My years of experience will do no good for anyone if I do not share it with you. I hope my words of wisdom and advice help you avoid many of the mistakes I made.
Spirituality is a process. Witchcraft is a journey, not a destination. There are many factors to consider when choosing a spiritual path. Witchcraft and Paganism are about devotion and practice. One cannot simply associate one’s self with this path, and call it their own. You must practice it. You must live the path each and every day.
The path of Wicca, Witchcraft, and Paganism is not about shock value. It is not about making your oppressive relatives angry or proving yourself different in mainstream society. Yes, by nature Witches and Pagans tend to go against the grain… but not always in the harshest ways. This path is about devotion. It is about finding a spiritual balance and focus that makes you a better person. It is about finding your place in the world. It is about living authentically.
Giving advice is not easy. I struggle to find the right words and points to make. When I started out on my path, many times I tripped over my own feet. I searched for answers, only to find that the very answers I sought were right in front of me the whole time. I hope that the advice and wisdom I share will help you and make the uncertainty of discovering and understanding esoteric knowledge more manageable.
Give yourself a break. There is a world of knowledge out there. Hell! There is a UNIVERSE of knowledge out there for you to discover. There is only so much you can learn and practice in one day, week, month, or year. Witchcraft is a path of dedication and education; you must be in it for the long haul if you are to gain the knowledge and experience you need.
Even after 25+ years of study and practice, I can only claim to have scratched the surface. Take a breath. Take it one day at a time – one week at a time – one month at a time and one year at a time. Through persistence and patience, you will find what you seek.
You are responsible for your education. Read, read, and when you think you have read everything you can – READ MORE. Then when you are done reading, take classes, attend workshops, public events, and so on.
Wicca, Witchcraft, and most forms of Paganism are intellectual paths. If you are not willing to read and educate yourself, this is not the path for you. Start with the basics; there are many excellent books for beginners. BUT don’t stop there. Move on to read about complicated theories, biographies, ancient texts, philosophy, principles, and so on. The content you read does not have to be directly related to your path. Read for the sake of gaining knowledge, and never stop learning.
Check out my recommended reading page for suggestions.
You must be able to laugh at yourself once in a while. If you are too serious, you are depleting your energy. Laughter and having a light heart will get you through the toughest of times. It will help you find purpose and fun in everything you do.
When things seem extra frustrating and challenging, take a step back and find something that will give you a good laugh. Maybe you act silly for a few minutes or watch a comedy… find something that makes you feel light.
Nature is our greatest teacher.
Take frequent walks outside, go hiking, collect natural things to which you feel connected. Place them on your altar. Walk on the earth in your bare feet. Sit quietly under a tree and listen. Honor nature every chance you get. Hug a tree. Smell the roses. Garden. Go camping… There are so many things you can do to connect with nature. Do the things you love often, and you learn what nature has to offer.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”
To become good at what you do, you must know your stuff. You can only gain knowledge and wisdom through educated and repeated practice. Doing something once does not make you a master. You will need to make your spiritual practice a daily habit. Do it again and again.
Witchcraft is a way of life. It is not something we dabble in or casually pay attention to… It is meant to be part of you who you are and the life you lead.
Personal conviction is unwavering. When we have this, we no longer need the approval of others, nor do we need to justify our actions or beliefs to others. This does not mean we “know it all.” Instead, it means we know what is intimately right for us. Personal convictions become our anchor in a sometimes a stormy sea.
As you walk in your convictions, remember to keep an open mind. What is right for you may not be right for me, and that is fine. Personal conviction is just that, personal. Yes, there will be times when someone is completely wrong about an idea or practice. This does not mean you need to eat them alive. Be gentle and help them understand the conflict or error of their knowledge. Also, don’t expect to change their mind simply because you say so. All you can do is help them understand through compassion, or keep your mouth shut and walk away. Forcing your truth or point of view on another never works.
