I wrote a huge chunk of this article way back in March when I was turning 34, and now I’m closer to 35 it’s time this draft saw the light of day. I’ve been at this witchcraft thing for almost half of my lifetime. And I’ve learned that the keen as bean witchling of my 20s doesn’t quite make it to my 30s. Here’s some stuff I’ve learned so far.
1.) You’ll stop caring about labels.
There seems to be a lot of emphasis on finding out ‘what kind’ of witch you are in your 20s. At some point, you stop caring. For me that point was some time in the past few years. All roads lead to Rome, or something. It’s just witch now, and that works for me just fine. And from what I’ve observed of a lot of witches who are beyond their 20s – most of us are eclectic, and we don’t really care about specifics because we know better about how diverse, humbling and surprising the journey down the crooked path can be. And the thing is – your path and your labels will change. There’s nothing wrong with exploring new things, or changing up how you identify. The agony over feeling identification with a particular ‘faction’ all but evaporates as time moves on.
2.) You really should clean out your dank herb cupboard.
There are little bags and packets of herbs everywhere in your witch cupboard. Clean them out. They are grey, indiscriminate, dusty and basically useless! Fresh is best, ditch the rest. Or just incinerate the lot in a symbolic burnification of your bright eyed and bushy-tailed past, when you really did think you had a serious witchly use for that 10 year old tiny sachet of colt’s foot or the 1 vanilla bean in a zip lock bag that you don’t remember acquiring. How – how long have you had that for? And what is that jar of dirt? Maybe invest in some labels from now on…
And did you know that oils and other liquids can go bad? It’s probably time to comb through your collection and decide if some suspicious items have gone rancid. Heat and age impact all things and oils don’t always go well over long periods of time. Of course, some things improve…
3.) Good sleep, hydration, eating well, journalling and meditation are some of the most effective rituals.
Ye olde magickal spell craft is totally overrated compared to simple, real world remedies for what ails you. There’s nothing wrong with giving material actions a bit of power with a good old fashioned spell, but at the end of the day, if you haven’t been drinking enough water or finding healthy channels for your problems, you’re just going to come right back to square one. That headache might not be a hex from your witchy frenemy. Maybe you haven’t had any water to drink today?
Of course, things aren’t always so simply solved. Life is complex and so are people. Some people have chronic conditions or life circumstances and telling them to buck up, go for a walk every morning, start a regular meditation practice and just eat vegan isn’t realistic and isn’t going to help everyone. But if you have the power to go and collect obscure ingredients and plan an elaborate ritual that could be solved with a bit more introspection, well. You don’t have to be laughing alone with salad, just sort yourself out before consulting the supernatural. Or at least help things along with some real world actions. There isn’t a magic button to fix our problems and if you are here for that, you’re in for a let down.
4.) Grimoires? How about piles and piles of unfinished journals, neglected blogs, a mish-mash of sketchbooks and dusty paperwork shoved in random folders?
A Grimoire, or Book of Shadows (which both have specific associations and meanings in some traditions) have both become catch-all terms for ‘books you write in that ooze witchy aesthetic’ in this social media era. Yeah. I’d love a fancy grimoire fit for the hallowed halls of Pinterest, filled with hand lettering and careful botanical illustrations. But the reality is, I’ve accumulated my own height in a stack of random journals and binders that aren’t so juicy and more-so practical. And yep, none of them are finished. Witches tend to be stationery addicts, and nothing is more tempting than a brand new journal for diarizing your dreams and tarot readings. I won’t be #plannergoals any time soon at the rate I’m going and I’ve given up – I’m just not that guy.
5.) Hell is other people.
I totally get that stereotype of the witch in the cottage outside of town who gives everyone the stink eye now. Having reached a certain time period moving about in the pagan community, I’ve learned that just because someone is pagan or a witch, doesn’t mean that either of you will share common beliefs, common values or common sense! The community unfortunately attracts a certain category of the unhinged and the predatory. And I like to hold them at an arm’s length now. Don’t get me wrong, I have my nearest and dearest and my top shelf humans are my fellow witches – but sheesh, there are some who will ruin your life if you let them. When I attend gatherings, the shields are up because the vampiric entities are floating around everywhere. I’ve also come to really appreciate the emphasis on consent at some pagan gatherings for things like hugs – I wish this was more of this. I just don’t want to hug everyone, and I used to be really taken aback by all the hugging that went on at my first public gathering – I didn’t know all these people and I hugged about 20 of them in the space of the same amount of minutes. I would never do that now.
You don’t owe anyone your time or energy – it is precious. Share what you feel compelled to, and don’t feel bad or guilty for keeping your own space. I salute those who endlessly serve the pagan community by putting on public events and being the face for new people. They are the real heroes.
6.) Witchy shops and businesses rarely last, so support them while you can.
This includes both brick and mortar and online establishments. Every now and then we’ll find THAT amazing store. My advice is to take advantage of these business owners and artisans while you can, because they’ll inevitably go out of business and disappear before you can blink – especially in Australia. Whether it is high rents, poor business practices, or pagans just don’t spend their dollars (or maybe pagans are poor), throw your biz witches your coin while you can, because blink and you’ll miss them.
7.) You’re never going to use that pendulum.
Witches are shocking hoarders and there is a lot of stuff that I’ve accumulated over the years that I just don’t use. My practice is now boiled down to a small amount of paraphernalia, but it never really was bigger than that, but when I was in my 20s I thought I definitely needed a very long list of what basically amounts to glorified kitchenwares. Some of it has been gifted, won in raffles, or turned up in subscription boxes, but what I use on the reg can fit into a small handbag. The rest is fodder. And jars, jars, jars! I have so many jars. I have no idea what the back of my kitchen cupboards looks like. (Since writing this, I have started donating jars to my local friendly kitchen witch).
8.) You’re an aging millenial. So it’s time to step up.
The ‘pagan community’ has become a controversial label that some millenials and beyond are beginning to reject for various reasons. Sometimes people feel a lack of connection with community happening at their local events, or they feel a dis-ease with discourse occuring online. My main observation of this is that pagan community, rather than an umbrella, is a huge, bulbous venn diagram with dozens if not hundreds of circles within it and surrounding it. We share proximity if not practices with some of each other, and if we expect to see certain events, behaviours or leadership, it is now our turn to be the change we wish to see. The oldest milennials will be into their 40s soon, and many of our fond Elders are passing on, leaving their legacy to us. What will we make of it? It is up to us to shape it, if we want something from our community. There are many millenial ‘pagans’ doing this already, but we need to consciously step into it more often, I feel, and encourage more training in succession plans, leadership and the management skills required so we can build on the past.
9.) Those darn kids are at it again…
Wait, I thought I was the darned kid! Well, not anymore. I joined a few Aminos communities recently (and I barely understand what they are) and I realised there are hundreds of baby witchlets creating their own communities and doing their own thing without a single care of what is going on with the rest of us. It’s far out of my sphere of how I prefer to experience social interaction and it remains a riddle I’m not share I care to crack (especially since I have teen fatigue being a high school teacher for my muggle job). They can be found on Tumblr and on Facebook groups where not a familiar elder or mutual friend is to be seen. They dominate Instagram with their witchy aesthetic and their hashtags. Get off my lawn! But what will they bring to the community? Time will tell. Hopefully, not more 101 books on witchcraft that regurgitate Scott Cunningham from 30 years ago… oh… never mind.
Are you witching on in your 30s? What have you learned since starting out on your spiritual path?