“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”
We don’t become witches unless we want to use our personal power to change the world. To change the world, as famous minds have said, we have to change ourselves first.
Personal development and self-improvement have to be a priority in our lives if we plan on being happy and successful. Witchcraft, of course, has the same goals. The two practices can easily be combined for outstanding advancements toward being your best self.
If you’re looking to improve yourself and brighten up your life, check out these seven tips for combining witchcraft and personal development in amazingly constructive ways.
Brainstorm goals and make plans to achieve them.
One of the central tenets of witchcraft of all varieties is that you can’t expect a spell to work unless you’ve exhausted all the more mundane routes to the same goal. To put it another way, the universe helps those who help themselves. For example, you’re never going to get your dream job if you don’t apply for it!
You may have a list—mental or physical—of spells you want to cast and charms you want to make. (Witches always have big dreams, so I know they’re floating around in your psyche somewhere!) Take a second to step back from magic and make it into a list of worldly goals instead. The accompanying spells will still be important of course, but having a list of steps to take (broken down into smaller individual actions) will put you well on the way to spell-casting success.
Say (as in the above example) you want to get hired at your dream job. Before you do that “dream job” spell you’ve been planning, you need to find out if you need additional education or qualifications, find job openings, write a resume, apply, and ace the interview. Taking these steps before you cast your spell will give it an extra punch!
Here is a resource on SMART goal setting to help you make your list.
Ancient gurus knew it and contemporary psychologists know it too: meditation is an extremely powerful tool. At its heart, it is simply the practice of calming and focusing your mind to achieve a uniquely potent psychological state. This state, known as mindfulness, can be applied in almost every situation to enhance your life.
In a psychological discipline known as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, mindfulness is the cornerstone of the practice. It’s all about training yourself to default to mindfulness when something negative happens rather than engaging in bad coping behaviors (like lashing out, engaging in addictions, or avoiding the source of the feelings). While you may not need extensive treatment like those for whom DBT was designed, you can easily snag that basic principle to greatly improve your wellbeing.
When used correctly, mindfulness plunks you down firmly in the present moment and immunizes you from pain from the past and worries from the future. Your life will feel richer and more genuine, as well as more calm and peaceful, and you will react more constructively to challenges and obstacles.
Here’s a link for some more info about mindfulness meditation.
A bonus that comes with a steady meditation practice: once you learn to meditate, you can apply the same level of laser-beam focus to both your spell-work and your everyday life.
Use Tarot for insights on current and past situations rather than for gossip about the future.
Many people think of Tarot as a mysterious method of “fortune-telling.” However, at its basis, it’s no more than pictures on paper—and you can use your intuition to interpret those pictures to apply to any situation you need them to. For those seeking self-improvement, it can be very valuable to do Tarot readings on the past and the present to gain insight on your own behavior patterns and the circumstances in which you find yourself.
Think of the process as a supplement to professional therapy; you can get a new perspective on your wins and losses that you might not have thought of without help.
Tarot devotees may have already tried refocusing from the future; Tarot spreads on self-improvement abound. You can search out existing spreads for general readings or make spreads of your own. Possible questions and topics include:
- How can I best take care of myself?
- What unhealthy behavior patterns are affecting my life?
- What do I need to consider when making a decision in my current situation?
- How can I best support my friend/partner right now?
- What do I need to think about today?
- What is stopping me from finding a romantic partner?
- What are my best qualities?
- What are my worst qualities?
- What should I talk about in therapy tomorrow?
- What aspect of my life should I focus on in the coming year?
- How can I improve my friendships?
- What is my most urgent spiritual need right now?
These are just some of the places you can start in your journey towards self-awareness through Tarot—customize them to apply to your own unique situation.
Here is a toolkit-themed spread for “assessing and cultivating strengths” from Interrobang Tarot.
Balance your life with knowledge of the elements.
Having a basic knowledge of the elements and how they enhance and detract from each other can help you achieve stability in your life. The four familiar elements (earth, fire, water, and air) represent facets of our existence, and we can use the wisdom of these valuable concepts and make sure that we are infused with each of their energies more-or-less equally. Think of it like the medieval theory of the humors, except way less literal. (No leeches here, friends!)
If you’re feeling depressed, you may need more fire energy in your life! Have a bonfire with friends one night and go dancing the next! Go zip-lining and burn away the hesitation blocking the path between you and adventure!
If you’re feeling impulsive or out of control, you may need more earth energy to slow your roll. Sit in the park or work in the garden. Knead bread dough with your hands and read while it bakes.
Obviously, the possibilities are pretty endless and should be tailored to your wants and needs. Choose for yourself ways that you can connect with the elements in a balanced way, and watch yourself become a more grounded person!
Here’s an in-depth look at the elements (with Ether included) that can take you a step further toward elemental equilibrium.
Bring serenity and mindfulness to your spaces.
One pivotal lesson that witchcraft teaches us is that our spaces are sacred. Whether we create an elaborate altar in a sanctuary room or just lay down a circle for spell-work on our bedroom floor, we’re creating an area devoted to our spirituality. Our environments have a surprising effect on our mental health, and keeping them clean, organized, and meaningful improves our head-space drastically. It’s the psychic equivalent of cleaning off your desk before you work, so even if you’re not big on eye-catching spiritual displays, give your sacred spaces some consideration and start using them with intention.
Here’s an earlier article from the Traveling Witch blog on making your home a magical sanctuary.
Use your Book of Shadows or journal to record your progress.
Journaling is a vital practice for both spirituality and self-improvement.
Many of us keep witchcraft-related journals to chronicle the vast amounts of information we come across as well as our mystical practices and experiences. This familiar convention is referred to as a Book of Shadows or a Grimoire, or is sometimes called by a more unique and personal name. We might include correspondences, the details of rituals, Tarot reading logs, pressed flowers, and whatever else we feel relates to our craft. The point is, most of us are already journaling, meaning that we can take that existing habit and use it to further our goals in a different way.
If you’d like to expand the scope of your journaling, you may want to try writing more informal and traditional diary-style entries, whether that’s in your witchcraft book, in a separate notebook, or online. Art journaling, while it doesn’t have the same specificity as the written word, is another option for those who feel more comfortable in visual media.
By journaling about things like your own behavior patterns, your self-improvement plans for the future, and what steps you’re taking to better yourself, you can get in touch with your sense of self and how it changes over the course of your life’s journey.
After grade-school essays covered in red ink, writing can be scary, so here’s an article on an easy journaling method for personal growth.
Experience a sense of personal empowerment.
When it comes down to it, witchcraft is about personal power, and intuition is the courage to trust yourself. We, as witches, take specific actions (whether practical or ritual) toward a goal and then step back and watch as our desires manifest in the world around us. This requires absolute faith, which in turn takes a deep belief in our own agency and ability to make meaningful changes.
Practicing witchcraft with the intention of self-improvement will affect your overall confidence and sense of mastery, bringing you a healthier and more fulfilling life that includes more of what makes you happy.
How has witchcraft changed your life for the better? Let me know in the comments below!