Beginners

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

  1. Read & Study: Books and Online Resources
  2. Keep a Record: A notebook or journal serves as grimoire or Book of Shadows
  3. Get Outside
  4. Practice: moon ritual, meditation, celebrate sabbats, divination
  5. 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
  • 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

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

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.

For the Beginner Pagan

Copyright: Nicole Canfield 2018

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
  • ancestors
  • candle magic
  • divination: tarot, runes, oracle cards, pendulum use, mirror scrying, etc.
  • mythology
  • 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.

4. Practice

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
  • 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

Helpful Magical Tools for the Beginner Pagan

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.

How to Start in Wicca: Beginner Pagan

27 Comments

  1. Victoria

    August 21, 2020 at 6:01 am

    So I am a young women who has wanted to do witchcraft for years. I’m finally in a place where I can create a healthy environment to perform my craft.
    I have one question: I personally do not believe in gods but I do believe in the power of the earth moon sun and stars. Since this is the case I’ve had some trouble finding resources that are not based in religion. Would honoring the moon be considered Wiccan? Or just witchcraft?

    1. admin

      August 21, 2020 at 11:23 am

      Hi Victoria – It’s a great question! And the great thing about modern witchcraft is that you can make of it what you want. You can make it your own. Worshiping and using the sun and moon etc in your practice is purely witchcraft. Wicca is a set religion with beliefs. Yes they use the moon and sun in their practice but they follow a set of rules/dogma. Hope this helps.

    2. Anonymous

      December 2, 2020 at 10:36 pm

      hiii im new to this as well and thought the exact same way u did!!! i dont belive in gods or godessess i belive in the universe and mother nature until i saw a video that said not to think of the gods and godessess as a “god” see it as a person that represents that element. for example the greek god Achelous. dont think of him as a god think of him as someone who represents water is that makes sence . Hope this helps!!!

    3. Melody Julia casner

      December 23, 2020 at 4:02 am

      Hi there I read you question and even though I’m in no way a master of anything because simple I’m still alive and human, I am Native American , I’m native Paiute and live where my ancestors started witches have been in my family beyond generations the only reason I’m sharing this is because I am aware of my faults attempt and failures, I’m not religious at all religion is money made and spiritualism is given by our creator, what’s worked for me is for one forget all about the setting up any kind of alter, trust me, anything u need is already inside you, BUT you need to be willing to be aware of and be completely honest about yourself and the path you’re wanting to take . I keep sage on hand and when I get a new one I prick my finger and rub my blessed blood and smear it up and down the stick, to be honest I am a medicine woman my great grandmother use to sneak me off and sing chants to me as a baby, your alter is you, when looking for a certain something to always keep on you, I ONLY touch or grab only what speaks to me, now so u know I’m 52 yrs old I’ve had gifts all my life and have bn aware of them also, I’m extremely powerful, I doubt myself all the time but my family keeps me believing in myself cuz z it blows them away when I do things, I’ve fought one demon I’m a down to earth very compassionate and thoroughly enjoy giving I have strict morals and values which really helps, it would take hours and a lot of typing to explain to you why I’ve decided to help guide you, I was born into it, not sure of your position but if I can help someone in their journey then you were put here for a reason cuz I NEVER read comments, I never ask for anything for myself I have to watch my anger or people in up dead wether in car accidents or whatever the elders of my tribe has never guided me I’m able to sit within 3 ft of coyotes and calmly talk to them, freaked me out the first time I did it, when I need to get an answer or guidance I call upon my ancestors and the spirit of the coyotes sky woman Father Time and the precious land that’s bn a place for me to trust. You need to understand that my love for the land the respect of the animal nature and the songs that the wind rings in my ears, give me a sense of security because those around me have 100% complete faith in what I say or warnings of any thing negative mite be coming their way that they take action , remember this is my special explanation of my abilities, forget the cookie cutter ways cuz everyone is different, I know this term is used all the time but a true “Gut feeling” is actually a true soul’s GPS LISTEN!!!! What I have is extremely hard to explain now, wiccans are just wanna be pagans my husband is a paan priest and that’s why we get along so well cuz they’re both based on nature he pulls ruins and I give everyone here a veil of protection, he never believed in ghost til he actually saw me in action took me a while to calm him down lol, but after 13 yrs he knows now without a shadow of a doubt that listening to me is a must everyday. I know I’m not hitting on anything cuz to be honest it’s so hard to describe how to do something that is as natural as breathing for me, I’m on Facebook, my name is melody Julia casner my family is from Death Valley . We are in a lot of museums tribal council is in moapa NV . To put in in a nutshell you are it! You are all you need but and this is no joke but you literally have to know you are more powerful than any unseen forces there mite be fear is not optional god I wish there was a way for me to guide you but I was so advanced by time I was 7 , for example I found on Pinterest a reading that said here are 10 signs u mite be a shaman I fit everyone to a T, I’m sorry but true spiritually is extremely hard to put into words, that’s how you know that you’re in thee place you’re meant to be, but never force it. Sorry so vague but maybe u can read something into it, many blessings to you.

