Wicca is one of the fastest growing religions in the world. Whether people are actually practicing Wicca/Paganism for the right reasons or not, it’s still one of the world’s major religions. To me, Wicca, Witchcraft, and Paganism are all different things. Wicca is the religion that follows so set guidelines and the Wiccan rede “an ye harm none, do what ye will.” Wicca also celebrates all eight, major and minor Sabbats. Not all Wiccan celebrate Ebats, though. Even though it’s “technically” apart of Wiccan religion. And believing in the God and Goddess as THE deities. Witchcraft is all about the magick; the spells, rituals, potions, divination, etc. Those who practice Witchcraft often worship multiple deities and spirits. And don’t usually celebrate sabbats or esbats. Paganism is ancient. It’s more of a way of life than it is a religion. The divine belief and worship of nature and everything in the universe. The belief that everything on this earth and off of it is interconnected and all a part of the togetherness and oneness of life. Pagans celebrate the solstices (four major sabbats) and the esbats. They are the followers of the Old Religions, the Old Ways, and the Ancient Gods.
It’s true there’s no hard evidence of ancient Pagan life or of it’s religion and beliefs, but references from other religions, cultures, and stories can help us put together the pieces of the everyday lives and practices of ancient Pagans. I call myself Pagan. Not Wiccan. Not Witch. Pagan. My research is about ancient history and religion, so little by little I can figure out exactly what the Old Ways consisted of. These are my opinions and definitions and by no means “true” answers and meanings. So think of each at your own.
So… Back to the guide. First, ask yourself: “Why am I interested in Wicca/Witchcraft/Pagansim?” It’s a question many fail to ask themselves. Sure, it’s mostly appealing to teenagers and young adults because of media, movies and television. We can thank TV shows life Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed to introduce us to Wicca and Witchcraft. But people often get caught up with that they think Wicca is, and what they hope it’ll be. Well, it’s NOT going to make you levitate a pencil or yourself. It’s NOT going to let you say a spell and it automatically working. And it’s NOT going to let you move things with your mind or by waving your hand. Teenagers, especially, mainly get an interest in Witchcraft for attention. To scare and threaten by accusing that they’ll “cast a spell on you” or use “voodoo to control your mind.” The true essence of what Wicca is isn’t even in their mind. So ask yourself that question. Think long and hard. If answers like, “because it sounds cool,” “I want to do magic,” “I want to scare people,” “because I don’t like my old religion,” or “my friend is Wiccan,” then you seriously need to go get educated.
If any of these keywords like “spirituality,” “divine essence,” “peace and freedom,” “nature,” pop in your head when asking that question, then you MIGHT be on the right track. The next question to ask yourself is: “Why do I want to be Wiccan?” You might have some similar answers from the first question and answer, but your answers to the first question should be by using keywords, the answer to this questions should be answered in full sentences.
In traditional Wicca, studying for “A year and a day” is common. And if Wicca is THE path you want to follow, then I think it’s ideal. Give yourself a full year before REALLY “committing” to it. For a lot of the young folk, it often turns out to be a phase. Sometimes a short phase when they realize their spells aren’t really working, or a long phase where it last for years when it starts out strong and just fades away – either into complete loss, or just little to no practice.
- Read. A LOT. Read as much as you can and everything you can get your hands on. Though the Craft is mostly about personal practice and experience, I believe reading and learning everything you can first will help you better understand things, ideas, practices, etc. No two Wiccan authors have the same ideas and beliefs, so it’s important to see that though Wicca has some basic ground rules, there’s no “this is how it’s only done” rule set in stone. Wicca has many different paths and traditions, and eclecticism is one of them, so you’ll be able to divise your own beliefs and practices for your personal “religion.”
- Dedication. For Wiccans, a dedication/commitment ritual is usually the beginning of your Wiccan path. It can be a sweet, short, simple ritual dedicating yourself to follow the Wiccan way and to the Goddess and God, nothing ridiculous or complicated. A dedication ritual can be implemented to dedicating yourself for “a year and a day,” or it can be done after the year and a day.
- Start with trying to master meditation. Before any ritual/spell/magic work is done, meditation comes first. Without knowing how to properly meditate and visualize, then all you’re doing is saying a bunch of rhyming words and lighting things on fire. So practice meditation everyday, if possible. Even if it’s only for 10-15 minutes whenever you can. It’s pretty important. Refer back to my meditation post – it’ll be quite helpful for you.
