We cast a lot of snark at people who self-diagnose, but as someone living in the American South with terrible insurance and a prevalence of “pray yourself better” counseling, I’m finally beginning to understand all my Tumblr-folk. How can you get tested for something if the tests cost an obscene amount of money, and even if you are found to have something, how do you overcome money barriers to get yourself treatment? What was even the point of getting diagnosed if you’re deemed too poor to be trusted with the medication that can help you (what if you … gasp! … sold it to someone, and didn’t just drink it down with your brunch)?
So, I find myself at thirty-six having diagnosed myself with adult ADHD. Suddenly, my world makes a lot more sense. Suddenly I’m not a bad person for having trouble with deadlines, or having intense focus on interests that border on obsession, or forgetting what 7×9 is but remembering the impassioned speech Nuada Silverlance gives about not fading. With a diagnosis, even a self-given one, I feel like I can acquire the tools I need to survive.
There’s a lot of pressure in modern Paganism to take a few courses, read a few books, and suddenly have all the answers. At the opposite end of things, and in many ways just as bad, is to talk about how many years we’ve been practicing … as if bragging about the number of times we’ve repeated decades-old, outdated information is something to be proud of! There are valuable teachers out there who have put in the work, and there are talented folks who grasp things immediately and go on to do amazing things. For myself, however, feeling like I’m discarding so much of the early-era Wicca-craft I was given and intent on building something that truly works for me, I feel in many ways like I’m staring over and even in some cases reinventing the wheel.
One thing I’ve been tackling is acknowledging that intense study sessions (so popularized in the Pagan community as year-and-a-day programs) are not going to make me the witch I want to be in one year. Not even three years. Instead, I’m probably going to learn much better approaching learning the way a child would: short bursts broken up by plenty of opportunities to put my learning into practice. The good news is that this might actually be a better way of learning all around. In the Journal of Memory and Language (2005) Harry Bahrick and Lynda Hall wrote that “the spacing effect is one of the oldest and best-documented phenomena in the history of learning and memory research …. The great majority of these investigations show that performance improves when practice is distributed rather than massed.” This approach to learning is called “microlearning”, and it turns out this is what folks in big business have been practicing for a number of years.
“There’s no epiphany: you go to a course and then you’re an expert. You’re going to need experience, situations, time to let it soak in, do the Follow-up, and then think about how you apply that back on the job.” — Adam Hickman, Consumers Energy
My focus for the rest of the year is going to be on what I’m calling “Three Week Witchcraft”, where I’ll be doing frequent, intense microlearning bursts on a topic and then attempting to put them into practice. Social media will be a big help here, as most folks are rather keen to volunteer if they get something free out of it. My initial topics will be as follows:
* Protection Charms
* Herbal Healing
* Ancestor Work
* Kitchen Witchery
* Hedge Crossing
Ten topics to make up the last ten months of the year. I’ll be tagging each one on social media with #ThreeWeekWitchcraft , and while I don’t expect myself to be a seasoned professional at the end of any of this, giving a topic my all for a short period will also help me to determine what areas I’d like to come back to and dive deeper in.
The outline will be thus: taking a topic, I’ll commit the first week towards intense study. Basically, gathering all the notes I can before I put a thing into practice. I’ll be attempting the most basic version of each of these things in the second week, and in the third week I’ll do a bit of experimentation to see what I can change up for better results. I’ll keep track of the whole thing in a composition notebook, and follow up on week four with a final analysis. I will, of course, then post about the whole thing here.
What about you, gentle reader? What topics are you moved to explore? What would you like to learn about, without the fear of monetizing it or making a living from it?
[Written by Ashley Nicole Hunter.]