How Skepticism Can Help Develop Your Personal Practice

During my interview with Yarrow Magdalena from Yarrow Digital and Daydreaming Wolves, she brought up what I actually think is such an important question for anyone (new and experienced) that is actively practicing or interested in practicing magic, tarot, astrology, and really anything! She mentioned that she was a bit skeptical of astrology, after all the planets are so far away and how do they really affect our day to day lives? At the same time, she could completely understand how using astrology would be therapeutic or healing for others—she just wasn’t sure how to access this herself or reconcile those twinges of skepticism she felt.

SKEPTICISM HELPS US ACCESS OUR CURIOSITY AND CHASE THE “WHY” BEHIND PRACTICES

I loved that she brought up the topic of skepticism, because often skepticism can be placed in a negative light when it comes to more spiritual topics. Personally, I think that healthy skepticism is an important foundation to your personal practice! It activates our innate curiosity and wanting to understand the “why” behind a methodology, which is crucial if you are going to engage in a practice that becomes personal to you! This “why” that you find is what will give this practice meaning in your life. It’s the difference between thinking your Saturn return will be devastating because everyone talks about it in that tone, versus understanding what Saturn represents and how you can take steps to better align yourself with that transition in your life.

IT CREATES HEALTHY BOUNDARIES

Other than deepening your relationship with practices that you want to integrate into your daily life, it provides healthy boundaries and allows us to recognize what resonates with us and feels healing, versus what doesn’t without judgment. Some of my most healing and incredible journeys with these tools have started with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Gina, my co-host and co-producer for our podcast, Open Magic, and I still laugh over how she gave me my first tarot reading. It was at a craft market and I had bumped into a friend who had just had a card read by Gina, and while I was curious, I was also incredibly skeptical. This was even with me loving crystals at this time and regularly reading about astrology—tarot just seemed a bit out of left field for me. I remember being incredibly stone faced as I told Gina that I just wanted a general reading (I didn’t want to give anything away, duh!). Of course, with just one card she was able to completely summarize my life circumstances at the time and I immediately bought the booklets she had about tarot and got my first deck the next week—the rest is history!

IT RELEASES OUR EXPERIENCES FROM EXPECTATION

I had an incredibly similar experience to my reading with Gina when I went to my first Reiki and hypnotherapy session. Those initial experiences with those modalities ended up being incredibly impactful and inspiring for me, but I think through being skeptical I was much more oriented to feeling what was going on within myself physically, emotionally, and intellectually to be able to feel the slighter shifts. This is in contrast to when we dive into an experience with a set expectation of what is going to happen and what it will mean for us when it does occur. Even if something does shift within us, or there’s the opportunity to, we may have a harder time recognizing it because we are so oriented to what we perceive should happen!

IT ALLOWS US TO DISCERN WHICH PRACTICES RESONATE WITH US

On that same note, skepticism allows us to also notice those moments where particular practices just don’t resonate with us or may be perfectly fine, but not something we are interested in pursuing or practicing further. I feel this way about the language around “energetic portals,” “starseeds,” etc. I’ve read about them to get a basic grasp of the concept and simply didn’t feel like it expanded my practice—and that it is okay to experience that!

Conversely, It’s important to remember that someone not being interested in a practice that you utilize has no reflection upon you, your worth, or your sense of self. We should all be kind about practices we don’t engage in as long as they aren’t perpetuating harm to others. But we do not have to defend or justify what we find meaningful.

HONORING YOUR SKEPTICISM

Through sitting with our skepticism, and choosing to explore it versus feel shameful, it actually opens up this beautiful opportunity to draw down these practices and methodologies you are reading about to a personal level. If you are skeptical about how astrology works as a system, there are numerous books to read about the science behind it. But outside of the science of any of these practices, one of my core values is that if it is not usable to you, it doesn’t matter how “real” it is.

The power of astrology for you as an individual is not just based on the influence of the planets on your energetic being. The healing, transformation, and power comes from how you interact with it as a system. This is why I do not believe in astrology. I practice it. (I attribute this language & concept to reading Alice Sparkly Kat’s work).

I practice it because I have found working with it to be deeply therapeutic and healing in a way that is rooted in my personal, lived experience. My placements and transits have provided a trellis and anchoring point for me to explore topics that felt too daunting or intense to start to process—I felt like I would get lost in a sea of emotion. Much more, I’ve found that observing transits in my own personal life has been deeply insightful and I have been able to observe the shifts in myself through the lens of astrology. You may feel the same way, you may not, and that is what makes our practices so powerful—they are for you, by you. 

Allow skepticism to be a guide towards discernment in your practice. If you are feeling skeptical but interested in astrology, you can start journaling with transits to see if you can observe the influence of these transits in your own life. Explore the “why” behind any of your practices so you can truly bring intention to whatever you are working with—from meditation to candle magic to reading tarot. Allow yourself to feel that ecstatic “yes” when an experience feels expansive, and similarly allow yourself to feel your “no” when a practice that you explore doesn’t resonate with you. Skepticism has a powerful place in making our practices individual and I think it’s worth acknowledging its role more often!

I hope you enjoyed this little exploration of skepticism’s place in our practices! As always, feel free to drop me a note in the comments below, via email, or hit me up on the ‘gram!

Until next time,

Bri