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Article Specs

Article ID: 2190

VoxAcct: 1509

Section: words

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 7,725

Times Read: 32,116

Advice for Beginners

Author: Moonspider [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: August 30th. 1998
Times Viewed: 32,116

Beginners, you are about to embark on what may be the most important journey of your life. To you, I say, "Welcome. Be joyful on this road, for it has chosen you, and only special few are chosen. This is a powerful journey that may save your life; indeed it has my own, many times. Many blessings be with you on this magical journey."0">What is your best piece of advice for those just starting out?

To those just starting out -- read, read, read, and when you're eyes go buggy, rest them a minute, then read some more. Many wonderful books, magazines and web pages exist for you today, explore them. Remember, this is your journey and you must take active responsibility for it. There is literally a plethora of information out there available to you, and much at little or no cost to you.

Some may start by using the KIS method. Keep it simple. Choose one author, or one topic at a time, and methodically read and work it. Really study it and work the methods suggested. Submerge yourself in it. Get really acquainted with techniques, keep what works and discard the rest. Then go on to the next author or topic.

When you are called, and yes, I mean called by the Goddess, you will be guided. This path is not for everybody, and many may explore its ways and then choose to go elsewhere. When Goddess chooses you, the feeling will be very different. Either way inner guidance will show you the way.

Tools are lovely, but remember they are just that tools. You are the magic. The Witch is the magic. More magic exists in your mind and your own finger than any hand-crafted, solid (insert the metal (or wood) of your choice), jewel encrusted do-dad that you can buy at any price. Are they nice? Of course. But, I'll match any found twig wand's magic against any $2, 000 one any day. Pagan artisans do create beautiful tools, but the beginner need not spend oodles of money to work well on this path.

Your tools will be presented to you as you need them, and at the right price. It will be like the floodgates have opened. You will find the shop that you never knew existed. You will find a teacher, etc. You will find out that people you've been dealing with are Witches. And each are as varied as there are numbers of grains of sand. Your first teacher may not be the only teacher, so keep and open mind. And you may get the answers from unlikely sources, so discount nothing. Listening in the very beginning is vital.

As time goes on, keep notes and then question, question, question. Accept nothing at face value. Remember that this is more than just a religion, its a way of life. This is a very important road to travel, and you are in the driver's seat.

Ritual is lovely, but its only part of the Craft. Some people get stuck on ritual -- getting it right. Don't worry about the mechanics. It will come. Ritual is like riding a bike, or any new task, it gets easier with practice. Remember, its only a part of the Craft. Until, I had students some years back, I did very little physical ritual. Because of living arrangements, most of the ritual I performed took place in my head. Did it make me less of a Witch? No. Did it make my magic less effective? No. Different strokes for different folks as they say. Witches are the most adaptable and creative people I've ever met. How do you think we've survived through time!?

Mistakes, will you make 'em? You betcha. Like anything they should be learned from; they are tools, too. Actually, this is important in any area of life, not just the Craft. Not only will you learn from them (hopefully), but you will then have a knowledge base that you can draw from when you become teachers. Yes, that is how we grow, the young'ens will become teachers eventually. Its simply a natural progression.

Elders -- listen to them. They have a body of knowledge -- experience, and that you just can't buy, or read, its earned. Just like parents, they've been around the block and know a thing or two. And sometimes they need to tell you things that you don't want to hear (many times for your own good).

It bothers me when I hear young folks criticize elders, especially with erroneous data. Or, those they've never met, or even read their work. Come on folks, get real here. Our computer age has added to this dilemma. Almost anyone can be an expert -- NOT! As was mentioned earlier, read and question. Just because you found it on the Web or written in a book for that matter, doesn't make it so.

Remember, that teachers (elders) are people too, and aren't perfect. Our country is prone to hero worship, and it can be devastating to some when they find out their Śguru' is human. At times you will learn more from a bad teacher, or experience, than a good one. Its extremely helpful to know what not to do, as it is what to do. This all helps build your knowledge base.0">What was the best piece of advice or wisdom that you have ever received?

Know why you are doing what you are doing. Very simple. This does play off much of the above. You do not need toys. They are fun, but you don't need them. You are the magic, you are the tool. Many times I feel my best magic's come from when I am sitting on the edge of my bed, with my eyes closed, and performing the perfect ritual in my head. Solitaries are no less Witches than our covened brethren. On the other hand, public ritual is nice and fun for we are social creatures. Its great to join in with those of like mind from time to time.

If asked to do anything illegal or immoral, run. Oprah Winfrey has a saying with problems, you usually get a pebble before you get the brick. Beware teachers who push toys (I mean tools), or who charge exorbitant fees for training. If classes are held in a shop, the proprietor pays rent, and are providing a service to you, so some form of remuneration should be expected. Remember, you're asking someone to share their knowledge with you that they earned. And, you will pay more attention to it, if you have to pay for it. Some of the poorest things come to you on a silver platter. Listen to your inner voice in all matters, it won't let you down.

