Why Skepticism is Important to Your Witchcraft Practice
Skepticism is important and also I believe it is a requirement of a healthy witchcraft practice.
Without skepticism it’s impossible to separate the magic we see in Hollywood from the real life magick we can actually experience.
It’s how we keep ourselves safe from following authors and leaders blindly. It’s how we help others before they fall too deep into unhealthy delusions.
You Can be Skeptical and Still Be a Good Witch
Sometimes skepticism feels like weakness, like cracks in a foundation letting doubts seep through and poison the groundwater of magick and faith.
Whether you are unsure of the existence of your gods, the magnitude of you power, or the reality of the sensations you experience on a metaphysical level, when skepticism enters your mind you may wonder if you’re truly a witch.
I believe that having these skeptical thoughts, makes you a more powerful witch or at least a smarter and more savvy one.
Blind Faith is Not True Belief
Blind faith is an unwillingness to remedy your beliefs when presented with objective realities. This type of faith can be comfortable and tempting, but it is not compatible with all the challenges and obstacles of life.
On the other hand, skepticism is the philosophical theory that it is impossible to be certain when it comes to knowledge.It is to doubt any given truth, which paves the way for questions and investigations that help you to discover the world and and yourself.
The hard part, as with all things, is balance.
Walk the Line
Modern magick tends to walk a paradoxical line of belief and reason.
We know things as certain that the ancients did not, and technology provides tools some old dreamers could never dream. But there is also a need for imagination, and things that are sacred and mysterious.
As a witch you walk this line between sacred and secular: what is known and what is unknown.
As a witch you study things that are both material and immaterial.
It’s Only Natural For You to Be a Skeptic!
When you worry doubt plagues your magick, ask why you have these fears. Ask why you wish to believe in magick or practice it at all.
I've spent half a decade practicing witchcraft, and I go through the ups and downs of rejoicing in the divine and doubting my magick. But I keep going, I keep studying, I keep listening. There’s no reason to be afraid of my skeptical thoughts or doubts.
I acknowledge them. I give them space. I incorporate them into an ongoing discourse between myself and the universe.
There’s no reason for you to fear your inner skeptic either. Embrace them and their critical eye. A witch does best when they're discerning with their studies and practices.
Keep praying. Tell your gods, the universe, your spirit about your doubts. Cast spells in spite of internal critics and be open to answers that aren't conventional.
If humanity knew all the answers, there would be no more questions.
Witches can be open minded to seek knowledge that others, perhaps, deemed impossible. And if you wonder if that knowledge is truly impossible, all the better; you just need to keep possibility in mind.
Define Your Reality
Skepticism can also help us to walk the very fine line between magick and madness.
For your magick to work, you must remain a sane, functional human being. You need to be grounded in reality.
When we begin this journey into the magickal world, it is very easy to throw sanity away and allow madness to take over our minds. But there are consequences to this.
Mental Illness and the Witch Community
In western society, mental illness is considered taboo. We don’t want to talk about it, we don’t want to see it, we don’t want to admit when we are effected by it. Too often, we hide it under the rug and try to forget about it.
25% of the population in the US has experienced a mental illness at some point in their life. This statistic is similar around the world.
I feel that this statistic is low. I’m not a professional so take my opinions as what they are, opinion, though they are informed opinions that are based in first hand experience, but, I think everyone experiences some form of mental illness at one point or another whether it is depression or anxiety or something else.
I think because of the stigma of having a mental health issue, leads to fewer people seeking help.
Additionally, Many people turn to witchcraft in order to reach a level of mental health they can be happy with. Just as people turn to Christianity or other religions when they are in times of hardship.
And here is where I see a problem arising.
Sometimes the magickal community is too accepting and accommodating of every level of mental health. As a member of a fringe group, many think we have to accept anyone who identifies as one of us and take them as they come.
Sometimes we are too afraid to tell someone that what they are saying is ridiculous or worse, harmful. Especially when the person is in a leadership role.
After all, I am a person who believes in spirits, and magick and the concept that my thoughts create my reality. Who am I to tell someone they’re nuts or are taking something too far?
But things do get taken too far if no one calls bullshit or says stop. Then, people with severe problems end up being accepted into communities or groups where they often cause harm to others and themself and they don’t get the professional help and treatment they need.
There are several things that may happen when an untreated person enters a community.
They may have a breakdown when they feel their delusions are being attacked. They may threaten and excommunicate anyone who questions them. They may try to physically hurt, verbally assault, or magically attack people they once treated as friends and family. They may hurt themself, or threaten to hurt themself.
Whatever happens, it’s not ideal.
What can you do?
Inform yourself about mental health.
Maybe something you thought was normal actually isn’t and there is easy help for it.
Admit to yourself that you have a problem if you are the one suffering from mental health issues and then seek professional help and guidance to deal head on with those issues.
If it is someone else in your magical community, gently confront them about their issues, ask if they have sought help or if they plan to, and offer your support.
