Maybe you’ve been googling things about witchcraft and found a path to your liking. Or you enjoy the spiritual aspect behind one of the traditions and want to add that to your practice. You may have found some spellbooks in your local bookstore and want to try magick out. Regardless of how it happened, you’ve been thinking about being a witch in a serious way. But as you start googling and looking into the literature to learn, you realize how much there is and don’t even know where to start. Or what would work best for you. Here are some tips on what to think about as you start your journey.
Religion vs. Eclectic
More often than not, when you hear about witchcraft and people who practice it in popular culture, it is using Wiccan ideologies and practices. Wiccan traditions make up a good amount of the western witchcraft traditions you can follow. Some of the more well-known ones include Alexandrian and Gardnerian. Beyond Wicca, there are other religious traditions common within witchcraft such as Celtic, Faeri and Satanism. Some have similar beliefs and reids, others have a structure that applies to their practice and theirs alone. And even beyond that, there are several other religious traditions from around the world such as Hoodoo and Jewitchery. There are hundreds to choose from. Following a religious path may mean you want to worship or follow the path of a deity. Deities such as the Horned God, Mother Goddess, Druid gods, Kali, etc. And with worshipping a deity, there may be celebrations related to them or rituals you can perform.
Along with that, a decent amount of religious traditions involve groups like covens. And within those covens, there can be rules about how to practice, how to rise within the ranks, and how to properly celebrate and practice your tradition. Covens can be great if you are looking for guidance and teachers in regards to your practice. Look into the official guidelines of that coven to see how you may be able to join. Be aware, some are closed and don’t accept members unless they are hereditary witches or have someone to vouch for them. Following a religious path may bring you the spiritual fulfillment you are looking for. And give you someone or something to look to in times of need. If that brings you peace, all power to you! Just find a religious tradition that aligns with who you are and what you need.
On the flip side of things, you may have no interest in religion. That’s totally fine. And there are many traditions out there for you that you can practice if you are looking for something with a solid structure. Such as Green, Cabot, Hedge or Kitchen Witchcraft. Or if you want to build your own, that had become more commonly known as Eclectic witchcraft. Meaning there is no set religious affiliation or practices, and you are working with what works best for you. Many witches have followed this model, and there are many resources out there that talk about how that philosophy works in practice. A great book to check out is City Magick, by Christopher Penczak. That is not to say you can’t observe some of the practices of traditions that are more religiously affiliated, just work around the religious part and mainly work with the practices and how to perform them. It really comes down to what makes you most comfortable.
There are witches across the world who practice a tradition that is set within their own culture. Such as Brujería, Hatali, the Witchery Way, Makutu, Shinto and more. Do some research or your heritage and the forms of witchcraft-related to them, and see what you find. Doing so can bring you a sense of spiritual fulfillment as you practice your craft. And bring you closer to other witches in your community in ways you have never known.
Now more than ever, we need to be conscious of cultures that are not our own and respecting the boundaries that come with it. The best thing we can do as not only witches, but as people is to be respectful. If a tradition is based in a culture that you are not a part of, you need to acknowledge that and find another one that works for you. But learn from these witches, and see what their traditions entail. But be conscious of the deep spiritual meaning behind their practices, and how they are sacred to those people.
Tools and Practices
There are a lot of tools a witch can use. And all can be used or related to specific practices and beliefs. Such as using runes for divination practices, using crystals to heal emotional wounds, using your boline to cut your herbs as you dry them out for a potion or smoke cleansing ritual. The list goes on and on. You don’t need them all of course. Get those that work best for what you are interested in, and over time you’ll start to see it all come together and you’ll have everything you need at your disposal to practice efficiently.
One tool everyone should not go without are books and other witchcraft-related literature. It is the BEST way to learn what you need and want. Find authors that share your outlook and see what they recommend. And even look into those who don’t align, and see what they use their tools for and see how that compares. And after all that, find a space in your home that you can practice safely and feels like a calming space for you. Keep your tools here so it can all have a home and a source of magick. Some may call this an altar, others may call it a workbench or workspace, call it whatever sounds right to you. Just make it your own and enjoy the work you perform on it.
Don’t Overthink It
No matter what anyone says, there is no right way to be a witch. Some may have a tradition that is very strict and they believe is the only path, but that simply isn’t true. This is about you and what you want. Something in you knows that you enjoy witchcraft and what it provides. There is a deep and detailed history of witchcraft there are infinite paths you can take. So don’t worry about finding the right way to do something. The best thing you can do is be true to yourself and what you want. And take whatever parts of witchcraft align with that. You can do this!