- Ember James
Hello, I’m a witch with aphantasia.
In most witchcraft and new age spiritual practices, we are taught to visualize something happening. For example, with the law of attraction, the idea is to visualize yourself achieving your goal. This can be a major problem with aphantasia.
Aphantasia is where a person is incapable of visualizing things in their mind. I have this problem.
If someone were to ask me to visualize an orange, nothing comes up in my mind. I know what an orange looks like, what the texture feels like, what it smells like, and what it tastes like. But I cannot imagine any of those sensations of an orange.
This issue is more common than one might think. The co-creator of the FireFox browser has this. And it wasn’t until I read his note on Facebook that I fully realized the extent of what I was dealing with. When he described the voice in his head “singing” March of the Empire in Star Wars, I had a major aha moment. This is exactly what I do too. If I have a song stuck in my head, I’m singing it. I’m not actually hearing the song in my head.
When he discovered this, he read a New York Times article about a 65 year old man who lost this ability to see in his mind’s eye. Researchers looked into this more and discovered that the visual center in the brain will light up for people who can see in their mind’s eye, but it won’t light up for about 1 in 50 people, those who have aphantasia.
As I alluded to earlier, this can be a difficult thing when working in the new age and witchcraft world. For all the exercises that say visualize something, I would sit there and look at the back of my eye lids. When asked what I experienced, I would let my teachers and guides know that I saw nothing. It was extremely frustrating when other students would recount their beautifully colorful visual worlds.
Why can’t I see that? It’s not fair! Does this mean I’m not a good witch?
Thankfully, I had a teacher that has this condition. She taught me how to work around it.
Now when I’m doing a meditation or visualization, I will say to myself that I am doing something. I will say “I’m now walking toward the tree of life. I’m looking up into the sky, where the branches grow up, up, and up.” When it comes to things that are less guided, I ask myself questions and go with the first thing that comes to mind.
Last year I had a major breakthrough and experienced my first real meditation. I was flying with Raven and the whole point of the meditation was he was teaching me how to get more out of my meditations and to focus.
On this journey I asked if Raven was there to join me and assist me in shapeshifting. I shapeshifted into a raven and we flew above a city for a while. Then we came across a lake and cabin that was next to it. We flew down toward the cabin and sat on a fence nearby. We sat there for a long time looking at a white car. I asked Raven if the car had a specific meaning, but all I got out of it was that I was supposed to be focusing on the white car. I felt like it was to practice my focus, when my mind started to wander, I had to refocus on the white car.
This completely changed my experience while working on my exercises for the witchcraft class I was taking at the time. I no longer felt left out, and I felt like I was getting somewhere.
I want people with aphantasia to know they aren’t alone. And if they are working on meditations and visualizations, there are ways to get around seeing something in their mind’s eye. They just need to play around with it, ask questions, be curious. In doing so, they will be able to get more out of their craft work.