So you are interested in witchcraft and you want to know how to become a witch? You might find yourself now asking “Where do I start?” Like all things, you start at the beginning. First, let’s clarify one thing: What is witchcraft?
Many people who are new to witchcraft ask what the differences are between being a witch, a pagan, and a Wiccan. It can get a little confusing when you’re first starting out to understand all of the lingo involved. Before I can explain the differences between all of these things, we must know the difference between a religion and a practice.
the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use.
repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.
By definition a practice is something you do. Where as religion is what you believe.
the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.
a particular system of faith and worship.
So, with this in mind we can now quickly discuss exactly what witchcraft is.
A witch is a practitioner of witchcraft, and witchcraft is a practice. A pagan is an old slang term for anyone who does not follow the Abrahamic religions. However, the term pagan is more commonly used to refer to the old religions or what we now call “mythology” since the origin of the word dates back to the early times of Christianity and was used to refer to “country folk” (in other words, those who had not yet converted to Christianity). Wicca is an Earth based religion that was founded in the first half of the 1900’s which believes in a God and Goddess. A Wiccan is someone who follows or believes in Wicca. There is much more to this religion, however this article is not for the discussion of Wicca, I simply want to outline these basics.
Note that a person can be a Wiccan witch, but they do not have to be. They can be a Wiccan and not practice witchcraft if they so choose, and one can be a witch and not be a Wiccan. It is your personal choice if you choose to incorporate religion into your practice.
Now that we have all of that out of the way, let’s talk about becoming a witch.
First and most importantly, anyone can be a witch. Witches are not just females. All sexes, genders, and races can be a witch if they choose to be. There are so many different types of witches in this world it would be futile to try and name them all here. Every practice is different but these steps will help to put you in the right direction.
Where To Start:
Your first step is to go back to the start of it all. No, not your childhood or any history of witchcraft, nothing quite that simple. Think of the beginning of the universe, what do you believe happened? How do you think it all went down? Was there a god involved or do you think it was the chaos of some particles colliding? Basically, do you believe in a god? If so, who are they? Is there more than one?
These questions are going to help you shape your path. If you don’t know how to answer these questions just yet my suggestion is to start reading up on religions and science. Start with what interests you the most. Understanding how you feel about the world around you and what you personally believe in is crucial to witchcraft. This will help to shape your path and will help you in your research. The most popular religion among witches is in fact Wicca and is where most witches get their start since information on witchcraft is often centered around Wiccan beliefs. I do encourage many new witches to read Wiccan books which are geared towards beginners since it can be a good stepping stone covering a lot of the basics, even if you do not believe in Wicca.
Take your time to answer these questions. This is the tough stuff but it sets the foundation for how you will conduct your practice. For me, personally, I do not believe in literal gods so my practice in witchcraft is primarily secular. It would be very difficult for me (and also insulting to others) to practice witchcraft while pretending to believe in a God or Goddess, asking for their guidance when I don’t even believe in them. However, if you do believe in a deity of some sort then you should take note of that and (if you choose) allow it to help you in your practice.
Get A Book of Shadows:
I think the first thing a new witch should do is to make a Book of Shadows (sometimes abbreviated as BoS). As a newbie you might feel intimidated by this or might feel like you need to “earn” the privilege of making one but I assure you that you will want to make one as soon as possible. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular, it can be just a simple spiral bound notebook you got at a dollar store or even just a notepad file on your computer. That being said, you can always feel free to decorate it as much as you want. It is your book, make it how you want it.
A Book of Shadows is basically a witch’s journal. A lot of people early on are confused by the difference between a Grimoire and a book of shadows, allow me to clear that air for you. A Grimoire is a reference book. Think of it like the typical “spell book” that a witch keeps, it contains ritual information, spells, recipes, potions, how to’s, and an index for various tools and sundries. The Book of Shadows, however, is very personal and while it may contain some of the same information as a Grimoire, it will also contain a witch’s thoughts and their observations. A Book of Shadows will show your growth as a witch through time and can help you on your path. Think of your Book of Shadows like your school notebook for your studies in witchcraft. You will find yourself writing notes in the margins and doodling and putting things out of order in your Book of Shadows, but that’s a good thing. Use your BoS to learn how to organize your thoughts, having a clear intention will be vital in the future as a witch.
A lot of new witches seem to get flustered about what the first page of their new BoS should be, I suggest you begin by writing about what you believe in, what drew you to witchcraft, what things would you like to learn more about, and what you hope to learn or accomplish through your practice. You can also get creative and add pictures of things that inspire you or draw a welcome page.
