The Art of Observation: A Magical Exercise

The art of observation might not seem particularly witchy or esoteric--and it isn't ONLY a witchy skill, but in my opinion it's one of the most important abilities a witch can cultivate, for several reasons. Consider:

Messages from spirit are often subtle, and our ability to notice the small details in our surroundings can help us spot omens and portents more quickly. Most of us know how painful it is to be bashed in the head with a message from the universe because we didn't pick up on the subtle clues when we had the chance. Observation is critical in spirit journeys and astral travel, where we might find ourselves inundated with myriad images and sensations. The ability to really see will help you get more out of the experience. And of course, if you do any type of healing work or spiritual advising as part of your practice, the ability to notice minute changes in a client's demeanor, facial expression, or voice can help you gauge the effects of your efforts.


There are many ways to hone your observational skills. The following exercise is simple, and requires only basic writing tools and 15 minutes out of your day.



1. Take a notebook and writing implement to a place where you won't be interrupted for at least 15 minutes.


2. Choose a subject to observe: colors, light and shadow, a single object, whatever you like.


3.Write down a list of observations. To begin with, just jot down your first impressions. For example, if you're in the garden and choose color for your subject, you might write "brown soil, green leaves, purple flowers, blue sky, white clouds".



4. Now go through your list and refine the details. For example, "The flowers have medium purple petals in the middle, and deep, warm purple petals on the outside, with wavy lines of white at the base of the dark petals, and clusters of stamens which are white at the base and transition to orange at the tips. Soil is dark brown, scattered with yellow-green unripe cherries and dried orange-brown pine needles. The leaves are mostly medium green, but some of them have thin borders of bright red at the edges, and a dusting or speckling of brown-red over the green. The sky is light blue. The clouds are bright white with accents of extremely pale gray."


5. Next, see if you can find even more details. "The flowers have thin veins that are an even darker purple than their surroundings. The wavy white lines on the petals fade into the purple background so the edges look kind of blurry. The orange on the stamens varies from light to dark in random areas, and the white part is a little purplish when you look closely."



6. Continue this process until you can't find any more details to record.


If you repeat this exercise regularly, over time you might find your ability to notice details becomes sharper. As you hone your powers of observation in the day to day world, your ability to immerse yourself in numinous experiences will also be heightened. And you might find yourself seeing small miracles everywhere, like the way a drop of water on an iris petal looks like a tiny shining pearl in the morning sun. You might also find yourself more able to be present in the here and now, which is a worthy goal whether or not you practice magic.

Michelle Simkins

writer . maker . seer

Michelle Simkins specializes in nature writing, spiritual writing, speculative fiction, and hand-crafted talismans, spirit dolls, and other magical art.

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