  2. Sydney Dean

    February 18, 2020 at 4:25 am

    This was amazing and informative, but I have a quick question. How do you know what god/goddess one should start praying too, making an altar for, etc., first? I’m new to this whole thing and have not done this part quite yet…

    1. admin

      February 18, 2020 at 3:48 pm

      Focus on what cultures or history you like. Are you interested in Ireland? France? Italy? China? Look up gods and goddesses for those ancient cultures and see if any jump out at you. If not, pray to the universe to send you a goddess…ask the universe to send you a clear sign. You can also look into your ancestors’ pagan gods. Everyone’s ancestors were pagan at one point!

  3. Gray Wolf

    August 21, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    Very helpful.

  4. Blake Hall

    May 23, 2019 at 4:49 am

    Oops KTD, I see that my other recent comment maybe out of place, as you have Scott C.’s Wicca : A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner listed as your first recommendation here. LOL! I hope my comment is still relevant, but that Is funny! I guess sometimes great minds do think alike, I will leave it at that. Blessed be my friend. Blake4D

    1. admin

      May 23, 2019 at 3:32 pm

      No worries whatsoever! LOL! Scott C. is one of my all-time favorites.

  5. Angela Waterford

    May 15, 2019 at 9:12 pm

    My friend is a beginner at paganism and I think that I’ll read and study some things that I can buy online to give to her as a gift. Maybe she’ll appreciate having those while she uses an app to help her with her rituals. Thanks for adding that she can use other sources to try out different tools that she can use so I’ll scout for some that are beginner-friendly and buy those for her.

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  7. Sherry

    March 21, 2019 at 2:31 pm

    Thank you so much, this reading was very interesting and made me want to read and learn more 😊

  8. Sarah

    March 14, 2019 at 8:32 am

    How do the Wheel of the Year and sabbats work for someone who lives in the Southern Hemisphere? does anyone know all the resources I’ve found only appear to apply to the Northern Hemisphere.

    1. admin

      March 14, 2019 at 12:15 pm

      Sarah – It’s literally backwards. So when we have the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere, you’ll have summer. When we have Samhain, you’ll have Beltane. The Wheel of the Year is the same, it’s just opposite, if that makes sense. Hope this helps.

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  11. Lil bean

    February 25, 2019 at 6:16 pm

    I am just starting my witchy journey and I am very eager to start. I have done loads of research from watching documentaries to reading practically every article online. I feel like the next step for me would be to get my book of shadows. I feel like the path of a green witch is really calling out to me, any advice?

    1. admin

      February 25, 2019 at 6:23 pm

      Hi Lil Bean – Get yourself a regular notebook and start recording all the things you want to. Get outside as much as possible. When the weather’s nice, take trips to the woods, garden, etc. Learn the different plants, trees, and wildlife in your local area. Write all of that down.

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  13. Michelle

    December 18, 2018 at 2:39 am

    This was a fabulous starting point for me. I am truly excited to start my journey. Now if I can just find my calling and direction. I am so interested in ever part.

    1. admin

      December 18, 2018 at 2:48 pm

      Happy to have helped! Start with something like moon phases or the elements and go from there.

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  15. Jill Kreiner-Smith

    September 20, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    love this, it was very helpful. Thank you

    1. admin

      September 20, 2018 at 3:55 pm

      Glad to be of help, Jill!

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  17. Toni

    September 11, 2018 at 9:30 pm

    Thank you! This is exactly what I needed! GjMtnChic

    1. admin

      September 12, 2018 at 12:49 am

      Hi! So glad to be able to help!

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