I have admit it is a bit of a pet peeve of mine when I see new witches asking questions that would have been easily answered for them by simply opening one book. It’s time to do your homework! Once you know, or at least have a rough idea, of the direction you want to go in now you can begin the real work. Just like any other subject, you must study. No one learns how to play an instrument in a day, witchcraft is no different. Again, it’s a practice and therefore you must be active.
Now, what if I told you that you could do one simple task and you could become a well educated witch in your leisure time and it’s totally free? Well, you can! Go get a library card. I realize that people think that the library is an outdated, boring thing when we have the internet but trust me on this one! I have a library card to multiple different branches in my area spanning 30 miles from my house just so that I can have access to as many different titles as possible without paying a penny. Of course, you can still do research on the internet but it’s very hard to find what you’re looking for if you don’t know what you’re looking for. I cannot stress enough how many great books are out there for beginners. Please, go to your local library and check out some books. Sit down with your favorite drink and snack and just read for a bit. This will help you immensely. There are a lot of books that even outline the different paths of Witchcraft. That alone can help you get a better sense of direction.
Meditation might seem like the simplest task you have but I assure you it will be one of the hardest at first. Unless you are used to meditation and quieting your mind you will find that getting to the place you want to be is harder than it seems. The whole goal is to clear your mind to where you are literally not thinking of anything. The issue here is getting your mind to shut the hell up. It wants to talk, and that is it’s purpose. Your brain will keep reminding you of things and your inner voice will keep coming up with things to talk about disrupting the quiet.
So what’s the secret to meditation? Let your mind talk. Sounds counterproductive but it’s true. Just like with people who can’t shut up, you just have to let your mind talk until it runs out of things to say. Your first few times doing this could take anywhere from 2 minutes to 2 hours. Everyone is different. Don’t feel bad if you do not get it right away. Clearing your mind takes practice but it’s necessary. In witchcraft you might have heard a lot of people talking about setting your intentions and focusing your energy, this must all be done with a clear mind or else your rituals or spells will not have the same power or impact. There’s an old tale about how the recipe for turning lead into gold involved stirring all the ingredients together in a pot without thinking of a specific word, (I was once told that word was hippopotamus) but of course now that you are told not to think of that word it is all you will think about which is why no one had succeeded in turning lead into gold. Witchcraft is sort of like that, if you’re trying to cast a spell to protect your home but you’re too busy thinking of all the shopping you have to do outside of your home, well that’s not going to get you anywhere. Learn to let go of all your thoughts and worries for a new moments in time. Quiet your mind. Figure out what steps you need to take to reach that place of silence, write it down. Eventually you will get better at it and faster too.
Seriously, this is the first big hurdle in practicing witchcraft. Focusing your mind on your intentions takes practice and meditation is one of the best ways to help you with that. Don’t get discouraged if you struggle with this! Even some of the most experienced witches will have days that they just can’t quiet their minds. Sometimes you’re just going to have too much to think about and it’s okay.
Connect With The World Around You:
Part of being a witch is being present and mindful. I think if you ask most witches how they reconnect, clear their minds, and open themselves up to magic they will probably tell you to take a hike, literally. Go out in nature, even if it’s just some tiny park. Try sitting in nature in silence and just listen. Look around and see all the life surrounding you. Pay attention to all the things you normally over look, like the ants on the ground.
If you have pets, spend some time with them. Observe their behaviors and really get to know them on a personal level. Do some of the things they enjoy doing like going on a walk or get their favorite toy and play with them.
Once you’re comfortable connecting in quiet spaces, try to connect to more busy locations like a local coffee shop or a shopping center. Just sit and be. Feel the energy around you.
Don’t stop journaling. Write it down. Your BoS will be your best friend. Take notes, address them later. Ask yourself questions that you can answer in the future. Do what works best for you. If that means taking pictures of things, then do it. There is no limit.
Try saying things out loud, it’s amazing how strange things can feel when you actually say them. Even just saying “Hello, my name is XXX and I am a witch” can have quite an impact on your life. Many witches struggle to come out of the broom closet and never vocalize their believes or practices to anyone, get it out of the way and just be comfortable with saying it to yourself for now. If you believe in a god(s) or goddess(es), get used to talking to them. Say hello! They won’t bite. . .I mean, at least I hope they won’t. Get comfortable with your new path, after all you’re going to be on it for a long time.
Another Witchy Wednesday post will be available July 25th where I will talk more about witchcraft related topics. You can check my series calendar for a full list of posting dates and series information.