Starting as a new witch is always hard, but the internet can make it really hard. Who do you trust? What should you focus on? Do you really need that $50 cauldron or those 80 herbs?
The truth is that no one’s going to have exactly the same experience. What your interests and passions are, who you are, and what you connect with on a personal and spiritual level all alter how you perceive even basic witchcraft information and that alters your path. You’re unique and so will be your magical practice. And that’s a good thing!
Still, it can be hard to get a good foundation and know where to begin. So here’s my top six tips for new witches.
01 Research Can Be Key – But It’s Not Everything
Spending time researching and reading various occult topics is really important as a new practitioner. Not only is there probably a lot to learn, but you can discover your new path and new opinions that way.
I find a lot of unique and interesting things about my own practices comes from research (and later experimentation). Research can show you new areas to explore and new things to learn. It can help you create a path that will stay with you for a lifetime. It can lead you to friends, coven members, or even life partners. It all starts with research.
That being said, research isn’t everything. Sometimes, you just have to close your eyes and follow your intuition. Sometimes you just have to take that instinctual leap. Sometimes, you just have to push up your sleeves and just try a spell.
Following your intuition and giving something a try can lead to wonderful, magical moments. It can make you really believe in magic.
It can also teach you a lot too. You may quickly learn that you dislike divination or verbal spells. Maybe you’ll go back to study those later, but for now, that dislike’s important information! It means that you should shift your focus away to something you do like for now. Come back to those dislikes later. Maybe the knowledge you’ll have learned since then will help you understand why you disliked it in the first place or maybe you’ll find that you still dislike it. Shelf it and come back later.
TL; DR: Read everything, but don’t forget to follow your intuition and passions. And use your public library!
02 You Don’t Need Everything
You know those lists of stuff you have that so-and-so blogger says are a must have or whats-their-face author swears you need? Yeah, skip it. At least at first.
If you’re getting into witchcraft I recommend just five things:
- White tealight candles + lighter
- A stoneware cereal bowl (plain black, plain white, or clear preferred)
- A jar with tight closing lid (jam jars are great)
- Thread or ribbon (your color preference)
- Plain paper + smooth rolling pen
With all of that, you can do just about any spell. Seriously. And those items can be cheaply gathered from what you have in your house already or purchased cheaply.
Bonus tip: Don’t rush out to buy herbs. Use what’s in your kitchen first. Add slowly and in small amounts. An ounce seems really small, but it’ll probably last you for a year for most herbs. You usually just need a bit for a spell.
03 Write Down Your Experiences
I am weirdly awful at recording stuff for myself. I always recommend it for others, but I almost never do it for myself. But! There are many times I’ve made a spell at a drop of the hat and wished I wrote it down because it worked great but I have no idea what I did so I can’t replicate it.
Even something as simple as a notebook with “I did X, Y, and Z” could help. Use a journaling app, post about it, or email it to yourself.
For those looking for more elaborate set-ups, there are lots of spell recording layouts out there. Just google or spend some time on pinterest.
04 Someone Else’s Practice Is Not Better Than Yours
There are a lot of people out there practicing spiritual or magical paths. And many of them post about it. Those altar pictures might be beautiful and they may have had a great experience with the deity your worship. Maybe they just have a gorgeous spell casting area or a meditation corner.
The thing is this: you can absolutely admire their practice. You can say “wow, it’s great that they’re having those experiences”. But those practices might not be yours to have. Cultural appropriate weighs in here heavily, but you also have to consider this: are you really going to change your whole practice and what drew you to practicing to begin with because someone has beautiful instagram photos?
There’s also no guarantee that what that person is post about is all that practice is. Sure, maybe the water goblet is used as a water element representative, but it might have another purpose that’s special to that person. You may be missing the point behind the prettiness of the scene.
And, real talk, they may be just taking pretty pictures. They might have spent hours to get the altar to look pretty just for those photos and spent five minutes lighting a candle and saying “hey, thanks”. Or they are lying about the experiences they have. People do lie within the community about their experiences, mostly for attention reasons. I have a policy: I believe people are experiencing what they say they are experiencing. I don’t doubt them. But I also know that those experiences aren’t any less valid or any less true than anything I’ve experienced. This policy allows me to live and let live, essentially.
You can want that beauty and experiences for yourself. Be a little jealous or sad that your practice isn’t as pretty or you’ve having great experiences. But let those things drive you to do better for your practice. Ask yourself if you’re changing things because they have meaning to you or if it’s just because you really want it to be beautiful. You can have beautiful things in your practice and they can be there for just the pretty factor. Just make sure that you aren’t altering things to having all beauty and no substance.
