New Witch? Confused? Read our advice for beginner witches. Often when people come to witchcraft they say they’ve “come home”. Which you would think would make the craft easy right off the bat. But in reality, it can be confusing. There’s a TON of information out there on the craft that wasn’t around when I was growing up. Sometimes there’s so much information that it becomes a daunting task to figure out what the first steps to becoming a witch even are. Let me reassure you – witchcraft is like being new to anything else: you have to study it, then practice it, and eventually it’ll come as second nature. It’s also about learning to tap into your intuition.
When I first came home to the craft, witchcraft was considered a religion – pure and simple. It also went hand-in-hand with Wicca, and most people used the two terms interchangeably (Wiccan and Witch). Since the resurgence of interest in metaphysics, alternative healing, and witchcraft in the new millennium, the definition of witchcraft seems to have changed. Others will tell you witchcraft ISN’T a religion that it’s a magical practice. Some witches are adamant that it is a religion. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether you call it your religion or a practice. If I was to define it, I would say witchcraft is a way of life. It’s both belief and practice and lifestyle, all rolled into one.
First of all, if you come to me and ask me where to start in witchcraft the answer will almost always be this: what have you studied? If you answer “nothing”, then this is the first step. I’ve seen many beginner witches ask for advice online, they’re told to read this or that book, and they don’t like the advice given to them. How does one expect to learn if one doesn’t want to put any effort into studying the topic?
There are literally hundreds of books on witchcraft. Here’s a few places you can find them: online through Amazon and other book sellers, thrift stores, book stores, and even in your local library. If you can’t get a hold of books, the biggest resource at your fingertips is – THE INTERNET. It’s simple, google the “first steps to becoming a witch” and there will be a plethora of websites on witchcraft basics. Google “how to do a witchcraft ritual” or “how to cast a circle”, etc. Technically, you don’t have to purchase a thing! A great website for older texts and free books of shadows, grimoires, mythology, and more is sacred-texts.com.
What do you already know about witchcraft? Do you know the phases of the moon? Any scientific facts about the sun? What about the historical and natural sites in your area? Record all of the things you feel is pertinent to your witchy path. Then once you’ve read more of the basics, write them down too. Study them. When you know enough of the basics, then move on to practicing. Keep in mind, even though you might feel comfortable with the basics, you will never know all there is to know about witchcraft. The topic is so broad and so old (dating back thousands of years), that it would take multiple lifetimes to learn all there is to know about the craft. As witches, we know there is always room for growth and wisdom. And more lifetimes to come.
You’ve got a good grip on the basics, the next first steps to becoming a witch include actually practicing. Before you cast your first spell or perform a ritual, ask yourself the following questions:
My first suggestion is to practice a pre-written spell. I know there are some who disagree with me, but it is my advice. There are some wonderful spells in Cunningham’s Earth Magic books, as well as in Judika Illes’ Encyclopedia of 5000 spells. Keep the spell simple: don’t choose a spell that requires elaborate ingredients or more than a few steps. You’re practicing, not performing for a crowd. Go easy on yourself then pump up the volume when you’ve mastered the basics. Record your spell steps, intention, timing, and the results (whether good, bad, or indifferent). Once you’ve tried a few pre-written spells, then move on to writing your own. You’ll find that it will come as second nature to you. Sometimes you’ll even learn to do a spell in the moment. Without research…based solely on your intuition and Spirit’s guidance.
Sometimes you’ll get the whim to cast a spell that requires little to no preparation and little ingredients. For instance, magic can be as simple as sweeping the negative energy out of your home with a broom! Weave magic into cooking: use herbs for specific reasons or draw symbols on your food. As you grow and familiarize yourself with the unique energies of the craft, move up the ladder of elaborate and difficult spells. Try different things. Don’t be scared to try new spells and rituals. I also highly recommend making your own tools and spell ingredients, if you have the means. Just like with everything else in life, there’s going to be trial and error. The more you do with your hands and use your mind and energy, the more adept you will become.
One of the most important steps to becoming a witch is to connect with nature. A connection with nature is essential. Connect with the Earth: plant a garden, walk barefoot, go for nature walks, pick up litter, support animal rescues. Commune with Air: feel the breeze in your hair, visit the top of a mountain, practice deep breathing, open the windows, collect feathers, watch the birds. Connect with Fire: have a bonfire, light a candle each day, follow your passions in life, eat spicy and hot foods, sunbathe. Connect with Water: go for a swim, take an herbal bath, put a small water fountain in your home, keep a dream journal, learn how to scry with a mirror or water source, make moon water.
