For the Beginner Pagan, Wiccan, & Witch: Tips & Resources to Get Started
A question that is asked often in the pagan community is, “how do I become Wiccan/Witch/Pagan?” And while there are literally hundreds of online resources and books, the beginner pagan is seemingly more confused than ever. I receive emails every day on this exact topic. So, to simplify it for you and for me, I decided to write out all of my advice in one place. Here’s where to start in Wicca, Witchcraft, and Paganism, including beginner witchcraft books, pagan books, Wicca resources and simple steps to get you started on your unique pagan path.
For Beginners: Wicca, Witchcraft, & Paganism
- Read & Study: Books and Online Resources
- Keep a Record: A notebook or journal serves as grimoire or Book of Shadows
- Get Outside
- Practice: moon ritual, meditation, celebrate sabbats, divination
- Altar Set Up: free & cheap ideas, tools, etc.
1. Read & Study
You might be tired of being told this, and I know it’s beaten into people’s heads when they first start out, but there’s a reason. Wicca, witchcraft, and paganism are separate (but sometimes combined) spiritual paths, and therefore you need to read to determine what’s what as far as the basics go. If you come to a FaceBook group or live coven and ask what’s the difference between Wicca, Witchcraft, and Paganism, they’ll almost always tell you that you haven’t done enough preliminary research. The information is out there. I promise. Use Google. It is your friend. The resources available to you for free are ENDLESS. When I first started, I didn’t have the internet. I had books from thrift stores. And I had my own drive and will to practice and forge my own path. The internet makes it SO easy for the beginner pagan!
Beginner Wicca Books
- Scott Cunningham: Wicca, A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, Living Wicca, Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Earth Power, Wicca in the Kitchen, Etc. (Literally anything by Scott Cunningham is great for Wicca beginners!)
- Raymond Buckland: Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft, Practical Candleburning Rituals
Beginner Witchcraft Books:
- Marian Green: A Witch Alone
- Arin Murphy-Hiscock: The Green Witch, The House Witch, and the Witch’s Book of Self-Care (Murphy-Hiscock’s books are great for beginners in witchcraft who are looking for a path that isn’t religion-specific)
- Ellen Dugan: Cottage Witchery, Garden Witchery, Natural Witchery
- Christopher Penczak: The Inner Temple of Witchcraft, The Outer Temple of Witchcraft, Instant Magick, The Witch’s Shield
- Juliet Diaz: Witchery, Embrace the Witch Within
- Ambrosia Hawthorn: The Spell Book for New Witches
- Edain McCoy: A Witch’s Guide to Faery Folk, If You Want to be a Witch
- Laurie Cabot: Power of the Witch, Laurie Cabot’s Book of Shadows, Celebrate the Earth
- Otherworldly Oracle: Modern Witchcraft: A Beginner’s No-Nonsense Guide to the Craft (yes, I wrote this e-book)
- Judika Illes: The Element Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells, Encyclopedia of Spirits, Encyclopedia of Mystics, Saints, and Sages
- Sybil Leek: Diary of a Witch
- Doreen Valiente: An ABC of Witchcraft Past and Present
Beginner Pagan Books:
- Pagan Portals: The Awen Alone – Walking the Path of the Solitary Druid, Dancing with Nemetona, The Dagda, The Morrigan
- Joyce & River Higginbotham: Paganism: An Introduction to Earth Centered Religions
- Morgain Daimler: Irish Paganism
- Trevor Greenfield: Paganism 101
- Frank MacEowen: The Mist-Filled Path
- Galina Krasskova: A Modern Guide to Heathenry
- Patricia M. Lafayllve: A Practical Heathen’s Guide to Asatru
- DJ Conway: By Oak, Ash, & Thorn and Celtic Magic
Free Pagan and Witchy Websites for Beginners
- otherworldlyoracle.com (shameless plug)
Something you might not have thought of – there are DOZENS of FREE pagan and witchy apps for mobile phones these days. Download a free moon app that tells you the phase of the moon and what astrological sign the moon is in. There are also rune apps to help you learn the runes, tarot apps, crystal apps, etc.
