February 22, 2005

Witchcraft 101: So Ya Wanna be a Witch?

Yes, I know, I know... I've already explained that I'm not a witch, haven't I? So what am I doing posting about a Neopagan website dedicated to becoming just that? Aren't I being a hypocrite? Or at the very least showing that I'm downright confused and in no position to give advice?

Of course, I will be the first to admit that I am far from an authority on these matters (is anyone!?). I am still deeply in the process of learning and growing. I'm still doing research and going "back to the basics" again and again, reminding myself of my purpose along this path, my hopes and goals for the future, and the vast distance I have yet to journey. Part of continued research is not only rummaging the dark recesses of my college library for relevant scholarly books, but also includes the occasional foray back into the wonderful World-Wide Web to see what new and helpful sites I can dig up. The Witches' Voice Witchcraft 101 four-part series is just such a site, and I would like to share it with you today!

Before I move on, I would also like to suggest Rawna's Seeker's Introduction to
Norvicensian Christian Witchcraft, outlining a year and a day of suggested
monthly exercises for those interested in the path, as well as The Catholic
Craft's article, Where Do I Begin?, which also has some useful advice.

Although Witchcraft 101 is meant (a) almost exclusively for people pursuing Wicca and/or Neopaganism, and furthermore (b) largely for those interested in seeking out covens within said religions, I find that it's suggestions, advice, and the questions raised in its pages relevant and helpful for anyone seeking to explore her chosen spiritual path. Notice how, as with Rawna's "course" in Christian witchcraft, this beginner's introduction is full of cautions to take things s-l-o-w. Thoroughly research, examine and contemplate all aspects of the path, and avoid making rash judgments, commitments or declarations or loyalty or devotion which might cause future difficulties.

While this advice most obviously applies to seeker's entering into groups, it is good advice for anyone, even someone approaching the work as a solitary and telling no one about it. Part of understanding ritual and magic is realizing that the actions we take in the physical world have effects in the spiritual and psychic world, and so too do those actions which we take spiritually or psychically affect our physical lives in very real ways. No dedication of one's heart is to be made lightly, since these are not merely words, but actions in themselves. Just as naming a child is not just a description of an action, but the act of naming itself, so too is a dedication not simply a casual way of talking, but a sacred act with important consequences. As these websites point out, it is always wise to take the traditional learning-period--a year and a day--at least before officially "converting" to a particular religious path. This is just as true for the Craft as it is for Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, or any other major religion (even if we recognize the Craft as a way of being religious rather than a religion per se).

The advice to work gradually, step-by-step, from reading and questioning, to the practice itself, is perhaps the most valuable that any of these pages has to offer. However, there are other jewels, too. If you're looking for more specific ideas about what kinds of questions to ask, which books to read (WitchVox says: all of them!), what kinds of tools to begin collecting and when, and how to incorporate monthly and yearly rhythms into your spiritual awareness, this is perhaps one of the best places on the web to find some answers, or at least plenty of insightful suggestions. Reading this four-part series will also leave you with a great deal of respect for anyone who commits to truly following this path with diligence and enthusiasm.


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