01 March 2013

Getting Started - Part I

For the most part, this blog is for folks who have been working with magick for a while.  What I do is usually pretty advanced and I rarely bother to spell things out for the new folks.  This post is different.  I spend a lot of time over on Tumblr and have seen so many posts along the lines of, "Hey, I'm new to magick/witchcraft/etc.  Can somebody help me figure out how to get started?"  This is my answer to that question.  These are personal opinions and are not the end all and be all.  I'm a solitary eclectic witch with strong Wiccan tenancies, so my answers are going to be skewed towards that flavor of magick.

First Steps

The first thing any honest seeker should do is read up on magick.  There are tons of books and websites out there with information on getting into magick of all flavors (check out the suggested reading list at the bottom of this entry).  Read as much as you can from as many traditions and styles as you can and find out what resonates with you.  Magick in general and witchcraft in particular is very personal.  There is no one right way for people to do things - but there probably is one way that will feel the best, most natural and fulfilling, to you.  Some books will tell you that you HAVE to do things a particular way to get results - that usually means that the author's tradition says so.  I've never found that to be the case, which is why I'm not a traditionalist.

If you're looking into all this primarily for the religious/spiritual aspect, rather than the magick, finding what feels right is even more important.  Your relationship with deity is just that - YOURS!  Read the poetry and mythology surrounding the path that interests you the most.  Read books that detail those specific paths.  See if you find any particular deities that resonate with you, deities you might want to have a personal relationship with.  Maybe you'll find that you don't want to work with particular deities or pantheons and would prefer to work with archetypes, ideas of nature, or just the energies of the universe - that's just fine.

Maybe you're not interested in finding a new religion at all, but just want to get into the practice of magick - no problems there either.  If you've got an existing religion you're happy with you can bring the practice of magick to it, adapting the forces called on in your work to those of your religion.  If you're an atheist or agnostic you can think of the spirits called on in most spells as mere symbols, or you can omit them and work directly with the energies they personify.  I started out as an atheist witch, but over time came to know forces that felt an awful lot like deity to me so I became a polytheist.  I've also known folks who came into witchcraft believing in deity that switched over to atheism. Many of the books you'll find do approach magickal practices from a religious standpoint - don't discount them just because you don't like the tone.  You can look at the magickal practices of any tradition and learn their techniques without buying into their viewpoint.


It's ok to experiment with both religion and magick.  If you're not sure what kind of practitioner you want to be give several different styles a try.  In terms of magick, try a little witchcraft, ritualcraft, meditations, Hoodoo, Ceremonial Magic, etc.  Try out the different styles that interest you.  Almost every tradition has a few beginner practices (spells, meditations, trance work, etc.) that you can try without needing to necessarily be of that tradition.  For example, almost everyone has done the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram at least once, regardless of whether they like Ceremonial Magic or not.  So to, almost everyone has done some form of candle magick or rootwork regardless of whether they consider themselves Hoodoo conjure folk or not.  Experiment and see what feels good to you.

And yes, you can experiment with the Gods.  When I was first starting out I did a number of ritual "meet and greets" with different deities.  You can do a ritual where you say that you want to get to know a deity to find out if you want to work with him/her/it and if he/she/it wants to work with you.  Most deities are pretty understanding of new folks and would rather you got to know them (and vice versa) before committing to anything.  Just be respectful, open, and honest - they'll know if you're not.

The same applies to any group you want to work with or elders you approach as teachers, but I'll talk more about working with others in my next post.

On to part 2 - Working With Others

Suggested Reading List (read all of these and you'll know enough to sort fact from fiction)

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner - Scott Cunningham (an excellent intro)
Witchcraft Today - Gerald Gardner (the one that started the modern movement)
Charge of the Goddess - Doreen Valiente (the best ritual poetry I've ever read)
Complete Book of Witchcraft - Raymond Buckland (also known as "Uncle Bucky's Big Blue Book")
Real Magic - Issac Bonewits (how magick actually works, and doesn't work)
The Spiral Dance - Starhawk (west coast eco-paganism)

The Triumph of the Moon - Ronald Hutton (the real history of modern Wicca)

Witchvox - The best site on the web for information on Wicca and Witchcraft.  Also a great place to find others in your area.
The Wild Hunt - Some of best actual Pagan journalism out there.
The Pagan Newswire Collective - another great Pagan news site
The Grey School - Accessible non-denominational magickal education.
Patheos -  a wonderful site with blogs and info from respected members of the community

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