I know I just touched on this, but I can’t stress this point enough. There are many views, people, and ideas in Wicca, Witchcraft, and Paganism. Some might challenge your beliefs or convictions – sometimes a little, and sometimes A LOT!
There is no one right road. There is no single path. Your path, although it may seem similar to someone else’s, is vastly different because it is your path. It is unfair to hold others to the same conditions, expeditions, limitations, rules, and standards you hold for yourself. The more we learn about our differences, the more we can grow to understand and appreciate one another.
To me, this is an essential quality of any student, practitioner, teacher, and, most of all, a good leader. I am not suggesting you have to dance around with rainbows and bubbles spewing out of your butt – I am saying you need to have compassion for those around you and for yourself. We already have too many critics in the world who strut their falsified perfection. Be different and be bold enough to extend your hand rather than your fist. This goes back to being open-minded. Help those in need and you will find something marvelous happens in return.
Don’t forget, while you show compassion for others, you matter too. Have compassion for yourself. Don’t beat yourself up because you didn’t get something right away or forgot to do something.
This can also be called professionalism. I am a huge believer in being professional. After all, there is a time and place for everything. This one is directly related to how you act and appear in the world. As a practitioner of Wicca, Witchcraft, and Paganism, you are the poster child for how others view us as a whole.
Showing respect should go without saying, but I find that this point must often be repeated. I know your mother or grandmother taught you basic manners, use them. It will not cost you anything, and you have everything to gain from using them. Make your ancestors proud and use the lessons they handed down to you.
There is a time and a place for everything. It is up to you to know when, where, and how.
Look at it this way; Nature is kind, she is also vicious. You must know when and where the appropriate attitude and actions apply. Be silly, be serious, be loud, be silent, be assertive, be gentle… just make sure you do all these things in the appropriate time and place.
Need an example? Cracking an inappropriate joke or making an insulting comment during a ritual is wrong, don’t do it. If you have to question if what you want to say is appropriate for the situation, you should probably keep it to yourself.
YES! Find someone with a good reputation in the community to help you learn. Learning on your own can only take you so far. You must, at some point, find a teacher who will take your practice to the next level.
There are many wise Pagans out there ready and willing to teach. Whether the teacher charges for his/her knowledge or not, find someone you trust and feel comfortable working with. Do your homework on this person, coven, or group. Interview the potential teacher(s), ask questions, and spend some time with them, so you know if you make the right fit.
One word of caution on this point. Beware of teachers who are overly charismatic and be especially wary of teachers and leaders who have not been trained by another. Learning from books will give you are a great foundation, but they do not make someone a leader or teacher. Make sure the leader you choose was formally trained by someone else who has a history in the community.
Read my post on finding a good teacher here.
There is an undeniable natural law out there called The Law of Equivalent Exchange that requires us to give something of value to receive something of value. What we give will determine the value of what we receive. If you are only willing to give a little, then you will receive something of equal value. This goes beyond what retailers and marketers have bastardized in our culture. But there is truth in, “You get what you pay for.”
Plainly said, without going into a full lesson on The Law of Equivalent Exchange, you MUST give something of value to receive something of equal value. There is no such thing as 100% free.
In our culture, the offering of money in exchange for products, knowledge, and service is a direct show of respect and value for the products and services you wish to receive. It is perfectly acceptable to pay for services that benefit you. Why? Because these things are benefiting YOU!
Also, paying for services like education makes it more likely that you will show up and be present. You will be less likely to make excuses and flake out on the material or presenter. After all, you want your money’s worth, right?
Here is another way to look at it. Money is energy; energy is Magick. The exchange of money demonstrates your dedication to your education and spiritual path. This sends a direct and clear message to the universe. When we pay for service, knowledge, and help, we are showing the universe that we are ready for the next level of wisdom and consciousness.
Another point to make here is that you don’t always have to shell out cash to show the universe your dedication. When we look at the traditional coven, we see this very clearly. Typically when you join a coven, you are required to work. Wicca and Witchcraft is not a practice you visit from the sidelines; instead, it is interactive. That means you need to be present and active for it to work.
