Advice for Beginners
I am often asked by newcomers what advice I have for starting down a Wiccan path. I have always tried my best to tailor my advice to the individual seeking it. Not everyone comes to me at the same level. Some have spent years lurking in shadows, reading as much as they can, and are simply trying to figure out where to go next. Others picked up a book on spells or tarot or fictional Wicca or witchcraft and are looking to find out if there's anything more to it. Still others have spent years clinging to their own misconceptions of Wicca and are trying to find out why their knowledge doesn't add up with all the new resources they have been confronted with.
Despite tailoring my advice, the same themes always seem to resurface. Thus, I have decided to put together this article to give some basic advice to any newcomers or wanderers to Wicca.
The number one piece of advice I offer to all individuals is to follow your heart, trust your instincts, and live your life. Only you will know when you have found what is right for you, and only you can get up, get out, and experience life and all it has to offer. Some of the most important lessons we learn in life comes from living our lives and connecting with others, be they human, animal, planet, or star. This doesn't just pertain to Wicca, but to all paths in life. Keeping that in mind always, you will find your way.
My number two would be to continue asking questions and seeking answers. You won't find answers if you don't at least ask the questions first. Yes, this means that sometimes you have to honestly and objectively question your own tightly-held and/or long-ingrained beliefs, traditions, and practices.
My third major piece of advice is to not give the impression you know more than you really do about Wicca, Witchcraft, the Occult, or any other topic for that matter. Be honest in what you do know or else you may find the answers to your questions to be too hard to understand and your lack of integrity will show.
Know Your Faith
It is one thing to do a basic study of Wicca, start performing rituals and casting spells, pray to the Goddess and God, and call yourself a Wiccan. It is another thing entirely to actually live your life as a Wicca.
Don't stop at the basics of Wicca. Continue to study and learn as much as you can. When you find contradictions, don't just go with what the first or favorite author you read says is right. Do research and find out why the contradictions are there. Is there a controversy involved? Study all sides of the argument. Join a community and ask fellow Wiccans and Wicca-savvy people for their insights into the issue.
Take for example the history of Wicca. Wicca is not an ancient religion (see The History of Wicca). Even knowing that, many will still claim that it is. Why? Why is holding onto a mythological version so important for some, but not for others? Why do some Wiccans say that our religion is ancient when what they mean is that some of our practices and traditions stem from ancient beliefs?
If you were confronted by someone with these basic questions about Wicca and don't know the answer, can you still claim to be Wiccan? Wicca is not a faith of "convert now, learn later." There is nothing wrong with being new to Wicca and not having all the answers. However, mastering the basics alone will not make you a subject-matter expert.
On that note, make sure to study other related paths as well. If you cannot distinguish between the words Wicca, Witch, and Pagan, you still have a long way to go. If the mentioning of magickal orders such as the Golden Dawn or men like Aleister Crowley remind you of scenes from a bad horror movie, you may want to sit down and look into the topics covered by Gerald Gardner. If you have never heard the name Gerald Gardner, you likely have not been studying Wicca. You will be able to better socialize with fellow Wiccans and other like-minded individuals if you study beyond Wicca 101.
Study and Practice Never End
Life is a learning process. No matter how many years you have been studying and practicing Wicca, you must continue to do so in order to stay up-to-date and improve.
Consider the following example. What if your doctor, after all those grueling years of medical school, decided to just stop studying and practicing medicine and then try to diagnose or treat you? Or even save your life? Would you feel this doctor is really a doctor? Or just an individual with prior medical knowledge? I personally would feel more comfortable with a doctor who not only continues to practice medicine after their education, but also continues to study to advance their knowledge and ensure that unsafe practices are no longer used.
In Wicca, this concept is just as true. In order to maintain our relationships with the Goddess and God, we have to continue to do so. If we are to master Wiccan ritual and spell-casting, we must stay in practice. We can't expect to stop all usage of magick and personal power for years and then perform a highly-effective house blessing or healing for a sick friend out the blue. Not that it can't be done, but being out of practice will make the work sloppy and will be more draining on you. The idea is to raise your success rate, not drop it.
Some starting points for Wiccan practice are circle casting, divination, elemental associations, and meditation. Within Wicca, there are many reasons for the use of a circle, some of which contradict each other. Only through study and years of practice will you find when a circle is necessary, when it's not (but it never hurts to have one anyway), and when you simply should.
Divination can give wonderful insights into the past, present, and future. While this is not a Wicca-specific concept, most Wiccans are drawn to at least one form of divination. The discipline of mastering a form of divination can be helpful in other Wiccan practices.
Not all Wiccans agree with what exactly the elements are. Simply stating that they are the "building blocks of life" is vague and means nothing. Work with them as often as you can, meditate on them, and contemplate your unique perspective to better grasp their importance and role in Wicca.
