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“The Witching Hour” and Psychic Quiet

This is still a raw thought, something I’ve been tossing around in my head for a few days (well, nights really, as you’ll see) and I’m curious to see if others experience something similar.

My partner Winter has always been a night owl, at least since I’ve known him. If my phone rings at 1a, chances are pretty high it’s him. And most nights, chances are I’m still wide awake and happy to have someone to talk to.

Likewise, my sister has always been a night owl. So much so that she ended up dropping out of high school and getting her GED because the rigors of having to be functional at 7am and throughout the day were too hard for her. And ever since, she’s favored jobs that let her work the graveyard shift; in fact, that’s how she manages to both work full time and go to school full time as well. When I talk about this to other people, I posit that in our frequently frantic and busy house, if she waited to get up until late in the evening, it assured that she could roam the house without anyone to bother her – she could be the lord of the remote, eat whatever she pleased, and basically avoid having to interact with the rest of us.

I was reading a novel the other night that takes place in a world similar to our own but where magic is a known quantity. (I had originally written “…a reality”, but upon re-reading it, I realized that magic is a reality in our world, duh.) It mentions that magic is easier during “The Witching Hour” because so many people are asleep that it creates less psychic friction for their willworking and gives them more potency and power. It goes on to say that although originally, the hour was considered to be between midnight and 1a, but ever since our society has been pushing our lives later and later, it was now more like 3:30a. (It’s worth mentioning that a paranormal television reality show I like, Paranormal State, also considers 3a the best time to witness ghostly phenomena.)

I know that one of the reasons I highly prefer living in suburban or rural areas to cities is because I find being surrounded by so many people (and non-people or post-people) psychically assaultive. I find it harder to concentrate, to follow conversations, and especially to do anything related to magic or Sight. It makes me sad, because cities tend to be havens for artists, mystics, and other generally odd people (and have more resources and networking for said), and being able to live in them would make some parts of my life a lot easier. However, even smaller-scale cities can sometimes be too difficult for me; forget meccas like New York or Chicago. Nice to visit, but longer than a day or two and I am overrun with fatigue and anxiety.

I wonder (aloud) if the same can be said to how many spirit workers and other magicians tend to keep later hours. Not just for doing magic, but for any activity that requires focus and intuition. I know not everyone has the luxury of keeping whatever hours they may feel drawn to, since most of us have to interface with the waking world from time to time, but I seem to function better when I can be unfettered by the baggage that comes with that. Even on days where I am alone in the house with no pressing plans, I always seem to be struck with the impetus to write a blog post, or work on a project, or send prayers of healing in the wee hours of the morning. Even when I was in college, I loved to take late night walks, because I felt I could better parse whatever was running through my brain at night.

I love the absolute stillness that comes with moving through the night. There are just less responsibilities, too – I can’t call the doctor to make an appointment or randomly check in with my Mom to see how things are going for her. It can sometimes be a little frustrating when your circadian rhythm is set to the nocturnal, as minor errands and the like are much more difficult when most places of business are closed. (And again, most urban areas have greater resources for us night folk, but again with the too much static.)

So I put this out there to those who dabble or are dedicated to anything mystical – do you find that the night serves you better? If you work during the day, do you find things to be more difficult or meet more psychic resistance? Do you tend to schedule willworkings late at night? Is this why so many Pagan sects worship the moon rather than the sun? Inquiring Del-shaped minds want to know.

About Del

A shaman who writes about spiritual things, but not in that namby-pamby "everything is light and fluffy" sort of way.

14 responses to ““The Witching Hour” and Psychic Quiet

  1. Rebecca ⋅

    I will try to re-find the source for the thing I’m remembering about how writing and art-making are frequently better and easier late at night because certain parts of your brain (the controlly ones) get tired and stop plaguing you with extra thought processes that aren’t helpful. Or something. Crap, I should be in bed.

  2. Given that it’s 5am and I’ve just wrapped up a 4hr session of very productive work, I have to say I totally get where you’re coming from. I think there’s a lot to be said about the psychic stillness of the modern Witching Hour.

    Even with the powerful wards built into our apartment (built to stop an energetic or magical Blitzkrieg if need be), it *is* an apartment in a 300yr old house and it is *very* loud.

    Even if we had the power to spare for the kind of empathic sound-proofing that we’d love (which we don’t right now), the level of physical noise in my apartment from around 6am until 1am is dramatic. I quite literally know when my upstairs neighbor takes a piss, because I can hear it splashing in the toilet from all but two of our rooms. Add in the screaming babies (at least one of whom screams on more levels than just auditory), barking dogs, banging children, etc, and it’s no surprise that I most work late at night.

    Physical aside though, I’m no Dreamwalker, and my neighbors’ thoughts, feelings, and energy barely register in my awareness when they are sleeping, which sure makes being useful a heck of a lot easier.

    But now I can hear them stirring upstairs, which means it’s just about time for me to get some sleep.

  3. I am no night owl, but I have always been a very early riser for similar reasons. At home, our neighborhood is quiet in the mornings and afternoons (until people return from work or school) and noisy, in every sense of the word, from 5pm to around midnight. I generally go to sleep around 8ish, and am up at 4-5am. The quiet is exquisite.

