Disabled Witchery

Disabled Witchery

So for reference: I’m autistic, have ADHD/depression/anxiety/insomnia, and have mobility issues, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia.

My witchcraft is more recent than all of these (about 4yrs now), so I’ve not really adapted a practice to my limitations, but I’ve created my own practice which thus works around them, and these are some of the things I’ve learned.

Timing is Flexible

I guess one of the things that makes the biggest difference for me is being flexible about time. Wanna do a full moon ritual but you just don’t have the capacity to do so in the hour closest to its peak illumination? Anywhere within a few days is cool - I know lots of folks consider 3 days as “full” (ie the night closest to 100% and the nights either side), but some also consider 5 days (at which it’s still 98%+ illumination), or even 7 (still over 95%)!

Likewise with your seasonal celebrations, it doesn’t have to be on the date! Nature doesn’t flick sudden switches between seasons, so the energy of a certain celebration or event doesn’t suddenly appear and then disappear after 24 hours. There’s often up to a week between the traditional and astronomical dates of the sabbats, and honestly, I’ll do whatever I’m planning up to a week either side of that. If there’s a few things I want to do, they they don’t all need to be done on the same day, either. You don’t need to do everything at once, and you don’t need to do them at the exact time/day.

A pavlova topped with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and passionfruit pulp
Did I "make" my SumSol pavlova three days after the actual solstice? Yes. Was it still a vibe? Also yes!

You Don’t Have to Do All The Things!

I especially see the stress of this from younger and newer witches, but you really don’t have to do everything. Sure, it might be nice to do an elaborate ritual every new moon, full moon, and sabbat, but that’s a LOT! And that’s even a lot for someone young, in good health, with lots of energy and minimal external commitments! Maybe you still want to observe all these, but all you can manage is 5min meditating near your window or lighting a candle to acknowledge these - that’s rad, and totally counts!

A small round table on a balcony with plants. The table has a pink altar cloth, and contains a green candle, small cauldron, notebook, pencil case, and a jar.
A little balcony ritual for the Vernal Equinox

Magic + Self Care = Win

Honestly there are so many books on how to inject magic into your self-care routine*, but witchcraft has literally been the best thing for my self-care game. Learning to connect with myself and the natural world around me has been the best thing I’ve ever done for my mental health. Plus it’s an easy way to implement the things you’re learning! I incorporate colour magic into my clothes/makeup selection, medical and magical herbalism both inform my tea selections, perfume and bath salt blends, and I often charm my food/drinks.

*My fave book on the topic so far is Light Magic for Dark Times by Lisa Marie Basile (she’s also chronically ill).

A dark purple, frothy bath, with 3 pink/purple candles on the right corner, and the reflection of coloured fairy lights on the tiles
Bath magic (also soothes achy muscles)

Nature is Everywhere

I literally live in the very centre of my city - I can’t drive, how much I can walk is pretty limited, and even spending much time on public transport wipes me out - but nature is still EVERYWHERE! Even excluding the herbs growing in pots on my balcony and and the pothos in my bookshelves, an urban space still has nature. Without leaving my apartment I can still see a few pigeons/crows/etc flying past occasionally, and a few paperbark trees, plus the roses and crepe myrtle in the garden of the old building across the road.

If you don’t have 4 different species of street trees growing on your block or any parks/gardens nearby, what plants grow in abandoned spaces, or force their way through cracks in the concrete? What birds are around? Is anyone nearby growing plants in window boxes or balconies? Even on a terrible day, walking past the paperbark tree across the road when it’s covered in flowers brings me a moment of joy.

An illyarrie tree, with bright yellow flowers and red flower caps, in front of a tall brick apartment building
Inner-city nature

Meditation Isn’t That Hard…

… But it still kinda is. Literally the main purpose most folks are using meditation for is to train their focus. All that needs to be is picking a focal point (the breath is a common one, because it’s always available) and focusing on it - your brain will absolutely wander from that, that’s just when you gently nudge it back to your focal point. That’s literally it! Over time, your brain will wander less often, and return back where you want it more easily. It’s not supposed to be easy straight-up, otherwise there wouldn’t be any benefit to it - it’s a skill you practice to get better at, like any skill.

You don’t need to sit any particular way - if you have pain/fatigue, you can lie down (just ideally somewhere you’re not at risk of falling asleep), if you have ADHD or are otherwise hyperactive/easily bored, you can combine it with movement (stretching, walking, running, you can honestly meditate while smashing out your cardio at the gym). There’s lots of ways you can adapt the basic premise, and it’s totally fine to use guided meditations if you get caught up in your own mind and need external reminders to prompt you back to your focus.

ADHD Note: Meditation is literally THE most effective non-medication way to improve our focus! The down-side is that our brains are dopamine-deprived/seeking and meditation doesn’t tend to give us that dopamine hit it wants, which can make the executive dysfunction a massive block to actually doing the thing. I’m pretty stuck here myself, particularly with my physical health stuff ruling out anything particularly physical/active.. I might need to see if I can find something high-dopamine to do afterwards as a bribe?

I originally posted this on tumblr and someone made an excellent addition of advice for meditating with ADHD!

A teal-coloured candle in a glass jar, the flame casting a golden glow on the wattle flowers and gold eco-glitter on top
Candle flame can make great focal point for meditation!

It’s Okay to do Your Own Thing

Throw out any idea of what your practice “should” look like or include and just roll with what works. If you’re physically disabled and struggle to leave the house, feeling like you need to do you rituals in a remote forest is probably going to mean you don’t get to do many and then feel crap about yourself - craft a ritual you can do sitting in bed! If you’re asthmatic, perhaps using candles, sprays, or bells would work better to cleanse your space than burning incense or herbs. If you have poor fine motor control or impaired vision, maybe you find it easier to record your journey digitally! Doing something “differently” and being able to do it is far better than doing something “properly” and just.. literally never being able to do it. 

A wine glass and clear jug containing a reddish cocktail with ice cubes and strawberries
Celebrating Floralia (Beltaine) with seasonal cocktails

You’re Not Alone

There are honestly SO many disabled, chronically ill, neurodivergent, and mentally ill witches out there. We’re really often drawn to witchcraft, and there are some folks putting out some great resources on how they adapt their practice - like heatherwitch’s “Bedridden Witchcraft” series.

Quite a few popular witchy authors are chronically ill and/or disabled as well, like Lisa Marie Basile, Amy Blackthorn, Juliet Diaz, and Arin Murphy-Hiscock. City Witchery by Lisa Marie Basile (being released September 2021) also has a really strong focus on accessible witchcraft!

Don’t let anyone tell you that your can’t practice witchcraft unless you’re physically and mentally well, it’s bullshit, and we’re all living proof.


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1 comment

I love that statement about being mentally well and more, I have a family with special needs, Autism being one of the many disabilities my family has and yes, we are more than capable I agree.

Barbara K Marshall

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