The Role of a Wicca
Wiccans (and most Witches, for that matter) have a responsibility to bring harmony and togetherness to their communities. Many Wiccans still adhere to a law of secrecy (to learn more about Wiccan laws, see The Ordains). Others prefer to keep their spiritual life private from some friends, family, co-workers, etc. As such, they are likely to not reveal themselves as Wiccan to anyone besides Wiccans and other like-minded individuals.
However, even if you do decide to keep your faith a secret, that does not change your role as a Wicca. Does a boy scout have to reveal himself as such to hold a door open or assist with carrying grocery bags? Random acts of kindness are infectious and can be performed by anyone at any time. You don't have to wear a t-shirt stating, "I'm your local Wiccan," to support your communities.
Another important note to make here ties in with the advice in "Know Your Faith." Religiously and spiritually speaking, branch out and study more than Wicca. You do not have to be an expert in religion or theology, but learn more about other faiths.
Most faiths have a lot in common, and only through finding those commonalities will members of all faiths be able to relate to one another. A study of world mythologies will also be useful to a Wicca as mythology is often universal and touches the lives of many people. If you can relate to others, you will be a better listener, offer stronger advice, and be recognized as an important influence in your community.
Teaching or Informing Others
When we come across something that is new to us and proves to be valuable, we can't help but to want to share it with others, especially those dear to us. This concept is so universal that marketers will never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth. Wicca is no different.
Wicca gets a bad rep as being a "fad" or "phase" because so many people (particularly teens and pre-teens) learn a little about Wicca, decide that they will "convert" to it, and then go around telling all (or just one) of their friends and family about how great of a thing it is before they know any of the details themselves. You can't give a detailed review of new running shoes if you only tried them on once.
Enthusiasm is great. Running around like a subject-matter expert when you barely know the basics is not. If you are frustrated because others are not taking Wicca seriously, the real problem may be that they are not taking you seriously.
Some people just do not care when it comes to things of a religious or spiritual matter. That is not something that should discourage you, but rather inspire you to learn more about your friend/family member and their different takes on life.
The best you can do is to explain that Wicca is a religion that you take very seriously. It should not be a matter of trying to raise their personal interest in your faith and open the door to going on and on about all the details of your beliefs.
On the other hand, some people are very interested, either just for research or for their own practice. However, these people are not going take you seriously when you go on and on about Wicca being an ancient religion, or about auras, or chakras, or tarot. A simple, dedicated search into Wiccan basics will reveal none of this to be true.
Wicca may draw from ancient practices and many Wiccans take an interest in metaphysical subjects such as chakras, but these are not Wiccan. These are not even religious of and by themselves. However, if you talk about the Goddess and God, elemental concepts, personal power and its usage in ritual and magick, and finding balance through nature, you may just catch their attention.
The problem is, many newcomers don't wait until they have understood this much about Wicca before trying to "convert" their friends. It not only makes them look bad because they don't know what they are talking about (yet, at least), but it also looks bad on Wicca as a whole because it presents it as an unstructured collage of metaphysical components without any theology.
Keep in mind that Wicca is a small (though growing) minority faith. You may turn out to be the only Wiccan the person you talk to ever meets. For Wicca to be taken seriously, understood, accepted, and avoid discrimination, Wiccans must demonstrate that they are also intelligent, productive, and compassionate members of society.
While many Wiccans (myself included, obviously) love to inform others and try to answer questions regarding our faith, if you don't know enough to cover the basics of what makes Wicca a religion, you are not yet ready to teach or inform others. Those are stages that come later.
When you begin your journey in Wicca, you are going to hit some bumps in the road. You are going to have people who do not take you seriously. You will find yourself stuck as you discover contradictions. As long as you keep following your heart, study, practice, and maintain your relationship with the Goddess and God, you will find that Wicca is every bit a part of you as much as you are a part of Wicca.
Also keep in mind, spirituality is ever evolving. What you believe today you may laugh at a decade down the road. What you thought was hogwash yesterday may turn out to be unquestionable truth for you tomorrow.
How you perceive the Universe right now is not how you are going to perceive it as your life continues to grow, change, and expand. Do not be surprised to find yourself walking away from Wicca one day. Likewise, do not be surprised if you do walk away that you won't find yourself thrown right back into the mix of Wiccan things.
True faith and spirituality comes with cycles, spiritual two-by-fours, wake-up calls, hard times that only feel are impossible, and subtle and large changes that take years to manifest. This is true for you. This is true for everyone. It is the nature of life.
For more tips and suggestions, see Wicca Beginner Tips.
© 2010-2013 by Evylyn Rose