Thirst for knowledge and intensity is a common trait within the witchcraft community. It’s a driving force that keeps our minds open to information and experiences, actively seeking them out. But in the search for advanced witchcraft or advanced magick, the importance of consistent, repetitive application of beginner level skills is often forgotten. That thirst for knowledge keeps us searching and we forget to not just fully develop our skills but to hone them to the point where their use is second nature.
Yet the advanced work is found in the doing. You take the basic information, those beginning skills, and you put them to use. Not just once, not just at the Full Moon, but regularly. The benefit found in that repetition does not come right away and, frankly, it can take years until the full benefit is apparent. But so many skills that are considered advanced, such as throwing the bones, have certain precursory skills that must be learned first. Many of these advanced witchcraft skills cannot be learned -and certainly not be put to use with any sort of efficacy- without learning a number of prerequisite skills.
One effective means to help bridge that space between beginning witchcraft and advanced witchcraft is developing and adhering to a spiritual calendar.
What is a Spiritual Calendar?
A spiritual calendar provides a framework for your witchcraft practice. It doesn’t mean that the events and key days of your calendar are the only things you do and the only days on which you do anything magickal, rather these are your recurring monthly obligations within your spiritual practice.
Any immediate need is, of course, attended to. If you planned your spell work for the month to accomplish a specific long-term goal but then have a sudden pressing need, you work magick for that immediate need in addition to your already established and planned monthly spell work. If you have monthly feast days for your Deities (if applicable) but something fortuitous happens, requiring offerings of thanks or your Deity says that They would like X now, then you make the offering in addition to the regular offering schedule.
It may seem as if having a set spiritual calendar, with specific dates devoted to specific activities, may diminish or eliminate the wonder and fluidity of magick as found in spontaneous practice. However, a thoughtfully constructed calendar amplifies those spontaneous moments because, in cultivating a deliberate practice, your awareness of the subtly shifting energies about you and the voices of your Gods and spirits becomes keener. In this way, the conditions that facilitate those spontaneous moments of practice are better able to be acknowledged and taken advantage of; fluid and spontaneous practice is enriched through consistent dedicated practice.
Benefits of Having a Spiritual Calendar
Your spiritual practice is not separate from your everyday life just as much as the spiritual world is not separate from the mundane. They are interwoven together -any separation exists solely within our minds. Having a consistent spiritual practice helps to overcome that illusion of separation, affording you a more cohesive practice and stronger skill set due to regular use.
Often times, the desire to work magick or perform divination is there yet the focus for such is not. The structure of a spiritual calendar provides ample opportunities for practicing witchcraft and divination to productive ends. If you find yourself struggling for ways to practice your craft more often or more consistently, taking the time to develop a spiritual calendar -and sticking to it- will remedy this.
Points to Consider
Religion and spirituality are often conflated due to the very similar nature of each. However, in remembering that religion is founded upon community -a shared view of Ultimate Reality and shared mode of interacting with Ultimate reality- and that spirituality is based upon your individual view and interaction with Ultimate Reality, then a spiritual calendar is inherently personal. It may include dates as found in your religion (if applicable,) but it should ultimately only include dates and practices that have meaning and purpose for you.
Do not include feast days for Gods you don’t worship, don’t include festivals or activities that seem like good ideas because they’re what you’re “supposed to do.” Everything that you fill your spiritual calendar with becomes the framework of your spiritual practice. It must make sense. If it doesn’t fulfill your promises to your Gods, then don’t include it. If it doesn’t fill you with joy, don’t include it. If it doesn’t challenge you, help you to develop new skills, or hone your skills, then do not include it.
In brainstorming what your spiritual calendar could look like, consider what you need out of your calendar. Is there a regular occurrence in your everyday life that leaves you in need of a few days of purification and rest in order to remove miasma? Are there natural days in your schedule and personal cycle when you are particularly energized and could effectively put that to use for spell work? Is there a regular time in your schedule (due to hormones, lunar phase, work schedule, etc.) where you naturally sleep less and could thereby devote an hour or two to your practice rather than lying in bed trying to sleep? Are you trying to strengthen your relationship with a Deity? Does a busy schedule and family life have you neglecting the care of your familiar spirits? These and similar things are important to keep in mind as you define your spiritual calendar.
