As an ex-Evangelical kid who grew up in Amish country in the Northeast, I never really felt tied to anything — least of all religion. It's hard to trust or instill faith in anything when all your life you've been told what you should believe.
My agnostic views towards life and the larger meaning of life changed when I found a love of astrology in college with my best friend. We would spend hours reading each other's charts and diving into the deeper philosophical reasons we are the way that we are. We would run compatibility charts on the people we crushed on and each other. It became a pure and innocent way for two non-religious college girls to bond. She has always had an instinctive bond to the spiritual world — she grew up in a Cuban-Puerto Rican household that practiced and believed in Santería, a cross between West African spiritual and religious beliefs with Cuban Catholicism. For me, as someone who grew up Ethiopian and Evangelical, all of this spiritualism was new ground I was breaking into, and I was scared of what it held for me.
As I grew into the version of the person I am right now, I took a witch literature course at my kooky liberal arts college and I was hooked. It was there that I learned about all the types of witchcrafts and how most people follow their own personalized practices. We read "Carrie" by Stephen King, "I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem" by Maryse Condé, "We Have Always Lived in the Castle" by Shirley Jackson and plenty of poetry by Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath. It was a small class filled with women and nonbinary people and it was a safe place to intimately dive into the social and political impacts of witchcraft in the 20th and 21st centuries. My professor was a witch, and many of my classmates also identified as witches. As a former Christian whose parents despised anything to do with magic, it felt like I was traveling to discover a whole new realm.
In the last few years, I have found solace in the connection to the occult or woo-woo witchy practices I do in my life. I wouldn't necessarily say that I'm a witch quite yet — give me a few more years — but I use a lot of witch practices in my daily life. And as we settle into fall, it feels like being a witch is in. So here are some of the things I do to feel connected to a larger community and idea of spirituality not just in the fall but year round.
First, I recommend starting with something as simple as crystals. Crystals are a great way to redirect negative energy or even alleviate stress, anxiety and just in general ward off bad vibes. Each crystal has its specific property which will help cleanse your space or give you a jolt of creativity. You can buy tumbled rocks in many different forms. I wear mine in my bracelets, rings and necklaces which means you always have it with you, protecting your energy. I tend to prefer rocks like aura quartz and rose quartz because they're stunning but also usually help me communicate and give me emotional support and relationship healing. I also love to burn sage and incense to cleanse my space of all negative energy and keep a room and house that sparks creativity and peacefulness.
Another way I feel connected to spirituality is through tarot cards. It's a practice I use for myself when I feel like I need guidance and answers for the biggest, most complicated aspects of my life like work or my love life. I wouldn't say immediately start with tarot but work your way up to it because it can be intense, and you may not be ready to figure out some harsh realities about your life.
Alongside all these practices whenever the moon is in a crucial part of its phases, I do shadow work. Shadow work is essentially an exploration into your psyche using prompts and astrology to unlock parts of your self-development. So essentially a lot of journaling. We actually have an important partial lunar eclipse in the astrological sign Taurus which is said to be the last of the year. OK, I know I sound kooky but I also realize that while these ristualistic practices work for me for the most part — sometimes even I need a break from always pondering the abstract.
While being a witch isn't as stereotypically whimsical as it is portrayed to be in the '90s seasonal classic "Practical Magic," these practices have given me a sense of control and sometimes a sense that there is a high power looking out for my destiny or fate. Hopefully, during this season and well every season you can find solace in the richness of the occult.