Enjoy the journey, don't rush it. You don't have to get everything right, right away. This is a lifelong journey, not a 6 week course and your done. Take your time. Enthusiasm is one thing, but rushing is unneccessary.

If you could tell a beginner only one thing, what would it be?

Trust yourself. This goes from choosing a teacher, to performing magic. Take nothing at face value, if it doesn't feel right, don't do it. Its that simple. Nothing should be forced. Does this mean the Craft will be smooth sailing? Hardly. You will be tested, Goddess knows, but never before you are ready. Remember, without conflict there can be no growth. Witchcraft is not static, it grows and evolves.

One last piece of advice would be to check out all the goodies available to you right here at The Witches' Voice. This is simply one of the best sites for Witches and Pagans anywhere. But, since you're reading this piece on that site you already know that. Many blessings on your journey.



Location: Bridgeport, Connecticut

Author's Profile: To learn more about Moonspider - Click HERE

Bio: Mark ŚMoonSpider' Sosnowski, has been on this path most of his life. Life has dealt him many twists and turns, and usually says he came into the Craft through the back door. He loves books and reading and makes his living as a librarian. Numerology is his main form of divination having worked it for over 15 years. But, his Gemini mind, never at rest, has studied astrology, crystals, runes, I ching and whatever else strikes his fancy.

Hi! You're New Here!

by Karl Lembke

Some thoughts for the newcomer to Paganism, Wicca or the Craft, in no particular order:

First of all, welcome! We, in the Neo-Pagan community don't go out looking for converts, so all newcomers have come to us because they've found our path attractive. In fact, those who have come to this path have universally described the experience as one of "coming home", so welcome home! And wipe your feet!

A few words of warning are in order for the newcomer, though. As a newcomer to the Craft, you will find yourself basking in the warmth of your new home and the love of your fellow Pagans. This is great! You've found a very generous, supportive and loving group. But there are a few things the newcomer should be aware of.

For one thing, as a newcomer to the Craft, you will feel wonderful, and filled with love for the entire universe. The universe doesn't necessarily feel the same way about you. Many times, the universe sees someone who has set foot on the Pagan path, and says, "you've just declared yourself ready to learn and grow. Here's your first lesson!" And your first lesson is delivered right into your face.

The first lessons often have to do with love and trust. "Perfect love and perfect trust" does not mean total love and trust. It means that degree of love and trust which is appropriate to the person and the situation. Just because you've become a Pagan, don't allow anyone to tell you you've given up your right to make sure someone's trustworthy before placing anything important in his hands. There are people in the community who will play on the theme of "perfect love and perfect trust" to manipulate others to their will. We have bad apples in the Pagan community because we're human beings. These bad apples are very few in number, but they can cause harm far out of proportion to their number.

There are many paths in the Pagan community, including secret orders, lodges, temples and initiatory traditions. Each of these may have oaths you will be required to take, and secrets you will be required to keep. These groups have their advantages, the main one being structure. When you follow the path delineated by an established group, you will have some idea what lessons are coming your way, and you can better prepare yourself to deal with them. But not all groups are reputable. You should never be made to feel uncomfortable in any group. You should never be forced to do anything you find unethical or demeaning. Perfect love and perfect trust does not mean you turn your life and will over to anyone else, even to someone with a grand title and lots of followers.

Reach out and get to know as many different people in the Pagan community as you can. The more people you know, the more people you can talk to, the more perspective you can tap whenever you have doubts about any person or group. If you have a number of contacts in the community, you will always have someone you can ask about any ethics and practices you find questionable. No reputable group will insist that you cut yourself off from your roots, or pull your branches in away from the air and light of the world.

Read books by as many different authors as you can. Don't assume that what's in Starhawk's book, or Scott Cunningham's book, or even my book, is the only way. Most of us joined Paganism to get away from Fundamentalism and sola scriptura. We don't need these beliefs popping up in our own religion. Also, the more you read, the more easily you will be able to spot those people who may be in Paganism for personal gain.

Practice what you read. Do some magic every day. Do at least a little something to observe the moons and the festivals. Don't wait until you're perfect; perfection will never come unless you get started. Don't wait until you understand the mysteries. The mysteries will only reveal themselves to you if you do the craft.

There is no secret key. No one group has the Ultimate Answer. You have entered a path which leads to wisdom, enlightenment and understanding, but you have to walk it yourself. You will have lots of company, but no group, and no author, can carry you to the end of the path. You will have to do your own work, and you will never feel ready until after you've started.

