They say hindsight is 20/20.
This couldn’t be more true when it comes to being a witch and learning our craft. Looking back over the last 20 years (eek!) I can pinpoint so many instances where I made mistakes and assumptions because I simply didn’t know any better.
Of course, I shouldn’t feel bad about that and neither should anyone else. You can’t know what you don’t know, after all.
In order to help less experienced witches on their journey, I’ve decided to list 5 crucial things I wish I knew as a beginner witch:
One: Witchcraft is just that – A Craft
The clue is in the name.
Just like with any skill or craft, like cooking or sewing or playing a musical instrument, witchcraft takes time, dedication and practice.
You’re not going to wake up one morning and suddenly achieve all the things you’ve dreamed of until you’ve put in the study and effort. That means reading as much as you can, investing in (inexpensive) tools and putting aside time as often as possible to hone your skill.
You wouldn’t expect to become a violin prodigy overnight, would you?
Two: There’s More Than One Way to be a Witch
Nowadays, this isn’t as much of a revelation. Most popular books and websites will talk about the various ways you can practice witchcraft without focusing on one tradition in particular.
This, unfortunately, hasn’t always been the case.
Up until the early-2010s, pretty much every book about witchcraft taught about Wiccan witchcraft exclusively. In fact, Wicca and witchcraft were terms used interchangeably for decades. If you wanted to explore witchcraft outside of the Wiccan framework, you were pretty stumped unless you found an obscure traditional witchcraft forum or second-hand occult book at your local metaphysical store.
We are quite blessed now in the 2020s to have access to resources on all kinds of witchcraft – from traditional witchcraft to folk magic to Hermetic rituals. Of course, that doesn’t stop the occasional idiot on the internet trying to claim their way of being a witch is better than any other – just ignore them and move on.
Three: Books Can Only Get You So Far
To be honest, out of all the things I wish I knew as a beginner witch, this is top of the pile.
As much as I love reading and collecting books on witchcraft, Paganism and the occult, I’ve learned that limiting myself to book-learning would ultimately limit my abilities as a witch. You actually have to do the thing to really get somewhere.
Let’s say you want to be a surfer: you could buy and read every book on surfing there is. You could learn all about the best surfing spots, wetsuits, surfboards, surfing lingo, safety risks etc. But that wouldn’t make you a surfer – actually getting on a surfboard does.
The same principle applies to witchcraft. Sure, you won’t be great to start with. Most people who get on a surfboard for the first or 15th time will fall off. But sticking your head in books like an ostrich with its head in the sand won’t make you much of a witch.
Four: It’s about more than Intention
A common quote I see online is “intention is all you need!”.
I think this kind of advice comes from a place of good intentions, often aimed at beginner witches who can’t afford fancy tools or spell ingredients. I get it. But rather than encouraging them to use mundane tools and herbs and stones they already have in their home, folks are essentially promoting the idea that tools are ultimately pointless and it’s our intention that counts.
Yes, intention is important. It’s the director of any magickal working – focusing the energy to where it needs to go and telling it what to do when it gets there. But you need more than intention.
Tools and spell ingredients are to help not hinder.
Five: Deities Are Not Pokémon
You don’t gotta catch ’em all.
This goes for all spirits – not just deities. But deities tend to be the most common victims.
A typical beginner book or website on witchcraft will often include long lists of different Gods and Goddesses that us witches can work with in our craft. What they don’t tell us is that it’s important to develop a spiritual relationship first before anything supernatural is going to help you, at least long-term. Think about it – you wouldn’t help someone who only ever came to you when they want something. It goes both ways.
So rather than collecting deities like Pokémon cards for spell work, focus on tending to relationships and growing connections instead.
This post might be helpful: How to Connect to Deities as a Beginner Witch
Six: You Don’t Need a Permanent Altar Space
This one pretty much speaks for itself.
While having access to sacred space – such as an altar or shrine – is important, that space does not have to be permanent (or even physical!)
If your living arrangement is lacking the space or you want to keep your craft private, you can simply get your altar tools and decorations out when they’re needed.
Seven: Witchy Authors Are Human, Too
The final thing I wish I knew as a beginner witch is quite an important one, I think – authors are not infallible.
Every book or blog post or YouTube video or podcast episode you consume is reflecting the opinions and worldview of the author/creator(s). This means that you’re always learning from a particular practitioner’s point of view, which is why I think it’s important to learn from as many different witches as possible. That way you can have a wider scope of knowledge and you’re more likely to spot misinformation or bias.
So there we have it – I hope my 7 things I wish I knew as a beginner witch has helped you in some way! If you can think of any more, please comment below!
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