Yes, witchcraft burnout is a thing. If you’ve been practicing the Craft for a while, you most likely have been there at some point. There are different stages of it, from “Meh, I don’t have time to do meditate today,” all the way to “I haven’t done a lunar or sabbat ritual in a year, and I barely care.”
Burnout, it’s not just for the mundane! We usually think of burnout within the areas of work and relationships, but we can have spiritual burnout as well. It happens with anything that we dedicate a lot of time and energy to, and that includes our magickal journey.
Let’s first understand what burnout is.
Burnout is defined as emotional, physical, or spiritual feelings of exhaustion that are usually caused by a prolonged stressful experience or feeling of overwhelm.
This can happen when we’re taking on too much, when we have unrealistic expectations for ourselves or others, and when we try to do things faster than they naturally are meant to.
When we feel burnout in one area of life, it inevitably shows up in other parts of our lives as well.
As witches, this can mean that burnout at work leads to burnout in our magickal practice. It can also happen when we’re going through something and using a lot of magick for it. If you’re stressed and overwhelmed at work and trying multiple magickal techniques at once to try and deal with it, you end up adding more stress to the situation. You add pressure on yourself to do successful magick while also trying to handle the work pressure on a mundane level.
Here’s what witchy burnout can look like. You start to feel:
- Out of control with day to day life and like no magick or spiritual practices help
- You begin to feel like there is nothing new for you to learn, explore, or try magickally
- Like you are attracting negative energy and experiences possibly because of your magick
- Every magickal or spiritual thing you do feels like a mess or a failure
- You just stop caring about your practice
- You may start to avoid anything witchy or spiritual
Like all kinds of burnout, it will vary from person to person, but with your magick, it will always come down to the fact that you just aren’t feeling it anymore, and you just don’t care.
So what causes witchy burnout and how can you avoid it?
Cause: Too focused on witchcraft and not engaging in other hobbies or activities
Solution: Remember, you’re a witch but not only a witch!
Yes, you’re a witch, but you’re not JUST a witch. Don’t forsake “mundane” interests because they aren’t “witchy” or “spiritual” enough. I once had a high priestess who lived her life like this, and she was always stressed out and miserable (and miserable to be around)! If you haven’t seen your non-witchy friends in a while, gone out to a concert or club, or just binge watched some trashy TV in a long time because you’re too busy being uber witchy, it’s time to step out of that and just do something else to decompress and “breathe.”
Cause: Only doing magick for others and never for yourself
Solution: You don’t have to be EVERYONE’S witch
When you’re doing magick for everyone else and not doing it for yourself, you’re falling into what I call “witchy people pleasing.” When you’re taking on everyone else’s problems and not dealing with your own, that’s like the definition of self-punishment. Stop offering to do magick for everyone or saying yes to every request for magick, readings, healing, etc. If you get asked all the time and feel like you have to say yes because “you have a gift and it should be shared,” you need to arrange for an energy exchange. This isn’t about trying to “get something.” This is a way to keep a balance in the exchange of energy between you and others. When you give and never receive, you drain yourself and send a signal to the Universe that you’re willing to give away your energy for free, which only attracts more requests for it without anything in return. This can be getting paid for what you do, but it can also be making an exchange of services. If you do a reading or spell for a friend who’s a massage therapist, ask for them to return the favor with a massage.
Cause: Studying something things you aren’t really interested in and trying to learn everything quickly
Solution: Study what really calls to you and know this is a life-long journey, not a race to win
You don’t need to know everything! When you study something you aren’t really passionate about, it gets exhausting. Study what you’re actually interested in. One of the things that I was never interested in during the first three decades of my practice was astrology, so I never spent time learning it. Now I’m fascinated by it so NOW I’m learning it. Take your time and study. Study slowly and deliberately and put the things you learn into practice. Don’t put a ton of unrealistic expectations on yourself to become a master of all magickal knowledge. Don’t be the “jack of all trades, master of none” in the witching world.
