As Witches we often encounter or are familiar with the common stereotypes out there. We come into this kinda-sorta knowing they are out there and feel like we have a pretty good handle on keepin’ it real for ourselves.
There may be misconceptions or stereotypes that you yourself don’t realize you have. It’s common for new Witches to be woefully misinformed about Witchcraft and the community of Witches. These mistaken ideas might come from occult books, websites, groups or people you know.
Let’s look at a few things you need to know as a beginner...
1. Not everyone has your best interests at heart.
Real talk. Not all people who claim to be ‘spiritual’ are. And not all spiritual people are good. Some are bad.
Now, I don’t like using the terms ‘good’ v/s ‘bad’ because I feel they are tired and play into Christian/Wiccan/New Age culture. Most people aren’t good or bad- they’re somewhere in between. Good in this context means not looking to hurt people on purpose and people going out of their way to not do unnecessary harm. Bad here means predators, opportunists and violent individuals.
So let’s not sugar-coat this. Some people within the ‘spiritual’ community want to hurt you, manipulate you, coerce you, take advantage of you, take your money, take control, use your energy, obtain your allegiance and loyalty, etc. You are just as susceptible to being swindled, assaulted, abused or aggrieved within the Witchcraft, Pagan, New Age, Wiccan, and Magickal communities as in the mundane world. We do not have a higher percentage of ‘good’ people and a smaller percentage of ‘bad’ people here than the rest of society.
Not every person who is a danger to you is intentionally trying to hurt you. They may themselves be misinformed, incompetent, negligent, in denial, or just reckless with their words or actions.
Watch your own back and stay wise. Never do anything that makes you uncomfortable. If anyone pressures or asks you straight out to waive informed enthusiastic consent, run the other direction.
2. You don’t need to adopt a label.
Only if it's meaningful to you and you want one do you need a label. Don’t be in a hurry to define yourself- a Witch is always changing and evolving. Labels can sometimes lock you in when what you really need is to be free.
3. Witchcraft isn’t a religion- so you don’t have to be religious.
Deities are not required. Prayer, worship, devotion: these are religious terms. Incorporate them if you want of feel called to, but don’t feel like you have to.
4. Mistakes are part of the deal. Don’t get stuck on them.
We’re all unskilled, uncouth babies when we start out. It’s how we learn to go from laying on our backs in a helpless position to turning over on our tummy, to crawling, to walking, to running and so on. Don’t measure your skills and progress against those of an experienced Witch.
It’s like telling a 6-month old they’re doing poorly because they keep falling down when they try walking. Or giving a fish a failing grade because they can’t fly like the bird.
You’re going to get skinned up and bruised and you’re going to hopefully learn from it. Try to take it in stride and appreciate the lessons for what they are when they happen.
5. Yes, we all like the shinies. But you don’t need to buy anything to be a Witch.
You’ll read oodles and oodles of books, lists, blog articles and websites that tell you all about the exciting world of Witch Tools!!
Our Ancestors used what they had on hand, what was local, and what they could make themselves. They didn’t have occult stores and Witch shops to buy candles and statuary and altar bling. While there’s nothing wrong with having and using Witchy bling and items that are store-bought, it’s important to know that in order to practice Witchcraft, you don’t need any of it.
Don’t let IG convince you that you need more than you do.
Also, similar to #4 above, don’t measure your Witchy supplies to that of an experienced Witch. No one starts out with everything on day one, week one or year one. It’s a life-long process whereby in no small part, magickal tools and power objects often find their way to you. This requires some patience and delayed gratification.
For the rest, try a ‘less is more’ approach to inspire yourself to be resourceful and creative with your tools and supplies.
6. Not everything you read or hear will be true.
Not all Pagan, Witchcraft or Wiccan books, authors, websites or teachers know what the fuck they are talking about. Some will just string together coherent-sounding words and convince you they are an authority on a particular topic. But so, so, so so so so many just are not.
Even if you consider your source reliable, always fact check a few other credible sources (ones not quoting or referencing the writer/blogger/book in question). Sometimes people make mistakes and get information wrong, and once they are aware they will correct any misinformation they put out there. Those are the ones I always have respect for. For others, they might be stating opinion as fact, and that’s where it gets dicey.
Question everything! If you like a particular author or writer, read a lot of their stuff to get a truer sense of what they believe and what they teach others.
One or two minor mistakes in facts might be overlooked if they go out of their way to quote sources and encourage their readers to do their own research. Someone who repeatedly shares bad information that’s easily verifiable is not someone I would invest much time following or supporting.
8. You can't really break it too bad.
You can't accidentally open a portal to Hell. Your spells won't cause traffic accidents, your enemy's skin to fall off or cause a tornado to land on someone's house. Yes, you are a Powerful Beautiful Witch (PBW), but you are simply not that powerful.
But guess what? Almost no one else is, either.
Something crazy might actually happen after a spell, and you might attribute it to your awesome powers. I promise, it's almost certainly not related. You'll probably really believe it is. Buuut it won't be.
The sooner you accept that, the sooner you'll make real progress.
If you mess something up or do a spell you later regret, it will REALLY be OK. The world won't end. The magick and energy you put out there will dissipate on its own with no help from you. Your Power, especially as a new Witch, doesn't extend too far beyond your physical self.
Whatever accidents or misfortunes ensue in proximity to performing magick were very likely due to some cause and effect outside your control, and they were likely going to happen anyway. Not everything is about you, dear one.
Don't be afraid of the magick. It may not always behave the way you intended, but it's not going to fuck shit up to such a degree that you should fear ever going near it. If you do fuck shit up, it's fixable.
So chill, experiment, learn from your mistakes and have fun.