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Getting Started in the Craft 
by Fiona Oceanstar (fi@whittaker.rice.edu)
    Western vs. Eastern mystery traditions --> one of the first 
things you need to conceptualize, if you're interested in 
witchcraft, is that it's a WESTERN mystery tradition.  The 
important dichotomy here is outer-vs.-inner.  In the Eastern 
traditions, the adept commonly seeks some sort of mystical union 
with the great Oneness, which implies a withdrawal from the 
common, everyday life of human beings, and a focus on one's 
internal processes.  In the Western traditions, the adept is very 
much a part of the activities and community of humankind.  A witch 
does indeed have a special awareness of their inner world and 
their connection with the all-permeating Oneness (Goddess), but a 
witch is also a member of society--a farmer, a healer, a parent, a 
warrior, a writer, a scientist, an artist, a computer programmer, 
etc.  In becoming a witch, you don't dissociate your spiritual 
life from the rest of your life--rather, you apply the principles 
of the Craft in everything you do.  You seek to take what you have 
learned on an inner level and MANIFEST that awareness on an outer 
level.  This is not to be confused with the Christian dichotomy of 
works vs.  faith.  Witches don't have to BELIEVE in anything--they 
are much too concrete, too practical for such notions.  The 
rituals of the Craft all get down to the same thing: sanctifying 
the everyday activities of your life.  When a witch makes love, 
writes a program, cooks a meal, rides a bike, these are all the 
rituals of the Goddess. 

What to do: 
    --learn some simple form of meditation, and practice it often, 
the idea being to master the art of a QUIET MIND.  In order to be 
attentive to the world around you, you have to learn to let go of 
the inner chattering. 

T.S. Eliot (in "East Coker") puts it this way: 
    "...the mind is conscious, but conscious of nothing-- 
    I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope 
    For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love 
    For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith 
    But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the 
    Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: 
    So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the 

    Listen to everything.  Above all, listen to your body. 
Starhawk recommends a regular program of exercise, and I agree. 
Again, it quiets the mind. 

    --get in touch with the movements of the Earth and the Moon. 
Get a calender that has Moon phases, and make a point of knowing 
what phase you're in, at all times.  Notice the differences 
between the dark of the moon (empty but ready for new birth), the 
new moon (time for initiating things), the waxing moon (growing in 
power), the full moon (peak of intensity), and the waning moon 
(fading, turning inward, consolidating gains).  If you are a 
woman, pay attention to your menstrual cycle, and how it matches 
up with the phases of the moon.  If you are a man, get in touch 
with the cycle of a female friend or lover.  Get out under the 
moon as much as possible.  When She is full, lie in a grassy field 
or on a rooftop and LISTEN to her. 

    --pay attention to the natural world: the seasons, the plants, 
the insects, everything around you.  If you can, go out hiking and 
camping as much as possible--alone, or with someone else who can 
be silent and observant.  Even in the city, even in a very 
restricted urbanized environment, you can see things of nature all 
around you.  Try to walk to work, if possible.  Go out in your 
back yard and sit on the grass and look at the world close up. 
When inside, observe your pets and your fellow human beings.  We 
are all flesh: we have smells, we have appetites.  When you have 
sex, try to forget the cultural context (lace underwear, etc.) and 
focus instead on the body, the pleasures of the body.  When you 
play music, let your body dance. 

What to read: 
    --for the rational side of you --> Margot Adler's _Drawing 
Down the Moon_ (a good overview of many pagan systems) 
    --for the spiritual side --> Starhawk's _Spiral Dance_ 

    But reading is less important than observing.  You will be 
tempted to try to become a witch by reading, because those of us 
w/ big brains and big educations always operate that way.  Try to 
keep a balance between hours spent reading, and hours spent 
walking in the woods. 

Other references: 
    --Joseph Campbell's PBS series on mythology is now available 
on video.  He's a good storyteller and has a wonderful philosophy 
of how to incorporate myth into your life. 

    --anything can be a tool for working magic and gaining 
understanding (a leaf, a stone, a pen, a plastic dinosaur)--it's 
all in what you invest it with 
    --be slow to acquire toys (blades, wands, etc.)--it's better 
if they find you, then your finding them 
    --more important than a lot of gidgets, is setting aside a 
special place in your home as an altar.  Start with candles and 
incense, and invent simple rituals: lighting a candle while you 
read, burning incense while you meditate. 
    --because it's nonverbal in form, the Tarot is actually a 
better source for learning about the Craft, than any book.  Seek 
out one of the less Christianized decks--I personally like the 
Barbara Walker and the Motherpeace. 

Sacred space: 
    --the first formal "magic" you should learn, is how to set 
aside sacred space.  Pick a place in your home or your yard where 
you will practice this, and practice often, even if at first it 
makes you feel self-conscious. 

    I realize that a lot of this sounds terribly vague.  I used to 
get frustrated when I read books about the Craft, and they didn't 
have, like, RECIPES to perform.  The hard part of it is, that you 
learn more from the Goddess, than you do from any human being. 
But that doesn't mean you can't do some simple spells, right from 
the very beginning: both Adler's and Starhawk's books have some 
straightforward descriptions of working magic. 

    Don't get hung up on issues of reality, or the unknown, or the 
verifiable, or whatever.  Just DO.  It's far more important to TRY 
things, than it is to READ about them.

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