Beginner Witch, Wiccan, Pagan Topics to Study
When I say “study” in the above heading, I mean to read, write it down, and also practice what you study. The topics I typically suggest for people to study include:
- moon phases and magical associations
- the Wheel of the Year and sabbats
- the four elements
- witchcraft and pagan history: ancient pagan cultures like the Celts, Norse/Germanic tribes, Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Slavs, etc. Witch Trials in the Medieval Ages, Salem Witch Trials, famous witches, etc.
- gods and goddesses: Rhiannon, Hecate, Anubis, The Morrigan, Cernunnos, Thoth, Anubis, Freya, Odin, Aphrodite etc.
- Magical protection: cleansing, warding, banishing, binding and reversals
- candle magic
- divination: tarot, runes, oracle cards, pendulum use, mirror scrying, bone-throwing, tea leaf reading, palmistry, etc.
- Fairies, elementals and genius loci
- crystals: crystal magick, healing, etc.
- Dreams: lucid dreaming, astral projection, astral travel
- herbs: magical and medicinal use
These are some basic topics to learn. You will find other topics you’d like to study along the way. These just scrape the tip of a massive pagan iceberg of knowledge! Don’t just research and write these things down…get out of your comfort zone and PRACTICE them.
2. Keep a Record
In addition to reading and studying, you. Must. Keep. A. Record. This means using a cheap spiral notebook, a pretty journal, a composition book, whatever you’d like, to serve as your spiritual journal (a.k.a. grimoire or Book of Shadows). The Book of Shadows or grimoire is used to document your spiritual journey, as well as basic magical knowledge, spells, sabbats, etc. It can be as detailed and organized as you’d like. Or, if you’re like me, I literally just write things as I go along and flip back through my grimoire later. Not the most organized way, but hey, I’m a Sagittarius. Whatever works for you, do it. But WRITE it down! This way you can review your notes as well as have a chronological record of your journey. Some folks like using a three-ring binder with page protectors – a more organized and easier way to keep records.
3. Get Outside
In the majority of pagan paths, the focus is on Mother Earth. We read about nature, plan rituals to include nature, set up an altars to honor nature, its time to get outside…in nature! Get outside as much as possible – it is the core of your new path. Go for walks in the park or around the neighborhood. Sit outside on your balcony while you drink coffee in the morning. Take a break at work and go for a walk. During your free time? Go outside. When you’re stressed out? Go outside.
There’s so much to learn just from being outside and experiencing it with all of your senses. Watch for different animals and insects. Where’s the sun or moon? Do you see any special trees, plants, or flowers? Do you hear the wind blowing through the trees? Birds? What do you smell? Record any significant moments you have outside. Sometimes these moments are signs from the Universe.
You’ll never gain experience with something unless you practice and actually get out there and DO IT. Right? Paganism, Wicca, and Witchcraft are the same way. A lot of people want to read and research and write about it, but are afraid to actually try it. Give it a try. While a new spiritual path or religion can be intimidating in the beginning, Wicca and Paganism are nothing to be afraid of. They are very active spiritual paths and you will be rewarded more if you get off the couch and practice something you’ve been studying!
Beginner Pagan & Wiccan Rituals to Try:
- A simple candle spell
- Make a protection spell bag
- Kitchen magick: weaving intentions into your cooking and baking, using culinary and magical herbs, making meals inspired by deities and for your ancestors
- Make a magical herb-infused oil
- Set up an altar to honor a new god or goddess
- Divination like tarot, oracle, runes, scrying
- Give offerings to your new god or goddess
- Cleansing herbal bath on the New or Waning Moon
- Plan and start a new tradition on the next Sabbat
- Charging rituals and learning how to raise energy through chanting, singing, praying, dancing, etc.
