There is a Difference – Casual vs Serious Practitioners

There is a Difference – Casual vs Serious Practitioners September 4, 2023

Thumper Forge, at the Fivefold Law wrote an article recently, talking about an anthology book that was recently released and the issues that arose from its publishing. It is a really good article that I recommend reading, and they bring up some good points. There was one part that stuck out to me though:

But this also made me understand that the people who put out the Witchtoker’s Grimoire approached publishing the same way they approach witchcraft: It’s something you can just do successfully without any education or training or skill. It’s not about growing, or teaching, or sharing knowledge: It’s about snatching up unmerited authority and using it to bully all of the smaller fish in the pond.”

I realize Thumper was referring to a deeper issue, but I have been contemplating an aspect of this for awhile, because there are differences between the casual practitioner and the serious one. There are good and bad aspects to both approaches – and I feel it is more about being willing to accept the realities, or consequences, that come from what we choose.”


Kitchen Witchery

Casual vs Serious Practice

Perhaps we need to define each side first to understand what I am really talking about. I know others may have differing opinions on this so I am just going to use myself as an example for my perspective of the two. The actual practice and work involved in magical/ spiritual paths.

The first 20 years or so, I would have defined my craft as casual. I immersed myself in research and exploration in various areas of history, anthropology, psychology, science, magical traditions, cultures, occultism, and so forth. I did magical work during this, more with energy and in the mind, but I would define it as casual practice. Some might say I was doing a lot of work in the learning aspect, which would be true – but it was mostly exploration as opposed to focused practice. It was also occasional practice – when I had the urge to experiment with something, or had a need.

Through the long learning process I did not have one singular goal – but an open mind to everything. It helped me to see similarities, and dualities between various cultures and traditions. The cycles that play out over and over through history. Within that you start to see the strings of magic – elements that are what make it work – how it can be shifted and altered – and what are core elements that have to be there.

The last 15+ years has been in implementation and working with everything I learned in the exploration phase. Moving from theory into experimentation and finding what really worked for me. So I started creating my practices, creating with true intention and focus on my works, while making all of it a part of my daily life. Instead of it being something I just did when there was time – to something I just am all the time.

When I implement something, I’m all in. Just as there is set time to work (mundane job), family time and obligations – my magical/ spiritual practices are on the same level of importance. It does require Will in those times we might not be feeling it, or overwhelmed with other life aspects. It requires dedication and consistency. It becomes part of what shapes who you are, the choices you make, and what you create in this life.

I think I needed both approaches for the type of person I am and the for the path I walk. There were pros and cons to both, and consequences I had to accept for both.

The Casual Practitioner

There are advantages to being the casual or hobbyist practitioner.

Your emotions don’t get so caught up in the community drama. We have a lot of infighting and judgment in Witchy/ Pagan communities. This comes out most where Deities are concerned, and “right” or “wrong” way to do something. The deeper you are, the more connected to your practice, the closer the bond is to our Guide – the more protective we tend to become of it. It doesn’t matter if it is your own personal creation or a tradition you are following, – that protectiveness comes out. The advantage to the casual practitioner in this, is they tend to not get caught up in it. This is something they do more for fun than a way of living.

They do it when they have some spare time or a need. There is no daily or weekly practices to make the time for. No rearranging their mundane schedule in order to accommodate their magical side. On the other hand, a serious practitioner makes the practices a part of their daily lives. It is not about “finding the time” but ensuring the time is a priority in their life.

For the casual practitioner there is no guilt for not doing something. I see this a lot, and it always makes me pause. Is the guilt coming from you – or is it there because of how you feel others will perceive you? I think there is a lot more of the latter involved – how you feel others will judge you. A casual practitioner doesn’t have a set schedule or obligations to fulfill. They are free to do what they choose to, when they choose to. In that freedom, also comes the freedom from the guilt I think.

There are downfalls to the casual practitioner as well.

The magic is not as powerful. People can argue about it, but think of it like anything else. If you just dabble in something from time to time, or as a hobby – you will be very limited in that skill. You may create a solid understanding, but without consistent practice and dedication you will never be as proficient as someone who has. This does not mean your spells won’t work – but you will also not get near the results of a dedicated practitioner.

You will not have the same level of connection to Spirits Allies – Guides/ Deities – and the Otherworld. Again, this does not mean you won’t experience them – it just means you will be on the surface of all there is. It takes dedication, time, and partnership with Them, to create a deep bond, thus gaining deep knowledge and specific skills They offer.

It really is the surface level vs the deep level in all aspects. There is nothing wrong with that, but you have to also accept that consequence of the choice you make. I think this is where it gets sticky, and a possibility I saw in the undertone of Thumper’s words. We get what we put in. As this applies to the physical/ mundane world, it also applies to the magical and spiritual.