Every now and then, Pagans will disagree. We're all unique individuals, and some of us are more unique than others. Sometimes, people will take these disagreements personally, and the debate can flare up into a Witch War. Witch Wars are very exciting. They offer the opportunity to join a Cause, and fight on the side of Truth, Justice and Right. Be very sure you hear both sides of the story before you get involved in a Witch War. Sometimes the first person to talk to you about a situation isn't the one telling the truth.

One of the most important virtues of Paganism is tolerance. This is also one of the hardest virtues to practice. It's easy to be tolerant of things you agree with, but many's the time you'll find yourself being quite intolerant of things which deserve tolerance.

Many newcomers to the Craft have had negative experiences with Christianity. As a result, they harbor a great deal of anger toward Christians and toward Christianity in general. Not all Christians are intolerant Bible-thumpers. Many Christians are wonderful people, secure enough in their faith to allow others to believe differently. The basic ideals of Christianity, including "love one another", "do as you would be done by", and the virtues of faith, hope and charity, are very compatible with Pagan religion. Groups like the Promise Keepers advocate treating the women in your life with honor and respect, and reaching out to those who are different and who have traditionally been excluded. We as Pagans should certainly be tolerant of those who do good, no matter what god they worship.

Isn't that what we ask of them?

Karl's PaganPage: Karl Lembke is a 37 year old Wiccan who began exploring the Pagan Path at age 12. Formally initiated twelve years ago, he has continued to explore the basic truths in all religions. Among his many projects, he is working on an extensive commentary on the Wiccan Rede, a first draft of which may be found on his web page. Mundanely, Karl works for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and lives in the highlands of Tujunga, a thriving Pagan community.

Be thou gray -- walk between the shadows and the light, - Karl

Am I a Witch?
by Cosmic Solution (Cossie)

Have you read all those books that people recommended to you? Good. Have you tried a few basic spells? Wonderful. Still wondering if you're really cut out for this nature-based religion thing? Thought so.

It isn't as hard as people might make it out to be actually. Great mystic moments where the universe reveals itself to you aren't required. If you were going to wait for one you'd be sitting around for a long time hoping for something that might never come, so it might be good to give up on that idea for a little while.

But then what do you do? Well I suppose you haven't figured it out yet then have you? Oh don't worry, it's not as much of a problem as it may seem, I have a few spare minutes and if you do to then pull up a chair and I'll explain.

You see, in earth religions there's a bit of a duality. Sure, we might use fancy tools, and expensive incenses and essential oils, but that isn't all of it. Way back when the way things are now were only a dream of the future the village wise women used whatever was available to them. There were no mass-production factories churning out incense for them and they didn't get a catalog in the mail offering the latest in scented candles. Herbs were gathered in the time of year that they grew, or not at all...

What's that you say? Ah, you don't think that's important to you because we have grow lamps and indoor heating... Well that's where you're missing the most important thing. You see, when we use those things, the plants are made to live by our schedule instead of us going out and learning about theirs.

Understand that much? Great, that's only part of it, but an important part. So let's continue... Everything in nature religions tends to be centered on the rhythms of nature. When many people write a ritual they'll think of what season and moon phase and maybe even day of the week it should be done during.

The cycles that we look at for this have nothing to do with the weather inside your house or under your grow lamps. The important thing is what's happening outside, what the earth is doing, whether the ground is covered in a carpet of grass or a layer of snow. If you want to know whether a nature religion is good for you, you have to think about whether these natural cycles mean anything to you.

Wait! Don't leave yet, I'm not quite done explaining. Okay, you may think that this all sounds like nonsense, and that there's no possible way of making use of it, but before we're done today I'll have given you one very easy way to try out.

Here's what you should do: Wait till a nice night, comfortable temperature, clear sky, moon high above. Turn out the lights in your house, go outside, and just sit for a while. Don't try to do anything in particular, just sit and listen to the night and look at the stars, and come inside whenever you feel ready.

What you really need to ask yourself about this experiment is what did it make you feel? How does the night affect you?

What's so important about this? Okay, okay, I'm getting there. You see, if you felt nothing, absolutely nothing, then you might want to start looking at non-nature religions. Yes, there are some that use magick and all that so don't worry too much.

No, this doesn't mean that you can't possibly become a wonderful member of one of the many religions that celebrate the seasons. What is does mean, is that if you're sure that's the way you want to go, you need to start spending some time getting in tune with what you're celebrating. Otherwise, most of your religion will be focusing on something that really means nothing to you.

Understand now? Good.

(If anyone wants to post this elsewhere or request an essay on another topic please contact Cossie.)

TeenGrove. About to enter her senior year of high school, her schedule is monstrous enough that she's open to offers of asylum from any understanding foreign countries.

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