We know that everyone’s journey to paganism, witchy-ness and polytheism is their own, yet I’ve seen so many people hesitate even starting their path or learning more for fear of doing things the “wrong way” or being told to do things a certain way. Well-meaning experienced pagans who try to help, but ultimately come across as “do it my way or else” can make it challenging. To which I say, please stop. There is no wrong way, really. Not if you come at it with an open heart, do some research, and most of all, follow your intuition.
Can some people twist things for their own benefit and use it to justify some horrendous behavior? Sure. Those are not the people I am speaking of, it’s more like the following…
Many people come into the witch shop where I work in Asheville, North Carolina, and say to me (a bit hesitantly), “I am new to this…” To which I broadly smile and reply, “What exactly is this?” I am not being sarcastic, the spectrum is truly wide and far. For which I give gratitude and rejoice. It’s one of the many reasons I embrace paganism, because there aren’t really any parameters. And yes, I know some of you follow very specific traditions, and I honor that, but I am talking about the people who feel a call and a yen, and try to find out more about it to practice it themselves. More power to them, I say. There’s nothing I loathe more than to see someone tentatively start to discuss their plans for an altar, only to be shut down by someone who loftily proclaims, “No, it should be done this way…” It doesn’t happen often, thank goodness, but it’s always good to examine how one’s message comes across to people. There is so much joy in seeing someone pick out items for spells, their altar, items for a mojo bag, or gathering protection supplies. There is much satisfaction in doing, and the action is part of what I love most in this journey.
My own journey has been life-long, circuitous and revelatory. I identify as a Celtic Pagan, which on the surface may make no sense, as I’m German and Portuguese, and my DNA results only showed that I am 3% Irish (but what a mighty 3% it is!) I’d been doing spellwork all my life, but didn’t have language for it until I got to the magical place known as Asheville, and said “Oh, that! Yeah, I’ve done that all my life.” In my case, my European family practiced folk magic just as part of everyday life, so I took it one step further and developed my own additions. Artemis was the first goddess to call to me and resonate, followed by a fateful Imbolc when Brigid helped me with a dilemma. She not only helped, she set me on a path that has brought me so much joy and satisfaction. Oya provided sustaining comfort and strength when my youngest was diagnosed with lymphoma, and I was not really surprised to discover that her celebration day is the day after Imbolc. I have manifested and done spellwork, provided spells for others, and helped other people start and stay on their own path.
So what do I suggest as you you start on your own path? A few things…
Follow your intuition: That still, small voice that you hear that is not your own? That’s your intuition. Or it could be the deities that call to you. Last year the goddess Aine asked me to follow her to help me with something, and I literally felt her guide me as I created an altar to her. I knew nothing about this goddess except that her name caught my eye, and after I finished, I found a book with her history, and many of the objects on her altar were listed as her favorites. Coincidence? I think not.
Research: That’s my favorite part, honestly. Nothing like the internet to send you down the rabbit hole of knowledge, not to mention lovely books as well.
Ask questions: Sure, you may get a few different answers, but if you follow your inner guide (aka intuition), you will know which answer suits you best.
Explore with gratitude: Gratitude always ends up opening doors, don’t you think? Explore with gratitude that you have a new vista of knowledge. What a gift it is to be free to explore, learn and practice. Do so, and see what happens.
Don’t be hard on yourself: Please don’t get down on yourself because you think you did something wrong, got the incorrect item, don’t have the resources to get ritual gear. It’s the intention that matters. Be clear about your intent and see what follows.
Be true to yourself: You will know what works for you and what doesn’t . If you are not comfortable with following your intuition, or not even sure what that feels like, do a self inventory and see what works for you. Set your foundation within yourself before you explore much further.
Be okay with stopping: You may go down this path and decide it’s not for you. Not a problem. Life is full of choices, and this is one of them. Don’t feel like you are betraying anything or letting anyone down.
Celebrate: It’s great to be a solitary practitioner, but it’s also tremendous fun to gather with like-minded people. Attend a workshop, go to a festival or attend a conference. You will soon feel like “these are my people” and if you attend regularly, it may end up feeling like a fun family reunion.
Most of all: enjoy the journey. It truly is a pathway to many things, including learning so much about yourself, nature, the world, and human nature. And if you still have questions? Keep asking them. I hope you will always get your answers from someone who smiles with delight at your questions.