I’ve seen witches online say they don’t use the elements in their practice. Everything in and around us comes from the elements. Are you practicing candle magic? Fire. Are you doing an uncrossing bath? Water. I could go on and on. The point is – when you’ve communed with Mother Earth, you will notice a change in your witchcraft. In the way you feel physically, too. Witches are close to nature and work with nature daily, because they know everything comes from the Earth and everything returns to the Earth. Your body, mind and soul will begin to align with the seasons, moon phases, and the eco-system where you live. THIS makes you a powerful witch!
The basis of witchcraft is about harnessing and manipulating energy to bring about change in the witch’s environment and life. So one of the first steps to becoming a witch is learning all about energy. Everything is made of energy and energy never stops moving. Visualization and meditation will teach you to focus your mental and emotional energy on an intention. Practice energy manipulation – there’s wonderful videos on YouTube and resources online on this topic. Work with crystals and simply try to tune into their unique energies, etc. Learn the various ways to raise energy for a spell: dancing, drumming, chanting, singing, visualization, praying, etc. For a spell to manifest, it must be sent into the ether. You can’t send your intentions into the ether without generating enough energy to break the barrier between mundane and spiritual.
Part of the first steps to becoming a witch is to connect with your ancestors. I say it’s part of the first steps, but truly many witches find this part optional. The choice is yours. But I will tell you this – even when I feel no connection to a god or goddess, I ALWAYS feel my ancestors’ presence. Your ancestors are important in the craft because their blood pumps through you. Thousands upon thousands of people came together to make you. Some people say looking into one’s heritage is pointless, but I am here to tell you that your ancestors provide powerful magic and protection. All you have to do is reach out to them. They’ve been here for you your whole life and will continue to be. Every witch has his or her own assigned ancestral guides that will be particularly active in your practice.
Some people say, well I was adopted so I don’t know how to find my ancestors. The answer to that is—try doing a DNA test, or if you already know your ethnicity, look up your people’s history, lore, and mythology to start with. For example, if your ancestors are from England, research the Celts and Anglo-Saxons, the history of England, the folklore, etc. In addition, we believe when we’re adopted, our adopted parents’ ancestors adopt us as their own too. So don’t feel thwarted in this regard.
Connect with your ancestors by using ancestry.com. Ask your family members about your ancestors (grandparents, great grandparents, etc. – their names, dates they lived, where they lived, etc.) Set up an altar for your ancestors and invite them to join your practice, as well as protect your home. Connect by reading their history, folklore, and mythology (i.e. if you’re mostly European, you might be part Celtic, Slavic, Roman, Greek, Norse, etc.)
Often when a beginner witch comes to me, they want to know if one of the steps to becoming a witch is finding your animal spirit guide. This is not a necessity and you shouldn’t worry. Your animal guide will come to you. Don’t force it. The animal’s spirit will appear when you are ready and in random places: in the wild, on the TV, on the internet, in books, in conversations with strangers, in a song, etc. Your animal guide may come and go as it pleases and it will change depending on the phase of your life. The same goes with plant and tree allies – as you walk your witchcraft path, certain plants and trees will pop up. They want to work with you, so acknowledge them and incorporate them into your craft and daily life.
Another big question from beginner witches is: how do I know my gods and goddesses / my pantheon? First begin by researching your ancestry. It’s always great to start learning and working with the gods of your ancestors. Often gods and goddesses will come to you, just as your animal guides will. When they do, set up an altar or shrine (it doesn’t have to be fancy), and honor your gods as often by leaving offerings, burning candles, burning incense, praying, singing, etc. But again, you don’t have to involve deity in your witchcraft path if you don’t feel comfortable with it. Start with ancestors, animals, or personal spirit guides. Maybe later you’ll feel a god calling to you.
I want to remind you that witchcraft is a lifestyle and a journey. It’s not a competition or a race. You don’t have to be a guru, oracle, priestess or leader in the first few years of your path. Or ever, for that matter. In fact, most of the folks who say they are “gurus” and “elders” are typically saying these things to stroke their own egos. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to learn it all immediately. Take baby steps and enjoy the process!
I’d like to put a lot of buzz words here but that would be too …September 15, 2023