Wicca is often lovingly called “the old religion” by those who practice it. Although it is by far the longest existing belief system on the planet, Wicca has faced more than its fair share of perversion over the years. It used to be that simply calling oneself a Wiccan was the same thing as signing a death sentence. The sanctimonious seventeenth century persecutions that look place in Salem, Massachusetts, for example, resulted in hundreds of dead men, women, and children. Luckily, modern society in general is not only becoming more accepting of this ancient life path, but they are also beginning to see the value in it.
A proper education on how to practice Wicca requires a deep love for the craft as well as a firm commitment to discovery. It is not going to be easy, and what you see “witches” do on TV and in movies is not what you should expect. In reality, being Wiccans can be summed up as having an understanding of the natural cycles and properties of Earthly and celestial entities; and it includes the eventual ability to manipulate your surroundings in certain ways. Although a true understanding and practice of the craft is much more involved than that, grasping the basic premise can help you get a better start.
Practicing Wicca correctly and responsibly is easiest when you follow some sort of workable timeline. As a practicing Wiccan who also teaches the craft to curious newbies, I have found that it is best to follow these 5 steps:
1. Learn the History and Philosophy of the Craft
You might be surprised by what you will learn about Wicca when you actually take some time to find accurate information. Trying to follow the right life path means exploring what other belief systems have to offer (or not). When you learn the history and philosophy of Wicca you will then begin to realize how mislead you have been about the lifestyle, and then you will gain more confidence about your decision. On top of that, you will also gain a better understanding of whether or not Wicca is the right path for you. I particularly liked the book “Witchcraft Today” by Gerald Gardner because it gave me a great synopsis of the true story.
2. Pick a Denomination
Just like nearly every other religion, Wiccans have customized their respective crafts to better fit their personal needs. The best part about Wicca is that, if this is done right, little to nothing is lost from the actual belief system by doing so. There are several different denominations of Wicca, and as of 2008 there are more than 682,000 admitted practicing Wiccans in the United States.
In fact, Wicca is now a lawfully recognized religion, giving practitioners more freedom than ever before. Picking a denomination is your chance to discover like-minded people who share your specific beliefs. In fact, you don’t even have to pick a denomination, as Wicca allows you to be a solitary practitioner after you’re done learning (if you so choose).
3. Do Some Homework
You are going to have to find some literature and get used to the idea of reading. Being a practicing Wiccan requires a lot of research and note taking, at least at first. A good place to start is with the book “The Complete Book of Witchcraft” by Raymond Buckland. In this work you will learn all about the details of ceremonies and rituals, as well as find instructions on how to set up and even construct your own materials. It is conveniently divided into individual lessons to give you an organized and digestible guide to practicing the craft.
4. Start Gathering Supplies
Once you have done some homework you will need to start building your witch’s cupboard. Inside, you will be placing all sorts of herbs, stones, divination tools, incense, and talisman. Don’t expect to find everything you need right away, but don’t hesitate if you’re serious about the craft. You can pick out your items one at a time and create an altar as you go. I really like getting my supplies from White Magick Alchemy. The site has a really varied inventory and even features handy kits too. Remember though, you are going to have to personalize your main altar items, so make sure you get things that you are willing to use for a while.
5. Go through the Four Stages
The number four will come up a lot when you begin practicing Wicca, and your journey towards being an adept is going to be no exception. You will most likely be required to go through the four main steps of initiation before you can technically call yourself a witch. Those steps are as follows:
- The Apprentice: where you cannot participate in rituals or ceremonies, but you can be present to observe and take notes.
- The Initiate: where you are initiated as a student of the craft and you begin slightly participating in common ceremonies and rituals while building your own Book of Shadows.
- The Path-Walker: where you participate heavily in ceremonies and rituals but you are not allowed to lead them, as you are mainly focused on perfecting your personal divination skills.
- The Adept: where you are a master of your divination and a leader of most ceremonies and rituals. You are also responsible for teaching new apprentices.
Putting it all Together
If all else fails, you can always get in contact with a Wiccan group in your area. It may be difficult to find, since Wicca is still a rather controversial topic in most circles. If you remain open-minded, positive, and respectful of others you will most likely find what you are looking for without much trouble.
At the end of the day, you can learn everything you need to know by simply reading some well-written literature, going through the appropriate motions, and listening to your own instincts. Remember, the word “Wicca” literally means “wise one,” so be sure that you exude that persona at all times while calling yourself a witch. It’s time for the ignorant misconceptions to stop.