A very important evolution of my Path was adopting the belief that witchcraft is not what you do, it is who you are. I remember reading many posts on TW that said, "witchcraft is a skill." So I assumed that if you were not practicing daily and casting lots of spells, you were being a 'bad' witch. Yet, as I started doing witchy stuff and taking baby steps on my own Path, I often got strong feelings that I shouldn't be actively practicing at all. I would want to do some spellwork, do divination, or "travel" to certain places, and I would get strong emotions of foreboding or anxiety. This really frustrated me, because I did not see any logical explanation for these feelings. To prove to myself that I was such a super witch, I would sometimes fight through them and do magic anyway, always to my great detriment.
When I came to believe that witchcraft is who you are and not what you do, I suddenly came to see the reasoning and value behind downtime. I believe that to a large degree, my power and ability as a witchlet directly corresponds with my personal development as a person. It is fine to develop skills such as spellcrafting, but the real magic lies within myself. To grow as a person (and therefore a witch), sometimes I need to stop focusing on the outside world, and start focusing on who I am on the inside. Often these periods begin when something in the back of my mind tells me, "knock off the magic". Then it is probably time to consider what exactly I should be focusing on instead. So far I have never regretted paying attention and getting to work.
Downtime used to make me feel confused and upset, because I associated certain magical actions with being a 'good' witch. Now I respect downtime as being an important part of my development as a person, even if it can still be frustrating.
What really helps me deal with downtime is 1) understanding that it has a purpose, and 2) figuring out the purpose and putting my energy towards that instead. Also, I have learned that if a little voice in the back of your head is saying, "this is a bad idea" when you start a spell, then it is a frikkin bad idea and you shouldn't do it.
A related thought I have towards downtime is the phenomenon where some new/young practitioners do not seem to turn towards the Craft when the going gets tough. I know that I have sometimes felt guilt about this because I think, "I want to be a witch so I should be using magic to solve this problem." This can lead to a different kind of 'downtime' where I choose to not use spellcrafting to address my mundane issues, but at the same time I feel unreasonably guilty about my choice. Now I am of the belief that for an inexperienced practitioner, maybe magically experimenting on big, unwieldy, delicate, important life events is actually not the best choice to make. I think there will come a time when we feel comfortable using magic in various situations, and I am not sure there is any need to rush it.
Does anyone else deal with downtime? Do you think it has a purpose? What do you do about it?