Coven initiates and the like are required to spend their time and energy in return for their education. They must dedicate themselves to the path they are being taught. They are required to show up early and sometimes stay late. They help set up, tear down, decorate, hand out materials to other coven mates, and more.
They also may have to spend their time (away from their friends and family) outside the coven atmosphere studying specific limericks, guidelines, and other required educational materials expected for his/her advancement. In my coven, I expect everyone to play a part. It’s about creating a cohesive unit based on everyone within that unit having some form of ownership in the success of our goals.
When you are outside the coven environment, this kind of dedicated display (or payment for services rendered) becomes challenging. Perhaps when the opportunity allows, you can help spread the word about the particular teacher’s blog, speeches, forums, services, books, workshops, etc. Maybe you can help them clean up after a workshop or ritual. Perhaps you can offer a service where you are knowledgeable, like computer work or marketing.
When money is not an acceptable form of exchange, you can find other ways to show the value you place on your education. You may have to get creative, but the universe will know the energy you send forth and will reward you accordingly.
When you are looking to establish meaning and purpose in your Spiritual and Magickal path, you need to understand why you do what you do.
What drives you to be and do more? What meaning do your actions have? Why is this important to you?
Sit down with yourself and write a list of values you feel are important as they relate to your character and path. Get specific and fill your page with meaning.
Once you have your large list, then cut it down a little more. Pick out Your Core Values. The values that honestly hit home for you and have a genuine connection to your ideas and goals for your future. This shorter list will become your guidepost in all things. This list will help you determine if your actions are true to your path and personal convictions. Your core values will help you make tough choices and connect you to your authenticity.
Walk the talk! It’s as easy and that. When you are honest and dedicated to your path, this will not be hard to accomplish. That list of core values you narrowed down will have little meaning unless you follow a spiritual path that does not also value them.
When we follow a path that is filled with hypocrisy, our core values become ash in the mouth. Your list becomes meaningless. You will end up like many who say a lot without saying anything at all. The closest example I have are politicians. They use plenty of fluffy words, but these words are false when they lack conviction backed by action.
Balance is not something you attain once and keep forever. Balance is something you work to maintain daily, and some days, hourly. It is about checking in with yourself and deciding if things need adjusting. When we have too much turmoil and stress, we are imbalanced. So take note of your actions, feelings, and thoughts often.
Energy follows focus, and what consumes your thoughts will consume your life. Like an arrow being pulled back on a bowstring, our thoughts, emotions, and mental focus lead us to our next blessing or curse in life.
Keep your head in check. Don’t allow others to control your emotions, opinions, thoughts, or understanding.
Your energy will waver as soon as you do. Remember, Magick is energy, and you are the energy in your Magick. You must know yourself and know your practice to be successful. Confidence comes with education, experience, conviction, and practice. Some people seem automatically confident, others need a little push in the right direction. Where ever you fall on the scale is not important. What is important is how you feel about yourself and your ability. The more proficiency you gain the more confidence you will gain.
Take your fingers out of your ears and listen. *chuckle*
This is another critical element for being successful and dedicated to your practice. If you do not take care of you, who will? If you are constantly taking care of everyone one else, what is going to happen to your energy over time?
I guarantee you will be depleted, and you will not be effective in your workings. Then what is left? You will not be around to care for anyone, much less yourself. To perform well, you need to be well. Self-care is essential to the practice of Magick. You need to eat healthfully, get enough rest, drink healthy tea, take a break, and exercise daily. Alone time is critical in knowing you and replenishing your stressed-out mind. Take time for you and make sure you are healthy – mentally, emotionally, and physically. Or Mind, body & spirit.
I know I could say so much more, but I think this is enough for now. I hope you find my words and experience helpful! If you need more guidance, I am always available. Feel free to CONTACT ME if you have questions or need direction/clarification on anything.