  4. Fala

    When I was younger, I used to start even mundane tasks later. I’d start reading a new book just before bed; I’d be writing fiction at midnight; I’d start cleaning my room at 9PM. I had to focus to be quiet and not bother anyone else in the house, but I felt like I *could* focus better and was more mindful of what I was doing.

    Today, I have no problem sleeping with daylight in my eyes, and sometimes sleep better during day hours than I do at night. I still sometimes start both mundane and spiritual tasks later in the night or early in the morning, when it’s dark.

  5. I’m always up during the night. It’s quieter, I get alone time and I have been finding that it’s calmer and quieter in other ways too. And it’s the only time I can contact La Croix and the best time to badger Loki. Mmm, it really is the time where my senses are sharpest and I’m at the most ease.

  6. Raan

    I totally prefer working night jobs. I do my best work in the middle of the night, write most of my blog and school papers in those hours as well. I start hearing the Gods more clearly around 1 am and by 3 am I’m usually pretty annoyed at them. So yes, I agree with your hypothesis.

  7. EVCelt

    I’m much more of night person, although I’m finding myself less able to get back to sleep if I’m woken before it’s time to get up (and with 2 dogs, 2 cats, and a spouse that is an early riser, this is almost inevitable).
    There is something both lovely and creepy about that early-hour stillness…
    On our trip to Mexico, we had to get up at 3am to get to the airport. Very weird, but it also made things that much more of an adventure.

  8. Amy ⋅

    I’m much more of a night owl, and always have been. I find that I function better in silence and stillness, and you just can’t get that during the day – even when I’m home alone (before baby) – the daytime just isn’t “quiet” – and I live in a very mundanely quiet suburban area. But on pretty much every level, my brain works better between the hours of noon and 4am, best between about 4pm and 4am.

    I’ve actually decided that I’m allergic to mornings – both in a physical sense (if I get up before 10am I am pretty much guaranteed to sneeze for the first hour or two I’m awake almost constantly) and in a mental sense – no matter how much sleep I get, I have a very difficult time functioning on even a basic level before noon.

    And as for magic or any other kinds of metaphysical activity – even as simple as prayers or meditations – they always work out better if I can do them after midnight and before the sun rises.

  9. Feathers ⋅

    I am solar-powered, I need the sun, I love it, I don’t want to be nocturnal. HOWEVER, I have noticed that somewhere around 3-4 in the morning seems to be one of the two best times for Someone to swoop in and drop knowledge into my dreaming mind, or wake me up to say “Hello.” The other time is in the last short while before I wake up for the day. I suspect this is because of where in my sleep cycle I am; my mind is in the right altered state to receive images and words and stuff. This has happened less frequently as my overall signal clarity has improved, but it still happens.

  10. I too naturally shift towards staying up late and sleeping in late. Nocturnal life just sits well with me. These days I must maintain a fairly rigidly diurnal schedule, but that’s a result of work, not personal choice. That said, I do find that I get a lot done early in the morning, and perhaps for the same reasons I tend to be productive late at night.

  11. odeliaivy

    I love the morning. WIsh I saw it more often, but the night holds me rapt until dawn most days when I am not working. I get to live two different lives time wise. For 9 months I get up early and dislike it, but for 3 excellent months I get sung to sleep by the morning birds chirping.

    I think doing magic at night is more relaxing but not more effective. Working my will to ride with the flow of the world around me feels more effective when the world around me is growing abuzz. For example, charging stones or casting something small for work has been great to get up early to do. It feels invigorating and has been effective. Best balanced days for me often start with working magic. Working my will for things pertaining only to me or to otherworlds or spirits seems more effective in wee hours when there are clearer paths. And going to sleep afterward really can embed something or even help to forget something. I think sigil work has been more effective at night due, in part, to that.

    I think time is a tool like any other and choosing the right time for a spot of work is helpful and can feel very important with certain works. If I want to work under a certain star, planet or phase, time might need to be very precise. But most things magical to me do not adhere to any time schedule as they are simply a part of life.

  12. Pingback: Between First and Second Sleep « A Forest Door

  13. Ljót

    I love very much being up late. I can be a little people-shy — and I’ve had people attribute this to ~enormous psychic sensitivity~ but I think it’s rather because I’m a wallflower, instead — and so especially when I am living with other humans I prefer to traipse around in a quiet house and do my work alone when nobody else is awake. (For what it’s worth — I started up the god-chatter when I was a kid living in my parents’ house and in order to sneak liquor out of the cabinet, light incense, etc. I had to do it at night — so there was always that practical consideration for me, and after a while it probably turned into conditioning and/or habit.)

    That being said I’ve noticed a really awful psychological effect for me keeping too late of a schedule — past midnight, I’m most likely to be extremely (and oh my gosh do I ever mean extremely) depressed. So I try to keep an early-bed early-rise schedule instead.

  14. NaomiRuth ⋅

    I found this surprising – because it’s so obvious. I live in a dorm and usually the best times I have for concentrating are early in the mornings when everyone is still sleeping – and I have a hard time sleeping at night or focusing because everyone is up so late.

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