Finding the Witch’s Path

What does it take to be a Witch? How do you get started the right way? There’s so much information out there, yet at the same time not enough, which makes it hard to figure it out what’s best or even real.

Witchcraft is experiencing a pop-cultural boom right now – which is not surprising.  It happens in cycles, when humanity goes searching for its roots, for something more spiritual, more otherly than what society 

art laura tempest zakroff thot witch

“Belladonna”

has to offer. Witchcraft also rises to the surface when people feel they have no other options to influence or change the world.

Keeping this in mind, I’m never surprised or jaded when a new generation discovers Witchcraft. Sure, some people try it on like the designer dress of the season, then discard it for whatever the next hot thing is.  That happens with all things.  But there always those who find more, and go deeper – and it becomes part of who they are.

I’m writing this article for those individuals, because a little guidance can go a long way.

 

It’s first important to unload some baggage.  We love the word Witch because it excites our souls.  It whispers of darkness, taboos, spirits, spells, and arcane secrets.  It makes us feel powerful and a bit dangerous too.  There’s nothing wrong with any of that, because it’s all true.

But what else do we take on when we seize the word Witch to describe ourselves?  Since the beginning, Witches have been the marginal – the people on the edge: of culture, of society, of the unknown and the other.  We are those who walk between this world and the adjacent ones, among gods, spirits and other beings. We use our various talents to connect, to balance, to teach, to reveal and to hide. It’s a vocation, a spirituality, and a way of life. We seek power not over the universe or others, but over ourselves so that we can best work with the world around us.

 

Sounds pretty heavy right? It is, but it’s so worth the work if you’re cut out for it.

So let’s get down to the technical of how do you become a Witch? Some folks believe it can only be done by studying with a formal tradition, and earning a system of a degrees.  Others believe you can learn it from books and videos. Others think that you’re just born with it, and that’s all you need. There’s truth and validity in all of these experiences, because every Witch is different – and we learn differently. Some people excel with a having a mentor and an academic system to follow.  Others work better DIY-style – and well, I tend to think that if you’re drawn to Witchcraft, you’ve probably been inclined to it from a young age.

Frankly, I’m a fan of trying all the things – I absorb the information and practices that work for me, and I’m always open to trying new and different ideas.  So the approach I’m going to suggest incorporates a little of everything.

1) Get Reading: Know Your History.
If I could only recommend two books, they would be “Drawing Down The Moon” by Margot Adler and “Witchcraft For Tomorrow” by Doreen Valiente.  DDTM is a comprehensive look at the rise of modern Paganism in North America by an accomplished NPR newswoman.  She covers a lot of history and the many diverse paths and people involved in it.  Alas, it’s a bit outdated – Margot passed in 2014, and the last update was done in the early 2000’s so we’re missing the last two decades of development –  but the history part is relatively unbiased and informative. “Witchcraft For Tomorrow’ is a comprehensive guide to no-frills Witchcraft, written by the woman responsible for much of what we know as Wicca.  After she parted ways with Gerald Gardner (the man responsible for Wicca on so many levels), she searched in earnest to uncover more history, folklore, and traditional Witchcraft practices.  

2) Get Social
It’s really helpful to find other people who share your interests.  I’m not saying run out and join the first coven you find (you don’t need to be in a coven, unless you want to), but see if there’s a local open path group, social gatherings, study groups, etc.  Check out www.witchvox.com to see who’s in your area, as well as any metaphysical or occult shops/bookstores in your area.  (Google and yelp can also help with the latter.)  You can also network with others online using your favorite social media tool, but I recommend taking advantage of local resources if you have them.

tooted laura tempest zakroff thot the house of twigs witch path pagan

“Rooted”


3) Invest In What You Actually Need
It’s easy to get sucked up into the STUFF of Witchcraft. Shiny rocks and crystals, beautiful wands and blades, hand-poured candles, jars of herbs, skulls, fancy jewelry – they all call to our corvid-like hearts.  But you don’t have to have stuff in order to be a Witch, or spend a lot of money.  You can slowly build a collection of herbs over time, adding in what you need – or learning to grow them yourself.  You can make your own wand – that is if you feel you really need one. A Book of Shadows or grimoire doesn’t have to be a fancy leather-bound tome – it can be a loose-leaf binder or basic notebook. There is no tried and true “starter kit.” If you do need something to do your work, spend your money on a qualify, well-crafted item that will last a long time.

4) Prepare for the Long Haul
There’s no overnight trick to becoming a Witch.  It’s a never-ending path of personal growth, challenges, and opportunities to learn. It’s a journey best explored by trying, doing, and trying again. It’s mystical, yet the scientific method certainly can be applied. Look to create a daily practice for yourself – what will you do every day to be able listen more deeply, see more clearly, trust more passionately? What physical things can you practice, what skills will you seek to develop? Be prepared for it to invade most corners and crevices of your life, because it will! Most importantly, be patient – especially with yourself.

I hope you’ve found these 4 points helpful.  I’d like to add one more thing to get you moving – a journal assignment.  Sit down and take a few minutes to ponder these questions – then write down the answers as they come to you, in a few words or sentence:

What is a Witch?
What does being a Witch mean to me?
What am I seeking if I chose this path?
What 3 things do I want to learn how to do as a Witch?


Then use your answers as your own map for how you wish to proceed for the next year.  In 6 months or a year, come back and revisit these questions, and see if your answers have changed.

Blessings on your path!

Laura Tempest Zakroff

Laura Tempest Zakroff can be described as a professional artist, author, dancer, designer, muse, mythpunk, teacher, and Witch. She has been a practicing Modern Traditional Witch for over two decades and revels in the intersection of her various paths. She blogs for Patheos as A Modern Traditional Witch and Witches & Pagans


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