One question that just about everyone has ever asked in the online forums is this one: “Hi! I’m new to Wicca and I just started. What do I do now?”
The slew of answers that the questioner will get will generally boils down to one word: “Read”.
Believe it or not, gaining knowledge is about 60% of what you have to do in this case, beginning on this path. The rest is actually practicing and getting the practical knowledge under your brain and in your fingers. But reading and gaining knowledge is the primary thing you have to be doing.
Why? Most people who start in Wicca or any esoteric path have a basis in their faith that they grew up with; most likely (at least in the United States) that faith is Christianity. Because of this, there is a lot of dogma and information that one must gain during the first little bit of the Path, and that requires study.
So the first thing is to read. Read whatever you can about Wicca and Paganism. Read about New Age mysticism. Read about Hindu beliefs, read the Buddhist philosophy. Read the Koran. Read the Bible. Read.
What you are doing is taking in knowledge.
I need to tell you that there is a split in the thoughts at this point. Many teachers feel that you must be very careful about what you read, since there is so much misinformation out there.
I actually advocate a different approach. I feel that taking in information is a good thing, even the bad info. But there is a HUGE caveat to that statement; you must temper that intake with some work. The work you must do is to check references that the books cite. If this author says that all vampires have purple noses, then believe them and look and read the references they cite saying so. Check out those books that he used to compile his information from and make sure that he cited it accurately. If they cite no references, then check out books on vampires and vampire legends and read them, just to make sure.
When that author is caught lying about the purple noses, you will still have learned something. You would have learned to be discriminatory and you will be “calibrating your bullshit meter”. You will have learned what well crafted bull is reading like, and you will have learned how to catch people when they tell you a lot of bunk. You will also be able to tell the difference between sweet sounding nothings like a lot of authors put out there, and what really is true, due entirely to your research.
Believe it or not, this is EXACTLY how every Craft Elder started out and what they do continually. We read, we study and we read references. I do this all the time, even going back and reading books that I know intimately, because there are times when I have learned even more from those books. Then I read what are called the “primary sources” which talk about the information first. These are the references that were written that every person who writes on this topic uses.
An example of a primary source would be the works of Albert Einstein when talking about the Theory of Relativity. He came up with the concept and wrote a lot down about it. He was the first to think of this theory; therefore his writings carry a lot of weight when dealing with this topic. So anyone else who writes on the Theory of Relativity usually references and cites Einstein in their writings. The same holds true for psychologists and Sigmund Freud.
So a “primary source” for Wiccans would be the writings of Gerald Gardner, Alexander Sanders, Raymond Buckland and many others who created and taught about Wicca when it was young. They would be the ones you would read when someone is talking about what Wicca is and what it was like.
And from there you read the sources they used. For instance, the Farrars cite Gardner, Dion Fortune, witch hunt trial documents and many other sources like it in their book “A Witches’ Bible”. So, you read those references they cite and gain more knowledge. Then you keep doing so until you keep finding the same information over and over.
At that point, if twenty works say that Vampire’s noses are flesh colored, you know that anyone that says differently is either lying or they are deluded. BUT, you have to approach their statement with an open mind, and you should consider that if they have a compelling enough argument and can prove their ascertations their statement could be true.
For example, as close as 20 years ago, everyone knew that there was a huge Goddess worshiping matriarchy in prehistoric Europe. They all worshiped the Goddess and they all didn’t care where children came from since they were gifts of the Goddess. There was no male deity, and men were the second class citizens.
But, these days, that is becoming a myth. More and more solid research and archeological evidence points to there being a more egalitarian society, rather than a matriarchical one. It may be that matrilineal inheritance was more common (since it’s very easy to know who your mother is, but it’s not always evident who your father is) but that does not mean that everyone worshiped a goddess to the exclusion of the God. But if you read only the old texts which say that the Goddess was all, you will miss the advances in knowledge that is happening now.
See, this is where you come in. You are the next generation of Witches and Wiccans. You are responsible for taking the Craft and moving forward to the next level. But you can’t do that if you only read the old texts and never challenge it. That is why you must approach this stuff with an open mind.
The other 40% of your new faith? That is the actual doing. Learning and researching is good, but all that with no practical experience is nearly useless. The next step is to take what you have learned and actually put it into a practice, to actually do what you have been studying up to this point.
This is where it helps to have a teacher who can tutor and supervise you, but solitary Witches don’t always have someone they can count on to fill this role. But they still manage to put things into practice. They do this by using the same approach they used for researching. They take what they know, what they have studied, and they try things until they have a system that works for them. Some are very comfortable with a rigidly defined system and they will use only that system, but others take a bit from this tradition, some from that tradition, mix in elements in from still other places. This is called being eclectic, and when using this approach of study and reading all you can, you mix and match only with knowledge and with respect.
This process should take you about 5 years, really. I know most students will want to be done in a year or two, but unfortunately, in this case, taking a longer time is MUCH better. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can simply spend a few months reading a dozen or so books, it takes time to understand this huge amount of information and to integrate it into your psyche and spirit, to be able to develop a practice out of it that means something to you.
Five years would be a good start in my book. If I had someone who I was talking to who told me that they had been actively studying Wicca and such primary sources for that amount of time, I would be very impressed.
At that point, you can start sharing your knowledge with others, and more importantly, you will understand the Elders who taught you.
Also understand that you never stop learning. I still read, I still find information in topics I thought I had exhausted. I still find good references, and I still challenge the knowledge I have. It’s important to do so. Also it is a GOOD THING to ask questions.
So go to those forums you haunt and ask questions about labyrinths and a labrys, or practical experiences with a familiar or with a friend who isn’t Wiccan. Ask about how to integrate your spirituality with your mundane life. Ask why people don’t like the term “muggle”.
But don’t come into a forum and ask questions like how to cast a Circle, since that will be answered by any of the reading on Wicca you do.
Where do you get this information to read? Libraries, the Internet, friends, metaphysical stores and so on. Your best bet is the library and the Internet. There is a lot of good information out there and a lot of pitiful information too. So trust sources that scholars use, library references, places like Project Gutenberg, and so on. Ask questions of your friends and those on forums about this author or that website and find who they think is good and who is bad.
Hopefully this article will help you start on this path, and give you the tools enough to be able to follow it throughout your life.
Originally posted 2015-06-10 11:43:46. Republished by Blog Post Promoter