You’ve accumulated your first books on witchcraft. You’re ready to get started, except you don’t know where to begin. This is nothing new. In fact, many witches often feel overwhelmed with the lack of process behind their solitary study. There’s no formal process, and this has both positives and negatives. So, how do you actually begin when studying your new path? Well, let’s talk about some ideas, some examples, and how to create your own study process.
Alright, so you’re staring at a pile of roughly five books, and you’ve settled down into your chair to read. Which one do you pick up first? What speaks to you? How do you even know what to keep track of for later? These are all common concerns right at the start. The simple answer is actually not to think about it. For me, the best place to start was with my introductory book. For most people, this seems like the best place to start. Why? Because it gives you an idea of the road ahead. Your introductory book is your road map.
Everyone has to start somewhere, and your beginner’s book is important for just this reason. If you’re unsure of where to start, I highly suggest comparing and contrasting different beginner’s books. Ideally, this would be done before purchase, or better yet, at your local library. Getting a feel for various paths, and then decide on studying one of them for now. If you study too many paths in-depth, right away at least, you’ll likely feel even more overwhelmed. Once you’ve found your book though, settle down and read it. Try to focus on noting how you feel about the overall concepts. Some questions to ask:
- How do I feel about mentions of deity?
- What types of magic stand out to me?
- Do I agree with the explanations of rituals?
- Does this book seem to affirm my established beliefs?
- Where would this path lead me in the future?
An alternative place to start is a mythology based book. In some ways, I think we all start here at some point. We all hear or read stories from various mythological sources. Some of us learn more from a modern re-telling of these stories, than we ever could from a beginner’s book. It should be noted that you won’t necessarily learn any rituals used within Wicca, but there is still value in mythology. Connecting to the god, goddess, or deity is much easier if you have an overall idea of basic concepts and stories. When you settle down to read your mythology book consider:
- Are any of these myths quite familiar to you already?
- Do you find yourself favoring one pantheon over another?
- How do you feel about other gods, myths, or cultural ideas?
- What themes do you see embodied in various deities?
- In what ways might you incorporate these myths into your practice?
After you’ve taken a look at either the mythology book or the introductory book, or perhaps even both, it’s a good idea to take a break. You may be excited and feel like continuing with another book, but take the extra time. Think about what you’ve read, absorb it, and take time to see how you actually feel about what you’ve read. At the same time, you might make yourself familiar with a tarot deck. Tarot and witchcraft seem to go together for many people, and you might enjoy the relaxed approach to learning. Some questions to ask when studying tarot might be:
- What tarot deck speaks or stands out to me personally?
- How can I incorporate tarot into my practice? Should I?
- Which cards do I seem to gravitate toward?
- Do I enjoy the myths behind the cards or just the symbolism?
- Are there any personal interpretations of tarot worth noting?
Once you’ve experimented a bit with what you’ve learned so far and the use of tarot, you’re probably ready to take a look at correspondences. Some people like to record correspondences right away, but I highly suggest otherwise. Why write down herbal correspondences if you aren’t going to use them long term? Taking time to feel your way through this process means you won’t have to waste your effort. Also, investing in a good correspondence book can be a bit expensive, so it’s great to know what you really want for the long term. Some questions for consideration might be:
- Does this book seem to have credible information?
- Will I utilize the information in this particular book?
- What do I feel will be gained in the long term with this information?
- Do I need a comprehensive guide or one based on a particular subject?
- Can I find this information elsewhere? Why do I feel I need to purchase this book?
Lastly, it’s a good idea to decide what you don’t know but would like to. This is where you really start in my opinion, everything else is just the basics. Do you want to learn more about herbal witchcraft? What about incorporating magic into everyday tasks? Is candle magic just calling you? There are countless avenues within Wicca to explore. However, don’t be afraid to also seek elsewhere. The Occult is filled with great information that you can use whatever your path. This topic is so broad that asking questions in general is a tough task, but here are a few you might try:
- What areas of witchcraft am I excited to explore?
- Are there subjects I’d like to know more about?
- Is there a Tradition that might fit me? If so, what books do they suggest?
- Do I find myself drawn to a particular author’s books or subjects?
- In what ways do I want to grow in my overall practice as a witch?
A Closing Note
There are often strong feelings from more experienced witches about new witches reading a few books and thinking they know all. Please keep this in mind when creating your reading curriculum. It’s great to have a favorite author. It’s not okay to have only read that author’s books. Learn to have disagreements with others. Always remember to be polite when debating philosophies as well. You’re new, you’ll make mistakes. That’s fine. But please, also remember to widen your depth of scope.