Focus Pocus: Deviating from the Norm
Whatever “the norm” even is!
(Photo by Natasha Connell on Unsplash)
My practice has changed a lot in the past few years. Not only have I wanted to closely examine what I believe, who to learn from and follow, and what environments feel comfortable to me, I have also needed to adapt my practice to work for me in new ways as my Neuro Spiciness took a new direction which was triggered by the start of the pandemic. When the world stopped, so did my ability to keep track of where I was in space and time. After trying to get back into the swing of things for the next two years and feeling like I wasn’t succeeding, I decided to reshape what my practice looked like in hopes to find some ways to adapt and feel more connected again. Here are some tips based on some of the things I’ve tried.
Adapting Your Practice
I used to be great at feeding altars, keeping track of lunar cycles, and planning for sabbats. Then I realized that I was struggling just knowing what day it was for even mundane things. I needed more than a calendar to help me keep track of time, so I found ways to give myself multiple cues for things I need to remember. Along with my calendar, I use the Chani app for notifications about astrological events, I subscribe to their newsletter, and a few others, to receive reminders in my inbox. I have a physical calendar in my hallway when I walk by it 100 times a day, I use a moon phase complication on my Apple Watch, and my social media algorithms do a pretty good job of reminding me, too.
I also experimented with my practice. I took Jason Miller’s Sorcery of Hekate class where the magical engine you create must be maintained every day, and if you miss a day you must do 10 times the daily practice to repair it. Knowing that I will absolutely forget to do it at some point, and also having a close and longstanding relationship with Hekate previously established, I got the sense from her that if I miss a day or even two, it’ll be okay, and nothing will break. While this is not what Miller suggests by any means, I have found this practice to still work for me even when I miss a day here and there. Giving myself the permission to not be perfect has taken so much of stress out of maintaining that practice that I feel like I forget a lot less than if I felt the pressure to be perfect with it – and honestly I would have given it up entirely if that was how I continually felt about it.
I don’t think this is possible in every situation, however. Your relationship with a god/dess or the agreement you have with them might not be as flexible. Approach this experiment with respect and understand that it might not always work out from circumstance to circumstance, or be appropriate at all within your tradition.
I also wouldn’t expect it work with everything you do at the same time. Don’t bite off more than you can chew thinking you’ve given yourself enough flexibility to do more than you can manage. Establish one routine at a time instead of attempting to incorporate everything at once.
Forgiveness is another practice to incorporate into your routine. When I forget to do something, I don’t beat myself up for having done so. I will acknowledge and apologize if I do forget, just as I would if I forgot to do something for a friend. If I need to make something up I will.
Find a Community
There is nothing like having a hive to help keep me aware of what is coming up. In-person groups are the best way for me to keep track of what I’m doing since they’ll typically meet consistently, but I have found a few online communities who help me remember events as well (when I remember to check those groups, haha, ahhh….) Classes are another great help in keeping me connected with my calendar, and I’ve had some great communities emerge from taking classes, too! I’ve made learning part of my definition of “devotion,” which by the rules of my praxis, counts as much as an offering or ritual.
Having a community can also give me a boost of dopamine and serotonin with each interaction as well, though I consciously attempt to not judge any experience that does not give me the brain chemicals I might have expected. Knowing that my neurodivergent brain has some sort of difficulty managing the chemicals it needs to feel good, I just acknowledge when a practice or interaction feels uninspired or flat instead of automatically thinking that my connection has been severed with the gods or the Universe like I once did. I have asked my spiritual allies to give me a clear and understandable sign for when I need to understand something from them, and I feel like I’ve created a good system that works for me.
Communities can also provide some pressure to be held accountable. Many of us Neurodivergent brains need the pressure of outside expectations and deadlines to give us that adrenaline bump it takes to get anything done.
What Does Consistency Mean for You?
Finally, determine what consistency means for you. Consider having multiple options for practices that match your different energy levels. What’s the bare minimum you want to do? What can you do when you have a little energy? What can you do when you have a lot? And can you do a little more when you have a lot of energy?
Keep experimenting with your practice throughout the year and see if anything changes with the seasons, moon phases, astrological events, and the ways mundane things, like work and family life, impact your practice as well. Keep track in a journal, notes app, or by using a habit tracker. And whatever you do, remember not to compare your practice with anyone else’s. Doing what was best for myself helped me find ways that make me feel the most consistent and connected.
About the Author:
Montine is an astrologer, tarot reader, and occultist living on unceded Duwamish land that some call Seattle. A forever student, journalist, and queer gender-nonconforming femme, she spends her time listening to the stories people tell with the hope of understanding many more perspectives than her own. Recently diagnosed with ADHD and self-diagnosed as autistic, she is rediscovering the world through a neurodivergent lens and transforming her life to work smarter and not harder. She writes an annual called Book of My Shadows which explores different ways to use the energy of New and Full Moons for personal growth and exploration and one of her current hyperfixations is studying the Greek Magical Papyri.