Cause: Being in a study group or coven where you don’t have a positive bond with the members
Solution: Take the time to find the right group and leave the one that isn’t a good fit
The people that you are going to explore your spiritual and magickal side with should be people you feel a connection to. They should be people that don’t stress you out, make you feel self-conscious, or cause any feels of shame, doubt, or inferiority. You may be behind them in your journey, but they should be embracing you and helping you grow. Don’t stay in a group just to be in a group. If you can’t find the right group locally, find one online, but don’t treat it as just any other online/social media group. Find a group of people that you feel a sacred bond with, wherever they may be, and work with them. If you can’t find one, it’s A-OK to be on your own until you find the right one.
Cause: Falling into witchy FOMO, especially online
Solution: Consume witchy media and information mindfully
Falling into witchy FOMO and feeling the need to be involved in every group or following every witch you can online happen quickly. Like the things you study and the people you study with, the people that you follow and engage with online should be selected with care. Don’t follow people who make you feel less than, even if it’s just because of your own inner critic and ego getting the better of you. Follow people who have stories and teachings inspire you and make you want to be a better witch. It doesn’t matter who the “big name witches” or “big name pagans” are. If they don’t add to your journey or inspire your magick, you don’t need to give them your energy by paying attention to what they are doing. Even though it may be just looking at someone’s Instagram, you’re still energetically allowing them into your life, so choose who you do this with mindfully.
Cause: Your magick is very serious
Solution: Keep witchcraft fun and enjoyable, and don’t forget how fiction can inspire real magick.
If you’re taking it all too seriously, it’s going to get stressful for sure. It’s OK to laugh if you flub something up in a ritual! Make sure you’re doing fun stuff, that you’re enjoying what you’re doing, and that it makes you excited to do magick. When it’s always serious, it carries heavy energy that will begin to feel like it’s crushing you over time. Fictional books and movies can still inspire real-world magick and spirituality. Don’t tell me you weren’t ever been inspired to do magick because of a book you read or a movie you saw. I’ll never forget how The Craft broke me out of a bit of a witchy burnout rut when it came out. It’s not about trying to reenact movie magick but letting it get you excited to make more magick in your own life.
Cause: You don’t make your daily activities or personal care magickal
Solution: Make your self-care a magickal act of personal ritual
Self-care is absolutely an act of magick! If you look at some Asian cultures, for instance, their beauty routines are ritualized acts of self-care. Find ways to take your self-care practices to the next level so you can work your magick for yourself to heal and help yourself, especially during times of burnout. Ritual baths, making magickal face scrubs, brewing healing teas, all of these things can have simple magick woven into them. This is also another way to start to see magick as something that goes beyond just something you do at your altar and something that you can do more daily. (And, hey, maybe my free Daily Witch Planner can help!)
Avoid and Heal Your Burnout
When you start to experience signs of witchy burnout, how do you deal with it and avoid it?
Determine the Cause – There are a lot of possibilities for what could have brought you to this point, so you need to take time to examine your life at the moment and determine the things that are causing feelings of burnout.
Adjust based on the Cause – This might mean you have to part ways with a coven, say no to helping a friend with some spellwork, or completely changing the practice and study you’ve been following for a while. You can’t avoid burnout if you don’t make changes to the things that cause the problem.
Have a daily practice that’s under 30 mins – 10-30 mins a day of focused spiritual practice without distraction, time for meditating, doing card readings, or studying. This is a time for putting into practice the things you’re learning. A little bit of time everyday building consistency and habits.
Have a go-to practice or activity to use – Think of this as your magickal or spiritual version of the “break glass in case of emergency” system. What’s one thing that you can do right away as soon as you know something isn’t right that will get you back on track? I have two things I might use. I will read Book of Shadows by Phyllis Currott, a book that has always helped heal my magick. The other is listening to mantras by Deva Premal or a kirtan by Krishna Das (I know, not specifically witchcraft related, but it always does the trick spiritually).
Stay grounded – It’s simple, it’s one of the most basic things you should have mastered as a witch, but it is the most valuable tool to help you combat burnout. Just breathe deep, root your energy, drain that stress and overwhelm into the earth and let it go.
So tell me…how have you experienced witchcraft burnout? What have you done to get yourself out of that rut, and what are the ways you work to keep yourself from burning out on your magickal journey?