Witchcraft is a path of change. Usually we practice magic to bring about a change in our lives, or the lives of those around us. In the years that I have been a practicing witch and pagan, my path has gone through a lot of changes. From a wiccan based one to a more nature and pagan based one. From only doing spells for myself to doing spells for social change on a global level. From practicing in my bedroom with an altar on top of a dresser, to having an entire room dedicated to my craft. Live is a river, ever moving and winding, and witchcraft is no different. It’s the reason I made the Write your Witchcraft challenge, to document those changes for yourself.
But no matter how much things changed, there were a few things that were a constant. A few small things that have been so ingrained into my practice since the beginning. And now that has to change as well, and I find myself adrift. I’ve mentioned before that in May of last year I got ill with Covid. On top of me still not being anywhere near recovered, it also damaged my lungs in such a way that I have to rethink much of my life, including my witchcraft and pagan path.
I’m going to need to find a way to practice without incense, burning candles, perfumed spell oils, strong scenting herbs or flowers, and smoke of any kind. Which might not seem like such a big deal, but for the past twenty-one years all of those things have been such a big part of my path. A cornerstone of sorts. My daily offering to the Gods is burning a candle and praying to them. I use incense and smoke to cleanse my magical tools. I use incense as a representation of the element of air, both in circle when creating sacred space and when charging something with the elements. In our coven we use spell oils to anoint ourselves before stepping into sacred space. I use candles to create a warm and intimate mood for my ritual workings. I burn certain herb mixtures for protection and cleansing when preparing for ritual.
I know I’m not alone in this, that there are many witches out there with asthma or other lung problems who also can’t use these things. So that helps, knowing I’m not alone, as well as reading a lot of tips and ideas for alternatives. But it’s difficult right now to try these alternatives. I don’t know what I would respond well to or not, and with the lockdown and the virus still going strong, I can’t go around to shops and try things out. It also doesn’t help that I have this gorgeous altar room which is now mostly finished (as finished as it will be during a lockdown) and I can’t be in there for more than five minutes before my lungs seize up because of something in there. It’s making me feel a bit lost and desperate. Witchcraft is a path of change, and this is another change that I can and will work through. I will find new ways to cleanse, to create sacred space and a sense of peace and intimacy. I will work around obstacles and make new traditions. I know all this. But right now, I’m mourning the loss of the path I had.