and future prospects, and make them feel as though they’re somehow kinda broken. Does this mean that they should immediately be medicated for their ADD/ADHD? Not necessarily. Medications work great for some people, and not so great for others. But there are tons of ways to manage ADD and ADHD without the use of prescription medication, and these avenues should be discussed and agreed upon with a qualified doctor. Ignoring a problem that’s damaging a person just because you think it has spiritual reasoning doesn’t actually help them in any way!
2. Physical Ailments
In the same vein, physical problems cannot be wished away by giving them some spiritual significance. Sure, occasionally a spiritual problem can cause physical symptoms like headaches, but if you’ve cleansed and banished and that persistent pain isn’t going away, maybe it’s time to see a doctor!
Likewise, you cannot cure everything that ails you with essential oils. In fact, essential oils are pretty dangerous and can really hurt you. Herbal treatment of small issues like headaches, stomachache, etc may be entirely possible, but even in this, you should take great care. Herbs and foods can have interactions with medications and conditions that you may have, and you must do thorough research on these possible interactions before you begin taking any herb.
And if you have a serious medical condition and you’re trying to figure out how to cure it with herbal or natural means, be very skeptical. Do your homework and look into the scientific and medical literature, NOT the homeopathic/herbal/spiritual literature. Do not stop taking any drugs that you’re on without the consent and help of your doctor. And definitely do not believe some scammer who tells you that they can cure you overnight when the full force of modern medicine has not succeeded.
3. Faux “Signs” From The Universe
If you’re prone to paranoia, this one is for you. Not everything is a sign from the universe! In fact, a huge majority of things are probably not signs from the universe. Signs and omens do happen, but not every negative thing that happens in your life has to have significance. Sometimes stuff just happens!
Often, these negative experiences are more of a problem of attention. You’re looking for the negative and, as tends to happen when you look for something, you find it. Start working on having a more positive focus and stop assuming that the universe is constantly mad at you and admonishing you like you’re somehow screwing up. Trust me, the universe is very neutral on most matters. It’s simply showing you what you’re looking for.
4. Weird Dreams
This is another one where yes, it can be spiritual, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. Dreams are a very strange subject. Plenty of people, witches and otherwise, have premonitions in their dreams. I will not dispute that at all. Some people have premonition dreams frequently, others infrequently, or perhaps even only once or twice in their lives. Some people never have them. If you’re prone to having them a lot, it gets much easier to tell the difference between a psychic dream and a non-psychic dream, but what about the people for whom it’s infrequent?
It can be really hard to differentiate between the two, but if you suspect you might be having these kinds of dreams, you should definitely start a dream journal. This will allow you to track the intensity of your dreams, the subjects of your dreams, how much recall you have, etc. In all likelihood, when you start tracking it, you’ll notice patterns, and any psychic dreams that you have will stick out from that pattern like a sore thumb.
It’s also important to remember that sometimes weird and very vivid dreams just happen. Did you know that it’s incredibly common for mothers to dream about their children dying? These dreams don’t mean that their kids are actually going to die! Dreams are a way for our brains to process our daily lives, build new neural pathways, and also prepare us for situations that we have yet to encounter.
This is what nightmares are. You can think of them as nighttime stress simulations, your brain picks something that you’re afraid of or worried about and exposes you to it in order to build a tolerance for it so that if it should happen in real life, it doesn’t completely ruin you. In a healthy individual, this is not a bad thing! It makes you more stress hardy over time. This is why we all dream about our loved ones dying, screwing up a major presentation or assignment, ending up in horrifyingly embarrassing situations, and more. These dreams aren’t premonitions about your impending failure or doom, they’re your brain running worst-case scenario simulations to try to ease the shock and stress of the potential disaster that you’re so worried about.
Thank your brain for trying to prepare you and put your worry aside. (Seriously, put the worry down. The more you worry, the more of those nightmares you’ll probably have!)
5. Vaguely spiritual things random people say about you
Just because someone says you’re special/magical/spiritually “different”/etc. doesn’t mean that they actually know what the hell they’re talking about. Sure, some people are sensitive, but that doesn’t make this any less creepy.
Why is this creepy, you ask? This tactic is a very obvious power play and one that is used far, far too often in pagan and witch circles. You meet someone, they tell you how special and magical you are and you become absolutely enthralled with them (because we all love feeling special), then you spend more time with them and, as you do so, they get their hooks in you. Over time, the special feeling becomes the carrot that rewards the behaviors they want from you (whether it’s your attention, obedience, sexual favors, etc.) and any non-compliant behaviors are met with a stick in the form of verbal abuse, withdrawing their affection, telling you they might have been “mistaken” about your special-ness, and so on. This cycle is incredibly abusive and while some perpetrators are aware of what they’re doing, many continue abusing others in this way without realizing that what they’re doing is horrible.
That’s why the whole “you’re so magical and special” move is creepy. It’s not because you’re not those things, it’s because of the potential for that to lead down a very dark and very dangerous road. Will every person who says these things to you be abusive? No, definitely not. If you don’t already know the person well, though, it can show a lack of awareness about how inappropriate those kinds of comments can be and they’re likely to be tolerant of or unaware of abusive behaviors when they encounter them.
Now, if someone you know well and are close with tells you their thoughtful and honest opinion of your spiritual state, that’s another matter. People who have already proven themselves trustworthy, kind, and healthy for you can say these sorts of things without it needing to be a red flag. Just watch out for strangers or acquaintances who pull this move.
These are only a few examples of the ways that the magical and mundane can be mistaken for each other. There are tons of other pitfalls in this realm, but with a little education and a keen eye for spotting misinformation, you can avoid all of these issues and keep yourself safe, healthy, and grounded in reality with no problem!