- Depending on what path, tradition, etc. you want to follow, it’s important to connect yourself and attune with nature. If available, go to the woods, the park, or pretty much wherever there are trees, plants, flowers, etc. and maybe some animals. Pick a spot or a tree. Try to connect with it. Feel its pure energy and its spirit. Sync with it and find that connection.
- While you’re in nature, gather some things to place on your altar. Stick, branches, stones, flowers, plants/herbs – whatever you can find. If you’re going to follow a nature path (Paganism, the ancient ways, or any other ancient celtic/druid path), remember to “ask permission” for anything that you have to break or pluck from nature. If it resists, then your request has been denied and move on.
- Start small with magick work and work your way up. For example, work with herbs. Create magick sachets, teas, brews, potions, etc. Empower your tools if you have any. Or your crystals and stones. Everything needs a cleansing and empowering!
- When you feel comfortable, you can conduct a small, simple ritual. It doesn’t have to have a purpose besides just invoking the guardians, elements, deities, or whomever you choose to attend to your circle. Your circle itself should be simple, as well. Traditionally, made by salt, but you can use rope, sticks/branches, candles – whatever you have available. Heck, you don’t even need a physical circle! Conjure it up and visualize a circle protecting you from evil, harm, and negativity.
- When you feel ready – no book, source, or person can tell you when you’re ready, ONLY YOU – you can begin on spells. As mentioned in the post on how to write and create your own spells, your spells don’t have to be elaborate, complex, or even rhyming. It’s just a worded guide for you to help you concentrate on your intent of the spell. You can start on simple spells like protection and banishing, and move your way up to perhaps attracting love, money, or luck.
- Then comes the celebration of Sabbats and Esbats. These are the rituals, at least for Sabbats, that many practitioners tend to make elaborate. I know I do. I probably spend more time putting everything together than the duration of the ritual itself! But, because it is a celebration, that’s usually why I like to make it a little bit more fancier than just a normal ritual. Elaboration is by no means a requirement, I’m just saying. Point is, Sabbats and Esbats are usually a “step higher” than your normal ritual, because it usually involves longer incantations, offerings, and objects.
- Divination might be your next step up. Though I don’t recommend divination if you’re JUST starting the path. It’s something you’d do after everything mentioned above. Start with the easiest forms of divination; pendulums, water, black mirror, fire, or crystal gazing. Then try Tarot cards and runes. And finally an ouija/spirit board and spirit contact. However, I highly recommend you don’t attempt to use an ouija board or spirit contacting until you’ve had some experience. And I don’t mean a year and a day.
NOTE: Almost every Wicca 101 book will say that astrology, moon and star correspondents, timing, and all that good stuff is important when it comes to doing spells and rituals. And in a way, it is – obviously for Esbats. But, among some other things, it’s not necessary. However, feel free to reference it if you haven’t already.
NOTE II: It’s understandable that some might still be in the “broom closet” and live with family or others, and having tools or ritual supplies is near to impossible. However, guess what? If your rituals consist of having elemental representation objects (the four elements), the simplest of objects are: sea shells, sea salt, water, the color blue for the element of water. Incense, plant leafs, feathers, the color white for the element of air. Candles, lava rocks, the color red for the element of fire. Crystals, stones, dirt, the color green for the element of earth.
The real guide to beginning Wicca is really the steps you feel and do at your own pace. Our lives doesn’t revolve around Wicca, it’s only a part of it. So if you miss a Sabbat or Esbat, or missed a certain eclipse or time when the stars are aligned, or something that has to do with timing or significance, don’t stress or worry about it. It’s not all about Wicca. It’s all about You. It’s about how and when you feel comfortable, how and when you feel the time is right, and how and when you know you feel ready. Don’t think just because you’re a “witch” that you’re some big-shot, because you’re not. You’re not special to anyone. You’re only special to yourself, the God and Goddess, and the Universe.
Just remember to keep things simple. Nothing has to be fancy, elaborate, or complicated. You don’t need fancy tools, a decorative altar, a candle of every color, or an expensive ginormous leather Book of Shadows. All you need is “me, myself, and I” to work true magick. All the “stuff” comes with time. You’ll be surprised the things you’ll accumulate over the years. After over a decade of practicing the Craft, I have two shelves stuffed with things I used to have on my altar, and then I have everything that’s actually on my altar! If you’ve ever taken a college English course, you might have heard the term “KISS: keep it simple, stupid.”