Helpful Magical Tools for the Beginner Pagan and Witch
First of all, tools are there to help you direct your energy and amplify it. Some practitioners will tell you that tools have no power, that you have all the power. I’m not going to tell you that, because I am an animist and I believe herbs, crystals, animals, etc. have their own consciousness and when used in magic or ritual, their power is channeled to intensify it. That being said, you don’t have to have ANY tools at all. Your inner power and the universe is plenty! Keep in mind, most of these you can find in nature (in your backyard/forest/beach), or you can find them at the dollar or grocery store!
- Candles: votives, tapers, bell candles, tealights, etc. (white is an all-purpose color that can be substituted for any other color)
- Chalice: literally like a wine cup or stemmed champaigne glass works great, if you don’t want to splurge on an expensive one!
- Jars and bottles: save your old spaghetti sauce and pickle jars. Clean them and re-use them to store your herbs and curios. PLUS learn how to do jar spells.
- Athame: I used an old wood-handle kitchen knife for YEARS. Doesn’t need to be fancy.
- Bowls and Baskets: to hold offerings on your altar or to use when you harvest herbs and other natural items (Dollar Store and thrift stores or what you have on hand); bowls can also hold water and salt (to represent elements water and earth for Wicca)
- Stones & Crystals: lots of people love crystals and stones but you don’t need to buy all the sparklies to use them in your magick or on your altar – simply use a river stone, a piece of coral from the beach, or a rock from some place you feel drawn to!
- Herbs: grow your own easily in a sunny windowsill or in your own garden (all you need is a bag of soil and some seeds…truly) or buy from the grocery store (your kitchen spice cabinet is FULL of magical ingredients!)
- Incense & Incense Burner: find sticks or cones and burners at a local store for cheap (5 Below, Health Food Stores, etc.)
- Other Natural Items (FREE): feathers, branches, flowers, shark’s teeth, bones, roots, seashells, pinecones, acorns, seed pods, etc.
5. Set Up Your Altar
You might be thinking, I can’t set up an altar! I don’t have the money! See the section above. Most of the items on your altar can be found in nature or purchased for cheap…or even made! You don’t need a huge table or cabinet. A shelf on your bookshelf will do. So will a part of your kitchen counter. IF you live with someone who doesn’t understand or condone your pagan path, you can always start a “portable altar”. This is an altar that is kept in a box under the bed or in the closet and can be taken out when you feel comfortable or taken to the local park with you, etc. No one will ask questions because it won’t be out for anyone to see it. AND you have the added bonus of traveling with it too (depending on the size of it).
I recommend deciding what you want your altar to do for you. Are you honoring a specific god or goddess? Your ancestors? Just the universe or mother earth? Are you forgoing the god/goddess thing altogether and just want to use it for magical endeavors? Figure out your purpose for the altar (this can always change over time, too). Then add things to it that suit your purpose. Items to represent the four elements (water, salt, stones, seashells, feathers, candles, incense, etc). Maybe a picture of the god or goddess you honor. Or a statue if you feel like splurging. Solely using it for magic or meditation? Candles, jars, bottles, mirrors, etc. can be placed on your altar. Literally WHATEVER you want to put on it, you can! No one’s telling you otherwise. That’s the great thing about Paganism.
It’s a Learning Process!
Again, this is practice, you don’t have to be perfect at any of it! You are a beginner, and even the most experienced witch or pagan still makes mistakes. We are human, after all. The point is that you acknowledge the mistake and try to learn from it so you don’t make the same mistake again. BUT even if you do, the Universe or your god or goddess will probably send some kind of sign to remind you to try harder next time! Any true witch will tell you that witchcraft and paganism are lifelong journeys that require lifelong dedication to self-education and drive. For those who have been pagans for fifty plus years, ask them and I’ll guarantee they are still learning! If you meet anyone in the pagan community who says they know it all, run away screaming. Follow your own path and take your time walking it.