Putting Together Your Spiritual Calendar
A monthly cyclical calendar is advised over a yearly or weekly calendar. A month provides a long enough span of time to allow you to fit in a greater variety of key days, as well as providing space for necessary rest days -because everyday life will leave you exhausted. Having a spiritual calendar that is overflowing, with multiple festivals every week, will leave you doubly exhausted and struggling to adhere to your calendar. Your spiritual calendar should require effort on your part, but it should not be difficult to fulfill your obligations. A month-long calendar also allows for you to balance the activities that you schedule, ensuring greater wholeness and stability to your practice, as well as making your calendar more enriching to your overall spiritual practice.
It is natural that your spiritual calendar will have annual dates of importance, dependent upon the seasons and Deities to Whom you are devoted. For this reason, avoiding the temptation to schedule mandatory feast days, festivals, and activities every few days becomes a blessing. This ensures that you will not be overtaxed between monthly and yearly obligations. A full spiritual calendar does not make you a more authentic witch nor does it make you a badass. In practice, it is more likely to cause you to be spread too thin and to burn out -both of which reduce your efficacy as a witch. A very full calendar is also more likely to be abandoned. Be reasonable with yourself, with the allowances of your everyday schedule, with your energy levels, and with your willingness to follow through.
Your monthly spiritual calendar does not need to be aligned to the lunar cycle, however, it can be a good starting point, providing a foundation for other key points in your calendar. Considering that witchcraft is historically tied to the Moon, this alignment also makes sense. If you do not already follow the lunar cycle, this provides you a great learning opportunity in monitoring the effects of the lunar cycle on your spell craft, your sleep cycle, your emotions, and your overall energy levels.
In outlining your calendar, include any monthly feast days or already established offering schedule to your Gods and familiars. Annual feast days will, obviously, be acknowledged as they occur. From there, keeping in mind what you need out of your calendar, add in activities and practices that make sense to you and for you.
Here are a number of spiritual activities that could be included in a monthly spiritual calendar. It is important to note that while these activities are beneficial, they do not, in themselves, constitute the practice of witchcraft. It is the combination of specific activities, within the worldview of the witch, that makes for a witchcraft practice. Also, making all of these suggestions mandatory events in your spiritual calendar is highly ill-advised. That’s too much. You will burn out and come to hate your spiritual calendar. Set yourself up for success, not failure.
It is okay to have multiples of some of these activities, just ensure that your calendar is balanced, i.e. there aren’t three separate offering days within the same two-week period, there isn’t a period of fasting followed by a day of purification followed by a day of cleansing your house (this makes no sense and will burn you out energetically,) etc.
Possible Activities for your Spiritual Calendar
Spiritual Calendar in Action
To give you an idea of what your spiritual calendar could look like, here is the basic framework for my own monthly spiritual calendar. It is aligned to the lunar cycle.
At the Dark Moon, I make offerings to a particular face of my Lady. This is followed by Purification Week, involving daily purification rites and zero divination work for clients or me. Purification week ends with the first of my Lady’s Feast Days, encompassing offerings and ritual with my family. Roughly a week later falls the second of my Lady’s Feast Days, which involves more offerings and ritual with my family. This Feast Day may include spell work that requires the assistance of my Lady and divination practice with the children. The waning half of the lunar cycle is highlighted by the Festival of Familiars, filled with libations and song for my familiar spirits. This day is a day of enjoying relationships that have been built and ensuring payment for tasks completed has been made. The Dark Moon begins a new cycle.
As you can see, the basic structure of my spiritual calendar has evolved to encompass, essentially, one obligation each week. Additional activities and events added on top of this framework include divinatory services for clients; religious teaching and instruction of my children; personal divination; daily check in’s with my familiar spirits; daily communication with my Lady; upkeep for long-term spell work, need magick; communication and interaction with the genius loci (spirits of the Land;) recording of visions, portents, and Dreams; maintenance of my home wards and personal wards; energetic exercises (that I’ve done daily for over a decade;) daily prayer work with the children to our Lady, and annual Feast Days for my Lady (which makes for especially busy months in the Spring and nearly overwhelmingly busy months in the Autumn.)
This calendar has evolved over many years and suits me based upon my personal relationships with Gods and spirits, my religious obligations, and my own energetic needs. It is very unlikely that this calendar would prove a suitable framework for anyone else (least of all anyone outside of my family cultus.) But, in sharing my own spiritual calendar in combination with the guidelines and suggestions provided above, I hope that you are able to configure an appropriate spiritual calendar that serves you, enriches your practice, and helps you to become a better witch.
Throwing the Bones