One of the most commonly asked questions I get from students and social media is “How do I begin!” There are usually many variations of this question. Some people want to know how to begin their Witchcraft practice, others are more specific wanting to begin a Water practice.
There are so many ways one can begin a magical path. So I will try to give you some ideas, tips and what I feel may be useful. This is not a full list and not everything works for everyone or every path. So there is Tip 1! Every magical person is different. Within a water magic path, this is the same. Just like there are so many diverse creatures in the sea it is the same for the Water Witch or Water Priestess. We are all different sacred vessels that hold sacred water. Water always forms to your container! We will always look and practice differently than someone else. Water is that which binds us.
Tip 2– Begin taking an inventory of the jars, bottles, bowls, and baskets you already have! Chances are you already have collected a few things that you can use in your magical practice. Water Witches may find they already have a stash of shells, jars, and driftwood. Green Witches may have a stash of herbs, nuts, strange-looking sticks, and rocks of all sorts. Taking a look at what you already have and what you love the most will give you another clue as to what your particular path may be.
You do not need to go out and buy new tools. A significant portion of my tools were gifts, handmade (by me or a magical artisan), or were found 2nd hand. I enjoy thrift shopping! Check out your local thrift shop, eBay, Etsy, and estate sales! I have found some of the coolest things for only a few bucks! Also, reach out to your magical friends! We all have extra bits and bobbles around and sometimes we are very happy to offload them to someone who will work with them. I have been given many magical tools and gifted just as many. I think sometimes we are just a stop on the way to the right witch.
Tip 3– Nature is your ally and can teach you so much. Observing the cycles of nature, how the seasons pass by, how animals behave, and the sun and moon cycle you will find yourself deeply immersed in the mysteries of nature and much will be revealed to you. If you don’t want to spend a dime on ritual tools, take to nature and see what you can find! Driftwood, shells, seaweed, bones, leaves, berries, nuts, and sticks are easy to find and don’t cost anything. Recycled jars can become their homes lined in a row on your workspace! Do be sure to check before you take. Some parks and beaches have regulations, and it is illegal to take certain goods.
Tip 4- Working with Ancestors is a significant portion of many practitioners work. There are so many different types you can work with. You can learn a little bit more about how I work with them here. Even if you don’t want to work with your Blood Ancestors consider the Ancestors of the Land. Beyond the seasons and rhythms of our natural world. There dwells in the tween places beyond this space and time. Find a place in nature near your home. Visit often and begin a meditation practice there. Try connecting with the Ancestors of Land, local land spirits, and even ancestral animals. A large part of many magical paths is a connection to nature and this is a great place to start.
Tip 5– Turn on your Magical GPS. What is a magical GPS? Well, I have written an entire blog about it here. However, I will give you a quick introduction as well. When it comes to any magical practice, Grounding, Protection, and Shielding should be regular practices. While Shielding is a form of Protection, I have separated them because Shielding is an energetic practice of keeping out baneful energies. Protection takes a bit of a deeper meaning and can be employed in many different ways, from charms, talisman, spirit pacts, rituals, and spells. There are going to be many ways to do all three of these.
My advice is to try everything a few times. You will not like everything, somethings you will fail at miserably and will need practice. Other things you will have a natural knack for. It is a practice of trial and error. You are going to struggle, and you need to know that is ok. We all do, I don’t know one magical person who hasn’t had a spell, ritual or work go bad. I also don’t know one that proclaims to have every spell work out perfectly. It just is not realistic. However, with practice, you will not only understand magic better, but you will draw closer to your Spirit. Practice so you can know magic, but mostly to know yourself.
Tip 6– Read and research everything, even the bad stuff. There is so much information out there and you will never know what works for you, what options you have, and the endless possibilities out there if you don’t dive into the sea of information out there! Read the old stuff but read it with an open mind. History is really important, partially because it shows us where we came from, but more importantly where we should not go again. This older text, are full of misogyny, bigotry, and very derogatory language. You need to know this exists as part of our history. Does this overshadow their magical contribution? This is something only you can answer for yourself and one day you will find yourself here. Spend some time and figure out what is and isn’t right for you and your path. For every terrible text out there, there is a really good one as well. If you are interested in a topic, read all you can about it. Taking notes will help you understand where you are leaning and what your magical path might be.
Tip 7- Set up an altar. I included instructions on altar and shrine building in both of my books because this is such an important part of your practice. It is the place you will practice most of your magic and work with spirits if you choose to. It should be a reflection of you and something that you love. Don’t worry about what you see online either. Set it up how you like and make sure you love the way it looks! Different altars may also hold different energies. While I show my Sulis altar online quite a bit, other altars don’t look anything like that one. Also remember that it is your sacred space, and you can keep it private or not. It is up to you.
Tip 8- After you set up your altar, begin to practice circle casting techniques. Different paths and traditions will have different techniques and processes. Some may work in a salt circle, others in a crystal circle, some may use a bullroarer to create sacred space or lay a compass with a Stang. Find what you like, what feels good, and what you are naturally good at. Then practice them often! Even if you aren’t doing any magical workings, practice creating and releasing them in word, physical action, and the mind’s eye. Do not be timid when it comes to your circle casting. Eventually, you will want to become so good at these you can rely and trust them to hold when you are working more difficult magic.
Tip 9- One thing most magical folk have in common is the belief in spirits or the spirit world. Eventually, you will be approached by a spirit, or you may seek one out. They can range from local land spirits to archangels. You may encounter devas, undines, nymphs, dragons, Faery Queens, Gods, Tricksters, and all manner of baneful spirits. The spirit world is just as vast as the human world. Just remember not everything light and beautiful is good, and not everything dark and scary is bad. These are subjective constructs society has put on us. For I have found the gentlest caress and powerful healing in the darkest of nature and been stabbed in the back with a fiery sword of light. Evil has always masqueraded as beauty and light and the darkness has always been demonized. These are part of a system that has poisoned the earth, harmed humanity, and kept us quiet and under control. Nothing is as it seems, it is not all black and white. You must have wisdom to discern the difference and look beyond what our mortal eyes see. A magical path is all about learning the reality of nature from a place of personal experience. You are your own guide upon this crooked path, the map is you. Witch… know thyself.