It’s a fact of life that sometimes we witches have to live with people who don’t share our spiritual or magical path. It can be doubly challenging if you are new to a paganism or witchcraft and are trying to explore your new path while living with people who might not get it. Hopefully you, like I, have managed to surround yourself with people who love and accept you, and will love seeing the way your new path lights you up inside. As long as the people you are sharing space with are basically decent people, there are many things you can do to make it easier for everyone.
Of course, all these tips are useless if you are in an abusive or otherwise unsafe situation. If your home situation isn’t safe, your first priority should be getting help and getting out. If you can do magic secretly to make the process easier, that’s wonderful–but first and foremost, protect yourself and get help. Magic is not a replacement for taking practical steps.
If you are in a safe place and want to keep the peace while also making room for yourself to thrive as a witch, here are my top five tips.
1. Be considerate. If you live with people who have asthma, filling the house with clouds of incense smoke is cruel. If you live with people who go to bed early, chanting and drumming at midnight is mean. If you want your path to be accepted by those you live with, always think of how your practice might impact them. Obviously there’s a little give and take here: it’s okay to ask for some space to store your jars of herbs. It’s okay to carve out a corner for an altar. There should be room on the shelves for your books. Just don’t use your new spiritual path as an excuse to be a selfish jerk. And don’t do things that will disrupt the lives or health of members of your household.
2. Be flexible, especially with the timing of spells, rituals, and ceremonies. This goes along with being considerate. With some practice you’ll figure out when it’s easiest to find the time you need for your craft. To be clear, I don’t mean you shouldn’t prioritize making time for your craft. Stolen moments are hardly conducive to a clear mind and sharp focus. I mean it’s okay to work your craft around the existing rhythms of your household in order to give yourself the most time possible. So, for example, I do most of my magical work in the mornings, when there’s less going on at home. It’s just easier to find quiet time early in the day, plus I like to go to bed early. You might find you have more time on weekends, or in the middle of the day, and it’s completely acceptable to use the times that work best. Sure it’s fun to cast a spell at night under a full moon, but if you can’t make that work, then cast it when your kids take their afternoon nap.
3. Be clear about your needs. Seriously: the need for peace, quiet, and space to practice might seem obvious to you, but it might not be obvious to everyone else. Try stating your needs in very clear, literal terms: “I need to go (do witchy thing) right now. I’m not sure how long it’s going to take, but I need to concentrate so please don’t come knock on the door unless it’s a real emergency. I’ll let you know when I’m done.” If you’re anything like me, it can be hard to state a need firmly like this. But it does get easier with practice. Don’t be surprised if you need to re-state your needs often: some people need to hear the words “meditation” and/or “please don’t interrupt me” every time to be sure you really mean it.
4. Be creative. Can’t use incense or smoke wands because your room mate has asthma? Try finding alternative purification techniques. Need to raise energy at midnight but your family is in bed? Try whispering to raise energy–it’s surprisingly effective and kind of creepy in a fun way. Need to charge a potion but don’t have space for a permanent altar? Place your brew in a box and draw appropriate symbols on the sides. Some of my favorite magical techniques came out of working around a perceived limitation. Creativity is one of the most essential magical skills, and it will be sharpened by overcoming the challenges in your environment.
5. Be prepared to answer a lot of questions. Remember sometimes it can be confusing or even frightening for your loved ones to watch you take up a practice that is often misunderstood and misrepresented in the media. Yes, certain aspects of practice will be private, but it helps to be as open as possible about the things you can share. If you have trouble explaining things, you can refer them to basic articles about what it means to be a witch, or lists of frequently asked questions about witchcraft and paganism. Here are some good ones:
Wicca FAQ at Religious Tolerance (This one is specifically about Wicca, but much of the information applies to other forms of witchcraft and paganism.)
At first, finding workarounds might feel frustrating or even annoying. But the alternative is not following the path you feel called to follow, or creating so much tension in your household you waste all your energy arguing and being angry. That kind of nonsense is not conducive to spiritual growth or effective magic. Making the effort to create peaceful space for your practice is 100% worth it.