Have online and local resources ready in case they do choose to accept help.
If the person denies there is a problem and denies help then all you can do is walk away and leave it alone. Forced mental health treatment is an option for family members and professionals alone and is still considered on shaky ethical ground in the legal system.
The bottom line is, if someone doesn’t want help, they don’t have to accept it. Respect the person’s decision either way.
Determining Your Own Reality & Sanity
You need to draw a line.
I believe everyone needs a boundary line for what they consider sane and to agree with themselves that everything beyond that line will not be considered sane.
The danger of believing everyone and everything is never finding out what you yourself believe and consider part of your reality. This can lead to one getting burned, getting hurt, or becoming disillusioned and leaving the path all together out of bitterness.
Sit down and decide where it stops for you – does it stop at conspiracy theories, apocalyptic prophesies, aliens? At what point do your hackles raise, doubts surface, and disbeliefs set in?
Everyone has their own reality and it will not be the same as your own personal view of reality and sanity. That is why it is so important to find your own so people can not impose their reality upon you.
Don’t ever let anyone bully you into validating their own sanity.
(or lack thereof).
If you meet someone who claims something that is beyond your own line of sanity, there is no reason to judge their belief. So long as they aren’t hurting anyone, what does it matter?
It’s easier than ever to be deceived by people, because we can interact with so many people online. People can present themselves in any way they want, even as an entirely different person.
It may be time to call in help if the delusions start to impact people in a negative way. It may be a red flag if they are trying to gain a following or expect to be treated differently or better because of their belief. If the story they are telling you comes from a video game, movie or book, exercise caution. If they are using their belief to manipulate people or threatening to harm themselves or someone else if you don’t respond to them in a certain way.
Respecting Yourself and Others
A belief is defined as something that is believed, an opinion or conviction
I choose to believe what I see and what I experience for myself. I also choose to believe in the things and experiences of people who I trust and respect. For the most part, my life is a series of good, safe experiences.I believe this is because I have set boundaries for myself and, more importantly, I respect those boundaries.
I don’t expect everyone to believe exactly what I believe and I would hope other wouldn’t expect me to believe exactly what they believe.
I recognize and respect that others have had different experiences than I have had or live a different reality than I do.
When their reality crosses my boundary, when they try to impose their views on me, when they become combative if I disagree, the respect for them and their reality shuts off and they are removed from my life and my environment.
Respect yourself and your boundaries first. Respect others reality second. Keep your priorities straight.
The Dangers of the Internet
The internet is a blessing and a curse. It is a place like the imagination, anything is possible if you have the right combination of search terms. But just because you read something on the internet doesn’t make it true.
You can be anything and anyone you want to be on the internet.
Have you ever scrolled through the perfect instagram feeds of internet celebrities? This is the result of western culture dictating to us that we must express our individuality and be unique.
Remember to keep yourself grounded in the reality of your life.
The internet is full of quizzes and listicles that prey on our need to be different from everyone else. No matter where you fall on the mental health spectrum, it’s possible to fall victim to the delusions and become lost in unreality.
The internet wants to give you the tools to pull away from the mundane monotony of day to day life and make you feel special. It feeds on your insecurities and natural desire. It muddles the line between role playing and reality.
The anonymity of the internet gives nefarious and delusional people the ability to freely say the things they would never say to your face and access to people they wouldn’t normally reach.
Use your own good judgement, don’t fall into the traps of delusion, fact check and source check the information you uncover and you’ll be fine.
Whether you’re online or in person, you have to rely on your own ethics, your own sense of reality, and your own boundaries.
Remain in control of yourself and your path, and don’t let people steer you in directions your are uncomfortable with.
Show up with the intention to respect those you encounter, and expect the same treatment in return.
Set your moral compass and navigate the world with it as your guide.
Call people out on their bullshit, call people out when they are acting unethically. Or expect to be comfortable with the consequences of inaction.
If you are questioning your situation or are feeling gaslighted, try the resource of Isaac Bonewits’ Cult Danger Evaluation Frame to see if your concerns are founded.
Continue your journey and share your experiences on the Mumbles and Things Facebook page.
There is a group on Facebook and it was made for you. It is a safe and supportive place for New Age* practitioners to gather and grow their personal power while encouraging one another.
If you are a newbie hoping to learn how to become a witch or are experienced and would like to learn from like-minded folks, this group is for you.
*Metaphysical, Pagan, New Age, Lightworkers, Energy Workers, Shamans, Wiccan, Neo-Pagan, Witches, Angel Workers, Healers, Psychics, Spiritualists, and so many others fall under the umbrella of "New Age."
Join the Community Group.
Now it’s your turn!
Where does your skepticism originate from? Why do you want to believe in magick and practice witchcraft? Are you happy with your level of mental health? How do you care for your mental faculties? Do you know some online and local resources you can offer to someone who has mental health issues? Where do you draw your line between what is sane and what is insane?