05 It’s Okay To Not Like The Popular Thing
So you tried that awesome tarot deck that everyone loves… and you didn’t like it. The art’s too dark or the devil card scared you or you just don’t like tarot card reading. That’s okay!
Sometimes we get stuff because we fall into the hype or we thought we’d use it and we didn’t. Or our practices changes and we don’t need it. When that happens, it’s okay to grieve a little that it didn’t work like you wanted it to. Then let it go. Give it away, sell it, donate it, etc.
You don’t need to hold onto things because everyone’s loving how deep and meaningful it is. If it doesn’t work for you, then it doesn’t work.
We change as people change. And so do our practices. It happens, sometimes very slowly over months and years. Sometimes it happens quickly because of events, trauma, or revelations.
Don’t be afraid to let your practice grow organically. If something’s working, then keep doing it. But don’t be afraid to set aside practices that no longer work for you.
06 Use Your Local Library
Your local library is a literal lifesaver, especially when you’re just starting out. I have bought books because I loved reading it. I have not bought books because they weren’t as good as I was hoping or the subject wasn’t covered as well as I’d like. I’ve been able to research a lot of stuff that would cost hundreds of dollars to research without it. I’ve sometimes saved that much by borrowing a single rare book alone. (Yes, seriously)
Not only can it save you a lot of money, it can also spare you from buying books that you won’t use or don’t like. Maybe you’ll find out that you really don’t like that popular author. Or that you’re not a fan of how this mythology book writes about goddesses. Just because something’s published, doesn’t mean it’s good. And not every book out there is something that you’ll want to re-read. Borrow the book, read it, and return it. And many times you can request a book from another library through the intra-loan system and have it delivered to your local library.
Many libraries also have a digital library where you can borrow e-books to read. Many times you can find the e-book, but not the physical book in your local library. Not only does this mean you can read it on the go, but no one sees when you borrow a book. It’s on your library record, but that’s all.
What else can your library do? A LOT. Here’s my local library as an example:
- Free wifi with tables and chairs in various spots for privacy
- Borrow movies – some even digitally – for free. Some libraries allow you to borrow music.
- Public computers, free to use.
- Print and fax machines, with a low fee.
- Public notary
- Meeting rooms for community events. Some libraries may allow these for private clubs or groups.
- Free to borrow passes to museums, zoos, aquariums, and more.
- Hosts free talks, lectures, and classes on many different subjects, including local wildlife, gardening, cooking, art, night sky viewing, crystals, reiki, history, and more. This month had geocaching, making a corded bracelet, a fairy house, outdoor photography, instant pot demo, vision board making, making a journal from scratch, bullet journal 101, four cooking classes, how to properly use a telescope, and basic info on Iceland and traveling there.
- Free indoor and outdoor concerts from local musicians and well-known folk musicians.
- Free art exhibits from local artists.
- Free events such as passport processing, public paper shredding, movie showings, and similar.
- Free trivia nights, including Harry Potter specific trivia nights.
- Weekly clubs for teenagers and adults, including writing, journalling, knitting & crochet, quilting, and book clubs.
- Weekly classes, including adult art class and children’s coding classes
- Weekly English as a second language classes, including the requirements for citizenship
- Weekly homework help or tutoring
- Weekly computer and technology help, including help for using things like apps
- Seasonal weekly farmer’s market with outdoor concerts and events.
- Access to academic journals, digital magazines, online computer websites such as genealogy websites.
- Online classes, including foreign language classes.
- Locally published books found no where else on local areas (Key for local superstitions and folklore).
- Public 3D printer
- Private recording studio (you just need to book an appointment)
- I can borrow a telescope to take home for a week
- I can sign up a raised garden bed in the community garden
And that’s just the adult and teen stuff. For kids, there’s twice as many classes and events, including giant lego blocks, storytime, reading to animals, and more. Some libraries will even deliver books to you in a homebound program, allowing the elderly and disabled to use the library fully.
Given, my city is a small-to-medium sized city with only two libraries and a learning center. My friend lives a few towns over and their library has a mini museum, a full outdoor playground, borrows cake pans and fishing poles, and the elderly can request books or audio tapes and get them delivered at the nursing home. Each library is different, so check and see what your library is doing.
Also, I’ve never been to a library where I need to flash my library card to get in the door. You can probably walk into any town’s library and read their books. You just can’t borrow those books.
Use your library. I can’t stress it enough. The more you use it, the better for everyone.
That’s it! I know some of these seem kind of basic, but really, it’s okay just to take things slow and let them happen as they happen.