It is perfectly fine to just dabble or occasionally practice. I feel it is where most start out in the first place. Some grow and evolve – wanting more and to make deeper discoveries – thus leading them into being a serious practitioner. Some are perfectly happy with just the surface they touch and don’t have a need to fully immerse themselves. Neither is wrong – but is a choice that we consciously make for ourselves. That means you also have to accept the consequences good and bad.

The Long Road

We live in a world of instant gratification. Everything is on-demand and broke down into cliff notes for easy consumption. If you are a casual practitioner that works, but to be a serious practitioner I feel you need to let go of that idea. This is a long road you are choosing to walk and takes years to really dive deep into the various concepts and develop skills.


I have mentored people who want the quick fixes. When doing foundational work they get impatient. They want to get through it in a matter of days or weeks. When change doesn’t happen right away they get frustrated and start bouncing around to other ideas or practices. True foundational work though is a long process. It starts with completely deconstructing and looking at every piece – where it came from, what is its purpose, how does it serve us, how does it hinder us, what are the shadows within it. Then you have to figure out what needs to stay, what needs to be healed or altered, and what needs to be let go.

In my experience it is necessary work though. Within in it we are learning about ourselves, connecting to the core of ourselves, developing our own set of ethics/ morals/ boundaries, discovering and honing our natural abilities and connections. All the magic, all the bonds you create, are built on the foundation you created. It is not sexy work by any means, but necessary if you want to be the most powerful you.


Building deep bonds with your Guides – whether that is Deities or other spirits, takes time and dedication. You are building a working partnership with them. Think of it like any friendship – there are surface level friends, you have fun with, hang out with, but there is no real depth or connection there – these are surface level relationships. Deep bonds are the ones who truly know you, you share deep knowledge and secrets with, they invest in you and you invest in them, and you build trust with them. Some people are good with the surface level connection – you get enough out of it – but you will not get the depth of a real bond.

That deep bond, takes time and conscious, consistent effort. It requires you to show up and be present even when you may not be feeling it. It is not going to happen overnight. It can take months or even years to develop that kind of depth. For me, it is worth it. The benefits, the relationship that develops, what I get from it, how my skills and abilities are enhanced through that partnership is worth all the time and effort I had to put in. For others it may not be.

Skills and Abilities

We all have skills that come to us more naturally. Ones that perhaps we don’t even really have to think about, we can just do them. There are other skills or abilities that are not like that but we want to develop them.

Even natural abilities should be honed in order to gain the full strength and control of them. These generally will go quicker because you already have a connection/ ability there. Developing a completely new skill though, will require a lot more dedication, gaining understanding of it, experimentation with it, and time.

The deeper we go into learning or developing a skill, the more time and patience is needed. You will get little boons along the way – new levels to play with and new parts of the ability are unlocked for you – which I feel help people stay engaged along the way. It is not going to happen overnight though. It may even take weeks or years depending on how much time and effort you put into it. I find, to gain the fullest potential of a skill, the real depth of it, you will be mostly looking at years.

Yes, you can work, and do things, with surface level skills – but again, it will not be near as powerful as someone who has really honed it.

In The End

It really comes down to what you personally want, and what you are willing to give to get it.

There will be some people who are happy on the surface. It keeps it light and fun for them. They get to engage with these things, craft basic spells, and perhaps even an anesthetic that allows them to express themselves in a different way. There is nothing wrong with that – as long as they can accept the fact that they will not be as effective or powerful as another who really dedicates themselves to it.

On the flip side – There will be other people who takes it to a very serious level. Who understands and knows that this is the long path and it may take years of dedicated time and practice to reach their full potential. Who spend a lot of time and work on their craft. The understanding for these people though, is that they will have to give up other things in their physical life to make room for this, and it may take years of work to get there. I think we also lose some of that playful nature that the casual practitioner retains – perhaps not completely, but to an extent.

There should also be no judgment from another person as to which one you choose to be. I think both have value and merit in our community. They both have things to offer in their own way. Our craft is personal, thus how we choose to go about it has to work for us.

I choose the long road for myself. I have friends who choose to dabble and immerse themselves in the aesthetic/ surface of it all. We still learn from each other (Personally, they remind me to add more playful aspects into my creations). We can still happily work together and grow, even though our approaches are very different. As long as we all understand and accept the consequences of each approach – there is no friction between us.

These are just some of my thoughts on all this – What are yours?

About Esa
Author, Medium, Seeker, Guide. You are building your own path, your own connections, and shaping your own destiny. We can inspire others through sharing - we can Guide through our own experiences - but each of us must walk our own path. You can read more about the author here.

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