Ask A Witch

Why Am I Having A Rocky Return to the Pagan Path?

Jess Carlson

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everal years ago, as I became a mom and was married to a man in the holiness religion (bad idea), I set aside my spiritual path (another bad idea). However, I have lately returned to my pagan path. At first, I felt lightened, relieved, even my fibromyalgia symptoms began to disappear. I felt at peace. I cleansed my home, myself, and began to meditate and seriously return to my beloved ways. Since then, crazy things have happened. I got sick, my child became sick, I became forgetful and even showed up and work wearing my bedroom slippers (funny, but not). I also feel distanced from co-workers. Could my spirit guides be angry at my return to this faith? Why would this happen if I am on the right path? This is where I feel at home and where I was in past lives. This is my love, but if it is wrong for this life I will renounce it—is this what Spirit is telling me?

I love this month’s question because our seeker brings up something that I think all of us can relate to at some point on our journey. When we fall off our path and get back on it, why does everything seem to go haywire?

As funny as it might seem, none of this is all that unusual. Many people who leave their faith, regardless of what faith it is, and then return to it years later will find themselves challenged with the adjustment. Us Pagans assume we’ve angered the gods or upset a guide and that we’re being punished. We didn’t and we’re not.

It seems to me as though you’re going through both a stage of spiritual growth and a test of faith. The idea of a test of faith can be thought of as the gods and spirits saying, “OK, so you left before, and now you’re back. Are you sure you want to be here? Are you ready to be here? Show us, but more importantly, show yourself.”

It’s also a bit of an initiation. We mistakenly think that we initiate each other or ourselves in the Craft, but we don’t. The gods initiate us through tests, trials, and challenges; we just create the space for it to happen and present ourselves willingly to the experience.

The gods do test us and they can, and often will, demand more of us as we ask for more from them. It’s easy to think of the gods as just parts of ourselves and our psyche or as allegory. But they are very real energies we are working with, and they aren’t about just giving, they need to receive as well.

When you came back to this practice and started moving energy around it was like reopening a wound that had healed. All that stuff that had been closed up for a long time is open again and that exposure can be a little painful at first. Energy within yourself started to change. This also changes how you both receive and project energy around you. In a sense, you’re seeing and feeling the world around in a different way from how you did in those years away from your path.

This is likely a big reason why you feel distanced from your co-workers and even other people in your life right now. Things that didn’t feel “off” energetically before now create a sense of disconnect. You feel, and likely are, energetically different, and you don’t vibe with them like you once did.

Things like getting sick are similar as is being handed a whole ton of things to deal with at once. You’ve opened up space for change, and here it is!

You might have returned to your path, but you might have come back to where you left off and have just stayed there. It’s time to move forward.

Spiritual change and growth aren’t always pretty or comfortable. It isn’t all incense and full moon rituals or green smoothies and downward dog poses on a hilltop. Sometimes it’s ugly, painful, and annoying as hell! And sometimes it can be a lesson in and of itself that where you were before isn’t necessarily where you need to be now. The path itself may be the same, but the way you walk it may need to change.

When you look at the things you’re doing, your current magickal and spiritual practices, ask yourself if they feel like they elevate you on your path or if they just feel familiar. Familiar is a good thing, but what can you do to advance?

Also, keep in mind that not everything is a result of some magickal and mystical consequence. Things like your child becoming sick could be a result of you being sick. Forgetting to take your slippers off before leaving the house could be a result of being overtired and just not with it that morning. And we all forget stuff when we’re trying to balance 50 things at once in our lives (and you sound like you’ve been a busy lady lately!).

There are a few things you might want to try to get a handle on things so you can move forward with a bit more stability.

Oracle Cards
1. Create a space for consistent practice. This is a sign of dedication to the gods. Create a regular and sustainable daily practice. This can change over time as your path grows and your available time increases, but for now just start where you are. If this means lighting a candle and having five quiet minutes of reflection each morning or evening, that’s perfect. Consistency is key. This five minutes is likely valuable and precious time, so it is in and of itself a sacrifice to the gods and your path.

2. Don’t keep this all in your head. As new agey as a journaling practice might feel, it’s a powerful spiritual tool. When you don’t give yourself that space to look at your emotions, your energy, and the things that your Higher Self, guides, and gods are trying to tell you, it’s easy to let it all snowball into a crisis in your mind. Get it out onto paper and out of you. You can add a little magick by blessing or enchanting your journal and a special pen for this. See the journal as a well of wisdom and the pen as a wand for directing this energy from you and into the pages. Years ago, when I was in a similar space, I actually wrote my daily entries as letters to the goddess I was working with at the time. I felt throughout the day, and especially in my dreams, that she answered my many questions and issues I shared with her in my writing.

3. Ask an oracle and the gods for guidance. When you feel you aren’t sure about what is happening or why it’s happening, get out some tarot or oracle cards, runes or stones, and explicitly ask for guidance. And then, be open. Listen for messages in meditation and quiet space but also keep your eyes and ears open for direction in other places. Not all answers come at the altar, sometimes they come in the line at the post office. Also be open to the fact that the answers may not be what you expect or even want to hear. I go by the “if you don’t want to know, don’t ask” rule when asking the gods for guidance. If you’re going to ask and then ignore what you don’t like, don’t be surprised if they don’t answer next time.

4. Forge a relationship with the gods. More to the point, forge a relationship with one god or goddess that you feel most drawn to right now or whom you feel can be most helpful in assisting you to go from where you are to where you want to be. Put images of them at your altar and around your home, read their stories, learn about their histories, and make offerings to them. Ask them for guidance while being sure to give back. This doesn’t need to become your matron or patron deity, but someone whom you feel a sincere desire to connect to at this point on your path.

5. And lastly, set goals. These should be goals for growth and advancing your path. Where would you like to be magickally or spiritually in the next six months? Is there a practice you’d like to learn, a god you’d want to connect with, a tradition you’d like to explore? Set a realistic and attainable magickal or spiritual goal for the next three to six months. Just focus on one at a time. Picking three or 10 means you’ll either falter on one or all of them and likely feel that you have failed on your path. Set yourself up for success, not failure.

As you carry on just remember that the Pagan path and the Craft are not for the faint of heart or weak of will. You can do this! Remain dedicated, open, and know that everything is a learning experience intended to make you better and stronger as a Pagan, as a mother, and as a woman in the world.



Jess Carlson

Jess Carlson

Jess Carlson is a witch, intuitive tarot and oracle reader, writer, and magickal teacher focused on spreading the power and simplicity of magick. Known for keeping her teachings and guidance practical and approachable, Jess cuts out the woo-woo BS that can often get in the way. She uses tools like spellwork, journaling, and meditation to help people activate their inner witch. When Jess isn’t talking to the spirits and casting spells, she loves listening to gothic- and Viking-themed music, playing video games, making art, and napping with her cats. Find her at jesscarlson.com.

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